IMG_3086“Change your hair, change your life.”  This has been my motto since my college years.  Back in the day, I couldn’t afford to go and pay the $12 to get my hair cut so I cut it myself.  Yup.  Mirror and scissors, the masterful tools of little girls who played Barber Shop on their brothers back in the day.  Thanks for being my first client, Michael Nichols.  (Shout out to my bruh!  Love you!) (He probably won’t read this until I tell him I’ve named him in my post.)  The only ‘traditional’ color hair I haven’t had is platinum blonde.  I always think I’ll look too washed out with my freckled skin.  (Don’t be surprised if that comes in 2017.) Yes, I have gone black (not the best color for me), that’s when I had a pixie cut and worked at Cappuccino Charlie’s in La Verne whilst going to school to get my teaching credential.

Today I got my hair cut again, and on a whim, I decided to cut a little more.  Correction, I asked Mareese to cut a little more.  (Before you know it, I might be super short-haired again and platinum, the way this is year is going.) I love my hair stylist Mareese.  She listens to me and is a master chemist when it comes to mixing color.  In probably 1997, after those bad self-haircuts, I decided to go to Regis in the mall and pay real money for color and cut because I was getting a real paycheck.  I’ve been with Mareese for over 20 years.  I’ve followed her to salon after salon.  Because she’s good.  She listens.  She’s a badass.  Her hair has been asymmetrical since before it was cool, long and bright red on one side, cut short and blonde on the other side.  And she has Asian hair, the kind of hair that is hard to color just right.  You might be afraid of her if you went to her for the first time thinking, (Uh, she’s a little too punk-rock for me) but she’ll do whatever YOU want and need.  That’s the prerequisite of a great stylist.  One that knows their craft and listens to their clients.  (Mareese isn’t giving me kickbacks for this advertisement.  Right, Mareese? Love you.)

See this surgery thing, you know, the gastric bypass I had back in March 2016, well, part of the package was a prescription of Ursodial, a medication to prevent gall stone attacks.  I’ve been faithfully taking it because the idea of having to go back to the hospital for gall bladder surgery removal would really cramp my style right about now.  One of the major side effects of this medication is hair loss.  I know those of you who have seen me lately, might think, “Uh, Joy, you have enough hair for two people, losin’ a little ain’t gonna hurt.”  Yeah, you’re right.  That’s just what I did today.  I let Mareese work her magic.  I always tell her she’s got a special talent with ‘the hairs’.  She knows what they need.   I trust her with my hairs.  She knows how wild and unruly it can be and she now sees how much I’ve lost over the past few months.  (Everyone, take a moment of silence for all of Joy’s hairs that have fallen, of late, and clogged all the drains in her house. Maybe you should take a moment of silence for the drains and the carpets that have had to become home to the unwelcomed hairs. Ew.)  


Long hair phase in my epic blue thrift store dress with Holly, Sarah, and Allyson.  Sarah’s was from the thrift store too.  (Remember the ‘seam incident’ from dancin’ too hard in that dress Sarah?) Good times.
Anny and me in my black pixie phase
Aimee and me in our short hair chic phase
Merry and me in our hippy phase.  She gave me Pink Lightning. (Long story.)

Shout out to Aimee, Merry, Anny, Allyson, Sarah and Holly. I love y’alls.  I had crazy head tilts in almost all these photos.  Waasssup with that?

So the theme of this post is…change.

Change happens.

Change can be good or bad.

I was thinking back this week to this tree in my front yard on Turner Street in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Today, I wanted to go back and climb that tree all the way to the top and perch myself up there for awhile to escape for a bit from the chaos of this school year’s chaotic beginning (see my last post if you’re curious as to what I’m talking about.)  To quote my most recent favorite quote from a Walking Dead character, “When you care about people, hurt is kind of part of the package.” Change and the accompanying hurt have been a theme these past few weeks.

That tree had a protruding branch that was almost at a 90 degree angle, wide enough to bear hug comfortably.  It was perfectly at my 9-year-old arm height.  I’d hug the branch, run up the side of the tree trunk, swing my leg over and mount that branch like I was sitting on a horse.  Then I’d climb the branches as high as I could and escape for a little while and free myself from all my third grade worries.  We moved from that house and consequently, that tree, at the end of third grade, one of many changes throughout my childhood.  Change happens. Change can be good or bad.

