Thursday, May 24, 2007

First Week Minus Three Pounds

No one was surprised but me that I had actually lost weight this past week - my first week in Weight Watchers. But, I lost three pounds.

My first day was horrible. I couldn't imagine what I was going to eat; the material is not arranged according to my logic; I didn't know if the foods I usually eat fit in the point system. So, I had hysterics part of the first day and a lot of anxiety the second day. By then, I had figured out the on-line point keeper and things were looking up.

I did go over my allotted points and bonus points but only by one point. And, although I felt hungry a couple of times, I distracted myself by doing things that absorbed me and getting away from the kitchen. I drank lots of water and suffered through a couple of abominable lunches and dinners that we created with few points. I'll know better next time. Now I know how to fix the things we like and keep our points down.

Lisa lost 3.2 pounds and our other friend who joined with us lost 8.8 pounds - of course, she did it the hard way with an intestinal infection.

The second week may be the hardest for me as I figure out different foods and try to avoid all the wonderful lures of food on a cruise ship.

This will be my last post until June 3rd or 4th. We are on our way to Bermuda.

Blessings to all of you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

An ocean of memories


We are taking a week-long cruise to Bermuda...guess I’ve already said that. I’m a clothes horse; so I’ve been shopping a lot. And, Weight Watchers has not been easy; more on that on Thursday night. So, I’ve been lurking and commenting, but not blogging.

Going back to Bermuda on the 50th anniversary of my first being there as a kid with my Dad stationed at the US Naval Air Station there has brought back lots of great memories of my time there. I’ve found slides and converted them to pictures; I found an autograph book and wrote down the names of my native friends from there. So I’ve been traveling in the happy past a lot.

Having grown up on that 23 acres of black dirt in Mississippi, my life was small, and, with Dad being the town drunk, my life was often painful. We were poor and pitied. Mom worked as a clerk in the Ben Franklin store, as I did when I was old enough.

Going to Bermuda was a dream. My brother had graduated from high school and entered the Navy; so I was the center of attention – good attention. We arrived in Bermuda on June 4, 1957, the first time my Mom and Dad had lived together except for his very brief leaves since he went back in the service in 1952. My Dad was still an alcoholic; he drank 40 ounces of vodka every day. But, so were many of the other Navy guys there. And, he couldn’t drive; so wrecking a car never became a problem. He rode the bus or got rides with other sailors on the motorcycles.

1958 That's me on the right

Mom and Dad didn’t fight there. No screaming, no hushed seething words, no passing out at the kitchen table. And, I had a room – my own room. And, I had the freedom of all 19 square miles of the island. I roamed most of it repeatedly on my bicycle. As long as I was home by dark, all was well. I had a record player and I didn’t have to worry about being quiet so I wouldn’t wake Dad. And, I was not a poor, farm girl whose father was a failure; I was just another Navy brat, who teased the Marines, who went to local school, who attended her first semi-formal dance, who joined the Teen Club. I was made Proctor at my school. I rode the Navy bus to church on Sunday and enjoyed church without the fear that Dad would forget to pick us up when we lived out in the country in Mississippi.

The church had services of many denominations, and I attended most of them. The tract rack was near the door, and one day, I picked up a mimeographed sheet that had a prayer for accepting Jesus as your personal savior. You could sign and date it. I was so moved by the love of the chaplains and the volunteers at church – and by my friends – that I signed it. I didn’t give it to anyone; I kept it. I still have it. That piece of paper reminds me how long ago I gave my life to God.

So, living in Bermuda for two years when I was 11-13 was a wonderful experience – freeing, enriching. I have been reliving those memories since we booked the cruise six months ago.

What I didn’t expect was that I would also reclaim some of the very painful memories from times prior to Bermuda. I have an almost totally blank memory of my life until I was 10 years old. Of course, episodes have been repeated by the family until I don’t know if I really remember them or if I only remember being told about them.

One day my partner mentioned someone she volunteered with named Mikelson – an unusual name and one that turned on a faucet drip of memories from my blank years. The librarian was Mrs. Mikelson, and when I was in the first and second grade, Mom worked for the Welfare Department next door to the library. I was occasionally allowed to walk from school to her work and then spend my time in the library. Mrs. Mikelson was a short stocky woman, who seemed very old to me, but she always found me good books to read, and I remember feeling welcome and safe there.

