Cupcakes and World Peace

Today, I’m 60 years old. That’s right — I’ve got 60% of a century behind me. I can now remember previous times bell bottoms were in fashion. I’ve joked that for gifts, I want world peace and a margarita flavor cupcake with extra frosting. Chances are, I’ll get one of those things. (I hear the shop doesn’t make the margarita ones anymore, but I’ll get something equally tasty!)

Stunt cupcake.

Hitting the big birthdays is naturally a time for introspection. I’ve been a little bit blue this year; it’s my first birthday without the one who gave me life in the first place. I still miss her like crazy, and she’d likely remind me, today, that I was a breech baby, came into the world backward, and have remained that way ever since.

And, of course, all of us have had at least one pandemic birthday, at this point, which means I don’t plan on celebrating 60 like it’s a premiere exclusive event. This is my second pandemic birthday, and I truly hope for all of our sakes that there will not be a third. I’ve heard far too many stories of people gathering for happy occasions, only to pass around a deadly disease. I don’t want that. Ever.

Naturally, there are things I wanted to have accomplished by this point in my life; over half a lifetime ago, I thought maybe I’d be comfortably retired, but 60 is young for that, these days. More recently, I had hoped I would be at my weight goal, but I’ve stood in my own way.

I had thought the shape of my life at 60 would be somehow different than it is, back when all the people I knew who were 60 were — well — old.

Now that I’ve arrived, though, I realize I still have lots of life left — and not a day of it to waste. While I might have regrets over making choices that prevented my life from the idyllic state I imagined it would be, I also am thankful for the changes I’ve made along the way. Without them, I might not have even been here today to remember the past 60 years, or I might be so damaged and self-handicapped that 60 really would be old.

Instead, I’ll be off to wineries tomorrow, with dinner on the patio of a historic restaurant, appreciating the day, the wonderful fall weather, my husband, my abilities to be in that moment. And in this one. I’ll drive back in time for an orchestra rehearsal, a board meeting, and then home to cuddle with my favorite dog ever.

It’s the perspective that’s important; 60 is old if you let it be. Or 60 is simply another event in a lifetime of events, with joy and challenges ahead for many years.

With the occasional celebratory cupcake.

And maybe the hope for world peace.

The #1 Song the day I was born.

Come As You Are

I’ve been struggling. That’s the truth of it. I’ve been doing some soul searching, lately, to figure out the reasons I’ve been eating too much lately. As I’ve said before, my weight is a reflection of my mental health, and I’ve allowed myself to regain weight yet again. While some up and down is normal as I approach maintenance, losing control is not.

My first inclination is to beat myself up and punish myself, which is more of a symptom than the root cause; I’ve opted, instead, to accept myself where I am, right now, and work forward. Making myself feel even worse usually results in just stirring up anger and resentment over why I can’t have a normal body, and then it goes straight to hell. That’s a warning sign, and it’s happened far too often in my life for me to simply ignore it.

Instead, I’m working on setting aside self-judgment in an effort to resolve the issues that caused weight gain in the first place. It’s not “hey, you’re eating too much of the wrong things, dummy!” as much as why I’ve chosen to medicate with food. This blog is my space not only to be transparent about my processes but to also talk it through a bit. As I work through this, you can expect there will be more blogs addressed to this as I move forward.

One of the things I recently and slowly realized, once the smoke cleared enough to understand, is that my mother’s mental health had declined far more than I was willing to recognize when she still lived. Although Covid triggered a rapid decline and pushed her off a dementia cliff, refusing all that supports us in life, I also suspect she had reached a point where she simply no longer wanted to live. The quality of her life had gone down markedly over the last few years of her life, and I, the one closest to her, didn’t want to see that. And it’s really amazing how much we can talk ourselves out of something that’s probably obvious to anyone else.

Emotionally, I’m still carrying a lot of guilt, no matter how much I know, logically, that I couldn’t have changed much about her situation — and I certainly can’t, now. I have continually questioned whether I did the best I could for her with what I knew at the time. I have felt anguish over judging myself as selfish because I didn’t give her more of myself in her final months and years, even though I know that caregivers can’t give when the tank runs dry. But mostly, I felt bad over knowing my mother’s eventual death was not a peaceful one, and I firmly believe all living things deserve peace in their final days.

