Friday, April 23, 2010

The Scariest Thing I have Ever Done



So, today I am announcing that I am about to embark on the scariest thing I have ever done.

It's 8:00 in the morning and I have just finished a bagel with tuna salad.

Sounds scary, no?

It is, actually. For me, at least. And not just because it's eating fish for breakfast. It's because it was exactly what I wanted.

How long has it been since I have eaten exactly what I wanted? I can't remember. How long has it been since I took the time and spent the effort to feed myself exactly what I wanted? I have no idea--that's how long.

Friends? That's a huge honkin' metaphor for my life.

It occurred to me recently that I have gotten to this point in my life where food is something I have to do to sustain life and function, but I would be perfectly happy if someone would just hand me a smoothie and I didn't have to think about it. While I cook to my family's specifications, I rarely sit down to eat with them and it is rarely exactly what *I* want to eat. I just go along, rather than listening to the faint desires of my own body. Those desires grow quieter and quieter, actually. I am numb to hunger--I simply don't feel it.

How many other desires in my life have I ignored for so long that they no longer even figure on my radar?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. First of all, I'm reading a book by Geneen Roth called Women Food and God. (Yes, it bothers me that the comma is missing. I'm dealing with it.) I'm not finished with it because the concepts in it seem bigger than my capacity to understand them. I keep having to read and then try to internalize the idea and then reread. I can't gulp this book --I have to savor every bite.

Which may be the point. Or one of the points.

Geneen Roth wrote books that were instrumental in ending the practice of my eating disorder so I was prepared for this book to be meaningful. I wasn't prepared for it to change my life, though.

It wasn't just the book. We took a trip back home to Texas and I realized at one point that I was really nervous about seeing my family and friends because I've gained so much weight since I last saw them. I was assuming that their judgment of my weight would be more important than their love for me. Y'all, that's just crazy on legs right there. And oh, how they showed me one hundred times over how much they love me! It still leaves me almost breathless with gratitude and surprise and joy.

Then, also in Texas, my mom and I stole a morning and went clothes shopping. Lately, when I need clothes, I tend to buy them without even trying them on. (Hmm, kind of like drinking a smoothie so I don't have to think about food?) I bought some clothes--ridiculously expensive clothes --that I tried on and LOVED. I felt really, really guilty about it, even though everyone around me told me I was worth it, including my husband, who was footing the bill.

Then my foot started acting up again. I'm going for another MRI next week to see if I have a stress fracture. "But Barb?" said the doctor. "Your foot is really messed up. This just might be how it is."

So, here's the thing: I am forty-five years old and I have spent at least 30 years of that lifetime at war with myself and my body and my desires. I have spent 30 years as the harshest judge imaginable of the person I am, the thoughts that I have, the way I live, the way I look, the use or squandering of my talents, the way I express myself. I, who try never to apply those kinds of judgments to others (except to this one person in my life who I am just positive is only in my life so I can call myself a hypocrite in addition to everything else,) am the unkindest person I know to me.

I'm so unkind to myself that it would be labeled abusive by any mental health professional out there.

Clearly, this cannot continue.

I always tell my children, "who you are is enough. Strive to do great things, yes, but who you ARE is enough-- you are a gift to this world."

Yesterday, Jane (9) came inside and presented me with a bouquet of dandelions. She picked them because she saw them and she thought they were pretty and she wanted to give them to me. She didn't judge them for being weeds and unworthy of being a gift. She gave them in the way that children give instinctively.

So here's my scary announcement: I'm done with dieting and judging every mouthful I eat. I know it doesn't sound very scary but it's not only scary to leave behind the judgments of the world about the food I eat, it's very hard to listen for that voice that tells me what it is I really want. I'm done with dieting, yes, but I'm also done with being an afterthought. I'm never again going to grab a handful of dry cereal out of a box as I run out the door. I hope to never again eat MINDLESSLY.

I'm beginning to nurture myself one bite at a time, based on my true desires and hunger. I am suspending judgment while I am listening for a change.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Coop is the Best Dad on the Planet, No. 763,897

Yesterday, which was a Saturday, I had a particularly horrible migraine.  One of the throw-up-for-twelve-hours variety.  I added my trademarked move where I e-mail my best friend saying that I wish I was dead, DEAD, do you hear me??  (She, also a sufferer of migraines, knew that once the headache was gone, I would recant.)

Anyway, Coop got up and ran the dogs.  Then he took the girls to piano lessons (our piano teacher is having a difficult pregnancy and is teaching out of her house for the duration), out to lunch, to Barnes and Noble and to Michael's.  Then he cooked them their favorite dinner of sliders and fries.  (Sliders are tiny burgers and for some reason, my girls love them much more than the bigger cousins.)

In the midst of all that, he managed to find time to go to the store and buy a bunch of Easter stuff.  Because, today is Easter, didn't you get the memo?  It turns out that if you are traveling over Easter and only getting to have three Easter celebrations with each of the grandmothers and your good friends, the Easter Bunny will COME BACK to your house once you are home from your travels.

I didn't know this either.

But there Coop was, stuffing eggs late into the night and then hiding them and filling up the Easter baskets. When I came down this morning and sat down to put on my shoes, each shoe had a tiny plastic egg in it.  I set about hiding the eggs and every place I went to hide one, there was an egg already sitting there.  (Had my own little Easter egg hunt --I was giggling!)




I hope my kids know how lucky they are to have a dad with such a sense of whimsy and fun.  I sure know how lucky *I* am to have such an imaginative partner in this parenting gig.
Funny. He doesn't LOOK like the Easter Bunny.

Friday, April 09, 2010

(Allegedly) Snoring. In Texas. (Not Allegedly.)

