Thursday, December 31, 2009

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere!

I have two friends who have completely clutter-free homes. It doesn't matter what time of the day or night you pop in, the house is clean. It's clean because there's no clutter. Zero. Nadda. It's almost scary and a little too sterile. This is something I do not understand. My house has clutter everywhere. And when I say clutter, I don't mean junk or garbage. It's things that don't seem to have a "place" and are laying around. There's mail that needs to be looked over, coupons I have clipped that I may use before they expire, school papers the kids have brought home, grocery list, books, Christmas gifts that need to be exchanged, laundry that just came out of the dryer, items I've laid out to take to work, and some pictures, just to name a few. I had to select this photo because it's quite typical of what I'm talking about. You can see the person has tried to buy a basket and container to keep items organized, but clutter now overflows. Also, if you know anything about me you'll find the humor in the Clorox wipes!

Sometimes clutter overwhelms me. I can only look at it for so long, then I can't take it anymore. On numerous occasions I have put all the papers from the kitchen counters into a box to start fresh. Two days later, it all seems to be back and now I have a box to store! I like to consider myself a fairly organized person, but when it comes to clutter, I'm better at organizing it in to unsightly piles than eliminating it. Also, it's difficult when you share a home with three other people, because not all the clutter belongs to you. You can't just throw it out because it's not yours, and someone else may need it later.

It's even worse when clutter overwhelms my husband, because he gets angry and just starts grabbing things and throwing them into boxes, which makes me insane. Of course that's because I'm not in control of the de-clutterization!!

I always think if I had a bigger house I could eliminate the clutter. More closets, more rooms! But I know this isn't the case. As we begin the new year, I'll write some ideas about getting rid of this problem. Maybe I'll even be able to implement some of them!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You're HOW Old?

By the time our mothers were 40 years old they seemed old. And I don't think it was just because we were young. They dressed differently than young people did, they wore their hair differently, and they did different things for fun. I think it's interesting that has seemed to change over the last generation or two.

Granted, not many people look as good as Demi Moore at 47, but today it's not uncommon at all to see women in their 40's and 50's wearing the same clothes, shoes, and hairstyles as young people. Almost all of them wear blue jeans, which is something my mother never did.

Perhaps it started with the hippies and flower children of the 60's. They decided not to get old. My boss, who is in her late fifties, still rides a Harley, and if she's not at work she is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. My good friend Miss M wears funky boots and a beautiful handmade scarf with her winter coat, that has peace symbols all over it. She's 57.

I'm 46, and it's not unusual at all to find me standing down front at an AC/DC concert, banging my head with all the other old people (and a few young ones)!

From where I sit, there are upsides and downsides to this. On the upside, people are living longer, and they are having more fun in their lives. They don't seem so stuffy, and they are more apt to stay in tune with younger people. It's not unusual for women to be good friends with much younger women.

On the downside, many of us want to continue to treat our bodies the same way we did when we were twenty. Often, we don't eat right or excercise. Soft drinks are more common than water or milk. Fast food is more common than a home cooked meal. Maybe this was fine when our bodies really were 20, but not such a good idea as we age.

Somewhere in the middle, I've noticed people refer to a lot of 40 and even 50 somthing's as "girls" instead of "ladies" or "women"; a title which commands less respect, particularly in the workplace.

I'm not condoning or condeming this shift in the way things have evolved, merely noting the observation. A 40 something woman can look good in "young" clothes, as long as she respects her limitations on bare arms, legs, and midriffs (people don't want to see wrinkles and flab). And I think a young, fresh hairstyle is good for everyone. However we choose to dress or wear our hair, we need to look our best and live our best life at any age.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Thirty (or so) Days of Christmas

As of today I am officially done with the overeating and drinking that accompany the Christmas season. Here's the December damage:

7 over the top lunch or dinner parties
1 Italian birthday lunch
approximately 10-12 dozen cookies
a plate full of birthday caramel cupcakes
around 2 dozen coconut balls and peanut butter buckeyes
anything you can possibly think of, dipped in chocolate
anything you may have left out, smothered in cheese
way too much wine, beer, and tequila
numerous packets of Alka Seltzer
4 pounds I already shed, back on my ass's over. Back to business for me now. Biggest Loser starts in a few days and I want to be back in the zone when it does!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Public Enemy Number One

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. It was very nice for me; very hectic but very nice. Next year I want to get an earlier start on Christmas shopping and Christmas card sending so I can sit back and enjoy a little more. Yesterday was my birthday. That was great too, and a lot more relaxing! Thanks to all who sent well wishes!

