beach, enjoying family, Having fun, love, Outer Banks, vacations, Writing

The Day After Vacation

My husband and I desperately needed a getaway.  The first two times this year that we tried to grab a vacation fate intervened and distinctly told us “NO!”  First, we missed the Steampunk World’s Fair because my husband’s small umbilical hernia decided to go rogue and need emergency surgery.  Then, a  month later we attempted a camping trip, but I ended up with Norovirus, courtesy of my grandson.  Knowing that we still had our August beach trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina coming up, my husband and I guarded our health like the Hope Diamond.  It seemed miraculous that we reached our day of departure unscathed and  happily made it to the shore of Kill Devil Hills on August 12th, as planned.

We had our usual blast.  We scoured the beach for shells and joked that our shell overlord would punish us if we didn’t find the best and brightest shells on the beach. (Yes, we’re slightly silly!)  We visited the newly renovated aquarium in Manteo. We ate a ton of delicious seafood from all of our favorite restaurants (I’m not weighing myself until next week!). We swam and sunned with SPF 50, went to an arts and crafts festival in Manteo, and a drag queen brunch in Nag’s Head.  We saw four really good movies and viewed the eclipse* whilst on the beach (unlike our “president,” we managed to look ONLY with our little paper eclipse glasses).  While these were all wonderful activities, my favorite part of the trip was limiting our usage of all screened devices and just talking, reconnecting, and remembering why we’re so great together.

Today, my husband is back to work with a better attitude. I’m home, reinvigorated, knowing that by the weekend things will get busy again, but that I’ll happily embrace what comes my way.

Here are some delicious highlights from our trip:

We managed to take in the gorgeous sunset on only one morning–we managed to sleep in all of the rest!

I’m usually a wine drinker, but I just had to try the Lemon Grass Ale at the Outer Bank’s Brewery.  Their food is also quite amazing!

The two drag queens pictured are Jennifer Werner  and Naomi Black at J.J. Brewbaker’s Eggs, Bacon and Diva’s Drag Brunch.  Both were so naturally funny and  just lovely people inside and out!

The NC Aquarium has a sea turtle rescue.  The turtle shown in the specialized tank is Izzy.  She suffers from a balance problem and was unable to dive down to feed.  She’s fitted with special weights that allow her to regain her balance.

The Osprey nest was outside of where we were seated at Basnight’s Lone Cedar restaurant in Nag’s Head. Ospreys mate for life and they shared their nest with their juvenile offspring. The food and view were awesome!

*The eclipse pictures are courtesy of my daughter.  They were shot in WV. In NC, the eclipse had slightly more coverage at it’s peak, but I had no devices to film it with. The rest of the pics were taken by me.

Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

Anxiety, Appreciation, blogging, Building self-confidence, cats, enjoying family, Exercise, fitness, Food Addiction, losing weight, love, Maintaining Weight Loss, marriage, setting goals, weight loss journal, Wisdom, Writing

Snowy Sunday

We’re under yet another winter storm warning, but I’m not complaining.  I think my husband and I need a day to relax. I’ve realized, since my weight loss, that I’ve become quite accustomed to my days being filled with a constant flurry (no pun intended towards the falling snow outside my window) of activities.

In fact, with my birthday being a month away, I was mentally comparing my life now to a year ago:

  • Nearly a year ago today, I was excited to be wearing a brand new pair of size 18, skinny, jeans to my birthday party.  This was a welcome change from the size 24 pants that I’d worn to my first weigh in at the bariatric center.
  • As only a  three-month veteran of my weight loss program, I cautiously approached every sip, or bite, of food that I ingested and monitored every calorie I burned at the gym.
  • My self-confidence was a newly burgeoning entity experiencing so much for the first time.
  • My main goal was to get healthy and stay that way.

Now, my life is vastly different.  As a fit and healthy person, I look at life through new eyes, seeing every bright possibility.  It’s not just because my body is fit, it’s because my mind is clear and my soul is free of the baggage of anxiety and food addiction. I love my life and the people in it so much.  I quite honestly never imagined being so happy.

