The Incredible Shrinking Sensa Lady

Cover to The Giving Tree, depicting the tree g...

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Every time I see the commercial for the  incredible shrinking “Sensa” lady on my computer I get agitated. I am like a 5-year-old child that wants to growl. I am Max of Where The Wild Things Are. I am a roaring lioness protecting her young. This stupid Sensa lady appears every day, first she is full-size (and there is nothing wrong with that) and then she diminishes on my computer to become a very skinny (too skinny) cartoon shadow of herself. The commercial comes on practically every time I turn on my computer and I want her to go away. Or gain weight. Or, most importantly, be happy with who she is without shrinking to a skeleton. I want to see her eating chocolate truffles, and fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread dripping with mozzarella cheese. I want to see her with a date, a lover, a friend, a husband, anyone. It’s time for “Single Shrinking Sensa Lady” to hit the road.

I googled “Sensa” and all I could find out is that it is something you sprinkle on food and, allegedly, you feel full faster, but don’t quote me. If it works for you, that’s fine. I am not judging the product because I don’t know it. (maybe I’m judging just a teeny tiny bit?) I’m sure you would get the same results without using the sprinkles and just using a smaller plate!   Brand recognition? Sensa, you win!  I recognize the product each and every time, but it doesn’t in any way make me want to buy the product, it just makes me groan out loud and roll my eyes. Wouldn’t that be negative brand recognition?

As one gets older your body changes naturally. There is not much you can do about it and really, why stress about it so  much. Try to be healthy but don’t hit yourself over the head if you have a slice of warm apple pie.  Life is short, enjoy it. As that great movie with America Ferrara says”Real Women Have Curves.” I’m happy with myself, you can be too. Feel beautiful for who you are not what you weigh. Weight gain, weight loss, isn’t it time we get over it already? Be comfortable in your own skin, be healthy, eat whatever you want in moderation and take a walk; maybe even try to walk a little more every day. Do what you can.

I am no Jillian Michaels (and  heaven forbid, I don’t want to be.) I don’t think people need abs like cement bricks nor do I think they have to be tortured if they don’t lose enough weight in a week (I know it’s a television show called The Biggest Loser, but still……)  Jillian, please stop screaming so much. People are trying as hard as they can; if I was at “The Ranch” your screaming would make me gain weight for the emotional stress you were putting me through. How about a nicer, softer Jillian..oh wait, his name is Bob. Tone it down a little, no tone it down a lot (and I don’t mean in a weight loss way).  Yell at me, bitch, just try. I am comfortable with my body and myself. I am not skinny, I’m closer to chubby, ok, full disclosure; I AM chubby and I am fine with it. Enjoy life, think things through, have dessert, have a big heart and give back to others. Read and reread The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Success is not always measured in pounds, it’s also measured in pride.

Professional Goals for the Next Year – Plinky Prompt

Donna Reed as Donna Stone, Paul Petersen as Je...

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NO PROBLEM !

As a mom I have my professional goals all planned out. By the end of this year my son, a Senior in High School will be admitted to a college that he loves and of course one that we can afford (ha ha.) At the same time, our daughter who is a Junior now will also only want to look at SUNY colleges we can afford (and yes that means in OUR state only!) I’d like my husband to enjoy his job but spend more time with his loving wife (me) and I would like to have more (ok, some or even a little) fun.
I would also like to know, in the next five years what exactly a “movie” is, it’s been so long I can’t recall anything later than “The Princess Diaries” with my daughter and perhaps “Balto” with my son. I do admit I did bring the children to the movie “Recess” but since I slept through the entire thing, it doesn’t really count.
I want to travel, with my husband or by myself, I want to take a cooking class and maybe an art class or maybe a class at the community college. I want to continue writing and making collages and cards.
I want our kids to look forward to seeing us instead of trying every possible way to get out of the house for any reason just so they are not home! Now, the kids only go out with their friends, even going out to dinner with their parents is embarrassing, not to mention a family vacation. What kid would say “No” to a free trip to Spain? Spain!!! One or both of mine, apparently. Further, my goal is to enjoy my grown-up time when both kids are in college. And as I quote my husband when I asked him what another word for “empty nester” was, he smiled broadly and happily yelled” FREEDOM.”

