Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tarot Readings, Cancer, and Crippling Anxiety OR How to Choose Between Despair and Peace

This is a long post about how I unraveled fear and found my peace in a bad situation. And it's a really strange story I don't expect you to understand unless you've been there. But if you wage war on anxiety and depression, bookmark this. Because one day a crisis will offer you a choice between despair and peace, and I want you to read this. 

For the month of January, I drew three cards: My Blessing, My Challenge, and My Action. 

I was perplexed by what I drew, so I decided to fill out a Card-a-Day sheet for each card and let the month unfold.


The Card-a-Day sheet is a tool from the Biddy Tarot Foundations course. The idea is to draw a card in the morning, fill out the top half of the sheet, then at the end of the day fill out the bottom half.
Based on your personal experiences, events, situations, and the people involved, you synthesize the day and card into lessons learned and reflect on your new insights about that card’s meaning.

So I applied the exercise to the month's events and the cards I drew for the month.

Holy crap. I have a whole new appreciation for the intuitive method of reading the Tarot, let's just say that.

Let's break down the January 2017 reading that I did on the 8th (yeah, yeah, I know. I'll do February's on the 1st. Slow start to the year.)


My Blessing = 9 of Swords
 What the hell? Look at that damn card. That's waking up from a nightmare right there, with heavy worries (9 swords) hanging over your head. How is that a blessing? Ever wake up in the middle of the night and all your problems rush in? Or try to go to sleep at night when your mind is going a million miles an hour because you have a ton of worries? The 9 of swords usually deals with anxiety, depression, nightmares, despair, and feeling overwhelmed. Let me repeat: How the hell is that a blessing?? Turns out, it is. 

More on that later.



My Challenge = Ace of Cups
So my challenge for January was unconditional love? Compassion? Overwhelming emotion. Yeah. Okay. I can see that.

And it manifested in a way I never expected.








My Action = 10 of Swords
Um.... What? Was I supposed to stab someone in the back? Betray someone? Whaaaaat? Or...end a cycle. That made more sense. Throw loss and and a crisis in there and how does that add up to action? Hmmmmm...








So…I took the reading to mean my blessing for January would be waking up from a nightmare. 9s indicate a cycle is close to completion. That’s a good thing, right? So okay, blessing.  My challenge was to be compassionate.

And the action I needed to take was to end some cycle. That fact that two swords showed up in the reading and they were 9 & 10 did not escape my notice. That was significant, and drove home the ending of a cycle thing.

All in all, the reading for January was all kinds of confusing, amorphous, and read more like a cryptic joke than a guide for the month, as far as I was concerned. But as it turns out…wow.

I have a much deeper understanding of these three cards and I will never again be able to look at them without January 2017 and all it’s chaos and lessons coming to mind.

Synthesis:
So here's how the month unfolded and how I synthesized the cards from the experience:

The 9 of Swords is a very appropriate card for me this time of year, and if I'm being totally honest, any given day depending on how well I'm managing my anxiety and occasional depression. But having it show up in the Blessings position was perplexing. How is chronic anxiety a damn blessing?

I've been working on managing the anxiety for years, and have made substantial progress but it's frustrating and disappointing to realize that being anxious may just be something I have to manage for the rest of my life. You know, manage but not cure. And that's where I was at the end of the first week of the New Year.  

And then a real crisis crashed over me and my family mid month: my mom was diagnosed with cancer. 

An incurable cancer.

Treatable. Hopefully, most likely, maybe.

But bottom line: she would never be declared free of cancer.

I’ve spent the last two weeks in a whirlwind of emotion, processing, and trying to figure out how to be there for my parents who live 4 hours away on a good day AND take care of my husband and kids. Writing and running my own business has taken a back seat. I mean, family first, right?

So…it’s almost the end of the month and I still haven’t figured any of this out. But I have discovered an amazing thing: I’ve found my peace. I feel more centered, calmer than I have in a very long time.
It kind of freaks me out.