My own definition, and no one else’s

I don’t know what the answer is, yet; I’m examining my own mind in this process of grief so that I can heal. I do know that the answer is not self-punishment.

The health issues my mother faced were the challenges of age; loss of hearing, of sight. Her world shrank to a pinpoint. I can well imagine the anguish she endured; unable to hear much, the nonstop auditory hallucinations that were her unusual form of tinnitus (she heard nonstop repeating musical tones, to a point where she could tap out the tune on a keyboard; she even named the song “Ode to a Dying Snowman”), losing her sight, in pain with ankles and legs swelling, difficulty hanging on to words and thoughts, unable to completely communicate or fully remember what she meant to do. None of these things were within her power to change.

And there’s the difference. While I can understand the personal hell she lived nearing the end of her life, I still have the choice to change. I’ve already proven that to myself, but it’s a constant process of reinforcing that ability to control my world. I was able to help my mother because I’m in possession of my faculties in ways she was not. I can hear, see, move without pain or falling (…mostly, I admit, as I recall that dislocated finger from last spring), think, and reason. And I firmly believe, all emotions aside, that it’s my responsibility to do exactly that.

I know as I continue with this process of letting go and moving on that I will still deal with the occasional hiccups life throws at me, as well as the revelations that make me question, but my goals have remained the same for the last eight years. Becoming stronger and healthier means doing the hard work to face these sorts of challenges so I don’t go back to a point where I’ve lost all that I’ve learned. It’s one thing to face what my mother did at nearly 89 years old; it’s quite another to willingly choose to handicap myself by losing control of what I’ve worked so hard to master.

I don’t remember her for what she was in those final days, although I know she’s finally at peace. I remember her, instead, for who she was before those dark days shrank her world. How will I be remembered? That’s still in my power, and I would do well to remember that, for however many years I have left on this earth to make my mark and consider my life a job well done. I am still defining myself by my own abilities and no one else’s opinion.

In one week, I turn 60. I’ll have a cupcake and a fun weekend. The occasional feast is okay as long as I’m not feasting nonstop and for the wrong reasons; food doesn’t solve anything. It’s meant to nourish the body, not stifle the pain of emotions. All the food in the world will not push me back in time to make different decisions. I can choose, for myself, to move forward with purpose.

Don’t Pee in the Pool

I admit that I’ve been struggling, lately. I haven’t gotten serious enough about losing the weight I’ve allowed to creep back on during the summer months, and if my head isn’t in the right place, I tend to let that really get to me.

I still struggle with believing the worst instead of the best, too. While no one would accuse me of being a Pollyanna, I do try to look at the bright side of things and spend more time there than the opposite. I know, if I let myself dwell on bad things, that they consume me. And those bad things tend to creep into everything, regardless of how hard I try to corral them into one corner.

It’s like peeing in a pool. If you think just that one area is all that’s polluted, you better think, again!

Aren’t you glad pool season is over?

In my case, I’ve allowed self-doubt to grab hold. While I know most of you come here to read about weight loss, I also know that there’s no hard line between how well I do in weight loss efforts and how well I perform in other aspects of my life. When I start to fail in one area, it creeps into everything. So, here on the first day of my Birthday Month, I’m looking at ways to filter out the bad stuff so the whole isn’t contaminated.

Lately, I’ve let the small things get to me, letting them grow and fester. When those things start undermining my days, it’s because I let them go and grow into something less manageable.

A small example: last week’s orchestra rehearsal wasn’t ideal. Just like personal practices, full rehearsals can go well, or, like last week, just not entirely well at all. I felt like I hadn’t done my best, and I also felt like I hadn’t done a good job of assessing what needs to change. Instead of simply letting it sit and then looking at it differently, I’ve let it bother me. I’ve allowed it to keep me from practicing as I should, and practice is the only way I’ll improve. Instead of solving the issue, I’m making it worse by not paying it proper attention. And like anything else in life, it doesn’t get better by beating myself up over it.

I have a hard time separating out weight loss success from everything else, and if I’m not doing well in my efforts, I tend to believe on some level that I should be punished for it. That gaining a few pounds makes me a bad person, and that surely the world is whispering about my pants fitting tighter than they should and just you watch, she’s gonna fail. The one who turned that around for me this week was my doctor; I was in for an annual physical, feeling bad because I know my weight is up where I don’t want it, and his response on seeing all my numbers, even my weight, was telling me that I’m “disgustingly healthy”.

