Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the sugar stand off

Ocean City is a sugar lover's paradise. From breakfast through dessert it's possible to exist solely on sweets.

There are Dot's freshly baked donuts around the corner - they also are famous for monkey bread and these crazy sticky buns with cream cheese icing. Or one could indulge in pecan stuffed pancakes. Or chocolate chip. Or strawberry preserves, all topped with whipped cream. I'm throwing ice cream covered waffles in here too.

Fudge shops abound. I've seen dozens of varieties.

At least 3 home made ice cream shops are within walking distance of the house we rented.

Full disclosure: I haven't indulged in most of the above. My tumble into sugar happened slowly over last winter so I wasn't down at the shore to be tempted around the clock. But, it's the boardwalk that always got me.

Cotton candy. Water ice. Zeppoles. Caramel corn.

And my personal nemesis - custard cones.

Let me be specific here: Kohr's brothers custard. A chocolate peanut butter mix topped with either chocolate sprinkles or a fresh chocolate dip (the latter I discovered last summer).

These cones are perfection. Rich, creamy, dense but not overwhelming. Watching the sun set over the ocean, slowly licking that rich ice cream is an addictive kind of heaven.

Ever summer I'd clamor for my cones, they were part of the reason going to the boardwalk was one of my summer staples.

But, I don't eat sugar anymore.

I wondered if I'd indulge. Cave in. Allow myself the culinary luxury. Or even if I'd crave one at this point.

For the first week I had no desire. Every time we'd pass a stand (and that happens often on the boardwalk), I felt no pull. But 2 days ago, after a kick ass bike ride that included crossing a narrow bridge with cars and no shoulders, hours at the beach boogie boarding, and with a post go kart high, I wanted a cone. I didn't crave it or need it or have to have or I'd die (I've felt that way before) but I wanted one. We hadn't even eaten dinner yet but there I was, on that familiar line, ordering a chocolate peanut butter twist with chocolate dip.

I wondered if I'd be ok. If I'd gain weight. If these months of living sugar free were about to be destroyed.

I licked.

All I can say is oh my god. It was creamy. Dreamy. As the flavors melted across my tongue I was at the point of swooning. Damn.

It was also intense. Rich. By the time I finished - and of course I ate the whole thing - I knew I was done. I didn't need another. Sugar wasn't going to take over my life or at least my summer.

I ate it. I enjoyed it. I indulged, savored, reveled, delighted. But I don't need to do it again.

And I realized, sugar has a different place in my life. It's not a reward or a pacifier anymore, te constant companion I can't live without. It's a very rare visitor I can enjoy and then easily say goodbye to.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Bikini miracle

I interrupt this self imposed blogging hiatus to share a true miracle.

A bikini miracle.

Quick back story: I've never been a bikini wearer. Too insecure. Too self conscious. Too hippy. But a few years ago I was inspired by a fabulous looking friend to ditch one pieces. Not caring so much about what other people think helped. Plus, peeing in a one piece, especially when it's wet, is true hell.

So, we headed to the local Ocean City department store and I found a bikini that looked not bad. Blue daisies on a brown and white background. I ended up loving it so much I ordered another one - psychedelic swirls of pink, orange, brown, and turquoise - online.

Every summer I make my annual trek to the same store to add to my collection. I've now purchased a white with pink and brown flowers and a pink, orange and yellow tie dyed version.

This summer, no luck. I saw a couple of suits I liked but nothing in my size.

And then, in Hoy's, the local 5&10, I found a bottom I loved. LOVED. Trippy 60's pattern in all my favorite colors. My size. But, no top.

(here's the miracle part)

Later that afternoon I got an email from the placed I'd ordered my second bikini from, years ago, announcing a summer sale. Never thinking they'd have that suit in stock, I scrolled through the images.

There was the matching pattern.

The only piece available (out of 6 options) was the style top I like.

In my size.

It was a bathing suit meant to be mine.

The bottom is now in my bathing suit drawer. The top is on it's way.

Just call me a bikini match maker

Monday, August 23, 2010

vacation time

I thought I'd commit to writing every day while I'm away but I'm finding the opposite is true. I haven't even cracked open my laptop. No urges to surf the web, scour eBay, read the news.