What kind of monster am I? I mean, I should be beside myself, right? Anxiety through the roof, crying at inappropriate times, plagued by fear of the future. As my dad texted me that first night after mom’s surgery, “this is a nightmare” and I should be appropriately twisted up. (see the 9 of Swords)

And I was.

At first.

The first few nights I didn’t sleep well. I tossed and turned and had bad dreams. I woke up crying and confused about why I was so sad until I remembered...

But more quickly than seems plausible, I got a grip. I was prone to crying and that wouldn’t do while driving and meeting with the oncologist. So I made a deal with myself: no crying while driving, but I could sob my heart out when I was alone or in my husband’s arms as much as I wanted. I drove to my folks, talked to the oncologist, wrote down everything I could, and did a lot of research.

Dad and I learned real fast not to wander too far into the unknowable future because it only tightened the knot in our stomachs. I’m not sure what mom was thinking or feeling because she was under the influence of pain meds and residual effects of anesthesia. What I do know is she met it all with an exterior calmness and acceptance in the moment.

And we laughed.

Seriously, we chuckled at the absurdity of the diagnosis.

And we got irritated.

We shook our heads because hospitals are the last place anyone can actually heal. All that damn beeping and the roommates. Sheesh!

One gal didn’t have the presence of mind NOT to contribute to our private conversations through the curtain.

And we got angry.

At the diagnosis. Because mom had done everything you're supposed to do to screen for cancer. That the biopsy came back benign 2 years ago. That the new state-of-the-art 3D mammogram caught NOTHING. That she'd been given the all clear just TWO months ago. When her hospital roommate hosted a rather loud group of visitors when my mom desperately needed to sleep.

And I made jokes.

I cracked jokes about the hospital party posse so I wouldn't tumble down a very angry, dark hole.

The next day I had no problem laughing as a vase of tulips toppled over, soaking the carpet in my brand new car. It was especially funny because the florist had so conscientiously packaged the arrangement precisely to prevent such a calamity.

Looking back, I realize I was managing my emotions pretty damn well. I made deals with myself and am still making them: you can fall apart, dear, but not when you’re driving or attending your son’s basketball games.

I can feel all the fear if that’s what I must do, and I make time for it. I literally set aside time in the morning or evening, or midday, whatever works. And I time it. I’m allowed to feel everything to the fullest extent, but the feelings are not allowed to take over my day. Unless that’s what’s needed, and that’s a whole other blog post.

And I surrender to the overwhelming emotion. (see the Ace of Cups)

The bizarre thing, the strangest thing I never expected is in the crisis, during the process of managing my emotions about it, I have found peace.

My heart is at peace. I’m not conflicted. I’m not constantly overwhelmed by anxious thoughts and fears or imprisoned in the nightmare.

As a matter of fact, I am the calmest I’ve been in a very long time.

And I think the 10 of Swords has helped me understand the reason why.

Through conscious, spiritual awareness and unconditional love and compassion for my mom, my family, and myself (Ace of Cups) I have processed the nightmare. In so doing, I have ended a long and vicious cycle (10 of Swords), a way of dealing with the world that wasn’t helpful at best, a betrayal at worst: a cycle where anxiety ruled my life.

In case you've never experienced it, anxiety is worrying and the resulting fear that may or may not hinder your ability to enjoy life or even get out of bed. It can lead to depression and can be a life-long struggle.

Worry is the brain’s attempt to “prevent” horrible things from happening. And since 99% of what we worry about never happens, in a twisted sense we learn that worrying is effective. What we worry about for the most part, never comes to fruition. Ipso facto: worry prevents tragedy. But then the 1% that we never worried about happens. What does that mean? The brain attempts to make sense of it and comes to this conclusion: Bad shit is going to happen whether I worry about it or not.