It is the larger picture that matters. Tripping on the small things doesn’t mean there isn’t progress. I know I can steer my health as well as I can choose to sit down with my horn and practice more intently for the outcome I want. I can’t help it if someone else pees in the pool, but I can certainly do what’s necessary to filter out and clean the pool when that happens, instead of letting the whole pool go to pot. For this month, I’ll focus on what I can do to change myself no matter what else steps in my way.

Finding Joy

I admit that my blog is late going up this week because I couldn’t really figure out what to write about. And then I got news this morning that shook me.

Hubby and I are Parrotheads. We have monthly meetings at a restaurant, and we strive to provide live music at those events — usually a changing rotation of local artists who come in and sing to us during the meeting. Last night was such an event; we chose not to go because the Covid surge in the area has been pretty troublesome.

Sunrise? Or Sunset?

The last thing I thought I would hear about the meeting is that the musician died during the meeting. What?! He apparently passed out while setting up to play, one of our members administered CPR while waiting on an EMS team, and he didn’t make it.

My heart goes out to his family, as well as the people who were there at the meeting and witnessed such an unexpected and tragic event on what should have been a normal Thursday night meeting. A huge bravo to a member who is a retired RN and gave CPR until EMS arrived.

But it also goes to show that we never really do know what life will deal us, or when. Had I known eight years ago that it would take me so long to lose weight, I am not sure I would have stuck with it for very long at all. I might have given up, knowing in advance what I would face. Now, it makes sense to me that I really needed to learn a lot about myself in order to be successful, but before understanding that was part of the journey, I’m not so sure I would have pushed through.

Not to mention, the challenges those eight years have included, from career changes to losing both a brother and our mother to enduring a pandemic, to all the daily battles in between.

Many of you have been with me for every step, and I thank you for that. If my life ended today, it would be tragic, but I am thankful for having made the decision to change my life those long years ago. During those same eight years, I’ve found the bravery to do a lot of amazing things that were missing from my life, before. The experiences have enriched my life and made each day just a bit more worth the effort of moving ever forward toward my goals.

In those same eight years, I’ve discovered travel again, returned to music, became a grandparent. I upgraded my knees to bionic models. I’ve dropped from size 32 to size 14 jeans. I’ve walked countless miles.

For all of the big moments in life, though, the ones that matter most are the ability to smile, again; to be sure and happy in my own skin; to know happiness after rising from the depression years ago. While I’m grateful for the life-changing moments, I am more thankful for the simple times that await me. Don’t pass up those opportunities to laugh, to dance, to listen to music, to enjoy even the smallest moments. We don’t know what life holds or when some moment will change us, but in the meantime, we can grab the joy.


The echoes of my childhood are faint, but still there. Recent circumstances have made the echoes a bit louder, amplifying them to a point that I realized I needed to reground myself and recognize that I am stronger than I often give myself credit for.

When I was little, just another kid in a dysfunctional family, strong personalities and the authority of age drown out my voice and my willingness to stand up to what I thought was wrong. Like many kids that grow up in similar situations, I developed coping mechanisms to see me through harder times. The Fight or Flight response wasn’t an option for me; as the only daughter in a patriarchal household, fighting meant severe discipline. Standing up for myself accomplished very little and often left me feeling like I wasn’t entitled to my own opinions, regardless of age. Flight certainly wasn’t an option; not as a child.

Hiding in plain sight.

My choice was to hide. I spent a lot of time hiding, avoiding, trying hard to melt into the scenery. That particular coping mechanism, just like fight or flight, never really addressed what created the issue in the first place. I could hide in my room to avoid conflict. I could hide behind homework or my music as ways to not have to deal with a particularly belligerent father.

This, I think, is at the heart of why I first started gaining weight years ago. It wasn’t a conscious thing, really, and poor genetics amplified the effect of hiding behind my weight when everything else was stripped away. At some point, I couldn’t just retreat to my room and hide from the world; my safe places disappeared, and because I had to define myself by someone else’s ideas of what I should be, I struggled with who I thought I was.

