The Only Prince I Ever Met

Prince Royal King, an elderly man in his 80s, stood inspecting the selection of cheeses in the dairy section at Stater Brothers.  Somehow I started talking to him about, what else? cars– and my need for one. In those years, I was desperate for a car and didn’t have much money.  I was in college. He said, “Well, why don’t you come home with me.   I’ve got a car for you.  I’ve been fixing up cars for years.”   We got in his 1970s made-to-last vehicle and drove to his house in Azusa.  He smoked Marlboro menthols and he offered me one.  I obliged.  We pulled up to his house.  He put away the groceries.  (I don’t think I was naive, just good gut instincts about people.  Prince was no serial killer.)  We chilled in his living room and he told me how having the name Prince Royal King got him out of jail in his younger years because the judge said, “I can’t put a man in jail with that name.” (Maybe I should have been more afraid after the ‘jail’ comment.)

After we chatted for a bit, he showed me his garage and proudly displayed all the tools he had.  Clearly he’d been collecting tools for over 50 years.  This was his tool museum.

As he courted me for a bit longer, he eventually meandered over to this amazing light green 2-door 1973 Gran Torino.  (Does anyone remember me driving this car back in the day?)  I bought it from Prince for $1000.  He let this sweet little college student pay payments.

York’s convertible photo

I loved that car.  I called her the Big Green Mama.  I hot glued these awesome dangly dingle balls, like you’d see on a sombrero, all around the interior of the car. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, it was just the accessory she needed to be even cooler and more herself.  big green mama and mefresh inkbig green mama sarah

sarah and me
Flower children of the ’90s

I am like the Big Green Mama.  I’ve always had this need to be different, this car was just about as different as they come.   The exception was a dear friend from Germany, who’d come over to study business at APU, York Von Fischer.  He had this amazing red 1970s convertible, a tank and a half.  American made. A car he couldn’t easily get in Germany. My Facebook profile picture was taken in that convertible.  Windblown curly wild hair flying all over as York captured the perfect photo.  I loved his accent.  I was captivated by his love of learning and excitement for all things American.  He was fully alive.

Prince introduced me to the Big Green Mama and I loved the time I spent with her.  I felt alive and proud and unique every time I closed the door.

In our desires to be non-conformists, we generally conform to something whether we want to admit it or not.  Need of connection is something I’ve longed for, and yet, striving to be myself was something I’ve pursued doggedly since I was very young. There’s always been this inner battle to conform and yet, maintain a sense of independence and separation from ‘group think.’   I didn’t want to be the same as anybody.

I wanted to be me, and make people like it.  There were many awkward moments, years, and decades, but I’m satisfied with how this has made me into who I am now.  I wouldn’t trade those awkward moments, if I had to give them up to become who I am.

In my endeavor to not conform to the the typical female response to ‘bad’ food, <<<insert Jan voice here>>>, Jan’s voice here. (say this in a Marsha-Marsha-Marsha voice, yes, Marsha from the Brady Bunch.)  “I’m-going-to-eat-a-salad-with dressing-on-the-side & I’m-going-to-pass-on-the-cake.”  I couldn’t stand the whiney inner voice anymore.  I decided, ah hell, eat the cake and salad is better WITH fat.  Let’s throw caution to the wind and EAT WHAT WE WANT!  (The ‘we’ is me and my appetite, I think.  Kinda creepy, yes?)

Well, this didn’t work so well, because I kept gaining weight.  The more I gained, the more I’d say, “Whatevs! Life’s too short to worry about every bite I put in my mouth.”

I still fight, in my head, with these same ideas of not wanting to be the next Weight Watchers poster child or The Biggest Loser Loser.  I want to have Happy Hour like the rest of the happy peeps, but at what cost?  I really had to have a heart-to-heart with myself about why I stopped caring.  What does it mean to really feel alive and love it?  I forgot.  Losing myself, I’ll argue, was a good thing.  I’m finding myself again. I’m feeling and loving more fully again.  Watch out friends, here comes Joy, fully alive Joy.  Convertible ridin’,  Big Green Mama, Joy.  Meet-a-man-named-Prince and ride home with him, Joy.  Spontaneous, Joy.

