We Are All Damaged

I went through a bit of a rough patch again when some new abuse came to light. It started an avalanche of emotions that almost consumed me. It was then that I decided that I needed to address these issues and find coping strategies. Pushing them down and hoping they go away hasn’t been effective. Sure, I have sought counseling in the past, and journaled, which have been helpful, but it seems only for the short term. There are always two parts of me during these moments; the rational part that tells me that the abuse wasn’t my fault; and the emotional part that tells me that the abuse had to be my fault, that there must be something wrong with me, and that I am unworthy of love. The emotional part always overrides the rational part, therefore, I need to find mechanisms to deal with the over-bearing and dominating emotional part of me.

As you may recall, counseling was on the list of steps I needed to take in order to reclaim my self worth and learn to love myself again. I also wanted to learn coping strategies and acquire tools to better manage the after effects from the years of abuse I suffered at the hands of others throughout my life. Well, I recently reached out to a counselor online and have been speaking with her all week. This method might seem a bit unorthodox for some, but I find that it is quite effective. It is also convenient because I don’t have to leave the house to have a counseling session. This is a good thing for me especially considering the circumstances with being laid up at the moment because of the torn ligaments in my foot. I also don’t have to book an appointment, sit in a waiting room, get dressed, or leave the house. There is also a sense of anonymity and safety involved in not having to sit in front of a complete stranger as I tell them my deepest, darkest secrets. When placed in situations like that I become nervous, forget things, stumble over my words and become extremely emotional. It becomes difficult to express myself through the flood of emotions and ensuing waterfall of tears. With this online counseling I find it far easier to express my inner thoughts and feelings. I simply have to send a message at my leisure and wait for a response. I’m loving it! I am finding it very effective and actually feel better after even just a few sessions.

One of the other things on my list was to go to the doctor, which I honestly haven’t done yet. Soon though, very soon. In an effort to simplify things, and better explain what has been going on with my health, I wrote a list of symptoms to take to the doctor. I am really hoping that this list will be helpful in determining what is going on with me. Trying to sit there and explain everything, in a very brief period of time, in a hectic doctor’s office, would be futile on my part. I always get flustered and forget things, or, like the counseling scenario, I become emotional and cry. This list can be read by the doctor within a mere couple minutes and fully explains what I have been experiencing. Where I go from there who knows. What answers I receive, who is to say, but at least I may finally get some answers.

I have been reading positive affirmations everyday to remind myself how special I am, how loved I am, and how beautiful I am both inside and out. These have been helpful in reclaiming my positive out look on life. Regardless of what struggles I have had over the course of my life, I refuse to be viewed as a victim. I am strong. I am a survivor. All those struggles gave me scars that I am proud to wear. All those struggles, all that abuse, all those tough times, have made me grateful for all that I have and who I have become. I know they always say not to let the abuse define you, but how can it not? Maybe, more realistically, it should be to not let the abuse define you in a negative way. Don’t allow it to overcome you, consume you, and drag you down. It can, and will, however become part of you. You can allow it to make you a better person and be grateful for the small things in life. You can let it teach you empathy for others in similar situations and help you better understand that we all suffer our own daily struggles. You can either learn from it and grow as a person, or you can choose to allow it to control you. Personally, I prefer to grow as a person, work to become a better me everyday and use my experiences to help others. One of my favorite reads as of late was the following excerpt from a book that I want to read called ‘The Warrior: Trailblazer of Truth’. I stumbled onto it on a social media site and find it intriguing.

“For TOO LONG you have allowed the past to affect you!
For TOO LONG you have taken personally what others say about you!
For TOO LONG you have stood on the sidelines watching others thrive!
For TOO MANY NIGHTS you have gone to bed worrying about what may be.
For TOO LONG you have held a fear in your heart.
For TOO LONG you have settled for second best!!

NOW is the time to awaken!
NOW is the time to shine!
NOW is the time to ACCEPT that you are DIVINE!!”

“This is my message for you – allow it to touch the deepest parts of your being – to help you awaken to the truth – that you do deserve to live a GREAT life – and whatever that means for you!” (Excerpt from book: THE WARRIOR: Trailblazer of Truth – available now at: http://publishing.templeofbalance.com/thewarrior.html)

Is that a powerful message or what?! I want to read more!

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Random Acts of Kindness

In my last note I spoke of people helping others which is what today’s rant is about. I want to discuss Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK). In the society we live in people help each other and this is wonderful. However, is it really necessary to post all over social media that you bought someone a cup of coffee?! Really? Posts go crazy and people are treated like heroes, it’s absurd. It’s like everyone wants to have their moment in the spotlight. Everyone wants to be a hero or end up in the news for something. A hundred years ago people rode horses for days on end through snowstorms, battling the elements and wild creatures just to go help a neighbor build a fence or do repairs around their home. They never expected a thank you, or to become front page news. It was just something that people did for each other, to survive.

