I Can See Clearly – Now Sometimes

My eye

My eye (Photo credit: neuroticcamel)

Sometimes you don’t know how broken something is until you fix it. This was the case with my eyesight. I’ve always worn glasses and I generally get my eyes checked regularly, but I hadn’t gone for a long, long, time until recently, when I had a difficult time reading print books and licenses at work. I thought my eyes were just getting old, and that I was having a normal problem reading. But after I had a thorough exam and bought new glasses, I saw how broken my vision was. Now I can read the numbers on licenses and the fine print on signs at work. I can read paperback books again, the type no longer blurry. I no longer feel like my sight is aging too fast. My eyes had been open to a new perspective.

As I struggle with my weight loss, I am seeing the journey with new eyes. I used to look at the numbers of other weight watchers and I would think “It’s taken you how long to lose how much?” Too long for too little an amount of weight. I am one of those people I looked down upon not long ago. There’s more to this struggle than just eating less and moving more. A lifetime of hiding in food and fat cannot be overcome in a few months. There’s a lot of reprogramming that needs to go on. Old fears and beliefs, old habits all make for a powerful pull to not lose and stay the same, even though the same weight means unhappy and unhealthy.

Finding a new way to relate to food is really hard. Very necessary but a challenge that leaves me drained and seeking familiar solace in a box of cookies. I haven’t found my magic bullet that affords me the same comfort level sans food. Reading, writing, working and my art all provide a great deal of satisfaction, but they don’t take the place of food. Nothing has done that yet. I wonder if I will ever find the answer?

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with this?

 

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It’s All About Independence

 

It’s the Fourth of July. I am always happy on the fourth. It’s the day we celebrate freedom, so why not be happy? This year I am contemplating my love of personal freedom, am expressing my love of country, and I’m thinking about my quest to free myself of the bonds of weight and addictive eating.I am free in many aspects of my life and I am a slave when it comes to my appearance, health and self-esteem

The success I have experienced to date is certainly worth celebrating, and I’ve come a good way towards improving my health. Today I am thinking about the dependence I have on food, particularly sweets.I can’t help but think I will be a slave to sweets forever. How can I consider myself free when I am so dependant on something?

I did go through a ten month period of time when I did not have sweets. I never stopped thinking about them, and around nine months I started to get severe cravings that resulted in my giving in to the cravings at the ten month mark. And once I started eating sweets and carbs, I couldn’t stop. It was like I was starving and was eating as though I would never get food again.

Now I am working on balancing the cravings, trying to change what I satisfy the cravings with. Currently, grapes are the substitute for cookies. Still having cravings, but the healthy alternative is making the craving less damaging to my loss. I am working on accepting that this will be a lifelong battle, and that while I crave freedom, I will never be free.

Since the loss is taking longer than I had anticipated, I am  working on maintaining a positive attitude about the process. It is easy to fall back into a pattern of low self-esteem, self belittlement, and negativity. I am too fragile to say I am free of these conditions. I walk a tenuous path each day…talking myself into being positive and trying to ignore the call of the familiar negativity.  I am chained to a belief system that is self-destructive and I am working to free myself from them, but breaking chains is hard work. I am a work in progress.

My prayer this Independence Day is to find independence from the past and from cravings. Will I ever be as free as I would like to be? If only I could see ahead two years from now to see how much progress I made. How much freedom will I have?

Happy Independence Day!

Changes = Please Read

For some time now I’ve combined two paths on one blog, my weight-loss and my writing. At this time I would like to split the blogs. I changed the name on this original blog site to Losing a Person and Finding Myself and it will cover my weight-loss journey. So, If you want to follow this journey, you don’t have to do anything.

If you have enjoyed my essays and want to follow my journey as a writer, then follow this address: Monique Egelhoff – Writer. I hope to keep my followers…maybe you will follow both blogs?  Please comment if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you for following me!

Need Help From Readers for Blog Post on Friendship

I’m working on a post about lifelong friendships and I would like for you to contribute your friendship story. This is about a special friend, one that has gone through your life with you, the one that means the most to you, the one you can be yourself with and pick up where you left off even if significant time has passed, or geography separates you.

