The Rain

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I woke to the rain

The soft sound of weeping

They say that tears heal

That they water the soul.

And maybe that’s true,

I hope that it is.

 

But when the wind howls with fury

And the hail pelts down hard

I wonder how grief

Can turn into flowers

Sometimes in spring.

 

When will we know how

To fix this big mess?

Will the hungry be fed

And the homeless find shelter?

When will the children go home?

 

I am tired

I am angry

I weep with the planet

And I rage with the wind.

God, grant me wisdom.

Love, give me courage.

Let’s drink all that water

So we don’t drown in the flood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread #87

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It was Thanksgiving week last week, a day for family and feasting.

Last year I transitioned from all meal replacement products to food right before Thanksgiving. I was very careful on that day and weighed and measured absolutely everything. (1 Tablespoon of gravy for instance. ) This year, since I am down over 150 pounds and at a comfortable not-obese weight finally, I still recorded estimates of what I ate, but I ate pretty much all I wanted including a couple of cocktails. I enjoyed myself and on the scale the next morning I was up a mere pound. It will be easy to lose that without hardly trying. The next afternoon, we went clothes shopping and I bought a pair of size 14 jeans. I used to wear 28 or 3x.   This was me several Thanksgivings ago.  It is the traditional “Turkey just out of the oven” pic.  The turkey was also smaller this year, but that had more to do with how many people came to dinner each year. I am getting older each year, of course, but am much healthier than I was.  ‘Tis a major miracle.

IMG_2705I am still figuring out what the future will hold in this journey of mine. Am I done with weight loss?  Recovering from knee replacement surgery is still slowing me down quite a bit as I am afraid of overdoing it again.  I saw the orthopedic physician’s assistant today and she said it looks like I developed some bursitis in that knee.  Hopefully that is all it is and it will heal with even more rest and ice, although she did order some blood work and an x-ray to make sure nothing else is going on.  I will see the surgeon in a couple of weeks.  It is very frustrating not being able to do much walking.

I want to enjoy the holidays and all the December birthdays with full energy and without stressing about what and how much I am eating.  We will see how it all goes.  An upward trend would  get my attention, but simple maintenance of my current weight would be a fine thing at this point.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 30408 steps last week for 12.8 miles.  I ate approximately 9849 calories and burned 12620 for a deficit of 2771. My average weight this week is down .3 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 153.2.

Daily Bread #86

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I was down just .2 pounds this week, but Lose -It says I met my goal.  And yes, I have logged all my calorie intake for 487 days.  I am still not sure I am done losing, but I have lost 10 pounds since my surgery in September and when my knee FINALLY heals, who knows what will happen?  In any case, I love these little pictorial rewards the various apps send out.  FITBIT does the same sort of thing. I may have to set a new goal to keep them coming.  Maybe I’ll play with 5 pound goals at a time, because I feel just fine at my current weight.

In class this week we talked about the power outage and how it affected our eating habits.  One man talked about going a bit nuts in one of the few open stores and really loading up his cart with pasta and sauce.  Not knowing how long food would be available, it was easy to go into survival mode.  We were too busy eating the food in our refrigerator before it spoiled to try and go shopping, but almost empty shelves might have inspired the same response in me.

It did remind me of the time I was lost in the woods for 4 days with only small leftover lunches to share with the 4 other people that were with me. (I just wrote that story out in another posthere) Maybe the rationing of raisins and peanuts we did then made it easier for me to cope with the relatively mild food deprivation that is part of any weight loss journey.

Being dedicated to my mission of health helps too.  Like the federal employees that testified this week (Yay to Fiona Hill!) career cvil servants are stalwart in their dedication to the missions of their agencies and nothing much will really stop them.  Being lost in the woods and my years working for the Social Security Administration are two of the pillars that I think have helped keep me strong.  My years in ministry gave me some humility and the ability to sometimes actually enjoy the inevitable imperfections and plot twists.  Curiosity keeps me interested.  I want to read this novel to the end.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 27395 steps last week for 11.5 miles.  I ate approximately 9408 calories and burned 12368 for a deficit of 2960. My average weight this week is down .2 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 152.9.

 

Lost in the Woods – A True Story

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I have told this story often, but have realized that I have never written it down.  It is something that impacted my life and how I see the world.