In today’s society a RAOK isn’t done without it becoming plastered all over social media. I don’t brag all over the place and expect a ticker tape parade for helping someone. I have sent friends grocery gift cards when they had nothing. Family and friends I have given my last few dollars so they could buy groceries or pay bills. It never occurred to me that I might need it. They needed it more. The last time I did this my bank account went in the red and two of my payments bounced. I thought of my friend first who had no money, was out of food, and needed it. I have helped raise money and donations for Big Brothers Big Sisters, QDMHA, The Quesnel Millionaires. I took in donations for my friend and her five daughters who lost everything in a house fire. I have sat up on countless evenings and helped talk friends through difficult times. I come see my parents every month and do laundry and housework because they can’t do everything they used to. I gave up the new camera I wanted so bad and dreamed of to help my parents out by buying them firewood and groceries. I have babysat for friends for free. Fed neighborhood kids home baked treats. I have donated clothing, books, and household items to the Salvation Army, to a local shelter, to poverty stricken families, those that have lost items in a fire, and to Aimhi. I have given money to the kettle ringers and taken them cups of hot chocolate to keep warm. I have given money to street patrons in need. I have donated bags of toys to the local elementary school and volunteered my time at a multitude of school functions. I have given money to someone in the local dollar store who had no money to buy a drink or snack. I have taken friends flowers at work. Given random strangers scratch tickets. I didn’t expect a thank you because that isn’t why I did it. The act of kindness was enough. I made me feel good.

Nowadays it seems like these acts of kindness have to be done with a spotlight on you. Heck, we even have a name for them. Years ago it was just something people did for each other. In today’s society it needs a label. Why can’t we just help each other without expecting anything in return? When you are posting all over social media what you did we all know full well that you didn’t do it without wanting recognition. Can’t we do things for each other without expecting a pat on the back for it?

Helping Hands?

Recently I re-posted something on social media about the refugees coming to Canada and how money is being raised to help them. This is quite a controversy right now and a lot of people are quite unhappy about it. The comments I received were in favor of helping these families and I received a bit of flack over it. I only re-posted what was out there already, I didn’t start it. I wasn’t trying to start an argument either. I know there is a lot of controversy over this and I honestly don’t know how I feel about it either way. I’m all about helping others, but sometimes I feel like our own country is so worried about helping others that they don’t have the time, the effort or the resources to help their own. Yes, there is social safety nets like welfare but when was the last time you heard of someone allowing a Canadian family to live rent free because they couldn’t afford rent. How many homeless people are out there? That aren’t being helped? Or starving children in our own community? These seem to get overlooked and we are left helping each other while our government spends billions of dollars to help other countries.

Funding gets cut everywhere to the agencies that are in place to help those in need. Those agencies rely heavily on donations from their local community just to help those in need.. Yet many of the ones helping and donating time, money, food and clothing are barely able to survive themselves. The cost of everything is constantly rising: groceries, housing, and utilities, etc. We live in a country where companies like BC Hydro can shut off our hydro for refusing to have a smart meter installed. Where they can ding us extra on our bills just for refusing to have a smart meter installed. In a country where it is illegal for someone to move off the grid and not pay out to the these huge utility companies that gouge us every month with outrageous bills and we can’t do anything about it. Where the government seems to be able to control our every move and we can do nothing to stop it.

In our local communities you will find homeless people living inside bank entrances and inside the bathroom at the public library trying to stay warm. They are there because the homeless shelters fill up fast once the temperature drops and they have nowhere else to go. These people don’t ask to be homeless. They can’t afford the cost of housing on the little bit of money they do receive from the government. Homeless shelters can only accommodate so many people because they only have so much space and so much food to go around. Yet funding for organizations that help these homeless are constantly getting cut. Refugee families are welcomed with open arms, given money, food and shelter. Yes, it is nice to help these families but shouldn’t we also be helping the homeless and poverty stricken in our own community. We have food drives at Christmas, we donate money or food or clothing but how far does that go to get to the root of the problem? It is only a band-aid affect and does nothing for the long term solution. It doesn’t address the underlying issues with poverty and homelessness.

We live in a country where we are taxed to death on everything and everything is considered illegal. Crime rates go up and I wonder why. Could it be because the cost of basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter and utilities are constantly increasing? Our money doesn’t stretch as far and most people can’t afford to live, regardless of how hard or how much they work. We live in a society where no matter how hard you try to get ahead you are knocked off your feet and kicked back down with an outrageous bill at the grocery store, or an outrageous utility bill. And heaven forbid we think of living off the grill because that is illegal! It wasn’t illegal a hundred years ago to not have hydro hooked up at your home, but in today’s society you are penalized if you want to live out in the country and sustain yourself. What is our world coming to?! What about hundred years ago when people came here and started farms and ranches? It wasn’t illegal for them to not pay utilities so why should it be illegal now? The government and utilities companies are gouging us and we can’t do anything about it.