Losing Dawn

Farmland near Queniborough. Unploughed stubble...

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I will never look at the afternoon winter light in the same way again. My friend Dawn died today, February 11th, 2011 when the sky was blue, the sun shone through wind-swept trees next to ice and black snow, nudging a path. From inside, it looked too pretty for someone to have died.  The sun was low and beamed on the bare empty branches like gold necklaces or a child‘s long, blond, sun-streaked hair.

I knew for a long time that my friend Dawn was dying. All of us in the neighborhood, walking partners and friends knew how her breast cancer metastasized to brain cancer. Hearing the words from my friend Margaret that Dawn had passed away a couple of hours ago in her house, was still shocking. Shocking in a mute, surreal way. It’s not as if I thought she would make a miraculous recovery, but if we didn’t see or hear about her, she was still okay and that was soothing and comforting. Intellectually, I should have known better; I didn’t. Knowing someone is going to die is so very different from their actual death. I couldn’t feel a thing.

I remember writing: “Praying For Dawn” on my blog and I made a copy for her. She read it and loved it and told me her family read it too. She even left me a message on my answering machine to say “Thank you,” I never erased that message.

Her daughter had just started college in Vermont as a February Freshman a few days earlier yet there was a car from Vermont  parked outside their house. Dawn and her husband John have three children, her daughter, age 18,  the eldest, her middle son, 16 and their youngest a boy age 14. There is no doubt in my mind that Dawn refused to die until her daughter was at school, just like my father lived through Christmas and died five days later, ten years ago.

What do you say when it’s actually over? Sometimes, nothing. The call I got from my friend should have clued me in but it didn’t. When she said “are you sitting down?” you would think that I would known immediately but I didn’t. My first thought was about my friend’s mother who is in her eighties. I, very slowly,  sat down. Thirty seconds later it hit me, “Oh Dear God, not Dawn,” I whispered into the phone. “Yes, she said and paused, Dawn passed away today, two hours ago.”

She died in her house, around the corner from me. Her parents who live on the Cape had come down a lot these past few years.  Margaret and I used to see them walking arm in arm, crying as they tried to walk slowly around the corner, holding on to each other for support. It took every bit of self-control not to run to them and hug them but they didn’t want to see Dawn’s friends, friends who were living when their daughter was dying. Would you?

Before my father died he used to say that “nothing is as important as your health” all the time and I remember it. I too, know grief. Now, I am grieving for my friend and her husband, children and their extended family. I am glad my friend’s pain and suffering are gone but knowing someone is going to die and them actually dying are two very strong and separate emotions. It’s the feeling of in between; it’s too new to comprehend and yet it was about four years in the making. Four years when I first noticed her bald, shiny head and twinkling green eyes standing outside wearing a cap in the pure, naked sunshine.

I laid beneath a sheet, two fraying cotton blankets, one dingy white, one blue, a thick burgundy colored comforter and an old beige puffy down comforter. l huddle beneath these blankets and still my hands are freezing and so too, my toes. I dig deep down inside the blankets and try to cover myself but I still don’t feel warm, I think I will never feel warm again.

In Memory Of Dawn

My Thoughts On Valentine’s Day (Plinky Prompt)

Heart-shaped cake with Roses

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  • Kiss Me, Hug Me, Tell Me That You Are Mine……….

    February 14, I feel like I should be writing this with red kissy hearts all over the page. ❤ How I feel about Valentine’s Day depends on the year. When I was single, I hated Valentine’s Day, I thought it was overrated and commercial and totally depressing. However, my husband and I got engaged on Valentine’s Day in Hawaii, not at dinner overlooking the magnificent sunset (he didn’t want a scene!) but back in our rented condo, in the kitchen, sharing a Diet Coke. I am sentimental (sometimes) about Valentine’s Day but this year my husband has a meeting with his boss so we will celebrate it two weeks later. After his being unemployed for about 18 plus months, his new job is our joint Valentine’s Day present.
    My husband is NOT well known for his romantic side,(sorry hon, but you KNOW it’s true) I’ve learned to accept that. He’s a more matter of fact, computer/ intellectual person while I am pure, mushy emotion. Sure, I used to dream about red roses coming in a white box delivered by a florist but it’s not his style (and it’s expensive on Valentine’s Day too.) It matters more to me that he is always here for me when I need him, that I can count on him one hundred percent and that he is my best friend and companion. He brings me flowers other times just because he knows I love them, for no “holiday” at all except to make me smile.
    Romance, flowers, sweets are nice, so are red hearts and chocolate covered cherries, and cookies dusted with pink and red sugar. Deep down inside, I am married to the most wonderful man on earth and he is my ultimate gift and so too, I am his.