And then we can do one of two things with that information: 1) become utterly depressed at the hopelessness and helplessness of our situation. Existential crisis, anyone? OR 2) we can acknowledge that life can be utterly random, surrender to what is with deep compassion and unconditional love and acceptance for ourselves and others. When I chose #2, I achieved a sense of peace. (ha! yes, I see that, but I'm leaving it there because it's somehow appropriate)

And we can do both. Actually, I think the existential crisis is inevitable and maybe even necessary for most of us in order to get to the heart at peace. Maybe some lucky souls don’t need the crisis, but apparently, I did.

As I look back at my January 2017 Tarot reading, I realize the cards definitely guided me. Did they predict the future? Well, I don’t know and that’s not really what I was aiming for, anyway. What they did was help me tap into my subconscious, the Higher Self, the Universe, or whereever all the wisdom I need to get through this crisis is stored.

Any nightmare (9 of Swords) has something to teach us: that is the blessing. In my case, I had been looking for the “cure” to my anxiety for years, but what I really needed was to be deeply compassionate towards myself (Ace of Cups) and acknowledge that I had been allowing my anxiety to run amok, instead of finding some way to take the reigns. That was my challenge.

The crisis pushed me into a do or die situation where I had to choose: either be my emotions’ bitch or make my emotions my bitch. It’s a dark thing to face cancer, not knowing what the days and months ahead hold, but it’s an even darker thing to be shackled by fear.

I’ve chosen to let myself feel whatever I need to, but my emotions serve me now, not the other way around. I'm no longer a life support system for my emotions.

And that’s new.

That’s totally new.

And I see the light of dawn on the horizon, the earliest fading of a black, starless night. The cycle of torturing myself is over (10 of Swords). It died a painful death, for sure. Nothing worthwhile comes easy, but it's the choice I had to make the action I had to take. And it was my choice. I just needed a kick in the pants to make it.

Life is not a walk in the park. And it never will be. But fearing the future, making up ten thousand possible ways for things to go wrong, is like praying for what you don’t want.

Does this mean I’ll never experience anxiety again? Oh, hell no. But I’ve learned something that will turn the battle into a dance: I’m the master of my emotions. I can take the lead whenever I want. Anxiety can’t destroy me. Emotions are meant to serve a purpose; a fearful thought is meant to help prepare for a possibility. They are not meant to be in charge.

They are meant to alert, to inform, to process, and to follow my lead.



***Side note***: If you want to learn to read the Tarot intuitively, this kind of processing is a must. The cards become imbued with deep personal insight and I'll never again be able to look at these three cards the same. Ever. Think about what that means for future readings!  

Monday, December 19, 2016

How to Boost Your Immune System with Essential Oils

This time of year I often feel run down and vulnerable to seasonal attacks. I'm frantically wrapping presents, baking Christmas cookies, and attending the kids' Christmas events at school while keeping up with everyday work and life.

To help me avoid total system collapse (aka ending up in bed feeling miserable just in time for Christmas), I've put together this Immune Boosting Kit and protocol. You'll want to gather up the ingredients and tools, mix up the recipes, and put everything in one place (like a basket or reusable bag) so you have everything you'll need when you need it.

Here's what you want to put in your Immune Boosting Kit:



Immune Boost Roller Bottle 10 ml. (1/3 oz)
4 drops Melaleuca
4 drops Frankincense
6 drops Oregano
8 drops Lemon
8 drops OnGuard
Top w/Fractionated Coconut Oil

OnGuard Throat Drops

Breathe Drops

Breathe Essential Oil Blend

Tea of your choice (Chamomile is my favorite)

Soothing Syrup
2 tablespoons honey
12 drops Myrrh
4 drops Lemon


Now that you have your kit, here's how to use it:

Protocol:
Apply Immune Boost to feet 3x per day for up to 10 days
Us OnGuard Protecting Throat drops as needed to soothe minor throat discomfort.
Use Breathe drops when on-the-go to soothe mild sinus discomfort.
Diffuse Breathe in the home as needed to soothe mild sinus discomfort.
Add 1 teaspoon of Soothing Syrup to hot tea 2-4x per day to soothe minor bronchial spasms.

