Carry on Tuesday: Once Upon A Time

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge a...

Out of fog Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco in fog and crepuscular rays. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was a time once, not so long ago, when I was chubby, fat, or just pleasantly plump. In Italy I would have been a goddess. Men would have followed me down the cobble stoned streets, whistling and begging to touch my beautiful breasts and my bountiful behind. Unfortunately, I wasn’t living in Italy, I was here in the United States, where all I really wanted was to be slender. I thought if I was thin, all my problems would dissipate like the mysterious fog in San Francisco. I imagined the fog lifting while I watched, wearing a heavy knit red sweater and sitting peacefully on a huge rock.

A couple of months ago I was very sick, (on top of my chronic illnesses” Fibromyalgia, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, IBS) I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t leave my house or the bathroom for an entire four weeks. I was pale, gaunt and looked ill. People on the street would ask me guardedly “If I was okay?” Part of me, if I had a sense of humor back then wanted to say “Of course, I’m in the middle-aged super model competition” but I had no sense of humor at the time. The other part of me was scared to speak so I just said “I’m fine” which people accept with relief and don’t follow-up with questions.

All my life there was always something about me that I wanted to change and after I changed it, I thought I would be happy: my weight, my hair, my glasses, wearing make-up, dressing better, nice shoes, tinting my hair to cover the tiny amount of gray that swirled in front of my face. The gray hair that I had been so proud to have, to acknowledge my real place in the world, as someone who had already experienced a great deal of life and had earned them with pride.

Having been married for 24 years with two young adults doing well in college was proof enough and even though I did go through a time feeling sorry for myself that the kids ” didn’t need me anymore” I realized my husband and I had done a very good job of parenting. I admit, I needed to remind myself that loving and needing were two very different things, they would love me as their mom but their lives and our lives would be constantly changing. Yes, sometimes it changes so quickly it was hard to keep up, that’s when I found myself alone, crying into an old, soft, handkerchief and feeling sorry for myself. I learned to accept that too. You have no choice.

Six weeks ago I went from eating and being lively to not eating and not feeling well, I lost over 30 pounds and before you coo and ooh and ahhh and wish it was you I can tell you, you better take that back. I did not enjoy clothes falling from my body, or food flowing through me, and not being able to go outside of my house for four weeks. The doctor scheduled me for every “cancer” test known to humanity and that was not fun. The doctor, not known for his bedside matter, actually told me WHAT he was testing for when we first met him in his office. Thanks, Doc, nice touch.

I will be getting the results later this week, I’m hoping that everything will be fine, I’m ( fairly) certain that they will be. The symptoms stopped a few days after my office visit and while I haven’t gained a lot of weight back, I do get hungry and I feel better. My newest ( little ) problem is this: I went to shop for new jeans and found that there are no jeans for women of my age. They have skinny jeans, under the waist jeans and jeans for teenagers with lithe bodies. Basically, the clothes that I have are four sizes too big for me and the style out there now are for teenagers only. I have nothing to wear, I miss my “Mom jeans.” It is impossible to find them, anywhere. Suggestions?

All that I have accomplished in this quest are the lack of clothes to wear and the acquisition of numerous wrinkles. I sat outside in the sun for a few moments, noticing all the wrinkles on my knees and thighs that were not there before. As I sat, warming my face, was I thinking about the good things in my life in a delighted way? No. I was thinking about the barium test (drinking chalk) that I have to drink tomorrow morning at eight am and where to aim my projectile vomiting. That, at least, is amusing me.

Be happy with what you have and who you are. As my dad used to say “Health is the most important thing.”  It’s the only thing, be grateful.

I’m Thankful For…. Chronic Babe Carnival

Waves crashing at Sal, Cabo Verde

Image by aldask via Flickr

In this blistering cold weather, I am thankful for a peek of bright yellow from the sun coming through the budding trees. When I am sitting on an, old, worn bench in the front yard and see the little purple flowers around the edge of the brown grass I am thankful for that too. What I am thinking about this very moment is how to be thankful when you have heard news that makes you unhappy, in other words, when life throws you a curve ball or two.  I think those are the times, like now, that might mean the most because it is test and a challenge and I need to teach the lessons to myself all over again. Learning from unexpected challenges….learning the hard way in the real world.