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My First (False Start) Drive

Silhouette of a car

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  • Driving And Me = Phobic
    I had just confidently and successfully passed my road test. I was proud, I was a teenager; I could now drive. My father had taken me to the road test and I was, like most teenagers, eager to show off my skills. I passed the dreaded road test easily and I left the test, positively beaming.
    My father, reluctantly, let me drive home. The first, ummm, stop was the slightest, gentlest, teeny, tiny bump of my car into the car ahead of me at a red light. NOTHING happened, but my father started to freak out, including getting out of the car and talking to the other driver. There were NO damages, not even a dent or a spot. I was way to young to say or even think “hey Dad, chill, that’s what bumpers are for” and if I had he would have swiftly slapped me across my face. He was already in a mood.
    I was determined to keep driving and off we went. I was driving splendidly, I thought, slowly and carefully. We arrived safely at the street where we rented a space in a garage. All of a sudden, my father freaked out, threw his left leg over to the brake pedal and slammed it down, hard. He also started yelling at me “you are too close to the car on the side,” “you are going to scratch it.” What? Huh? No car was on the road, except for parked cars and I was fine. However, I was so shocked, horrified and embarrassed (even though nothing had happened) that, after that, I shut down and stopped driving altogether.I totally blamed my father for my chronic fear of driving, my new phobia. I quit.
    I didn’t drive for 25 years when my boyfriend (now husband) insisted that I start driving again. He was a magnificent teacher, terrorizing me with the jingle-jangle of his car keys to signal to me that it was my turn to drive!
    He was patient and gentle, no screaming, no dramatics. I remember he used to say quietly “mantain your speed” but there were no close calls, not a fender-bender, nothing but his confidence in me. The first car-ride trip I made alone after that was picking up my parents from a hotel when they visited us in Boston. My parents were a little shocked to see me pull up, alone and I had to encourage their praise, but I drove home confidently. I was in charge NOW; my boyfriend believed in me and more importantly, I believed in myself. That was the beginning of my real driving adventure. P.S. I totally blame my dad for my initial humiliation/phobia and for not driving for twenty-five years. Just sayin……
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Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner, Pick One And Just Eat That

Pancakes & Eggs

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I Pick: BREAKFAST, HANDS DOWN

BREAKFAST! Pancakes with sweet maple syrup and a pat of melting butter, English Muffins with cream cheese, butter or peanut butter and jelly, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, egg in a hole, bacon extra well done and crunchy, cereal…. Want more?  Scrambled eggs with cheese or an egg and cheese sandwich on a roll, French toast, sometimes with cinnamon, sometimes plain, cinnamon-sugar toast, a fruit cup, ripe red raspberries, plump blueberries, a sliced banana cut into “coins.” Strawberries and nuts and raisins and brown sugar in hot oatmeal. Your beverage order? Freshly squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate, coffee, tea? Toast or bread with butter and honey. I’m drooling here…….Breakfast is comfort food, I like just about everything. It’s warm, it’s a memory of your childhood, it is sweet cinnamon rolls with vanilla icing. Just one thing, please hold the sausage.

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How I Am Liking 2011 So Far…..

Happy Valentine's Day Flickrites!

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I’m Ready For February

 

One step forward, two steps backwards and on and on we go. My husband, after 18 months finally got a job! That was the sweetest day of the new year and he starts next week. Yes, there will be changes, a new schedule, new demands and adjustments but to see the old easy, grin on his face again is worth more than ten times his salary. At the same time because I have a chronic illness (Fibromyalgia) I know I will need to do more and try to handle my pain the best way I know how. It will not be an easy adjustment for me, especially when he travels, but I will find my way. Our children are now 16 and 18 and they are at the ages where we expect them to help us if we need it. They are no longer children and while they may not offer help indiscriminately, they will never say “no.”

