Friday, September 30, 2016

I Couldn't Do This Without You

While it is still dark, and the moon is beginning to fade, and the sun is starting to rise, it is the perfect time for me to meditate. As I take in the beauty of the tree-lined streets in our neighborhood, I talk to God, and I try to listen. I pray for my husband, our kids, our parents, our friends. When I need help, I ask for guidance.

Last Friday, while walking past the streetlights, I was thinking about my blog. I love writing, and I have a tendency to write light-hearted pieces about the things I remember, the things we've done, and the thoughts I have. Due to an error on my part, when I shared my blog on Facebook, there were only three people who could see it. My brother's family must have been puzzled about why I tagged them specifically with the random blog posts during the week. The thing that concerned me is that not many people were reading my writing. 

As the sky started to glow, I pondered why my numbers were so off. Maybe I was writing about such trivial matters, and in such a trite way, people had tired of my writing. Maybe I needed to tackle more serious topics. I couldn't explain why my readership had dropped so much, but I determined to try to step up my writing game. I asked God to help me as an author; help me be honest, and help me keep things real. I want to be an influence for good, to offer hope, and maybe even inspire someone. I want to be vulnerable in my writing, and take on topics that all of us confront. I felt it was important for me to not avoid certain topics in my efforts to keep things positive. "God," I pleaded, "Help me not shy away from the tough stuff."

Well, you know that "ask and you shall receive" thing? I received.

Later that day, Chuck and I had a disagreement. During the course of conversation, things would escalate until neither of us could even think of anything else we could say, and we would drop it, until we brought it up, and the argument would spin out of control again. Both of us were frustrated, and one of us was angry, and one of us was very sad. Once we were talked out, we took a time-out, and then we managed to start rebuilding.

So, I was given this gift of some tough stuff. Now that I had it, what would I do with it? Did I want to sweep it under the rug, and just write about the date we had planned, to go to a play, written and directed by a friend of ours, or did I want to share our struggle? Would anyone else benefit from my writing about how we deal with issues of our own? I decided to process my thoughts by writing things down, and early Saturday morning, I completed my rough draft of Confiding in My Confidante.

Consulting with Chuck was a must. How would he feel about my sharing how we dealt with problems? Was I crossing a line? Was I just airing our dirty laundry?

We know we have friends and family members who admire our marriage relationship. We both feel like keeping things honest and real is better than presenting a false sense of "all is well," at all costs. Sometimes it is easy to ignore the tough stuff, and just focus on the fun things. 

What if someone else needs to know theirs isn't the only relationship dealing with disagreements? What if someone else would benefit from hearing how we were able to get back on track after an argument? What if someone else was making assumptions about us, looking from the outside in, and believed we were the perfect couple who never disagreed, and we perpetuated that myth by denying we ever faced struggles together?

We agreed it was important enough to share. And I am very glad I did. It wasn't until Saturday night that I realized my friends hadn't forsaken my writing; I had just set the privacy settings for a very limited audience. Once I got that rectified, and posted my blog Saturday evening, my readers started "coming back," and offered such supportive comments. We were thanked for our honesty, our vulnerability. We heard echoes of "Us, too." It felt good to know I hadn't really LOST my readers; they had been there all along. And more importantly, it was not only okay to write about heavier topics, it was appreciated.

This morning, I thanked Chuck for his support in our marriage, and specifically with my blog. "I couldn't do this without you, you know?"

"What? Have disagreements to write about?" he quipped. 

And that's my Handsome for you. Always with the quick wit, and the dry humor. I really do get some of my best material from him. Without Chuck, and our kids, the Randomocity blog posts would just be an eclectic mix of recipes, and odd, stream-of-consciousness writing. So, yes, I need Chuck to provide the witty repartée, and take part in the occasional disagreements so I actually have something to write that's worth reading. Thanks, Beart. Your Stuart really couldn't do this without you. 

