Friday, January 31, 2014

Touched my nose to my knee!

One of my goals for 2014 was to lose enough fat around the middle to be able to touch my nose to my knee again. I had expected this to take months, but my jewelry has been fitting looser, so I wondered if my expectations might be exceeded.

Today (after two weeks of low carb and high animal fat eating) I figured I'd give it another try: I sat on the floor with my legs straight out as far apart as possible, bent my torso to the right with my face towards my knee and my nose touched it! And then I did it on the left side, too!

It's the first goal I've reached in the new year! I'm so excited! Yes! Yes! Yes!

Happy Year of the Horse!

Today marks the beginning of the Chinese lunar year and this year it's the year of the horse. I happen to be a horse, so I'm excited about it. It feels like excellent timing for this to be my Chinese year because this is the year I get divorced, launch an Arbonne business, self-publish my first ebook, increase my earnings, embrace traditional nutrition, turn 48 years old (multiples of 12 are my favorite) and get my yoga moves back.

Dear World: Happy Year of the Horse!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Atheists in foxholes

Actually, there are atheists in foxholes: http://militaryatheists.org/atheists-in-foxholes. And I'm an atheist, too.

Baffled

The one-year-old who lives in the apartment below me is crying again. This happens regularly in the middle of the night, but fortunately I usually sleep through it. I only hear her when I happen to be awake, which is actually pretty often, as I rarely sleep through the night. I figure that's just because I'm a middle-aged woman, but at least I'm usually not screaming like that kid is.

Every time I hear her, I feel bad for the parents. How do parents of babies ever get enough sleep? And why do they have these children who take SO much work? What's the payoff?

I feel the same way about dogs. After owning Ozzie for almost two years, I feel very glad that I don't anymore. Bob adores that dog and I just don't get it. I wonder why Bob doesn't resent having to take that animal for walks. I'm baffled by how Bob has no problem handling dog poop. It's bizarre to me that Bob doesn't mind this dog hanging on him all the time and following him around the apartment. The dog requires a lot of a attention! I didn't like owning the dog, but bewilderingly to me, Bob says Ozzie gives him great joy, especially with the silly things Ozzie does. The dog makes him very, very happy. Ozzie never made me happy like that.

Maybe it comes down to the way I can't stand being needed. I'm averse to being responsible for another living thing. The emotional and physical costs of having a kid or a dog are way too high for me, and I look with bafflement at anyone who wants these things in their life.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I'm less sweaty!

I often keep my apartment windows open all day, even in 10 degrees, just to stay comfortable. Since 2011, no matter how chilly others were in a meeting room, I was always fine. For years now, when  I come inside from even the most freezing Chicago weather, I immediately strip off my coat, scarves and gloves and try to stop perspiring (walking works up a sweat, but I keep bundled to avoid wind chill danger). I wear sleeveless summer tops under my winter coat. I carry a fan in my purse (especially in summer) Through three winters, the desk fan I have at work runs every day as I try to cool off. When I asked family members about this, they told me this is just how our family is, especially upon getting close to menopause, so I'd better get used to it. 

But now the sweatiness has decreased! I'm SO relieved. Yesterday, I sat in my EFT tapping circle and I actually felt chilled! When I first walked in, I left my coat on for several minutes because I needed to warm up. It's been years since I reacted to cold weather in this kind of typical way, as most people do. I would swear my apartment has gotten colder in the past week, but it's not the apartment that's changed, it's me. I have a thermometer in my living room, so I know the room temp is the same, yet I'm keeping windows closed more the of the time and last night I even put on a sweater.

What could have caused this? I think it's this: I've changed what I'm eating. Just since January 18th, I weeded out (most) vegetable oils and sugar and switched to full fat dairy products. When it comes to meat, I've been eating the fat, skin and cartilage (as well as the protein) from organic chicken. I've had beef liver twice in the past 10 days. (I'm following Dr. Cate Shanahan's advice and you can find more info here.) 

I suspect it's the decreased sugars and starches that have made the difference in my sweatiness, because sugar and starch are very inflammatory and heating. But who can tell for sure? I just know that after six days of increasing animal fat and decreasing carbs, my body feels different. 

Maybe I don't have to sweat so much! Maybe summer won't be months of agony! I'm excited about this.
Me being excited.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Loving myself with food

In October – once again – I started a practice of using meditation and self-hypnosis to make major changes in my life. I focused on loving myself and ending the self-hating criticism that constantly ran through my head. This round of meditation/hypnosis was only the latest step in decades of working on my self-esteem. After countless other approaches, it was time for Joe Dispenza’s technique that he describes in Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

And Dispenza's approach worked! I succeeded in taking a HUGE step towards getting myself to believe I’m a wonderful person who deserves to be happy in every way! Apparently I was finally ready to reach this level of self-acceptance after decades of healing with many other methods. In the past two months I’ve been treating myself much better and the hateful critical voice in my head has really shut up.