So, in light of the recent beginning of school year bliss at an elementary, middle and high school, the past few weeks have been full of school supply purchases. (Thank you Avery, Elmers, Crayola, Post-it, & Bic for allowing me to break the bank buying school supplies over the past few weeks. You are too kind.  We didn’t need to eat this month.)  Really? An agenda with corresponding quality note space area is $30? Really?  Consequently, the conversation that ensued post-purchase, went like this, “Son, you lose that agenda, you’re buyin’ yourself a new one!  That was $30!” It really wasn’t a conversation, it was more like a commandment.

(Thank you Staples for jackin’ up the prices in August and making us feel like we’re getting a good deal by offering a few items for a penny.  I’m watchin’ you.   I’m watchin’ you.  Not sure what I can do about it.  But, I’m watchin’ you.  Next year, could you sell agendas for a penny? Pretty please? I’ve got about 8 more years of buyin’ those suckers.)  So, did I tell you that I shopped for school supplies for all three kids and my classroom students?  I think I spent at least 3 hours walking the supply aisles looking for just the right Crayola Twistable 24 pack, three prong folders of varying colors, art supplies (blending sticks, What ARE those?), 2 inch folders, 1 inch folders, erasers, red, blue, green, and black pens, highlighters of specific colors, reams of paper, kleenex and this ain’t the end of the list. Ugh.  I actually spent over an hour one night shopping for 2 of the kids’ supplies and realized when I got home that I hadn’t looked at the 3rd child’s supply list.  I had to go back, so the third child wouldn’t feel like the third wheel.  The items I couldn’t find that night, I proceeded to purchase on Amazon.  Thank you Amazon, for having my back (because I have have to navigate that school supply aisle one.more.time, I might run out of the store in hysterics and lie in the parking lot in a fetal position.)  Change happens.  Change can be good or bad.  Sometimes change makes you crave a dark hole and a long winter’s nap.

Back to my hair.  Cutting it is a way of controlling something.  I feel the need to control something right now, and my hair is the lucky (or unlucky) culprit.  Change happens.  Change can be good or bad.  You can decide if you like it.  Just don’t tell me if you don’t.

Until next week.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve been walking as much as I can these past few weeks to relieve the stress I feel at work and with all the beginning of school year responsibilities.

I’m down 74 pounds.  It’s hard to believe.

I eat normal foods, just less. During my hair appointment today Mareese brought over some Peruvian food from Mr. Pollo on Azusa.  Great food. The parsley-garlic-chutney-salsa-esqe topping was delicious atop the rice and chicken breast. Yum. I made you hungry, huh?  The great part is, I actually really enjoy the food I do eat.  It’s not about the quantity anymore.  I can appreciate the quality.




It’s Hard Not to Look Back-When Your World is Rocked

You know that feeling, when you wake up after a terrible dream, and feel so relieved when you realize it was just. a. dream.  Today when I woke up, it wasn’t just a bad dream.   It’s real.  This week has been a really tough week, professionally.  (Steve and the kids are all okay. We all had our first day of school and all was well.  The kids were happy but stressed about pleasing their teachers.)  There was a whole other under layer in the events of this week that brought me to my knees and made me question the reality we live in as educators. The field of education can chew you up and spit you out.   The words that come to mind are– blindsided, anxiety-ridden, depressed, hopeless, & helpless.   I can’t speak any more specifically to this event. (I did ask for consent to post this.)  However, sometimes living our lives in education is a lot like the rock cycle, you are pressed and pressed and eventually you become sedimentary rock.  Rocks can be a metaphor for strength, but the process of being pressed is excruciating.

In 1996, when I worked at Charter Oak Hospital (now Aurora Behavioral Health) I was in the psychiatric unit as a psych aide with severe emotionally disturbed children.  A nine-year-old boy, bit me hard.  It was his way of exerting some control in his out-of-control world.  This was all because I’d asked him to give his passive mother back her sunglasses as she was leaving the psych unit on her daily visit. He refused, and when I verbally challenged him to give her back the sunglasses, he bit me with all the force a nine-year-old mouth can give.  (I still have the scar as a reminder.)  Shocked, I promptly forgot all the training I’d received on how to handle human bites (obviously this is a frequent occurrence, if there’s a training on it) and proceeded to pull my wrist away in my best attempt to escape from the bite.  I had to call a ‘Strong Arm’ alert (because I was alone on the unit) and all the psych aides from other units converged and put this young boy in a straight jacket as was protocol.  ‘Pulling away from the bite’ was not what I’d been taught.  When someone bites you, your instinct is to pull away. Instead, pushing in to the bite is the best way to release the hold.

