Well, I’ve tried and tried…and I can’t seem to get back into the rhythm of writing blog posts. As if you’re sending not-so-subliminal messages, my readers tend to not comment on the blog posts anyway. LOL. If I share a link to a new blog post on my Facebook fan page, everyone just comments on Facebook anyway…so why do I need to bring everyone over here?
I’m not saying I’ll never write another blog post, but I didn’t want to leave my website hanging…so if you’re wondering what the hell is going on with me, head over to Facebook. And if you’re one of those folks who doesn’t want to put their personal info on Facebook, that’s okay. Make up a name. Like…Beulah Jones or Vagina Reynolds. No one will ever know. #Genius
I’ve been dealing with a lot of family drama lately. The drama is centered around two members of my otherwise peaceful family. If you follow my Facebook fan page, you know one as the Drama Llama. I never talk about the other one, but I’ll call him the Drama Moose. Because I can.
Over the past few weeks I’ve become more and more in touch with the fact that it’s normal again to have potato chip bags around the house. Trips to the vending machine at work have become more and more “necessary” in the afternoons. And I’ve had this nagging, guilty feeling I can’t shake.
I hate guilt. It’s a shitty feeling, whether it’s deserved or not. And when there’s family drama going on it can be hard to identify whether you’re down in the dumps because the Drama Llama or the Drama Moose is acting up or because you’re slipping back into your old, horrible habits and your new self defense mechanisms are kicking in.
The real wake up moment happened on Friday when I had my hair done (because it was time to cover those “wisdom highlights” that Mother Nature has bestowed upon me). It’s never fun to look in the mirror when you’re in the chair at the salon. Does anyone ever look pretty in that damn chair?
Anyway, I looked in the mirror and my first thought was “Holy shit, how did my face get that huge?” There was a lot more face on my face than there used to be. And then, to kick the guilt machine into overdrive, I was looking through my phone for a picture to show my hair stylist and this popped up:
This was taken in 2015 when I ran into my pal during a follow up with our surgeon. Yeah, I still have that shirt…and I can still wear it…but it doesn’t look like that on me anymore. And my face is definitely smaller here. A lot smaller, actually.
The guilt is coming from the best place possible. I’ve been turning towards unhealthy eating as a mechanism for coping with a shit ton of stress. Before my surgery and the amazing experience I’ve had since then, I would have turned that guilt against myself. You’re lazy. You’re fat. You’re a horrible person. These are the things I said to myself with horrifying regularity. And then I’d eat again. It was a destructive cycle that lasted 25 years.
The guilt is waking me up from my complacency. The guilt is nudging at me, reminding me of how hard I worked to lose 118 pounds and drop 8 sizes. I’m grateful for it, really. But all day today I’ve been trying to give it a hug and send it on its way. You can’t hold onto guilt for too long or you start to believe you’re just a shitty person.
This is why I announced on Facebook this morning that I’ve started the “pouch reset” that my surgeon’s office talked about in their latest newsletter. Yes, more than three years later I’m still getting support from these amazing people. Just another reason why it’s important to pick a great doctor if you decide the surgical route is the way you want to go.
A pouch reset is basically a mini bootcamp course that takes you back to the weeks after your surgery, forcing your body to burn the fuel it already has and helping you to gain control over any carb cravings you might have. It’s not even a bootcamp, really. It’s more like a trip down a dietary memory lane. You take yourself back to the basics. Back when you were only allowed to drink everything and were petrified to eat a cracker for fear of ripping your stomach open. I was, anyway.
So today through Wednesday I will be drinking protein shakes to get my nutrition in and (hold onto your asses) I’ll get unlimited amounts of sugar free jello and sugar free popsicles. You’re jealous, aren’t you? Actually, to sweeten the sugar free pot even more, I can even eat red and purple jello and popsicles…because I’m not having surgery next week! Yay me!! (Red and purple shows up on a video screen as blood and it freaks the hell out of the surgeons…that’s why pre-op patients aren’t allowed to eat those colors.)
On Thursday I’ll be allowed Greek yogurt as well. Actually, I’m allowed a bunch of other shit…but it’s all disgusting. Chicken salad. Tuna. I could go on, but I might barf up my last protein shake. I’m happy with the Greek yogurt. On Friday, I can go back to my regular high protein foods…and then I’m done!
There are a ton of other “pouch reset” plans out there. There’s no right way to do this. The intention is to bring the patient back to basics. I’m…12 hours in as I write this, and I can honestly say I’m well on my way back. I really needed this.