I think the secret to life is as simple and pure as the snow gently drifting in my driveway; see life as a series of possibilities and believe that the odds are in your favor, because they are. Take care of yourself. Feed and exercise each part of your body, mind, and spirit with good things, because that’s exactly what you deserve.  Practice kindness, caring, patience, and love daily. It just feels right, and you’ll mostly always get each in return.

Deep thoughts on a snowy Sunday! 🙂

Hope everyone is having a phenomenal day! 🙂

My kitty says, "It's time to relax!"  (Photo by me)
My kitty says, “It’s time to relax!” (Photo by me)
Appreciation, beach, blogging, Exercise, Having fun, love, Maintaining Weight Loss, marriage, weight loss journal, Writing

I’m Back!

We saw this little guy right before we left the house for the last time. (photo by me)
We saw this little guy right before we left the house for the last time. (photo by me)

Last night, my husband and I arrived home from the land of swaying palm trees, menacing alligators, lounging lizards, magical Spanish moss, and good, old fashioned Southern hospitality.  Unfortunately, as mentioned in my previous post, we were in Hilton Head, South Carolina taking care of things after the death of my father-in-law.

In spite of the dreary task of clearing out, cleaning, and preparing the home for sale, we managed, during our long work days, to seek out the good.  In fact, everything we set out to accomplish was completed, not only with the best of intentions, but with fate placing the best of people in our paths.  Here are some of the highlights–not in any particular order:

  • Spending one on one time with my husband, and confirming how well we get along and work together.
  • Unexpectedly ending up with the nicest, quietest room in the hotel we stayed at.
  • Our hotel being located right beside of the Okatie Ale House–they have the best food in town with lots of healthy choices (even though I didn’t always make the healthiest of choices)!
  • Picking and eating the last orange on the backyard tree.  Delish!
Right from the tree to our tummies!  Yum!! (photo by me)
Right from the tree to our tummies! Yum!! (photo by me)
  • Meeting, and getting to know, the new neighbors who lived beside of my father-in-law.
  • Finding the many letters and family pictures that my in-laws had saved. (Oh, my goodness, my husband was a cute baby!)
  • Visiting Beaufort, SC in between appointments, on our last day in SC.  What a quaint, artsy, beautiful city!
Could Beaufort, SC be any cuter?  The Spanish moss makes you feel like you're in a fairytale! (photo by me)
Could Beaufort, SC be any cuter? The Spanish moss makes you feel like you’re in a fairytale! (photo by me)
  • Finally getting a picture of one of the alligators residing in the neighborhood lagoon.
  • Seeing two anoles on the day we said goodbye to the house.
  • Getting lots of meaningful exercise while cleaning, climbing ladders and lifting boxes.
  • Eating ice cream at least 10 times while away and not gaining ANY weight!!
  • Discovering that everyone in Hilton Head dresses up and finding amazingly great sales at White House/Black Market (I’m talking $100 dress pants for $14.99!).  (I’d packed very quickly, and completely wrong, for the weather and area–now I won’t have to shop for Spring!)
  • Encountering lots of interesting, fun, quirky, and extremely polite people everywhere we went.
  • Coming home to my gorgeous family and sweet kitties!

Now, I’m off to finish unpacking and organizing the things we brought home.  We decided to each choose a special thing to keep from the house as a memory.  My husband chose some wooden carvings of sea creatures that were in his home from childhood.  I picked my mother-in-law’s everyday dishes (I’m not a fine China kinda girl!).  I’ve always loved them, and they certainly make me think of family dinners and good times at the beach.

I thought these would be a nice memento of good times shared with my in-laws.  (Photo by me)
I thought these would be a nice memento of good times shared with my in-laws. (Photo by me)

 

I hope everyone is doing well.  Thank you for your kind messages and well-wishes while we were away. 🙂

Finally, a shot of that elusive gator!  Can you see how well he blends in to the environment?  (photo by me)
Finally, a shot of that elusive gator! This is the smallest one.Can you see how well he blends in to the environment? (photo by me)

 

 

Appreciation, love, marriage, memories, Writing

Why the Disappearing Woman Disappeared

My father-in-law’s sudden passing has caused us to be temporarily situated in a golf and beach community in South Carolina.  I’d love to share that we’ve been gallivanting about, via  golf cart, wearing funny pants, and attempting to be under par, but we’ve not. I’d, also, like to tell you about sand between my toes and shells in my beach pail, but I can’t write about that either.  We’ve been doing the sad task that many 50-somethings must do after their last parent passes; settling an estate.

