Daily Bread (Week 9)

 

IMG_1945No class for me this week as I am in Kansas City attending the General Assembly (GA) of the Unitarian Universalist Association.  I am sorry to have missed class but the content of the denominational meetings are giving me hope in a world with so much pain and despair.  We are an activist faith and we are trying to deal and provide remedies to the white supremacy culture both in the wider world and within our faith.  It has also been wonderful seeing old friends.

I am staying on plan despite the awkwardness and complications of flying.  It is hard to drink enough water, but I am trying.  I am also skipping the afternoon workshops in order to check out the hotel pool and get some exercise in.  I hate to miss anything, but after years of attending GA, I have attended versions of most of the workshops before.  It is the plenaries, the business meetings, the voting and exercise of our democratic principles that most engage me these days.  And I really do need to exercise.

I have refused lunch and dinner invitations because I don’t need that challenge, but last night I did sit in the hotel bar drinking a sparkling water with lime as my friends had gin and tonics while we talked.  Life is good. The very fact of life is good.

L’Chaim!

(No stats this week)

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Daily Bread (Week 8)

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We are officially half way through the total meal replacement phase.  Then we will gradually began eating real food again, but making better choices and consuming much smaller portions than previously.  I am at 300.3 pounds as of last night.  Only 100+ pounds to go to get down to a weight where knee surgery will be a viable option.  Somehow, that doesn’t seem nearly as daunting as it did a few months ago.  It is still a big number, but I am making progress and remain determined to do this.  It has been difficult to get this far, and I can’t let the efforts I have already made be in vain. Si se puente!

Class was much better last night, we asked and the substitute facilitator agreed to let us do check-ins before the content part of the class.  It is so helpful to hear from everyone and to give and receive support.  We are also very happy that our regular facilitator will be back in a couple of weeks.

Challenges for me this week included attending a retirement party with lots of food.  It was outside, so I could put my camp chair away from the table, but it was still a challenge.  Watching others eat a regular meal isn’t as hard as watching folks snack.

Then there is physical pain.  I got an x-ray on my shoulder this week and have severe arthritis there as well.  Swimming is harder, although the hot tub helps.  Good food has always been comforting to me.  Eating more yummy food than I need has been a useful distraction when I have been in pain, physical or emotional, at least in the short term.  Now I will need to rely on cortisone shots and physical therapy, and ice. (But oh, not the ICE that is causing so much pain to our immigrant neighbors.  We need to melt that one down and wash it away.)

We leave for General Assembly (Unitarian Universalism’s annual denomination-wide meeting) in a few more days.  Other than getting all the meal replacements into my suitcase, it shouldn’t be that hard.  Finding time for actual meals during GA’s jam-packed days is always difficult.  I think it will be much simpler to just mix up and drink a shake every 2-3 hours.  Unlike in the past, however, I won’t be able to hang out in the hotel bar with a martini, chatting with the good friends that I only see once a year.  I still hope to spend some time with those friends.

Doing hard things

Is always hard

I have done many other

Hard things in my life

Never making the easy choices

When it came to love

Or justice.

I can do

This hard thing too.

 

L’Chaim

 

(My stats for last week – down 2.4 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 250 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 24.2 pounds.)

New Day

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There are days

When the effort

To rise from my bed

Is almost too much

The warm sheets

The blankets

Wrap me in dreams

Too sweet to leave

But the sun

Shines through

My window now.

And a bird sings

A familiar melody.

So I drag my bones

Up to greet

A new day.

Bones

Sometimes the images from old poems come to me.  Changed over time of course. dry bones

Dry Bones – Images from Ezekiel 37 (written in April 2004)

My bones know,
Underneath it all,
Within.
I have lived
In the valley of the dry bones,
Waiting for the four winds to blow,
For the holy breath.
Dry bones
Fragile and hard
Spin through the dance
As the rain falls.
Bones rattling to life
Spring is coming.
Praise God.
The Bones Now (June 2018)

These bones are old now

Dry as the desert again
Cracked with wear
The joints creak
From lack of youth
But they have danced
Rattling with laugher
While the rain washed over us
Spring and summer
Fall and winter
These bones
Have seen it all.
They will carry on
As long as the Spirit
Shall dwell within

Daily Bread (Week 7)

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This week we had quite a bit of discussion about which week of the program it actually is.  The facilitator thought it was week 8 and she is correct in that it was our 8th meeting.  We are, however, just beginning our 7th week of full meal replacements.  We go 15th weeks without any real food and then gradually reduce the meal replacements as we, um, “replace” them with real food.  We are almost half-way through this first phase and the entire program is 18 months long.

This week was a little disappointing as I only lost a half of a pound.  Some folks even gain some during this phase, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.  Bodies adjust differently to change,

I find that I am increasingly aware of my body, how I feel in it, where it hurts and where it feels good.  My knee is better after the cortisone shot, but my left shoulder is now very painful.  Had an X-ray today and see the doc on Monday.  I’d never write about this physical stuff normally; there are always aches and pains and they increase with age.  The reason I am doing this is to feel better, however, so when I feel worse, it frankly pisses me off.  This is hard work.   I want rewards that I can feel in my bones.

We talked about rewarding ourselves during class, and no, going out to dinner is not an option.  I bought a few extra bottle shakers this week.  The powered “shakes” are very sticky and the shakers get sort of yucky after repeated use and are almost impossible to get really clean.  The dishwasher just bakes the crud on. I got a two pack of these for $5 on sale at Tuesday Morning.  I like them quite a lot, they have an air hole that makes it easier to drink, but I hate the writing on them.

