These Times

Things really do seem bleak with hurricanes and wild fires and North Korea and the political state of our great nation.

On a personal level, so many people dear to me are going thru really rough stuff – cancer, children with heroin addictions, horrible break-ups…

My best friend, Frank, and I ‘joke’ that it’s the End Times. Is it a joke? The world is not what it used to be.

Are we living a dystopian novel? Or – dystopian non-fiction?!

I don’t think so, but I also didn’t expect to see Miami under water. Did you?

I feel pretty blessed right now, thinking about all the displaced people and animals around our country. It hard to stop worrying about the elderly in nursing homes in Florida.

I suppose the only thing to do is to help as much as I can – to donate money and any requested items. I wish I had room to take in displaced animals.

Things just don’t feel the same as they used to. I’ve always been relatively lazy. I think it’s time to become more vocal and more active.

A different time – a new chapter.

Cranky Season

It’s that hormonal time of the month again. I am a maniac. Just threw a pencil at the wall at work.

One thing I have learned is to say as little as possible when I have my period. Most things I say, I will regret deeply later.

One month, I quit my job. Luckily, my boss knows me and wouldn’t let me leave. I believe she hugged me and gave me Motrin.

So, here I sit at my desk, hunched over with cramps, trying not to say much of anything.

I am trying, at 53, to be a big girl about my menstrual cycle. In years past, I would – as much as possible – stay in bed and away from other humans. (Most people tried to stay away from me, so that worked.)

But not today. I got work early AND am keeping social plans tonight. This is new for me. Going out with raging hormones.

Pray that I have friends tomorrow.

But P.S., I wish I could just stay in bed.

P.S.S. When is menopause, please?

Fear, the World and an Update

1.)My best friend sent me a text this morning, Be Fearless.

This is what I’ve needed to hear. I realize I have been holding myself way back – giving myself and anyone who would listen a thousand different reasons why I can’t do this or that.

I am not practicing what I preach or walking the walk.

The thing about living in fear is that it’s entirely self-centered. All I’ve been thinking about is me, me, me and how anxious I am and how I’m not sleeping and wondering, wondering – what should I do? what can I do? blah, blah, blah.

My best friend is screaming – take action, take action, but I’ve – well, frankly – been too scared. And offered too many excuses.

Enough.

2.) With the world the way it is – Hurricanes, floods, wild fires AND folks in my life who have serious troubles – it’s been hard for me to think about writing about body image, weight, self-esteem. But I’m back (see below.)

3.) Update on Faith, the 10 year-old I wrote about in previous posts. She’s the girl who thinks she’s overweight and who’s dad wants to put her on a crash diet. I saw a picture of Faith leaving for her first day of school. She’s not even an ounce chubby. I’m serious. She’s not skinny like some kids, but she’s fine.

Faith’s friends aren’t in any of her classes and she’s having trouble connecting with new kids. She’s having a tough time.

One of her peers told Faith she’d become vegan, so she’d lose weight. A ten year old! Faith asked her mom, my friend, if she could become vegan too, in order to lose weight. My friend told her that if she could provide healthy vegan recipes which would give Faith all the protein she needs, she would consider it.

But said my friend, “I refuse to put my healthy ten year old on a diet!” God bless her.

Intuitive or Planned Eating and Stress

My friend, Sandy, who follows a strict food plan has being coping with many difficult and stressful situations in her life. She’s sad, worried and exhausted

As always, Sandy adheres strictly to her food plan. Even if she has had a long, tiring day and can barely keep her eyes open, she eats her complete dinner, whether she actually wants it or not. Sandy says that even if she’s forgotten to eat and ready for bed a 11 pm, she’ll make herself sit down and eat dinner. In this way, she believes, she won’t wake up absolutely starving and in danger of over-eating. She takes all thinking and questioning out of food and eating.

I, on the other hand, tend to listen to my body during difficult times. I’ve been really busy and working a lot and dealing with some stressors. I fly out the door (too) early in the morning and have about 30 seconds for lunch. Usually, I have something I need to do after work and by the time I get home, I just wanted to hang out with my cat, take a bath and go to bed. If I forget to eat or am too tired or not really hungry, I don’t eat.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have some outline of what goes into my mouth and body. If you look at what I eat, it’s usually the same kind of combination of vegetables, protein and starch, with some dairy and some, but not a lot, of starch. And, as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I don’t like to eat often and think about food too much. However, if I’m hungry, I will always eat. And if I’m not hungry, I tend not to.