I’ve forgotten who that Joy is, but it’s gradually coming back to me.

————————————————————————–Phase 4

Phase 4 started this week.  Refried beans, mashed potatoes, eggs, cottage cheese & baby food (yes, this is a suggestion on the list.)

On Wednesday, I was thrilled to have eggs again.  I scrambled some eggs in the morning before work and started to eat, like I normally would.  Eat. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. Eat. Chew. Swallow. Repeat.   (We all do this effortlessly.)  After about 5 minutes I stopped and started feeling a tremendous amount of pressure in my chest.

This was my first experience “Getting Stuck” as they call it.  This isn’t the kind of stuck that you get when you run out of gas, or the kind of stuck when you are caught in a traffic jam.  This is the kind of stuck that sits at the small opening to your new itty bitty egg-sized stomach.  I waited. Repeat. I waited. Repeat. I waited. Repeat.  I said, “Oh no, I don’t want to throw up, I hate throwing up.” I waited. Repeat.

I stood over the toilet and proceeded to blow chunks of the 4 oz of eggs I’d just swallowed. Those eggs had an early departure to Egg Heaven.  I’m hoping to erase that memory and eat eggs again soon.

So far the rest of Phase 4 foods have been tolerable and more exciting.  I’ve been going out to eat and getting soups at restaurants, mostly.  I’ve also had sugar free frozen yogurt twice this week and that has been delightful and I’m down 32 pounds.

Until next Friday…  Love you loves.





Mums, Lowriders, and Surfer Dudes

Conformity is the act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to group norms.


I was so embarrassed of my car.  East Texas in the 1980s was consumersville.  Big malls, big cars, and oil money.  Many people seemed well off and actually were.  There was also an extreme contrast to wealth, intense poverty.  Part of conforming in our small town, was the kind of car you drove.  Before SUVs and Suburbans, there were massive gas guzzlin’ Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, Chevys, Fords, and Buicks, American-made and built to last.  I have a sordid past with the cars in my life.  In the late ’80s we had a Buick Skylark.  When it got cold, we’d turn on the heater, and lo and behold that Skylark would come to life, and out of the belly of the Buick, a tortuous chicken squawking sound would screech from all the vents.  (Hide Joy hide, so no one knows you are being birthed from the belly of the Buick.)  Once I arrived at school, I’d jump out of the car as fast as I could hoping no one would know that the car that I’d just exited was mine.  (Duh, anyone with a chicken brain, knew that was your car, Joy.)  As I exited, there was sea of other middle schoolers that seemed to fit in so seamlessly with the crowds wearing  guess jeans and jellies.  As long as you had these status symbols, you were cool.   Another status symbol moment that came every year, Homecoming and along with it, the Homecoming Mum.  This isn’t mum as in mom.  This isn’t mums the word. This is mum, the flower.  Watch the video, please.  It’s a train wreck you will want to see until the end.

From the street view, they look like enormous dream catchers, right?  Maybe we were trying to capture our dreams and hold them close to our chests.  Back in the day, there was no cushy necklace feature that kept them mounted to your chest.  We were Old School. We pinned them to our clothing.  (I think I still have my mum from 8th grade safely packaged in a box in the shed outside.)  My parents sacrificed to pay for my mum.  No boy asked me to Homecoming.  It seems crazy now, girls walking around with these larger than life mums covering their breasts, but in Texas you go big or you go home.

How do you break with these traditions?


Traditions die hard. Texans are still doing this in 2016.  Yup, still.