We live in a society where utility companies can gouge us on basic services and we just have to bend over and take it! Smart Meters are forced upon people so that BC Hydro can monitor where our electricity consumption is going. If one of these new meters is refused then you either get cut off hydro or you pay a fee of $32.40 per month to not have the meter installed. If you don’t want the meter to transmit signals to hydro, then this can be disconnected, but you have to pay a fee of $20 per month for this “service”. They know when and where in our homes we use electricity. When we use our microwave, a hair dryer or are watching tv. This is supposed to be for our own good. The cost of these services have increased and sky rocketed over the years and people can no longer afford to heat their homes or sit in a lit room. These smart meters transmit radio frequency signals to other meters in the surrounding area and bounce off them, before finally being transmitted to the BC Hydro wires. Which means that anywhere along the line if something goes wrong, you pay the price. And if something is blocking your meter then it reads the frequency of the meter next to it and bills you for that consumption. That’s crazy! Who is to say the neighbor’s meter doesn’t have something wrong with it?! Oh, and let’s not forget that these smart meters can be hacked by anyone with a bit of tech savvy and a program that you can download off the internet. Giving home invaders the knowledge of when you are home or not! This is an invasion of privacy and a violation of our rights. Where is our free choice in this? We are forced to pay for a service that we need in order to survive. Oh, and let’s discuss this Rate Rider of 5% that is also added to our bill each month. A fee that is added “to recover additional and unpredictable costs in our regulatory accounts. For example, higher energy costs associated with low water inflows and higher-than-forecast market prices. The Rate Rider is applied to the total of all charges, before taxes and levies.” So, basically a fee that covers the cost of unforseen circumstances such as rate hikes on hydro and natural disasters?! Am I getting that right? Plus 5% extra for the government, you know they have to get their cut. No wonder they do nothing to stop utility companies like this. They too, get a slice of the pie. Sickening!

Here in BC most people, unless you are under a certain income level, pay for medical premiums. MSP is great but still unaffordable for most. The premiums paid each month are still based on income. Often that income is from the year before and believe me, a lot can change in a year! One year you are doing great, work is steady and the bills are getting paid. The following year maybe work is slower, or you were laid off, then what? You still have to pay the premiums and if you don’t your phone won’t stop ringing off the hook from Revenue Canada trying to collect their money. If you don’t pay it is sent to collection or your tax return is kept. More money that you worked so bloody hard for, that you were taxed to death on, and taken again. Sometimes we are left with the choice of paying the rent or paying the bills. I know in my experience the money isn’t always there for both and we are lucky to have scraped by. Sometimes, well a lot of times, MSP premiums can’t get paid. This is isn’t because we don’t want to pay them, it’s because other bills like rent and hydro come first. It’s either don’t pay, and don’t see a doctor. Or don’t pay hydro and freeze in the dead of winter. Nobody should have to make that choice. Medical is a great thing to have and it’s great that we have such great services here in BC, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I don’t need the extra stress of constant calls from bill collectors when I am already stressed beyond belief about other bills and basic survival.

We live in a society where the government can monitor our every move. There is video surveillance everywhere we go in malls, stores, restaurants and in the workplace. It is always for our own good or to protect someone. Shit, we can’t even pick our nose or pull out a wedgy in public anymore without it being caught on camera! And if you get just the right person monitoring that camera, it could be broadcast worldwide on the internet! The government can wire tap our phones if they suspect us of illegal activity. Even a small suspicion. Where is our privacy? Not everyone is a criminal but if the economy keeps up the way it is a lot of good people will be forced to do things I’m sure they never thought they would do.

In no way am I encouraging crime, theft or vandalism and in no way to I support or endorse bullying. And, yes, by all means help people from war torn countries but stop gouging us Canadians that live here. Help our own as well and don’t rely on us to help each other when we ourselves can barely survive on what we have. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like we live in a free country. It feels more like we live in a dictatorship.

Refresh

I have to admit that I am guilty of making New Year’s resolutions every single year and each year I get the same results. I tell myself every year that this will be the year that I will lose weight, eat better, and get more exercise. I tell myself that I will be in the best shape of my life! Every year I fail miserably at this! I think this might be because I am putting too much pressure on myself to be something or somebody that I will never be.

This year I have not made a single resolution because I realize that what I have been doing clearly hasn’t been working. This year will be the year that I REFRESH my self worth because that truly is the root of all my evil and it has led me down the path of self destruction on too many occasions to even count.

There will be several steps involved in my journey to self worth and self love.