I also remembered a very embarrassing episode of the back door to Mom’s office being locked and I needed to go to the bathroom and ruined my clothes before she heard my crying. And, I remember being clean up and allowed to play in the give-away clothing room at the Welfare Office. My therapist thought this might have brought shame, but I had a ball. I remember trying on almost every article of clothing in there – men’s and women’s. I think my love of thrift shops began then.

The painful memories are dripping slowly in also. Feeling abandoned, humiliated. Having to stop the school bus and pull my Dad out of his car in a ditch. The bus driver took me to the nearest farm on the way, and the farmer and I rode back on his tractor and pulled the car out of the ditch. I got Dad inside and drove the four miles to our house. And, thank God, the car would still run.

Needless to say, this trip to Bermuda has become a lot more emotional than I expected. And, I find myself comparing (excuse the jargon) the disconnect between my experiences in Mississippi and my experiences in Bermuda with the disconnect that my brother experienced and trying to make sense of it all. He never had time to mature, died at age 22; so I’ll never know what kind of man he might have become. I know how far it is from where I am today to those days in Mississippi, and I marvel at the wondrous hand of God that has held mine all this while.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rationality dragging emotional being along

I have agreed to begin Weight Watchers tomorrow at noon, along with my partner and my friend. I’ve been online and my BMI is in the obese range. In addition, my legs and lower back hurt some and I get tired very easily.

But, I’m not terribly happy about this; I’ve always been a non-joiner, a do-it-yourselfer. So going to a meeting every week is not my idea of happiness. However, I’m not looking for happiness at these meetings. I’m looking for happiness in better health.

Still, I confess that I don’t want to go, I don’t want to watch my caloric intake, I don’t want to give up my quantity of breads and replace them with vegetables or protein. It’s just not what I want to do.

My rational self is dragging my emotional self along on this trip. I confess that I expect to be like people who pick up a white chip at AA, last a few weeks, and then drink again. For this to succeed, I must really want it to succeed. While I really want to lose weight, I don’t want to work at it.

Sigh. I want to be well. I want to be healthy. I want not to hurt. My weight has gotten out of hand; my life is now unmanageable in respect to food. I don’t know when I am full until I am stuffed – even if I wait that 20 minutes before having seconds. I cannot do it. So, I’m turning to a program with lots of endorsement and some proven success. And, I’m turning to God because I know I won’t last more than two days without some help...even with the support of my partner and my friend.

I’ll give a monthly report on this – not going to talk about it for a while – just going to do it and see what happens. Bleah.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Ndugane's understanding

Those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. In my last post I examined the wars that have resulted from religious conflicts and likened them to the current affliction within our Anglican Communion. Now comes this for clarity. Archbishop Ndungane's speech at the Bishop's Forum in South Africa has an excellent history of the polity of the Anglican Communion and how it has and is changing. I commend this article for a better understanding of what is happening with the current demands of the Communique and the draft of the Covenant.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Anglican Communion Wars

Civil wars and religious wars are often inseparable. Religious differences spike political stand-offs as one side holds out for what it considers to be moral and the other side upholds what it considers to be justice. Culture, leadership, economic status and global location can also contribute to violent wars that involve the deaths of hundreds of thousands.

Map of former Yugoslavia with division of Bosnia-Herzegovina. June 2006 Author: PaweĊ‚ Goleniowski (swPawel)see Wikipedia Yugoslavia for full size version.

For instance, the Yugoslavian war that split the country into parts was not only a cultural war, but also a religious war. Mark Silk in Religion in the News, Spring 2000, said of the conflict, “The aim of restoring Orthodoxy to its "rightful" place at the center of Serbian self-assertiveness may seem like an abuse of what we think of as Christian ideals, but that doesn’t make it hypocritical or nonreligious. Had NATO policymakers taken more seriously the religious significance of Kosovo for Serbian national identity, they would not have so badly miscalculated what it would take to persuade Milosevic to withdraw his troops. It is not irrelevant that Serbian religious practice now seems to be undergoing a revival.”