Get lots of rest: take naps or breaks more often and get plenty of sleep at night.
Drink lots of fluids without caffeine. Stay hydrated and you'll feel a lot better.
Between holiday goodies, make sure you're eating nourishing, healthy foods like homemade chicken soup, dark leafy greens, and real yogurt to support a healthy digestive tract and immune system.

Even if you do succumb to the season, this protocol may help lessen the intensity and get you back on your feet sooner.

Stay healthy, my friends.

***These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.***

***I am a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA, the company that produces the essential oil products I recommend. Regardless, I only recommend products that I have personally used and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."***




Sunday, December 04, 2016

How Not to be Anxious and Fearful

So you’ve heard about the power of living in the moment, haven’t you? That if you can live in the present moment without worrying about what might happen in the future and what things you regret in the past, you’ll be calmer and happier. 

You know, like if you’re folding the laundry you should focus on folding the laundry and not on whatever else you may need or want to do or wish you’d done. And this will “make” you happier, less anxious and fearful.

It sounds like new age hippie shit, but really it’s science.

Are you scoffing out loud right now? 

Here’s the deal: if you let yourself ruminate about the past or the future while folding the laundry, you are in essence time traveling and reliving whatever worry or regret you’re thinking about.

The mind produces the mental equivalent of reliving the event and the body responds with the same hormones and chemical reactions that occurred during the event or in the case of worrying about the future, as if the imagined event is happening.

Do the research. It’s out there. PTSD flashback episodes are exactly this. 

So, by focusing on folding the laundry or whatever you’re doing in the present moment, you don’t ignite emotions and physical sensations from the past or the imagined future.

And you’re not afraid or feeling guilty.

*Your brain sees black T-shirts and pink underwear being organized into regular, folding patterns, feels the rhythm of your arms and hands doing the work, senses the cotton and rayon fabrics sliding between your fingers, smells the lavender and Tide, and, holy shite! relaxes. 

Science, my friends.

So how does one stay focused on the present moment? I mean, come on, thoughts are uncontrollable monkeys screeching and throwing feces around, right? 

Practice. 

You’re never going to be able to stop thoughts with effort. For example, try not to think about my pink underwear. 

BUT you can practice distancing yourself from your thoughts, one at a time. Next time you’re folding your laundry, imagine your thoughts come from a mouse hole in the floor of your mind. Sit vigil over that mouse hole like a cat waiting for the mouse to poke it’s head out. 

Eventually, a thought will dart out and your job is NOT to shove it back in the hole, but to let it go. Watch it, but don’t engage with it. Let it run away, out of sight. Then turn your attention back to your folding (see *description of what your brain sees, feels, smells, etc) and wait for the next.

Repeat.

Over time, this practice will produce amazing results: a calmer, happier you.

Do you doubt me?

Prove me wrong. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Pre-order Skin Thief - The Hotel Paranormal Series

Happy Halloween and Blessed Samhain!

My contribution to the Hotel Paranormal is up for pre-order. Yay!

Pre-order you copy at:








                    iBooks
                    Kobo
                    Amazon
                    B&N
                    Smashwords









Welcome to the Hotel Paranormal. 
THE place for the supernatural to get away from it all.



Monday, October 24, 2016

Enlightened Excerpt - Celebrating Witches in Literature

Halloween is fast approaching and with it all the witchy goodness that is this time of year. Spooky and fun movies like Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus are lying by the DVD player (watched several times already), songs like Fear the Reaper and Witchy Woman are on my Halloween playlist, and costumes for our Halloween party are in various stages of assembly.

But one of my favorite things is finding books to read with witchy magic in them. Or ghosts, like in Southern Spirits where a woman finds herself with the ability to see and interact with all things on the ghostly plain.

