Thursday, January 23, 2020

Today's Crisis Taught Me That I'm 'Neurotic'

Today's little crisis that sent me searching through online research for ways to fix myself has, in all honesty, been building up to this moment for a long time.  The most immediate trigger being tomorrow's appointment with an orthopedic specialist because I have what they call advanced degenerative arthritis in my right knee.  The same right knee that I've been complaining about for more years than I can even remember.  The same right knee that every previous doctor has said the only thing wrong with it is I'm too damned fat.

I don't want to be fat.  I've tried endlessly not to be fat.  But here we are at an utter impasse:  I am still too damned fat.

And I'm not too proud to tell you about the negative effects this has on me.

  • It means that every doctor I see grabs for the prescription pad.  Well, ok... they rush to today's electronic version of a prescription pad.  There's a pill for blood pressure. There's a pill for pain.  There's a pill for depression.  Sometimes it seems like there's a pill they want to prescribe just because there's a pill!  And my internal psyche interprets every single one of them as further evidence that I am defective.
  • It means I can never buy clothes that are cute.  No one even expects it of me; I think they are just happy that I can find something to keep all the blubber covered.
  • It means my job prospects are limited.  Limited not just because my knee is so worn out that I can't bear to walk or stand on it for more than a few minutes at a time, but there are places my body mass can't squeeze into (not that that is all bad... most of those tight little spaces would be in fast food establishments and ewww! Lord, no!!)
  • It means my recreational opportunities are limited, again not just from the crapped out knee but also because it takes a lot of huffing and puffing to even go shopping.  A hike would kill me!  And many activities come with weight restrictions to keep machinery functioning safely.  So there are thousands of things I would love to do, but simply cannot.
  • It makes me feel ugly and unattractive.  I've got classes coming up that require posting videos of myself which my instructors and fellow students will watch and respond to.  That's terrifying!
So... I look horrible.  I feel physically awful most of the time.  And the only time I don't feel bad emotionally is when I'm asleep.

More than one person has hinted they think I'm depressed.  I don't think so, or, if I am I contend that sometimes depression is an appropriate response when life continually throws one to the wolves.  Willing to explore the idea, though, I followed several links and ended up reading a  Psychology Today article titled Four Kinds of Depression and Self-Hate that might shed some clues into what's malfunctioning inside my head.  It says that in neurotic depression the conflict is internal and it's like you are moving "through life as if you are a short-tempered nanny with an ugly or annoying baby. Your depressive lens for interpreting the reactions of other people makes you want them to agree with you that the baby is an intolerable burden."

That analogy is so spot on that it made me pause and blink.  More than a few times, even.  But the next paragraph is the one that made me cry...

"When others treat you well, you resent it, like a nanny watching the usually inconsolable baby cooing in someone else’s arms. If a therapist suggests you treat yourself better, it enrages you, because it implies that this is your fault and not a natural reaction to the little brat you happen to be saddled with. You want the therapist to give the baby a sedative."

In another article, Psychology Today suggests cognitive behavioral therapy and practicing mindfulness may help one become less neurotic over time.  And in still another, this one titled Mindfulness, they accentuate the positive aspects of living in active, open attention to the present; of observing your thoughts and feelings without judging them as either good or bad.  I think they may have forgotten the big one, at least in how it all relates to me and my crisis moment:  just suck it up and deal with the problem.

More about that in a moment.

I wanted to tell you about my path to these self-reflections, even they aren't altogether kind, because there's some really good material to read if you are also quietly trying to work on yourself.  It all started when I clicked into a Marc and Angel article that was shared on Facebook: 20 Things to Start Doing in Your Relationships.  #1 made me realize that sometimes I am that negative person I need to stop hanging out with.  Then I jumped over to a linked article:  9 Things it’s Not Too Late to Start Doing for Yourself.  This time it was #2 that sent me to Google 'core values' and that led me to My 2016 Integrity Report.  The content is good but it's the well-explained thought process that really provides the value.

So about me being too damned fat... I made an appointment with my doctor to see what medical interventions might be available because nothing I've done on my own has helped even a little bit.  Here's to whatever adventure Tuesday launches!