And I need you, too. You there, reading my blog. Thanks for stopping by today. Knowing you care enough about what I have to say to take the time to read it means so much. I suppose I COULD write without you, but I wouldn't WANT to. We writers love having an audience. You guys are awesome. So, again, thanks. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Always Jumping the Gun

Autumn is my favorite season, but you already know that if you know me at all. I have been looking forward to all of the autumnal pleasures; fall leaves, cups of hot tea, wearing slouchy hats and sweaters, and cuddling up under a blanket with a good book. I have been impatiently waiting for the cool weather to arrive. 

This morning I woke up to an invigorating 50 degrees. The house was chilly after running the house fan all night. I called Chuck while I pulled on long pants, a sweater, a pullover, hat, and gloves. He was on his way to work, and I wanted to talk to him while I walked. I couldn't wait to get out and enjoy the cool autumn weather. 

By the time I got down to the river, I was so uncomfortable. The sweater that felt as soft as cashmere when I pulled it over my head back at the house felt like itchy wool as my body sweated under all of the layers of clothes. The turtleneck was driving me crazy, and I used one hand to pull it off of my neck as I held my phone in the other. I peeled off the top sweater, wrapping it around my waist, and I removed my gloves. By the time I turned back and reached the hill above the river, the hat that seemed so jaunty and cool when I left the house felt like it was generating its own heat source. I carried it in my hands the rest of the way home. Maybe this wasn't the best day to start wearing all of my favorite fall clothes. 

Once again, I'd jumped the gun on the seasons. I totally forgot the advice Sharmel had given me about dressing for temperatures 20 degrees warmer than the one on the thermometer when exercising outdoors because of the heat our bodies generate. Her husband is in the National Guard, and had shared that tip with her. I usually remember, but today, I wanted to go full-out for fall.

When I got back to the house, I opened the kitchen window, and removed all of the too-hot layers of clothes. I still had plans for my morning for this perfect autumn day. Outside it's breezy and grey, which is great for making tea and cookies. I brewed a cup of orange tea, and made a batch of Chuck's favorite Sugar Jumbles cookies. Soothing acoustic music is my favorite for days like today, and I found some nice coffeehouse tunes on Spotify. 

Maybe the hat and sweater will be a better idea once fall is in full swing, and we're heading into winter. I just get so excited. I'm one of the first ones to don capris and flip flops in the early spring. I just try to ignore the fact that my toes are turning blue, and my legs are covered in goose bumps. Chuck and I both love the Christmas holiday season. Do you know how bad my husband is? He started asking on the first day of fall if we could decorate our Christmas tree. Now I love our tree. LOVE it. But I felt like putting it up on Halloween last year was pushing it a little bit. So I asked him to at least wait until Halloween. Wish us luck. Patience isn't one of the virtues we seem to have in excess.

Jumping the gun on the seasons. It's a thing with us. And we love it. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Confiding in My Confidante

Sometimes life seems hard, and partners disagree, and emotions run high, and feelings get hurt, and the best thing to do is to admit we need a time-out.

While I was lying on the couch, thoughts tumbled around inside of my head. How could I transition from this feeling of anger back to a feeling of love? How could I move from defensiveness to forgiveness? I had let myself get so frustrated that I was just plain mad. I didn't know what to do.

There was a part of me who wished I had a confidante. Someone to listen to my side of the story. Someone in my corner who wanted what was best for me. Someone who would hear me without judging me. 

And then it occurred to me. I do have a confidante. My very best friend in the whole wide world. I married him. 

So while he was at his computer in the office, and I was on the couch in the living room, I initiated a conversation in the most non-threatening way I could; I texted him.

I don't confide in girlfriends, so can I tell my best friend something?


I think sometimes I drive my husband crazy. 

And sometimes I feel bonkers when we don't see eye-to-eye.

But you know he loves you.

I do. I know he loves me. I think he knows I love him, too.

Yes, he does; he told me.

Do you think my husband and I have to agree on everything to be happy?

Sometimes what is so clear in his world is different in yours.

And he does not understand.

And sometimes it scares and hurts him. 

