There’s No Path Back

Have I ever told you about my obsession with This American Life? Its a podcast on NPR, and somehow I discovered it. It is the perfect program to listen to while I am working in the studio. The stories are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes informative, sometimes poignant, and always detailed. I listen to the archived podcasts in reverse chronological order, and I have worked my way back to 1999!! That’s a lot of podcasts, and I will be very sad when I get to the end of them.

One day I was listening to a story about aging. And they were interviewing a brilliant man, a man with a graduate degree in physics. He had spent a good part of his life studying space, time, and numbers. And now he had Alzheimer’s.

They told about his appointments with his Alzheimer’s doctor. At the start of each appointment they had the patients do various tests to check their cognitive level, and to see if the Alzheimer’s had progressed. One of the tests that many patients dreaded was the “draw a clock” test. And then the day came when he could no longer draw the clock.

It bothered him so much. He went home and spent hours and hours trying to figure out why he couldn’t draw a clock. The answer he came up with was something I couldn’t even understand–something about it involving three planes of thought at the same time.

And the interviewer asked, “why was this so important to you, to figure out why you couldn’t draw the clock?” And this brilliant man replied, “Because there’s no path back. I have to figure out the best way to move forward.”

I don’t know if that hits you all the same way it hit me. Because it applies to all of us, doesn’t it? There is no path back from the ravages of aging. Its up to us to figure out the best way to move forward.

I often think about how I started my weight loss journey. I walked a LOT. And now I don’t like walking. I avoid walking. I do not park as far away from the store as possible to get a few extra steps in–I circle the parking lot looking for the closest space, and look enviously at the handicapped spots.

I told you I was extra stiff after this last trip. That has lasted a lot longer than I think it should have. There have been other aches and pains that were not exactly associated with my bad knee. I fear that this is just the way its gonna be–every day one more ache and pain. Do I have really bad arthritis? Is it something worse–maybe a blood clot or bone cancer (gotta laugh at myself 🙂 )

Whatever it is, there is the realization that there is no path back. I will never have the knees I had 10 years ago. Heck, I will not have the body I had 10 years ago. Its up to me to figure out the best path forward. Right now that means being extra conscious of getting in all the helpful exercise I can–my PT exercises, the bike and the pool at the gym, and some short walks with the doggies. It really makes me feel better to do these exercises.

For all of us, this man with Alzheimer’s has given us a brilliant piece of advice–There’s no path back. We shouldn’t waste a minute longing for past times, past health, or especially past beauty. Its up to each of us to figure out the best way to move forward with grace and dignity.

Two Loops

Lately I’ve had a couple of thought loops running through my mind. I think it has something to do with turning 60. The loops do not intersect. It seems they run on separate tracks, although they are about the same topic.

The first loop is this:

I am 60 years old. I do not want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about food and weight and weight loss and weight gain and weight maintenance. I want to live the best possible life, the most meaningful spiritual life that I can. I want to enjoy a meal with friends, accept a treat when offered. I want to celebrate with food occasionally. I want to physically be able to serve God and serve others. I think often about Dallas Willard (the author I loved so much.) He lived the life I seek. “Dallas Willard would not obsess over food decisions like this,” I often think.

I am not talking about gaining weight back. But to eat this way, I need to be content to maintain at a higher weight range.

The second loop is this:

My back hurts. It would help if you lost some weight.

Yep, that’s the whole loop. While my back would not be healed by weight loss, I know for a fact that losing weight does decrease pain.

For a while, these two loops went through my mind on a daily basis. Each of them I acknowledge as truthful statements. But each of them requires that I make a decision and act on it. That has not exactly happened. One day I will follow one loop, and the next day I will follow the other. This, at least, keeps me maintaining my weight at this higher level.

You know, the truth is, that by “not making a decision to follow one loop or the other,” I actually have made a decision. For now, the truth is that I have made a decision to not actively pursue weight loss. To hold life a little less tightly. To live with a bit of pain and a little less angst. To still eat from a very healthy food template and to exercise on a regular basis. But to understand and agree that weight will not be lost this way. And for now, that’s okay.

Thin Enough

“Thin enough.” That’s how I described myself after seeing the trailer for The Quilt Show episode that I am going to be featured in this coming Monday. There are so many layers to those two little words. Because “thin” is not a word any normal person would use to describe me. At 5 ft. 1/4 inch, with my weight regularly fluctuating between 155 and 168, thin just doesn’t come to mind.

But following up on yesterday’s post, I am working on being satisfied with the weight I am. I am fast approaching 60 years of age (I KNOW, I can’t believe it either 🙂 ). I don’t want to spend the next 20 or so years being unhappy with myself.

I also feel a little pressure to meet a certain expectation–after all, this blog is about “living a whole and healthy life.” And on The Quilt Show blog, I am a semi-regular contributor as “The Healthy Quilter.” I think that pressure is a good thing–a form of accountability that I can’t escape. So I was relieved to see that I looked “thin enough” (and healthy enough) on camera.

I went to the doctor last week. We talked about my ongoing knee pain (yay–finally got the referral to go back to the ortho doc) and I told her all the things I am doing–walking, riding the exercise bike, P.T. exercises. And she said mildly, “well, maybe you should lose a little weight.” I took no offense at her statement. Its a good idea. Its just a little more complex than that. Because really what she should say is “maybe you should LIVE at a lower weight.” And to live at a lower weight would mean restricting my food intake to a degree that I am unwilling or unable to do at this time. I reminded her that it was not on her computer record that I had lost 100 pounds before she became my doctor. I’m not sure that meant anything to her. And so for now, even as a person who is facing eventual knee replacement surgery, I am thin enough.