I'm thinking when I'm back in the city, I'll think about kicking my keyboard's butt again. Until then folks, happy end of summer).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

and old fashioned, angst-filled rant

I slept on the couch last night. In 22 years of being married, 23 years of living together, 27 years of being together, it was a first.

It was a bad night. It wasn't a great day. It hasn't been a great week. I was reamed for being lazy, irresponsible, inefficient, neglectful. I can't remember the exact words but the general gist is that I do nothing when someone else does everything. And that I am single-handedly raising children who are the same way.

How does one react to such a sweeping condemnation of everything about oneself?

Hysteric crying. Which, I have to say, is hard to do on meds.

I'm finding it's hard to do many things on meds that maybe I should be doing. Like accomplishing things. Finishing what I've started. Crossing thing off my to-do list. Having a to-do list to cross things off of. Yes, I'm mellower, more complacent, more content, but damn, where the hell am I?

What do I do?

Do I let the anxiety back in and plunge to the depths again, knowing that I'll have those super highs too? At this point I've got nothing going on and maybe, just at the edges, it's starting to scare me.

Who am I?

I mean truly–WHO AM I?


There. I said it. And even not knowing, not having an inkling, an idea, an anything, I'm not freaked out. Normally, I'd be psycho at this point.

There are things about this place that I like: I'm in great shape. I can ride my bike in the city. Drive my car without panic. Not get endlessly lost in the spin in my head. I obsess less. Relax more. I'm not terrified that I'll fall off the edge again.

But I'm not doing anything when I have so much to do. I've got a PTA to run. A movie to collaborate on. Books I could start. And finish. I could update my website. Blog every day. Finish the films I've started. Start new ones I've thought of. Clean out my desk drawer.

Take my kids to interesting places.

Be more involved in the food we eat.

Scrub the living room floor.

Paint the apartment.

Train the dog.

Tackle the stack of paperwork on my desk.

Pack for vacation.

Set up my router and backup system on my computer.

Sell my old set up.

Clean the car.

But, instead, I made a bracelet. It's lovely—2 brown leather cords with purple jade laced in between—but that won't get me far in life. I have to say, it does look nice though.

I take naps.

I sit.

Am I farther along the path or am I going backwards? I can't tell. I don't know.

Do I stay here, in this slightly numb place or do I jump back into the whirlpool?

Is this just the lazy days of summer or am I starting to rot?

What am I doing with my life?

Who do I want to be?

Damn. No one can answer any of this but me and I just don't want to spin at the moment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Comfortably numb

I've been thinking lately, just a bit, just a glimmer here and there, about thinking. About how lately it's been such a blessing to not think. To not hurt. To not suffer the way I'm hard wired to.

To not be in pain.

To not be digging deep, analyzing, figuring things out.

Here's the truth. The absolute rock bottom, depths of my soul honest truth. I'm terrified to feel those things again. To feel so lost, so out of control. So sure my mind would splinter into pieces that I wouldn't be able to put back together.

Yes, so much of who I am comes from that place of doubt, of darkness, of exploration. I know that.

I own that.

I was that for my entire life.

But I don't want to be that now.

Yes I miss words flowing, the disciple of writing, the moments of awareness and the growth thy followed. I miss hearing from people with words of understanding, compassion, beauty.

I miss you.

But I don't miss that part of me. I start to panic when even the smallest flicker of anxiety flits by. It's not welcome anymore. It ruled my life for too many years. I was lost under it's spell.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

where I am now

I am happy.

Yup folks.

Tonight, lying on my back in the hallway, the puppy stretched out between me and Iz, both of us scratching her warm, soft belly, I was totally complete.

Wheeling my bike out of the repair shop this afternoon, after they fixed my brakes, I was sincerely delighted.

Reading my kid's test scores online tonight, I was thoroughly thrilled.

Waking up from an early morning nap, I was deliciously sated.

My smiles are endless. My laughs are heartfelt. My heart is full.

I am content. Mellow. Even lazy.

I have never felt like this before and have no idea how long it can last.

But I'm loving the here and now.

Friday, August 13, 2010

biking high

I rode fast today. FAST. At times, as I flew down the west side highway, heart pumping, breathing hard, I could only laugh it felt so good.

This driven, competitive side of me is coming back. I haven't felt it in longer than I can remember. I was riding with friends this morning, third out of 3 and suddenly I had to move. It was more like MOVE. I sped past and then fought to keep pace with a guy up ahead, determined not to lose him as he skirted the edge of the river.

