Caution: Politics Ahead

I don’t write about politics hardly ever. It’s divisive, it’s a sure way to piss people off and well, I don’t particularly like getting into a screaming match with people. I’m just not that confrontational.

But I’m going to jump in here. Before I do, I want to make a point that I will continue to make along the way which is, I don’t care what political background you have. You respect me, I respect you. My opposing views don’t make me some extremist, tin-foil-hat wearing crazy person. My views do not make me racist or any other words ending with “ist” that you would like to plug in. Ok. With that out of the way…..

Tracy sent me a link the other day from a Salon article titled “My best friend is a Republican” and it went into how the writer was horrified that her BFF was a card carrying member of the RNC, complete with guns and religion. I read the article and giggled, because Tracy is not what I what call a “left wing whacko” (remember, no name calling!) but she is left of me. In reading that Salon article, it did provoke some issues and how even though we are so far apart in some ideologies, on most bullet points, I bet we aren’t as far apart as she thinks we are.

I am a church going, Christ believing girl. Tracy and I were both raised Catholic. She is an atheist now and tolerates my posts about going to church because she respects me and my beliefs. Doesn’t mean she agrees, but she loves me and knows that’s important to me. I don’t try to convert her. I’m sure she appreciates that. I don’t mail her bibles or send her scripture verses, even though I have seen a few I would love to send her that I’ve seen at Hobby Lobby (Gasp! The horror!)

I believe in the Constitution and smaller government. I do not believe the government needs their greedy hands in every situation in our country. We need them for our military and infrastructure. Build the roads, bridges and dams. Keep the best military in the world and treat our soldiers with the best care and highest regard we can. There should be no VA scandal because it shouldn’t be so big that oversight is near impossible. Cut the bureaucracy and improve care. Simplify the tax code. It just shouldn’t be that hard. Flat tax? Sounds like a great plan to me. Close loopholes that businesses like GE (just as an example) use to pay ZERO taxes. Really? That’s ok?

Keep the government out of my and everyone else’s bedroom. Marry who you love. Gay or straight, makes no difference to me. If you love someone and want to commit to that person, marry away! Be entitled to all benefits and tax breaks that go along with it. What’s that joke? Why should only straight people be miserable? (Or something like that) But the flip side of that is also this, the government should have no right to order a private business to do something against how they want to run their business. Ordering a bakery to make a wedding cake isn’t the business of the government. Go to a different bakery. If you own a bar and want to allow smoking, it’s your business, the government shouldn’t tell you you can’t do it. The free market will take care whether your business is successful or not. Don’t like the bakery that won’t make gay wedding cakes? Guess what? Don’t go there if you don’t like it. Don’t want to work in the bar with smoking allowed? Guess what? Don’t get a job there! Don’t patronize that establishment. See? Easy peasy! I’m just saying the government should stay out of it. Live and let live.

Which then brings me to the taboo subject of abortion. Tracy and I have gone round and round and round AND ROUND on this. It’s a tortured subject. It’s a no win with us, so we usually avoid it entirely. I will throw this out there though, and it’s something that has bothered me for years. How can someone who claims to be a Christian (all the atheists are off the hook on this one) be in support of abortion? I know, the hate mail is going to fly in. But I don’t get it. Nancy Pelosi (shudder) is a perfect example of this. Practicing Catholic, believes in abortion. They are as polar opposite as can be. Are you deciding what to pick and choose from your religion? You get to make that call? The tenants of the faith are pretty cut and dried for you. Would you admit to Pope Francis that you believe in abortion? (And I’m not condemning anyone who has had one. So don’t even go there.) I’m just saying your faith and the liberal point of view do not reconcile to me unless you have decided that you are able to pick and choose pieces and parts of your Catholic faith. Which means your following your own version of Catholicism, right?