It’s been a long trek back to cutting through the various insulating layers I built around myself over the years. While others might have dressed a certain way, dyed their hair because they just loved the look, or projected a certain attitude because it’s who they are, I was much more likely to hide in plain sight. Obesity provided the curtain to let me do exactly that; there’s no need for camouflage. Even with dyed red hair, I could become invisible simply by quietly existing.

When echoes of the pain I endured decades ago revisit, my first inclination is not fight or flight, since my experience with those was never that vast; instead, if something happens that makes me doubt myself, my instinct is to hide. My mental programming from so many years as a morbidly obese woman, trying to avoid making myself a target, has been to sabotage myself and start gaining weight.

Giving myself the permission to feel strong emotions that I wasn’t allowed to give voice to as a child, such as anger, has allowed me validation. I have been able to put much into perspective since fighting against the immediate instinct to apologize instead of stating my case. Facing strong emotions allows me to deal with them and move on instead of burying them.

Hiding behind food and fat has only kept me a prisoner to my own body, and digging through the layers means taking the risk involved in standing up for who I am. I don’t need that camouflage anymore.

The Road Ahead

I’ve been looking forward to this day, as well as dreading it. It’s the first day of what I hope will be the last time I start a diet. I want this time to be a success like no other.

I have that desire every time I start. It’s a mix of high hopes, dread, anxiety, shame, and cynicism. I think it’s often the cynicism that does me in; I want this to be the time when everything changes for me, when I finally lose all the weight I need to lose, when I finally regain my health and can do so many of the things that fat has kept me from doing. But I don’t have faith; and why should I, really? Every single previous attempt has failed. What right do I have to believe that this effort will be any different?

And yet, I really do want it to be different. I’ve come close, before, and given up. I don’t want to give up, this time. I keep changing what I’m doing in hopes that this time I’ll find the key.

“So, this morning at 4:40 am, I got up with the intention of driving to the gym. Not to exercise, mind you; to weigh, so I’d know a starting weight. Our home scale will not weigh above 300, and I know I’m easily above that number. The gym has an old doctor’s scale, so I drove there — only to find that the scale stops at 350, and — you guessed it — I weigh more than 350. I admit there’s part of me that expected that; and part of me that’s shocked, dismayed, and embarrassed.

I was faced with a choice. I have sworn to myself that this time I would make myself accountable in a number of ways, including knowing my starting weight, knowing my measurements, taking photos, blogging, videoing, and yes, this blog. I can’t tell you how many times I start with good intentions of doing those things, and then don’t. When I don’t weigh or measure, I deny myself ways that reinforce to me that my body is changing, and while I might be embarrassed now, I know I’ll regret it if I don’t document.

“And here I was, immediately faced with the knowledge that I don’t have a way to document a very important number: my weight. That happened years ago, when I first went on Atkins; I recorded my starting weight as 337 pounds, because that was the first weight I was able to see on a scale, several weeks after I began. I don’t know what my starting weight was. I console myself, now, that I was heavier, then; I wore size 32 jeans from Catherine’s, as well as a 4X jacket. I still have them.

Still. I swore to myself I’d document, and the first thing I’m faced with is no reliable way to document. I told myself that I’d make weekly trips in to weigh until I lose enough weight to use my home scale, but how many times can I stand to make that drive, only to find out I’m still not within range? Talk about self-defeating.

I sucked it up and ordered a fancy new scale that weighs to 400 pounds. And just to make sure it’s not a waste, I got one that also calculates body fat percentage and keeps up with my stats. I plan to be less than 300 pounds in a few months; I didn’t want to buy a scale just for the time difference between now and then. That’s one big dragon, slain.
The second was when I actually sucked it up and took measurements. I recorded them in MyFitnessPal. My plan is to take monthly measurements.

That day was Day 1 — 2,921 days ago today. My initial weight, taken after new scales came in, was 371 pounds.

The road ahead is a lot smoother, now that I know where I’m going.

September 3, 2013, was a Tuesday immediately after Labor Day. It had a lot in common with previous times I’d decided to go on a diet, including a lot of mental preparation, nervousness over whether I could actually do it, and a long holiday weekend of eating anything I wanted, and as much as I wanted. A series of last meals, because, you know, that helps so much right before you commit to changing what you’re gonna eat.