I know he is smart, but sometimes I get the feeling he thinks I am not. And it makes me feel frustrated, and then I am afraid to back down. 

Even if I might be a little wrong.

We are very different, my husband and I.

He knows you are very smart.

I love him so much, and it concerns me how much he worries. I think he thinks I don't worry enough. 

I used to worry all the time. I am trying to cut back. 

He does not worry all the time.

Just tries to think about things.

He might have written the book Worst Case Scenario. ;-)

Don't tell him I said that. :-) 

No, he works on the book How to Avoid the Worst Case Scenario.

Do you think he is smiling right now? A little?

Inside, yes.

That's a start. 

I made him very sad today.

He made you mad.

And he is sorry.

He felt empty inside. That makes me sad.

He did. 

Will you come model for some photos for him?

I am sorry I got so mad at him. Sometimes I want to scream, but I know that won't solve anything.

Do I have time to put on makeup?

He is taking me out tonight.

Nope, no makeup.
These are just test pictures.

I want to look nice for our date. 

You will.

Thank you for texting with me. 

I wanted to edit our words, to change the ending, to make it cleaner and more succinct, but this is our life; our messy, awkward, and very real life. 

We are photographers. Once the ice melted between us, we could go back to living and loving each other the way we do. He asked me to pose for pictures. I agreed to model. We were getting back to our normal. 

Love was replacing anger. Forgiveness was pulling down the walls of defensiveness. We needed to remember the power of the simple things; apologies, and hugs, and forgiveness. 

Before we went outside, we held each other for a very long time. I felt the tension dissolve, and my heart soften, as I was wrapped in his arms. Forgiving each other is one of the greatest gifts we give each other. My confidence in my choice of confidante grows. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Not in Utah Anymore

Keeping safe has become a topic of conversation at our house in midwestern suburbia lately. Having lived in rural Virginia the first 18 years of my life, and in rural Utah the next 37 years, I'd never given much thought to personal safety. 

Most of my life, we only locked our house when we left town on vacation. Our cars sat in the driveway, unlocked, containing our car and house keys, wallets, and our complete music collection. I knew if I needed to drop something off at a friend's house, and they weren't home, I could just put things inside their front door. Everyone's house was unlocked. Stranger danger? What's that? I knew everybody; there were no strangers. When I went walking, I traveled on familiar roads, and waved to everyone who passed by. I have always lived in safe, rural neighborhoods, except when I was in college, and then I lived in Provo, Utah, and I felt pretty safe there, too.

Well, I'm not in Utah anymore. I moved to the suburbs of Chicago when I married Chuck. I have watched with curiosity my husband's routines each morning and night. While I'm Mrs. Carefree, Chuck is Mr. Careful. My husband double-checks our garage and house doors at night before we go to sleep. He makes sure all the downstairs windows are closed and locked. There is a baseball bat upstairs, just in case. I don't have to worry about a thing because he does the worrying for us both. 

When Chuck and I are at our home in rural Utah together, I invariably get flummoxed when I run out to the car to grab something (probably my wallet), and discover the doors are locked. Chuck is flabbergasted that I'm flummoxed about that. He always locks the car, and even encourages me to lock my car in our closed garage. "Don't make things easy for criminals," he tells me.

Ever since I've moved to Chicagoland, I have heard, "You're not in Utah anymore. Things are different here. You need to be careful." Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would nod in agreement, and wonder how I could ever successfully transition from carefree rural girl to careful suburban woman. 

Last week, Chuck insisted I buy some pepper spray and a whistle, to make him worry a little less when I go out alone on my walks. I felt a little sheepish asking the guy about it at our Chicagoland Walmart. He didn't seem surprised at all. They carry it in the sporting goods AND automotive departments, in three different displays. It must be a hot commodity. The packages are locked up, and have to be removed from the display rack with a key. Hm. Who knew? 