Low Riders

Fast forward to 1987, our move to San Diego,  California. We lived in a suburb of San Diego called National City. This town had a cholo and chola scene, gang activity, and low riders.  This lil’ Texan girl sayin’ “Y’all fixin’ to go home?” didn’t quite fit in, so I ditched the accent and attempted to fit in. I started saying ‘like’ in every sentence, like everyone else in California.  That was my attempt at fitting in.  I went to a small Christian school during this time so I was sheltered from school interactions with the peeps in National City.  However,  I’d regularly go shopping at all the local shops drive around town with my parents.  This was a culture that didn’t exist in Texas.  It was eye opening and a little scary.  I didn’t know how to connect and communicate.   I quickly learned that Low Riders were status symbols in this town.  At night, teens and 20-somethings would pimp out their rides and the men-boy Cholos would ‘cruise’ down Highland and ride low in the seat so you could only see their eyes peeking out above the window.  From the side view they looked like alligators with their eyes just above the surface of the water.  Next to them, in the passenger seat were their chola girlfriends with their prescribed look of wild bangs, dramatically sketched eyebrows and lip-lined bulbous lips.  (Note to self Joy, this is how I fit in in National City.)  This look never worked out for me.  Since I didn’t go to the public school in National City, I didn’t feel the need to conform to the degree I might have, if I’d gone to public school during that time.

imgres-1.jpg*Since my time living in National City, I’ve been fascinated by gang lifestyle.  I recommend a wonderful book called Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle.  He started Homeboy Industries in East LA. I want to meet him someday.



Surfer Dudes

My senior year, yes, senior year of high school 1990, I moved to Coronado High School.  Surf City, USA, just across the Coronado Bay Bridge from San Diego to the Island.  I lived with a kind couple that my parents knew.  They took me in and treated me as their own. Their daughter had just moved out to Biola to go to college.  Each morning, I hopped on my beach cruiser and rode to school in the overcast beach air.  That year, was a whole other

By the way, all the surfer dudes I crushed on, had hair just like this.


learning experience of fitting in and conforming.  Prior to school starting that senior year, I puffed out my chest and pretended I wasn’t an introvert and strolled into the senior ‘before-school’ party.  Who does this?  Anyway, we hung out, and checked each other out, and I took meticulous mental notes of what the cool kids were wearing and I rode to school that first day on the Coronado Trolley with all the other seniors.  I was a bad ass.

Conforming during those years was so complex and confusing.  In the next few blog posts, I’ll search a bit deeper into how conformity and non-conformity formed me, Joy.  It’s been a long hard road accept me, now.  My issues with food, drugs, alcohol and negative relationships amplified during those years.  More to come.

Until next Friday…Love you loves.


the wilderness

This liquid diet has felt like the wilderness.  Feeling deprived has actually forced me to deal with my emotions rather than mask the feelings with food.  I’m a master food masker. (Say that 10 times fast.)

Introversion is a term I didn’t discover until college. Prior to those years, I always felt inferior.  I’d berate myself, “Why do I have to be so sensitive & quiet?  Why can’t I just let things go? Why do I obsess and replay situations or conversations that occurred?  Why do I hate social encounters with people I don’t know?  Why can’t I just be more like… <insert extroverted friend’s name here>).”  I am an INFP and an on-the-fencer INFJ according the Myers Briggs Personality Scale.  The I is for Introvert.

With a name like Joy, people expect you to be a joy…all the time.  (It’s like having the name Angel or Heaven or Precious. What happens when you don’t live up to your name? I’ve seen some Angels that aren’t very angelic.  Parents: don’t name your kids Angel, it’s just not nice.)  I am my most joyful when I’m alone.  Don’t get me wrong, I love all of you.  I love my family and friends, but I will start to feel immense hatred and turn into a beast with steam coming out of my ears if I don’t have time to myself, to think, to process, to contemplate, to rehearse the days’ events.  I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I actually go through almost everything that happened in the course of a day, before I go to sleep at night.  It’s a way I process my world.  It’s a blessing and a curse.  Anything unresolved usually shows up in my dreams.  (Why can’t I have Peter Pan flying dreams?  I still would rather have adventure dreams rather than an obsessively-boring-processing-dream in which I try to process someone’s facial expressions during a strange social interaction.  Yes, I’m a weirdo, but a lovely one.)