I wasn’t sure how long I’d be on a diet. I’d been on a million of them, after all; some lasted a few years. Others lasted until the next time I was upset or tempted. I know I’m not alone; I started out every single effort with good intentions — and a ton of doubt — but still hoping for the best. I’m glad that I made the decision not to give up the moment I finally saw my starting weight. I can assure you, I cried ugly tears.

In the 8 years since then, I’ve learned an astounding amount about my body, my brain, my own thinking, what works, what doesn’t work.

I’ve done lots of stupid things. And lots of really smart things that I didn’t realize were smart at the time.

I’ve gone from barely being able to walk to the end of the driveway back to the house, and even then, with a cane — and using a wheelchair if distances were much farther than that — to walking 4 miles daily with the capability for much more. I can ride a bike, again. I can hike, again. I can dance, again. It doesn’t take me minutes to get up out of my seat, and I don’t have to stop and scan a room for the sturdiest chair, for fear what’s there won’t hold me.

I don’t have to wait anxiously while a flight attendant finishes her safety talk at the beginning of a flight, and then ask for the seatbelt extension she used in her demonstration. I don’t have to use the smallest store in town to do my shopping or worry about whether there are places to sit down if I’m in a larger store. I don’t have to scan the store to find the plus-size section, and I don’t have to worry about what the biggest size is they offer, and if it’ll still be too small for me. And when I’m clothes shopping, I can buy cute things instead of the leftovers of whatever’s available in the biggest size.

I can test drive a car without worrying if I’ll fit in the seat behind the steering wheel. I can sit in a restaurant and place an order without having people sneer at me, or “forget” to serve my dinner in a group setting. Or, heaven forbid, suggest the low-fat options on a menu without me asking for that information. I don’t break down in tears of frustration and embarrassment every time I enter a doctor’s office.

These are all true, all my experiences, and far from being a total list. So much has changed since that day 8 years ago when, instead of enthusiastically claiming “I’ll lose the weight this time!”, I just faked it until I made it. Proudly claiming every bump in the road 8 years later has been a victory I never thought would be mine, but it’s not over, yet. There’s still a road ahead, and I’m happy to walk it.


Just the other day, I was sitting around in the afternoon, thinking to myself — wow, I’m tired! Even though I’m vaccinated, I absolutely play “is it Covid or an allergy?” as well as wondering if muscle soreness, fatigue, and the other occasional perfectly normal things that happen might also be a warning sign.

And then it hit me. I’d walked nearly 4 miles in the heat, come home, physically pulled the riding mower out of the garage, mowed the yard, pushed the mower back into the garage, and then jumped in the pool to give it a thorough cleaning and vacuuming. And that was just the morning.

No wonder I felt tired! I am just shy of two months away from being 60 years old. And quite honestly, I feel a lot better, physically, at 60 than I did at 50. Some parts of me are new (knees) and other parts of me are… well… less (the rest of me). And while I’ve had a pretty darned busy summer — with extra weight I need to re-lose to prove it — where I am is where I hoped I’d be at this point in my life.

One of my snorkeling pics

I feel very fortunate. Not only to be able to say that I’ve lost just about all the weight I wanted to lose, and have kept it off (a big anniversary next week, in fact!), but I’ve regained so much of what I thought I’d lost forever. I honestly didn’t think it was possible to do any of the things I did the other day, let alone all three back to back. And really, I was just trying to get some stuff done around the house that needed doing, not trying to make a point to myself.

I had another such moment when we were on vacation in the Dominican Republic; we had taken a private charter out to snorkel and just generally puttering around the beautiful tropical waters. I was a little hesitant about getting off the boat because I’ve had some embarrassing times in the past getting back up the ladder; not just because of body strength, but because I dislocated a finger back in the spring on my dominant hand and I didn’t have a strong grip. But I eventually got down in the water and without thinking much about it, followed one of the crew to snorkel. No life preserver; I hadn’t thought about it. And then I popped my head up after taking underwater pics, realizing that I was swimming in around 15 feet of water and not thinking a thing about it. (Well. Until then! I was fine; it was just a bit startling.)

Or, let’s face it, my own goofy stupidity when I stumbled out my own back door and dislocated that finger in the first place. I had dislocated another finger many years ago, so I was pretty sure what I’d done. I screamed obscenities and then realized that I could hardly just sit around and wait on someone to help me; I got up, went inside, grabbed an ice pack, and after my doc’s office said I would need to head to the emergency room at the hospital, I grabbed my keys and drove myself. By the way, it’s roughly 25 miles from my house to that particular ER.