1.) Doctor, Physiotherapist, and Massage Therapy: Get my butt to the doctor to address my multitude of health problems. I’m really good at telling others to go see a doctor but won’t follow my own advice. I need some answers and need to find solutions. Once I have those answers then I can take steps to become healthier.

2.) Communication: I need to communicate more with my husband, my friends, family, etc. I have to stop keeping things bottled up and trying to solve everything on my own.This is a weakness, not a strength. They are there to help and support me. It is okay to lean on them once in awhile. It is okay to ask for help.

3.) Counseling: Seek counseling to address the years of , mental, verbal, physical and sexual abuse. I have sought counseling in the past, journaled and written poetry, all of which have helped. However, I still have triggers and unresolved emotional scarring that I need to talk about. My last trigger was just before Christmas when more abuse came to light and I discovered that my great grandmother beat me with a 2×4 when she was babysitting. I was only 6 months old at the time. This started an avalanche of emotions and made me wonder what was wrong with me that from the time I was just a baby I was abused by those that were supposed to love and protect me. My aunt, my great-grandmother, my uncle, my sister, my paternal grandmother, boyfriends, bosses and co-workers have all abused, bullied and tormented me. It is so hard to not think there is something wrong with me and that I must deserve it. This is the core of my self worth issues.

4.) Positive affirmations everyday: I need to remind myself of how unique, wonderful and loved I am.

5.) Stop comparing myself to others. I find myself doing this with everything: my photography isn’t as good as so and so, my cooking isn’t good enough, I’m fatter than so and so, etc, etc.

6). Accountability: I have started a Food Journal in order to hold myself accountable for my weight gain. I know it isn’t just about the food I eat, but this is a place to start.

My hope is that going to the doctor will give me some much needed answers on what on earth is going on with me. My health is not good and I am far too young to feel the aches and pains that I do.

My medical issues are something I have kept to myself because I didn’t want to scare or worry anyone. I felt that everyone had enough of their own crap to deal with that they didn’t need me piling on more. This is where the support comes in from friends, family, my husband and so forth. I’m scared of the answers the doctor may give me. I’m scared that the years of abuse have done irreversible damage.Yet, at the same time I am hoping that a trip to the chiropractor will fix the back and neck issues. Maybe my back being out is putting pressure on my chest. Maybe it is as simple and as complicated as that? I’m going to get my thyroid checked in the hopes that could be causing the weight gain. A doctor in McBride years ago told me that my thyroid might be the cause. I moved before I got any answers. My attempts at exercise and eating healthier have been futile up until this point. I can lose weight with a lot of effort, but it comes back fast and furious.

Seeking counseling will hopefully help me understand the abuse. And hopefully get some tools to deal with the triggers. The logical part of me knows that it wasn’t my fault. The emotional part leads me to believe that there is something wrong with me. I need to talk about it to someone else instead of feeling like I need to do it alone.This in combination with positive affirmations will help to build my self worth so that I can love myself again.

I need to realize that I am good enough. My photography is good. I have a vision that many don’t. I work with the point and shoot camera that I have. I don’t need an expensive, top-of-the-line camera to take good pictures. Although I still really want one so I can take better pictures! My cooking is good.I don’t need to be a world class chef. I don’t need the finest ingredients to feed my family. I work with what I have and make delicious meals.

I don’t need to be a model to be loved. I’m not a model and I will never grace the front cover of a magazine. Why should I feel like I have to live up to these unrealistic images of beauty that the media puts out there?! Even models get airbrushed in Photoshop which shows us just how sad and unrealistic this expectation and this vision of beauty and perfection is.

Nobody is perfect and that is what makes us unique. Regardless of size, of height, or weight, we all deserve to be loved. I work within my means and utilize what I have been given. I am happy with what I have and what I accomplish with it.

The medical issues, the weight gain, and the years of abuse are all interlinked. Therefore many steps need to be taken simultaneously in order for me to address the issues of my self worth and self love.

Playing Catch Up

Geez, it has been a year apparently, since I last wrote in here. With, of course, the exception of the post I put up earlier today. Life has been rather busy for us over the past several months.

In June we moved into our new place and love it! No drunk neighbors, no neighbor partying all night and keeping us awake all hours of the night. No junk and garbage all over the yard. And landlords that actually not only care about their rental property, but who also care about their tenants. Repairs are done quickly and more are in the works because they want to make the place look nice. So happy about this! These types of landlords are a rarity in my experience as a renter.

Shortly after moving in it rained a lot! Torrential downpours that didn’t seem to want to end. The old roof gave out in the one spare room upstairs, the roof sagged and started leaking in the closet. Luckily, not much was ruined. Due to mold concerns and not knowing the extent of the damage to the roof inside, our landlord moved us into the empty unit adjacent to ours. We remained there until repairs were done, damage was assessed, and mold was removed.