I was in my very early 20’s and it was around the summer of 1972 – I think – I have always been bad at dates.  Some friends wanted to go camping and I was enthusiastic.  I’d camped every summer in Yosemite Valley as a kid growing up.  That may have seemed rustic to some, but there were real campsites, washrooms, water, and well-marked trails in that National Park.   Diane wanted to go to the Mendocino National Forest where she had camped before.  Diane was the older sister of Dennis, a college friend of mine, who wanted to go too.  She also brought her 3 year old son, Mark.  My boyfriend at the time, Kent, also came.  The 5 of us and my little dog Jed set out in Diane’s car and drove up to Round Valley CA and through the small town of Covelo, and then miles farther up a winding road (162?) that eventually became gravel.  Map here. When we finally stopped the car, there was no campground, just woods.  Diane led us to clearing about 100 yards from the car that she said was a great place to camp.  We unloaded the car and set up our sleeping bags and camp stove.  There was no water.  Diane said we should go down the the river and get some, as it wasn’t far.  This was back when people just drank from streams and didn’t worry about giardia which we’d never even heard about.

We packed a lunch and took empty water bottles.  We were dressed in shorts. teeshirts, and hiking shoes.  It was hot and we looked forward to wading in the river.  It about a half an hour we found it.  It wasn’t big; most California rivers aren’t.  We filled our bottles and waded and ate most of the lunches we had packed.  As the afternoon wore itself out, we headed back to our makeshift camp.

Except we didn’t get there.  As I said, there wasn’t a trail.  We did not have maps or a compass.  We wandered up the hill from the river at at spot that looked easier than the way we came down.  We cut to the left, thinking our camp was in that direction.  We went that way.  Maybe it was farther up the hill, so we climbed.  No, maybe downhill and to the right.  As dusk approached we realized we were lost and would need to spend the night where we  were.  We gathered some wood and built a fire.  At least we had matches.  We tore off some soft pine branches to keep us warm and tried to huddle together for warmth as the night grew colder.  We took turns holding Mark, both because he was a warm body and to spare Diane who was worried because he was so quiet.  I don’t think any of the adults slept much at all, but Mark did.

When morning came, we had a few bites of our leftover lunch, maybe 6 raisins each and a couple of nuts, a little more for Mark, and discussed what to do.  I was for going back down to the river and following it downstream.  Eventually it would have to cross a road before it reached the ocean.  The other idea was to go higher to see if we could see the road from a height.  Because we were so far from any town and following the river downstream would take a week at least, we opted for climbing.  So we went uphill as far as we could go.  Along the way, we picked and ate rosehips and manzanita berries which Diane assured us were safe.  Somehow we just trusted her on that, but no one got sick from them.

We got to the top of a ridge, but there were so many trees, we couldn’t see a thing.  It was getting late, so we made another fire and gathered so pine branches again.  In the morning, after 6 more raisins eat,  we wondered about building a huge fire, hoping some rangers would see it and find us.  We dismissed that quickly as a bad idea; we did not want to set the woods on fire, particularly when we were lost in them.  We started downhill toward the river, as following it downstream was the only option left.

Except we crossed a logging road!  Yay!  We could simply follow it to whatever road it connected to! After a quarter of a mile or so, another logging road crossed the one we were on.  It looked more used so we followed it.  Ten crossroads later we realized we were going in circles through a maze without a discernible exit.  We were also running out of water so we headed downhill again toward the river.  We spent another night on the hillside.  We were very tired and very hungry.  My dog did sort of OK, but I won’t tell you what he ate.  It included second hand raisins.

Finally we reached the river and drank our fill.  We even washed some of the grime from our bodies.  Dennis spotted a frog and caught it.  Someone else found a discarded sardine can.  We built a fire and poached that little frog.  I had a pocket knife and cleaned out the intestines, but we ate everything else on and in that tiny body.  We began to hunt frogs in earnest and we caught 3 more.  It was getting dark again so we looked for a place to camp.  Across the river was a clearing enclosed by several large granite boulders.  There was a fire-ring, others had camped there before us.  And miracle of miracles, a previous camper had stashed a half a bag of macaroni in one of the boulder’s crevices.  We found another tin can to boil water and feasted on frogs and unsalted pasta.  It really did feel like abundance.  The next morning Diane noticed that we were very near where we were on the very first day.  She was positive she knew the way back from there, if we went back exactly the way we had come.  I was reluctant, but agreed with the provision that we mark our trail and that if we did not find the car in an hour, we would then follow the river downstream.

