Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's time to move on.

“When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive”
Alan Paton

This week the topic for the Weight Watchers meeting is “Emotional Eating”, how to deal with our emotions without turning to food. When I prepare a topic, I first turn inward and see how I relate to the matter at hand, and then I turn it back to the members. This one is always a little bit difficult for me. Sure I have come a long way, I no longer deal with my feelings with a Costco-sized bag of Cheetos every night, but something doesn’t seem to quite fit yet.

I spent years trying to numb myself by any means possible; acting like nothing could ever affect me. I was strong, invincible, untouchable no matter what life would throw my way it would not stop me. I would not even flinch! Of course that never last, sooner or later the system overloads and crashes. Like many before me, I crashed. Not a fun way to spend your time.

At that point my life took a sharp turn. The relationship I was in ended, a new one started, school finished and I moved from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific. In the mist of all this I decided to take myself in hand physically and mentally. Shaping up physically is easy, eat right, move more, there you go! Mentally, well, it’s a little more complicated. I have passed many fences, but am I there yet?

I have learned that I don’t have to be strong all the time, that it’s OK to be sad, frustrated, and angry even. I discovered that owning those feelings and expressing them is not a show of weakness, but a step toward greater strength. I have seen that any weakness I have is just a sign of my humanity, not a proof that I’m worthless. I even managed to find strengths in me that surprised me.

I learned all that and yet something is missing. I’m not hiding from my emotions anymore, but how do I let them go? How can I look back and think about past relationship without a tear coming to my eye? How can I think of old mistakes and not feel angry and embarrassed all over again? How can I avoid having the past limit my future?

A friend of mine, Susan Barnes, is writing a blog called To Kiss A Mezuzah and today her post was about Confession and Forgiveness. It made me think: I admitted my wrongs, I faced off with my feelings, but did I ever forgive myself?

I learned to live with myself, I forgave those I felt had push me along on my path of self destruction, but I never stopped to forgive myself. Even now I’m reticent to do so. All sort of things come to mind and none of them sound very forgiving. Why should I forgive myself? I messed up; if I hadn’t been such an idiot I’d have a career by now, a PhD maybe. I missed so many opportunities just because I didn’t do the right thing, because I didn’t make the right choices. How dumb, my life could have been so much better… really? How so? What would I have then I don’t have now? What possibilities would be open to me that aren’t open now?

Thinking about it, not forgiving myself is taking the easy way out. It is giving me an excuse to fail. By hanging on to all that baggage, I’m permitting myself to flake and blame it on “my past”. My struggles are due to what happened then, not what I’m doing now… right? How convenient!

Ok, so where does that lead me? To this:

I accept my past, but I refuse to let it define me. I acknowledge it, but will no longer wear it as a badge, silent witness of my true self. It just isn’t me anymore. I did stupid things, I lived difficult times, but it’s all over and done with. I am not denying any of it, but I’m forgiving myself for it. It’s time to move on, seriously.

My, my… another fence!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's in the little things...

Do you ever feel like everything is going wrong? No really, everything? At this point I’m laughing!

None of this is earthshaking. I do truly and completely realize that all this is just pebbles in the sea and that we are both healthy, generally happy, and I’d take times like these over a loved one being sick, a death in the family or any other real catastrophe. Honestly I’m writing this because I think that at this point, it has reached parody proportions. I’d ask “What’s next?” but I’m afraid to actually get an answer to the question. LOL

I’m in a “shit happens” phase. It started Saturday. I decided to take Sunday off so that we could have a whole weekend together to just chill and have fun before my Mother in Law visits for 2 weeks.

Saturday morning we took off, all happy, ready for a big adventure in the Sunset District. When we got there, my husband realized that he didn’t have his wallet. We looked around, went back to the previous bus stop, went back home, no wallet. My husband spent hours contacting everybody but the UN, blocking cards, you get the picture.

In the mist of all that some work drama occurred (I’ll pass on this one), but all in all a rather stressful Saturday. Sunday went better; we went back to the Sunset and enjoyed our day.

