Whew! Our regular facilitator was back this week and we greeted her warmly. I flashed on the old TV show, “Welcome Back, Kotter.” We did behave rather like the “sweat-hogs” while she was gone, but who cares? (And no, I don’t want a Melania Trump jacket. I care about families and children, Muslims, black and brown people, people with disabilities, fat people, and my GLBT siblings. I don’t, however, care much about decorum). Johanna got us back on focus really quickly and all was well. Well that is except for her use of the phrase “New Normal.” She meant our permanent lifestyle changes, but I flashed on the “This is not normal” refrain of the resistance.
I was also very heartened with the warmth that the group welcomed me back after my week away. I love these people. We have grown so close in these few weeks as we try to live into this challenging lifestyle change. Our individual lives are very different, but whether they are crying or laughing, my heart is with them.
My week away at General Assembly was, as always, a way to reaffirm my faith in Unitarian Universalism as a tradition of justice and hope. This year was particularly moving as we confronted white supremacy both within our movement and in the wider world. Listen to the Ware Lecture with Brittany Packet, Sunday Morning Worship, or the Service of the Living Tradition, all of which were particularly moving, inspiring, and challenging. Ours is not a casual faith.
It was also wonderful to see so many old friends. And it was a little awkward mixing up my shakes in the plenary hall or a workshop. I did a lot of explaining of the program, and although virtually everyone I spoke to about it was supportive, I still felt self conscious at times. The plane rides were stressful, and it was hard to drink enough water on the travel days. My CPAP machine didn’t work (I stupidly did not bring the humidifier attachment and this new machine doesn’t work without it) so I did not sleep at all well. I attended a buffet luncheon/meeting, sat in the hotel bar sipping a sparkling water, and I stayed completely on plan. Hurray for me!
So hard to focus on myself, on my own health, when our country and our world is slipping into so much horror. I wonder if my marriage will stay valid, and I wonder if my friends will even survive. I weep for the parents and children who have been cruelly separated. Saturday, I will go to the Richmond Detention Center for a protest rally. Since it isn’t a march, I can bring a chair and sit while bearing witness. I must do what I can, but I also need to stay strong in my focus on my own body and health. It will be good practice for working to bring our country into a healthier place.
(My stats for the last 2 weeks – down 5.3 pounds, drank I am not sure how much water and exercised for only a total of 280 minutes. My total weight loss so far is 29.5 pounds. I am now under 300 pounds, a milestone for me in this journey. Huzzah!)
No 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.
(No stats this week)
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
I can do
This hard thing too.
(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.)
There are days
When the effort
To rise from my bed
Is almost too much
The warm sheets
Wrap me in dreams
Too sweet to leave
But the sun
My window now.
And a bird sings
A familiar melody.
So I drag my bones
Up to greet
A new day.
Sometimes the images from old poems come to me. Changed over time of course.
Dry Bones – Images from Ezekiel 37 (written in April 2004)
In the valley of the dry bones,
Fragile and hard
Spin through the dance
As the rain falls.
Bones rattling to life
Spring is coming.
These bones are old now
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.
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
I already am beautiful.
Don’t tell me there are other ways
That would be easier
This is what I am doing.
Cheer me on.
Tell me I am brave
Be proud of me.
I hope I would do
You needed to do.
(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.)
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.