The weather in the year 2011 so far has been as bad as the last month in 2010, snowstorms and blizzards every other day at times. This is the winter of our collective discontent when the only thing you could do is stay indoors. Hopefully, we will get a break and Spring will come early this year. (I know, I don’t believe it either!)

Creativity is high on my list not just with writing but I am planning to make a new collage and I haven’t done one in years. The last unfinished collage was on thick black paper with small pieces of broken glass glued to it. Not hard to interpret. My new background will be pink. Friends ask me what it is going to be about or how will it look? I laugh, because I never plan what I am going to write, cut, draw or paste; it puts itself together and I am looking forward to sitting at my old blue folding table and working, surrounded by music.

I’ve learned to define and understand something very important: “Friendship” know who your true friends are and accept what they are able to give you and not expect more of them. In the same vein, I know that family members are not my friends. I’ve worried about my mom’s health, had my own health scares but all is well and I am ready for February. Bring it on! I’ve got my boots on my feet and my brown winter jacket hugging me tight. I’ve learned, little by little, how to ride the waves, whether they are frozen or not.

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*S.N.O.W. The New DSM Disorder

February 26, 2010 snowstorm Dutchess County 24

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S.N.O.W stands for Sadness, Nothing, Overwhelming, Winter disorder and people in the Northeast are suffering from it in masses this winter. Because of an extended period of snowstorms, approximately every two days, sometimes more often, more and more people have been diagnosed with the above disorder. It appears that this new syndrome called S.N.O.W. now appears in the new DSM (Diagnostic Symptoms Manuals used in mental health.) The disorder has the following symptoms: claustrophobia, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. To illustrate the symptoms the following scenarios should make it more understandable:

1) Claustrophobia: many people who are unable to go outside and are not able to be independent, to drive on their own through wintry conditions, feeling closed in, unable to breathe, unable to go anywhere.  Every time there is snow, freezing rain or ice the feeling of claustrophobia intensifies.  People suffering from claustrophobia generally also suffer from the following:

2) Anxiety: The feeling of being anxious, disturbed, uneasy. Your heart beat may seem faster, stronger, you may have chest pains and the feeling of being nervous all the time. This is natural for this condition.

3). OCD:  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: patients generally run to the window or door, or they stand next to the aforementioned window or door flattening their faces against the glass for many minutes on end. They go back and forth to see if the snow has stopped, the ice pellets have turned to rain and how the snowflakes fall and in what particular pattern. Patients also try to gauge how much snow, rain, ice, etc.   Patients say that they sit riveted to the Weather Channel or local forecasts or both.

4) Depression: the feeling of sadness that does not go away, feeling “blue,”sad, lonely, isolated, unable to feel joy. The feeling that you will never be happy again, that you are unable to enjoy anything in life including but not limited to: loved ones, music, television and anything else you formerly enjoyed doing. You may not want to get out of bed (and really, why should you?) because you feel there is no way out. You may be correct in this assumption.

Once the diagnosis has been made, the following recommendations generally fall in the following perimeters: 1) prescriptions include: a week, 2 weeks 4 weeks or three months (depending on the severity of your patients’ symptoms and bank account) to a warm climate for as long as you can. Some destinations, for example, are: in Arizona, New Mexico, Florida or Los Angeles.  A sun “lamp” to give yourself the (fake) feeling of getting outdoor light can also be used though there are no firm statistics that support this.  Tanning beds are also thought to be an option, but one which comes with a medical advisory of a possible link to skin cancer, more specifically, melanoma.

Of course your mental health professional may write you a prescription for anti-depressants but really, by the time they actually start to work (6-8 weeks) Spring will be hopping on its feathery feet to come and stay for a little while. For the short-term, think of yellow daffodils sprouting and listen to the song “Breathe” sung by Anna Nalick, continously. Symptoms of S.N.O.W. should dissipate within two to three months. It is possible that in the winter of 2012 the symptoms may resurface.

*a parody

Calling Epiglottitis A Bitch Is A Vast Understatement

Visible epiglottis at the back of the throat o...

