It's been more than 2 years since I sat down to write something for this blog, and I'm not really sure where to start, but doing my first 5k a couple months ago is what motivated me to start writing again. I've shared much of my journey with food addiction in this blog, and after reading my last post from 2015, I'm now ready to share the action I took to get me to this new life and hope that in doing so, someone else may find the hope they need to keep going on their journey.
I knew moving to Santa Fe was an integral part in my physical, mental and spiritual journey. I just had a much different path in mind than the one I ended up on. After gaining back all of the 65 lbs (and then some) I'd lost before moving to Santa Fe, I found myself weighing almost 400 lbs and feeling "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" (again). I had stopped juicing and exercise was a thing of the past. What little sleep I got was in a recliner because I couldn't breathe or get comfortable sleeping in a bed. Then came the diagnoses.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with severe Sleep Apnea, Intracranial Hypertension (too much spinal fluid in my brain), high blood pressure and was pre-diabetic. All of these were directly linked to my morbid obesity, they're even called, co-morbidities, and felt like I was hearing my own death knell. So, I started doing research and found my way back to seriously considering Weight Loss Surgery. I had been down this path in my 30s but it wasn't the right choice for me then. Two years ago it became the light at the end of a long and painful tunnel.
One of the reasons I decided to write about this part of my journey is because I want to share what I learned about a hormone called, ghrelin, also know as the Hunger Hormone. After reading several studies, I started to understand why, no matter how much I ate, I always felt hungry. I now understand that my stomach was most likely always producing ghrelin, which meant that my brain was always being told to eat. I started to feel hopeful because the research I found concluded that many patients who had Gastric Sleeve Surgery stopped producing ghrelin for a time after surgery because the part of the stomach that produces it is removed from the body.
a peptide hormone, produced predominantly in the stomach, that stimulates the secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland and increases appetite.
In January of 2017, I met with a surgeon in Albuquerque and spent the next few months working on accepting that I needed such extreme help. I've always been pretty extreme in my weight loss efforts though (65 day juice fast, 21 day water fast, 5 years of not eating sugar, flour or wheat, etc.), so it's really not surprising that I ended up on a surgeon's table. I still had to process a plethora of pre-surgery feelings though, including: feeling like a failure, fear of the surgery itself, anger at needing the help of western medicine, which I felt had contributed to my obesity, and mostly it just felt like I was cheating. Cheating because my whole life everyone said that if I just ate less and exercised more, weight wouldn't be a problem. Turns out everyone was partially right, it just took having 75% of my stomach (a.k.a. my little ghrelin maker) removed so that my brain would actually be capable of functioning in a way that allowed me to eat less and exercise more.
On May 2, 2017, I faced all of my fears and had the surgery. Today I am 150lbs lighter and just got up early a few days ago to do my second 5k on Thanksgiving morning. I still have 80lbs or so to release, but the life I have today is better than I could have imagined. I am still a food addict and I still have to be vigilant about not using food to soothe my emotions. But now, not only do I have a smaller stomach, I also seem to have a "normal" brain as far as hunger is concerned and I no longer spend all of my time overriding constant "food thoughts." Thoughts that I now know were often produced by the excess ghrelin in my system. I am not advocating weight loss surgery for anyone. I simply know that this particular surgery was the right choice for me and I that it helped me save my own life. I hope that by sharing my story, it will help someone who is struggling with obesity find the hope and encouragement they need to save their own life.
Two years ago I couldn't walk 25 feet to my mailbox without getting worn out. In March of this year I started walking on the trails again in my beloved high desert. With the help and encouragement of my "outdoorsy" friends and an unofficial barefoot running coach, I find myself on a lot of new trails. I don't know where the rest of this path will lead me, but I know it will be on a trail somewhere and I'll probably be barefoot.
I don't want to talk about it or write about it or deal with it. Again. The recurring struggle of my life. My love-hate relationship with food. The ups and downs of the scale. But, the Yo-Yo has come around and smacked me in the ass. Again.
In so many ways, my first year here in Santa Fe has lived up or surpassed my dreams. My business is doing well, I found a sister-from-another-mother in my roommate, I've made new friends and feel a part of this enchanted community of artists and dreamers and entrepreneurs.
It has been a stressful year though. Starting a new life, rebuilding my business, making new friends - all good but stressful things. I forgot that my default reaction to stress is to turn to my drug of choice. Food. I am a food addict. Something I finally came to terms with more than 10 years ago. But, denial is not just a river in Egypt. I jumped right back on that Merry-Go-Round named Denial and used food to help take the edge off of my fears.