I love the magical realm so much, I've written almost exclusively in the paranormal genre myself and wanted to celebrate Halloween a little early with a witchy excerpt from my novel Enlightened.





_________________________________________





Enlightened is FREE for a limited time on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, B&N, and Smashwords.

Enjoy the excerpt!

Rachel blew out a breath and chugged her wine, eyes darting around the alley. “I haven’t seen him in ten years, and when he left, I was upset. My folks said we needed to take a break.” She gave the empty glass a dazed look. “Because of me.” When she looked back up at Loti, her eyes were thick with tears. Loti touched Rachel’s arm in sympathy.
“It was the first few weeks of college and I was not paying attention to my classes. I was much more interested in working on a project with Wolf.” She frowned, dabbing her eyes with the cocktail napkin. “He had a theory that he could amplify a witch’s powers—don’t ask me how. We experimented.” Rachel tugged at the ends of her sleeves until the cuffs covered her hands.
She was one of the best witches Loti knew, with strong energy and incredibly good instincts, so it was no wonder her “uncle” wanted to work with her. Loti had seen her perform magic many times and was always impressed with her abilities. The most impressive time had been when she, her grandmother Katie, and their coven mate and old friend,Patrick, scryed for any sign of magic in David’s cancer. They swept the house for black magic and found nothing, except the angry energy of the cancer, which Loti had been living with since the day he fell off the ladder. Shaking herself back to the present, she realized Rachel was struggling to say the next thing. She leaned closer.
“Whatever it is, it’s okay. It’s me.” She put the wine glass down as Rachel looked sideways at her.
“My parents weren’t just worried about my grades.” She lowered her eyes to her empty wine glass. “They were worried about what was going on between Wolf and me.”
“Were you two—”
“No.” Rachel glanced up, wrinkling her nose. “Of course not. Geesh. He’s my—well, uncle. But we, uh, did exchange blood.”
Loti’s mouth fell open, but she closed it at Rachel’s anguished expression. As far as she knew, blood exchange was a fairly intimate act with a vampire. Allowing a vampire to feed on you was, well, orgasmic. Loti knew the clinical aspects of blood exchange from a course she’d taken in college, but she’d never donated herself. God, no. A suspicion bloomed, but she gathered her thoughts and looked for the tactful approach.
“So, there were unintended consequences to this experiment?” she asked, proud of herself for not blurting something that would embarrass them both.
Rachel nodded too quickly, twirling her wine glass in both hands. “And it did work, to some extent. But Wolf never saw the results he was looking for. And when my parents realized what we’d done, they asked Wolf to leave me alone for a while.”
Rachel stared into her glass, turning it in uneasy circles. “Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought through what the blood exchange might do to me.” She looked up and cringed. “I was eighteen at the time, and I never thought he would disappear from my life.”
“Well he should’ve known better—he’s the 400-year-old vampire for god’s sake. Vampires.” Loti rolled her eyes. “They’re so self-centered.”
“Hey.” Rachel sat up straighter, a little of her feistiness returning. “It wasn’t like that. He explained it all to me, but I was too damned infatuated with him and the whole idea that we could be partners in some great magical experiment that I wasn’t listening.” Rachel leaned back in her seat, narrowing her eyes at Loti.
“And he should’ve realized—” Loti started, trying to pick careful words.
“Let me finish, please.” Rachel held a don’t-go-there palm up.
Loti sat back in her seat with a huff and grabbed her glass, splashing wine on the table and her white yoga pants.
“Damn it.”
She’d been doing so well at this tact thing David had often begged her to practice.  The waiter appeared with dinner, and after the plates and bowls were settled and their drinks replenished, Loti dabbed at the red stain with a wet napkin. She dipped it into a glass of ice water, then dabbed again, refusing to look at Rachel.
“Oh, Loti, here.” Rachel sighed, touching the wine stain with her fingertips. The wine extricated itself from the fabric’s weave, curling into tiny tendrils that flowed with Rachel’s slender fingers as she lifted her hand. Casually, she guided the red swirls, smirking as the wine fell back into Loti’s wine glass.
“Neat trick.” Loti chuckled.
       “No trick. Just magic.” She tossed her hair in an arrogant flip and devolved into a good-humored laugh. 
       Loti smiled. At least Rachel was laughing again.