He goes on to say, “Religion is a moving target, even within a given country. As circumstances change, it can come to the fore or retreat into the shadows as a political actor. Whether the conflict is taking place in Ireland, Chechnya, Nigeria, Burundi, Iran, Afghanistan, Kashmir, or Sri Lanka, we cannot afford to be dogmatic about the role religion plays. Its measure must be taken case by case.”

The current conflicts within the Anglican Communion and its various national churches are religious conflicts that have been escalating into wars in recent months. What else can we call Nigeria’s attempt to enact a death penalty for homosexuals? This legislation was endorsed by the highest Anglican official of that country, Archbishop Akinola, and his actions put much of the rest of the Anglican Communion in conflict with that country and that church. A religious conflict.

photo of Bishop Minns and Archbishop Akinola by The Christian Post

And, now Archbishop Akinola has invaded the Episcopal Church in the United States over morality and Biblical interpretation issues. He has ignored the documents of Dar Es Salaam; he has ignored the due process he once endorsed; and he has planted his own church in place of The Episcopal Church, a major blow to reconciliation with the Anglican Communion.

Possibly the only reason that this conflict has not degraded into actual warfare is that the United States is much more powerful than Nigeria and thus not susceptible to invasion should the Archbishop set his mind to rescuing the entirety of Episcopal churches or even the entirety of Protestantism. In other places and other years, very violent wars have been fought over lesser provocation.

King Charles I

For instance, the Civil Wars in Great Britain began when Charles I tried to impose the Anglican Prayer Book on the Scottish Church. From our perspective we can see that Charles was doomed to failure for the Scottish nobles and clergy signed a National Covenant in 1638 to defend their church against Anglicanism and Episcopalianism. The conflict escalated into war and later involved Ireland – not just on religious issues but also political and societal issues. The Thirty Years Wars ended with legislation in 1689-1701 that specified the relationship of the monarchy to the parliament, the rights of both, and the fact that the monarch must be a communicating member of the Anglican Church.

In other parts of the world, wars are being waged in the name of religion for lesser offences than accepting homosexuals into full communion in the church or the ordaining of women. Bonnie Erbe, writing for Scripps Howard News Service said, “Right now, we only need look at the Middle East for confirmation of the fact that religious differences spark violent conflict. In Iraq, Sunni and Shiite Muslims murder each other for political gain. Palestinians are several years into a bloody intifada against Israelis who, according to each side's religious texts, spring from the same ancestors.”

Just as emotional violence done to vulnerable people can exact consequences as serious as physical violence, so the emotional and spiritual “wars” of the Anglican Communion are exacting their disastrous results on people all over the world, most especially the vulnerable women and homosexuals.

The common people in most countries follow their leaders, and Archbishop Akinola’s followers will undoubtedly follow him, along with lesser bishops in his area. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s leadership has failed with the installation of Bishop Minns in Virginia. I don’t know how the common people of other countries will react to this invasion and this religious conflict. The people of the Episcopal Church in the United States have tried to act in a reconciliatory way, a via media way, and that has failed to impress the leadership of purportedly Anglican churches who disagree dogmatically. Where will the Anglican Communion go next? Who will be killed in the name of religion? Where will the Episcopal Church stand?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Civil War Postponed, Mother's Day Gratitude

In a comment over at Father Jake's place, I promised more about reconciliation and civil war in TEC. Here's my comment: The schism in TEC reminds me in part of civil wars. Each side believes it is right. One side wants its own country and institutes war to get that. Sometimes civil wars result in two different countries (some middle East nations and some middle European nations); sometimes civil wars result in reunion (USA, Iraq -we hope, parts of the United Kingdom). Perhaps we can look back and have no more hate than to refer to this difference of viewpoint as "the recent unpleasantness."

But, for now, the war is still "on". I don't want to be excluded as a sinner, and others don't want me there at all. I and Thou. How different we are; how alike we are.

I suspect that outside interests will increase the pressure to choose sides until no one can take the via media. And, I'm deeply grieved.


This must wait until later, but I will get back to it.