Last night I sat down to watch the movie "Public Enemies" with the irresistible, incredibly delicious Johnny Depp. In case you don't know, "Public Enemies" is the (not entirely accurate) story of the infamous bank robber, John Dillinger. I've written in this journal before that my mother always told me we were related to John Dillinger on her father's side of the family. After watching the movie, I have a real interest in finding out if that is true. Not something to be proud of, but I'd like to clear up the rumor once and for all.

I emailed my aunt today, and contacted three of my cousins through Facebook to see if any of them had ever heard this claim. I'll let you know what I find.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Just Felt Like Running

Remember when Forrest Gump ran? He just started running, and he ran and ran and ran until he was finished running.

That's what I feel like doing.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I Know The Pieces Fit

In those days, I knew nothing about alcoholism and addiction. There was never any alcohol in our home growing up, and I was never around anyone who drank until I was grown. My Dad wouldn't even take us to restaurants where beer was served. Not to say there wasn't addiction in our family, I know now there was plenty of it, but those people were not discussed in our household unless they were referred to as "drunks" who were pretty much excommunicated from our lives. At least from mine. I was sheltered from everything.

But I did have one, very surreal experience with the disease. Thinking back now, it almost seems like a dream. Right before I got married to David, some new neighbors moved in next door. They were big time drinkers, and the young lady quickly befriended my mother. My mother started going to their house for visits, and ultimately for a beer. I know it seems impossible, but my 110 pound mother could have two beers and be slurring, staggering drunk. What's worse, is that almost instantly she seemed to be hooked. Within a matter of a couple of months my mother was drunk several times a week. The odd part about it was I never once saw my mother take a drink. But we started finding beer cans hidden everywhere, mostly in her bathroom. During the course of an evening my mother would get up to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes, and every time she'd come back she was in worse condition.

My father was livid. He was absolutely beside himself. This hidden drinking went on for several months, I guess. Maybe a year or so? I honestly don't remember. My mother showed up drunk at a bridal shower given to me by Old Beth and her wonderful, June Cleaver mother. Believe me, there was no drinking allowed in that household either. I was incredibly embarrassed that day.

I was getting married, moving out, and caught up in my own life so I know I missed a great deal of what was happening at home. Years later my sister told me Mom had wrecked her car during that time, and they had hidden the whole thing from me because they didn't want to upset me.

When Dad had all he could take, he checked my mother into a 30 day in-patient rehab facility. To my knowledge, she never drank again after that.

I believe now, that this story explains volumes about how I grew in to the person I became. Even if I suspected someone drank more than I thought they should, why would I worry about it? If it got too bad I would simply do as my father did and put my foot down. I could resort to rehab if needed, and the "problem" would be solved. I could "fix" this if it ever got too far out of hand. From where I stood, curing this issue seemed pretty simple.

I also know now that I am more like my father than I ever wanted to believe. He was attracted to my beautiful, spunky, rule breaking mother the same way I have always been attracted to bad boys. My mother had a life before my Dad, and I have to wonder if he knew she had a problem with drinking when he married her, thus the strict abstinence in our household?

And I keep thinking back to my parents hiding the car crash from me. I was married, for Heaven's sake, and an adult! Yet they didn't think I could handle it? Or maybe just thought it was too scandalous to tell the Golden Child, but not the older, more worldly one? There were so many things that were hidden, not just the crash. My mother hid her drinking, and to the day she died she hid her smoking, because my Dad had forbidden it as it started to kill her. Dad never could get his way with that one, and it killed her anyway. After she died, we found cigarettes hidden everywhere.

My Dad would not be happy if he knew I wrote these secret things for all to see, but maybe if I hadn't been so sheltered, things may have been easier for me later in life. Maybe if I had been invited to family counsel during that 30 day rehab stay I could have learned some facts about the disease of alcoholism instead of just thinking it was something that could easily be fixed if and when it got out of hand.

Once again, this is why I love writing this journal. True, there are some people who don't particularly like it. But inside my mind, there are thousands of puzzle pieces. If I can pull out a few here and there, and see where they fit in, I may one day be able to see the full picture. What's more important, I may be able to stop the cycle from spreading to another generation of our family.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Paul.......Definitely Paul.

My husband is a very private person. He hates the Internet and the massive invasion of privacy that comes with it. So when I started writing this journal I promised him it would be about me, not him. I promised him I would mention him as little as possible. I've held true to that promise, even going so far as never to have given him a name. I've always referred to him as "my husband". Now that I'm to the point in my "Kiss and Tell" series where he came into my life, I'm going to have to cross that line. But I pledge to do it gently and with the utmost respect.