My husband is the only surviving sibling, so the two of us have been handling all arrangements, attending to all legal matters, and sorting through the home that is proving to be a time machine into my husband’s past. I’ve seen has birth announcement, hand written by my mother-in-law 58 years ago.  I’ve read a letter from his sixth grade teacher, telling of his kindness and brilliance.  I’ve held the picture that won him a beautiful baby contest; a story my mother-in-law often referenced when bragging about how good looking her son was–and still is!

Though this task is in its beginning stages, I’ve sorted through what feels like a million papers and boxed up a plethora of things for donations, sale, and haul away.  In spite of the sadness, there’s been a measure of  joy in getting to know another side of my in-laws.  I’ve read ancient letters from friends, throughout the years, who complimented their ability to laugh and find fun in nearly every situation.  I’ve viewed photos of them in their late teens through their early 80s, taken at the various homes they lived in and  places all around the world that they visited. No matter the scenery, their smile and their loving gaze was a constant. I’ve shuffled through business plans and product prototypes to discover that they were brave risk-takers.  I’ve held my mother-in-law’s wild costume jewelry earrings from the sixties up to my own ears and tried to imagine the crazy parties that she may have wore them to in her younger years.

Oddly, there is a healing in this unavoidable process and a deeper wisdom. In the end, there are things that remain that will tell our stories; most are simple pieces of paper with words or pictures marking milestones, successes, failures, events and memories.  There are other things, silly things, like favorite sweaters and worn-out slippers, or eye glasses near a favorite book, or even half eaten bags of potato chips that remind us that we’re all so damned human and habitual.

Love the people you’re blessed to have in your life and reach out to those around you.

We may be down here for another week or so, tying up loose ends before we head back to the cold weather of West Virginia.  One of the many silver linings of this entire trip has been enjoying weather in the 70s in February.  I wish I could ship some of the sunshine to my northeastern blogging buddies!

As for my disappearance from WP lately, please don’t give up on me!  I plan to reappear as things settle down.  Hope everyone is doing well. 🙂

 

 

 

Bipolar II, blogging, emotional eating, enjoying family, losing weight, love, marriage, Medical Weight Loss Program, memories, mental illness, optifast, Self-Soothing, setting goals, weight loss journal, Wisdom, Writing

To Dispel the Shininess of the Aha Moment

Years ago, Oprah Winfrey popularized a nearly century-old phrase first coined in a 1939 psychology text-book; the “aha moment.” By 2012, this locution had became so popular that it was officially entered into Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as:

 “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.”

I somehow pictured the great epiphany of the aha moment to occur in a flash of terrific fanfare and deep connection with the Universe.  Little did I realize that my aha moment would occur in the small hours of the morning, in the pitch-dark of my bedroom.

It was November 12, 2013, and I couldn’t sleep, though I certainly didn’t lack the general feeling of exhaustion. Every joint in my body ached and the only thing more pronounced than the rapid pounding of my heart in my ears, was my labored breathing.  At nearly 230 pounds, I was the heaviest I’d ever been.

The past decade had brought a barrage of changes and strife that began with appearance of my youngest daughter’s bipolar symptoms; psychosis, depression, hypo-mania.  Because she was too ill to attend school and had to be constantly supervised, I took leave from my job of 16 years to care for her. For six months, other than for medical appointments, I only left my home, once every two weeks, go to the grocery store.  There, I would fill up my cart with an oxymoronic combination of extremely healthy foods for our meals, mixed with a plethora of high calorie sugary snacks for me. In those horrible days, food was my replacement for all of the pleasures that it felt like life had taken away; sanity, personal freedom, healthy relationships, and general happiness.  In truth, my youngest daughter seemed like a stranger and my oldest was acting out. She’d shaved her head, pierced her tongue, and even threatened to quit high school.  My husband, who, at that time, had limited understanding and experience with mental illness, was constantly out of sorts.  Add the financial burden from me no longer working, my unexpected isolation as an extrovert, and a family history of addiction into the mix and it’s no surprise that I reached for food as my drug of choice to numb chaos of my situation.