So do all of these things make me some right wing lunatic? To some far left people, I guess it will. I think I’m pretty moderate. I’m a registered Independent. Not a member of the RNC or DNC. I pick candidates based on what they stand for, not a letter behind their name indicating some party affiliation. And yes, I actually study the candidates. How many people just vote straight party line and then are shocked when things don’t change? (Hello Detroit? Chicago?) How about investing as much time looking into the actual character of someone and see how their values align with yours? Do you want the government IN or OUT of your personal life, telling you how to live, taxing everything you can put your hands on (rain, wind, air and water will probably be next)

So while I can’t use the title “My best friend is a liberal” similar to the Salon article, we have WAAAAAY more in common than most people would think. And I don’t even have my tin-foil hat on today.

caution

Addiction – The Family Secret

I really wanted to write about this subject today after giving it much thought. I hope I can be succinct and cohesive, but I am also asking for feedback if you would. That’s kind of the point of the blog post.

How many of you have an addict in your family? Any kind of addict. Alcohol, drugs (<– that was whispered like the mom in St. Elmo's Fire….lol), gambling, sex, shopping, eating….anything that causes a problem for the person and the family unit. I bet you do if you're honest with yourself. I bet there's the crazy Uncle you only have to deal with during the holidays because he drinks too much and gets obnoxious or starts telling dirty jokes around the 5 year old kid table. Or your sister who eats her entire meal telling everyone she's not really hungry, but then grabs some extras and hides in the bathroom finishing off another piece of cake plus 3 more rolls. Or the niece everyone thinks is perfect but has been secretly getting high every night and no one notices. What about the guy at work who can't turn down the next project/phone call/email/business trip/etc because he's afraid of not getting the next promotion or being valued enough?

Or maybe it's you. Can you stop drinking? What if you've never been told you have a "problem" before but now you're being asked to stop. Can you? "Well, **I** don't have the problem. My mom, well, SHE was the one hiding bottles through the house, not me. I can stop when I want." Uh huh. But do you? Can you go a month without drinking? Excess shopping? A little weed? A little pill? Working on a day off? What about exercise? Are you addicted to something "good" for you? Do you push it too far? Are you running 7 days a week? Should you?

Anyone who has dealt with an addict will tell you the above scenario is classic denial. There's always always ALWAYS someone worse off than the person you're talking to. Or an excuse for the behavior. And that's a convenient rationale to not admit your own problem. Yes, admitting you have a problem with (insert addiction here) is a first step. Admitting powerlessness over the addiction and that your life has become unmanageable. Step One in AA. And starting at Step One is always the best place to start. The whole one foot in front of the other thing, right?

But what is YOUR role in all of this? The non-addict family member. Do you cover for the gambling spouse who just spent your electric bill money at the craps table? Do you call in sick for the spouse who can't quite make it to work again this morning? Do you explain to your kids to stay away from Aunt Dee because she can't help but to act the way she does? What if it IS your kid? Do you cover and and hide and put on the happy face for the world to see?

Now I'm certainly not suggesting that everyone open up the four walls of their homes and let everything be a gawking free-for-all. Every home has its secrets that most are sure would be horrified if the outside world could look in and see during your most raw, emotional times. That's not what I'm getting at. I AM suggesting that addiction is so incredibly prevalent in our society, and that the old way of thinking is not what is healthy for the entire family. Talking about it, discussing it, sharing it, help to bring it out of the shadows where it can grow and fester. That helps take away that stigma that unfortunately still exists today.

Which brings me back to the non-addicts role. My role. Most of my readers know my husband is an alcoholic. I don't hide it. It's hard. It's difficult. I've written many blog posts about it. I'm active in an Al Anon group. It's been amazing to find that everything I thought I was dealing with alone, someone right down the street was dealing with too. And right around the corner. And all over the city, the state, the country, the world. But no one knows because everyone hides and covers. It's the family secret.

Here's a great saying in AA: "Nothing changes if nothing changes". Simple right? Simple and true. Changing the way WE act and will bring about change in US. Not others. Ourselves. It's a very empowering feeling when you truly start to put yourself first and change the way you think.

I wish I could get more people talking, and in doing that you could realize you aren't alone. You're family isn't the only one. And perhaps helping to shed some light on what is happening will also encourage the addict to seek support and help. Don't let another generation continue the cycle. There's a Step One in AA and in Al Anon. But there's more than one step. Keep moving, keep growing. You can do ANYTHING for a day. Today can be Day One in your life, whether you're the addict or just love someone who is.

Namaste.

Addiction

Overwhelmingly Overwhelmed?

