Tuesday, March 24, 2020

All the Tea

Several months ago one of my Wednesday night girls came in and exclaimed "I've got so much tea!!!"  I had no idea what she was talking about but each week we start our small group with "happies & crappies," "glads & sads," "highs & lows" whatever you want to call it, we share about our week. The weeks went on and I kept hearing references about the "tea" or one of them saying, "spill the tea!" I finally asked and they giggled and groaned as they explained that "tea" was information and when one "spills" the tea they're telling it.  I've been sitting on some "tea" of my own, trying to decide the right time to "spill" or even if I should spill it at all. Time is slow right now so I thought perhaps spilling all the tea would be okay.

First thing every morning I put the kettle on to boil water for a hot cuppa tea.  I used to enjoy London Fog-Earl Grey tea with vanilla, stevia and cream-the perfect delight. I transitioned to plain Earl Grey then finally to English Breakfast, there is something soothing about wrapping my hand around the hot mug and breathing in the steam as I take that first sip in the mornings. It is a constant steady (hot tea in my live*laugh*love mug) in my otherwise chaotic life (a whirlwind of busy just like everyone else).  I changed my tea November 14, 2019 little did I know that day would prove to be a game changer in my life.

I've had a dysfunctional relationship with food my entire life. I remember in elementary school at picture time, not only was I tall and in the back with the boys but I was the "big" girl. I could never wear the cute clothes because they didn't make them in my size, I was wearing hand-me-downs from my sister (who was 8 years older)!  I was in junior high when my scale first showed the number 200, I cried but I didn't know how to make it stop.  Everyone made excuses--you're just big boned, you are really tall, you have such a pretty face, look at your beautiful hands.  Really?  My beautiful hands???  The summer before I turned 16, my mom took me to a "fat" doctor.  I don't remember his specialty, his name or anything else about him except a girl from my town was going also; it was a miserable failure that only made me feel worse about myself.

College turned into a real time of self loathing.  I went to a college 12 hours from home, there I learned to chug a beer, mix everclear with strawberry soda and totaled my car.  I returned to my parents home and was miserable.  Alcohol does not make you skinny and happy as a matter of fact, it makes you fat and miserable.  It makes you so miserable that you do dumb things for example, I rented an apartment, made arrangements to transfer with my job and didn't tell my parents until the day before I moved.  Needless to say I wasn't a very good daughter for a few years.  My college boss lives here in Bentonville, I bumped in to him and his wife a few weeks ago, we were reminiscing about our time in Weatherford.  I told him how much I appreciated him, Virginia, Carol, Rusty and the other managers who could have fired me (and several other college kids) more than once but they believed in what the future held for us...thank goodness!!  There is no telling how many young lives they impacted by them being good role models and encouraging us to be better persons. I "wanted" to lose weight but somehow the twice monthly, payday keg party seemed to only add to my scales number.

Then I met Handsome.  The guy who held my head out of the toilet when I was vomiting because I drank to much beer as he exclaimed, "you have to stop doing this or you're going to kill yourself."  A few weeks later he said the words that would change my life, "I want you to be the mother of my children..." he wanted to marry me.  Damaged, broken, fat, drinks too much, hates to wash dishes, dropped out of college, me.  Just like that, we were married the next year and my days of drinking too much and self loathing were gone.  Okay, the drinking was gone but the self loathing lurked, hiding in the shadows for many more years.  My weight stayed way too high but I was in love. I became a mom (gaining only 16 pounds while pregnant due to the urging of my doctor). I avoided the camera like the plague.  I still can't look at pictures from that time without cringing.  It didn't get any better with child number 2 or 3.

When Jess was a few years old I started seeing commercials for Metabolic Research Center, I signed on the dotted line.  I followed their very restrictive eating plan and drank my 5 >FIVE< high protein drinks every day.  I was the model client who consistently lost pounds and inches at every weigh in, I had my pictures in their lobby and I was interviewed with them by a local radio station for advertising.  I lost 100 pounds, I was still miserable. I was happy with how my body looked but they weren't happy with the number on the scale because it didn't meet their standard for my height, they wanted me to lose more, I wanted maintenance.  I quit.  I vowed I wouldn't gain it back.  I gained every ounce back and the weight brought friends.  It was awful!!!