Saturday, January 18, 2020

HLC Restaurantware

If you read about  The Gawd Awful yesterday, you might have noticed the cute little platter I served myself on.  I have 2 of them and they found their way into my kitchen as new-to-me pieces just a couple of days ago.  I picked them up at an independent thrift store... 2 tiny platters for $1.  I probably would have paid more since I'd already seen the marking on the back for the Homer Laughlin China Company but the dollar made me feel like I'd made a real thrifting score!

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This purchase both thrilled and intrigued me.  I wasn't quite sure yet what I'd picked up, but with that mark, I was pretty sure I couldn't go too far wrong.  And besides, I need a few plates.  And these are tiny and cute...  And they called my name, saying "I must go home with you!"
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Just to give you a sense of the size, I picked up a McDonald's straw that was handy (don't judge; I was in the car and it hasn't been cleaned out... in a while) and laid it lengthwise.  The straw is just slightly longer than the platter!  They truly are tiny!!

I knew the brand because I'm a small-time collector of Fiesta with dreams of having enough to set a table for 8 with all the serving pieces, too.  But like I said at the beginning, I didn't really know what I'd just picked up so I asked about them in an HLC enthusiast group on Facebook.  That's where a more veteran collector confirmed that it's Restaurantware, sometimes called Hospitalityware since it is sold broadly to both hotels and restaurants all around the United States.  It's known for its durability.  But I did have to chuckle when someone commented that they were "sturdy" and meant for daily use.

Well, I do believe in using the nice things I collect.  And in-between times when it's being used on the table, I will proudly display it with my Fiesta (which I also use!) even if it is kind of like the red-headed stepchild whose Momma came from the wrong side of the tracks!

Friday, January 17, 2020

The Gawd Awful

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My version of The Gawd Awful

On the occasional Saturday morning when I lived in Salt Lake, I'd go out to breakfast at this tiny, quaint... urrrrrrr ok, you got me.  It was a nasty dive bar.  But they served a full breakfast-lunch-dinner menu so it didn't seem quite so bad. Catering to college student's desire for cheap food and beer, Big Ed's was right across from President's Circle at the U of U.  By the time I was frequenting the joint, Ed was long gone having sold it to a very animated and often angry Asian woman and her shy and sullen son. One of their breakfast specials was a dish they named 'The Gawd Awful.' And that's usually what I ordered... a plate of cheesy hashbrowns smothered in a big scoop of chili and topped with 2 eggs, sour cream and (usually) chopped green onion.  And then I settled in to watch the show.

A visit to Big Ed's was always entertaining.  Another friend remembers going there with her class under the auspices that they were "studying,' i.e. talking social theory until the professor was too tipsy to speak coherently.  And that's usually when someone would provoke the Asian lady and she'd start cussing and lapsing in and out of very broken English and what I think might have been Vietnamese.  Soaking wet bar towels would go flying across the room making a loud thwap when they found a target, either intentional or an unfortunate casualty.  At least once, I saw her use one to smack her son side of the head.  And then almost as quickly as it started the whirlwind calmed and she was playing the dysfunctional mom/friend to anyone who looked like they needed a bit of motherly care or bad advice.

I'm not quite sure what brought that memory up but today I made my version of The Gawd Awful for breakfast.  There's a few ingredients and steps but it's really pretty easy.  Start with a large portion of crisply cooked hashbrowns.  They can be shredded or the country-style cubes like I used, whatever you prefer.  When they are ready and all plated up, cover with grated cheese and dip a ladle of chili con carne over the top.  Next, add an egg cooked as you like.  I scrambled mine (and mixed them right into the potatoes at the beginning) this time but in the cafe, I usually asked for them over medium.  Finally, garnish with a dollop of sour cream and, if you like them and have some handy, a sprinkle of chopped green onion.  And there you have it:  The Gawd Awful in all it's dive bar glory!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas Eggs

Colored or painted hard-boiled eggs are more common at Easter, so these six eggs I received for Christmas this year came as a surprise.  I think the story behind them is so sweet, though, that I'm going to adopt the tradition and make it my own!

Each of these eggs carries not just a primitive seasonal illustration but a virtue that when practiced help one to become a more Christ-like person.  It's a not-so-pushy reminder to carry the spirit of the Christmas season into the new year and strive for more peace, love, hope, faith, contentment, and gratitude in your life.