Have you ever just had a day, where you feel the weight of everyone else’s world on your shoulders? Where you don’t know where to look or who to help or what to do, so the easiest thing to do is close the curtains and pretend you aren’t home? Uh huh. You know you have.

And the thing is, it’s not one or two big things. It’s more a culmination of many many many MANY little things. Sprinkle in a few big bombshells and BOOM, that crushing feeling is upon you. Divorces, family members not speaking to other family members, (some family members just fine with never speaking to a certain other family member again), affairs, lost loves, bankruptcy, cancer, alcoholism, recovery, friends struggling with friends, friends struggling with family, lost friendships, lost spouses, lost pets, children sick, weight loss, weight gain, kids struggling in school, with friends, with peers, with boyfriends or girlfriends…..OMG, I could seriously go on longer and that’s just in the past week!!!!!

This is the overwhelming part for me. And I have cried on enough shoulders and vented enough to my family and friends that I owe them my shoulder in their time of need. At least my shoulder. A few of them need me to call the divorce lawyer and pack up that spouse and kick them out. A few need me to get a shovel and a rural (unfrozen) parcel of land and start digging, if ya know what I mean. The fixer in me wants to wave my magic wand, sprinkle some fairy dust and make those impossibly difficult, narcissistic, egomaniac, selfish people into decent normal human beings. But I can’t do that and watching them struggle with this idiotic spouse/friend/person can be overwhelming.

High school kids are hard enough to deal with on good days. When they get mean for the sake of being mean, and hurtful for the sake of being hurtful, what can you do as parent? Most of the time they don’t want you involved anyway. So it gets tricky sometimes. But when the meanness causes your child to weep, do you step in? When and how do friends become enemies? It’s sad and overwhelming.

No matter how hard you try to be optimistic, or looking for the silver lining, what do you do when it’s hard to find? For the parent who finds their child suffering, suggesting they look on the bright side seems callous. What bright side? But do you allow it to make you become withdrawn? Bitter? Angry at the world? Or do you try to be a friend and walk a tightrope of not knowing what to say? A friend found out her daughter has cancer. How do you comfort them, especially when she wants to push everyone away? I don’t know how to help. It’s heartbreaking and overwhelming.

So how do you handle it? No really, I’d love to know. For me, I’m thankful today is a barre day, because even thought my triceps are still sore from Tuesday, I’m gonna work the hell out of them today! It’s gonna be a “sweat dripping off my nose” kind of work out. I know that I can’t be the fix it person to anyone but me. I can lend an ear, a shoulder, support. But I can’t fix it. Great lesson learned in Al Anon is that I can only be in charge of me and my behavior. No one can change someone else. You can try, but then you’re just manipulating. You don’t want to do that, do you? Cuz that’s just not nice. So I’m going to try to focus on me and what I need (this is the year is ME, right?) and I’m going to go work out. And I’m going to remember this:

Just try to be a good person. That’s enough. ~~ The Dalai Lama

Namaste

Load

I’m in love with my UPS man

Yep. I said it. I love him. Of course, now that it’s cold, he wears a coat and a hat and is all bundled up. But in the summer, those cute little brown shorts can come knocking on my door any day.

That’s because he brings me PRESENTS!!! Presents that I order for myself, presents that my parents send me, and even the occasional present from a friend who just wants to brighten my day. It does happen! But it’s always fun to see him stop in front of my house and carry some mystery surprise box to my door.

Every since discovering the amazing power of Amazon Prime, my first thought is always, “Can I get that from Amazon?” Prime is fast, free and cheap! Well, not everything is cheap, but some things are decidedly cheapER than at a store. So I can place an order Monday for something, it usually comes by Wednesday. Sometimes it comes on Tuesday! Yes, next day service baby!

With the vitamins and some supplements I take, they are much much cheaper on Amazon. Throw in free shipping and sit back waiting for that cute little truck to pull down my street. We needed a new water filter for our fridge. Not only was it 20% (yes, 20%!!!) cheaper than a local store, the local store was sold out. So I got it delivered from Amazon, for free and didn’t have to hunt all over for a silly water filter.

I would like to throw in the added perk of buying Amazon gift cards from my local grocery which gives me money off my gas for every $50 of gift cards bought. So I save money buying the water filter, but I also get money towards gas. Tell me what’s not to like?

