Temple thoughts

Have I mentioned that my new job is at a synagogue?  It is a Reform Jewish Temple – a denomination of Judaism known for a more progressive political stance.  Among their core values is the idea of Tikkun Olam – repairing the broken world through acts of kindness.  This often means they are active is social policy, caring for the disadvantaged and striving for interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

I mention this today because of the recent events in Charlottesville over the weekend.  Assuming you have not been under a rock, the “Unite the Right” march occurred and was a straight up display of vile, racism, bigoted and white nationalist ideas as I’ve seen in my lifetime.

In short it is terrifying and appalling.

But after this job for the last 9 months one thing is clear – it is NOT surprising. The synagogue is full of members who survived, or whose parents survived the holocaust.  They share first person accounts in of the horrors endured as a people during World War II.  Beyond those sobering stories, many have the additional experience of being an immigrant or refuge.  These is not even to mention the day to day antisemitism that still exists.

Nazism is a reality in a way that it never occurred to me before as a privileged American Christian.

In the same way that only people of color can fully understand the full measure of systemic racism in America, or muslims can express the anti-islamic sentiment rampant in the U.S, the people I have come to know have taught me a lot about what it really means to have a people’s story marred by the systemic extermination of all the people you care about.

But I know too, that in having this history, the people I have met are the first to stand with their brothers and sisters of all creeds and colors in the face of persecution and violence.

A friend shared this poem on her Facebook page – written by Rabbi Michael Adam Latz of Shir Tikvah Congregation, Twin Cities, MN. He is not “my” Rabbi, but the sentiment is exactly what they have taught me. Please share it, but attribute it to him if you do.


In response to Martin Niemoller (z”l):

First they came for Transpeople and I spoke up–
Because God does NOT make mistakes!

They came for the African Americans and I spoke up—
Because I am my sisters’ and my brothers’ keeper.

And then they came for the women and I spoke up—
Because women hold up half the sky.

And then they came for the immigrants and I spoke up—
Because I remember the ideals of our democracy.

And then they came for the Muslims and I spoke up—
Because they are my cousins and we are one human family.

And then they came for the Native Americans and Mother Earth and I spoke up—
Because the blood-soaked land cries and the mountains weep.

They keep coming.
We keep rising up.
Because we Jews know the cost of silence.
We remember where we come from.

And we will link arms, because when you come for our neighbors, you come for us—
and THAT just won’t stand.

And I will be right with them. Will you?

Progress

I'm just popping online over lunch to share some progress.

I went to weigh in at weight watchers this morning since I am not able to weigh in Saturday, my usual planned day.

Today's results show that I am now down a total of 7.0 lbs since I started on 7/24 – 17 days or 2.5 weeks.

I honestly cannot see or feel much difference but it is still important for me to recognize this is progress.

I have not decided how to Blog about this progress, I don't think I want to do a weekly weigh in post like I have before but I do think it's important to give myself some accountability.

Ultimately I've been down this road twice before. One weight loss journey was interrupted by a pregnancy and the other was interrupted by life. I need some new ways to define this journey so I'm not defined by a number on the scale and so I don't allow it to be interrupted again.

More importantly however, I need to be OK with myself whether I gain or lose weight. This time it is about my head and my heart as much as it is about me body.

-7 lbs is great but 2.5 weeks of being emotionally invested but not shaming myself is better.

Pardon the mess

I had a heavy therapy session this afternoon- digging into my relationship with food, money, blame and shame. Fun stuff…or not.

My therapist is in a clinic located in a building that's being renovated. The entrance sidewalk is covered with a protective scaffold and every time I visit things are slightly different–messier or more improved it's hard to tell.

Naturally there are signs asking its patrons to pardon the mess. And there is noise, dust, commotion and half-finished areas around. It can be frustrating as a client but I can only imagine how frustrating it is to work there.

I have worked through a renovation before my old church and ended up spending the summer officing in the store-room on the first floor away from all my colleagues. It was not a very mentally healthy summer. The clutter and the chaos seem to seep in to my brain.

In my therapy session today I realize that the chaos of renovation is a lot what I'm doing now, but instead of office space I'm renovating my mind, my body, my habits and my thoughts.

And it is just as messy as a real renovation. In order to clean out that which does not serve me, my brain seem to get messier before it gets cleaner.

It is messy to face real emotions.

It is chaotic adding appointments and homework to my already crammed schedule.