Situations that we aren’t prepared for, often make us want to pull away.  This bite incident has become a lifelong metaphor for struggle and hardship. I often want to pull away and isolate.  This recent professional incident has made me angry, frustrated, helpless and withdrawn.   In my heart,  I do know there’s only one solution: compassion.  This is my way of pushing into the bite, having compassion.

We can choose to blame and hypothesize about another’s pain, but until we’ve walked a mile in their shoes, we cannot and should not speak as experts.  What we should do is listen, remain calm, and love deeply.

Where do I get these wild ideas?  Turns out, it goes back to scripture.  Back to the biblical text I grew up reading. The teachings of Jesus are not common.  They are not easily understood.  When your world is rocked you have to revisit your compass and try to understand why.  The set north of my compass is “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I think my world has been rocked, but the world of another has been rocked even more. What do I do with this?  How do I help?  We’re all going to experience hardship. We’re all going to experience a low point in life.  What do we do with that?  How do we help someone in crisis?  I don’t attempt to know the answers to these questions, so I just feel my way through it.  I know God has given me a special sense of the pain of others because I’ve felt pain deeply.  Deeply. The upside to this deep pain, is consequently a deep love.  So as I sit here writing, tears flow. Tears flow for the pain of another.  It’s okay to cry, grieve, and feel the loss.   This is where the love flows in.  You have to feel the pain.

When your world is rocked to the core by separation, divorce, loss, injustice, and misunderstanding what do you do?   I do know that no love is as random as God’s love…

Have a listen to Wilco’s, I Can’t Stand It…  This song makes me want to scream along.  I believe my prayers will be answered, unlike Jeff Tweedy’s mantra here.

Obviously, this wasn’t a funny post, as was my post last week.  I did tell 2016-17 to Bring It!  It certainly did… like a raging tornado on a hot summer day.

This is my life.  I’ve lived with Joy for a long time and she ain’t always joyful, but she hangs in.  I’m going to keep hanging in with you through the heartache, tears, and joy.

Innocence Mission’s God is Love has been a source of comfort to me today, as music has been throughout my life.  I hope it comforts you too.

Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden
Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden

With the gold of hickory leaves
I can walk under these clouds
Rain or shine
This street of mine is golden

God is love
And love will never fail me
God is love
And love will never fail me

If I’m driving there today
And I really am this afraid
God is love
And love will never fail me

Some birds I know are moving on this weekend
Some birds I know are moving on this weekend
And I’m under the sky, I am on the ground, with my coat
Some birds I know are moving on this weekend

God is love
And love will never fail me
God is love
And love will never fail me

And some days I will decide
To let everything else go by
God is love
And love will never fail me
Love will never fail me

The picture attached to this post is me, at age 4 or so.  I’m hopeful today, just like the the face of little gap-toothed four-year-old Joy is in this photo.  I am looking back a bit and reflecting this week, but I’m still hopeful.

Until next week.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve made it to 70 pounds of weight, lost.  That doesn’t feel all that important in light of this week’s events.

Expectations on Vacations

Disclaimer:  writing this post from my phone has been a bit challenging in the formatting department.
Expectations, we all have them whether we realize it or not. Sometimes we don’t realize what they are until they are unmet.

Check engine lights that remain in the ‘off’ position, wifi passwords that work, air conditioning that cools the whole house, because we never claimed to be camping, we’re Glamping folks.  These expectations failed us on this trip.

Exhibit A: Porta-potty at the most beautiful location, Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe.  Oodles and oodles of tourists using these Porta-potties.  Joy enters the one on the far left and tries not to entertain the idea of rolling down the cliff while on the potty. Porta-potty directions:  1) Prepare yourself, it will smell. 2) Try not to look in the hole, (like a pink elephant in the room) it’s so hard not to look. 3) Carefully place purse, hat, and sun jacket on the hook on the door. 4) Do not touch the toilet seat. 5) Porta-potty creators made an awesome bar that you can hold onto as you squat as not to touch the surface of the toilet seat (thank you for that).  6) Reach for the toilet paper and carefully balance as you take care of business.  (This where all my expectations went unmet. As I reached for the toilet paper, yes, you guessed it, there was none. So what’s a girl to do? Beyoncé booty shake. It’s not like I could shout out to my potty neighbor and say, “Hey, can you spare a few sheets of toilet paper there?”  Nope, I was all alone.) That potty at Emerald Bay was just…ew.