When I asked the associate which canister contained the most ounces, I laughed at myself. Like, how many times do I even think I will ever use it? Did I hope for an industrial-sized container to lug around on my morning walks? In actuality, I wanted the smallest canister available. After all, I would be carrying it around my neck, and needed it to be as light as possible.  I bought the cutest one in the smallest size. The package even says, "So cute, it hurts." By this time, I just decided to have fun with it. It was the 20-use size. Honestly, a single-use spritzer would be perfect because if I ever have reason to use it, I'll probably feel compelled to work out indoors from then on. 

My second purchase that day was a whistle. Yes, I might not be able to outrun a criminal, but I can try to deafen a prospective attacker, or at least scare him off with the extra attention. I was thinking about that today. If I heard a loud, persistent whistle outside, I'd chalk it up to the neighbors' kids playing. What if someone were in trouble? Perhaps I should be more curious. 

This morning I went walking in our nice, suburban neighborhood with my extra accessories for the first time. I had my little purse ("It was only a dollah!"), my pepper spray, and my whistle. Since it looked like it could rain again, I made Chuck extra proud by carrying a plastic baggy for my iPhone in my purse. Look how careful I was being! Thankfully, the weight of those items is barely noticeable, and complying with Chuck's wishes makes me happy because it makes him happy. 

I refuse to live my life in fear, but I don't suppose there's anything wrong with using extra caution in an area that is unfamiliar to me. The country mouse is trying to adapt to life in the city. It's time to cultivate some street smarts. I'm not in Utah anymore.

It Was Only a DOLLAH!

Having no pockets in my yoga pants is such a pain when I go walking. I always have to carry my phone in my hand, and if you know me at all, you know that means my phone ends up on the sidewalk every once in awhile. I'm a bit of a klutz. I've been on the lookout for the smallest of purses that would hold my necessities: a debit card, my library card,  and my phone. Yep. That's it. I travel light.

My little purse only cost a DOLLAH! But wait! There's more! It has orange flowers on it!!!
Enter the handy dandy "shoulder bag" I bought at the Dollar Tree. "It was only a dollah!" Chuck loves it when I go shopping at the "Dollah Tree" because I always come home with a Jersey shore accent. The purse is the perfect size. While my mother's purses have increased in mass over the years, mine have continued to shrink. I realize I'm not making much of a fashion statement with my wild pink and orange bag with the ribbon strap, but I am so over all of that these days. It's one of the biggest perks about getting older. I. JUST. DON'T. CARE. 

My sleek little card case and my phone fit inside it beautifully, with no room for much else. It zippers shut so even if I fall, as I am wont to do, my earthly treasures remain safe. Being safe is important, I'm learning. More about that in my next post..."Not in Utah Anymore."

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

Happy Autumn, everybody! Fall is finally officially here. Thank goodness; I no longer have to feel guilty about loving autumn so much. 

What is autumn made of? Pumpkin spice and everything nice; that's what autumn is made of. 

My favorite color is orange. My favorite season is fall. And pumpkins are one of the things I love most about this time of year.  My senses have been swooning. Pumpkin patches, jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie. Gracious. I just can't get enough of any of it.

Have you been to Target lately? Oh. My. Heck. (That was for you, Chuck.) It's like a pumpkin spice explosion in there. No, I'm not complaining. Nope, not me.

It gets a little repetitive to use the words pumpkin spice with all of the things that I saw offered in that flavor, so suffice it to say, all of this stuff is available in PS, or pumpkin spice. There is coffee. Tea. Kind bars. Fiber One bars. Cereals: Life, Special K, Frosted Mini Wheats. Candy corn. Hot cocoa mix. Glazed pepitas. Granola. Caramel corn. Marshmallows. English muffins. Even BAGELS. Like I said. Oh, my  heck!

While I was tempted to load my big red Target shopping cart with all things pumpkin spice, I decided to be selective, and I chose three things to try: Life cereal, Fiber One bars, and Kind bars. They were all pretty good, but nothing really blew my mind. 