It is frustrating to examine old habits and why I fall into them.

It is just a little bit lonely to feel isolated from those around you by this messy head and body stuff.

But I can find surprises hidden among the rubble, and learn to cope with more than I thought possible, and if I make it through, the end result is worth it.

I am in midst of construction and it honestly feels a bit overwhelming and impossible but stopping just leaves a bigger mess behind.

I am sick of being a fixer-upper and ready to continue the renovation.

But please pardon the mess…

On friendship

I have been thinking about friendship a lot, specifically friendship for adults in the age of social media.  With so much of our lives being shared, the opportunities to be unintentionally overlooked or offended seems to be on the rise.  It makes me sad even as I experience these things just like everyone else.

Because it seems so easy talk indirectly by posting things on social media it is easy to assume that I’ve updated everyone on my life and everyone has updated me.  It is easy to assume that everyone’s lives are going pretty well even when they might not be. This indirect method friendship seems to exacerbate communication pitfalls among friends.  I have been thinking about this, and in particularly thinking of the things that make me a better friend as I navigate friendships as an adult.

Let me make this perfectly clear – these are things I do, consciously and unconsciously that help me manage my own emotions and relationships.  I am not telling anyone to adopt these, nor am I calling anyone out.  Sometimes I will fail at being a good friend, even when trying my best.  As always, if I have hurt someone, please let me know so I can apologize.

Anyway, onto the reminders for myself on how to be a good friend.

1. Own my mistakes and apologize.

I put this first because it is the hardest for me.  I try to be a good friend, but sometimes, I fail at this.  When that my failings become clear it is up to me to apologize and admit my mistakes.  I don’t like admitting mistakes, it is easy to end up being defensive instead.  But it doesn’t help to bring up past wrongs nor to give a conditional apology “I am sorry for x, but remember you did y.”  I try to remember to just let it go and apologize with humility.

2. Don’t hold grudges.

Sometimes I am the one who was hurt.  I try to allow my friends the chance to apologize and when that happens, I try to accept it and move on.  It does no good to file those times in a database of wrongs.  Friendship is never a zero sum game.  If I kept track of all the hurtful things that have been said to me I would have no friends left.  We all make mistakes and if people are willing to apologize, and it is not a relationship changing error, than I forgive and try to forget.

3. Let people go if your friendship has failed – but find a way to be polite in public.

Despite our best efforts to apologize and accept apologies, sometimes something happens that takes a friendship out.  This has happened to me and I still grieve those lost friends.  However, if that happens then I need to move on, but also find a way to see that person without causing chaos.  It helps to be polite and manage my own emotions in those situations.  (If someone threatens, attacks, or causes major damage however, avoidance is perfectly allowed.  I am not talking about situations of abuse here, just everyday situations where people fall out of friendship)

4. Remember it isn’t always about me.

This is so hard.  It is easy to make things about myself – I am always here in my head after all.  But life is rarely all about me.  Friends have other influences, good and bad days, and stresses that are not about us.  Sometimes i can experience that brunt of a bad day but it was never really about me in the first place.  Sometimes I can feel like someone is mad at me but they are just thinking about work.  I try hard to remember that I am not the only player on the board.

5. Talk directly to the person.

I seek support and advice when needed from friends, but in the end if I am hurt then I should be direct about it.  Chances are the person may not realize what they did.  Likewise, if I hurt someone and I know they are upset, then I need to take the time to talk to them directly.  3rd party messages and bitch sessions rarely help me strengthen friendships.

6. It is ok not to be invited to everything.

This is one I can struggle with, but I have to remember that it is ok not to be invited to something.  Often people have specific reasons for inviting a group as they do, and it may not be because I was forgotton or left out on purpose.  My house is small and most games are for 4-6 players, so if I have a game night I might not invite 10+ people.  Sometimes I will have dinner with a few folks, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat out with others.  Sometimes people don’t want to hang out with me because they know it will cost sitter money or they will have to deal with my kids.  That is ok and their right.  So much goes into finding time to be with friends as adults that it does me know good to speculate why I might not be invited.  Ultimately if I need to see my friends, I know I need to reach out myself.

7. Listen to others with compassion

I try to be there for my friends and listen to what is going on in their lives.  Likewise, I try to offer advice if and when it is asked for.  I try to listen and be empathetic without disparaging others or taking sides.  My nature is to help whenever possible, and sometimes that is simply being present to a friend in pain.