I’ve been so happy and impressed by how well Dispenza’s meditation technique has worked for me that I set my next goal: getting back the body I used to have. Specifically, I want to be able to do a full plow pose again (basically fold my body in half). I also want to sit and touch my nose to my knee again. Those two yoga moves took no effort for me at all until I put on 45 pounds between fall 2012 and summer 2013. As much as I’ve tried to accept my chubby body and peacefully live as a size 18 woman, I’ve missed my old slim body and I want it back. (I'm sorry, fat acceptance movement, but I failed to reach enlightenment. I feel bad about this. If I were a better person, I'm sure I would just accept the pudgy me, but I just don't want to stay here. Oh, well...)

Per Dispenza’s guidelines, I’ve been gratefully, joyfully visualizing myself doing a full plow pose, touching my nose to my knee, zipping up jackets that haven’t fit in over a year, etc. The gratitude and relief of having my real body back floods through me as I meditate. What I DON’T do is even consider counting calories, increasing exercise or doing any of that punishing food restriction I used to do. Dispenza says that when it comes to your dreams and goals, “It’s not your job to try to create it. It’s your job to design it.” So all I’ve done since December is visualize my former body with a feeling of gratitude as if I've already attained it, and guess what? Just doing that caused my appetite and sweet tooth to start decreasing! Last month I wondered, “Can I meditate myself thin??”

At the end of Dispenza’s meditation he says to ask universal consciousness (or whatever he calls it) for a sign. It’s supposed to be a sign that’s so unexpected and surprising that you know it’s the quantum field working with you to meet your goal. I’m doubtful about his language because I don’t believe in “signs.” But I do believe in coincidences and I like this one.

Last week I came across an excellent book that I read a year ago but had forgotten about (Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food). I started reading it again and this time the information sank in. With my sweet tooth weakened, traditionally healthy foods sounded very appealing. Believing that I deserve the best, I began to see vegetable oils and sugar as kinda gross. The day after I rediscovered Dr. Shanahan's book, I prepared beef liver for dinner. Mmmm. Then I threw out my salad dressings, crackers, cookies and any nuts roasted in vegetable oil. I went out and bought sprouted whole grain bread, an entire naturally raised chicken (which I simmered into stew), raw sunflower seeds and full fat yogurt. I carefully bought cashews roasted in peanut oil, not canola or any other vegetable oil. (See Dr. Cate Shanahan's website for some of the information that's in her book.)

Do you think finding that book was "a sign from the universe?” I don’t because that’s a hokey phrase and I don’t believe in a mechanistic universe that “sends signs.” But I am very grateful for the timing. My weight was down about 10 pounds when I left for California on January 11th and with this traditional way of eating, that progress will continue. I still don’t fit into my size 14 blue jeans (that have sat in my drawer unworn for the past year), but this morning I was a little bit closer. I still can’t do a full plow, but today I managed a shoulder stand, which put me in a good mood!

Believing I'm a lovable person who DESERVES to be happy -- truly believing that in my subconscious core -- is the key to being able to treat myself well. Wanting to truly treat myself well, without inner conflict, has reduced my junk food cravings and made traditionally nutritious food look really good. Natural foods, meat-on-the-bone and full fat dairy products taste delicious to me. I’m even enjoying the sprouted whole grain bread. (But no rules this time: if I feel like indulging in dessert or chips, I do.) I have hope that I might finally be happy enough to crave foods that bring my body peace and true health. And that plow pose.

Me doing plow pose in 2012. I WILL do it again! (Please ignore the dog.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Regina the Tourist

I'm spending this week being a tourist in the area where I grew up. Two of my aunts and I are spending a few days visiting my dad who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (California, USA). We're staying with him in Walnut Creek, but have spent a whirlwind two days sightseeing in SFO (not "Frisco" and not "San Fran"). We covered Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, the Mission District and Coit Tower. And we rode BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit train), a San Francisco streetcar and a cable car.

I grew up in the Bay Area and had done most of this before, but it was at least 35 years ago. I really enjoyed rediscovering the nearest tourist attractions to my hometown. I was struck this time by how cramped and claustrophobic the City is. It's hemmed in on three sides by water, so they had to build upwards. This makes for some very tall buildings in earthquake country, which looks crazier to me than it ever did before. And all those streets to walk/drive up and down! In 1988 I was happy to leave this hilly state, so today I stared at women and men in business clothes in bewilderment. Why would you want to hike and descend these sharply angled sidewalks every day -- in heels??

It's a city of sky scrapers on steep inclines, where housing costs are so high that soon only rich people will live there, in an area that regularly suffers droughts, on a major earthquake fault line. It's so traffic-choked that during rush hour the entire city feels like Manhattan or downtown Chicago. What the @#$% people? Whose idea was this?

But it's fun and beautiful and I've had a great time here with my family. And you cannot beat the soughdough bread or the seafood. You just can't. I look forward to returning, especially for some fresh crab and fried prawns!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Married-yet-single?

