Thursday, January 12, 2012

When the corn chips scream

I've been overweight for 47 of my 52 years. I've been a faithful follower of Diet Workshop and Weight Watchers in the past (the 5 years I was not overweight was thanks to WW and my speedier metabolism 20 years ago). 

Like most women, I compare myself to women who are not overweight and feel even more overweight than I already am. Much has been written about women's self-image and the media's Photoshopped, airbrushed marketing schemes.

I have to tell you that those pictures don't make me feel bad at all. Even if they aren't modified, I figure that if I had a job where looks were all that mattered, I'd spend a ton of time making sure I looked as good as I could too. 

Mostly I compare myself to where I was at in my 30s - the 5-year time span when I turned heads. I was blessed with a Marilyn Monroe figure and I wonder now what Marilyn would have looked like in her 50s. She wasn't always a size 8. For quite a while, she was a size 14 and was still considered sexy. I wonder if she would be considered sexy by today's standards.

Because of my CFS, I do watch what I eat. Too many white carbs make me overly tired as does refined sugar. Since I'm a vegetarian, I eat pretty well. Whole grains, steamed veggies, organic olive oil, avocados, and fresh fruit yogurt smoothies comprise a big chunk of my daily diet. But that's when I'm home and cooking for myself.

Once I'm out in temptation land, however, it's another story. When the ice cream stands are open, I go once a week. At a church pot luck dinner, I load up with the bad carbs and desserts. Since I don't have those things at home, I feel I can "splurge." And splurge I do. 

This past Sunday, I talked to the high school group about balance. Yin and Yang. The discussion was more about balancing personalities and strengths in a group environment than the Taoist concept itself. A group needs leaders, but it also needs those who can take direction. Group members need to be flexible, but not so flexible that no decisions are ever made. 

I'm a big fan of middle ground. Maybe because I'm the middle child in my family. Maybe because, even though I don't shy away from conflict, I don't enjoy it when it gets too emotional.

I thought about that balance when I was out grocery shopping today. It always surprises me that I have the greatest ideas when I'm shopping for food. (Note to self: Need more analysis here.)

I stocked up my cart with fruits, veggies, yogurt, meat (for Ron), spring water, spaghetti sauce, and soup. On my way to the check out counters, I passed a strategically placed display of all kinds of snack-sized chips. I walk past it every week and tune out the call to buy crap. 

Today, I decided that balance would win and my unbalanced view of my own self-image would lose. For this one time when the barbeque corn chips screamed out my name, I listened.

Keeping perspective is something I've always worked at and I think, most of the time, I keep it pretty well. When it comes to my weight, I lose my perspective. Maybe those corn chips will serve as a reminder to stop beating myself up all the time and I will remember that there is a place for the occasional junk in my diet. 

Maybe I'll be Marilyn Monroe at size 14 and remember that it's not what you weigh that makes you beautiful, but how comfortable you are in your weight. 

And if that doesn't work, I'll go out for ice cream - in May.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Quilt again, quilt again, stitchety stitch

I tend to go through phases where I'm passionate about something but then get bored once I've mastered it and immediately start looking for a new challenge. I've done that with pastimes and careers. 

When I stopped quilting over a year ago, I figured that was it. I hadn't quilted since my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August of 2010. I started a quilt around that time and just lost interest with all of it when mom was sick.

My latest project
Last week, I picked up my quilting supplies again and have been hand-piecing. A job that most quilters do by machine these days since it's rather arduous and tedious. I also quilt the entire project by hand.

I refer to all this handwork as Zen quilting. It's amazing how much either deep thinking or lack of thinking I can do when sitting under my quilting lamp while making larger and larger callouses on my fingers.

A lot has been going on in my life that I am not ready to share here and it is in quilting that I'm finding an island in the storm. And all I need on that island is needle, thread, and fabric. Okay, and some pins and a straight chair, too.

I love to sit with Ron as he reads or watches a game. I look up from my quilt and ask the occasional Bruins question or give him an update of how many more blocks I have left to do (at the moment, tons. It's a queen-sized quilt.) It makes me think of Little House on the Prairie and how sewing and quilting was not just a pastime but a requirement. How lazy we've become. And so disconnected from the process of creating what we need.

Quilting has become a bit of a savior to me now. I look forward to my own personal nightly quilting bee. Choosing fabric, pinning, sewing. Letting my mind do whatever it wants to do while still focusing on the task at hand. 

It reminds me of wonderful memories of quilts past. The one I made for nephew Toby two years ago that he still talks about today. The quilt I made with a friend as both an outlet for the sadness from a mutual friend's cancer diagnosis, and the resulting product that now travels to comfort those in hospitals - my mother included.

This quilt will likely take me two years to complete. I won't give this one away. It will keep me and Ron warm while we sleep. It will hold me as I search for my mom in my dreams. It will remind me that you can make sense of things that seem random and disconnected, and create something that is whole.