When Kitty came home for Spring Break, 1992 she asked me to come to her house one evening. Her brother, "G" was there. After three uneventful meetings over the last several months, this would be the night we would finally hit it off. We flirted all evening, building each other pretzels with squirty cheese elaborately sprayed on them, drinking beer and playing some game. When I got ready to leave, G walked me to my car. As I was getting inside I said "So, are you ever going to ask me out?" to which he replied "I was thinking about next Saturday".

It's no wonder I fell in love with G. At three years my junior, he was young, romantic and light hearted. I thought he looked like Steve Perry. He wrote me love letters, and he wrote the most beautiful poetry and songs you can imagine. Every time I saw him he would hand me some little paper on which he'd scratched out something deep and wonderful that melted my heart. I'd never met anyone that creative or talented, who wrote with so much passion. He didn't have much money at the time but he made up for it with his heart and abundant love. G would say the sweetest, most romantic things to me. He treated me like a china doll; a gift that was precious and cherished. I'd never met anyone who seemed so happy to be with me, who seemed so determined to be a devoted, loving partner. With everything in my being I felt I needed to grab hold of him and never let go.

G and I rarely watched television in those days. We listened to music most of the time. One night we listened to Pink Floyd's "The Wall" and spent hours talking about the meaning behind it. We laid in the floor one rainy day playing Beatles songs and trying to decide which Lennon/McCartney songs were written by John, and which ones were written by Paul.

We found a little Mexican restaurant that we loved and we went there every Friday night. We went to concerts, and we traveled. Trips to Chicago, the Cayman Islands, San Diego. G and I had radically different upbringings. I had older, very conservative parents, and G was raised by a much younger, very Liberal mother. Of course this was all very intriguing to me and from early on G and I were opposites who attracted. In those early days we had so much fun. I think back on those days now, and while I'm sad that life decided those uncomplicated, romantic, carefree, no-responsibility days had to eventually come to an end, I'm very thankful that we had them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh, What A Tangled Web We Weave

When we last left the "Kiss and Tell" series I was about to meet my husband for the first time. Actually, I had three brief encounters with him before we would ever discuss going on a date. Now is when several of the stories you've read will all intertwine like some giant spider web, so try to stay with me here.

It's late summer, 1991. I am 27 years old. I've been divorced from David for well over a year. A few months earlier, Michael suddenly and unexpectedly broke my heart. I am having fun, dating a lot of people. I have reconnected with Chris W, but now he has suddenly stopped taking my calls. I have just moved into my little house and have just started my new job. I am about to go to Atlanta where I will meet Kerry. Kitty and I have been friends for quite awhile now. We spent the summer hanging out at clubs, and having a great time.

Way before I ever got the nerve to leave David, Kitty was telling me about her brother. At the time they were very close, and she had always wanted me to meet him. Now, I finally would. Kitty was about to head back to college for the fall semester, so we were to meet up with her brother and another friend of hers to go out for the evening.

The first encounter I had with Kitty's brother was on that farewell weekend. The four of us went to a club (maybe two). It was an uneventful night but we all had a good time. At the end of the night I said goodbye to Kitty for the semester, and I told her I thought her brother was sweet and I may like to see him again. That would have to wait. I wasn't quite ready to give up on Chris W, and I was about to go to Atlanta (in September) where I would meet and start my relationship with Kerry.

The second encounter would be a couple of months later, in October. I had gone to an outdoor concert. Chris W had stopped calling and wouldn't return my calls to him. I ran smack dab into him at this concert. He was with a girl and he was clearly uncomfortable talking to me. I let him off the hook and went on. A few minutes later I ran into Kitty's brother. He was with friends and so was I. Also, I was rattled from the unexpected brush with Chris W. We said hello to each other, made some small talk, and went our separate ways.

The third encounter was sometime during the winter when I ran into him at a nightclub. He waved to me. I walked up to him and said "I know that I know you from somewhere, but I can't remember where". He seemed a little put out and replied "I'm Kitty's brother!". As I said, it was a wild year. A lot was happening to me. It wasn't the right time for us.

I wouldn't see Kitty's brother again until she came home for Spring Break, 1992. That's when my life would change again. That's where I'll pick up the story next time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Courage To Accept The Things I Cannot Change

I'm proud of myself today. Someone tried to drag me in the middle of some drama and I didn't allow it. Something that would only frustrate me because there's nothing I can do about it anyway, and even though it affects people I'm close to, it doesn't directly affect me.

If there's one area of codependence where I've made decent strides, it's letting other people's problems roll off my back instead of trying to fix them all. I'll take that.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Way To Go, Sara!