Fast forward a few years-I became really good as pretending like everything is great but inside I was miserable.  I hated being around people because in my mind, where that self loathing is lurking, I was confident that EVERYONE looked at me as the fat lady, always the largest in the room.  But I've got a great personality and beautiful hands.....I'm miserable inside. I jumped onto another WOE (for those who aren't professional dieters that's Way of Eating), Paleo.  How lovely it was eating like a caveman-lots of bacon, butter, whole milk-no flour, no sugar, no processed foods.  I lost, people were noticing-I began to give into my cravings every now and then...next thing I knew I was back in my fat clothes.

November 2019, I finally looked up Intermittant Fasting.  I had seen the word a few times but didn't really know what it meant.  My initial thought was those people must be crazy, some of them fast 72 hours at a time!  Who goes without eating that long???  Crazy people had to be the answer.  I finally reached out to a friend, a friend from those college days, you remember the keg party days...she led me to a group called Delay Don't Deny.  I bought the book and thanks to Amazon Prime it arrived in my mailbox two days later, I read it cover to cover.  It made sense.  It made more sense than all the diets I've tried.  It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle.  It puts ME in control not food.

On November 14, I fasted for the very first time, sixteen whole hours.  It was easy.  I TOLD NO ONE. I didn't want my family to think, "great, Mom's on another wacky diet again....I wonder how long this will last."  Within a week I was fasting 18-20 hours a day. My family was noticing my eating behaviors had changed so I told them what I was doing.  I think Handsome was a little skeptical at first but I promised him it was safe and read him passages from Gin's book.  I became excited about food.  I tasted things I haven't tasted in years, I crave fruit, veggies and granola in yogurt.  I understand that food is a fuel to provide energy and nutrition because I can feel it working in my body.  I can feel it working in my body!!!

I have learned the difference between actual hunger and mental hunger.  I have picked up new phrases like, "my window isn't open but I'd love to take one of your cookies home to have with my dinner this evening."  My favorite is going out to eat with friends and ordering whatever suits my tastebuds from the menu then not being able to finish it because I now know what full feels like (it happens WAY before miserable).  I'm sleeping better at night.  I'm waking up more refreshed in the morning.  My inflammation has decreased.  My cholesterol has gone down and I've been able to reduce my medicine. I've become aware of the unhealthy relationship I had with food. The biggest benefit, my self loathing lurker is almost completely gone.  Am I still overweight?  Absolutely.  Will I ever weigh the government standard for my height, not likely. I'm morbidly obese.  I will be morbidly obese for a while, I didn't get here overnight.  My clothes have gotten a bit looser, my face and neck have more definition.

Here we are in this quarantine and I'm not stress eating which is something I have done my entire life!!  As a matter of fact I feel releived because food is something I can control right now. The occasional rumbles in my tummy aren't hunger they are my body using the fuel I gave it for dinner last night.  I have hesitated spilling the tea about my new relationship with food but when I woke up with "Loathing" from Wicked in my head this morning it felt like a sign.  It's time to kick the self loathing to the curb!!

A friend used the phrase, navigating the new (thanks Dana @ Dr. Deckers office) back before Christmas.  I wrote it down because I liked it so much.  Here I am at 50 living the crazy blessed life as I navigate the new ME!

(I now fast 20-23 hours a day.  I eat whatever I want!! If I'm going out with friends or family I simply adjust my time.  No guilt,  no shame,  no calories,  no macros just enjoying.  My body does the rest!)

Sunday, February 2, 2020


I was thirteen
when she died.
I know I knew her but I'm sad,
 because I didn't know her enough.

Grandma, top left in the dark. 
That's me in the middle.
I couldn't find another picture of
us together. 
There is not a single day that goes by without me thinking about her.  About the hot rolls she made and how she'd pinch the dough off in balls between her thumb and forefinger.  About the toaster she had that sat on a little red wooden stool in her kitchen and could toast SIX pieces of bread at the same time!  About the polyster blouses that buttoned up the front, well worn, with bold patterns. About the twinkle in her eye as she would throw her head back and laugh, a deep, whole body laugh that came from the depths of her soul.  About the meringue on her coconut cream pie that was at least a foot tall every time!  About her toes that were permanently crossed so she had to wear open toe sandles and the huge corns on her hard working feet. But most of all I think about the person she was, the magic that made her well, her.