That was enough for me to decide it needed to be my new tradition...

Looking for a little more 'meat' for the story, I wondered if there was any special meaning that eggs might hold.  According to the authors of the Symbolism Project at the University of Michigan, an egg "symbolizes a primeval embryonic form from which the world later emerged... an image of totality enclosed within a shell."  Cool... but pretty deep.  I also learned that eggs have a more mainstream religious significance.  Depending on the path you follow they could symbolize fertility, eternity, or Jesus' emergence from the tomb triumphant over death. Interesting, but kind of a stretch for Christmas.

Tonight's Hallmark movie told me "Traditions are the stories a family tells together."  And there is more to this story!

I called to thank the elderly couple who gave them to me and learned that when their children were small, they had a hard time slowing them down for breakfast on Christmas morning so they started putting breakfast in their stockings.  Along with the expected small toys and candy, they found mini boxes of cereal or granola bars, fresh fruit, hot chocolate packets, and boiled eggs. 
It got their kids to slow down just a little and eat breakfast in the midst of the present opening frenzy.  

Then one year they had a guest stay with them over the holiday season... a man from India who'd converted to Christianity. 
On Christmas Eve, he crept down after the family had gone to sleep and fished out all the eggs and painted beautiful images of the Christmas season on them.  That was the gift he could afford to give them for sharing their hospitality.  She said he was quite the talented artist and they'd tried to keep the painted parts of the shells but they were too fragile. 
The man fell ill and passed away and, while not nearly as artistically talented as he had been, they decided to keep the practice of painting the eggs in their Christmas stockings alive in his honor. 

Now their kids are grown and moved away and have grown children of their own so they are sharing this wonderful legacy and tradition with others.

I was lucky enough to be a recipient this year!  And next year I will be passing it on!!

The horrible, awful, terrible year...

2019 was the most horrible, awful, terrible year of my life and I have some doozies of bad years in my history.  I can hardly wait to be done with it and start fresh again with January's clean slate.  2020 is going to be a year of starting from scratch.

The first fresh start is a new place to live.  I've secured an apartment for me and Lightning and Gizmo.  We get to start moving in on December 27.  I don't have much to furnish or decorate with so the look is likely to be an ever-changing version of "Secondhand Chic" as I can upgrade our stuff.

One of the most exciting things about being fully on my own again is cooking my own food.  I've pretty much decided that my first meal in the new place is going to be soup.  But I keep changing my mind about what kind of soup it will be... Chicken Noodle?  Creamy Potato?  Navy Beans with Ham (and some cornbread)?

I'm also interviewing for a job that I'm really excited about.  It would be a huge departure from both my previous work experience and education but I KNOW I would make a heck of a good General Manager at a local Co-op that focuses on locally produced food and other goods.  The variety of foods being made close to home is pretty amazing with gourmet cheeses, maple syrup, lunchmeats, and honey topping my personal favorites.  It's so fun to discover more!

And I'm taking another stab at school... SNHU has a Master's of Counseling that I can enroll in for the quickly upcoming January semester and in 3-5 years have the credentials for LCSW licensure.  The distance between Maryland and New Hampshire presents some challenges but I'm hopeful they can be worked out.

My health also remains a focus area that carries over from the old year into the new.  There's still lots of fallout from the big PE (pulmonary embolism) event in November I'm thankful to have scored what's by far the best health insurance I've ever had in my whole life.  And I plan on taking advantage of that for as long as I can!

As if all that isn't enough... I really want 2020 to be a year filled with fun and adventure!  I want to see new places and try new things.  Things I've wanted to do for years but could never quite get done like learning to fly fish are at the top of my list.  If I can get the knees into shape I'd also like to bicycle the 15 miles of the GAP Trail that runs between Frostburg, MD, and Meyersdale, PA.  GAP means Great Allegheny (or Allegany since we spell it differently in Maryland than they do in Pennsylvania) Passage where it crosses the Eastern Continental Divide.  And I want to take a mushroom foraging class, crochet the temperature afghan that I worked so hard to track daily temperatures for all of 2018 and get my finances situated to buy a house in 2021.

Please help me stay on track by asking about these things throughout the year!