8. Reach out when someone is hurting

One of things I find important is to reach out and check in with my friends if they fall silent, or are struggling (obviously or in a vague sense), or when I am thinking of them.  I check in, tell them I love them, and ask what’s going on.  Social media has really helped this.  I hate talking on the phone and since the inventions of messenger, text, etc, it is so much easier to connect.

The people who I share the most with are those people in my life who reach out to check on me.  It means a lot to me when they do that, and I try to do that with my friends as well.

9. Be grateful for what your friends bring to you life.

My friends are important to me.  They fill a spot that my family, my husband and my kids do not.  They are often people with whom I can be fully myself as opposed to places where I am more guarded.  I value that immensely and knowing what my friends bring to my life helps me be grateful for them even when things are rocky.  Some friends bring specific qualities – one may be someone I am adventurous with, another could be someone to talk to when I am hurting, another might be a gaming buddy, another a walking buddy.  Not everyone fills every role in my life, but all the people I choose to have in my life are important to me and I am grateful for them in my life.

I am no friendship expert.  I make mistakes and do and say stupid things.  But I keep trying.  If I had my way everyone would always get along but that isn’t life.  Friends come and go, sometimes when you don’t want them too.  Knowing this, I can only control myself in the situation – and that means being kind, not taking things personally and being willing to admit my mistakes.  It doesn’t always work out, but I would hate for that to be from lack of trying.

These are my thoughts on friendships today.  I find it helpful to write and come to the crux of something on my mind.  But they are not meant as admonitions, nor are they a passive aggressive commentary on any friendships.

All my friends have places in my heart and I care for them all, because of this I try to be a good friend in return.

Writing is not eating

Gah, I am hungry today.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, was cranky this morning with my kids, worked all day, my knees are sore, and I was “good” at National Night Out.

So naturally I want to stuff my face, preferably with cheese.

But I am out of Weight Watchers Points and our fruit supplies are minimal besidesI have eaten plenty today. I am writing instead of eating.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am feeling like a bad mom.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am feeling like the left out friend.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am feeling like I will never succeed.

I want to eat, but the truth is I am stressed.

So I sit and write and contemplate these emotions and gremlins in my head.

There is victory in sitting and feeling feelings.  It is less satisfying than cheese perhaps in the moment, but it is by far more important to do.

Writing and feeling feelings.  Go me.

But I am still looking forward to breakfast…

Don’t Feed the Gremlins

The one year anniversary of losing my job occurred over the weekend.

I have been contemplating this a lot today.  I was home with E2 who was sick, but not really that sick, just sick enough to not be allowed at daycare.  I was trying to work from home and managed about 4 hours of my 8 hour day.  Thankfully that is what sick time is for, and I am grateful that I can even try to work from home.

So much has happened in the last year and it seems hard to take it all in sometimes.  I lost my job, had surgery to fix my eyes, spent 4 months looking for a new job and 6 months as a temp at my current position.  I have learned new programs, tested new skills, received a lot of help, and swallowed a lot of pride.

As the circumstances of life started improving though, I didn’t.  I started going downhill.  As the adrenaline of losing a job and the pressures of finding one wore off, the reality of the stress I’d been through hit in full force, and my near constant companions of “Not good enough” and “It’s Your Fault” joined the party.

The job journey lead to a new round mental and physical health challenges that keep me on my toes.  For all that has happened in the last year, I am tired.

But I am also coming out of the stress fog.  I am making appointments, seeking answers and doing the work of getting well, both physically and mentally.  (Yay health care!).

A few weeks ago I got myself something to acknowledge this last year and to remind myself to keep going – a keep bracelet.  These can be customized with charms and what not, but I just got one phrase inscribed on mine – “Don’t Feed the Gremlins”

I wear it everyday and it helps me remember that there are things I have more control of in the world.  I cannot control what others think of me, but I can choose the power I give it.  I cannot control losing a job due to budget problems, but I can choose how to bounce back.  I cannot always control my negative thoughts and heavy burden of blame that I put on myself, but I can choose not to feed those thoughts.

It has been a year since I lost my job in a career that had been a call and identity for 13 years.  It still stings, but less so.

It has been a year but I am still here fighting back and trying to make the world a little bit better in the process.

Disruption

Today Trump banned transgender people from the military citing medical costs and the “disruption” that transgender people bring to the military.

That word has stuck with me: Disruption.

