The Pumpkin Cookies of Greatness

Let’s spur on the fall weather my So Cal friends.  This 95 degree day on October 20, is kinda well, yuck.   I want fall! I’ve purchased the foaming fall soaps from Bath and Body Works in hopes that making my hands smell like vanilla and pumpkins will somehow make the fall season stay for awhile.

I have come up with  a better solution.  If we all converge and make The Pumpkin Cookies at the same time, maybe fall will have no choice, but to come and smell these alluring cookies, take a bite and stay for awhile.

I forgot that I used to make these cookies. I have no idea where I got the recipe, but a friend of mine from my high school days, (Deanna!), said she lost the recipe and requested it.  I was like, “Hmmm? What? I used to make these?  Well, I’ll look in my handy dandy recipe box and see if the recipe is there.”  Sure enough, boohya, recipe found, just were I’d normally file cookies, under the C.  The Pumpkin Cookies, as they’re called, because once you have these, you do not need another recipe for pumpkin cookies.  The Pumpkin Cookies are all you’ll ever need in the pumpkin+cookie department.  (Yes, this is an actual department.)

Here it is, once you read the recipe, you must agree to make these. Look into my eyes, and say, “I will make these cookies. I will make these cookies. I will make these cookies.”


Now, you’ve committed.

Enjoy.  Take some cookies to your neighbors or a party this weekend.  We all need a little lovin’.  I know I do.  Right now, I just want to be warm and cozy.  I want to be home.  So Home We’ll Go.  Have a listen.  It’s a good one.

Don’t let your head hang low
You’ve seen the darkest skies I know
Let your heart run child like horses in the wild
So take my hand and home we’ll go
The sun it glows like gold
Feeling warm as a burning coal
Let your soul shine bright like diamonds in the sky
So take my hand and home we’ll go
Home we’ll go, home we’ll go
Home we’ll go, home we’ll go

In all the chaos of the past few weeks, I’m trying to take a friend’s advice, “Let it all roll off, like Teflon,” (Shout out to Lisa!)   So, don’t let your heads hang low.   Take my hand, make The Pumpkin Cookies, and hug the people you love.  Now if only these cookies could change the world.  We can hope.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric Bypass Update:

On October 23, I’ll be at 7 months post-surgery. Whaaat?  It actually seems like a lot longer than that to me.  So much has happened in the last 7 months, so much weight lost, so much change.  I never thought I’d be able to lose weight again.  It’s been dramatic for me.  But, at the same time, I’m still me… Joy…

And in case you were wondering, I DID eat 3 of The Pumpkin Cookies (and I enjoyed every second of it, yes, I said seconds because it only took a few to scarf ’em up), even though they’re not gluten free.  My Cypress friends are going to get to enjoy them tomorrow at work.  TGIF!

…after making and eating them, I didn’t feel guilty at all.  Now THAT’S progress.

Later, I went for a long walk.  That’s progress too.  This time 7 months ago, I wasn’t exercising at all.  Recently, I bought an awesome fanny pack hydration belt so I can carry a water bottle hands free (and bonus!) there’s a pocket for my phone.  It was a good investment, way cheaper than a gym membership. Listening to music keeps me motivated and makes me walk faster.  I’ve listened to all the electronic dance music stations on Amazon Music.  It’s my favorite walking genre.  Keep on walkin’ (in the free world). See what I did there? Rockin’ – Walkin’ Love the word play.  Back at ya’ Neil.

Had to add this:

So much jammage here.  They’re called Pearl Jam for a reason.


rage, racism, and risotto

So, the title basically sums up my week.  I decided that instead of focusing on the rage and racism, I’d focus on the risotto.

First I’ll tell you where the first r words in the alliteration came from.  I’ve been raging all week after an encounter I had with another human who thought I was racist.  Yes. Me. Racist.  Really?  “Uh, you don’t know me, and you haven’t seen me interact with anyone for more than 5 minutes.”

This was a HUGE trigger for me.  Judgement and being misunderstood make me rage inside.

The title of my blog is ‘why you keep judging me’ for a reason.  I’ve often thought that I’m my own worst critic.  After this week, just as I thought maybe I had made it through to the other side– to Freedomsville, I found that Judgementsville still exists in my head.  For the sake of being discreet, I won’t say what context this encounter occurred, but I will say that I was judged on my status as an educator and my whiteness.  This attack was completely unwarranted and unexpected.  It rocked me more than an encounter should have.  Why?