When last I left you, The Coopers had traveled to Texas for Spring Break and I had promised you a story of snoring in Texas. However, things have developed (in the form of an e-mail I got from someone to whom I am related) asking me if I really HAD to tell that story, with NAMES and all. Given as how I am related to this person, um, on my MOTHER'S side, if you know what I mean (and I think you do), I will simply say that there was a LOT of snoring going on (some of it allegedly) and the punch line was that at some point when I was sleeping on the couch in the living room, Ana (12) wandered out and curled up on the other couch, saying, "Jane (9) is snoring." This made the snoring a universal issue, aside from my mother, for whom it was only alleged.

Given that we were all eating vast amounts of Tex Mex food, things could have been much, MUCH worse. Still, you might want to think twice about sharing a hotel room with any of the Coopers, including (allegedly) people in Barb's extended family.

Anyway, we went to Texas and hung out in Dallas for a few days and had just the best time with my (allegedly non-snoring) family.

Then we headed to Austin, our former home. Since we've been gone, my husband's brother and his family have moved to town, including this delicious little morsel of humanity:
This is our newest niece, Hallie.

Coop has met her before a couple of times--she's the daughter of his only brother--but I never have.  She's wonderful.  She's gorgeous and funny and smart and it made me realize that there is no way my children could ever have been that size.

It just so happened that Coop's brother's in-laws were in town over the long weekend and they had rented this fantastic place by the lake.  I say "fantastic" because it was clearly someone's fantasy --some CHILDLESS person's fantasy run amok.  I say "childless" because this place had the most amazing infinity pool--you know, one of those pools that goes right up to the edge of the universe and then drop off the side of it?  You know, one of those pools with an edge that attracts small children like an out-of-tune ice-cream truck?  I mean, just TRY to keep them away from that edge...

It looks more dangerous than it is.  But every parent around was hyperventilating.  So we all took a tour of the house, which included gargoyles.  I'm not even kidding.

(Is it just me or do gargoyles make you think of Ghostbusters, too?)

Anyway, we hung out with the family and went to dinner with some friends and then on Saturday, we visited our old street and old friends and had a big party at our former community pool.  So many people came--on EASTER WEEKEND--it left me weepy and breathless with gratitude for the amazing friends we have.  We've been gone more than two years but people were so welcoming and so happy to see us.

I went through about six million pictures looking for one to post here but none of them conveyed that amazing feeling of being home.  Not to take anything away from Long Island but I lived in Austin for more than half of my life and the friendships I made there are deep and lasting in a way that my friendships up here simply can't be.  It's so reassuring to know that I'm still welcome there. 

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Dear Unseasonably Gorgeous Weather

Dear Unseasonably Gorgeous Weather,

I know this is a trick of yours.  I've fallen for weather like you before, and it always leads to heartbreak and regret.  I am ON TO YOU like...something is on to something else.  No, seriously... I know what you're doing and it's cruel and heartless.

It's just that I can't help myself.


This weather...is just like having a crush on a boy in high-school.  I know you're insincere and fickle and yet I have fallen for that light-hearted sunshine and the promise of long summer days...

You're going to freeze me out, aren't you?

 I even lost my mind and bought a new umbrella today.  (The puppy ate the last one.)


Let me down easy, okay?

Love,
Barb

PS: I will return with the continuation of my Texas Travelogue tomorrow.  Right now the weather is gorgeous and I can't seem to concentrate on anything...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

We Came, We Saw, We Ate a Lot of Tex-Mex

We're went to Texas for Spring Break.

We hadn't been back in a year and a half and apparently, it's been a bit too long of a time away for me since I kept crying at all the things I've missed, like friendly grocery store clerks.  (Seriously, I went to a grocery store in Dallas and the clerk offered to help me out with my groceries and I swear to Bob, my eyes filled with tears.)  (He, um, seemed a little nonplussed.)

We couldn't have chosen a more gorgeous time to come back to Texas --spring is in full bloom there and the weather was perfect. I mean PERFECT.  Not too warm, not too cold.  A little pollen-y, just to remind us all of the allergies we don't suffer in New York. The wildflowers are out all over.  I've about decided that wildflowers are God's great compensation for the wicked Texas summer heat.

We arrived Saturday night, late.  I'm not sure who was the most excited, but if I had to guess, I would bet it was my mother. First of all, she was still up at nearly midnight.  But also, she invited my entire family over for a pre-Easter Easter celebration on Sunday.

Y'all.  I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

I took about 300 pictures, and about three of them have no one eating in them.  This is not one of them:
 (As always, you can click to enlarge to see our full mouths in greater detail.)


There was even an Easter (egg) hunt:

That's my GRAND-NEPHEW, Kaleb.  He is...well...I kept getting out a spoon to eat him up but things intervened.  Things like my older daughter, Ana (12), whom we have now titled The Kaleb Whisperer.

Why, yes, she IS 21.  Thanks for asking.

We hung out with the family, enjoyed the gorgeous weather and ate as much Tex-Mex as we possibly could.  For a while I was taking pictures of each meal but it got a little embarrassing. I did take THIS picture:

Yes, my first Texas margarita in almost two years.  Ahhh...

So, then we hung around my parent's house and did some shopping.  (Well, okay, we had to leave my parents' house to go shopping.  We hung around my parents' house and ALSO, WE DID SOME SHOPPING.) I bought some new clothes (I KNOW!) and Ana bought some new clothes and we spent every moment that we could outside and apparently, there was some snoring going on.

I will tell you more about this tomorrow.  (No, really! Snoring!)  Plus, I will tell you about our trip to Austin and introduce you to yet another cute baby.  I would do it right now but we came home to a large basement flood, an even larger mountain of laundry and some seriously spectacular weather and I need to run.

Snoring!  Tune in tomorrow!