Bel Canto choir tour in 1993 was one of the moments in my history where I realized…I AM AN INTROVERT.  Two weeks, on a bus with over 100 other 20-something women college students (screeching laughter and hilarious jovial fun-for some), traveling to states across the country (still on said bus), eating with these 100 women (still with said jovial women), performing nightly concerts with them (more noise in close proximity with said jovial women) and then, post-concert arrival at host family’s residence (more obligatory social contact as not to be rude to the hosts and interaction with a few of said *jovial women).  Toward the end of the tour, I thought I might lose my mind.  I needed quiet. I needed time to decompress.  I felt terrible for feeling so moody. Now I realize that there was no time for me to be alone.  This is what I craved to recharge.

*(If you are reading this and are one of the said jovial women that was on this tour, I still love you.  But I love you more now that I’m not on a bus with you for two weeks.)

On Being an Introvert

“Shyness is the fear of social disapproval or humiliation, while introversion is a preference for environments that are not overstimulating. Shyness is inherently painful; introversion is not.”
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Introversion- along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness- is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living in the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.”
Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

“Unlike their Extraverted cousins though, INFPs will focus their attention on just a few people, a single worthy cause – spread too thinly, they’ll run out of energy, and even become dejected and overwhelmed by all the bad in the world that they can’t fix.” Source.

I have often felt totally overwhelmed by all the bad in the world that I can’t fix.  I just have to turn off the news and limit input.  It’s a way I can deal with what’s right in front of me rather than hearing about 100 million things I can’t control or fix.

“INFPs feel most comfortable among colleagues – they aren’t interested in controlling others, and have a similar distaste for being controlled. Among their colleagues, INFPs will feel freer to share their ideas, and while they may maintain some psychological distance, they will make every effort to be pleasant, friendly and supportive – so long as their coworkers reciprocate. INFPs don’t like conflict or picking sides, and will do everything they can to maintain harmony and cooperation.

Most of this comes down to good communication, which INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements. People with the INFP personality type avoid using phones if they can, having the worst of both worlds, being both detached and uncomposed.”  Source.

“INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements.”  Writing my thoughts is my lifeline (that’s why blogging has been so exciting for me).  I abhor business-type phone calls where I don’t know the person on the other end.  It makes me cringe just thinking about it.  I can’t read facial expressions in a phone call.

Watch this if you are or know someone who is an introvert:

“Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe”
Susan Cain

This is why I have continued to job-share even though my kids are in school. I need time to stay home and think, without interruption.  My mom used to always say, during my childhood, “I can’t hear myself think!” in exasperation.  I know exactly what this means now.  Exactly.  She is clearly an introvert too.  I’m a much better mother, spouse, colleague and friend, when I have time to enjoy solitude.  Confession:  So, if I decline your social invitation, I might say, “I have plans.”  I won’t always tell you what those ‘plans’ are, but sometimes, it’s a plan to stay home and enjoy solitude.  This is the air I breathe, and I believe it keeps my healthier and more sane.  Everyone wants Sane Joy, trust me on this.  

To paraphrase Susan Cain, without the experience in the wilderness, there would have been no revelation.  I’ve grown to appreciate the wilderness episodes in my life.  I am who I am because of my travels there.


In addition to the book, Quiet that was quoted extensively, these are two other books that are worthwhile reads for understanding yourself or the introverts in your life.