At the end of September, or beginning of October, we moved back into our place. The repairs were completed in the room that had been leaking so we were given the go-ahead to move home. Of course, that involved scrubbing the place down first and shampooing the carpets to ensure we had gotten rid of any mold spores so that it didn’t affect my health. Once our stuff was moved back in the unit that we had been staying in next door had to be cleaned. Then the process of unpacking began. We moved three times in about as many months. One doesn’t realize how much stuff they have until they start moving. I’m not a pack rat, by any means either and am constantly donating stuff or having garage sales in an attempt to downsize. Yet, I still have too much stuff, ugh. I have no desire to move again anytime soon!

It’s been a bit of a rough go since moving into our new place. I was determined to get unpacked, organized, and all settled in as quickly as possible. I wanted to make our home look nice so I started painting the upstairs bedrooms and the hallway. However, my back had other ideas and decided that it wasn’t going to cooperate. I threw my back out and was laid up for about a month. I was confined to the sofa and couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even walk. It was so bad that I had to crawl even to the bathroom.

I have suffered chronic back pain for years, but this last time really made me realize that it is time to have the pain addressed. I think the years of abuse have really messed up my back, and neck, which has caused pain in my hips and knees. I have left it because I was always either busy, or couldn’t afford it. At the moment I can’t really use either excuse. I’m still not working, so time isn’t an issue. I plan to see a chiropractor soon because Kyle has good coverage through his union at work. I’m hoping to return to the work force at some point, but with the pain I can’t (and Kyle won’t let me because of the pain). It’s time to get some answers.

At the moment I am laid up because I tore all the ligaments in my left foot on January 2. The cat ran between my legs and I tried to jump to the side and out of her way because I didn’t want to step on her. When I jumped I rolled my ankle. It felt like it twisted all the way around. I heard crunching and snapping sounds and was convinced it was broken. Luckily, it wasn’t broken but oh boy is it sore. I had to use crutches for the first week and couldn’t put any pressure on it at all. It was swollen so bad that I couldn’t move my toes or my ankle. The last couple days I have managed to get rid of the crutches and am able to walk a bit more on it. I’m still trying to take it easy though because it swells up quickly and aches badly. My whole foot is bruised, across my toes, on my heel, top of my foot, my ankle and on the inside of my foot. The only part not bruised is the bottom of my foot. So, once again I have been confined to the sofa because I haven’t been able to go down the stairs.

I finally got my photography page, The Tilted Tripod, (https://www.facebook.com/TJsTheTiltedTripod/), launched just before Christmas! I started the page well over a year ago but was too chicken to make it public. I thought my pictures might not be good enough. My camera isn’t as nice, or as new, or as good as all the other photographers out there so I was scared to let people see my pictures. The same old fears that stopped me from launching the photography page I started back in 2006 or 2007. I’m learning to step out of my comfort zone a bit. It was tough because all these other photographers have fancy expensive cameras and I can’t afford to buy a new one.

I started to save for a new camera, but when mom and dad needed help I used the money for that instead. Kyle and I bought them firewood to get them through winter and groceries to get them them over a bit of a rough patch. Since mom’s blackout I have gone down once a month, for about a week at a time, to help them out with whatever they need. They’re too proud to admit they need help, and hate anyone knowing their personal stuff. I’m all the help they really have.

Kyle and I went to Quesnel at Christmas to spend it with mom and dad. It was a pretty quite Christmas. Not even much exchanged in the way of gifts this year.( Kyle and I told everyone we didn’t want gifts. We understand that money is tight.) Ryan had to stay here in Prince George to work. Christopher came up for Christmas dinner, he was the only grandchild that was there this year.

Ryan and Chris are doing really well. Ryan is still working full time as a Residential Care Worker. He looks after people with mental and physical disabilities. He also still works a  part time job. His hours with the part time job really tend to pick up around the holidays and he barely sleeps or is home. Chris was promoted to Manager at his job just before Christmas and given a raise in pay. I’m so proud of my boys! They are so hard working, mature, responsible, sweet, kind hearted and loving. Perfect gentleman. Chris came up the weekend I hurt my foot and helped out around the house while I was laid up. Him, Ryan and Kyle were a huge help. They did laundry, dishes, gathered garbage, and tidied up around here. They have also cooked me meals and brought me whatever I needed. I’m pretty lucky to have three great guys in my life!

I have been working on my photos a lot recently and getting them out there. I have even entered several photo contests. Another scary thing for me that involved me stepping out of my comfort zone. The site that I have been entering my pictures on is peer reviewed and voted on by fellow photographers. My pictures have received tons of photos and i have moved up the ranks very quickly from a Newbie to now what is called a Veteran, after a few short weeks. There are several levels and in order to achieve a new level each time, you need to earn points. Points are earned when your pictures are voted on. The last two contests I entered I ended up Ranked #94, and more recently #22, in my category. Not too bad considering there is thousands and thousands of photographers on the site. I still have a long way to go, but in the meantime I will just have fun.