Exhibit B:  Bracelet in this picture gone missing.   After three hours of lake time paddle boarding and sunning and a wonderful trip to a local vegan, milk allergen free, gluten free frozen yogurt shop (now if only the yogurt were free) we decided to do what normal tourists do, go to the gift shop and drop bank after the $35 yogurt spree. As we’re in the gift shop and almost all the children had chosen their Lego sweet tarts, initialed pocket knives, and t-shirts, my Middle is still looking for the perfect Lake Tahoe bracelet.  I’m carrying all the loot and ready to pay while the rest of the extended family is waiting outside.  Then red-headed Middle, in sheer panic, realizes that her most prized Pug bracelet from Clair’s, has gone missing.  Frantic search ensues, with three unhelpful sales clerks who clearly know we’re searching, but don’t attempt to help, extended family coming in to help with the search party, and hysterically crying Middle.  We didn’t find Exhibit B.  Turns out later, she explained that the reason she was so sad is because she had been wearing the bracelet for over a year, in hopes that she’d take it off only when she got a real dog.  **Gush** Unmet expectations. She left part of her heart in Lake Tahoe.

At one of the many professional development trainings I’ve been to over the years, it was suggested that we provide students with a theme to connect all subjects. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with change. So the theme I’ve always chosen has been…Change.  Change happens constantly and is often why our expectations are turned upside-down and backward.  One of these statements can be applied to most situations and life events:

Change can be positive or negative.
Change is inevitable.
Change is necessary for growth.

Exhibit C: Tween-teen attitudes.   Glamping with 5 teen/tweens has been a piece of cake, a dried out frosting-less piece of cake.  The boys have said LOL, not laugh-out-loud, they say, Lol, like its a word, in response to everything. It’s been at least 558 times at the time of this post and the trip ain’t over yet.  Because apparently everything is laugh-out-loud funny. And the farting.  Oh the farting. So many boys equals so much fart talk, and the girls can’t help but join in. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em  that’s always been my motto.  There’s more.  The moodiness.  Ugh.  The complaining.  Day two of our Lake Tahoe adventure was supposed to end in a memorable paddle boarding experience.  It ended up being a wind advisory day when paddle board rentals were not allowed.  Indecisiveness about Plan B, and intense brooding from Middle and Little, and the lovely boy attitudes that came with being cold and sandy.  How do I find the love amidst the intense anger I feel?  It doesn’t help that I got an annoying chest cold and coughing up a lung an hour.  Expectations are connected to change.  Expectations can be positive or negative.  Expectations are inevitable.  Expectations are often necessary for growth.

In the book, Bittersweet, Shauna Niequist expresses change this way, “This is what I’ve come to believe about change: it’s good, in the way that childbirth is good, and heartbreak is good, and failure is good.”

I’m trying to embrace the bittersweet.  I hope you all can too.

Until next Friday…love you loves.

______________________________________________Gastric bypass update:

I’ve been missing eating in volume this vacation.  It’s a time when indulging is expected. More change.  I know it sounds strange, but there is some grief attached to not being able to eat like I used to. I think I was really good at stuffing my feelings, literally.










Take and Give

Fair warning: if you’re grieving the loss of someone, you may or may not want to read this post.

I was 18 when I got the call.  This is the kind of call everyone thinks won’t happen to them. I was working at the Marriott in my valet parking booth when my mom on the other end, my-ever-the-unimposing-mama, says, “Joy, your dad has been taken to the hospital.  There’s really nothing you can do, so you don’t need to come home.”

Obviously, I couldn’t work after a phone call like that.  My boss told me to leave and go to him.  These were the days before cell phones and texting, so communication was a lot more challenging.  I raced home in my tan Chevy Nova and no one was home.  I felt so small and frightened in that moment. I had no idea where they had taken my dad and lacked the where-with-all to think in that moment.

Time stops in these kinds of situations.  Time becomes irrelevant.  I can still remember the feeling of moving 360 in the house and feeling totally and utterly lost.  Shortly after, my cousin, Kirk, ran into the house.  I embraced him the strongest hold I’ve ever given someone.  I needed support like a newly planted tree braving the strong winds.  I don’t know what possessed him to come to my house at that particular moment, but it was exactly what I needed.  Losing all sense of rational thought, I said, “I don’t want him to die!”  The fear was raw and real.  Kirk held me up and said, “Let’s go to the hospital.”


Family members in and out of the hospital.

Friends came.

Many prayers happened.



Shock.  Hours later, “Beth, he’s brain-dead.  You’re going to have to make a decision about when to take him off life support.”