I didn't catch up. But I never lost sight of him.

I was so focused so present so in the moment so aware of the blood pumping through my heart.

It's been hours. I'm still high.

I can't wait to ride again.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

it's a pee world

I woke up this morning to find that a member of my family (human) had had an accident in bed. That used to be a frequent occurrence that now happens rarely. But, it meant lots of extra laundry I hadn't figured into the day. After taking Gracie out for her second walk, which turned into 2 hours of hanging out with friends in front of Jack's (yummy coffee), watching 3 puppies wrestle like mad and an impromptu invitation into the Jefferson Market Garden, she peed as soon as we got back into the apartment. On a pad, but come on. Then, Jack discovered a suspicious puddle on her fuzzy blanket that sits in front of her toy box.

More pee.

I threw the blanket in the laundry bag and went to strip the bed in question. There had to be at least 5 blankets involved, plus the sheet. The memory foam had to be thrown away and below that was a 3 foot wet spot. At that point I figured either an elephant got up on the loft bed or a very large glass of water with ice spilled at some point early in the morning. There was no other way to explain the volume of liquid I was dealing with.


Today was the day I was going to spend at yoga, the bead store, finishing a film I've been working on, writing. Instead, I've been doing laundry for hours and battling a pungent pee smell that's taken up residence in my nose.

Another sigh.

I'm hoping for a less damp tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

the happiness conundrum

Many pursue happiness. And many believe happiness is the end result, the point of the game, the goal.

I get that. Happiness is a delightful place to be. Bright, shiny, effortless, well . . . happy. Who wouldn't want to be there.

But, happiness is fleeting. There are moments of bliss, of joy, of connection but they don't last, they can't last. Happiness is ephemeral, intangible, something to revel in, in the moment. Happiness is fragile. When we hold on too tight the bubble bursts. And in place of delight there can be fear, angst, panic we'll never get to happy again.

The thing is, it's not a destination. You can't necessarily choose it. It surprises you, sometimes creeping up slowly, sometimes smacking you in the face. It can be subtle and sweet or side-splitting. It can be intense or quiet. Happiness can be solitary or a collective experience.

Happiness can be scary. The thought of losing it can be devastating. Years ago, when I was trapped in a dark tunnel of depression and lost in anorexia, the rare glimmers I had of joy completely freaked me out. It was far more comfortable and safe to be uncomfortable than to hope and crash.

But now my glass is half full. My status quo is that good should outweigh bad. I revel in those moments when happiness finds me and have faith, when it fades, that it'll surprise me yet again.

Monday, August 9, 2010

french fries

Yesterday was a true run around the city as tourists day. We started off at bead stores in midtown (upper 30s on 6th avenue), fought our way through the Dominican Republic Day parade and ended up at the Nintendo Store in Rockefeller Center. From there it was a crazy trip through an underground concourse looking for a bathroom before hunger  and dizziness hit. I'm still not sure whether it was the heat, my sinuses, the bad night's sleep or the constant noise of 20 video games being played simultaneously, but I needed something to eat.

Being a vegetarian with two picky eaters in tow isn't an easy thing in general. And here we were crabby, starving and in tourist central. So, when Jon suggested 5 Guys, I said yes. He was the only burger eater of the group but the rest of us could live on french fries in the short term.

Here's the deal though—while Iz and Jack often fill up on fries to tide them over, I never do. My french fry ban is an anorexic holdover. I don't know that I've eaten an order of fries in 20 or more years. We've been at restaurants that have been honored for the superiority of their fries but none have ever passed my lips. But yesterday, without a second thought, I got my own order and munched away.

I have to say, they were damn good. I even tried ketchup, which I generally can't stand, and found it wasn't as bad as I remember.

I didn't gain 20 pounds. My face didn't break out in sheen of greasy pimples. My head didn't explode off my body. I didn't eat 5 large orders.

I was fine. My body's fine. The fries were good.

And I let go of a negative trap that's had its hold on me for years. I don't know that I'll need to order fries every time I go out to eat, but it's nice to know the option's there and I can handle it.