I was judged. Later, I cried. I thought, ‘Why is this person misunderstanding where I am coming from, and why do I feel so terrible?’ If I told you how the conversation started, you’d laugh.

When people are hell-bent on seeing the world through foggy-bent glasses, you really can’t change their perspective.  I knew this intuitively, but I didn’t want to be proselytized into their foggy view of the world. And I didn’t.  Wrong move.

So, as a result, I decided to… make risotto.  Isn’t this what everyone does when they’re raging, make risotto?

Yes, that’s what I said, you heard me right, RISOTTO.

I’ve been wanting to conquer my first pot (of risotto, I know what you were thinking) for a long time.  I’ve been afraid.  Risotto has always been scary to me.  Maybe it’s the stirring, the timing, the texturing, the high maintenance of it, but I just couldn’t make it happen, UNTIL TODAY.

In Shauna Neiquist’s book, Bread and Wine, she encouraged me to cook and love it.  You don’t have to tell me twice Shauna.  To love family and friends is a joyful and fulfilling part of life.  So that’s what I did today as I made the risotto. I made it and loved on my family for a few minutes.

Here’s the process.

It’s a lot like LIFE.

I’m not sure if it turned out good. I’m not sure if it’s what everyone expected. I’m not sure if it was the right texture.


I made it.

The dutch oven is now completely empty, tummies are full and I can say I made it with my own energy and sweat.

**If you’re not planning to ever make risotto, skip to the last 2 videos.  You can definitely skip over all my how-to videos in between.  Also, excuse my poor camera quality.  I had garlicky fingertips and I was filming from my cell phone.

Here’s how it started:

The Partners in Crime


Get the grapeseed or EVOO going in the dutch oven and the broth in a separate pot.
Pour this for yourself
Onion chunked not finely chopped

So how is it that something so simple can turn into a glorious assault to the tastebuds?  This is what food should be.  I know many of us don’t have the time or the confidence to cook, but it’s so satisfying when you make a pot of deliciousness for your family.

If you haven’t read Bread and Wine I highly recommend it.  The book will make you want to cook and entertain and love.

Now, who wants to come over for my next pot of risotto?

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

This week I had my 6 month post surgery visit with Dr. Lamar.  He was impressed with my weight loss.

I told him of my concerns about hair loss and he said it’s completely normal for anyone who has rapid weight loss (not just weight loss surgery) to lose hair, but it will come back.

I have to go in and do blood work to make sure I’m getting the proper nutrients.

Weight loss has slowed.

I’d like to lose 100 pounds, just to say I did it, but I’m reevaluating whether or not that’s the best goal for me.  I’d have to lose 30 more pounds and well, I just don’t want to get into that obsessive, I MUST LOSE MORE mentality.  I’m striving to be content where I am.  And, this is no easy task.




A Reflection on Teaching

I’ve been teaching 2nd and 3rd grade since 1998.  Back then…

Bright eyed and bushy tailed (that’s me in the beginning teaching years, back when I used film and had to develop the selfie), I thought, “I’ll give myself a couple years, and then I’ll have my system down.  My file cabinet will be stocked with all the ditto masters I need.  I’ll pull out a file and make copies once a month, and I’ll know exactly what I’m doing every day of the year.  Teaching will be a breeze.”  (Oh boy was I in for a rude awakening.  This was a naive fantasy and frankly, not very good teaching practice.)

For 18 years, the only constant has been change.  During these years, there have been so many new conflicts to navigate: parent complaints, students unable to read, students whose language isn’t English, poor family support, lack of support from administration, and many high stakes testing scenarios.

However, if I felt like public education in the United States wasn’t looking up, I wouldn’t be writing this post.  (I’m generalizing here to the whole of the US because I think Common Core is moving us in the right direction.  There I said it.  I know people don’t agree.  It’s okay, we can agree to disagree. This is my perspective as a teacher.) I can actually say that my district is truly working to bring our students into the 21st century to prepare them to compete and have skills for careers they’ll encounter in their futures.  We aren’t looking back. But it hasn’t always been this way.