Several months ago my friend and neighbor turned 50. As instructed by his physician, he went for a complete physical. They checked him out, ran all his numbers, did a colonoscopy; all those good things that come with passing through the gates of 50.

His wife, Sara knew that she would also be turning 50 a few months later and that she was not even close to being ready for this big "Day of Reckoning". This brought about a motivation in Sara. She started eating healthy and exercising. Now Sara walks for about an hour every day, rain or shine, hot or cold. She walks the neighborhood and makes sure to hit every hill; determined that she would be happy to welcome 50, not surrender to senior citizenship, sickness, and a bunch of medications!

Sara celebrated her 50th birthday on Friday. I am happy to report she is 65 pounds lighter than she was in the Spring. She has gone from a size 22 pants, to a size 14 jeans. She has also modernized her hairstyle, which makes her look 10 years younger. I am very proud of Sara. She has been a big part of my motivation to get back on track, and I feel pretty sure she's going to sail through that "50 Physical"!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Unhealthy Family Behavior, Part Two

So when my Dad told me my son's bad test grade was my fault, I held it together and responded to him in an assertive but not aggressive way. Unlike years past, I did not react like a little girl, I stayed a rational adult. I liked it! But then an odd thing happened. The minute I got to the car, the rational adult vanished and the role reversal began. Suddenly I took on the role of a child.

Me: I hope you know, Papaw just ripped me a new one and told me your bad grade was MY fault! I HATE when my Dad yells at me! I am not responsible for your bad grade, YOU ARE! I know you are perfectly capable of doing the work, but because you got a bad grade on this test, I GOT YELLED AT! Don't you know by now that when you do something he thinks is wrong, he holds ME responsible for it?!?
My Son: (calmly) Maybe you just shouldn't tell him everything.

Why am I hell bent on passing on these unhealthy behaviors? I should have spent the drive home discussing how my son could improve the grade, and consequences if he doesn't, not how my Dad yelled at me and made me feel bad.

Just as my father apologized to me, I later apologized to my son. Not for being upset about the grade, but for dragging him into a silly cycle my Dad and I have created. This cycle needs to stop with this generation. My kids need to learn that we all need to be responsible and accountable for our own actions, period. Not blaming anyone else when we make a mistake, and also not "rescuing" or taking on the weight of the problems of everyone around us.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Unhealthy Family Behavior, Part One

Codependence doesn't just happen overnight. The way we are raised plays a major role. Later, throw in a couple of unstable friends, lovers, and family members, and our relationships fuel what's already been planted in us, and the unhealthy behavior grows from there.

Conversation with my father earlier this evening:

Dad: Your son did alright on his Social Studies test.
Me: Really? It looks like he got a "D".
Dad: What do you mean? I saw a "B".
Me: That "B" is something else. It's the answer to the sample question at the top of the page. He got a 64. There's no letter grade, but I'm thinking that's a "D".
Dad: He studied so hard. I can't believe this.
Me: Well, he's been having a lot of trouble staying focused in class. We're working on it. I just spoke with his teacher on the phone today.
Dad: I'm blaming you.
Me: What?? Me???
Dad: Yes. You're his mother, I'm blaming you for this. You shouldn't let him go skating every weekend. He needs to be home studying. There's no one else to blame but you!
Me: Yes....there is. You need to blame your grandson. He's the one who got the bad grade. He's responsible for his own actions.

Two hours later my Dad called to apologize. He said he should have never blamed me for my son's grade and he felt really bad about it. I told him not to worry, I knew all along it wasn't my fault, it was my son's fault.

Believe it or not, Dad and I have both come a long way. In years past he would not have called to apologize, and I would have agreed it was my fault because I believed I was responsible for everything and everyone around me. Many, MANY times growing up I heard him say similar things to my mother when I did something wrong: "You're too easy on that girl, you spoil her", when in reality it was me that made the bad decision, not my poor mother.

Like my mother, I've taken responsibility for other people's actions for a very long time. I guess I felt it was my duty. At times I've felt like everything in the world was my responsibility. I see now I was conditioned to be that way. Am I going to let the "D" slide by with no consequences or a plan of action? Of course not. But I'm making some real progress in my own journey, and I'm doing better all the time. My 79 year old Dad is even making progress, so I guess we're never too old to grow.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Food Swap

Yesterday at the grocery store I saw something I can't get out of my mind. A young mom who was so overweight and out of breath that she could not pick up her young son to put him in the seat of the basket, so she instructed him to "climb on up". A teenage boy who had just brought the carts in off the lot looked up, just as I did. Both of us had a look of concern but didn't know what to do. The cart boy said "Ooooh, be careful". After watching as the little boy struggled and the cart started to fall with him, I walked over and asked if she would like me to lift him up and put him in the seat.