This morning I read through some of the posts I made right after surgery. I relived the morning of my surgery:
The long drive to the hospital in the icy cold weather
Crying repeatedly as I worried in the pre-op area, overthinking and obsessing like crazy
Waking up and making an ass out of myself in front of the recovery room nurse
The first lessons I learned about my new life…and my old one
Before I knew it, I was smiling ear to ear. Guilt leads to smiling. Who is this woman???
Today has been a challenge, but it hasn’t been hard. When you start heading back to your old habits of eating crunchy things when you’re stressed…and making yourself feel better with some chocolate after a stressful day…you can look at this kind of thing in one of two ways: a wake up call or something to feel guilty over. I’m so happy that I’ve grown to a place where I know when to kick the guilt to the curb.
I’d asked Hot Mess Hubby to throw all the chips out before I got home, which he did. But he didn’t see the bag on the coffee table, so it was waiting for me when I got home. I didn’t eat any. I picked it up, walked straight to the kitchen, and threw it out. Buh-bye. I don’t want you in my life right now, chips.
Something else: I’ve been looking forward to going to the gym all day. WHAT?? Who the hell is this person? Even though I’ve made some great progress towards working out, I still have the very strong urge to throw up any excuse not to go. Yet when I got home today I reminded myself not to get too comfortable, because my plan has been to head to the gym in time to swim for 30 minutes, shower and get ready for bed before I head home. But not in jammies. My gym is kinda classy, actually, and I’m pretty sure that schlepping through the lobby in my Star Wars jammies would be frowned upon.
If I do this right I’ll have about a half hour to stitch and relax before bed. What a lovely way to end the day, right? Swimming. Pampering. Stitching. Bed. Hell yeah!
Some of you may be wondering if I haven’t been hungry all day. My protein intake requirement is 90 – 100 grams a day, and just one of my protein shakes has 30 grams in it. It only takes me 3 protein shakes to hit that goal and I don’t get anything else but sugar free jello. The answer? No. Not a bit. I haven’t been hungry at all. I’ve felt a little empty here and there, but no hunger like I did before surgery.
Have I had the munchies? HELL YES! My brain wants me to eat. The professional worrier inside me wants me to eat. Ultimately, though, I wanted to continue with the pouch reset. It’s comforting to me to wander down memory lane. It feels good to take care of myself. And it definitely felt good (and surreal) to toss out those chips. Who is this woman????
She’s me. And she’s awesome. Guilt doesn’t suck if you learn from it. Just make sure you wrestle the bitch out the door after you’re done.
Want this awesome unicorn pillow? You know you do. It’s right here.
Those of you who follow my Facebook fan page are well acquainted with my 2016 stitchy project, Lady of the Flag. I entered it in the State Fair of Texas Creative Arts competition and received second place, which was a HUGE compliment. It’s the highest award I’ve ever won at the State Fair and I was unbearably dorky when I got the great news.
Some of you are also aware that I am a proud member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, having joined as a tribute to my late father. He was a decorated World War II vet who never lived to see the memorial built in tribute to him and the amazing men and women like him. While my sass and humor came from my mother’s side of the family (they’re all bloody crazy), my father raised me with a solid love for my country and a sense of patriotism that feels rare today.
A friend, and fellow Daughter, asked me to submit Lady of the Flag in the Daughters of the American Revolution American Heritage contest. It’s an annual contest showcasing the talent of all the amazing ladies in this organization, encompassing a wide variety of arts like writing, sculpting, quilting, needlepoint, and my favorite…cross stitch. Of course, I said yes.
I’ve shared some of the steps I’ve had to take on Facebook, including the fact that I had to write a page explaining why I stitched her…and who I stitched her for. One of y’all asked me to share it, but I can’t remember who. I’ve slept since then. 🙂 For what it’s worth, though, here I am to share what I wrote to accompany the high resolution photographs of Lady of the Flag.
Like many young men of the Greatest Generation, my father went to war to defend our country during World War II. He was just 18 years old when he entered the US Army, emerging several years later with a Purple Heart and several other medals, including the Bronze Star.
He lived his entire life never speaking of the war, even to my mother. I remember playing beside his chair and asking him about the angry scars that ran up his legs. He would always reply “That’s something that Daddies don’t talk to their little girls about, sweetheart.”
As it was for so many of our brave soldiers, and still is today, the war didn’t just leave scars on his legs. He came home a broken and battered old man in a young man’s body, unsure of how to handle the grief and terror of the battles he fought. He pushed on, though, as so many did in those days.
He and my mother raised six children, never letting us take for granted the wonderful freedoms we enjoy as Americans. My father showed us that our country’s history and heritage were to be honored and protected. While the battles raged on inside his head, his patriotism and his sense of duty to his country never wavered. Although I always longed to be closer with my Dad, I will never forget the lessons he taught me about patriotism, love for our country, and how very deserving our veterans and active military are of honor and respect.