I’m taking a photography course through the mail in the hopes that I get some pointers and tips. Even though I have enjoyed taking pictures since I was about 8 or 9 I have never really been taught anything about photography. I have never taken a course. Everything I know I have learned on my own, just through the process of taking the pictures themselves. I’m constantly honing and developing my skills and I’m hoping that this course will help me grow as a photographer. So far it is going well, but I am only in the early stages. Right now I am learning about cameras and equipment. I’m looking forward to the rest of the course that teaches me more.

As I mentioned earlier, I have really been wanting a new camera. My camera is an old point and shoot and the colors are pretty blah when they first get downloaded. I have to do a lot of editing to get the colors as vibrant as they should be. This gets me down when I see how easy it is for fellow photographers when they post their photos. They don’t have to do as much work to their photos as I do. Their cameras are all brand new, top of the line, and cost thousands of dollars. I can’t afford that. Years ago I had an Olympus camera that has several lenses and attachments for it. I bought some new lenses about a year ago for it, but it then died on me. I was very upset when it conked out on me. I was thinking of getting it refurbished in the hopes that it would work like it did when it was new. The other night I stumbled onto a refurbished Olympus camera that is the exact same thing as mine at the low cost of $130! I ordered it immediately! (Thanks to Ryan for letting me use his credit card.) I’m hoping that this camera works as good as my old one because it used to take great photos when I first got it. It just made sense to me. If I can’t afford a brand new one, then at least invest in this one. A camera that I am familiar with; that took great pictures; that I have tons of lenses and attachments for. Fingers crossed that it works out for me! I’m pretty excited!

I have been getting back into writing and journaling as well. Something that I find very therapeutic. One day I’m hoping to get myself organized enough to write a book. I have several ideas rattling around that I have started working on, but never finished. This is something I don’t really tell too many people that I do, or that I dream of writing a book. I always have so much on my mind that I need to write it down in order to get it out of my head. (As you can probably tell from this letter that is going on and on. Tee hee.) I even write down a lot of my dreams when I remember them. Oh boy, some really stand out in my mind when I wake up in the morning.

Finally managed to hobble around on my foot enough to get my Christmas tree down the other day. I can’t believe that it was still up! The boys won’t touch it because I am far too particular about how things get packed up. They need to be organized properly. I’m over the Christmas thing at this point and want to reclaim my house.

That’s about all I can think of for now. Hopefully that catches you up to speed on my end.

Weight Loss Disappointment

Weighed myself today and was pretty disappointed with the results. I have been trying really hard to eat healthier and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet. Exercise is out of the question with all the aches and pains, and multitude of other health problems I have been experiencing. Not to mention being laid up for the last two weeks because I tore all the ligaments in my left foot. My starting weight was 225.4 lbs, and I am still sitting at a whopping weight of 224.6 lbs after eating healthier for the past week.

I have been keeping a food journal (well mostly) to keep myself accountable for what I eat on a given day. I started out with good intentions, but always end up finding other things to do instead. I end up working on photos, or doing research on the internet. Pretty much anything but actually write in my food journal. I think that it really just comes down to boredom. It seems like such a monotonous and boring chore and it simply does not appeal to me. I have tried this food journal thing in the past as well, and it has never worked. In all honesty, I think I am going about it all wrong. I have been thinking about it and I came to the realization that maybe what I should be doing instead is creating a meal plan for the week. This, combined with preparing snacks and meals in advance might be beneficial.

I know that one of my biggest problems is that I reach for foods that are convenient. This usually ends up being a granola bar, cookies or some other sugar-laden snack. It is simply too much effort to cut up a cucumber, peel an orange, or reach for an apple out of the fridge. The cupboard with the junk food is always my go-to place. Sadly, I have to walk right past the fridge to get to the junk food cupboard. Those extra steps should count as calorie burning exercises, lol. The junk food is something that I can avoid during the day, butt always reach for in the evening. As much as I try I can’t seem to resist. I watched a documentary a few months back that said to change your mindset about food. Instead of telling yourself that you can’t have something, or aren’t allowed it, to tell yourself you can have it but don’t want it. This slipped my mind until just now as I was writing about this. I should write it down on a bright piece of paper and tack it to the cupboard!In the meantime I think my best bet is to just clear out the junk food cupboard and make the snacks inaccessible. I will get my husband and son to hide them from me. Out of sight, out of mind. This will be a good start.