This works well for me. My friend’s plan works well for her.

I wonder what other people think and what you are eating.

What She Ate

What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories” is a fascinating new book by Laura Shapiro. It focuses on the lives of six women from different centuries and continents — all prominent to different degrees. Among them are Dorothy Wordsworth, the poet’s shy, worshipful sister; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress and 11th-hour wife; and Helen Gurley Brown, the whippet-thin, legendary editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan.

I read several reviews of the book and they all mentioned the sections on Roosevelt, Wordsworth, the author Barbara Pym and Eva Braun. None of them talked about Brown, and that section, of course, was the one I went right to first. Helen Gurley Brown was one of my dieting mentors.

For Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 to 1997, fat was disgraceful and calories a diabolical force to be resisted at all costs. Shapiro didn’t have to dig deep to uncover Brown’s pathology as Brown, a self-described “grown-up anorectic,” crowed about it constantly: “I have dumped champagne (which I adore) into other people’s glasses when they weren’t looking or, in a real emergency, into a split-leaf philodendron, wrapped eclairs in a hanky and put them in my purse, once in an emergency, sequestered one behind the cushion of an upholstered chair — in a napkin of course.”

Napkin or no, that was a rotten thing to do to someone’s chair. But for Brown, thinness trumped etiquette. She emerges as both formidably accomplished and, literally, stunted. Shapiro doesn’t delve into the ways that Brown, unlike the other women in the book, inflicted her food obsessions on the culture at large. This might have been worth a few pages. For decades, Cosmo was displayed at supermarket checkout stands to be studied by waiting children and adults alike. Brown’s nearly naked models and lurid coverlines juxtaposing sex and slenderness helped shape — or perhaps the right word is warp — a generation’s attitude toward food and the female body.

And boy did I listen. I believed Helen Gurley Brown when she said that overweight women would never date. I believed her when she said that thin was good but skinny was better – a vital life goal, necessary to achieve, at any cost.

The funny thing is Helen Gurley Brown was a brilliant, accomplished woman. She came from nothing, supported herself through Smith College, and became a revered copywriter when women weren’t really accepted in the field. She wrote a huge bestseller Sex and the Single Girl and single-handedly turned Cosmopolitan from a failing dinosaur into the number one selling woman’s magazine.

Brown liked to call herself a feminist, although her life was devoted to landing and pleasing a man. Her favorite feminist was Gloria Steinem. Steinem, who reoognized HBG’s brains and accomplishments, begged her to say something positive about herself that reflected the real, strong Helen. Brown thought about it and thought about and then proclaimed happily,

“I’m skinny!!!”

The Heartbreak Diet

In my last post, I talked about the singer/songwriter, Julie Gold, I saw Friday night. She wrote the beautiful song, ‘From a Distance’, and many other songs that touched me and resonated with me. I loved her politics!

One ‘lighter’ song, however, resonated with me in a less than positive way. It’s called ‘The Heartbreak Diet’ and she starts out by listing all the many diets that didn’t work – Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Pritikin and so on….She goes on to sing that the only diet guaranteed to work was heartbreak.

She sang about the only good part (but a REALLY great part) of a broken heart is not being able to eat – her weight drops drastically, her wardrobe fit and all her friends heap compliments.

As she says, she “never looked better”. It was “a really nice perk”.

The audience laughed and cheered. Everyone understood exactly. Somehow or other, getting skinny is always good – no matter how you got there. It’s a perk, a wonderful side benefit, something to love.

Apparently, it’s a universal truth. Meant to be a cute song. I found it troubling.

An Inspiring Night Out

Last night, I saw a singer/songwriter perform locally. Her name is Julie Gold and she’s the woman who wrote ‘From a Distance’, made famous by Bette Midler.
It was a lovely performance – she writes good songs! But my favorite part was something she said about playing the piano.

Julie (I’m calling her by her said name because she told me too when I thanked her after the show) told a story about being in camp as a young girl. At night, when the other kids were socializing, she’d find her way to the rec room and play the piano all night, every night – because that’s what she was born to do, it was what she HAD to do.

Julie said that whenever she sees a piano across a crowded room, her heart still goes pitter patter. That’s never changed. How she feels about people can change, but how she feels about a piano – never.

I always wished I’d had that passion – something that i knew I HAD to do. I imagine it makes life easier.