His mother was a needleworker. Although I didn’t know her, I always felt a kinship with her because of that. Even as a child, I was drawn to needlework. My own mother loved to sew as well. During the most trying times of my life, it’s been needlework that has calmed my mind and given me focus. I wish my dad had found a craft that did the same for him. I know it would make him smile to see that I’ve carried on his mother’s tradition, and her mother’s as well, of keeping needle arts in the family.
Dad would have been incredibly proud to learn that he was a direct descendant of a Revolutionary War patriot. My membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution was the beginning of my lifelong tribute to my father’s memory. Stitching this beautiful piece is also part of that tribute.
My father taught me to respect and cherish our flag, so naturally this piece was something that called to me. I chose the hand-dyed, stormy gray linen as a foundation for the beautiful lady in the gilded dress, holding our flag in her arms. To me, it parallels the stormy turmoil of war that my father braved in order to help secure a beautiful future for our country.
To me, the 2016-17 theme of “Moving Family Traditions Forward with the Arts”, is represented on many levels in Lady of the Flag. As many of the Elwood women who came before me, I’ve used a needle and thread to create a one-of-a-kind heirloom for my family. She hangs proudly in our home, and every time I look at the rich colors of the flag and the beaded finery of her dress, I imagine what Dad would say if he could see her. I know he would be touched and incredibly proud, and I dare say that my grandmother would even be impressed at the work I’ve done…which will be around long after I’m gone. A loving, beautiful tribute to my father and all the heroes in our ancestry who came before him.
I mail the entry packet off to the State Chair this evening. 🙂
Lady of the Flag faced some very stiff competition at the 2016 State Fair of Texas and she won a very deserving 2nd place ribbon. Taking that into account, I highly doubt that she’ll make it into the national finals. For me, it’s not about winning…it’s about the stitching. It’s about what stitching does for me, what it means to me to be able to do it, and the beautiful things I’m able to have (or give away as gifts) when I’m done. And, as always, I feel Dad smiling down at me from Heaven…with tears in his eyes. Proud.
Thank you all for being such great fans, and for always supporting me by listening to my crazy rants, my nutty ideas, and my obsessing over details. ♥
Seriously, way back when I was 13 years old and walking around Sea World in hip hugger bell bottoms and sandals with daisies all over them…my left foot was an a-hole. By the end of that fun day with my family, my two older sisters were carrying me to the car. Why? We didn’t know it at the time, but plantar fascitis. Whatev.
I ended up dealing with that condition into my mid 30’s, when I finally had surgery to permanently slap down my plantar fascia so that it could no longer tear. Done!!!
I love walking for fitness and it’s always been my preferred form of working out. It’s fun to walk and listen to music. I love it! My feet, unfortunately, don’t, whether I weigh 125 pounds or 383 pounds. I’ve had plantar fascitis and stress fractures in both feet over the course of my life, but lately it’s my left foot that’s being a jerk.
I’m just getting over a stress fracture in my left foot, and now there’s an issue with my cuboid bone. It won’t stay in place. It keeps dislocating. *sigh*
For months now, doctors have been telling me to stay off my feet. After my last physical therapy appointment, that doesn’t appear to be changing. Every time I hit around 6,000 steps for the day my cuboid bone freaks out and says “I’m outta here!” Dislocated.
The old me would have been all “Oh, well! Doctor knows best…time to sit on my ass and have some snacks!” The reinvented me? Not so happy about this situation.
I’ve lost 116 pounds and I don’t want to gain that shit back. At all. But it appears that I’m going to have to think outside the box. Or…the foot. Or…you know what I’m getting at.
I can take water aerobics, but that’s only twice a week. I need more cardio than that. I can swim, but not in proper form – and certainly not well enough to get any cardio from it. So what did I do? I reached out to my gym to ask if they teach adult swim classes. And guess what?
I’m going to give them a call tomorrow and get the details, but I am excited that there might actually be a light at the end of this tunnel. I’ve already made all the nutritional changes I can make…the other half of this weight has to come off with exercise.
Time for some serious swimming. Because if it comes between my a-hole foot and swimming every day, I’m growing gills and fins. Nothing is keeping me from my goal. Nothing.
When I was 9 years old, I joined the Girl Scouts because I thought the other girls at my school looked totally bitch’in in their green uniforms and I wanted to know what all those patches were for. It didn’t last long for me because dancing was my first love and taking classes took up a lot of my time, but I was a Girl Scout long enough to earn my needlework badge (which I still have to this day) and some other badge that has a BBQ grill on it. Maybe it was a badge for eating wings or something…I can’t remember. But I remember how much fun it was to be a stitcher, even if I was a bad one.
