Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wellness Wednesday

Just recently I had to make some changes to help get rid of some more blubber.

It's the hardest one yet! Usually, I drink two Diet Cokes each day. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. Since I have some issues with chronic fatigue, the caffeine helps. (My body won't tolerate caffeine in coffee.)

Losing the sodium has been very good for my weight loss program. Along with that, I'm doing a set of exercises each morning.

But this isn't a weight loss report (but can I slip in that I'm ready for another change in size? Thank goodness for Thai wrap skirts!) . Reading about someone else's weight loss is about as interesting as watching paint dry. I know that.

This is about aging and the changes we experience. The energy just isn't there anymore. Since I have stopped the soda, I am SO TIRED that I could probably sleep all day, only getting up to eat, take a shower and go potty. Sitting like a blob watching Court TV all day is not how I imagined spending my golden years.

This is grim! I miss my soda infusion. Wellness. Meh!

Getting old ain't for sissies!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm.....

The picture above is sunset at the North Pole. It has nothing to do with this post but I thought it was pretty.

I bought a book on-line from a company called "Discount Books". When I got my credit card statement this morning, there was an unauthorized charge for $19.95. Buried in small print, hidden in the corner of the "check out" panel was an unobtrusive statement that in my purchase, I was authorizing this "membership fee" to something called BestBrandValues. What a rip-off!

Bull Crap!

I called the company and was told about the "terms of use", that I had authorized the charge. After several minutes of arguing and chiding, they agreed to reverse the charge and told me it would show up on my credit card "within a few billing cycles".

Again, Bull Crap!

So.. I called Citibank, the issuer of my credit card and talked with them about the charge. I disputed it.


One of the things that really irked me, even more than the charge, is that I got a call center in a foreign country. A chirpy, heavily-accented voice said, "Today is a glorious day in Customer Service! And what can I do for you today?"

Yecht! That is the way Citibank has its customer service reps answer the phone? I prefer something a little more professional.

Citibank is one of the major recipients of the government's stimulus package, provided by the tax payers of this country ~ and they are using a call center in a foreign country. Citibank, in all its apparent glory, would have gone out of business without billions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Is something wrong with this picture?

Those jobs should be here ~ for Americans ~ who sorely need them during this recession.

Shame on you, Citibank!

What's your opinion?


Monday, July 20, 2009

Rest in Peace, Thao Nuan.....

Yesterday I attended a service for a friend who passed away very suddenly last week. While I didn't attend the cremation, this was an "after service" to give him a send-off into the next world. (Buddhist cosmology. Too much for here.. but it's very nice.)

There were monks chanting, food served for him to take with him into the afterlife and plenty of praying, pouring water into the roots of a tree and saying our farewells to him. It was beautifully handled by a well-oiled community who made sure to not only take care of Nuan's passage but to take care of his wife as well. There were gifts of money, food and companionship. She, naturally, is still feeling tender and I spent quite some time just holding her. She's too young to be having this experience. She's only 42. Nuan was only 59. There was no warning. This kind of loss is for people my age, not hers.

I saw a lot people I haven't seen in a very long time since I stopped going to the wat several months ago. It was wonderful to see how all the factions melted. We were all there for one reason: to support his wife. I am so glad I didn't chicken out and not go. Her reaction made it clear that she wanted me there. She is a sweet, sweet woman! I wish I could take this pain from her. There was no room for my tears or regret then. I felt it strongly when I looked at the mirror mounted on the wall that he always used to get ready for work. But this was for her. My sorrow would have to wait. I shed a few tears in the car.

What I remember most about Nuan is that he immediately took me into the "family" the first time he met me. There was no hesitation. He began to plan and plot how to find me a man. My friend Mary translated all of this to me since he didn't speak very much English. (I'm laughing at the memory.) He was so adamant! Very animated! There was no acceptable outcome in his opinion, other than to see me happily settled into married life with a good, honorable Lao man. A woman shouldn't be alone, he said.

He was sincere. This wasn't superficial social chit-chat. He even discussed it with people in my absence.

And when I was around him, I felt safely wrapped in his integrity. He was a man who was committed to taking care of his family and his community. He didn't drink, use drugs or smoke. He was always trying to learn something new and after working all day, he came home and studied. He studied English, history and things related to his trade. He was an awesome father, providing a good education and a good home for his three children. He wasn't a leader in the community but anyone who didn't realize he was a pillar wasn't paying attention. He was an awesome friend.

He made me feel protected, embraced and accepted, all at the same time. That's quite a constellation of feelings. Whenever I would go to their house, I never felt foreign or like a visitor. I was just one of the family. The last time we did get together, I was still in a rather fragile emotional state myself - and he is one of the few men I trusted then.. or now.

He will be missed by all of us who knew him. He was a simple, honorable and kind man.

Rest in Peace, Nuan Xayavong. We, your community, your sangha, will take care of things here. You're free now.

May these few memories be a blessing to his family.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Sacred Life Sunday on Monday: Tyranny of the Majority

Yesterday's Weight Watchers meeting was probably the most uncomfortable I've ever attended.

Being the day after a holiday, the leader continually yapped on and on about how "everyone" would probably experience some weight gain because of "all the barbecues and parties" from the day before. She just assumed that "everyone" would have the same exact experience.

I looked around and saw a bunch of overweight women, most of whom probably did not go to barbecues or parties and had still gained weight.

Probably because they were feeling left out of the parties and back yard frolic, as many overweight people are, but certainly didn't want to admit they gained weight because they spent the weekend in front of the TV with a pint of Haagen Daas. So they sat there in hard plastic chairs with set jaws and closed mouths.

Still, the leader went on and on and on and on. It's the first time I thought about just getting up and leaving.

This got me to thinking about how little room there is for individuality in any of these programs. It's the nature of "joining". We automatically become subject to the tyranny of the perceived majority. Aaaah, the ubiquitous "everyone". I think "everyone" is a neighbor of "they". You know, "they say"..... That "they".

The truth is that "everyone" was not at some kind of event. I was out and around quite a bit that day and saw very little evidence of family gatherings and didn't smell very many barbecues at all. There might have been a whiff of one while walking around the neighborhood.

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is the freedom to experience our own reality, whatever it might be. I wish the Weight Watchers leader had been more sensitive to individual autonomy and individual experience.

If there's anything I've discovered through a lifetime of having an addictive personality and experiencing two types of recovery, both alcohol and food, it is that addicts are generally very individualistic. We think for ourselves and don't fall into many predictable demographic pidgeon holes. It's both our salvation and downfall.

I've also found that we develop our own routes to recovery through a kind of eclectic mix of programs and ideas, personal experience and observation. We "take the best and leave the rest" in the most classic sense of that.

One of the most important things we can do is let go of someone else's expectations about how our lives should be.