The Cosmos has nodded

Or, perhaps, the Atlas on my personal planet has indeed Shrugged.

(Aside begin:  I was very amused by the interest in/hysteria about Ayn Rand’s philosophy as reported in the media of late.  And, perhaps more cosmic timing, the movie The Fountainhead starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal was on the other night.  Enjoyable, but over the top in many ways.  Just like Ayn Rand.  Aside end.)

Because, finally, after 238 days of mostly wishing sprinkled with some tiny flecks of actual hard work, one of my horse peeps Paula said to me the other day  “Carol!  You have lost weight, haven’t you?  You look fantastic!”  Paula is in her late 50s-early 60s, an engaging stick-person of a woman who rides second level dressage on her adorable 19 year old Leopard Appaloosa named Riot.  (If you are not a horse person, I don’t expect you to get much of that last part, just know that Paula is to be admired, and she and Riot are friendlies.)

Ok, so don’t go getting all excited.   I have not lost all that much yet and I know I do not look all that fantastic, really.  I am guessing 7-10 lbs.  I am guessing that range because of the way some of my clothes are fitting.  I am guessing, period, because I am not allowed to weigh myself until I have passed the first 8 weeks of the particular diet plan I am following.  I am guessing I am not allowed to weigh myself because I am one of those morons who gets discouraged and quits the plan and makes a big pot of rice when I don’t drop 5 pounds each day.

And on this particular day,  I was wearing this assymetrical-hemmed sweater thing that makes my belly disappear like magic.   I’m guessing it is made out of the same fabric that covered the fusilage of the now-retired F117a Stealth Fighter.  It is partly because of this fabric, and partly because of the angularity of the fusilage itself, that rendered the airplane invisible to the Bad Guys’ Radar.  At least while it was flying around.   (Another aside:  I do not know how good the Bad Guys’  radar is — could figure into it. )   (Another aside:  Years ago when I was still connected to the US Air Force,  I had the privilege of visiting one of these airplanes at a secret base somewhere in the Nevadan desert.   The fabric did not hide the airplane when it was just sitting in the hangar.  I discovered that because I was able to see it well enough to locate the cockpit and climb inside and pretend I was a fighter pilot until the Crew Chief who was showing me the plane started getting nervous.)

And yes, there really was a secret base in the Nevadan desert.  The coolest thing about that, for me at the time, was that it was completely overrun by wild horses.

Back to …. So, yes,  I do feel like the latest approach is working.  This latest approach has two key features:

[1]  Significant step down in my Paxil intake.  I think my body decided it was okay to start shedding fat when I got to the 20 mg point in my step-down (I started at 40 mg in June.  I got down to 20 mg a few weeks ago and just stepped down again to 10 mg a few days ago); and

[2]  NO SUGAR.  Less than 20 grams of carbs per day, total, and I do mean less than 20 grams.  Roughly equivalent to less than 5 tsp of sugar per day.  Or 1/4 cup of rice. Oh, come ON.  Which is roughly equivalent to no rice at all.

…both of which are keeping me pretty cranky about life in general … until of course I got the Nod.  That was pretty cool.  So today, when I made flan and key lime pie for my friend Alejandro’s birthday, I celebrated a little and ate a slice of flan. Oh well.  Back at it mañana.


Grace and flashlights

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”[1] 

I am a Christian, your run-of- the-mill nondenominational Protestant.  Not a religious fundamentalist.  My settling on this particular flavor years ago was greatly influenced by the writings of C.S. Lewis, an atheist who, in later life, converted  to Christianity.

The bottom line to my faith is that I believe I am a created being.

Some of my very best friends are also Christians of various flavors — Catholics, Protestants of various denominations, Mormons.   Some are Hindi, some Muslim.  Some are agnostics, some are atheists.  I don’t have any Buddhists on my planet that I know of but I would like some.  Because they put on really cool festivals with Taiko drumming.

My friends and I talk about our various beliefs or lack of, or we don’t.  It is not a big deal.  I do have very strong opinions about what Christianity is and what it is not, but I stay off my soapbox unless someone invites me to step on it.

I don’t like organized religion.  I don’t go to church very often.  I would like to find a church home, but every time I think I have found one and start to go regularly, something about the church pisses me off.  Which, I’m pretty sure, is not what God has in mind.

Church people can get too churchy for me.  Like being members of a special club.  If you are not in the club, or you don’t conform to the general mold, it is hard to get connected.  Like with any group, if you don’t fit within some of the traditions, or if you believe you have been charged with a special mission to Question Authority, as I do, then you tend to stay on the fringe. I sort of prefer the fringe.  Like high school — when I had friends in the Popular Crowd, but the thought of becoming a card-carrying member myself gave me the heebie jeebies.