Eventually, our tribulations passed.  My daughter was properly diagnosed and medicated.  Within two years she was back to her old, sweet self. Looking back it seemed that in the blink of an eye she finished high school, then college, and found the perfect job.  She also found a terrific guy.   My oldest, thankfully, decided to stick out high school, then college, and finally medical school; in five months she’ll graduate to be a family doctor. Last year, she married her high school sweetheart.  My husband and I joined NAMI (the National Alliance for Mental Illness) and attended their support groups. The hub became much better educated about mental illness and its effect on the family.  He’s not only one of my daughter’s biggest cheerleaders, he’s my complete partner in our happy marriage.

With the deviation of my tale passed, I return to the night of my epiphany with the thought that perhaps the old adage is wrong.  Perhaps things don’t feel brighter after the storm has passed.  Maybe the storm tosses us about a bit too long and makes us confused about who we are, and what we want, because on the night of my aha moment, I was certainly at rock bottom.  I tried one last time to finagle the mound of pillows behind my head, only to find myself unable to breathe from my suffocating neck fat.

“I hate myself. I can’t live like this anymore!” I mouthed in the dark, as hot tears exited the corners of my eyes and pooled in my ears. I covered my face with my hands to stifle my sobs. I wiped my eyes with the sheet and grabbed my tablet from the bedside table to type this:

THINGS I MUST DO TO CHANGE MY LIFE:

  1. Lose 95 pounds
  2. Regain my health
  3. Find something I love to do

The next morning I called the bariatric center to register for an informational session about Optifast on December 12, 2013.  After that session, I took their first available appointment.

January 16, 2014,  my very first day on Optifast, was the beginning of my new life.   The days, weeks, and months that followed were full of work, discovery, and living.  Nearly a year later, my days are exponentially as filled with happiness, harmony, and health.

My aha moment didn’t occur on the day that I’d won a great prize, or made a deep connection with the Universe, as I’d once suspected it would.  It happened under the shroud of night, on a pile of tear-stained pillows and twisted covers. In spite of my lofty visions of enlightenment, crushingly uncomfortable neck fat was my tipping point, my catalyst, and my spur.   I realize now that aha moments aren’t often those that sparkle.  They’re messy, dirty, gritty, painful, and even, fat. It’s that split second directly after an epiphany that life begins to twinkle, and once you set your change into motion it begins to shine.

Have you had an aha moment that’s changed your life for the better?  If you’ve lost weight, what was the catalyst that set your loss into motion?  Tell me about it in the comments below. 🙂 

 

 

 

Appreciation, blogging, Building self-confidence, enjoying family, Exercise, fitness, food and family celebrations, Having fun, learning, losing weight, love, Maintaining Weight Loss, Medical Weight Loss Program, memories, optifast, Thankfulness, weight loss journal, Writing

I’d Fight a Zombie for You

 

Last year, on December 16th, I attended an informational meeting about Optifast at our hospital’s bariatric center.  I was nearly 230 pounds and physically miserable.  My health was on a downward spiral of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, depression, and limited mobility.   My spirit was in even worse shape.  In fact, shortly before my first bariatric visit, a silly family conversation about the Zombie Apocalypse* turned pretty serious as each family member was discussing their special skill in defeating the undead.  My husband’s years in the Army have given him amazing survival skills, coupled with a sniper-like aim with any weapon available.  My younger daughter is super fast, fearless, and strong. Her fiancé is resourceful and also an expert in survival and weaponry.  My oldest daughter is cunning, has expert medical skills, and extremely resilient, and her husband is wily, quick and strong.  After talking out a few scenarios that slayed more than a slew of zombies, my family turned to me,

“What would you do Mom?” my oldest asked.