On another topic: today is Mother's Day - and a Happy Mother's Day to all of you out there. Somehow I'm not sure you need to even be female to be a mother to someone. So, to all you who "mother", may you be honored on this day.

I was delightfully surprised yesterday to receive a card from my godson in Chattanooga. I thank his mother for sharing this wonderful son with me for more than 20 years now!!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Better

Bronchoscopy was done this morning. Got lots of stuff out of my lungs, some had been there a long time. I got to watch on the screen, fascinating - also got to see my larynx as the tube came out. AND, I CAN BREATHE, really breathe. I can't remember when I could breathe this well. Specimens of what they took out have been sent for analysis. No evidence of cancer. Procedure made easy because of tech and nurse (both male) who explained everything as we went and we did a lot of joking.

I've eaten food forbidden until tomorrow with no ill effects so far. Didn't want soup. I even was able to sing a little coming home.

What hope! when I felt hopeless. I could just have this done periodically and I'd be happy. Doc changed some of my medicine around based on what happened this week when the wind was blowing and I was miserable. Particulate matter more than allergy. So, we're at least trying something different for now.

Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

You Are 27 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

This is really weird since I'm in my 60s.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Disability and prayers

Hmmmm. I’ve been reading some of the sites listed over at Dancing Through Doorways – about disability, particularly autism. One site was particularly disturbing: Autism: Getting the Truth Out. Disturbing in the sense that I don’t know many autistic people and that I am so ignorant of their circumstances. I saw a segment on television some time ago about an autistic musician, probably on 60 Minutes, and was impressed by his musical ability. I didn’t think much about the rest of his life. But, then we never think much about the rest of anyone’s life, do we?

While the articles on another site seemed dated, one by an adult who had been in the closet (of autism) for most of her life struck me personally. She talked about high functioning and how she learned to talk about her disability in ways that did not alarm people or provoke pity. She has incorporated their expectations and their acceptable mannerisms into herself until she felt she no longer knew who she was.

Many of us do that. And, many of us have disabilities that we cover well or deny. That denial will get you in the end.

I’ve had respiratory problems all my life. I lived much of my life as a high functioning respiratory disabled person. There, I’ve said it. I am and have long been disabled. I’ve lost many jobs because I got sick and couldn’t get well in their set length of time. I’ve worked in states where discrimination is difficult to prove, especially when you deny to yourself that you are disabled.

Right now, I’m a low-functioning respiratorily disabled person. A good diagnosis on Friday and an extended weight loss program may bring me back to medium-functioning. May.

I am not obviously disabled. People do not shun me. Employers would hire me, but they would also let me go when the extended illness came. I am bright and loved (what blessings), and I have all the physical things that I need in life (more blessings). I do not have self-esteem. I have to pretend that I will get well, when the truth is that I don’t know if I will ever be better than now. Perhaps. The Friday procedure should tell us something.

What I have to accept is that I am disabled. Ten years ago my pastor, with whom I shared an office, said that I should apply for disability. I was horrified. I wasn’t disabled. I was just sick and I would be well again. Untrue. I got better, but I never regained all my strength of body or immune system. Last week a friend suggested that I apply for disability. I was silent, not wanting to hurt her feelings because she is disabled as a result of an auto accident. I didn’t feel that I was disabled. Not me. I can do it. I will get well. Untrue. I will never be well. I may get lots better, especially if I lose weight, but I am respiratorily disabled and I will continue to be for the rest of my life.

That’s so hard to accept. It’s not my vision of self. Just as the autistic woman said that others’ visions of herself was not her vision. My vision doesn’t fit others’ visions either; I’m in denial big time.

Perhaps some of my adventurousness during my earlier years was in part due to the fact that I knew I had to live it all as quickly as I could. Someday I wouldn’t be able to do those things. Someday I might be stuck inside just because the wind is blowing hard.

My communication with God slides among three perspectives – prayers for others, pity for myself and gratitude. Drop in an occasional amazement, and there you have it. God and I had a talk the other night about my weight. I heard in my heart that I’m not ready yet, and I heard in my heart that I haven’t developed the discipline that losing the weight would take. It wasn’t going away by itself. God would help, but I had to do my part, and I wasn’t doing anything except feeling pitiful. (Twelve steps programs would say, “Margaret, you have to act as if..”)