A Magickal Samhain Celebration




Samhain is on its way and so is a wonderful online celebration I'm participating in!

Won't you please join me and over 30 paranormal and fantasy authors for A Magickal Samhain on Facebook right now? It's been a full month of Halloween fun that will end this weekend with a party, fun Halloween facts, games, and prizes.

Can't wait to see you there! 

Click HERE to join the fun.

Blessed Be. 

Saturday, October 01, 2016

How to Ignite Your Next Romance

Last year, my husband and kids accompanied me to the 2015 Indie Bookfest in Orlando, Florida. My husband snagged himself a pair of author Tawdra Kandle's sunglasses, which have Ignite Your Next Romance printed on one side.

He has proudly worn them all over the world, literally. Here he is in Copenhagen a couple weeks
ago.

Those sunglasses have been a reminder to me every time he wears them that it's not just his job to keep the romance going in our relationship; it's mine too.

Recently I watched the Big Bang Theory episode where Penny tries to do something romantic for Leonard that doesn't involve sex.  She was flummoxed, so she asks Raj for help. After all his ideas are rejected, Raj mentions that she probably hasn't had to do anything romantic because she's a pretty girl and guys fall over themselves for her.

Then Penny says she has a hard time feeling bad about that.

I know that was meant to be funny, but I actually found it kind of sad. Is that the romance narrative in our society? Men woo women with romantic gestures while women wait around to be woo-ed? The proverbial princess trapped in the tower waiting for her knight in shining armor to set her heart on fire?

Ick.

Makes us women seem completely powerless to create our own romance unless of course, we fit the social beauty norm. And how many of us do? This story has a very sad ending, if you ask me.

And then I found and watched the Valentine episode where Leonard is the Romance Ninja, but Penny poops all over their romantic evening by being completely self-absorbed.

Again, ick.

So then I asked myself, am I as bad as Penny? Do I wait around for romantic gestures from my husband? Do I rely solely on sex as my romantic gesture? What AM I doing in the romance department? How am I keeping the romance alive in my marriage? The answer is I'm not sure.

Yikes.

So here's my first stab at it: every morning I'm going to ask myself, "What can I do to make my husband's day today?"

I don't know where this is going to lead (I just stopped typing to stare at the wall and try to think of something), but I have high hopes.

What do you do to keep the romance fresh in your relationship? Inquiring minds want to know...because we need ideas.

Help!

How to Ignite Your Next Romance

Last year, my husband and kids accompanied me to the 2015 Indie Bookfest in Orlando, Florida. My husband snagged himself a pair of author Tawdra Kandle's sunglasses, which have Ignite Your Next Romance printed on one side.

He has proudly worn them all over the world, literally. Here he is in Copenhagen a couple weeks
ago.

Those sunglasses have been a reminder to me every time he wears them that it's not just his job to keep the romance going in our relationship; it's mine too.

Recently I watched the Big Bang Theory episode where Penny tries to do something romantic for Leonard that doesn't involve sex.  She was flummoxed, so she asks Raj for help. After all his ideas are rejected, Raj mentions that she probably hasn't had to do anything romantic because she's a pretty girl and guys fall over themselves for her.

Then Penny says she has a hard time feeling bad about that.

I know that was meant to be funny, but I actually found it kind of sad. Is that the romance narrative in our society? Men woo women with romantic gestures while women wait around to be woo-ed? The proverbial princess trapped in the tower waiting for her knight in shining armor to set her heart on fire?

Ick.

Makes us women seem completely powerless to create our own romance unless of course, we fit the social beauty norm. And how many of us do? This story has a very sad ending, if you ask me.