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I have had epiglottitis twice; it is an ulcerated part of your epiglottis, below your throat, hidden in thieves. It is the worst pain I have ever had and I’ve had it two years in a row. Nobody knows what causes it, they think it’s a viral infection. As much as I have BEGGED for answers on how to prevent from getting it again, there are no answers. The doctors shake their heads kindly but have no information.

The first time I had it the ENT ( Ear, Nose,Throat Specialist) scoped me through my nose and saw it he literally said “How the hell did you get that?” Those were not comforting words to hear. I don’t know how I got it and I don’t know how I got it again. I just knew that this was the worst pain I have ever had. Childbirth was a breeze compared to this long, incredibly painful illness.

Has anyone out there ever have this monster of an illness? I’d be interested in knowing. The most my doctor could do was promise me to give me pain medication. If I could, I would prefer being asleep for the ten days that I have it. It makes sore throats seem like a cute tickle in your mouth. It feels like a hot, serrated knife butchering you every time you have to swallow.

Don’t come again, you mean and evil illness. I’ve had enough.

The Beauty Of My Fibromyalgia

Red berries

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My husband came home from town and told me that he heard an update about a mutual friend; that she was at the end of her life.  She has ALS, (formerly called Lou Gehrig’s disease) a horrible, disease that affects thousands of people every year. I felt terrible for her and her family and know how hard that disease is for everybody.  I pictured her in her wheelchair with her beautifully spun white hair coiled behind her in an old-fashioned bun, the bun that my grandmother in her nineties used to wear every day; held together with old-fashioned black bobby pins. There was one difference, the woman in this story is not in her nineties, not even close, she is 43.

I have Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and before you write me letters about how pain is all equal and that pain is pain and we have our right to our pain I will tell you this: the stripping of your body, one by one and of all your faculties, is something I would not trade for and neither would you. The last vestige of communication this woman, this YOUNG woman had been struggling was to try to write something with her twisted hand on a computer generated machine. Fibromyalgia pain IS pain. I know I have pain, I understand it and I can communicate it, I can’t solve it. When there is nothing that helps me feel better, at least I can verbalize this, at least I can try to focus on a pretty picture of strong red berries on a simple branch. When I clutch the banister to be able to go up and down stairs, I am mostly doing it myself. If I can’t and need a hand, I will ask for it and accept it and will be able to have the dignity to say “Thank You.” I can ask my daughter about her day or my husband’s first day of work or my son’s admission to colleges. I am able to do that and am thankful for it.

My husband, the most patient man on earth, gets irritated and annoyed with me when he asks me questions about the type of pain I am in. He is direct, like a prosecutor: “is it muscular?” is it in your joints?”  “does it stab, burn, tingle, come in waves?”  “is it sharp, is it dull, does the pain move around?” I’ve always been vague in my answers about how I feel physically because I am the type of person who can’t verbalize my symptoms well. Fibromyalgia is defined as having pain all over and that is what I have. Is it muscular? Yes, Is it your joints? Yes, It is all over and hard to differentiate from one Doctor’s appointment to another, Yes. We also have Fibro Fog, our endearing term for forgetfulness, makes us forget how things were yesterday compared with today.

Fibromyalgia changes every day, sometimes every hour; there were times when I was sure I had a really bad virus but my Doctor just told me they are “flare-ups.” My mother was concerned because I was sick so often, I never knew I had flare-ups, I didn’t know what flare-ups were; no-one ever told me.

I am not saying that your pain or her pain or his pain is any less uncomfortable because it is not life threatening. Listen to me: I am saying that pain is pain, and that it can be unbearable and it does affect your emotions and social skills. But, at least it does not deprive me, me personally, of the ability to still connect with my loved ones and friends and I am able to communicate.

There is no competition. Pain is pain is pain. My friend who is dying from cancer is fighting every day as she has for five years before her breast cancer metastized into brain cancer. This is not a game where whose pain, whose life is worse. This is MY opinion, own it or reject as you please. I do have enough pain to consider myself suffering. I may not have control over my pain but at least I still have control of all my faculties.

We are all at risk for everything, like everyone else in the world. There is so much sadness: health, terrorism, wars, economy,  that sometimes I need to focus on just by breathing, in and out, in and out.  Sometimes I need to slap myself out of my self-pity and give thanks for the things I can do and more importantly send blessings to those who are less fortunate than I am. Now.