Please share your story with me. You can keep it anonymous if you want, just email me at myebella2012@gmail.com. I’ll incorporate the story but change the names.

Thanks for taking the time to read and hopefully participate.

Breathing Lessons

I couldn’t breathe…my tears were causing me to drown in sorrow and anguish. Not having children of my own, My animals are

Naptime

my children. 2010 was a bad year for my animals and for me. I had two cats, one a black and white tuxedo, and one a white and black domestic short hair. Sneakers and Smudge. I had them for eight years. They were my life. Within six months of each other, they were gone and I was devastated, trying to breathe, trying to function. How could this be? They were indoor cats, pampered and sheltered. Smudge went first, the victim of a stroke. Sneakers died six months after, the victim of insecticide spray (I did not use it, my mother did). He had organ failure.

With my heart in a million shattered pieces, I went to the shelter. It had only been a couple of days, but I knew if I didn’t have something to love, I would not get through the heartbreak. The house was so empty. The food bowls and litter box evidence of loss. I felt directed to go to the Halifax Shelter. I steeled myself to face the need of the shelter’s inhabitants. No, I could not take them all home. I could only take one. There were so many and I had to put it out of my head that this shelter does euthanize. One. For me. Now. Stay focused. Breathe even though it hurts.

 I said to myself, you’ll know it when you see it. You will fall in love with one, and that is The One.  They allowed you to hold one at a time. There was a volunteer getting the cats out of their cages, which were clean and odor free. I must have held ten kittens, all the while watching the kitten in the arms of the man who was seated to my right. He was speaking to the kitten, and I strained to hear what he was saying. “You have to let them see your personality…You have to be at your best… Someone will take you home…” He was trying to find a good home for this special kitten. I asked to hold her. She was The One. I assured the man she was going to an excellent home. I picked her up the following day. I could breathe again. My heart was still broken, but there was light at the end of the black tunnel.

Bella (Yes, I’m a Twilight fan, so sue me)Bella is a Maine Coon. So pretty with her strips, her fluffy tail, her thick coat, but it’s her personality that makes her extraordinary. She is dog-like in her demeanor, greeting me with ferocity and adulation. We are joined at the hip and inseparable.  I can finally breathe again.

My First… (What were you thinking?) Cat.

I had always considered myself a dog person. My co-worker Angie was hell-bent on my adopting a cat. We debated for the afternoon, with no consensus. I was on the fence. Another heartbeat in my apartment would be nice, but a cat? You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know cats.

I arrived at my apartment complex after the sun had set. I made my way to the mailbox station and I heard the distinct sound of a cat’s meow. It sounded sad. It sounded nearby. I looked out into the shadows and I saw two pencil thin white lines moving. They were the front paws of the thinnest cat I had ever seen. She meowed again and stopped. We looked at each other. I instinctively reached out to her. She came to me and meowed again. She wasn’t sad as much as hungry. She was beautiful, white with black spots and a spot on her nose.

I ran up to my apartment and brought down a can of tuna. I put it in the bushes for this poor, pathetic animal. I went home. The next day, I told Angie about my encounter with the stray. “THAT’S YOUR CAT!” screamed Angie. I stopped mid-sentence. “You’ve got to be kidding. She’s a wild cat who’s starving. She’s not My Cat” I said, defensively. “No, you don’t understand, cats don’t come to people easily when they are feral. They shy away from people. This cat has picked you out as her person. We have to get her tonight.” Now Angie is a force of nature and what she says will happen, happens. So I found myself looking for this elusive cat that night with Angie who was experienced at catching strays.

There she was. Unlike the night before, she ran away, Angie and I frantically trying to keep up with her. We split apart, each going a separate way around the apartment building. Angie yelled at me, “I’ve got her!” She turned the corner with the little white cat squirming in her arms and her fur was flying in clumps. “Why is her fur flying off her?” I asked. “It’s what cats do when they are really scared” she replied, struggling to hold her.