And then I found and watched the Valentine episode where Leonard is the Romance Ninja, but Penny poops all over their romantic evening by being completely self-absorbed.

Again, ick.

So then I asked myself, am I as bad as Penny? Do I wait around for romantic gestures from my husband? Do I rely solely on sex as my romantic gesture? What AM I doing in the romance department? How am I keeping the romance alive in my marriage? The answer is I'm not sure.

Yikes.

So here's my first stab at it: every morning I'm going to ask myself, "What can I do to make my husband's day today?"

I don't know where this is going to lead (I just stopped typing to stare at the wall and try to think of something), but I have high hopes.

What do you do to keep the romance fresh in your relationship? Inquiring minds want to know...because we need ideas.

Help!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Baked Lays Update, Guilty Pleasures

Just a quick update to let you know I did indeed eat the Baked Lays and Helluva Good French Onion Dip. Not all at once, but a handful or so. And up until today, I've been a wee bit obsessed with the combo. But, it’s all good. I haven’t pigged out, just let myself have it whenever I felt like it and generally eating healthy the rest of the time.

And today I have absolutely no interest in Baked Lays and Helluva Good French Onion Dip. 
That spree is spent.

Funny thing, I have no clue what’s next. Remember I told you about that list of forbidden, fattening, guilt-ridden foods? I don’t know what I want to work on next. Hmmmm….

It’s a very, very strange feeling for me to eat what I want when I want. I mean, I was never the type of person to completely forbid any food. Like on vacations, I would eat what I wanted for the most part, but I always felt the need to plan things out. I guess because that’s what most dieting programs tell you to do. And it does work. If I make chicken and salad ahead of time, put my meals in containers, it’s so easy.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being prepared and planning ahead. For me, the problem has been the fearful need to control what I eat so I don’t dare gain a pound. But then I spent several months tracking the calories of what I would eat in a day, and even on a maintenance plan…I was not eating enough. 

That worried me.

There’s no way that 1500 calories/day was appropriate for a woman who works out an hour a day, including strength training and jogging. Uh uh. But if I ate more than that, I did indeed gain weight. Is something wrong with my metabolism? *sigh*

I’m trying to overcome a lot of guilt associated with eating while making sure my body has the nutrients and calories it needs to get out of the starved/dieting state it’s been in for fifteen years. 

Some days the guilt takes over and I have this incredibly intense urge to go back to my controlling ways. 

Like yesterday.

I wanted to hop on the scale so bad, but I knew the end result would be a long day haunted by the number. Unless the number was down from last week, I would feel that compulsion to diet and lose weight. It never fails. I WANT to see the scale move down.

But I’m sticking to the intuitive eating thing. I have to give this the real college try. And I HAVE to get out of the weight-loss haunted house. My life is supposed to be about so much more than food and scales and pounds.

I hate the scale today because I want to step on it so bad.

But I haven't.

Soooooo.....

I need to choose a new play food for the upcoming week. I seriously have no clue what I want to work on, so here’s the list:  Which would you choose? (and yes, my list is very specific)

Turkey Hill’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
McDonald’s Fries
Cheeto’s - Crunchy
Snyder’s Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces
Cheez Its and Tomato Soup
Kozy Shack Rice Pudding
Coconut and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies (homemade)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Letting Myself Eat is Scary And Other Sinister Food Thoughts

The stuff of my nightmares
This allowing myself to eat anything is scary. I mean, all these years of control is hard to let go of. From counting calories and fat grams to categorizing foods into healthy and fatty-fat piles, I've trained myself to, well, fear food. And don't get me started on being indoctrinated to believe that certain food was my enemy.

Yeah, my enemy.