We started uphill and Diane quickly grew excited, saying she knew exactly where we were and where we had left our camping gear.  We sat on a log to catch our breath from the climb and then a swarm of wasps surrounded us.  Diane was stung several times, although the rest of us weren’t.  She was terrified, saying she was allergic to bees.  We raced behind her, found the car, grabbed some oranges to eat, and started the drive to town, hoping to find a doctor.

Several miles down the road, there was a Forest Service compound so we stopped there.  A man came out when we drove in and we explained about being lost and the bee sting.  He said they didn’t have a phone and we had to leave.   His demeanor was very hostile. Maybe the no phone was true, but he must have had a radio or someway to contact the town.  We were young, we were filthy from sleeping in the dirt for days, and the guys both had long hair and beards.  It was the 70’s and we were dirty hippies and clearly less than human in his eyes.  We left.

Finally we reached Covelo and stopped at the ranger station there.  It was part of the Park Service and not the Forest Service (which serves the lumber industry) and the employees were awesome.  They called the local doctor who said if Diane was still alive after the several hours that had passed, there was nothing to worry about.  They lent us a lantern so we could retrieve our camping stuff which we had left in a rush and it would be dark before we got back to it. We then went to the local diner and had their 24 hour breakfast before driving back up the mountain.

When we got back to Berkeley, we went to Spenger’s Restaurant, a fish place that served unlimited bread.  I am not sure what else we ate, but we went through a LOT of bread!

The next day I went to my work study job and told them what had happened and why I was 3 days late coming back.  They hadn’t been worried at all.  So much for our fantasy of them calling out search and rescue.

Some of what I learned:

  1. Always take a little extra along if you can – food, clothing, money
  2. Know where you are and where you are going.  Trails are good and maps are even better
  3. Technology is a blessing.  A satellite phone or GPS would have really helped.
  4. Drink lots water if you don’t have enough food
  5. The men were much better at carrying firewood and catching frogs, but tended to shut down emotionally more than the women
  6. The women were much better at having a clue about what to do and we kept the dynamic cooperative even while we were basically making all the decisions for the group.
  7. Having a child made it even more important that we get out safely and soon.
  8. Dogs can take care of themselves if need be.
  9. Take nothing for granted.
  10. It takes some luck to survive.
  11. When people need help, it shouldn’t matter what they look like.

Note that #5 and #6 may have just been the individuals involved, but a couple of years later, I stopped experimenting with heterosexuality.

 

 

 

Daily Bread #85

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I have been reluctant to invest in too many new clothes as I am still losing weight, but this is becoming a problem as the weather is turning colder.  OK, I am in California, and it isn’t that cold outside, but people don’t heat their houses here like they do in snow country.  I have shrunk out of the jeans I bought last year.  I didn’t have any sweaters that fit.  I have a couple of pairs of fleece jogging pants that fit, but they aren’t appropriate for everywhere, even being retired.  The thin pants I got last summer still fit well enough, but I am freezing when I wear them.  I also have less “natural insulation” these days.

But my 30 year old daughter came to the rescue yesterday.  She’d cleaned out her closet and had a load of clothes which she was going to donate.  I asked to see them and found a couple of shirts and a warmish jacket that fit.  The two belts will hold up my jeans!  Even better, I can wear some of Anne’s clothes now, and she got some stuff from our daughter’s stash as well, so she was more willing to let me have a few more of her things.  A couple of vests and a warm jacket are what I most appreciate.  It is weird that I can now wear her clothes.  Just the ones that were big on her, but still.  She is my height and under 110 pounds.

Once I reach my maintenance level, I’ll have to do some serious shopping.  When will that be?  Who knows?  I feel very comfortable with my current weight, but I am still losing without trying very hard, so it seems my body wants to be at least a bit smaller.  We will wait until she is satisfied.

This last week was a case in point.  My knee still hurts so I have gone very easy on exercise and am still down almost 2 pounds.

In class last week we talked about the various fad diets and how people can lose weight on them, but because they don’t change their lifestyle, the weight comes right back.  I never did that kind of dieting and believe I have made enough changes in how I eat and exercise that I can maintain whatever weight my body and I decide is maintenance

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 25476 steps last week for 10.7 miles.  I ate approximately 9562 calories and burned 12053 for a deficit of 2491. My average weight this week is down 1.7 pound from  last week’s average for a total loss of 152.7.

Daily Bread #84

72690010_10219353172287596_1189011689593372672_n This was me a couple of weeks ago and the other picture is from around seven years ago.