At my highest weight, any of the things I just described would have either taken time to figure out how to go about it because of physical limitations, or I simply would have just frozen and not done them. I would have just deprived myself of something I enjoyed doing, or needed to do, and convinced myself that it just wasn’t possible instead of facing the truth of the matter. Or, in the case of injury, completely frozen.

I had hoped for all of these things, but actually getting them was totally unexpected.

Putting On The Brakes

When I was a kid, I was a bit of a tomboy. There weren’t a lot of girls in the neighborhood I grew up in, but the few girlfriends I hung out with all had brothers. We knew how to hike through the woods, backflip off the wood raft at the lake, skin ourselves up skidding our bikes on the pavement. One particular time, I remember grabbing a bike that belonged to one of my brothers; I thought it was a cool bike (a chopper with a banana seat!) and he hadn’t been riding it, so I took off pedaling it like a speed demon. I picked up speed going down a long hill in our neighborhood. And at the bottom, I discovered why he hadn’t been riding it.

No brakes!

Needless to say, I’ve crashed and had lots of scabs since my childhood, and I’ve also done the impatient thing and picked at them, just to discover — once that hard shell of dried whatever was peeled off — that it wasn’t completely healed underneath. Maybe it doesn’t take quite as long to heal the next time, but the process has to scab over and start, again.

Yeah, it looked LOTS like this one.

Mental scabs aren’t a lot different, except there’s really no time limit. And frankly, those scabs aren’t always obvious, especially when people just learn to live with whatever it is that hurts them instead of healing. They might go through life, never really knowing there’s even a scab until someone picks at it and lays it bare.

That happened to me recently. I’ve admittedly been vulnerable, dealing with more than the normal amount of stress. That included someone who had previously been a bit of a scab picker, but that had been ages ago and while wary, I let him in. When he yanked a scab off that I didn’t realize was still there, it laid me open to instant pain. I found a place where I hadn’t completely healed — and thought I had.

My adult reaction was at least different than when I was young. Instead of reacting and feeding into a toxic situation, I chose to step away. It wasn’t easy in the least, and it’s still not. It’s not so much the shock of the ripped scab that surprises me, as much as the realization that I am not quite as healed as I thought I was.

Over the course of the past week, I’ve worked on getting back in control. It’s come with the recognition that I still have healing to do, as well as the understanding that I would need to work through a process to promote healing. That’s quite similar to a physical wound: understanding I’ve been hurt, assessing the injury, figuring out how to treat and protect the injury so it can get better. My mental health has depended on controlling my reaction, understanding why I wanted to react with anger, analyzing why someone would choose to act the way they did to harm me, what I needed to do to stop continued harm, and what it will take to move forward.

But when the hurt first happens, the instant reaction is to stop the pain. For emotional pain, I turned to food, but I also know that’s a symptom of a problem I need to fix. Once I was able to grab some quiet time without interruption, I started working on fixing the root cause and getting back in control. The result is that I’ve gained some weight back, but I’ve stopped the self-destruction and I know what I need to do to allow myself to fully heal. I used to hide behind my weight because it was my protection from a painful world, but I don’t need that, anymore.

It’s not just about putting on the brakes; it’s making sure they work before jumping on that bike.


When I was a kid, I knew who I was. I grew up in a small town; I had roots there. I knew practically everyone; if I didn’t know their names, I knew their faces. Even though my world was small, I was comfortable in my own skin. Despite a less than favorable home life, I thrived because I found my niche in life and the things that held me back were few and far between. I was at peace with the world and with myself, despite the normal range of teenage angst.

Then, in the middle of my high school junior year, we moved on two week’s notice to Arkansas, a good 700 miles away from my hometown. I found myself in a totally alien setting. Nothing at all was familiar; the city was much larger, the school was completely different, even my home was far different than the apartment I grew up in. While our family situation had improved greatly, I struggled.

For many years afterward, I continued to struggle. As I worked my way forward in life, from working to college to marriage and family, doing all the things that actually do connect us, I still felt as if I was cast adrift. I didn’t really have other people I considered friends; I’d lost touch with many previous friends. I yearned for a sense of belonging, but I didn’t know what I wanted to be part of.