Today I have one of those days in which I try to do all the stuff that I keep putting aside. First thing on the list was going to Whole Foods Market on the corner of California and Franklin Street.

I took 3 bus, one on the way there, and 2 on the way back. Every single one of them pulled off the stop just before I could get there, every single one of them. My last stop was at Walgreen on the corner of Spruce and California; there I bought a multiple vitamin, and a caramel. When I finally got into the last bus, some guy decided it was the perfect time to masturbate in public. Disgusted I moved to the back of the bus.

I decided to eat my caramel when I got off the bus on the corner here and the thing made me sick, awesome! I get in the apartment and to avoid walking on Leo I step aside and hit my toe on the door frame. That is the toe I hurt weeks ago and was just starting to feel better.

Now I’m sitting on the floor, can’t fall off the floor right? My laptop (the old one cause last Thursday I broke the new one, the second time I opened it) on the coffee table, the coffee far away from it, just in case. I am not moving from here until we leave to do the laundry tonight.

If there’s a laundry accident on the news tonight, you’ll know who it is. AH!

Friday, September 18, 2009

There are worst things than being alone

I’m trying to help out a friend who’s going through rough times. The conversation, in big part, has been about relationships lately, and how it is important to stand for who you are, and what you believe in. If you don’t look out for yourself, you might ultimately pay for it. Boy do I know that.

This has brought back memories of a time long past. Actually it’s not that long ago, but my life is so different now that it seems almost like a different life, not mine. Now I’m happily married, healthy mentally and physically. I lead a “normal life”, whatever that means.

Last night I had a dream about it, reliving that Friday night that changed my life so radically. At the time I was in college full time, working full time, and taking little jobs here and there to try and keep afloat. I was living with my boyfriend, who didn’t have a job, or anything else.

It had been a long day; morning in class, afternoon and evening at work, then a stop by the Baro (college bar) before heading home. At that point I wasn’t drinking much, 2-3 beers, just enough to debate some political issue that I didn’t care about. I love to debate though, so…

On my way home I stopped by the ATM to get money to go grocery shopping in the morning. At last I would have real groceries! There my world crashed: minus $3.73. Not only the $50 dollars I had was gone, I was in the red.

Then it dawned on me, he took my card this morning to get milk and bread for breakfast. Oh no! Not again! I got home, he was drunk, the fridge was empty, the milk was on the counter (since morning judging by the fact that it was warm), and the stack of bills on the half wall was huge. For the second time in my life, I completely lost it.

I was yelling, incoherently I’m sure, throwing dishes, the fact that I didn’t hit him isn’t for lack of trying, even drunk he was quite agile. This had happened once before, not too long before that night. The first time he had been too drunk to know or care about what was going on. Not this time.

“You are insane you know that?” he yelled at me “Completely insane. They should put you in a hug me jacket. I’ll tell them how insane you are, and they’ll see why my life is such a mess.”

Years of trying to help him, to encourage him, to get him sober, educated, motivated when everybody had pretty much given up on him came crashing down on me. Honestly I lost track of a good 10-15 minutes, I do not know what happened during that time. When I regained my senses, I was standing in the kitchen, breathing hard, a knife in my hands. He was nowhere to be seen.

I froze for a few seconds, afraid of what might have happened. Those were the longest seconds of my life, until I heard him pull a chair in the bedroom.

“Thank god I haven’t done anything to him YET.”

That “yet” haunted me for a long time. I dropped the knife, crashed on the floor and cried. I don’t know how long I sat there, but the sun was up when I finally got up and went back to my life. It would never be the same though…

I was terrified by what had happened, I kept hearing in my head “I haven’t done anything to him yet” and finishing the thought with “but it will happen”. Things had to change; I found something in me that I had never seen before and it frightened me. I was so alone. My family would never understand, I was too proud to talk to my friends. I did try to open up to some of my friends, but somehow I could never find the right words to explain what had happened, how bad things had gone. I closed up on myself, and decided to figure myself out.

My first move was to stop drinking. I was never a heavy drinker, more the sociable type, but at first it seemed to me that alcohol had made me lose control. I know better now, alcohol doesn’t make you crazy, it just remove your ability to hide it from everybody. Then slowly, one step at a time I rebuilt myself, and my life.