With age comes acceptance. Rationality. A better sense of logic and reason. I love that too.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

(not) aging well

I'm not sure what I want to be when I grow up which is more than a bit challenging as I'm already grown up. And it seems like several of my friends are in the same place. We've done things we've been successful at. We've hit pinnacles, been proud of ourselves, accomplished what we set out to, or maybe got to places we never imagined. I thought, after FLOW, I'd relish being an author and would delve into a new book project with enthusiasm, drive, and excitement.


At the moment, I have no desire to do another book. The problem is, I don't know what to do next.

I've recently thought/blamed the meds I'm on but I don't think that's fair. Yes, anxiety has been a driving force in my life but it's not everything. I think, perhaps, I'm letting the meds be the fall guy for the fact that I'm not sure what my direction is.

So, I'm floating. For the first time ever. Playing with the puppy. Knitting the summer wrap that won't be finished until fall. Meeting friends for coffee and dinner and hanging out far more than I usually do. Practicing yoga and riding my bike. Being more in the moment and trying not to stress over what's not happening.

So far, I'm relatively ok. Anxiety dreams are cropping up here and there. The spin in my head is getting a bit more intense. I'm looking for drama when I should be running in the other direction. But it's all manageable.

I'm grateful that at 46 I have a little time and space and flexibility to let what's next evolve instead of beating it against the wall.

Not everyone I know is in the same boat. I'm watching people I know implode, hit walls, fall apart, desperate to make something happen, often things that have passed their time/prime. The thing about now, about being in our 40s, about moving forward and being here instead of looking back scrambling to be back there is acceptance of who and where we are.

I know that's not easy.

I pulled a muscle in my back last night and couldn't sleep, pain shooting through my side every time I moved. That's age. So is the changing vision, the greying hair, the wrinkling skin. The saggy knees, the chronic sinus issues, the constantly shiny face.

The memory lapses as I grasp blindly at a name that's nowhere to be found. Watching the relatives who struggle with illness. The friends who are now valiantly fighting them too.

But I wouldn't go back. Not for a second. The wisdom and comfort and acceptance I've found at 46 far outweighs any of the inconveniences. I don't know that I'm actively embracing my 70s, but I'm glad to be here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

entertaining negativity

Yesterday, in yoga (seems that's where my inspiration seems to be coming from these days), I heard a profound thought:

Don't entertain negativity.

Immediately, I pictured a loutish party guest, sloppy drunk, being forced out the front door by responsible hosts. Negativity seems large, furry, slobbering, with a permanent scowl on his face. And it's definitely a him, in the New Yorker-style cartoon that popped into my head. 

All day, as negative thoughts took over I thought of that statement and pushed them right back out again. I don't want negativity at my party. He's not welcome. 

And then I realized, negativity's not a guest I can readily dismiss. Negativity is part of my immediate family. I claim him as a dependent on my emotional taxes. He's a permanent part of my exclusive inner circle and much as I can't stand him, he's here to stay. Or, at least, that's the way it's always been.

Is there such a thing as a negativity exorcism? A negativity restraining order, ban, dismissal? Can I really get rid of him and make sure he doesn't slip back in through the back door?

Sadly, I'm afraid Negativity and I have a co-dependent relationship. Much as I'd like him gone, he's too ingrained in my day to day.

Perhaps though, with some hard work and commitment, I can at least get him to stay in the den.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

creeping back

Yesterday was the first time I was able to write about what I'm feeling in real time in a long time. These meds have been delightful in a way but I've also been cut off a bit from my usual angst. Having said that, there have been glimmers but I was so afraid I'd fall back into full blown anxiety that I was terrified to take a look and figure out what was going on.

And so my body decided to smack me, hard, and remind me who I am. I've been dizzy for days, at times feeling like I'd faint on the street. My stomach's been in knots. I've been full of doubt and insecurity and so tired all I want to do is sleep. Is it all anxiety? Doubtful. But enough signs are there.

It's time to look. 

It's time to write.

It's time to accept that anxiety is part of who I am and that it doesn't always have to be negative. It drives me. It motivates me. It gives me energy, motion, focus. And those are powerful things I need to be me.

I have to find the balance between relaxing, easing up, being in the moment, floating through life and insane self-imposed stress. 

I don't know how to do it.


But I won't let myself get back to how bad I was. And I miss being immersed in something that's important to me.