With our hurried lifesyles, and the food choices we have so readily available on every street corner, it's no wonder 65% of Americans are already overweight or obese, and heart disease is the number one killer in this country. Here's a delicious option when you have a taste for a big, fat bacon burger.

Try something different this week.

A Baconater Triple Burger from Wendy's contains 1330 calories, 86 grams of fat, and 47 grams of carbohydrates. That's as many calories as the average woman should be consuming in an entire day! And that's BEFORE you add the fries and coke!

This is a delicious quarter pound bacon burger alternative from The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook containing 295 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 25 grams of carbs. This recipe makes four burgers:

4 strips extra lean turkey bacon, each cut in half
1 lb 96% lean ground beef
4 whole grain or whole wheat hamburger buns
1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
4 large tomato slices
4 Tbls lowfat mayo

Preheat a grill to high heat.

Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the bacon strips. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until crisp. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm.

Divide the beef into 4 equal portions and shape into balls, packing them tightly as you do. Press each into a patty that is about 1⁄2" larger than the diameter of the buns.

Grill the burgers for about 2 minutes per side for medium rare, or until desired doneness (do not smash the burgers with a spatula). Place the bun halves, cut sides down, on the upper grill rack or away from direct flame until toasted, about 20 seconds.

Place each toasted bun bottom on a plate. Top with the spinach, tomato, patties, then 2 pieces of bacon each. Spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise evenly on each bun top, flip atop the patties, and serve.

Note: The burgers should be grilled, not fried, and though you may be tempted to use 93% lean ground beef instead of 96% lean, don't. Though they don't sound very different, 93% lean has almost twice the fat as 96% lean, less calories, and less fat.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lovin' From The Oven

I was doing so well. I'd followed my plan to the letter all day. Special K with blueberries and skim milk for breakfast, whole wheat crackers with a dab of cream cheese for snack, grilled chicken on a whole wheat tortilla for lunch. I had already brought out the avocado I planned to cut for afternoon snack. Yes, it was a well planned day......until "they" came.

Every year, one of the ladies who used to work at my branch spends what must be an entire weekend baking cookies. Thousands of tiny chocolate chip cookies that she puts into tins and gives to practically everyone. Today everyone in my office was handed a tin full of them.

It took me off guard, just like that carrot cake from a couple of weeks ago; only this time I did not win. I put them under my desk. I couldn't stop thinking about them. I decided not to deprive myself; that one or two of them would be okay. Then I would ration them for the next several days. Yeah, right. After those two, I ate two more. Then two more. Then I lost count. After about ten, maybe twelve of them I realized I had lost control. I felt like an alcoholic with a bottle. I heard one of my coworkers saying how excited her boyfriend would be to eat her tin of cookies. I walked over and gave her the rest of mine for him to enjoy as well.

It's not good for me to be caught off guard. It's not good for anyone with a weakness or addiction to get caught off guard. When there's a food I really like, I can go crazy. I do it with Marie's tiny chocolate chip cookies. I do it with mashed potatoes. I do it with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I do it with dumplins. It's scary. Many times I've seen my good friend Mystical take a couple of bites of a decadent dessert and push it away saying "that's just too rich for me". I'm doubting that could ever happen to me. The richer, the better.

I think I learned today that while we have to splurge a little here and there, I simply have to have my splurges in a controlled environment, lest I stumble, fall, and screw up my whole day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quotes I Like

"If it grows out of the ground or you can pick it off a tree, chances are it's good for you."
-Bob Harper - The Biggest Loser

We all know processed, pre-packaged foods are not good for us. In an attempt to cut even more of them from my diet, I have made an amazing discovery: I actually really like a lot of healthy foods! Fresh avacado, blueberries, raspberries, celery, bananas, tomatoes, and pineapple are my favorites.

This spring I will be doing something I think is very exciting. I am purchasing a "share" in a local farm. Several of the people who work in my building have been doing this for a few years now. The farmers will deliver fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm to my office building once a week for 10 weeks. In addition, they will offer fresh eggs and meats. This is a win/win situation. My family will be eating the freshest foods, free of hormones and chemicals, and we will be supporting a local farm and family.

I am extremely excited about this new venture, and can't wait until my first delivery.

Some of my readers are fortunate enough to have their own very nice vegetable gardens, but if you are like me and have to rely on the grocery store, you may want to check out this site:
or contact a farm in your area.