Anyway, it is a very good feeling (make no mistake, I don’t feel like this 100 percent of the time) to be content with the way I look. Sometimes I try to think about what my perception as a 20 year old was of what a 60 year old woman should look like. I think I look better than that 🙂

Thin enough is definitely a term that needs to be seen in perspective. For a woman who spent well over 20 years weighing 257 pounds, I am thin enough.

Perspective

I know a fine young man in Haiti. He aspires to be a pastor one day. And a lawyer, because pastors don’t get paid in Haiti.

This is his house.

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This picture is burned in my memory. I remember wondering at the time if he could even stretch out full length to sleep at night.

I live in a 650 square foot house (soon to be 870 SF!)–small in American estimations. One day when I was struggling with a financial decision (could I afford to be “generous” in this certain situation?) I came around the bend in the road and saw my house. And it looked HUMONGOUS. Perspective.

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Would it surprise you to know that much of the time I still think of myself as fat–as no different than that 255 pound woman from 9 years ago?

And then one day, while rifling through my closet looking for something nice to wear, I came upon the only pair of “fat pants” that I kept.

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A Gazillion Calories in a Single Day

Isn’t that a song or book title?? Anyway, that’s what Christmas day felt like. I decided early in the day that that was the way it was going to be. It was very fun, but I still have to work at not having guilty feelings or negative thoughts about eating whatever I want. I did only eat a small dinner, since I was pretty much not hungry from all the other treats I’d been eating. And by the time I drove home that night, I was SOOO ready to start my regular healthy eating the next day. I made a plate of goodies for my contractor and that pretty much cleared the house of Christmas treats.

Yesterday, I went back to my normal eating habits and logged all my food in Lose It. I ate every 3 or 4 hours, and made sure I had food that I enjoyed.

The thing is, its become more and more clear to me, that it is my INTENTION to eat healthily and stay as fit as possible. I have a very clear vision of what I want my aging life to be. I also have a very clear vision of what I do NOT want my life to be. Its been a while, but its still very clear in my mind how I felt every day when I weighed a hundred pounds more than I do now. I can imagine how that old body would feel with 9 years of aging on it.

So onward into the new year. I’m sure there will be lots of new (and old) advice and hopes for starting a newer, healthier life. I guess my wish would be for everyone to think clearly about living a healthier life, instead of a life at a certain weight or wearing a certain dress size or looking a certain way. None of those things has anything to do with a good life.

A Sixty’s Eve Birthday

I’ve heard some women say that turning 60 was quite a shock. And some women I know even admitted to being quite depressed by the fact. So I decided to embrace the coming decade, and celebrate my 59th year as my 60’s eve birthday. That means I can celebrate for a whole year, right?

To turn things around a little, I decided to treat some of my friends to lunch on the eve of my actual birthday. That was fun. I started the day  by playing around with some new quilt block ideas.

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And then headed to the gym for my “sandwich workout” (20 minutes bike, 20 minutes weights, 20 minutes bike.) Had a fun time at lunch, and then headed straight home for some lap time with my other “friends.”

Oh, and this picture fits into the “aging gracefully” category. A couple of days ago I started worrying about not having enough pics of me and Mr. Monk together, so I grabbed him and snapped that picture sans any makeup or hair fixing.

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I ended the day with my other friend, Noah, on a twilight walk. I felt so good I ran a little bit. That seems like a really good way to celebrate your sixty’s eve birthday.

I’m Still Here

I’m still here. I haven’t gone anywhere. I haven’t changed how I’m eating healthy or exercising daily (some people are prone to say that if a blogger disappears they have fallen “off the wagon.”)

I’m just busy with a single project and a looming deadline. I have lots of interesting bloggie thoughts floating around in my brain, but evidently not enough brain power left to form them into a cohesive blog post. Hopefully they’ll still be around in a week or two.

The Biennial convention for rug hookers is being held in Long Beach this year. It is a big deal for rug hookers, and I am really excited to go to it. In addition, my one rug hooking friend is coming out from Indiana and going with me. Isn’t it fun to find new friends? I am not a very outgoing person, especially in a workshop situation, but Mary Lynn and I hit it off at Cambria one year, and we’ve developed a nice friendship over the past few years. Its fun to have someone to ‘talk shop’ with. You might not know it, but there’s not a glut of rug hookers in the area LOL.

Anyway, here’s the almost completed rug. I’ve been working on it non-stop for a week, including some 8 hour hook-a-thons (all hooking terms added for your amusement.) I’ll write a little more about it on my quilt blog, if you want to hear more. I’ll try to post a completed picture of it before I leave.

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And I’m just gonna do one of them random picture posts so I can talk about this ‘n’ that without thinking too much.

On aging gracefully and acceptance of that fact: sometimes I see my hands and I think “where did they come from?” And then I remember–I have my grandma’s hands. She was kind and loving, and she always had her handwork with her, even when she was in her 90’s.  She is who I aspire to be like .

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Garden shot:

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Finally! My first echinacea that Sophie did not eat:

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Still life:

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After the bath:

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An excellent low calorie dip idea! Mix greek yogurt, SF marmalade, and mustard or honey mustard. I LOVE it on my Sunday evening rutabaga fries!

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The pugs’ bedroom (my kitchen):

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My first big tomato!!

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I’ll be back in a week or so, hopefully with a brain intact and rug hooking out of my system for a while!