Personal Space

It was a fluke. The Detroit Red Wings were one game away from winning the first Stanley Cup since 1955, the year I was born. Al held season tickets and he was ready to sell them. He’d make A LOT of money. He said there was only a 50/50 chance the Wings would win yet again and so early in the playoffs. But I talked him into going. “You’ll be so mad at yourself if they win.” I even offered to tag along, though I’m not a sports fan.

I have two sons and then there’s Al. They are all sports fans, so it’s not like I’d never been to a game before. I’d been to plenty, Red Wings, Pistons, Lions and Tigers…including one where my son almost caught a fly ball. It grazed Tim’s fingers then fell between my legs. Before I could retrieve it for Tim, a guy dove between my legs and grabbed the ball. He stepped into the aisle and held up the ball. People cheered him! He was kind enough to buy me a hot chocolate to make up for the one he spilled all over me in his fervor to grab that ball.

Years later, back to the Red Wings game, the game where they did indeed win the Stanley Cup. Al and I took our seats. The noise level was higher than I’d ever experienced at the dozens of games I’d suffered through over the years. Even I was a little bit excited. But then everyone stood up and slapped five as the Wings hit the puck and took the lead. Nobody sat down after that. Including Big Guy on the other side of me who was taking up half of my space.

I’d been sitting, so I guess he figured what the hell. Then, not liking his butt in my face, I got up, jostling Big Guy, who shot me a nasty look. “Sorry,” I said “You’re in my space.” I tried to stand tall (I’m 5’2″) on my little square of cement. His body turned toward me in disbelief. His look said I was speaking a foreign language, possibly from another planet. Meanwhile Al didn’t notice anything. Another goal had been scored and he was busy slapping somebody high five.

Big Guy on the other side defiantly kept one foot in my space. I decided not to mention it to Al. It was a big night for Detroit. I don’t understand the pull of sports, but I do know that many many people love everything about every sport, my husband included. Yes the Wings won the Stanley Cup and it was fun driving slow down Woodward all the way home with the crowds out dancing and chanting in the streets. I forgot all about rude Big Guy from the game.

But recently, when the videos and photos of Joe Biden’s nose and lips getting very much in women’s spaces emerged, I was reminded of Big Guy. I think Biden is creepy and that he was using white male privilege to do what he wanted. Just like Big Guy. Hardly any of my friends agree with me about Biden. Democrats across our nation mostly don’t either. Their reasons are flimsy, IMO. Sure he’s from a different era. But men have mastered their smart phones. Surely, allowing women their personal space is not beyond them.



A few days ago, not quite halfway into my three month experiment of living alone in a Florida beach town, I was waiting for something to happen. I’m reading Julia Cameron’s It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, the book that had promised to break things open for me, I was living an experience I knew would challenge me and maybe, I hoped, release some kind of something inside.

My hopes for this time alone were ambitious. I wanted to finish a book, start blogging and lose weight (again). I was so far away from inspired when I came down here. I’ve been round and round the weight loss routine for too many years to really believe I could create lasting change. I was starting to give up on ever finishing the book I’ve been writing off and on for a few years now. I needed help, but only the kind I could provide for myself. I had to do the work, whatever that was.

Julia’s book is at the center of my plan. At the end of each week, she concludes with a series of questions about how things went. She always asks about synchronicity. Synchronicity is when you notice that certain themes keep popping up in your life. After weeks of faithful work, I wasn’t having any of that, and I wanted some. The thing with synchronicity is, you might be having it and just not notice. It might be tugging at you and you’re brushing it off.


Two weeks ago I read a novel by one of my favorite authors with a hypnotherapist main character. Since I read that book, I’ve been thinking about learning more about hypnosis. Then out of the blue the other day my dad (who quit smoking via this method) mentioned hypnotherapy. This propelled me to the bookstore where I found Instant Self-Hypnosis. When I got home I realized I’d just experienced synchronicity.

Hypnosis is not exactly what I thought it was. There is no “going under” there is no time where the hypnotized person is not in complete control and fully aware of what’s happening.  After you’re hypnotized, you remember everything that happened while you were in the trance. It’s like the flow I enter when I meditate, or when I write.