After I left Girl Scouts so that I could become a tap dancing astronaut (shut up, don’t crush my dreams!), I put the embroidery hoop down for years. Dance classes and performances consumed all my free time. When I was old enough to work, I got a job as a dancing character in the parades at Disneyland. Just for the record, being a hippo, a bear, a pig and a snowman looks AWESOME on a resume. Still no time for needlework. It wasn’t until my life turned to total shit that I had time to pick it up again.
I quit dance. Years and years of emotional abuse at the hands of my dance teacher/father figure had taken its toll. I’d just suffered my first real broken heart. I had a crap job in retail and I was eating my way through feelings of grief and loss. I was forced to begin shopping at plus sized specialty stores. It wasn’t a good time.
I remember one night while working my crap retail job I walked to the craft store next door during my break and just started wandering the aisles. I wandered into the needlework section. As I flipped through all the needlepoint and cross stitch kits, I smiled. Smiles didn’t come easy back then, and before I knew it I left with a giant bag of crap. A few different kits, several hoops, and assorted needlework gadgets.
I don’t even remember what the patterns were, but I know I never finished them. I’d start one and things would be going well…then I’d get distracted by a new book or a guy who was totally wrong for me. Eventually, I’d misplace the threads for whatever project I was working on and then I’d just toss the project. And the cycle would start over. Still, when I would allow myself to have some calm in my life, the act of stitching was a joy.
It would be years before I would realize it, but stitching was a great form of therapy for me. Counting the stitches necessary and executing them with skill required focus. It took me out of my head and away from the troubles that seemed so mountainous to me. I needed that, especially after trips to the therapist and trying to figure out why I was so angry…why I hated myself…and why I couldn’t stop eating away my feelings.
Through the years, I’d pick up a project or two, but I was never too serious about it. There never seemed to be time. I had decided to leave retail and got a job in a professional office environment. I was becoming a proper career girl with responsibilities and medical benefits and everything. Things were getting much more “adult-y” in my life. Therapy was easier. I was less angry, but more lonely…so I spent a lot of time out with my girlfriends.
There has always been something about needlework, though. Something about pulling a needle and thread through fabric calms me down. It makes me happy. Friends have joked that perhaps I’m an old soul, reincarnated into a modern creature but still haunted by the memories of a past life. Knowing me, I was probably something like Lady Mary from Downton Abbey: a bitchy, entitled whiner who beat herself into sense from all the drama she was causing herself. But I’m sure if that’s true, I was much less whore-ish. 🙂
When I had gastric sleeve surgery almost three years ago, I knew that I needed to find a healthy behavior to substitute for all the emotional eating I was doing. Needlework was the natural choice. Some folks still blow off surgery like it’s the easy way out, but the truth is…it’s not BRAIN surgery. My stomach is smaller, yes. My brain doesn’t know that. My spirit doesn’t know that. And the same ghosts that I’ve been dealing with my whole life still trigger the urge to overeat. I still fight those feelings and urges.
I’ve watched many friends go through weight loss surgery. The ones who gained it all back are the ones that didn’t have a plan for replacing their unhealthy behavior when they suddenly couldn’t do it anymore. They reacted by turning to other unhealthy behaviors until they could go back to eating…and I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. And so my home is filling up with beautiful needlework…and I’ve lost 116 pounds, 8 sizes, and tons of inches. I’ve maintained that loss for two years.
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m not to goal weight yet. I’ve made all the nutritional changes I can and now it’s time to work the rest of it off with exercise. This latest needlework project, which I had to cram for by burning vacation days and staying up late night after night, has required me to sit for too long…and too often. I’m so ready to head back to the gym and start working again.
Even so, I’ll always have time for stitching. Today I dropped this year’s project off at the State Fair of Texas. It’ll be judging in their Creative Arts competition next week and I’ll find out whether it won a ribbon within the next two weeks or so.
To make sure my hands are always gripping needle and thread and never Oreos, I’ve already started next year’s project. Thanks to my fans and friends who voted on Facebook, I put the first stitch in this gorgeous peacock today (click it to order from Amazon).
As always, I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going…but I’ll also be excited to keep you posted on my workout progress. I got tired of sitting still!
Oh and one last thing: I’ve decided to dabble in designing needlework patterns as well. They won’t be anything as grand as some of the projects I’ve worked on before. They’ll be simple, sassy, and really smart assy. A lot like me, actually.
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