During the No Child Left Behind years, we reduced children to a number, something that could be evaluated statistically and compared formulaically.  In efforts to group and categorize using the latest data, we sucked the joy and creativity out of the learning process over the past decade. I will rant in this post, because I feel it’s necessary to express what it’s been like being in the teaching trenches over the past 18 years.  This is my firsthand point of view; that of a dedicated public school teacher who feels it is her mission to stay put.  As I’ve said before, ‘staying put’ is sacred to me.

In 2010, I wanted to quit the teaching profession because it had become incongruent with my beliefs.  Children grow at different rates and should be molded and encouraged, but the environment of high stakes testing was making it so that all we ‘had time to teach’ was language arts and math because these were the only subjects tested.  ‘Drill and kill’ and prepare them for the CST became the overarching drive in our classrooms; primarily because at the beginning of the next school year we would be told how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we were as teachers based on our students’ previous spring test scores.  Test prep had become the chokehold on our existence as teachers.

It was almost always bad news. Our school was ranked against other schools based on similar demographics.  We were ranked a 1, yes, we were the lowest.  In an effort to shine a light on how disheartening it is to hear this, I will say that I stayed in the trenches because I believe that we were more than a 1 out of 10.  (I always root for the underdog, every time. Since I’m not a loyal sports fan, I always root for the team that has come through the biggest hardship. I’m a sucker for a come-back kid.)  We rolled up our sleeves and decided, hey, we’re going to keep on going.  We love our students.  We’d been through a lot, and we had a lot of GRIT as a staff, but no one could see that, based on our test scores.

This is the main problem for me.  School atmosphere cannot simply be measured in terms of statistics but this was the only way we were measured.  The only way. Our love for our students and their struggles cannot simply be measured mathematically. There were and continue to be, so many variables we cannot control.  What we can control is fostering an environment that encourages students to learn in spite of the ‘school of hard knocks’ that many of our students’ families deal with on a daily basis.

We are a Title 1 school.  Because of our low performance on the high stakes tests, we were labeled a Program Improvement school as determined by No Child Left Behind (more about NCLB and why it didn’t work), all the teachers at our school were given more professional development to increase our expertise as teachers. Read Susan Neuman’s critique of NCLB here.  Almost the entire staff has their master’s degrees.  The assumption was that we were doing something wrong and were sent to rigorous professional development meetings, including Effective First Instruction lesson design, Thinking Maps, GLAD strategies, Write from the Beginning and Beyond, GATE, & HB somethin’ somethin’ somethin’ -a mandatory state math training and I’m sure I’m missing some…but I’ve selectively forgotten what they were.  Some of these trainings were wonderful and some were just, hoop jumping exercises to soothe the powers that be at the state and federal level.

After making it through the tunnel of high stakes testing, I can see the light at the end. My outlook is ‘hopefully optimistic’ (to throw in an overly used phrase).  Education from my perspective is moving in the right direction in my neck of the woods on Cypress in Covina.  We are beginning to NAME children again and value their natural strengths and abilities.  We are encouraging creativity in the teachers and as a result, creativity in our students.

I’ve been reading the book, Running with the Horses, by Eugene Peterson, and he has similar ideas about the idea of Naming:

Every time that we go along with this movement from the personal to the impersonal, from the immediate to the remote, from the concrete to the abstract, we are diminished, we are less. Resistance is required if we will retain our humanity (27).

…if I am frequently and authoritatively treated impersonally, I begin to think of myself the same way.  I consider myself in terms of how I fit into the statistical norms; I evaluate myself in terms of my usefulness; I assess my worth in response to how much others want me or don’t want me. In the process of going along with such procedures I find myself defined by a label, squeezed into a role, functioning at the level of my social security number (28). 

Naming is a way of hoping (29).

I am putting hope in my students daily by naming them.  I refuse to simplify them down to whether or not they are far below basic or proficient on a circle graph.

The movement forward to name our students again has begun by valuing creativity and looking students in the eye and believing in them.  It’s not complicated when you think of teaching this way.  Teaching is a natural connection.  

This is why I continue to push back from the status quo and push my students to think outside the box.  This is why I try to keep things simple in many ways in my classroom, they’re 8 years old for God’s sakes! My primary focus is to create an environment where they want to be at school and naturally, learning will follow.

Don’t we all want our children to have sense of belonging and develop a love of learning? We want them to explore the world around them by tapping into their natural curiosity. This got lost over the past 10 years in many classrooms, but the joy of learning has been found again.  The Joy of Teaching is back.  This is good news.  I am a Teacher Artist, one who has focused on her individual craft.  Teaching is Art.