Grandma was the "driver" in the family.  When I was a kid they would drive from Pocasset all the way to Weatherford to watch my brother play football, Grandma always behind the wheel of what I remember as a big yellow car!  She always had a headscarf and a pocket full of tissues; she was usually bringing something delicious to eat along with her.  I don't remember how old I was when she gave me a quilt she had made. It wasn't fancy and pieced but it was made with love.  The underside fabric was simply an off white cotton muslin and the top was printed-it looked like square pinwheels.  Rather than being quilted, it was tied with a heavy yarn.  My brother had one, my sister had one, my mom had one but mine was all mine.  Being the youngest in a penny pinching family during the early 70's having something that belonged just to me felt important!  (Kind of like the time I got to go by myself and spend the night with them, Grandma and Grandpa took me to Dairy Queen  in Chickasha.  I had french fries, a footloong chili cheese dog, a soda and of course a dipped ice cream cone!! I still remember the bright red slanted roof, the windows all around and how special it was to eat out at a restaurant!!)

My mom was born in 1937, a few years ago I took her on a "cemetery" tour.  We drove through the areas she had lived as a child and visited the graves of relatives long gone.  She told me about my Grandpa tending fields where straw was being grown for brooms, other fields where she had picked bowls of cotten until her fingers bled as a kid, the area by the river where they lived when she was born.  She wove stories together that day, so many stories!  One chord that rang through all her stories was one I had heard my entire life Grandma knew how she to make something from nothing.  She was one of the farm wives who turned feed sacks into clothing for her children, she knew how to stretch the food when times were hard so no ones belly went hungry.  She worked hard on the farm right alongside Grandpa and their kids.

Flash forward to 2012, my parents moved to our neighborhood.  Mom was spending more and more time with her sewing and embroidery machines.  A dear friend gave her a small quilt, when she showed it to Handsome, his response was "when are you making me one?"  She made him one all right, she made him a California King!!!  It was incredible.  After that, she was on fire and made quilts for all of her grandkids, great grandkids and six P.E.O. quilts!! In 2018, a dear friend was diagnosed with a stage IV glioblastoma-I collected fabric from our mutual friends because Mom said she'd make a quilt for "T."  What I didn't realize was that I would get to do all the cutting!!!  Like a strike from lightening bolt, I felt a connection.  I needed to quilt.

I've been in love with Cathedral window quilts for years!  Feeling the need to quilt but not really having a space to quilt or the time to spend cutting, piecing and sewing at a machine. I began to research how to make Cathedral windows, by handsewing.  In June, I finally made the decision to use black Moda grunge fabric for the window panes and scraps from Mom's quilts for the stained glass.  I currently have 60+ squares completed BY HAND.  I've begun machine sewing four squares together.  I'm currently "holding" on it until I get scraps.  But I've got it in writing that my goal is to have a throw size quilt completed from them by December!!

As fate would have it, my friend Shirley had a flat tire on the day of her quilt guild meeting.  The store was out of her size tire so she asked if I'd drive her.  Susan R Michael was the speaker that evening and she brought with her some of her work.  It was incredible (click on her name, go look, specifically "Circular Infinity").  The ladies in the guild were so nice, they have a "show & tell" time and their work was simply inspiring.  I knew that was where I was supposed to be!

Handsome got me a great sewing machine for my 50th birthday.  The ladies at Rogers Sewing Center were ah-mazing, Queen Ellen is happy in our home! (EverSewn Sparrow QE) On January 21st, I went to quilt guild without Shirley (she'd had surgery the week before) and I made a new friend.  I shared my goals with her.  As we said goodnight at the end of the meetings she looked at her watch and remarked, "It's early, you could go home and get your machine out of the box!"  Even with the desire, I hadn't taken the time to get it out of the box and set up to sew.  I went home and got "Queen Ellen" all ready to go!  On Thursday during Daisy's puppy school, I went to JoAnn's and got fat quarters so I could get started on The Ultimate Beginner Quilt!! I'm working on block six today!

Grandma's name on her birth certificate was Roxie Anna Hamit.  Everyone called her Jackie but I can remember some even calling her Jack. I have no idea why.  It's one of the questions I would ask her if I knew her...enough. With every cut, every piece, every stitch I feel her nearby and that is somehow enough.  This afternoon, I pulled out my quilt she made me as a kid.  It was a little more tattered around the edges but the sight of it made me smile throw my head back and laugh with Grandma's gleem in my eye.  You see while she didn't piece my quilt on the outside, there is a treasure hidden underneath and I can see it was a loved old quilt that had been done by hand.  Something from nothing. Well played, Grandma!