We took her up to my apartment, I felt unsure about a wild cat running loose in the small space, who knows what diseases she could have. We put her in the bathroom and closed the door. I made plans with Angie to take her to the vet the next day and get her checked out. Angie said “It’s wonderful to be owned by a cat, you’ll see!” I sat in the living room, amazed at what we had accomplished and feeling anxious about the entire unknown wild cat in my house situation.

About an hour later, the bathroom door opened and out came the scrawny white cat who then ran onto my lap and she lay down. I was so surprised, I didn’t move. Was this the same cat I had chased downstairs? She was purring loudly as she lay quietly on my lap. How had she opened the door? The mystery would always remain. Transformed into the picture of domestic bliss; we stayed on the couch for hours. I forgot my caution regarding potential disease, she was purring, she was sleeping, she was on my lap. I knew then Angie was right, I had been chosen to be owned by this particular cat. I named her Smudge and realized at that moment that I was a cat person after all.

The Virgin and the IRS

20 Dollars art3

20 Dollars art3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m about to pay my first quarterly tax on money I received from writing. That makes me a writer, doesn’t it? I’ve paid taxes all my working life, but never for something I loved to do and for myself.

OK, many writers look down on the type of writing that paid me my first revenue, writing for content mills is not deemed worthy of mention in the writing community. I beg to differ. I am not making a lot of money, except for the Ebook chapter I wrote, but I am producing good work and meeting deadlines and client expectations. I am learning about research and SEO writing. I am paying my  dues. It is worthy work for a writing virgin.

Paying taxes is such an adult thing to do. It is a form of validation in my eyes. I did work that was good enough to be paid for, and I did it doing something I love, playing with words. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life, one where I am literally writing new rules to live by. My dreams, and goals are not grandiose and naïve. They are grounded and honed by someone experienced in life’s realities. I do not believe I will be on the NYT Bestseller’s list. I do not picture myself on the Today show. No, I seek simpler triumphs that are based in realistic attainability. For now it is enough to grow my blog, to work towards being published with my own byline and to build my platform and of course lose my weight for that book I’m planning to write about it.

There are a great many sources of information for new writers to research. I am on overload with instructions on building my platform, querying, honing my craft, watching my punctuation (my Achilles heel). Sometimes I think I will explode from all the information I am ingesting. And what is the loudest message I am receiving? Write. Just Write.

It is easy to get side-tracked by social media, by reading the endless amount of relevant blogs. It is easy to get too absorbed in the technical manuals of writing and craft. The thing that matters most is the act of showing up at the blank page and creating magic with words. Practice, Practice, Practice, it’s how we learn anything new.

Writing for me is still a mysterious act. Where do the words come from? Why can I put them together and other people can’t? Why can’t I write creative non-fiction on demand? I am forced to wait for the inspiration and the mood to be “just right” before the words flow. I read that you are to write even when you aren’t inspired. Is writing like a muscle that needs development and constant training for it to perform well? I don’t do well with mysteries. I like answers to questions, and I fear my questions will go unanswered for the duration of my writing career because writing is a mysterious process.

The act of creation cannot be accurately defined. I remember trying to explain the creative process to a very analytical lawyer, and failing miserably after three hours of attempts.  I simply couldn’t give him the exact reason I had created a work of art. It simply had to come into this world by the actions of my hands didn’t cut it for him. He wanted to know what need the object fulfilled. There was no specific, tangible need. It was created from a stirring in me to express myself, but no other outward need. For him, the quilt had to be created because someone was cold and needed a blanket. I created it because the design was in me and needed to come out and be in the world. He never understood art; I never understood not understanding art.

What is in me now, stirring to get out? A book certainly, but the work the book will be chronicling is not done yet. It will be years before the weight-loss journey will be done. So in the interim I write essays and blog posts, and articles I ghost- write for others. The smaller pieces I am writing fulfill the need to create. Whether I am creating art or not is up for debate. What is important is that I am writing. Doing what the sage instructors and mentors of the craft recommend above all else; write, always write. I say, write and pay your taxes. You do the first to pay the second. But if you don’t do the second, you can’t do the first. Pay as you go, write at all costs, and tweet about everything, grounded lessons for a grounded neophyte. Now, where’s my checkbook?