I bring this up because I am in closer contact with God these days because of My Great Adventure into improving my mental and physical health.  It has been getting pretty rough at times, and I am not wired to depend on or seek comfort from people.  This is because [1]  people can’t usually do much to help solve these sorts of things;  and [2] some people, although super well-meaning, can be Morons.

I don’t feel better when people say things to try and make me feel better.  I feel better when the thing is solved or when I know I am on track for the solution.   I feel better when I have my own toolbox and know how to stock it and use the tools inside.  Words don’t help but action does.

God knows that when things are going pretty smoothly, I am too busy for him.  Like when you have a new boyfriend and you are too busy to respond to your ever faithful friend’s invites to lunch.  You are happy and life is good and you’d rather be with the boyfriend than the friend.   Nevertheless, this loyal friend remains always on stand by and ready for deployment to your side just when you need them.  So when the boyfriend turns out to be a Moron or, as in my most recent boyfriend episode, an abusive and violent drunk, the first thing you do is call your friend and see if they want to go to lunch.  And that good friend is of course always available, to rescue, or give advice or lend an ear.   Or just go shopping for earrings.

God is mostly that sort of friend to me.  (Except for the earrings part.  I don’t think He approves of my earring thing.  Or my handbag thing.  And many other things.)  He is always there, waiting to respond to my SOS.   That’s His job.  After all, He wired me in the first place and then put me here.  He is obligated to help me out and I challenge Him to that.

His answers always come.  They do not come with trumpets or choirs.  They come quietly, in whispers — yes, I know what you are going through … no, there is no avoiding this lesson … but nothing is impossible … just keep pedaling … live in this moment …don’t worry about a single, solitary thing … be joyful in spite of the circumstances … be thankful in all circumstances

His answers also come in little sparkling bits of grace that get sprinkled around for me to see and experience.  These are tiny blessings and gifts He places in my path without me doing anything to earn them or deserve them  … encouraging words, beautiful sights, shared kindnesses …

…. A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace.”[2]

And the darker it gets, the more grace He puts out there.  The trick is to be able to catch sight of the little sparkling bits in the midst of the dark.  So this adventure of mine seems to be a lot about how well I keep my toolbox stocked with flashlights.

[1] Frederick Buechner, Now and Then:  A Memoir of Vocation

[2] Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking

Circle your wagons, Cosmos, someone is on the warpath

I am Not Very Nice these days.  with Good Reason.  Day 22 on the no-sugar (20 grams or less net carbs per day) regime with a few days break here and there for special occasions.  Still treading water at 20 mg Paxil, which is half the dose that I had been maintaining for several years.  Over that time, my personality weather pattern had been Mostly Sunny, with a few clouds and some meteor showers of anxiety/panic now and then to keep things interesting.

The past few weeks I am very different.  I can get to the Mostly Sunny state frequently but I have to work at it.  There are more clouds and they come with thunder boomers.  Meteor showers are frequent but my tool box is keeping up.  I am way more excitable, on edge, aware.  Like there is danger around but I am not afraid.  I just need to be ready to pounce, or run.

At work, it is a real struggle to control my temper.  This is because of the morons.  I am noticing there are more morons than there were a few months ago.

Usually morons mostly just amuse me.  Now when I am on my multiple back to back conference calls all day, and the morons begin to speak , I smash the mute button on my phone so I can talk back to them with lots of insults and F words, a la “You just said that same f-ing  thing for the third f-ing time inside of 10 f-ing minutes, you f-ing mo-ron.”

These muted discussions I have with myself I try only to do when I am working from home.  When I am in the office, I put Scotch Magic brand tape over my mouth and a Post It note on my forehead that reads “Just Shoot Me.”.  I would put “Just F-ing Shoot Me” on the Post It posted on my forehead if I had a private office.  Which I don’t because all of the Mid-Level Manager offices are already occupied.  By Mid-Level Mo-rons.

But even in the privacy of my home office, my temper tantrums could be hazardous, since frequently I can have two conference calls going at the same time — I have one call going on the cell and the other on the land line.  My pretentious little blue tooth thing goes in my ear for the cell calls, and my land goes on speaker.  The hazardous duty part is when I forget which phone goes with which meeting, which phone I should speak into when I need to speak, and which one needs to be muted when I launch one of the shrieking tirades in homage  to the morons.

So is this the real me?  Is this how I was before I got disordered?  I don’t like this person much.  Except for the part that I have actually lost some pounds.  I am not allowed to weigh myself until 2 Oct, 8 weeks into the no-sugar thing.  Not a huge amount, somewhere between 5-10 is my guess, but I can tell from my clothes, and from the decreasing aches in my back and knees and from my increasing stamina for riding Mo.

I will go into the eating plan next time.

I’m sticking with it, the diet and the drug withdrawal, pissy attitude or not.  I figure this is how I learn to use the toolbox and become a regular person.  I want to take my next step down to 10 mg this weekend.

You can say a few prayers for the Morons if you like.