Ten years ago when I was dating, I had trouble with shifting definitions of "single." A couple of times I found myself on a date with a man who presented himself as single, but who turned out to actually be legally married. Sure, the boy was separated and absolutely certain that his marriage was over, but in at least one case, the guy ended up reconciling with his wife.

This taught me that different people have different ideas of what "single" means. Some people (men) think being separated counts as "single." Some people (men) think that simply deciding their marriage is over counts as being "single." But if you're still legally married, you're not "single." You're "married."

To those of you who are dating, I offer the guidelines I created for myself the first go around. If a boy said he wasn't married, I'd follow up with "Have you ever been married?" If the answer was no, so be it. If the answer was "yes," then I'd follow up with, "So you're divorced now?" If the boy couldn't give a clean "yes" answer to that, the date was over.

Sometimes a guy would insist that even though his divorce wasn't yet done, his marriage was absolutely over. Then I'd ask, "Would you wife agree with that statement?" The answer had to be "yes," but even if it was, I would only bother with boys who were absolutely free and clear of legal entanglements that could make a relationship difficult. If the wife doesn't agree that a marriage is over, the marriage isn't over.

These days I find myself having to remind my post-husband that he's not single yet. You can imagine how it irritates me when he tries to call himself that. For the benefit of single women everywhere, I'm doing my best to keep him from calling himself "single" until we're actually divorced. I mean come on, it'll just be a few more weeks. Men!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Having children teaches you lessons

A friend recently emailed me, "Having children taught me lessons I don't think I could have learned any other way." I've heard this sentiment many times and I believe it's true, but there are also lessons you learn from ice climbing that you can't learn any other way and I'll take a pass on those, too.


Thursday, January 09, 2014

A lovely winter divorce

I did this right: during my marriage we had no children, incurred no debt, bought no property, inherited no big windfalls and started no businesses. With nothing to argue about or contest, my husband and I should be cleanly divorced in about four weeks and $1,300. I started the process with a divorce attorney yesterday, after moving into my own place last July. In the state of Illinois, after six months of living apart you can file for a no-fault divorce. "No-fault" means no one has to sue anyone for mental anguish or infidelity or anything like that.

How do I feel? I feel sad for all the good times that aren't coming back. I feel sad to have lost the cozy safety of being part of a couple. I feel sad because our marriage started out so well, but is already over. I feel sad because I really loved my husband and enjoyed our relationship very much.

But going ahead with the legal process feels right. Neither of us wants to reconcile and we're both content with our new, separate living situations. I've happily settled into my beautiful apartment where I alone am in charge of the room temperature, budget, shopping list and decor. I relish being free to determine my social calendar, bedtime, vacations and whether or not this household has any pets (not). 

I couldn't make my marriage go any further and I'm at peace with that. I count many experiences in my life as failures, but marriage isn't one of them because I believe my husband and I are coming out of our marriage better than we went into it. We're different people from who we were when we exited the Cook County courthouse as husband and wife in 2008. I'm happier, more self-accepting, less angry and more hopeful than I've ever been about having a full and content life. Bob now has a dog, and he and that pit bull adore each other. They bring each other a lot of joy.

Here are examples of what I call marital failures: a joyless union full of resentment that drags on and on until someone dies; a lifelong relationship in which at least one person feels miserable and trapped; a marriage that ends in a divorce that's so vicious and nasty that it leaves everyone badly traumatized, especially the kids. That's failure.

Bob and I still talk on the phone all week long, make each other laugh and have dinner together sometimes. The marriage didn't last, but maybe our friendship will. Whether or not we stay in each other's lives, I'm calling this a successful marriage with a happy ending: we're not dragging our children through divorce court or spending tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees or feeling angry with each other. We're leaving the union better than when we went in and have gained a friend. We joined with love and now we're parting with love. That's the way to do it.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Change your ending

This NPR story completely supports what I know about the power of changing the story you tell yourself. Listen to Editing Your Life Stories Can Create Happier Endings.

Changing the endings of some of my worst childhood memories is exactly what I did with Carol Moss, the practitioner from whom I originally learned Emotional Freedom Technique. For my childhood story re-writing we used Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). It moved me very far along in undoing the negative beliefs those old childhood stories had taught me. With Carol Moss and EMDR I realized you can re-do the past. Going into my subconscious, unearthing those old stories and putting new endings on them moved me out of the worst of my negative beliefs about myself. I felt so free afterwards!

I imagine the writing exercises suggested in the NPR story are helpful, but I think accessing the stories where they live and churn out negative beliefs -- in the subconscious - is the way to go. There are several ways to do it and you have to find what works for you, but I really liked working with Carol Moss. Good luck.

(Often practitioners of alternative therapies aren't covered by health insurance, but Carol Moss is a certified social worker who takes insurance. I didn't get complete reimbursement from my health insurance because she's out-of-network, but I got some.)