If you like Life cereal, and you like a hint of cinnamon, you'll like the PS Life. The pumpkin flavor is barely noticeable, though. The Fiber One bars taste like a cakey-cookie, and I liked the drizzle of frosting across the top because, let's be honest, we want to make increasing our fiber as as sweet an experience as possible. The Kind bars were Caramel Almond Pumpkin Spice, so what's not to like? If there is any flavor I like more than pumpkin spice, it's caramel. At only 5 grams of sugar, they are a treat that seem like a little healthier indulgence to me. 

When it comes right down to it, my favorite pumpkin-flavored things to eat are things I make at home. My Buff Pumpkin Stuff, pumpkin bread, pumpkin waffles, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies are all way better than any processed foods from the grocery store.

There are friends who suspect I live off of pumpkin spice everything. I don't really, but this time of year, I am drawn to pumpkin-flavored anything. My go-to "meal replacement" is Buff Pumpkin Stuff, an original recipe of mine that is similar to the Impossible Pies made with Bisquik, but there is NO Bisquik in my recipe...just lots of fiber, protein, and the yummy taste of pumpkin pie. And yes, I eat it just about every single day, and not just in the fall.

Baking pumpkin bread in a can is something I tried this year.

While we are on the topic of pumpkin, and home-baked goods, let me tell you how Chuck grew up eating pumpkin bread. During the holidays, his mom would bake pumpkin bread in cans. So clever! 

Serving the round slices of bread just looks so fancy and festive. Chuck loves his pumpkin bread, but he doesn't particularly like waiting for me to take all of my foodie pics before he can dig in. My poor Beart. 

 But look how pretty!!!

If you are a pumpkin spice fan, you might want to head to your closest Target. Or if you're like me, you might be happier baking up something pumpkin-y at home. Either way, you win. 

Pumpkin spice and everything nice, that's what autumn is made of.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Homier and Homier

Our painters came! Our painters came! They worked upstairs all day yesterday, and as soon as they left, Chuck and I had to go see what they had gotten done. Nail holes had been filled, and patches had been sanded, and it was obvious they had already covered the red wall in the kids' room with the creamy khaki/taupe-y paint. (Sherwin Williams named the color Stone Lion. To me, it looks like khaki or taupe, so here is a paint sample for you.)

Stone Lion SW7507

The two of us plopped down on our bed which was in the middle of the room, along with all of the other furniture pushed away from the edges, and I told Chuck how happy I was that the painting had begun. That's when I realized they had already painted our room, too. Gone were the dingy looking walls, and now we had a freshly-painted room. I went from happy to thrilled THAT fast. I'm nearly giddy that we have finally begun the updates to our house. 

This morning, I wanted to get outside for my walk early, as rain was "possible" around 8:30, according to the Weather Channel. I left my cell phone at home, just in case the rain came early. 

The sky to the east was a rosy, peachy color, and I wanted to get a better look at the sunrise. To do that, I had to walk out of the tree-lined streets in our neighborhood, and head toward the industrial park several blocks away. When I was closer to the four lane highway, I could see the brightly under-lit clouds that were nearly neon pink in the eastern sky above the buildings, but I wasn't prepared to see what was to the north. There were billowing grey clouds above a very foreboding dark sky on the horizon. The sky lit up with lightning, and I decided it was time to scurry back home. 

I remember when I was younger hearing that rain is coming when the trees show the underside of their leaves. That thought came to mind as the breezes picked up, and sent leaves swirling above the rooftops as I strode toward our cul de sac. The wind seemed to come from the sidewalk, stirring up the leaves and causing them to tumble down the street. I walked a little faster, hoping to beat the rain. The dark clouds that had been to the north were now directly overhead, and moving steadily to the south. A part of me wouldn't mind getting caught in the rain, but there is a little girl part of me that still worries about getting struck my lightning. 