So, here I am. Again. Sick and tired of being sick and tired. And, finally ready to stop hiding from my fears and face the truth. So, here goes. After crawling through this painful AWARENESS and wallowing in radical ACCEPTANCE for the last few months, I AM now recommitting to one day at a time ACTION.
Who knew that my lifelong search for the perfect rubber band for my hair would be the thing that would get me writing again. I've had plenty of things to write about my new life her in Santa Fe over the last 3 months - amazing vistas, wonderful new friends, moving to a new house, building a new organizing clientele, and, of course, green chiles.
But, a trip to Walgreens a couple weeks ago inspired me to start sharing my journey again, all because of a simple $1.99 purchase. I've had a love-hate relationship with headbands, barrettes and rubber bands. I have a LOT of hair and it doesn't normally respond well to being kept in one place for any length of time. Headbands slip off after a few turns of my head, barrettes break apart, clips fall apart at the hinges and rubber bands, well rubber bands loose their elasticity and snap in two on a regular basis.
I thought I found the right one a few years ago - a non-slip style by Goody. They lasted longer than most and rarely broke, but like socks in a dryer, disappeared into some unknown vortex. So, I went looking for more on Amazon last year and bought about 50 of the little suckers. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line some genius redesigned them, probably to save money, and my once trusted elastic friends now loose their elasticity and snap in two on a regular basis. Thus, my late night foray into the florescent aisles of another drug store, once again hopefully searching for new form of elastic to corral my unruly locks.
That night, I decided to try the curly bobby pins that claimed to hold a bun in place along with some colorful rubber bands that actually look like rubber. While searching for something else to try I noticed a little packet of "Seamless Elastics" for $1.99. They were cheaper than everything else, so I thought I'd give them a try. The bobby pins actually worked pretty well, but I need a couple more to keep my bun in place and they are a bit of a bitch to get out - my hair didn't want to give them up. The colorful rubber bands tend to pull on my hair and gave me headache, but the innocuous Seamless Elastics are fabulous! They are stretchy enough to make that third wrap around my ponytail to help keep it high and tight (without pulling) on the back of my head where I like it. Because they seem to be cut from some sort of polyester fabric tube there isn't a seem to snap and after I release my hair for the night, they actually shrink back to their original size.
So, I went back a few days ago and bought 9 more packets of these little gems. I was tempted to clean them out, but decided to wait while to be sure they stand the test of time and the weight of my hair. It has only been a couple weeks and I know it's still the honeymoon phase for me and my Seamless Elastics, but for today, I am a happy camper and so is my hair.
Well, after finally making the decision to cancel my old 402 phone number, it feels like the Universe is still messing with me. In last week's Disconnected post, I told you about having to wait after making this decision because Sprint's website was experiencing difficulties. I tried logging in the next day and got the same message. So, a few days later I started an online chat with a Sprint rep and was given an 800# to call to cancel the line. By this time I was getting irritated, which pushed aside any hesitation I had about letting go of this part of my past. But, when the representative informed me that I'd have to pay $200 to get out of my contract for this phone, a contract that I wasn't supposed to have any more since I'd switched to a Framily Plan, I wasn't amused. I'm sure this little bit of information is somewhere in the fine print of my new Framily Plan, but it certainly felt like I'd been caught in a Catch 22.
I know this really isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I just find funny that after all of my vacillating about whether or not to disconnect this number, and finally deciding to let it go, the answer I received was, "Not now." So, the real opportunity to let go in this situation for me is to let go of my desire to make it happen now and accept, once again, that "It is what it is." There may be another phone call to Sprint to confirm the information and remind them what "valued" customer I have been for the last decade, but the real work of letting go of my attachment to this phone number has been done. The process and the emotions it brought up have just been so interesting to me, because it is, after all, just a phone number. However, it has been a good reminder that there are many side streets on this road to Radical Simplicity, and even something as seemingly insignificant as a phone number can lead me closer to the truth about what is and is not important to me today.
As of today, I've been in Santa Fe for 2 months. I'm not sure how time can seem to fly and crawl at the same time, but it feels like I just got here and like home all at once. I'm settled in my new home and have been exploring in and around Santa Fe and making new friends. Tonight I decided to write about my decision to let go something I thought I needed to keep. It's not taking up much space, only about 2x4 inches in a drawer, but the $55 a month it's costing me could be spent on other things, like exploring more of New Mexico.
I didn't realize what a security blanket it had become though until I started thinking about letting go of it. It's been a part of my life for more than 30 years and a tangible link to my old life in Omaha. I kept it because I didn't want any of my clients to ever get an "this number has been disconnected" message when they dialed 402-551-8967. That's the phone number my family got when we first moved to Omaha in 1980.