This blog post feels almost completely plagiarized but there were so many wonderful quotes from these books, I had to share them. 

Madeleine L’Engle, in her book Walking on Water, expresses so much of what I often think about art, faith, and creativity.  This is infused into my philosophy of teaching.  I read this book 20 years ago, and I still return to it.  As I was reading Running with the Horses, I remembered L’Engle’s reference to Naming.  There are so many timeless truthful nuggets in it.  Here are some of my favorites:

The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birthgiver (18).

Art is communication, and if there is no communication it is as though the work had been still-born (34).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named.  And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos (45).

Remembering the lovely things that we have forgotten is one of the reasons for all art (107).

To write a story is an act of Naming; in reading about a protagonist I can grow along with, I myself am more named.  And we live in a world which would reduce us to our social security numbers (110).  

But we, the creatures, are named, and our names are part of our wholeness (111).

It seems that more than ever the compulsion today is to identify, to reduce someone to what is on the label.  To identify is to control, to limit.  To love is to call by name, and so open the wide gates of creativity (112).  

If we are pigeon holed and labeled we are un-named (113).  

She speaks so much of the importance of stories shaping and forming us.  “Stories are able to help us become more whole, to become Named.” I love to read excitedly to my children and my students.  We learn through story.  We grow.  We connect.  We create community. In an interview, Jean Rhys said, “Listen to me.  All of writing is a huge lake.  There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.  And there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys.  All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter.  The lake matters.  You must keep feeding the lake.”e2db4ca119.jpg

Isn’t that good?  When I started blogging, I didn’t think I had ANYTHING significant to say.  But, I am feeding the lake at a trickle’s pace each Friday, and hopefully, in turn, someone is connecting and becoming more whole.  I have no idea how it’s all going to come together from week to week, and I often fear that it won’t be worth reading.  But somehow cosmos comes out of the chaos.  I’m gradually beginning to figure out what it means to be Named and in this process, and I am becoming more whole.

Teaching in Room 29 is a wonderful place that I show love to my students.  If we truly love, truly, the world will change.  We can often focus on all the terrible things in the world that we can’t really control.  So, how about we all just focus on making our corners of the world better and be a servant to the work of living creatively and joyfully? This may seem like a pipe dream, but it’s working for me.  I am more fulfilled. 18 years in, and I’m still excited when I see that spark of learning in my students’ eyes.  The Art of Teaching is a wonderful gift to me.

Where you invest your love, you invest your life… 

Here’s one more memorable quote referred to in L’Engle’s book, “We must dare to love in a world that does not know how to love (112).” -French priest

An unexamined life is not worth living. -Socrates (As they say in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, So-CRATES. That’s what I hear when I say his name.)

Love and examine your lives friends and if you can add a trickle to the lake, do it.

Until next Friday…Love you loves.


Gastric bypass update:

I didn’t lose this week & I’m trying not to freak about it.  I did more exercise this week. (Oh, the irony).  So maybe I should just not exercise, and then I’ll lose weight?  Weird, right?

This week, I had THE WORST protein shake ever, don’t buy this brand, Designer Whey Double Chocolate, you’ll hate it….bleh..yuck, yuck, yuck.

So far my favorite has been the Low Carb Isopure Dutch Chocolate, so take that Designer Whey and move on your way (most likely into the trash bin).



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.





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.




Countdown Day 2

Update on the No-Chew-Diet-From-Hell… it’s still hellish.  I smell food wherever I go.  I smelled hash browns from a little kid walking in front of me the other day. (Gimme your hash brown kid.  This mama’s HUNGRY! Come into my belly.) It’s strange, but I don’t even have to be near an In-N-Out to smell the beautiful aroma of grilled onions.  Gah! Mmmmm.  Food.  I miss it.