“I’m fat,”  I replied, “I’d be your diversion.”

With that, their happy conversation ceased and I spent the next hour, promising them that I would get healthy.

Fast forward to yesterday.  My oldest I were happily dancing around the kitchen to holiday music with a few twerking songs thrown in, when she reminded me of last year’s Zombie Apocalypse conversation.

“What would you do now, Mom?” she questioned **

I answered with a high, karate-style kick that finished just inches from her head.

“I’d kick their asses!,” I replied with a smile.

With just one year of extremely hard work, I’ve gone from a Zombie’s holiday meal, to the undead’s worst enemy.  I’m nearly 100 pounds lighter, am no longer pre-diabetic, no longer have sleep apnea, depression, or high blood pressure.  My asthma medication has been cut in half, and I’m physically fit. I’ve met new, wonderful people through my gym and this blog.  I don’t fear life anymore, and I’m certainly not afraid of a few zombies!

I feel so immensely blessed this wonderful holiday season. I’m thankful for the love of my friends and family, for my health, and for all of the caring, sweet people that I’ve met here on WordPress.  I feel like I know all of you as friends and wish you all the happiest and healthiest of holidays! ❤ ❤ ❤


 

*Something that people who have years of advanced education tend to do, along with lengthy discussions of Star Wars, Star Trek, and other various super cool subjects!

**Once again, her extreme coolness coming out.

 

blogging, cracker barrel, enjoying family, love, marriage, TMI, Writing

Just Call me “Party Girl!”

Warning:  This post may contain a few TMIs! 

Greetings all!  My surgery (D&C with Novasure procedure) yesterday went very well and I’m spending the day resting in my comfy fleece pajamas.  I’m just slightly sore, with only the need for some Tylenol every 4-6 hours. While I feel a little down that I’m banished from the gym for one week and the pool for three weeks, I must admit that I’m thoroughly enjoying having my wonderful husband here with me today, treating me like a princess, as I rest.

Before my surgery, I was warned that I could experience some unusual effects from the anesthesia, like waking up agitated or crying.  Though I remember very little of yesterday, apparently, my reaction to the anesthesia was the exact opposite as confirmed by these texts that I sent to friends and family:

“Woo Hoo!  I’m all done!  It was fun!  Wooooooooooooo!”

“My vagina good with stars!!  Wooooo!”

“It went great and I high!”  Wooooooo!

” Ima all done!  I did great!  I can’t use heavy machinery, but I’m going to Cracker Barrel for pancakes!  Wooooooo!  Hooooo!”

“I’m high as a kite!  I can’t use heavy machete (sic)  right now, but everything is good!”

While waiting for me in the recovery room, my husband could hear me being wheeled down the hall, as I high-fived the staff and yelled “Woo Hoo!” to the top of my lungs.  Before I was brought in, a laughing nurse approached my husband and said “We’re bringing ‘party girl’ back to you!”

I then proceeded to laugh throughout the nurse’s usual post-op warnings to not sign legal documents for 24 hours, drive, or operate heavy machinery.  My husband told me I went through a litany of different tools, asking if I could use them:  “Can I learn to drive a Bobcat?  What about a forklift?  Can I at least use my Dremel to sand glass?”  I also managed to drop the “f” bomb while describing how great the cocktail of drugs was that the anesthetist had given me.

After post-op instructions, the surgeon (who happens to be a good friend of my daughter) came in to check on me.  I reminded her that we’d all just “had a party at my vagina.” We high-fived and she and the staff hung around for a bit being silly.  Once I drank some water and ate a few saltines, and was acting less like I had just been the star attraction at a  frat party, I was allowed to leave.  Of course, there were hugs all around from the staff, and my nurse told me that I’d made her day.

As promised, my husband took me to Cracker Barrel for pancakes and bacon after my long pre-surgical fast.  By this time, I was only slightly drowsy and fully able to behave myself in public.

Have you ever had surgery?  Did you behave yourself post-op, or did you turn into party girl/boy, like me?