The difference is, with hypnosis, the place I enter is not the still calm center of my consciousness or the place in the story where my characters are currently playing out my plot. The entry point in hypnosis is your subconscious. By relaxing, the conscious mind opens a door into the unconscious and then slips in an intention, like losing weight or finishing a book. It’s a simple process, takes about 20 minutes. The author suggests you undergo the process three times for any one thing you want to change in your life. So three 20 minutes sessions for weight loss, three more for finishing the book.

I’m going to try it. The thing that made me really believe that hypnosis can work was not that the AMA (American Medical Association) has given hypnotherapy its stamp of approval as a solid method to help stop bad habits and start good ones. No, what intrigued me most and felt most promising to me was something that I intuitively knew was true about myself. On a conscious level, I really do want to lose weight.

But on an unconscious level, I know I’m ambivalent about the weight loss. Does it mean I must forever forego chocolate? Wine? Pizza? Chips? Not Fun. And that formerly unconscious false belief that all fun will be drained from life if I lose weight is what has kept me from losing weight for good. I’ve lost 25-30 pounds half a dozen times. But I always gain it back…probably when I decide, on an unconscious level, I’m done being deprived and want to have fun again.

I understood this dynamic in a flash. But understanding a false belief is not the same as changing it. For that, I’m going to try hypnosis.

Year of Big Dreams


Not very long ago, I believed I was past the age of dreaming big. By the age of 60, I had achieved far more than my 16 year old self could ever have imagined. More than my 26 year old self, or indeed even my 36 year old self. I thought that maybe by my age, vision should be retrospective. There was just a hint of feeling as if my time for new dreams had passed and I should graciously accept that fact.

I felt that I should be satisfied with what my life had brought thus far. And I was. I am. More than satisfied, I’m grateful and amazed with this good luck life, grateful and amazed  to have taken the adversity and challenges in stride, even surmounting them in some instances. I have survived and thrived and find myself in a really wonderful place, mentally and physically and emotionally. All is well.


Sort of. Or it will be now that I have rooted out this silly unconscious notion that at some magic age (for me that seems to be 60) or perhaps after some momentous event (retiring from teaching) I need to simply give up on dreaming big dreams and be content with what I’ve manifested thus far.

The idea that there is an age or an event that signals “time to stop going for it” isn’t just silly–it’s depressing. And I was depressed for about a year without really knowing exactly why. I kept giving myself the pep talk about having had a great life and now I could simply coast…enjoy the scenery, keep writing, have a glass of wine.


Not that any of the above are bad things. But there was the nagging spark inside that begged me to dream some new dreams before it really was too late. Slowly, I have gathered my courage and uncovered a few gems. Things I still want to try. Things that are a bit scary. Things that I might fail to achieve.

But damn I’m going for it. The time to stop dreaming, planning and achieving will come when I draw my final breath, and not before. This is my mantra for 2016. Stayed tuned, there’s much more to come.

Happy new year!



Happiness & Grudges

Despite the dubious math involved, I’m on a quest to kick my happiness factor up a few points using a list from Mindful magazine. Really have been noticing the little joys that surround me but will refrain from mentioning all of them because that would just be bragging.

So, DITCHING GRUDGES was an interesting exercise. I made a list of all the people I held grudges against. They are usually front and center somewhere, so I didn’t have to think long or hard about it. 14 people, some of whom I have held grudges against for several decades. Nobody holds a grudge like I do. I know this. I’m not proud of it. But I am trying now to just stop it already.

14 isn’t that many. I figured the number of people who have done me wrong would be much higher. I have likely forgotten some folks. These others on the list–I’ve done a lot of work on “forgiving” each and every one of them. Many of them more than once. Forgiving works, for awhile. Then up comes the thought “If he hadn’t done that to me…” or “If she had only….” and I start thinking of the ways this person made my life so difficult and sad. And the grudge is reborn, like a weed in spring.

And you know how stubborn weeds are when you try to pull them out at the roots. But I did a good mental pruning of my life’s garden, and all the grudges have been burned like bad bridges. I learned a few interesting  things along the way. Like this: every person I held a grudge against had disrespected me in some major way. And they never apologized. Not even did they fail to say sorry, they pretended as if there was no need to do so, and in some cases, projected the blame back on me.