It was December 11, 1990.  Michael, my brother, was 15, Debbie was 10, and Shauna was 3. My mom was widowed at 44.

Standing in the bathroom staring at myself in the hospital mirror, as I held an energy drink in my hands, I clenched it and cried into the mirror and practically screamed.  I blamed his death on his eating habits and lack of self-care.

I revisited the last words he’d said to me, “Joy, I’ll go down to the junk yard and get another window to replace that one.”  He was going to replace my window…

2015-11-24_13-40-47.jpgHe was going to replace my window…

He was going to replace my window…

That little pop out triangle window was missing on the front driver’s side of my Nova.

Since then, I’ve had many dreams where I try to find him. I have dreams where he’s a divorced dad estranged from the family and I’m trying to get acquainted again.  (This didn’t happen in real life.) I guess this was my way, in my dreams, of hoping that he’s still alive, somewhere, anywhere.

My dad was 50 years old. 50, that’s it!

Uncontrolled high blood pressure, stress, and lack of medication contributed to the brain aneurysm that fateful day.

One of my main motivators, to have gastric bypass at the age of 43, was that mirror motivational speech I’d had with myself in the bathroom at the hospital 26 years ago. Blaming my dad’s early death on his self-care, motivated me, as I’m 7 years away from 50, to make a life change.

During those 26 years, I’ve learned many things about taking care of myself.  It isn’t as easy as I naively believed back during my hospital mirror motivational speech.  Self-care at 18 was a lot different, than self-care at 43.  When I as 18 I didn’t have anyone else to look after.  It was just me.  So I could take a much different perspective and felt more free to judge my dad for his lack of self-care.

Because of his struggles with weight and life choices, I feel I was given a gift.  At this point in history, 2016, gastric bypass has been an option for me.  Not so for my dad in 1990, with lack of affordable healthcare and lack of resources in the underpaid jobs he worked supporting our family.

I sang Roll Away the Stone, at the funeral.  My dad loved it when I sang that song.  I have no idea how I made it through it, on that awful day.  Numbness. Necessity.  Tribute.  Here it is:

Lyric to the 2nd verse:

I wonder will it take a miracle, or if I only need a little time.  You see my life is like an open book, that you’re going to have to read between the lines. Cause there’s a wall built around me.  It’s keepin’ out strangers and love that might find me.  I really wanna change the way I am inside, but Lord, I’ve tried and it’s more than I can do, so won’t you…Roll Away the Stone.

When you experience loss at a young age, you are forced to ask questions like, “What’s important?  What do I do now? How do I help my mom and siblings? What’s next?”

When you lose something, you want to find it.  When you lose a person, it’s no different. All those chances, those times I wished I could ask him questions, were lost.  He had been taken.  The opposite of take is give.  My way of loving my dad’s memory is through giving. I’ve never thought of it this way before, but as I write, I’m beginning to see the connection and it brings me to tears.

Why do I give?  To help me focus less on myself, and more on (heh, moron) those around me.  Life is short. I learned this at the ripe old age of 18.  There’s no time, like the present, to let the people around you know that you care.  You might not get another chance.  I give gifts that I know people will adore because we all want to be noticed.  We want someone to really see us.  Giving is a way that I see people. Growing up I didn’t have much.  So giving is a way I can reach back to my roots and remember what it was like to be without.  I give to show friends, family, and students and they are important to me.

Let all pause to look at the people around us and see them.  You don’t have to give things, it can just be FaceTime, like, real Face Time, eye-to-eye, heart-to-heart.

My dad didn’t have much in terms of what the world tends to value—worldly possessions, status, power, but he had a heart as vast as the ocean. I knew he loved me. He was going to fix my window for goodness sakes.  When I’m driving my Chevy Nova in heaven, my window will be fixed.  Thanks Dad.  I miss you.  Happy Father’s Day 2016.  (I know I’m a week early.  It’s to remind you all that Father’s Day is a-comin’.) 

Until next Friday…Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass update:

Many people are starting to notice that I’ve lost a lot of weight, no matter where I go.  It’s a little uncomfortable for me, but I’m learning to accept well-intentioned compliments.

I attended the support group in Arcadia again this week.  It’s so encouraging to see other people who are in various stages of the gastric bypass journey.  We ask questions and encourage each other.

One of my major fears: Gaining the weight back.

Eventually, I will feel hunger again.  Other members of the group who are years down the road experience hunger similar to how they felt pre-surgery.  This scares me.  I’m going to try to enjoy the feeling of not being hungry for a change.


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.


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.