How so? Well, for example, have you ever heard that processed foods are designed to make you eat more? Lose control? I'm sure you've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you looked at the ingredients of a lot of processed snack foods not so long ago, you would have found HFCS somewhere in that seemingly endless list. The story goes that HFCS somehow messes with our hunger and satiety hormones, turning up the hunger and interrupting the satiety.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD states in this article that HFCS "can strongly affect your brain's satiety center--in a bad way." It's also the famous article that spurred a worldwide debate, which in turn prompted some food manufacturers to remove HFCS, which in turn prompted the Corn Refiners Association to initiate a damage control campaign in defense of HFCS.

The assertion I embraced: because of certain ingredients in processed food you never feel full and that's why you eat the whole box or bag.

See? My enemy. Food designed to make me overeat against my will.
How's a gal to lose/maintain weight with sinister stuff like this on the shelf?
The answer? Avoid it. At all costs.
This article that appeared on Huffington Post says I should never, ever eat HFCS again.
As long as I live.

In the interest of fairness, here's a link to the European Food Information Council reference to a study that seems to show that this is not true. You can check out the study for yourself and do some digging. You be the judge.

Flash forward to today...

Today I went for a long walk with a friend. We tend to talk nonstop and before we knew what we'd done, we'd walked over 7 miles. 7 miles! I thought, oh wow, I'm going to be famished. But strangely, I wasn't. Maybe it was the coffee with real cream and coconut oil, the full-fat coconut and almond granola, or the fabulous Indian food from the night before.

My next stop was the grocery store and I hesitated. What if I'm hungrier than I think and I go in there and buy a crap ton of fun foods? I took a deep breath, told myself to chill out, and marched into the store. I needed ingredients for a BBQ chicken salad, as well as a couple afterschool snacks for the kids. I grabbed the salad ingredients and found myself in front of the snacks.

Oooo boy. I was already sweaty from my walk in the 90 degree sunshine, but I definitely upped my sweating quotient as I stared one of my long-time enemies in the package.

Baked Lays.
I loooooove Baked Lays with Helluva Good French Onion Dip.
I mean LOOOOOOOVE them.

While neither of these favorites has HFCS in the ingredients, I have been known to eat an entire bag with dip. Obviously, I had no control with them. Obviously, they were my personal enemy. And guess what?

Hunger roared.
Literally.

My stomach growled like a dragon who has just woken from one hundred years of slumber. And it wanted Baked Lays and French Onion dip. That. Bastard. At first, I walked away and grabbed the two items my children had requested and headed for the checkout. Mid aisle, I halted. Was I serious about this intuitive eating thing or was I playing with the concept?

I knew how to walk away from "bad" food. I'd been doing it for years. Most of the time. Until I didn't and succumbed to the terrifying and temporary beauty of a gorge fest.

Wasn't one of the exercises of learning to eat intuitively actually listening to my hunger and cravings? As scared shitless as I was, I went back, grabbed the bag of Lays and headed for the dip.

I have to stop here to tell you I was also irritated. I mean, I was irritated with myself for even wanting this pointless, nutritionally vapid food. Pointless. Vapid. Right. There were those negative terms that demonized certain foods that aren't nutritionally dense. Another lesson I'm trying to learn: stop demonizing food. Food is not the enemy. And, yes, the only purpose of Baked Lays is to taste good. No nutrition. But...

Another precept of intuitive eating is when you ignore your cravings and force yourself to restrict foods you really want, you will eventually cave. You will run back to that callous, abusive lover and devour them, their socks, and your own soul because you've made them off limits. Forbidden sweets are sweeter, right?

I decided amidst the Reese's Peanut Butter cups and discounted Krispy Kremes that I was serious about intuitive eating. I embraced my craving and bought my play food.

That was around 11 am this morning and I have yet to open the bag. It's sitting on the coffee table. Right now. Staring at me. As soon as I'm done with this post I'm going to do it.

I am.
I'm serious.

I'll let you know how it goes.

What about you? Am I a freak? The only one who fears certain foods because they are "bad" for me and I can't stop myself once I start?

Please tell me I'm not alone.