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So, yeah, I can feel that righteous grudge juice stirring. But no. Down the drain it goes. I’m done with that. What else I discovered: anyone formerly on the list who has passed did not make the last list. (And it will be my last list, if not my last forgiveness session.) It must be impossible to hold a grudge against a dead man. That surprised me. And gave me faith. In exactly what, I don’t know. The power of death to transcend and erase all the silly grudges of life? Or how about: What really matters at the end is not the grudges you hold but that letting go of the ugly stuff is an act of grace. In my case, bestowed by unknown angels, because I did no “work” to release those grudges as I am having to do with the living ones.

The “work” for me meant a long session of thought and writing and forgiving. When I feel a grudging thought pop up (and a few have since I started this grudge-begone business) I just think “I forgive you, and I forgive me too, for not being able to let this go before now.” Quick and effective. I can feel the happiness increase as the weight of those grudges slides off my shoulders.

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Another lesson learned while drawing up the (now extinct) grudge list, a few people I really love who hurt me bad were nowhere on the list. Probably we had an unpleasant verbal altercation or six. Difference was, those people loved me back, we talked things through, we made it okay. Turns out I’m pretty easy as far as grudges go. That delighted me just a little. I thought I was a way bigger bitch. Just don’t hurt me or hate me then leave me hanging on.

Truth is, haters gonna hate, I’m not always gonna be everybody’s best beloved, and nobody says I gotta hang with that grudge. I can be like a breeze and just blow it off. Done!

Happiness tip #3 is GET MOVING and I don’t mean out of town, though that might help some people. I am still banned from most exercise while my knee repairs itself, but I have been doing some easy floor stretches and other things that don’t involve my precious left knee.

Happiness tip #4 is GIVE THANKS and I know I can use some help in that department. Got any good ways to give thanks? Please let me know, in comments or email or phone call! I’ll post whatever I come up with in a couple of days:)

Dieting Through the Decades

Life is a trip, a journey, an adventure. Sure there are bumps in the road, and I don’t mean cocaine. One of my main problems in the second half of my life has been weight. In my 20s I was a size 8. Then later, a 10. The much dreaded double digits, but I wasn’t too concerned. Yet.

30 Something

For me, when I quit smoking in my early 30s, after a dozen previous attempts, some lasting as long as a year or more, I started eating. As a smoker from an early age, my taste buds had been reduced to ash. I craved nicotine and food was a necessary evil.

Then my buds bloomed and suddenly I discovered sugar and fat and salt and pizza and burgers and chocolate and potato chips. In my 30s I gained 30 pounds. So for the first time in my life, I was a chunky size 14. But very happy to be done with cigarettes. I made a few weak attempts to lose weight, but I was so busy teaching every day, acquiring a graduate degree at night, taking care of my family, and writing that adding one more thing to my to-do list was next to impossible.

Fat 40


First half of my 40s, I was the fattest I’d ever been. Somehow I had gained 20 or 30 more pounds. I was a size 16-18 and wore a lot of Plus Sized outfits. Also, I’m petite, so I looked like a little butter ball. People even asked me if I was pregnant because the extra fat on my face plumped any wrinkles and I held the bulk of my extra fat in my middle.

After a friend showed me a photo of myself all dressed up and looking really huge, I joined Weight Watchers. This is me after losing a significant amount of weight. I went from size 18 to size 14. I’m not really slim and the love handles are evident. Most of my weight was still in my middle. I was somewhat okay with this weight.

50 Revision

After surgically induced menopause, I quickly shot up to a size 16 again. I started getting reports from my doctor that said I had pre-diabetes, high blood sugar, and metabolic syndrome. I took each one of these reports seriously, read all the books and tried all the diets. Sugar Busters, Atkins, Fat Flush, South Beach. They all worked as long as stuck to them. I never got below a size 14, though. And I couldn’t quit, or even limit, carbs for very long.

In my mid-50s, I developed Barrett’s Esophagus (a pre-cancer condition brought on by acid reflux) and had another surgery, this time to remove my gall bladder. My body, I was told, could no longer process fat and I’d have to maintain a low-fat diet for the rest of my life. So much for the low carb approach.

After reading Quantum Wellness, I became a vegetarian. Initially I lost weight, but not that much. The pre-cancer condition cleared up, which seemed like a miracle as I was told it was a “forever” condition and would never get better, only worse. I attributed this miracle to becoming vegetarian. I still get checked regularly for Barrett’s, but it has not come back.