Pre-packaged food is another thing that we use a lot of in this house. It is cheap, convenient and easy to prepare. It takes few ingredients to prepare a quick meal. The biggest reason though, why we buy this stuff, is the cost. Money is tight, again, and we can’t afford organic fruits, or fresh meat. We simply can’t afford to eat healthy. No wonder so many people in today’s society are over weight. Very few can afford to eat healthy because the cost to buy healthy groceries is so high. Unhealthy foods are so cheap and that is all most of us can afford. If the cost of healthy, organic, fresh foods was more affordable more people would probably eat healthier. It feels like punishment to be poor.

Imagine if healthy foods were more affordable. Just think about the potential savings to the medical system. The drain on our health care system must be phenomenal with patients that have a multitude of health problems that stem from unhealthy eating habits combined with lack of exercise. I know I fall into that category. I know that my weight is an issue. Sure, there are other health issues as well, but I know my unhealthy eating habits is a partial factor.

My weight has been an issue for a lot of years now and it has never been as simple as combining proper diet with sufficient exercise. I have always been active, not a fitness nut by any means, but I was always on the go. I had physically demanding jobs, jobs that kept me on my feet and moving my entire shift, and walked back and forth to work. I mowed the lawn, did gardening, and was constantly cleaning and organizing my household. I volunteered in my spare time. I rarely sat still, yet I still managed to gain weight. I can gain anywhere from 3 lbs to 12 lbs overnight. I have gained 50 lbs in a 3 month period, while working and always being on the go. This is utterly ridiculous and can’t be normal! Going to the doctor and seeing if it is a thyroid problem, or other medical reason, is at the top of my list. Cutting out sugar, bread, and alcohol is on my list. Getting out of the house more often (when my foot heals) is on my list. Stopping the pity party and feeling like my life is over because I gained weight is over. Feeling like I can’t be loved because I am old, fat and frumpy, is coming to an end. I’m still beautiful inside and out regardless of my weight. I am still lovable. I am still me! I am unique! I am special! I am loved!

Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D.

The other book I am currently reading is titled, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD. In the book, the author discusses the adverse effects that wheat has on our health, and more importantly on our waistlines. Dr. Davis says that, “wheat’s impact on the waistline is its most visible and defining characteristic, an outward expression of the grotesque distortions humans experience with consumption of this grain”. He goes on to say that a wheat belly is the representation of fat that has been accumulating over years of consuming foods that trigger insulin, which is the hormone of fat storage. Dr. Davis writes that “unlike fat in other body areas, it provokes inflammatory phenomena, distorts insulin responses, and issues abnormal metabolic signals to the rest of the body”. In wheat-bellied men this produces estrogen, creating “man breasts”. The consumption of wheat isn’t just manifested on the body’s surface; however, it reaches down into nearly every organ of the body. It affects the intestines, the liver, the heart, and the thyroid gland all the way up to the brain. There’s hardly an organ in the body that is not affected in some potentially damaging way by wheat.

Dr. Davis says that it’s not entirely true to say that obese people are overweight because they are lazy, eat too many potato chips, drink too much beer or don’t exercise enough. He says that may be partially correct but that many overweight people are actually very health conscious. Dr. Davis says that most overweight people don’t understand why they keep gaining weight even though they have cut their fat intake, increased their healthy grains and exercise 5 days a week.

In our quest to become healthy, reduce fat and cholesterol intake and increase carbohydrate calories most of us have increased the intake of wheat products so much so that they tend to dominate our diets. For most of us nearly every meal or snack we consume contains foods made with wheat flour. We’re told constantly to eat more healthy whole grains and do so happily in a vain attempt to eat healthier and lose weight. We eat healthy, balanced diets, exercise and take care of our bodies but yet still keep battling the bulge. We increase our healthy grains but still can’t lose the weight. In fact we often gain more weight, or at least I did. I know I can’t be alone in this!

Dr. Davis went through the same thing as I have been experiencing for a good 20+ years. He was overweight, had become diabetic in spite of the fact that he ate healthy, avoided junk foods and snacks, and jogged 3-5 miles every day. He couldn’t understand why he was actually putting on weight until he realized that as he was increasing his healthy grain intake his weight also increased. It occurred to him that out of all the changes he had made to his diet, the increase of healthy whole grains was the most significant. It was then that he wondered if these grains were actually making him fatter. He decided to research his journey of being overweight, looking at what he ate and the health problems that came with it. He then decided to conduct a wheat free experiment, during which he observed that whole wheat bread increases blood sugar as much as or more so than table sugar, or sucrose. Eating two slices of whole wheat bread isn’t much different; in fact it is often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.