I kind of see my path. It's a tightrope, a thin wire at the moment. But maybe, with practice, it'll be like walking a wide path.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Behind the facade

Yesterday before class, one of the yoga teachers asked if I was still in puppy bliss. We talked about Gracie, groundedness and gratitude (trust me folks, that wasn't planned). About how a happy pup is a side door into presence and that I was amazed at how much I was enjoying it all.

Being that I'm a lifelong cynic.

She looked at me in shock. Apparently she thought of me as anything but.

Nope. I'm a cynic, a skeptic, a nay-sayer, a non-believer. I'm jaded, fearful, often stuck. Doubtful, afraid of letting go, getting hurt, of my dreams being dashed and my heart being broken.


And other times I feel glimmers of the magic and magnitude of the universe. Joy floods me. Colors brighten. Sounds are sweeter. I am so filled with love I am love. I can do be anything. I actually am everything already.


Most of the time I'm somewhere in between. Yearning for bliss but too afraid to sink into it. Too scared that once I taste it, it'll disappear forever. I grasp on tight to rationality, to explanations, to thinking, as if being will bring about my downfall.

Having said that there are things in my life that force me to let go. Coming to the mat. Having kids. Taking on projects bigger than I'd ever considered before. Rescuing a puppy. Trying meds when I couldn't cope anymore.

Living in the unknown. Letting go of control. Learning to trust that it will be ok, that it is ok, that all is the way it's supposed to be.

It's a daily struggle. Or joy. Depends which side I'm coming from.

Monday morning drama

As I was valiantly getting the kids who stayed up too late ready for camp this morning, the doorman buzzed to let us know our car had been hit by a cab.

I was sure he made a mistake. Our car wasn't on the corner, it was parked up the block, not bothering anyone. We threw on clothes and ran downstairs to find that yes, our well-behaved, not moving car had bright yellow gouges across the back door, shards of shiny plastic strewn across the pavement, the attack cab stuck diagonally across the street, blocking all traffic. Turns out the axel fell off and the poor driver lost control, smashing into a sedan first and then skidding into our car.

No one was hurt.

And yet my stomach's in a knot. I'm still dizzy (it started yesterday). Anxious. Profoundly tired in spite of a good sleep.

I'm not sure what's up.

I hate not feeling well and not knowing why.

Can't wait for this to pass.

Monday morning drama

As I was valiantly getting the kids who stayed up too late ready for camp this morning, the doorman buzzed to let us know our car had been hit by a cab.

I was sure he made a mistake. Our car wasn't on the corner, it was parked up the block, not bothering anyone. We threw on clothes and ran downstairs to find that yes, our well-behaved, not moving car had bright yellow gouges across the back door, shards of shiny plastic strewn across the pavement, the attack cab stuck diagonally across the street, blocking all traffic. Turns out the axel fell off and the poor driver lost control, smashing into a sedan first and then skidding into our car.

No one was hurt.

And yet my stomach's in a knot. I'm still dizzy (it started yesterday). Anxious. Profoundly tired in spite of a good sleep.

I'm not sure what's up.

I hate not feeling well and not knowing why.

Can't wait for this to pass.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

so, here I am

Here I am.

It's the middle of summer.

Kids in camp.

A new puppy who's thrilled to see me all the time.

Enough air conditioning to keep me comfortable.

Too many sundresses (I didn't know that was possible).

My hair is in a good place.

I'm still relatively sugar free.

I've been on meds for 2 months and the volume on my chronic anxiety has been turned down.

Between yoga and biking I'm in remarkably good shape.

My shoulder's starting to feel better after lots of icing and anti-inflammatories.

We've got 2 weeks at the beach coming up.

Life is good. Really good. I am grateful. My heart is full watching my family blossom.

I am mellow. Often content. More often lazy.

Things I have never been before. And I'm not quite sure how I feel about it.

This is the first time in longer than I can remember that I'm not frenetic about something. Ideas are not whirring through my head, insisting on getting out and making themselves known. In fact, I don't think there are any ideas. I've got projects I could work on, should work on, things that are smart, interesting, thought-provoking, perhaps important, but I can't. Truly can't. I sit down to work and there's no drive. No impetus. No angst to make things happen. Which leads to no satisfaction. No relief or pride at a job well done.

Nothing to talk about at the end of the day.

Nothing to consume me. To thrill me. To fill me.

So, what do I do—stay in this mellow place of placid contentment or let the anxiety back in which drives me?