I felt okay about having a cupcake now and then and dark chocolate became a “healthy” favorite. I love potato chips and mashed potatoes and french fries. Those are all vegetarian and I ate them. I balanced these splurge foods with soy products, pasta, brown rice, and multi-grain bread. I also ate pizza at least once a week. I love my wine. Also vodka martinis with blue cheese olives. Yet I also enjoy healthy fare like seafood and salad, things I did not like at all before becoming vegetarian.

In my late 50s, a friend successfully lost a lot of weight on a mini-meal plan and I followed it, vegetarian style. I lost 10 pounds and went to a size 12. Then, at age 59, I lost 10 more and went down to a size 10. But even so, my pre-diabetes was not getting better. My doctor suggested cutting carbs and alcohol. I was already cutting calories to the bone on the mini-meal plan. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate her suggestions and remain slim and vegetarian.

60s: The First Year

IMG_1477I turned 60 last month. That’s me on my birthday. I want my 60s to be a healthy happy decade. I want to travel and be able to walk for miles and sleep well at night. I want to look at pictures and not see a muffin middle, which quickly reappears if I stop my semi-starvation diet for even a week. I want, more than anything to stop the endless round of gaining and losing and gaining again.

From Thanksgiving 2014 until March 2015, I packed on ten pounds. Two pounds a month. When I returned from a winter vacation, my carb cravings were intense. Soon, I couldn’t zip my size 10 jeans. And I had another sugar test scheduled in May. I knew I had to form some eating habits that would hold me for life. I felt out of control but also determined to make some necessary changes, and this time for good.

I of course bought yet another book, this one about forming good habits. In Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin mentions another book, Why We Get Fat. She said the science was impeccable and she’d effortless lost weight and kept it off. So did her sister, a diabetic, and her father who had an issue with belly fat. This was just a side issue in her book about making and maintaining excellent habits. But it sparked my interest so I read the book in a day and was dismayed to find that my vegetarian diet was a real problem for my particular body. This book suggests the same thing my doctor did after the last sugar report: cut carbs. I’d already mostly forsaken sugar and that had not helped my glucose levels. Carbs were the clear culprit, at least for me.

The most brilliant analogy in Why We Get Fat is that not everyone who smokes gets lung cancer. And not everyone who eats carbs gets metabolic syndrome/glucose intolerance/insulin resistance/pre-diabetes. Those medical health terms all mean the same thing. And along with pre-diabetes comes a cascade of almost every serious disease you can think of, diseases that kill you, diseases that cut life short, diseases I’d been flirting with for decades.

When I quit smoking in my 30s, I saved myself from possible lung cancer. People with pre-diabetes are prone to various cancers, including cancer of the esophagus. I’d already done that. Got a reprieve. Didn’t want to go there again. Then with Type 2 diabetes, there’s a good chance of heart disease and dementia, especially Alzheimer’s. I have seen people I love, in their 60s, 70s and 80s suffer and die with these diseases. All of them were overweight. All of them had metabolic syndrome. Science has proven that these life-ending diseases are preventable, but only if you catch the culprit that creates every one of them: pre-diabetes.


A little over two weeks ago, I decided to go very low carb until I could zip my size 10 jeans again. That happened within a week. In 17 days I lost 7 pounds. My first goal was to drop the 10 pounds I gained since last Thanksgiving and I am well on my way. There’s also my glucose testing next month. I don’t want yet another bad sugar report. I noticed another benefit of giving up “bad” carbs: I no longer crave sugar OR carbs. I no longer lose control and binge on anything in my pantry that contains mostly carbs. For the first time in forever, I can have cookies, bread, rice, potatoes, crackers, muffins, donuts and every other bad-for-me foods in the house for my husband, who has been the same healthy size since we married.

He’s one of the lucky people who does not have the propensity to gain weight when eating carbs. I’m not so it is good-bye to bad carbs forever. I’m pretty sure this time I will stick to the diet, because if I don’t, the rest of my life, as I envision it, with good health and great energy, will be over. I strongly believe (it only took a couple of decades to sink in) that if I correct my body’s insulin resistance, the best is yet to come.