Wheat products elevate blood sugar levels more than virtually any other carbohydrate. This has important implications for body weight because glucose is “accompanied by insulin, the hormone that allows entry of glucose into the cells of the body, converting the glucose to fat”. The higher your blood glucose is after eating food, the greater the insulin level will be, and the more fat is deposited. Eating a 3 egg omelet won’t trigger an increase in glucose and add to body fat, but eating two slices of whole wheat bread will increase blood glucose to high levels which triggers insulin and fat growth, particularly in the abdomen. Wheat’s glucose behavior also causes highs and lows in glucose levels, and creates a rollercoaster effect of satiety and hunger that continues throughout the day. The low is responsible for that empty stomach feeling and cravings you get even after you have just eaten a short time before. It is also responsible for “the mental fog, fatigue, and shakiness”. The more often these high blood sugars are triggered, the more fat accumulates.

He devised a strategy to help his overweight; diabetes prone patients eliminate foods that caused their blood sugar to rise profoundly. Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t eliminating sugar, it was eliminating wheat from their diets and replacing it with other low=glycemic whole foods to create a healthy diet. After just three months his patients’ blood sugar had often dropped from diabetic range to normal. He says that diabetes can be cured, not just managed, by removing carbohydrates, especially wheat, from the diet. Most of his patients had also lost 20, 30 and even 40 pounds. Dr. Davis’ patients also reported that “symptoms of acid reflux disappeared and the cyclic cramping and diarrhea of irritable bowel syndrome were gone”. They also reported that they had more energy, greater focus and sleep was deeper. He also observed that rashes that had been present in patients for years disappeared, rheumatoid arthritis pain improved or disappeared, asthma symptoms improved or resolved completely and athletes reported more consistent performance.

Wheat dominates our diets; it’s in bread, crackers, pretzels, croutons; it’s in items in the dairy case like the ready to bake rolls and crescents; it’s in breakfast cereals; it’s in pasta and noodles; and in frozen foods such as noodles and other side dishes. Apart from the detergent and soap aisle you’re hard pressed to find an aisle in a grocery store that doesn’t contain wheat products. It’s in practically everything. Wheat is among the most consumed grains on earth, and constitutes 20% of all calories consumed. The question is why is it that wheat has become so unhealthy for us to consume after it has been around for so long. Namely it’s because it isn’t the same as what our forbearers ground into their daily bread. In the past 50 years it has changed drastically under the influence of agricultural scientists. “Wheat strains have been hybridized, crossbred, and introgressed to make the wheat plant resistant to environmental conditions, such as drought, or pathogens, such as fungi.” It has changed so drastically over the years that it is ‘nearly unrecognizable when compared to the original”, yet it’s still called by the same name: wheat. Today wheat production “has been intent on delivering features such as increased yield, decreased production costs, and large scale production of a consistent commodity”. Along the way no questions have been asked about the adverse health effects on humans because of the intervention of science. No tests have ever been conducted on animals or humans to ensure that these were safe for human consumption.

Over the years I have found it increasingly more difficult to lose weight. Packing on extra poundage, on the other hand, is a piece of cake. I mean that both literally and figuratively. For as far back as I can remember I have battled with my weight. I’ve tried fad diets, pills, shakes, starving myself, binging and purging, and even laxatives (I’m ashamed to even admit this). I’ve worked out, gone for long walks and worked jobs that have kept me on my feet for long hours at a time. I was active, and always have been until more recent months. Each has come with short term results. As I read this book a lightbulb went off in my head and suddenly things made sense for me. The so called healthy products I was eating in an attempt to lose weight were actually causing me to gain weight. The healthy and I say that loosely, snacks were causing me to stay hungry and causing me to crave unhealthy snacks and sweets. It all made sense to me. I have battled my weight for years, and fluctuated up and down on the scale. I’ve bought healthy cereal and snacks. I’ve always felt hungry even though I had just eaten, so I’d have to go back for more snacks. It was never enough. All I was doing was creating a cycle of unhealthy eating patterns that was causing me to gain weight. I was having problems sleeping, feeling tired and feeling as though I was unable to focus properly. I felt bloated, had cramping in my stomach and nausea and upset stomach all the time. I battled headaches every day.

Since reading “Wheat Belly” I have stopped eating bread, snacks and other products that contain wheat. I read labels very carefully before buying anything and have switched over to healthier options in the form of fruits and vegetables. We no longer buy our meat from a grocery store and instead buy it locally from a place that raises it themselves. The difference in the taste and quality of the meat was enormous! Since cutting out wheat from my diet in the past 8-10 days I have lost 8 lbs, feel more energetic, more focused, lost my cravings almost altogether for sweets and treats, and have been sleeping through the night. This combined with learning to de-stress and taking better care of myself inside and out is getting me to my goal of being a better me. Overall I feel healthier, more focused, and more optimistic. I have the power to change and have armed myself with the tools to do just that.

Source: Wheat Belly written by William Davis, M.D.; 2011; HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.