imgres.jpg imgres-1.jpg

Update on the Gastric Bypass healing process:
This past Monday, I attended another support group at Lewis Hall at Arcadia Methodist Hospital. Many of the topics included what to eat/ not to eat, emotions tied to gaining weight, plateauing in weight loss efforts, dumping and vomiting when eating foods that get stuck. Once again it was reiterated that chewing food to an apple sauce consistency post surgery is extremely important.  Wha?  Yes, applesauce consistency.  Try it.  It’s hard to chew a piece of chicken to applesauce consistency.  I tried before surgery. I haven’t had chicken yet post-surgery.
My follow up visit with Dr. Lamar at is office in Arcadia was yesterday.  He looked at my incisions, and said they looked, “Perfect.”  I’m a model post-surgery healer. (Virtual high five!) I think he might have given me a gold star if he’d had one in that moment.  Our visit took about 5 minutes, and I explained that I feel great and haven’t needed to take any of the prescribed Norco.  I told him that the pain has simply felt like I’d done whole bunch of sit ups and the residual pain of post workout.  My follow up appointment will be in 6 weeks.  He told me I’m making his job easier.
From my highest weight, I’m down 24 pounds at this point.  24 pounds in 4 weeks.  (Those are words I never thought I’d see in writing in reference to ME.)
phase 3
Phase 3:  Now I am eating Full Liquids, which include, cream of wheat or rice, pudding, yogurt, cream of chicken soup.  Still boring, but a little more variety. Emphasis on little.


Until next Friday… Love you loves.

Live to Eat

Accept that food is fuel and eat to live, not live to eat.

Can I tell you how much I hate this statement?  We all know it’s not true.  Very few people just eat to live.  Eating is enjoyable.  Eating is not the enemy.  I’ve been to so many weight loss groups over the years and I’ve  heard variations of this statement.  We eat at all sorts of celebrations throughout our lifetimes because food is good and it’s a way to share something that you made or someone else made.  In biblical times, people needed to eat to and Jesus fed thousands.  I’m sure they enjoyed that food.  Sure it was definitely fuel, but it was probably also enjoyable.  Wedding feasts extended for days, weeks, months, and it was cause for celebration.  There I said it, I live to eat.  It’s not the sole reason I live, of course not, but food is a way we connect with others over the table, looking into each other’s eyes and hearing stories.  So, I will continue to argue (in my head of course) when I hear this statement.  <<<insert whiny voice>>>  Accept that food is fuel and eat to live, not live to eat.

This complicated relationship that I’ve had with food began young. I didn’t have an ‘off’ button.  Partly because of scarcity, we’d run out of food before the next paycheck, so eating saltines and other non-delicious canned and frozen foods would be all that was left in the cupboard or freezer.  We never went hungry, it was just survival food.

German chocolate cake…mmmmm. My dad loved cake.  When payday happened (yippee!) our treat was to go BIG grocery shopping because we had money! Woot!  Dad would usually get a chocolate cake.  Once we got home, we’d share it and love every minute of that delicious experience.  There was emotion connected to this experience. We didn’t have much, but we had each other, and chocolate cake.

Oh yes, and Little Debbie Cakes (I’ve heard these called Little Diabetes Cakes, of late), Grandma Gussie always had boxes of these in the cabinet when we’d go visit in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.  I loved the Oatmeal Creme Pies, Nutty Bars and the Peanut Butter Crunch Bars. (LAWD, take me back!)  Emotion was also attached to this, grandma Gussie was as sweet as those Little Debbie cakes.  I loved her.  Every time we’d leave to go back to Texas, I’d cry ten gallon hat tears, because I already missed her as we were leaving the driveway of her house.

In high school, when I was near my lowest weight of 109 pounds,  I was obsessed with every calorie that went in my mouth.  I remember freaking out because I was so hungry.  I ate a bag of microwave popcorn, only to exercise for two hours to make sure I didn’t gain any weight.  Tell me, what kind of living is this?  Certainly not freeing.  Certainly not what I wanted to dictate my thoughts and feelings 24/7 for the next 50 years!

So at some point, probably after the birth of my first-born, I decided I wouldn’t be a prisoner to food.  I just stopped thinking about it.  I stopped worrying about it.  I abhorred talking about calories.  New diet? I don’t want to hear about it.  I’m not going to do it or be successful.  I didn’t have the will to go back to Obsess-Ville.  I had moved away from Obsess-Ville and I wasn’t going back.

But I ended up in the Wilderness, lost and wayward.  It took me many years to work out my relationship with food.