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It helps to keep looking at these old pictures because it is so easy to forget how far I have come, particularly when it has been a hard week.  I really overdid it the week before last and traumatized the muscles around my new knee by walking 22,000 steps in two days. I was doing fine with 7-10,000 per day, a little sore but feeling good.  But I got overconfident and thought I could return to my pre-surgery exercise level.  Not yet, friends, not yet.  Because I did too much the week before, this week I can hardly walk.  I am doing the physical therapy and some stationary bike, but the pain is too intense for too much walking.  This too shall pass, but clearly exercise is important for weight loss as well as for on-going health. Doing roughly half of what I did the week before, my average weight did not change.  That is OK.  I need to let this knee heal.  I am still working on becoming more patient

It was good to be back in the group this week.  I am still getting to know most of the people that attend the 5 o’clock meeting and I do miss those I knew better in the other groups.  I find it depressing that so many people drop out – and I am impressed that others keep coming back even when they are struggling.  None of this is easy.  Companions along the way are critical.

My surgery was on 9/10, which is just 2 months ago.  I need to remember how well I am actually doing, even when it doesn’t feel that way.  Probably a good reminder for lots of things in life.  Perfectionism is a curse and can tend to make us emphasize our mistakes and failures way out of proportion to our successes and the good things we do.

 

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 34232 steps last week for 14.6 miles.  I ate approximately 9100 calories and burned 12863 for a deficit of 3763. My average weight this week is the same as last week’s average for a total loss of 151.

The Lady Icon

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Is it rust or is it blood

That stains the Lady’s cheeks?

That green beacon

No longer promising

Safe harbor from the storms.

Is she wounded from too much sorrow

Over the children she could not save?

 

The Holy Mother wept beneath the cross

And again outside the tomb

She cries still

In visions everywhere.

But she must have known

Times of laughter too

When her bright, impulsive son

Surprised her with unlikely hopes.

 

Rust from tears or dried blood

It doesn’t matter much.

It’s time to scrub

The stains away

And work on the resurrection

Of our democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread #83

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Progress is walking without a cane.  I am now averaging 10,000 + steps per day and walking up and down hills.  These steps are part of a shortcut down and back to the marina.  I can now go up them, but down is harder.  It has been 2 months since my surgery, and they say the pain improves significantly after 3.  I am glad to have electric power again so I can ice my knee after a long walk.

I have been walking through the pain.  It is a metaphorical journey in a way, a lyrical song of what it means to be alive.  Not all of us can walk without pain just as some of us cannot walk at all.  None of us lives without pain.  Life is full of grief and loss, disappointment, frustration, and despair.  We battle fears and addictions, searching for the courage and confidence to soldier on.  The war analogies are apt.  We are all refugees seeking safe harbor, a place of more joy and, most of all, more hope.

This journey I have been on is no different than many others.  The path, although marked, is not always clear.  What keeps me moving along is that thing with feathers, a small flutter of hope waiting to take wing.  When I pastored a parish, or served as a hospital chaplain, what I found people seemed to need the most, when they were overwhelmed by events in their lives, was simply to have someone with them, a calm presence that listened, that recognized and acknowledged their pain.  They did not need advice or platitudes; they just wanted to know that they were not alone.  They needed someone to hold the hope for them, to keep it safe, while they grappled with despair.

If you are a believer, God can help serve this need, but judgement is not part of the Holy I know, so don’t worry about that.  There is a Spirit holding us, and holding all that we are and all that we love.  It keeps that ember of hope warm, even when the power goes out, even when we feel like giving up and even in the midst of hopelessness and helplessness.

And sometimes you have to give yourself a break; you really need to take a break.  Last weekend I think I overdid the walking w/12,000 steps on Saturday and 11,000 on Sunday.  My knee was swollen and throbbing from that effort.  More ice, and a couple of days off from long walks was in order.  For myself, I can be as disciplined as I need to be only if I allow myself small breaks when I need them.  Some days I can’t really exercise.  Some days I really want a small dessert, so I have a cookie.  It is the long term attention that works, best held with an open hand. Too much rigidity can be a set up for a serious shattering of my intentions.

On another note, I always learn something at church and not only during worship.  Last Sunday at coffee hour, someone told me, humorously, that “I was not half the woman I used to be.” That is not quite true yet, but if I lose another 10 pounds or so, I will be at exactly half my starting weight.  Weird to think about that.  I am so much less and so much more than I was then.  Life really is a mystery.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 71319 steps last week for 30 miles.  I ate approximately 9814 calories and burned 15096 for a deficit of 5282. My average weight this week is down 2 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 151.