I ended up with it when, as a young single-mom I moved into a new home with my parents. They still had the number and when we set up a new account with Cox at the new place the account was put in my name. This was still the 90s and I'm not sure I even had a cell phone yet. But, at some point we got a separate line for my parents and this phone number stayed in my name.
Six or seven years ago, when I got rid of my LAN line, I was able to transfer this number to my cell phone and maintain this small bit of continuity amidst all the changes that were happening in my life at that time. Maybe that's why I've hesitated (am still hesitating as I type this) to pull the plug on this part of my past. In fact I feel really emotional about it at the moment. I understand that it's really more of a symbolic gesture and just another layer in this process of radically simplifying my life.
So, here goes. I'm logging on to Sprint's website now... and once again I see that the Universe likes to play games with me because when I tried to log in to cancel this phone line I got this message:
So, I guess that means it's time for me to go to sleep and this is something I can take care of tomorrow.
To be continued...
Last Saturday I went to a networking meeting for women entrepreneurs in Santa Fe and met a wonderful group of women. I sensed a few kindred spirits in the group and had the chance to visit one of them in her radically simple home today - a unique home she designed & constructed herself. It's a portable structure, made of canvas and at less than 200 sq feet, the PleniSphere is a special place and it's creator, Anodata Pyaga, is a special person.
When I met Anodata last weekend and found out about her creation & that she only lived about 1/2 mile from my house, I knew I had to visit her during one of her open house days and get a first hand look at her little living space under the domed canvas roof.
As I walked along the trail behind Frenchy's Field to cross the Santa Fe River to get to her place, I spotted the smaller of the two Plenisphere's she has set up in her back yard in the distance.
Then I crossed over the footbridge that spans the river and headed down the trail toward her home and became even more excited to step inside one of her magical dwellings. Being able to visit this type of structure only a few hundred feet from my own new home is truly one of the enchanting aspects of living in The City Different. I love that this city seems to attract creative people like Anodata and her "spheres of plenitude".
The structure itself is elegant and welcoming in person as it appeared to be in the photos I saw on her website. There was a lovely breeze wafting through the openings for the windows & doors as I sat and chatted with its designer this morning. For such a small space, I was happy to see all of the ways in which she had maximized space by choosing furniture & making items that serve more than one purpose like the footstool that also serves as a desk and discretely conceals a composting toilet. It was really interesting to talk to someone else who has made a conscious decision to radically simplify their life and see first hand the way she has embraced this way of life and taken it even further than I have by creating a dwelling that embodies the principles of living "sustainably in abundance and luxury". I can only hope that my own journey toward Radical Simplicity continues to lead me down other such Paths of Plentitude.
My friend here in Santa Fe was gracious enough to let me stay in her house for a couple weeks while I was looking for a place to live. She and her husband went with me to scout out a few places and after seeing a couple of "shit-holes" (her husband's honest opinion) and a couple of lovely places, I choose a place on a street called Agua Fria. I knew it was the place for me the minute I saw the mailbox - it had me with "om".
The house itself was quite a mess when I first saw it because three 2o-something, male musicians had been living here and I had to look past the dirty dishes in the sink and the messy piles of their stuff. I loved the owners though & could tell they loved this house. They had lived here for 6 years themselves and I could still feel their positive energy all over the place. They had installed a whole house, water filtration system and commercial grade appliances in the kitchen, but they kept the 1950s, turquoise double oven & matching gas range. I love that my landlord is looking for a part to fix the oven. He'll replace it if he has to, but I adore him for trying to keep these golden oldies.
The original part of the house was built in 1920 and was apparently the General Store for the Village of Agua Fria at that time. The walls are real adobe and the living room has the original vigas and the wooden slats on the ceiling above them are painted a lovely shade of dark turquoise. The kitchen counters are a beautiful blue ceramic tile and with a little scrubbing of glass ceiling fixtures, the gentle glow of electric light now reflects nicely off the white-washed adobe walls. I've also been discovering little critters that my landlords left behind
in the nichos and even found a little metal frog sitting on top of
an electrical box outside the kitchen the other day.
Another reason I chose the house is because it sits on 1/3 of an acre and is completely walled in making it a wonderful yard for my dog, Ginger, to explore. There are 3 old growth apple trees, which my juicer will love, and a magic circle of stones just waiting to be reawakened from under the overgrown grasses. My bedroom is on the East side of the house so I get to the lovely
morning sun & have a french door that opens out to the back yard and one of the apple trees and a bench swing under a pergola. This has become a favorite place to soak up the morning sun or gaze at the starlit sky. It is a wonderful secret garden. My landlords even told me that there are crystals buried all around the yard - just another reason on my long list of loves for this place I now call home.