When I neared the end of our cul de sac, I saw the garage door closing and noticed the painter's truck in the driveway. Not long after I shut the door behind me, the rains came, softly at first, and then steadily. The storm grew as the sky darkened further, and the sky brightened occasionally with lightning. The rain began to fall in sheets as we watched the storm from our bay window. I love rain, and rainy days. It reminds me of growing up in Virginia. 
Our living room will have two accent walls in
Sherwin Williams' Sporty Blue SW6522

Today, the painters should finish most of the upstairs. I know some people hate the smell of paint, but to me, it makes the house smell like new. Our home just keeps getting homier and homier. I am so happy.

The family room's accent wall will be
Sherwin Williams' Antique Red SW7587

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Painter Is Coming!

The painter is coming! The painter is coming!

Or is he? Time will tell, soon enough. 

You see, he was going to come way back in June, but he didn't. He called after a little impromptu vacation to tell us he was sorry he had gone out of town, and hadn't let us know. Then he finally called to say he could come in July---the week no one would be home. And then he said he would come a couple weeks ago, but one of his painters had to take the day off. Last week, he had planned to be here, but his kid got sick. 

Now it is nearly three months after we had hoped to have our house looking all spiffy for our summer house guests; surely today's the day. He's going to come; I just know it. He HAS to show up this time. 

All of our canvases and framed art are down in the basement. We've pulled all of the nails out of the walls. We've stored our cameras and photography equipment. All of the books are in boxes. Closets are bulging with all of the stuff we've hidden. The house looks so stark. The only thing that keeps depressing thoughts at bay is thinking THE PAINTER IS COMING.

He better show up today. I mean it. Or else. Or else. 

Or else? We'll have to wait some more. And I just don't think I can do that much longer. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

My Own Dr. Who

My Very Own Dr. Who

Move over Dr. Who, there is a new time lord in town. My personal time travel escort just happens to be the man I married. 
Queen Elizabeth holding court in Bristol.

Over the period of one week last year, I was a witness to the arrival of Queen Elizabeth in Bristol, England, only to be whisked away to the encampments of the American Revolutionary War the following weekend, and then the very next day, I was hauled through the halls of history to the days of the Civil War. 

During our visits to other places and other times, I've met other time travelers, who one week were fine nobles in the Renaissance court of England, and the next week were striding between tents in a Revolutionary War military encampment. I saw Tories and Patriots in the same locale.  I was able to see George Washington in the morning, and Abraham Lincoln in the afternoon. 

We are fortunate to have so many events near us in the midwest where reenactors give us opportunities to learn about history by observing them at military history fests, Renaissance faires, and war reenactments. We thank them for their tireless dedication to share their love of history, and the people they represent, more often than not, at great personal expense. 

Our TARDIS may not be a bright blue police call box; alas, it is only a simple silver Toyota Camry, oh, but the places we've been, and the times we have spent, and the people we've met. I love my very own Dr. Who, and the adventures we have traveling back in time. 

Renaissance Man

American Revolution Man

Ben Franklin

Renaissance Knights' Joust

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Simplicity of Artisan Bread

Yesterday I seized the opportunity to try a new bread, the Five Minute Artisan Bread. I love baking bread; smelling the yeast, touching the dough, watching it rise, and smelling the amazing aroma of bread in the oven. This bread only requires about eight minutes of hands-on time. SIGN ME UP!

This artisan bread is so simple. You mix the ingredients (flour, yeast, water, salt) until there's no more powdery flour; no kneading required. Find something fun to do while the dough rises for two hours. Next, you cut off a one pound section of dough, and form it into a ball, and let it rest for 40 minutes while you entertain yourself or take a nap. After it bakes in a preheated oven for 35 minutes, you have yourself some amazing artisan bread that you baked yourself!

But wait! There's more! Remember how I said to cut off about a pound of the dough to make a loaf of bread? There is still enough dough in the bowl to make a couple more loaves. For that minuscule amount of work, you can have fresh bread two more times over the next couple of weeks. Simply cover the bowl and refrigerate it. How cool is that?

Chuck says this is his favorite bread, after pumpkin bread. That's saying a lot. He likes my homemade rolls, and my ciabatta bread, and this is his favorite bread for dinner. 