I look back now, years later, and I realize that he was not at fault, neither was I. We were just not meant to be together. In reality we were toxic for each others. It’s just sad that it took so long for us to realize it.

It was hard to break it up. No matter how much you know that it’s over, that things need to change, there’s always that doubt, that pain, that sense of defeat. You have to accept that what you thought was meant to be wasn’t. That the person you thought you knew turned out to be a dream, that reality is quite different. It’s a hit to your heart, to your pride, in our case to your wallet too.

I had known for over 2 years that this wasn’t going anywhere, and yet I was waiting. For what I don’t know, I guess I was waiting to hit “rock bottom”. To this day I wish I hadn’t, I wish I had been woman enough to just accept my loss and move on. I could have lived my life without going through that Friday night. Really.

There are far worst things than being alone.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A picture is worth 1000 words...

I took this picture in the Presidio, by Baker beach. It’s only a 5-10 minutes walk from out apartment. There are old Military installations, as there are in all the Presidio, and the beach is just below them.

Beyond the military installation, you can see a little bit of the Seacliff neighborhood. It’s the place where the rich and some of the famous, have a hideout in San Francisco. Robin Williams, Sharon Stone, we never see them, but we know they live close by. I like to say I live in the last row of poor people’s apartment before Seacliff. ;op

Then there is the fence. You have history in the Battery, you have the beauty of the cliffs, you have the richness and the fame of the mansions in the Seacliff and yet it’s all out of reach. There’s a fence in the way.

I look at that picture and I think: “Wow, there’s my whole life in one picture”.

I’m a positive kind of person, I know my worth, and though I can be pretty darn hard on myself, I have no doubt about my intelligence, or my abilities. There isn’t much I can’t do if I really give it a good try. Still, I wonder, what is blocking my way? Why am I not where I want to be right now? What is holding me back? Fences!

I have overcome a lot of those fences already. I walked around them, fought my way through them, or climbed them. I got scratches, scars, sometimes I got worn out, sometimes I had to stop, but I always found the strength to get through just one more fence. Unfortunately, there are many yet to climb. Do you ever feel like it never ends?

Life is work, sometimes we don’t even really know what we’re fighting against. Some people think it’s the devil, some people think they are fighting against themselves, some people don’t know what they are fighting against really, and they just keep on fighting.

Myself? I’m fighting fences! Some are so small I can just step over them, some are so high I need to think up a strategy, make a plan before I can even attempt to overcome them, but that’s all they are fences.

Somehow that thought is comforting, it’s nothing complicated, and it’s nothing out of this world. There is no devil trying to lead me astray, there are no aliens trying to manipulate me to do their biddings, there are just fences.

I learned my own worth, that was one fence. I learned to trust those I love, that was a huge fence. I learned that I was worth the effort it takes to live a healthy happy life… well, I’m still sort of climbing that one, but I’m close to the top. ;o)

Every time I pass a fence, I get a little more beauty, a little more richness in my life, a little more history. Each fence is a lesson, an adventure. That’s life is all about isn’t it? It’s work, but it’s worth it!

Friday, September 11, 2009

So it’s 9/11

I woke up this morning, like every other morning, with the local news. Only today, it’s 9/11. I remember the day the towers fell. I remember standing there, in the teacher’s room, confused almost dazed, watching the towers burn, and then fall. It was the fall before I moved to the US. One day after my application for a K1 visa had been sent in.

I remember trying to listen (the TV wasn’t receiving the channel very well) because they had said something about the Bay Area, but I didn’t know what. One thought on my mind: “Dan is probably on his way to work, maybe on the Golden Gate Bridge even. Could that be a target?”

Following 9/11 there was a dark period. Quite understandably, New York City, and the rest of the US were shaken by this. Fear, grief, anger were all part of the overall mood all across the states.