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I would cover the writing with stickers, but that would make them even harder to wash.

The class is just barely tolerating our substitute facilitator.  We were grumpy about her not having the forms we need.  We played with our phones and had side conversations during class.  Behaving badly can be a little empowering at times.

Don’t tell me I will be beautiful

When I am thin

Like you.

I already am beautiful.

Don’t tell me there are other ways

That would be easier

Or better

This is what I am doing.

Support me

Cheer me on.

Be patient

Be kind

Tell me I am brave

And strong.

Be proud of me.

I hope I would do

The same

For you

For whatever

You believed

You needed to do.

 

 

L’Chaim

 

 

(My stats for last week – down .5 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 390 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 22 pounds.)

Of the Earth

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In my years on this planet

I have found a few

Things that are true.

We are of the earth.

Our bodies are one

With the seas and the mountains.

If we could stand as straight

As the tallest redwoods

Still our roots would bind us

Close to the ground.

 

Like the earth itself,

Our bodies alter

With the seasons,

Eroded by time

Challenged by change.

May we rock gently in the winds

That blow around us.

May we keep our hearts open

To the warmth and promise

Of each new day.

 

 

Daily Bread (Week 6)

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We had a substitute facilitator this week – and we will have her for the next 3 weeks before our regular one comes back.  It was a little disorienting.  The substitute was fine, and is likely awesome, but the group, including me, acted out a bit.  We have bonded, and our regular facilitator is part of that bond.  She knows us.  We know her.  It felt a little like it did back (way back!) in high school when we had a substitute teacher.  This program, with its rigid rules about the meal replacements, doesn’t encourage much flexibility.  Any change is hard when we are trying to make such a big change in our lives.

We also talked about support systems and not so supportive folks, of who to tell we are doing this and who not to tell because they might be judgmental about our choice.  I have been extremely public about being in the program.  It doesn’t get much more public than posting about it on a blog and then sharing that blog on Facebook.  I have received only positive support, which has been very helpful.  My family and close friends have been particularly wonderful.

I gave up shame years ago, and believe that sharing this process may be helpful to others.  The one concern I have is that the friends that I have bonded with over the years around being fat might feel abandoned by me and might be afraid that I will start judging them.  It is hard to live in this world as a “person of size.”  We have shared tears, anger, and laughter over our common experiences.  They loved all of me and I loved all of them.  That won’t change, for me anyway.  I know the pain too well to judge anyone for their size.  We are all beautiful and worthy of love just the way we are.  I would not be doing this if I did not know that my health and my life are at risk.  I will do this and I will succeed, but it is a hard choice and not one I would recommend to anyone unless they have similarly powerful motivations.

L’Chaim

(My stats for last week – down 4.2 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 370 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 21.5 pounds.)

 

 

Shrinking, Growing

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Am I shrinking

Or am I growing?

Both I think.

 

Outside I am changing

Slowly but surely

Reclaiming a shape

That will serve me better.

At least that’s the plan

 

The lavish blooms

Have faded

Winters have been hard.

Small seeds planted

Carefully

Might grow

To just the right size

 

Tend the ground

Tend your soul

Resurrection

Regeneration

Only takes

A miracle

Of mindfulness.

I believe

In miracles.

 

 

 

 

 

Intentions (for white people)

The road to hell may not be paved

But it is covered with the guano

Of our so-called good intentions

It’s a seagull shit so white

It covers the awareness

Of the pain we cause

By our fragility

 

If we slip and slide and blunder

And get bumps and bruises

On our egos

It is a small price to pay

So much smaller than the pain

Our ignorance has caused

 

Spirit give us the strength

To lean into the learning

May there be no rest

For the wicked

May there be healing

For the harm the “good” have done

Absolution will come later

If we can find together

A pathway to paradise

For all the hurting souls

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Bread (Week 5)

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How organized can one be?

This week we talked about organizing our lives so that we can make the changes we need to make, to stay on program, and to reach our goals.  We need to remember that the goals are not just numbers on a scale, but the deeper goals, the “why’s” that brought us to this point.  Mine are listed here. I keep referring to them when things get hard.

Since I am retired, being organized has been fairly easy for me.  There are not many things I have to do.  I don’t have small children I need to feed, and my wife Anne is completely capable of cooking her own meals.  I can keep a gallon jug of water in the fridge, and set out my meal replacements for each day on the kitchen counter.  I can exercise at home in my pool.  A challenge for me has been going out.  Because of the water I am drinking, I can’t make it through an hour church service without a bathroom break.   Maybe I need to slow down on the water on Sunday mornings before church, but that would require being more flexible.  Flexible seems hard as compulsively following the routine, a regimen really, is what has made this easier for me.  Can I do the Mountain play next week?  The hours in the sun, the hike to the bathrooms, and folks eating fancy picnics all around me, might be more of a challenge than I am up for right now.  We will see.

One of the ways I am “organizing my world” is by doing this blog.  Since I post it on Facebook as well as on my website, I have in some ways created a “community of accountability”.   Friends, family, and others know I am doing this.  As a minister, my community of accountability has been my colleagues and our professional organization which hold me in covenant to certain standards of ethical behavior.  I count on those good people for feedback, for help as I struggle with all kinds of issues, including how to be a decent ally in the holy work of dismantling white supremacy and other forms of oppression.

My group at Kaiser is also a community of accountability in this particular and very specific journey.

Community is so important.  Friends are so important.

It must be time to post a link to a video.  Music is also important.

The Beatles:

a little help from my friends (I get by)

 

L’Chaim

(My stats for last week – down 5.2 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 270 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 17.3 pounds.)