You need to check this recipe out! I changed none of the ingredients; I stuck to the recipe, so all the credit goes to Leite's Culinaria. The only thing I had to change was I don't have a pizza peel, whatever that is, or a baking stone, so I just used my silicone mat on a cookie sheet, and it came out beautifully.

If you are looking for a simple bread recipe, look no further. This is it. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Damned If I Don't... (Part 2, following Damned If I Do)

There are five steps to becoming an intuitive eater, outlined in the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole.  I talked about the first two in my blog post Damned If I Do. Today, I'm going to share the last three steps, the ones I'm really looking forward to putting into practice until they become a part of my routine. 

To recap, Step 1 is READINESS, and Step 2 is EXPLORATION. Here are the next three:


These are my notes, which are mostly verbatim quotes:

"Honor hunger. Continue to make peace with food. New in this stage: taking a time-out in the midst of eating to consciously gauge how much your stomach is filling up. You'll be experiencing your feelings and finding ways to comfort and distract yourself without the use of food. KEEP WEIGHT LOSS ON THE BACK BURNER." -Evelyn Tribole

I think I will know crystallization is taking place when I am no longer hung up on my weight. I worry that it will only occur when my clothes start feeling looser. WILL my clothes start feeling looser? Gah. See, I'm not at this stage yet. I want to have energy! I want to feel strong! I want to be able to keep up with Chuck all day at the faire, and not get fatigued. I want my clothes to fit. And to think I used to be so good at Back Burner Thinking. Keeping weight loss on the back burner is so hard because I want to lose this excess weight LAST MONTH!

Step 4: Intuitive Eater Awakens

More notes: 

"When you choose formerly forbidden foods, smaller amounts will be satisfying. Food talk and self talk will be positive. Finding healthy alternatives to distract and comfort yourself will come more naturally. At this point, if it's meant to be, your body will be on its way to approaching its natural weight." -Evelyn Tribole

Can you see why I can't wait to awaken my inner intuitive eater? I have to believe my natural weight is a healthier weight than my current number. I have been practicing self-care, and trying to comfort myself in ways that don't involve food. I think that I need more practice at distracting myself when I'm not experiencing physical hunger. I still eat often out of boredom or stress-avoidance, although I think I'm making healthier choices than I used to do.

Step 5: Final Stage  (Treasure the Pleasure)

Still more notes:

"Honor hunger. Respect fullness. No guilt about food choices or quantities. Nutrition becomes a path to feeling as good and healthy as you can, not another mechanism to make you feel bad about the way you eat." -Evelyn Tribole

My final notes, the words I am setting all my hopes on:

"Weight will settle into a place that is comfortable and appropriate for you height and frame. You will feel empowered and protected from outside forces. You will be an intuitive eater once again."

This is the brass ring of my hopes. Right now, I can only imagine what living like that would be like. Please, let it be so.

Damned If I Do (Part 1 of 2)

Did you know there are five steps to becoming an intuitive eater? I didn't either, until I started reading Intuitive Eating by  Evelyn Tribole. 

Intuitive Eating

This book gives me hope. So much hope for so many things that have been troubling me. I hope that I will eventually make peace with food, and will no longer be afraid of eating certain things, and that I will find healthy ways to cope with stress and emotions, and that I will rid myself forever from the diet mentality that has plagued me since about 8th grade. That's a tall order for one book to fill. An eternal optimist am I.

You might not realize it to look at me, but back in the day, when I was a senior in college, I was an outdoorsy granola girl who enjoyed rock climbing in the canyons of Utah. I KNOW! Crazy, right? 

Sometimes, when climbers are making an ascent, they will pause, wedging their fingers in a thin crevice of a rock wall, and supporting their body weight by standing on the tiniest of ledges, looking for their next move. If they stay too long in this position, they may experience a feeling called "frozen to the face." Doubts set in, unreasonable thoughts that there is no next move. They start to believe that there is nothing they can do that will help them get to the next step up. Muscles begin to cramp, and they may experience Bernina leg, when their legs start jiggling uncontrollably up and down, until they finally find their courage to make the next move. 