The irony of Trump calling transgender people a disruption is not lost on me.  After all, Trump himself is the self-proclaimed king of disruption.  His entire campaign was run on disrupting the status quo:  Drain the swamp. Lock up Hillary. Ban Muslims.

This disruption has continued into the administration as there is incident after incident of chaos reigning in DC and across America.  He even uses disruption to disrupt from the disruption he causes.  Pay no attention to the failed healthcare repeal behind the curtain.  He uses disruption as a sleight of hand to buy him time, to deflect his loses and to enliven his base.

And then he blames that same disruption on others – The democrats, the “fake” press, transgender, even members of his own Cabinet – Sessions is just the latest one.

The strategy is brilliant in its simplicity.  It is difficult to sow growth, peace or understanding in a culture of chaos.   By demonizing those he blames as disruptors, he continues to divide and polarize the nation.  The more that happens the more he is able to disrupt.

I refuse to be fooled.

Transgender people are not the disruption…

except to the long standing tradition that everything is black and white, a binary distinction that has caused countless problems for genders, races, ethnicities and religions throughout the centuries.

The media is not the disruption…

it is the way that truth can be separated from fiction, facts from lies, and a way to continue using the freedom of speech in an administration bent on silencing his opponents.

Immigrants are not the disruption…

The are the bedrock on which the United States is built and an example that no matter how chaotic our nation is, people still see to come here and know freedoms they do not see in their nation of origin.

Muslims are not the disruption…

except to highlight the need for separation of church and state RIGHT HERE to protect innocent people of faith.

The disruption is Trump himself.

But look at what he chooses to disrupt – families, careers, freedom of press, the judicial process, the rights to be our own selves in a melting pot of diversity that makes America great.

Trump makes a mockery of the very foundation of this nation, and does so with glee, all the while blaming others for the chaos that ensues.

What’s the answer to all of this?

Sadly, I do not know.  I don’t know how to end this and call for it to be magically fixed.  All I want to do is call a spade a spade so we can stop kidding ourselves about the real disruption in our country.

 

My money where my mouth is

It is amazing the clarity that can come from blogging.  Even though medical mystery of the last 6 weeks is fresh in my head, it wasn’t until I wrote it out that I realized I need to be more proactive.

I have been extremely proactive on the reactive side of events.  I’ve sought out the doctors and appointments to learn that the most serious causes of my swollen feet are not the culprits.  I am made phone calls and follow ups and researched things on my own.  I’ve taken my meds, worn my compression socks and done what the doctor’s asked.

In the absence of any real answers however it is time to move to another type of proactive response.  The “Now what” response if you will.

As frustrated as I am by the doctor blaming things all on weight, there is no doubt that my weight does my legs, feet and knees no favors.  My weight also makes life more difficult in countless minor and major ways.

When I looked at yesterday’s blog post, it seems clear that my body is sending a clear message that things need to change, and so today I rejoined weight watchers.

Weight watchers is not perfect–no plan to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle is–but it is a plan that I’ve had success with in the past.  I had moved away from WW because my depression and anxiety were high and were causing self-sabotage. I still have depression and anxiety, but I have a psychologist and a therapist who are helping me reclaim my thoughts. I feel like I can safely work to reclaim my body as well.

Don’t get me wrong, I talk a big game, but internally I am terrified.  WW costs money for one thing, and our budget is thin.  In addition, I have had success but also failures losing weight before.  I know the work that needs to be done and it is daunting.

Still, something must be done, so I am starting with something.

And I am popping in on lunch break to make my actions public, so that I know this is not a pipe-dream but a goal that I am actively pursuing.

It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.  If I doctor cannot help me, I’ll have to help myself.

A Bump in the Road

You know that feeling you get when you know you are making the right decision for yourself, and it still feels like an epic cop-out and feels full of blame-y shame?

Yeah, that feeling.

I’ve got it because once again my body is not behaving itself to do the things I want to be doing.

Some back story:

Last August my dear friend Robin was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had met Robin long ago through blogging and I was on her Susan G. l 3-day team three years ago when I walked it as a blogger.  The reality of her getting cancer immediately brought the entire team out of retirement with the promise to support her and walk this year’s 3-day together.

I didn’t sign up right away but once I found a job, I signed up and began training, albeit with the fits and starts that come with being a mom of two with a full time job.  Still, I set about my fundraising goal ($2300 is the minimum to walk) and my training walks.