Now, I looooove to shop local. Love it. My area has a great eclectic choice of stores. I buy a lot of Christmas and birthday gifts locally. But there are times where getting the deal is better than shopping local at a huge mark up.

Before you start thinking this is some paid advertisement for Amazon, it is not! (However, if Amazon would like to be added a sponsor to this blog, please contact me. No reasonable offer will be refused) I also order stuff from Avon and it’s delivered right to my door. I order show tickets and calendars and flaxseed and coffee!

Coffee!! Oh it is so much cheaper to order K cups online and have them delivered right to my door! And the variety is without question so much better than a store. Yes, the local groceries have what looks to be like a large selection, until you get online. Coffees, teas, cocoas, iced lattes, the choices can feel a bit overwhelming. It’s best to have something a tad specific in mind before you order or next thing you know, you’re monthly coffee order is over $200 and the poor UPS guy needs a dolly to get your order to the door.

Can you imagine giddy I’m going to be if Amazon really does start using drones for delivery?? I’ll be ordering stuff every single day just to watch that sucker land on my porch. I better go get some more gift cards.

UPS man

winter ups man

Relapse or Slip?

These terms could fit a myriad of issues. And for good reason. They are interchangable with what we all struggle with. All of us. Don’t think you have a problem? Ha! I bet if asked, people could come up with at least “Fault”. I use fault in quotations because obviously not all struggles are exactly equal in scope and size, but at the same time, let’s not diminish any type of internal wrestling with right and wrong.

As some of my most loyal blog followers know, I had to have surgery on my back, again, for a melanoma that thankfully my doctor caught early. Surgery is a general term. She calls it surgery. I’m sure billed like a surgery. But it’s not in a hospital, its outpatient in her office surgical room. (Plus, as a side note, since it’s the beginning of the year and no deductible has been met yet, I’m sure this bill is going knock me off my feet. Sigh…..) So as a result of this “procedure”, I’ve had to miss a few yoga classes and a few barre classes. Throw in the Super Bowl and lots of not-so-good-for-me snacks, and well, you can probably see where this is going. I stepped on the scale this morning and was horrified and saddened to see I’ve gained 1 and 1/2 pounds since last week.

I’ve held my 70 lb weight loss to the pound since I hit that goal. Even though it was frustrating to not continue to lose more when nothing had changed. Maybe my body needed some time to recalibrate. I don’t know. But I went into a quick inventory of what I’ve been doing, what I’ve slacked off doing and how and when I need to refocus my efforts.

Do you know someone who struggles with an issue of trying to change and they have the tools, they know what to do, and yet……even after much success something switches in their mind and they give up all the progress they made? I think we all know someone (at least one) who has gone through this. The alcoholic who is sober for days, weeks, months, and in a moment, has the bottle? No thought about about what is being thrown away. What about the drug user who is out of rehab, made changes and suddenly an opportunity is there and they take it without a second thought. Until it’s too late.

So I’ve been thinking about this relapse or slip terminology. I’ve talked to some very knowledgable people in my Al Anon group as well as some in AA. The difference seems to be what happens after the fall. Do you continue on a shame-spiral and think “Screw it. I messed up. I have to start all over. I can’t do it. It’s too hard. I don’t even want to try anymore. This is who I am, if you don’t like it, YOU leave.”

OR

Can you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and realize how much you’ve learned since your last Day 1? Can you start Day 1 with renewed determination and focus? Can you call someone who is helping you along your journey and honestly ask for help?

This is the difference between a slip and relapse. It’s not that you have to start over (because you do) it’s that you start over with serious gusto. You add more tools to your toolkit so that it doesn’t happen again.

I’m choosing to look at myself as the latter. I’m going to go barre Thursday and do what I can. I’m going to drink more water, because I know I’ve been seriously slacking in that department. I’m going to confess to my trainer that I had more than a few bites of ooey gooey yummy homemade soft pretzels Sundays, and yes, one or more may have fell into some cheese dip and then stumbled into my mouth. Mmmmmmmmm.

But I can tell you what I won’t do. I won’t allow it to derail me. I think about people who have lost significant weight by going on a fad diet or one of those pre-packaged meal deals like Jenny Craig or Nurtisystem. Those people all lose weight. I did when I was on Jenny Craig decades ago. But it doesn’t really teach you to keep it off. It teaches you how to use the microwave. Long lasting change isn’t easy, or fast, or without trials. But it’s soooooo worth it.