The rock isn’t wrong. (I found this in a campground bathroom, of all places.)

I remember daydreams — not just of the usual yearning for a body I was fully in command of, but also being happy in my circumstances. Being a writer by nature, I even wrote myself thin a few times, but it never felt right. That Lisa who didn’t exist had everything the Lisa I was at that moment did not; approval, friends, purpose. I spent far too much time yearning for what wasn’t. On the flip side, I spent very little time at all trying to become what I wanted to become. I was frozen by inaction, and as a consequence, I let my shifting world define me instead of the other way around.

Looking back, I know now that I had to overcome allowing a dysfunctional parent telling me that I wasn’t good enough as I was, and that I would never be good enough. Childhood imprints make a lasting cast that’s difficult to break; some never do. I feel quite fortunate to have broken that cast, but there are still the occasional chips I need to clean up.

My weight loss journey, more than giving me a body I like a bit better, has taught me important lessons about inaction. Dreams are great things; they help us define what it is we want to do and be, but if we do nothing to move toward those eventual goals, they’re nothing more than daydreams. Even if we’re given a bad lot in life, it’s up to us to opt for changing our circumstances.

At some point, without realizing it, I shifted into action. I took risks and trusted. I stumbled and failed in friendships and in the various things I tried in order to find purpose, but those risks were necessary. Failing shows us what doesn’t work, so we stand a better chance of succeeding the next time we try. I changed and grew with the attempts and the triumphs. My dreams changed. My command of myself grew, and this process of growing back into myself, while not ever quite complete, is much more satisfying these days. Action and growth have given me the things I wanted so long ago. If I hadn’t ever chosen to risk, I’d still be yearning for them.

I don’t know who coined the phrase bloom where you are planted, but I spent a good portion of my life fighting that, trying hard to look forward to an undefined time when everything would somehow just be better. Now, although perhaps late, I realize that I’ve been able to bloom into knowing and understanding my place in life’s garden. It took allowing myself to put down those roots and nurture the things I wanted to be part of. That desperation I felt so long ago is long gone.


We just returned from camping, again. We made it most of the trip without storms assaulting us, until strong winds arrived unexpectedly; my husband ran to stop a canopy from a neighboring campsite that tumbled across the road. It was a standard 10′ by 10′ canopy; what he didn’t realize was that I was holding down the 10′ by 17′ canopy in our own campsite.

Our campsite neighbors had left their camp without securing it. We had secured ours as best we could, staking down everything, but there are times when the winds are too much and those stakes start to pull up. At one point, I could see the poles on the opposite side of the canopy pull up off the ground completely, but I held on for dear life and it finally settled down.

Sometimes we know to brace for the wind; we see the signs, we know it’s coming, and we do what’s necessary to remain strong in the face of adversity. And sometimes, we see the evidence in the distance and it still catches us off guard.

Remain strong in the wind.

I’ve recently been dealing with some strong winds that broadsided my mental strength. Ones I should have seen coming, but didn’t. Ones that are hitting me at a time when I am usually in need of mental rebuilding; I go through this process every summer, but this year has been unusual in that I’ve been dealing with the ongoing challenges of sorting out my mother’s estate on top of the emotional upheaval her death brought, in addition to the pandemic. I know during these times that I am not as strong as I am, normally; I’ve come to accept that there are certain times of the year that drain me physically and mentally. Those are the times I’m vulnerable against the unexpected winds.

Years ago, faced with the same challenges, I’m sure that unexpected wind would have resulted in me just giving up on the things that actually build me up and make me strong. It’s taken far less in the past to make me simply give up and give in. This journey is incredibly hard work, but examining what makes me tick, and what makes me strong, has had perhaps the biggest positive effect in my life.

When the winds came, I buckled down, hung on, and even though I wasn’t at all happy about it, I’m slowly making it through this particular storm. I’m not giving in.

On an elemental level, even though I know I’m at my most vulnerable when my resources are low, I’m far stronger, now — both physically and mentally — than I was previously, even when I felt strong. I know the power of the word no, now. I know how to draw the line and set boundaries. I know that protecting myself against unfair situations is the best thing I can do to fight for myself, regardless of what that might look like to anyone else.

I know the storms of life come up; sometimes they’re in the forecast, and sometimes they just show up to shake things up. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s more about buckling down and doing what’s necessary to move on.