I hit my fundraising goal with surprising easy, something I was so grateful for as I did not have the funds to donate that minimum by myself.  Everything was going well, until about 6 weeks ago.

Despite training I have been gaining weight of late.  It could be job stress combined with the latent emotions of last year’s suckiness, or it could be that I wasn’t actively focused on losing weight.  But 6 weeks ago my feet and legs started swelling like crazy.  Seriously, it was like being 3rd trimester preeclamptic again.

I don’t take health things likely and so I took myself in and we’ve been running a battery of tests for weeks.

Kidney function – normal.  The swelling wasn’t caused by kidney failure.

Heart function, BP, cholesterol, etc – all normal.  It wasn’t caused by heart failure either (whew).

My A1C is fine.  No diabetes.

My sleep apnea is well controlled by my machine and I get enough oxygen at night.

The ONLY thing medically that they found was that I was slightly anemic, but an iron supplement took care of that lickety-split.

But the swelling persisted, to the point where the fluid in my legs has made me gain more weight, my newly prescribed compression sock make me lose circulation in the ankles by the end of the day, and my knees are furious with me for this leggy rebellion.

6 weeks was all it took to go from being able to do a relatively easy 6 miles to consistently sore and finding basic daily tasks daunting.

Ugh.

So I did some soul searching and new that I could not walk 60 miles in less than a month.  I can barely walk one mile without stopping these days.

I have told my team and switched to crew the event.  I will still be there with my team and supporting Robin, but I am frustrated and sad.  I am already feeling defeated about my body and the weight I had gained and now this sudden medical mystery has me even more upset.

To make matters worse, once we ruled out the “worst” of the possible culprits, my doctor has come to the conclusion that it is just because I am fat and therefore my own damn fault.

I am disheartened by this bump in the road, because I feel like I am letting my friends down and because I feel so ill-at-ease with my body right now.  It is even harder to get through my day with legs that feel like lead and harder to make good choices when I feel so crappy.

I will be there.  I keep telling myself that crewing the event is important.  So many people are needed behind the scenes to make the event happen.  I know this is true, but I cannot help but see this as a failure on my part.

My choice is to fight to get better.  To start losing weight again and hope that helps.  I am avoiding salt, and using my socks and doing all the right things to improve.

But still, this was a doozy of a bump.

P.S. Please don’t recommend your weight loss plans in the comments.  You are welcome to PM me if you have questions, but I just cannot take the “well meaning advice” side of things tonight, not when my body already feels like it is judging me. I have tools and support for at my disposal and if I need advice about losing weight I will ask myself.

Don’t be Trump.

Do you ever get those sudden realizations where clarity comes streaming through like sunshine through trees?


I had one of these epiphanies today because of my Facebook friends.

I played one of those gif games that are so popular on Facebook right now – it said “Describe me in gifs.”  What followed were very sweet, cute, or amusing gifs depicting a woman of strength, caring and love.  It was lovely to see even though I was not fishing for compliments, just playing over a work break.

Here is the thing.  Whenever I hear or see these types of kind compliments or posts regarding my positive attributes, I am quick to discount them, or not fully believe them.  My thinking is along the lines of “Yes, but if they knew x they wouldn’t think of me that way.”

What I realized today is that I’ve been giving the power to the negative voice in my head and not the myriad of voices to the contrary.

In short, I have been acting like Donald Trump.

In light of evidence and a large base of people who agree, I am discounting their testimony and choosing to believe only myself based on evidence that only I seem to know.

Trump, in light of evidence and a large base of people (the intelligence agencies) refused to believe the hacking of Russian emails and the tampering with the election.  Even when forced to acquiesce and say there might be some truth to it, his responses are “Yes but…. (her emails, the leaks, fakenews, etc).

I have been doing the same, when faced with the evidence that a group of people love me just as I am, I have been disregarding this evidence in favor of my own.

Aha.

I don’t want to be like Trump in this regard (really in any regard).  I want to believe what my friends tell me about myself and have their voices be stronger than the negative one that likes to be in control.  In fact it is one thing I have been working with my new therapist.

It was a watershed moment for me today I think, to realize that my insistence that the negative voice is the right one, drowns out all the people who care about me.  If their message is so similar, who am I to say they are all uniformly misguided.  Frankly, I am not that good of an actor to be able to convince people that I am a good person if I weren’t at least a bit of one.

So, in the interest in not being Trump, I must conclude that my friends are right.  I really must be strong, caring, loving and amazing.

I have smart friends.