Same with respiratory problems. I wasn’t doing everything I could to alleviate the symptoms. I could do better. And, I have done better on that, Thanks be to God. I take my medicine, I use my inhalers, I stay out of the wind, I use dust masks (awful things – make your nose run), and I still feel sorry for myself.

I can’t get out of this rut. So, readers, I need some prayers – for depression, for hope, for a significant outcome of the Friday bronchoscopy, for the courage to go to Weight Watchers, for a way out of this rut that I can and will take. I have so much good in my life; I want to get out of this pity me scheme, look reality (if it exists) in the face, and go on with what I can do. Thanks.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Railroad Tressel Bridge

For Juanuchi:


This railroad tressel (funny, MSWord keeps trying to correct that spelling to trestle, and maybe they are right, but I like it this way) is located over the Tombigbee River near Columbus, Mississippi, a town in which I lived off and on for much of my life. From early college days until I was past 40, I climbed and walked on this bridge with all manner of friends and one husband/then ex-husband.

It was a turn bridge at one time with the giant cogs and wheels still underneath. We actually got it to move a couple of inches once, but quickly restored it to the smooth rails that would keep the trains moving safely. We often climbed over the side and onto the huge round concrete pilings that held the bridge in place – sat on the wheels and lost ourselves in the roar of the trains that passed a few feet above our heads. Times now when I still wish I could lose myself in that noise and vibration.

The bridge is gone, making way for the Tenn-Tom Waterway – an enterprise designed to allow barges to haul goods up and down the river from the Gulf of Mexico to Ohio and beyond. All the wonderful old bridges are gone now. I miss them.

Of course, I don’t live there any longer, and my agility in climbing over the side (especially after the dock incident several days ago) is questionable. But, I’d probably try. I’m fresh out of new outlook on life. I’ve used up all the hope I have for right now. I’m ready for an infusion from the future or the past. I want angel wings from either direction. I’ll settle for ghosts or speaking stars.

But, I’m always fascinated at how the rails come together at certain points to allow the train to change tracts. I’m at one of these points when I must not stop and get stuck at the intersection, but I must go on and figure out which road is mine. Unfortunately, that’s not my story to tell right now. The doctors need to finish their story before I can decide which part of this train track is mine – getting well or just going on. How sick am I? How well am I? Which is likely to prevail? How long?

I’m not even looking for control any longer. I just want to quit being stuck on this blasted point, not knowing which way to go. Living it day by day is not my style or ability (at least for longer than 15 minutes).

So, I dwell on the faces that accompanied me as I played on this bridge and in the woods and lake nearby. I see them as they were then – some 20 years ago. I see me as I was then, too. I claim that hope and that joy to keep me going until I can find some more of my own in the here and now. Thanks, friends.



Bridge over the Tombigbee River approx. 1978

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tuesday Bird Blogging


Living on a creek in North Carolina offers some amazing views of wildlife - mostly birds and lizards. Today has been no exception. This cormorant (possibly close cousin to a cormorant, I don't know) sat on the stump at the end of the promontory across from out house...for hours. Finally I found the camera with the telephoto lens and took its picture. It was looking away from me because two jet skis were approaching. He only moved his head to watch them pass.

Then, I saw the osprey's head peeking over the top of the nest; so I tried another shot. Maybe you can see that dot of white; the nest has gotten deeper since last year. I don't know if she has eggs or not, but she's certainly alert to anything going on in the creek.

Walking back to the house I met a six or seven in lime green lizard - so brightly colored that I was startled. For two years, I've had a buddy chameleon, but he was not so large. He would appear at eye level when I was walking through the gate, and I would stop to talk with him. He must have liked me because he'd put out his orange under-neck and stay as long as I talked to him. I saw him every day that I was outside. This bright darling was shy and hid in the latticework so that all I could see was the tip of his tail. As I talked to it, the head gradually appeared, then drew back. Perhaps I shall I have a friend this year as well. This one did not stay still long enough for a photo - especially not with the telephoto lens.