So even if your “slip” is falling away from your New Years Resolution, or you’ve fallen off the diet/alcohol/drug/sex/gambling/whatever wagon that you’ve been trying to stay on, fear not! Today is a new day. And today is a great day to call Day One.

Namaste

dont give up

Silliness

Sometimes, don’t you want to just be silly? I mean, silly to where you are cracking yourself up silly. I think today feels like one of those days.

I hear bad news around every corner, but I think that makes me want to be silly even more. Must be the rebel in me. Oooooooo.

I went to barre class this morning, feeling a bit sluggish. I ended feeling great, as usual. You know the old saying, no one ever regrets their last workout. True that.

Then I got a phone call from my dad and his procedure this morning went well so that was a huge sigh of relief. No cancer cells detected and he doesn’t have to go back for another test until May. So I did what any normal person does, I came home, cranked up the tunes, put my teeth whitening trays in and started dancing around the living room, cleaning the kitchen, talking to Izzy like he was some baby who could, in fact, understand me, and then started dancing some more.

Just being silly.

So if anyone was looking in my windows while they were out walking their dog, or driving by slowly, that’s right. I was dancing. I don’t think I was quite “Elaine Benis” dancing, but that would’ve made it even sillier! Little kicks! Ha!!!

I’ll dance for my dad. I’ll dance that my dog is still alive and looking at me like I’m crazy. I’ll crack myself up that I can’t sing while I have my teeth trays in without sounding like I have a lisp.(Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

There’s plenty of time to be serious……..tomorrow.

Amy silly

Toast

So yea, today is my birthday. Yea! I’m just older and any day now I’m going to start getting AARP crap in the mail and notifications about my Social Security monthly payout if I was to die right now. Thanks a lot SSA for letting me know that.

But this is not a blog post about that. It’s about toast. And my wonderful, oh-so-wise Yogi and her meditation thought from yoga Monday night. Yep. Toast. Pretty deep, right?

Let me start by explaining that it was probably one of the worst Savasana poses in a long time. Except that one time I broke out in tears and cried through the whole thing. No this was a close second. But at least this time there were no tears. It was mostly laughter.

First, there was talking from other people who were there to train. Unless we issue a gag order during Savasana, I think I need to learn to block it out better. Julie is doing a great job. Tammy and I and the other girls, not so much. Second, it was cold because, well, after sweating for an hour and then lying still tends to get a little chilly. So between Tammy and I, we were fumbling around trying to get our sweaters around us without disturbing others. It didn’t work so well. (Note to self: Be prepared for the cold ahead of time!) Then, I sneezed. Not a huge problem, except then I started laughing. Then Tammy started laughing cuz I was laughing.

So much for lying still and only listening to our breath, right?

But then Yolanda started her meditation focus for us. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since. And that too strikes me as funny, simply because it was about toast. Specifically, burnt toast.

She asked what we did when we had a piece of burnt toast. Do we throw it away and start over? Do we try to scrape off the burnt part with a knife? Do we try to cover it up with something else to mask the burnt part? Do we eat it anyway and get through it and promise ourselves we’re going to be more careful next time? Do we convince ourselves we LIKE burnt toast and this is what I wanted in the first place?

And then, while you’re pondering what you do with burnt toast, replace toast with your life. Hmmmmmm. Can you make a fresh start? Can you get rid of that part of you that is holding you back and move forward? Or do you cover what is wrong with other things? Food? Alcohol? Drugs? Gambling? Shopping? Can you get to the root cause of what happened and fix it?

Of course, fixing burnt toast is as easy as changing the setting on the side of the toaster. But fixing what is holding you down is as easy as taking the steps needed to move forward. To stay motivated. To stay focused. Put down the weight that is causing the problems and lighten up. Just like the toast.

And pretty soon, instead of dealing with burnt toast slathered with peanut butter (ya know, the crunchy kind and it’s on so thick you can’t taste the toast anyway?) you can have it lightly toasted with a schtickle of coconut oil. And realize how good it is without all that other stuff.

Namaste.

burnt toast