I also have a great roommate, who's a natural redhead like me - talk about adding some magic to this place!! She actually rented the master bedroom before I met her, but I couldn't have chosen a better roommate if I'd picked her myself. She's a 30 year old grad student studying Art Therapy & loves my dog almost as much as I do - she even left the light on for her the other night when I was out late - she left the porch light on for me too, but her note just mentioned the light for Ginger :-).
So there you have it. My new home has embraced me and there's plenty of room for all of my friends who said they were coming to visit me her in Santa Fe. Come on down to the Land of Enchantment and my enchanted little house on Agua Fria.
As I radically simplified my life, there were just a few things that I knew I wouldn't be taking with me. Most of the items where mementos from my son's childhood.
Over the years I stored his memories in a couple of plastic totes & a couple of hanging files in my file cabinet. When I started this process, I went through everything again and got rid of a few more things so that I could fit everything into one large tote. Inside that tote now are ALL of his baby clothes, his favorite books - including "Goodnight Moon" & "The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Odd Tales", his artwork, school papers & other childhood mementos.
I also saved a smaller tote that of just Legos. I think I kept this tote because it was such a good little storage piece for him when he was little - big enough to hold all of them, but small enough for him to carry around. The lid also locks in place on 2 sides and the handles fold down. He always used the lid as a building surface and despite all of the constant use, it is still in perfect condition. His children may never play with his Legos, but I spent way to much time researching Lego containers during his childhood to let this one go easily.
The other 2 items will probably end up in my home again at some point. I could have made them fit in my car, but didn't want to take the chance of breaking them. The rocking chair was my father's when he was a baby - the photo below shows him, me & my son in the chair over the course of 50 years. My Grandparent's wedding portrait has domed glass on it and I was afraid it would get broken in my tightly packed car during my drive down to Santa Fe.
For now these few items are safe in a storage space under the stairs in my son's house.
I had this feeling a couple weeks ago while driving to a friend's house in Omaha. I was blasting a song on the radio and singing along and suddenly thought, this must be what Wonder Woman felt like when she spun around to transform herself from a normal woman into her Super Hero Self. I felt light and powerful, like an arrow in flight that couldn't be stopped until it hit it's target.
I had the same feeling a week ago as I was driving down I-29 toward my first stop on my road trip to Santa Fe. I realized what I was feeling was freedom. I am a 44 year old, single, self-employeed woman, my son is grown and doing well on his own, and all of my efforts and determination over the last 6 months actually paid off. I did it. I made my dream come true and moved to Santa Fe. How amazing is that?! Just the thought of it brings tears of joy to my eyes.
The image of an arrow in flight came from something my friend Frankie wrote about me on Facebook a couple days ago.
Congratulations on having the courage and determination to
pick your life up and move across country and begin a new journey.
Most would turn back but she was an "arrow in flight".
about tears of joy. I am so blessed & truly felt (and feel) all the love,
support, prayers and well wishes that followed me as I flew across the interstates of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado & New Mexico to this enchanted land. And when I arrived in Santa Fe last Sunday evening I felt like the sun was painting the sky just for me as it disappeared behind the mountains for the night.
Almost a week after that first sunset, as I sit here looking out my friend's dining room window at the storm clouds breaking up over the Sangra de Cristo mountains, that sense of freedom is continues to grow. How could it not when simply driving to the grocery store provides me with panoramic vistas and walking my dog on a trail reveals a breathtaking view of the Jemez Mountains. Even my trip to the Farmer's Market this morning was a magical experience this morning. Magic & Miracles. That's what I've found here in my new home town. And as I embrace my new found freedom, I expect to find more magic & more miracles along my path.
I had lunch with my Mom the other day and she asked me if I was starting to feel any Separation Anxiety. I've really been to busy to delve into any of those feelings, but she said she was feeling it. I lived with my parents for a long time as an adult and it was a tremendous help to me on both occasions, especially as a young single mom. I was able to do some traveling with my son and the financial burden of raising him was not as difficult as it could have been thanks to their help.
The last couple of years living with my parents after losing my house to foreclosure gave me the chance to be of service to them, especially last year when my Dad got sick and then passed away. I know I've been in the right place at the right time most of my life, even when I thought I wanted to be somewhere else. My Mom and I have a much better relationship today because our time together and I believe that distance will only make our hearts grow fonder.
I'm getting her set up with a webcam and Skype this week so we can chat face-2-face often (if I can ever figure out the microphone issues on my end that is). My Mom even said the other night that she's learning what happiness means to her. Just like I know it was right for me to live with her when I did, I also know it's right that we find what makes each of us happy out there on our own now. Everything is falling into place this last week, just like it has since I made the decision to move and I know that the best is yet to come for me and for my Mom.