As far as eating goes, I feel like I am frozen to the face once again, just like when I was rock climbing. I know that I am doomed to failure if I try one more freaking diet, and that I am going to quickly overtake my previous all-time high body weight if I don't do SOMETHING soon. Damned if I do; damned if I don't. I have felt this way for months now.

After reading the first several chapters in Tribole's book, I realize I am waffling between the first two stages of intuitive eating, readiness and exploration. I'm almost ready; almost. I am experimenting with eating previously "forbidden" foods, and trying to tune in to my body's signals for hunger and satiety. 

Step 1 is READINESS, when we hit diet bottom, which is rock bottom for We of the Failed Diets. As Evelyn puts it, "Damned if you diet; damned if you don't." Going on a diet will set me up for failure, but ignoring my current upward trend in the weight department isn't doing me any favors. I just haven't known what to about my emotional eating.

Step 2 is EXPLORATION. This summer, I knew I really couldn't take on a new diet plan. Diets had always given me hope at the beginning, then I would lose a little weight, which was motivational for awhile, then I would finally give in to all of the cravings for the foods I'd been denying myself, ending the diet with a big old binge. Then I would gain back every ounce I lost, and then some. Ugh. So, no, no more diets. 

Knowledge-seeking became my goal this summer. I found articles and blogs by nutritionists and intuitive eating promoters. (For references, see the notes in Food for Thought.)I borrowed books from the library. I read and read and read. I started facing the music, emotionally-speaking. I forced myself to talk to Chuck about tough topics rather than just stuff uncomfortable feelings down with food. (Which is not to say I did not still seek solace in food; still working on that.) I put my scale away. I tried very hard not to make any food off-limits. I tried to enjoy foods I used to view as forbidden. If I wanted something, I ate it, and I worked very hard to keep the guilt at bay. There was just one clothes got tighter and tighter and tighter. Oops. 

I take some comfort in Tribole's words:

"If you have been using food emotionally, you may find that you will begin to feel your feelings and may experience discomfort, sadness, or even depression at times. Nutritional balance may be off, eating foods higher in fat and sugar during this time."
Well, yep, that's pretty much what I was doing. She was encouraging to us in saying that we try to make up for years of deprivation, negative self-talk, and guilt. She assures us that eating this way will not be the pattern that we will establish or want for a lifetime. Oh, I pray that is so.

My next goals are to distinguish between biological and emotional signals to eat. I need to honor my hunger, and learn to satisfy it with foods that will nourish me. I love this motto she suggests:

"If you don't love it, don't eat it, and if you love it, savor it." 

Note to self: If you love it, you don't have to eat ALL of it. Savor SOME. There will always be food available later. I seem to forget that sometimes.

That's my parting shot today. We'll look at the next three steps of intuitive eating in my next blog post, Damned If I Don't

Step 3 Crystallization
Step 4 Intuitive Eater Awakens
Step 5 Treasure the Pleasure

Progress Update: 
DATE NIGHT! Friday night started out
in Wheaton, and then we headed to Geneva.
Friday was date night for Chuck and me. We went to our favorite Italian restaurant, Chianti's in Geneva. Nestled in our romantic, little booth, we both do what we do; I ordered something I'd never had (Sausalito Tri-color Fettucine, and Chuck ordered his tried and true Chicken Oregano. But this time, I did something different. I ate until I was full, and I asked the waiter to box up the rest, so I wouldn't pick at it while Chuck finished eating. I didn't eat it all! Baby steps!

I loved it, and I savored it.
And then, because I promised myself to try to eat the one food I had denied myself for nearly two weeks, we walked over to Graham's, and we each ordered one scoop of our favorite ice cream. I savored it. I'm glad I ate it. And I didn't feel guilty about it. I didn't eat ice cream on Saturday or Sunday, so I think I can say that it didn't lead to a binge. Another baby step! Go, me!