I wished for my mom to feel better and with deep gratitude, she is slowly feeling better. The spark is back in her voice for the most part and she plans to go back to her yoga class every week where she is surrounded by loving class-mates who have kissed her soft cheek after months of her absence.  I am thirty years younger than she is but with Fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I cannot do yoga. Yes, I have tried it and couldn’t manage it. I did take Pilates for senior citizens and special needs people but because of my lack of balance, I couldn’t keep up. What was humiliating and embarrassing at the time, is funny now. I am grateful my sense of humor returned.

Tonight, I heard that my husband will have to spend six weeks in Buffalo on a new project. This came out of the blue and he starts immediately. It shocked us both, and within one minute we also heard from our son that he did not get into one of the colleges he applied to. I had to think hard and glean the gratitude of these two events. When my husband said he had “bad news” I thought his (new) job had been eliminated. The fact that he wasn’t let go and still has a job after two years of unemployment is a good thing. I need to wrap my head around the location change. Even though it’s not the end of the world, it’s hard to be a mom of two demanding teenagers when you have chronic pain issues. That my son got rejected from one of the schools he applied to, could very well be a humbling experience for him and a good life lesson. Life speaks to us that way, in gentle tones and whispers unless we ignore them and then we are hit with hard, crashing blasts of turmoil and angst. The decision might not have gone the way you hoped, now stop and think how some things are not meant to be, and that “things happen for a reason.”

We’re constantly (does it really have to be THAT constant?) challenged in ways which we do not expect. Riding the waves, both rough and smooth is part of the process and I am grateful I have learned to do that. I am also grateful that I know myself well enough to know that I need a good 24 hours to process ANY change. After that, things are easier to take and understand. It doesn’t help me from not getting shocked but it does give me a reasonable time frame to get myself together and plan accordingly.

I am also thankful for my family, of course, and my friends. I am equally happy that I can let my feelings, good or bad, out on this computer and learn to process things on my own. I have books to read, music to listen to and ultimately, little control over what happens in the future. With years of trial and tribulation and of experience, I have learned that there are many rough waves in the world to ride out. I just need 24 hours to remember how to do it. For that knowledge alone, I am exceedingly grateful.

An Honest Thanksgiving

Tender, juicy roast turkey - the main attracti...

Image via Wikipedia

It will be Thanksgiving in just a few days. While we all are looking forward to moist turkey and my husband’s famous stuffing made with mushrooms and apples, raisins and water chestnuts, I have a small request. Please be kind and sensitive to one another. I don’t worry about what things will taste like; I know they will all be delicious. The only thing I worry about, quite honestly, is drama. Holidays can bring up all sorts of feelings: loss, bereavement, jealousy, resentment, sadness, and despair. Old wounds start to feel new, grievances and perceived injustices start to bubble to the surface. Before we dig in to the mashed potatoes my mother made (cough, cough, bought from a restaurant), and cranberry sauce let us think about each other first. During dessert let us try to rejoice in each others’ company instead of waiting for the air to get thick with tension as dense as brown gravy.

This year, for the first year I have actually mentioned to several members of the family that I am asking for a “drama-free” Thanksgiving. I have chronic pain, my husband has been feeling sad because of  lack of work, please try to remember this.  Work  alongside us, tell us things will be alright eventually. Life is not perfect but Thanksgiving should be about what we are grateful for, not what we lack.

I don’t want to hear sullen complaints about the food or the appetizers and I’m happy to cook and clean, taste, stir, serve and clean-up. I will not be happy with arguments, whispered secrets said too loudly and explosive outbursts. Please just leave your coats and any agendas at the door and please, please think before you speak. Be courteous to everyone else. Don’t brag, insult, or be insensitive to other people’s needs.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my family and friends. May it be peaceful, filled with great warmth, love, gratitude and great food. I am thankful for all of you.  Now, let us eat.