Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Serendipity


Perhaps it’s because I married young, but I really think that it’s more likely a basic part of my nature, but the truth is, I am not a person who has, historically, liked to venture out on my own.  I’ve not been crazy about trying things that are unknown to me.  I haven’t liked to walk first through a door of a new place.  I’ve liked the comfort of the “known”.  Perhaps it’s a growing self-confidence that comes with maturing; perhaps it’s just realizing that a new place or event isn’t going to suck me away, but over the last few years I’ve had a few opportunities to go out on my own in a strange place and I’ve not only relished the experiences, but I’ve often discovered little unexpected gems that leave me feeling alive, fulfilled, almost breathless.

Today I had one of those experiences.  Today, after finding my way to a specific store on the upper west side of New York City, I was wandering back to our hotel when I passed the American Folk Art Museum.  The sign outside said that admission was free, so I decided to check it out.  When I walked in, I could hear music playing and realized that this was a live performance, not a recording.  I checked my shopping bag with the security guard, put my $5 suggested admission donation into the box and walked into the museum enjoying the guitar music that was coming from two men seated at the front of a small gathering of chairs in the central area of the museum.  As I walked through one small wing, the music stayed with me and made the exhibits even more enjoyable.  Suddenly, I noticed that a woman’s voice was now accompanying the guitar players.  She was singing Patsy Cline’s Crazy and her voice drew me from the museum wing I was in, back to the central area like the smell of baking bread draws one into a bakery.  I felt I was carried along by the sound of her voice.  I found an open seat (one of only two available) and went on to listen, enjoy and sway to the end of Crazy as well as two additional songs.  When she finished her set, she sat down in the one remaining seat and a tall distinguished looking man approached the stage.  The guitar player said something like, “I’m not sure what he’s going to want to do, but we’ll bring him in with a little blues shuffle,” and the two guitar players proceeded to play a few notes with a rhythm that had me tapping my foot before the man even arrived at the front of the room.  The music then segued into the notes for the song I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water, the man began to sing and the entire audience began swaying, tapping and clapping.  Wow!  Folk art, Patsy Cline and blues music -- and all for my little $5 admission donation.

When I left the museum, I felt like I was swollen with serendipity.  I walked the rest of the way back to our hotel with a spring in my step and a smile on my face.  How fortunate that I am no longer my younger, tentative self.  How fortunate that I am now my more confidant, eager-to-explore self.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Revolution


This may be too woo-woo for some of you; it sounds pretty woo-woo to me, but I have to share.

I’ve dealt with weight issues my entire life.  Even when my weight was okay, I never felt in control of my relationship with food.  This was, I believe, because of very early training about the value of food in our daily lives and, especially, as it relates to special occasions.   I come from a family of overweight eaters and I always felt I was heading in the same direction.  In my first entry for this blog, back on January 1, 2008, I stated that I’d gained ten pounds in the last month, but was ready to take care of them.  Well, over the course of the last four years that ten became forty and I began to feel desperate.  Late last summer, at my highest weight, I started back to Weight Watchers, the only plan with which I’d ever really found success.  I lost some weight, but gained much of it back over the holidays.  Frustrated and unsure of what to do next, I noticed a post by a FaceBook friend in which she mentioned a book she had read and had found to be a bit life changing.  I ordered the book, Make Miracles in Forty Days, by Melody Beattie, and began reading.  Basically, the idea is that every day, for forty days, you make a written gratitude list; however, unlike typical gratitude lists, this list is to include anything and everything that’s wrong with your life, i.e. I’m grateful that I weigh too much, I’m grateful that there are some sucky things that I haven’t dealt with, I’m grateful that the house is a mess.  You get the idea.  I didn’t have much faith in this idea of writing that I’m grateful for those areas of my life that I really wasn’t happy with, but I gave it a try and (this is the woo-woo part) it worked!  I started this process back in January and within weeks information and ideas started jumping out at me.

The sucky issues I needed to deal with?  There was an article in a magazine that gave a step-by-step guide to purging that kind of “stuff”.  It felt a little silly going through the process, but at the end of it, I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders and my heart.

The messy house?  A friend mentioned her family’s Hour of Power (one hour on Saturday when everyone pitches in to clean the entire house) which we immediately implemented – what a difference!  Our house is clean, I don’t feel overburdened and everyone is more aware of the work that goes into keeping the house looking nice.

My weight and relationship with food?  This is where I’ve felt the most amazing change.  For the last couple of months I have felt like I’ve been following a path of crumbs that has been dribbled out for me.  First, a friend became concerned about her cholesterol numbers and began a six-month vegan, oil-free experiment (see her blog about this experiment at The Economom).  Her commitment to her plan and the seeming manageability of her lifestyle change inspired me even though I was pretty certain that veganism wasn’t for me.  I began to be more aware of my food choices and, while I was still trying to follow the Weight Watchers plan, I wasn’t committed to counting points and entering my meals in a food diary.  Then, one afternoon when I was on the couch with one of my back pain episodes, the recorded rerun of Perry Mason I had been watching ended and an ABC show called The Revolution was on.  I watched the remainder of the show and loved their segment on their weekly “hero” – someone going through their own personal revolution over a five-month period and reported on daily, over the course of the week, in one-month segments.  I started recording the show to watch, for inspiration and ideas, while I’m on the treadmill in the morning.  The second episode I watched had a guest, Kris Carr, the author of Crazy, Sexy Diet.  Wow!  She was inspiring!  I ordered her book, signed up for her blog alerts on email and “liked” her page on FaceBook.  While she doesn’t insist on veganism, she does encourage it in her plan, but mainly I was intrigued by the idea that what we eat has a true, biological effect on our bodies.  I guess I knew this at some level, but I’d never really stopped to think about the cellular chain reaction that occurs with every bite we eat.  I started to really look at what I was consuming – and sometimes it wasn’t pretty.  A couple of weeks later, Kris’s FaceBook page recommended a new book, The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, MD.  I have a very strong family history of diabetes and my own blood sugar numbers have ranged in the low to mid prediabetic range for the last several years.  Again, I ordered the book, signed up for the blog alerts on email and “liked” Dr. Hyman’s page on FaceBook.  When I started reading the book, I was completely bowled over.  It made so much sense!  Suddenly, when the kids were getting out ice cream in the evening or they’d made a batch of cookies, I didn’t have that deprived, pathetic feeling as I declined a serving.  I simply did not want to put that “stuff” in my mouth.  Without effort I have cleaned up my diet – I’m eating healthier than I ever have, I’ve discovered new foods and recipes and the pounds are floating away – I’d lost a net eight pounds on my months of Weight Watchers, and have now easily lost another 12 for a current total of twenty pounds!  I feel great and I don’t feel like I’m stuck on a diet (no more Weight Watchers).  My focus is on eating clean, healthy food and the other stuff I simply don’t want.

It’s been a little more than two months since I wrote my first “gratitude” list and I’m amazed by the changes that have taken place in my life since then.  Was it that I simply became more aware of ideas, possibilities and solutions once I listed out my concerns?  Was it the universe hearing my plea?  Was it just timing and dumb luck?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I feel like I’ve crawled out of a hole and I’m excited to see what’s available to me out here in the big, bright world.