Daily Bread #82

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Despite the power being out for 3+ days, I managed to eat fairly healthy meals as we cleaned out the fridge and freezer to save as much of the food as we could.  This was last night’s dinner – shrimp w/hot sauce and sesame oil, beets, and Brussels sprouts.  I had to boil the beets and steam the sprouts rather than roasting them like I prefer. We have a gas stove, but the oven is electric.

The house was freezing so I probably burned some extra calories just keeping warm.  Although my knee still hurts and I missed being able to ice it after exercise, I have been able to take long walks again, mainly in the morning when the smoke from the fires just to the north of us has been a little less.

It has been a dramatic and traumatic week, the kind of week where it would be really easy to get off-track, both with eating and with exercising my knee so that it keeps improving.  I am happy to say that I think I did very well.  At least I did not lose any ground in either area.

Another impact of the fires and power outages was that the facilitator could not make it to the 5 PM meeting tonight, so the meeting was cancelled.  Unfortunately, I did not learn that until I had driven there.  No worries, in the scheme of all that is happening, it was only a minor irritation.  I hope everyone is doing OK.  It hasn’t been a good week for California, but people helped each other as best they could to get through it.

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: My Fitbit report shows 44826 steps last week for 18.8 miles.  I ate approximately 9457 calories and burned 14030 for a deficit of 4573. My average weight this week is down .2 pounds from last week’s average for a total loss of 149.

 

Daily Bread #81

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This week at the knee class, I remembered to snap a pic.  It isn’t as fancy as the one I found a picture of on-line last week, but it does the job.  I lost 2 degrees on my knee bending, down to 128 instead of 130, but no worries as 120 is the goal and I took it a bit easier on some of the exercises the last few days because I have apparently strained my adductor muscle.  The physical therapist couldn’t figure out quite how I did it, but he worked on it for awhile with massage and said to not do anything that makes that muscle hurt.  It too will heal.

I am completely off the oxycodone now and drove myself for the first time on Tuesday.  Freedom of the road – even if it was only 2 freeway exits from my house and it felt great.  Since the surgery was on my left leg and we have an automatic, it was easy.  My pain level is back up without the drugs, but it is tolerable.  I see the doctor later in week and hope to be able to start using naproxen again rather than Tylenol.

I also did a walk – outside – without even cane!

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It has been a very long time since I have taken a walk without using a cane.  It is a little scary, but is also quite wonderful.

As hard as it has been, I am amazed at my progress after the surgery.   Even more incredible is how I have continued to lose weight during this time, even without putting much effort in.  Until this week, my exercise has been very minimal, so my “calories out” have been low.  But without the long walks and other exercise, I haven’t been as hungry so haven’t really needed as many “calories in.”  Keeping track of both my exercise and food intake helps my brain and body communicate with each other.  I understand the signals better.  A few nights this week, while weaning myself off the pain meds, I didn’t sleep well at all. During the days after those lousy nights, I felt hungry, but it wasn’t food I needed, it was energy.  Naps were in order.

Since I am now able to drive, I was able to attend the group this week.  It was good to see people!  The quote of the day was, “Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.” (Laurie Buchanan).  I liked it, although not everything is within our power to change, but like in the serenity prayer, that is where wisdom needs to come into the equation.

Speaking of math, I have decided to choose to change how I record my weight statistics in this blog.  The Kaiser meetings are on Wednesdays which are the official “weigh-in days).  I also weigh myself each morning at home, the results of which go into my Fitbit app which also calculates my average weight for each week.  The Fitbit (and Lose-it) weeks are Monday-Sunday, so it is making less sense to use the Wednesday weigh in number.  So as of this week, I am going to use the average Fitbit number instead. It will be more accurate in the long run I think, as an average evens out minor fluctuations and it will also match my calorie-in, calorie-out, weeks, which will let me know how accurately I am estimating some of my calorie intake.

Even with the kaiser numbers, I lost 6.6 pounds in the 6 weeks since my surgery.  Not too bad. It helped that I couldn’t have any alcohol with the medications.  Once I can switch from Tylenol to naproxen I will have at east one martini!

L’Chaim!  This week’s stats: I am still drinking about 96 ounces of water most days.  My Fitbit report shows 35723 steps last week for 15 miles.  I ate approximately 9289 calories and burned 13307 for a deficit of 4018. I am down .2 pounds for a total loss of 148.8.