Still, through it all, a sense of unity, a will to help one another developed. It was impressive for an outsider to see how such a diverse and complicated country could come as one so solidly. Heroes showed up on that fateful day, but also after that, when the families needed answers, needed help, it seemed like there was a huge opportunity there to build from the ashes of the towers.

Well, the monument isn’t there yet 8 years later. Now, it seems that 9/11 has become a symbol of how politicians can turn absolutely anything to their advantages, and use tragic events to manipulate the population and the world:

“We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness. And the surest way to avoid attacks on our own people is to engage the enemy where he lives and plans. We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities.” September 7, 2003

“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” September 20, 2001
George W. Bush, (

With that kind of attitude in mind, the horrible events have been used and abused and turned to ridicule. The unity quickly evaporated, and the sense of self seemingly left the US. One just have to look at what happened when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast to know that the government didn’t care much for the losses of the people, as long as they weren’t politically useful.

Every year, on 9/11, we had new speeches about how “our resolve will never fail” and how “we will defeat the enemies that wants us dead” and other such polically powerful but humanely meaningless statements.

Today I was very curious to hear what Barak Obama had to say. He also spoke of resolve, and of making sure that Americans are safe, of course:

“Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still," he said. "In pursuit of al-Qaida and its extremist allies, we will never falter." September 11, 2009

That’s not what I was hoping for though, that came later:

"We can summon once more that ordinary goodness of America, to serve our communities, to strengthen our country and to better our world,"

"Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love,"
Associated Press

That’s the side of America I have come to see and know in the last 7 years that I have lived here. When I go home and friends and relatives ask with a smirk “So, how is it to live with the Americans?” I try to explain to them, to tell them, the Americans are not what you see on the news.

There is more to Americans than “Let’s bomb the hell out of them!” there’s strength, ability for compassion, pride in who they are that has been hidden under the carpet of the war on terror.

9/11 could have been the perfect opportunity to show to the world that side of America. It didn’t happen, quite the contrary. Maybe it’s not too late though; maybe there is really a chance that a strong, solid, united and empowered America will rise out of the ashes of 9/11.

Then all that senseless suffering, grief, pain and anger can have some meaning.

Gosh darn it! I am more than food!

How's that for a start?

I have had several blogs in the past, a Bento blog which is not dead, just on break while I get reorganized. A travel blog that is also still around, but I just haven't traveled much lately Ah!

The ones that posed me problems are the recipe blog, and the Lifestyle blog, those two are pretty much dead in the water, here's why: There are way too many recipe blog. Most of the recipes I posted on mine were from other blogs anyway, so I didn't feel the need to keep going through the motion of copying them. I cook for the love of it, not as a profession, and didn't feel the need (or have the energy) to research and experiment so that a few who chose my blog over the 10 millions out there, could avoid 2 more clicks to get where I actually found it.

The lifestyle blog met a road block pretty fast. I'm a Weight Watchers leader. It's my job to talk about changing your lifestyle, how I've changed mine and how much of a greater life I have because of it, which is absolutely true. I love my job; I think we make a big difference in people's life. I just don't want to be working that job 24 hrs/day. If you want the great advantages of learning a new lifestyle, join Weight Watchers. That's the best, healthiest and easiest way to turn your life around weight-wise.

It just seems like the last 6-7 years, my life has been all about food. I learned how to cook, I spent hours and hours helping people change their relationship with food, I made cute lunch boxes, and I even helped teaching cooking to customers at Sur la Table.

Gosh darn it! (I'm channeling Sarah Palin here, sad, sad) I am more than food! I have other interests, and feel the need to air them out and discuss them.

So that is what this blog is about, all the thoughts, adventures, things and people that I come across that make me smile, make me cringe, make me think, simply put: Anything and everything that make me want to talk about it.

Are you afraid yet?

DISCLAIMER (can't believe I'm doing this sheesh): the point of this post is to make it clear that this blog has nothing to do with Weight Watchers, and/or my status as an employee there. It doesn't in ANY way reflect Weight Watchers position and/or opinion about anything, but is MY own little view of the world around me, of my own struggles, successes, frustrations and happiness with life in general and everything and everybody that crosses my path. It is MY blog written on MY own personal time.