Tonight I went to my first support group that meets bi-monthly at the Lewis Auditorium at Arcadia Methodist Hospital.  The group facilitators are Dr. Klein and Lorrie, the nutritionist.  I asked all sorts of questions from bowel movements post-surgery, to feelings about people commenting about weight loss.  As I’ve said before, I don’t like being the center of attention.  Heaviness is a form of safety, an insulation if you will.  It protects me from all the things in the world that are scary, chaotic and dangerous.  At least that’s the way it feels.  However, if I look at the opposite effects of how being heavy has changed me, picking out an outfit can be one of the most tortuous events in my day.  Ready to hear my inner thoughts…? (Uh, Joy, haven’t you already been giving us your inner thoughts?) Well, yes, but these are the nitty gritty nasty thoughts I tell myself.  I’m a mean girl to myself, like Lindsey Lohan’s belittling high school peers in Mean Girls. This all happens in front of my closet. (You don’t want to wear that shirt with those pants, Joy, it shows too much of your belly.  Or, you have pick a cover to wear over that because no one wants to see your arm fat.  Or, gosh, your belly, always, the belly.  Half of my clothes don’t fit right! Ah, hell, just wear a vest over it.  Or, maybe you should just stay home.  Stay home, hibernate and isolate.) This is the downside of how heaviness has affected me.  I miss out on connection.

One of the group members tonight that is 3 months post surgery, said that she isn’t telling anyone about her gastric bypass because she doesn’t want to be judged if she gains weight back.  She doesn’t want people to say that she “took the easy way out” by having a weight loss surgery.  Does this No-Chew-Diet-From-Hell seem easy to any of you?  Guaranteed, hands down, this is the hardest thing diet-wise that I’ve had to do.  The prolonged routine of it has been very difficult.  I like to eat with people and be festive, yo!

One thing Dr. Klein said tonight is, “This is not an easy way out.  You still have to do the work to keep the weight off.”  Basically if you’re a grazer, you can gain weight by just letting small amounts of food all day long and consuming excessive amounts of calories by eating constantly.

I can’t believe tomorrow is my Gastric Bypass Eve of the Eve.  Weird.  If gastric bypass is the wedding, then the process after surgery is the marriage.  Marriage ain’t easy people. (Can I get an amen?) Gastric bypass is a TOOL that helps you change.  You still have to  manage your emotions, work the program, and make decisions daily that affect your future.


Peace.  Until tomorrow.   marriage photo.jpgLove you loves.


Countdown Day 6

So, my new favorite treats are these ah-maze-ing calcium supplements called, Adora.  I adora them.  Ba-dum-dum.  When you can’t have chocolate OR chew anything all day, this lil’ sucker gives me just what I need. Like, a little prize for taking my calcium.

Speaking of little prizes, whenever I meet with a dear friend, I feel like I get special insights into life.  Talking to this dear friend I acknowledged that  I’ve come to place of acceptance about he way- I- am.  It’s okay.  I’m okay.  I love me now. (I must tell you it’s taken a whole lotta therapy, prayer, and rethinking insane cultural beliefs to get here.) So part of me is a little sad to lose weight.  I’ve accepted this independent, loving, wild at times, belly-laughing me.  (By the way, my middle child has told me on a couple of occasions that my belly shakes like Santa when I laugh. I always think, lovely.  Santa’s cool, right?)  Anyway, back to this sad part of losing weight.  I’ve come to feel protected by heaviness.  There’s a certain amount of invisibility that comes with being overweight.  Often, people look past you.  And when you’re an introvert, this isn’t a bad thing.  I don’t want to be the center of attention.  So, I’m grieving my current self even before I lose weight.  I feel like there’s a sense of comradery amongst women, when you know you’re not perfect and you love each other anyway.  I don’t want to lose that. On some level, I know I won’t, but on another level, I feel like I’m more approachable because of my weight.  I clearly look like I don’t have it all together.  Does this make sense to anyone else?

So, today, in preparation for the walk with that dear friend, I shook the new shoebox-clean off those 2-year-old tennies.  Walking with a friend is one thing, but I actually despise doing any sort of exercise out on the street in the hood by myself, because I just don’t want people looking at me.  It makes me feel vulnerable.  I can’t describe it any other way.  It’s just one of my weird quirks.  I will walk with a friend since I have someone to talk to, but walking by myself is just, ‘ew’.  (If you haven’t seen this Jimmy Fallon video it’s hilarious.)  I often say ‘ew’ just cuz it makes me laugh and then think of my friend Jimmy.

Grieving has many forms when you’re losing weight: a loss of the idea and way of indulgent living.  I miss nachos right about now and chips & salsa with guacamole, carne asada, mashed potatoes, coffee and chocolate.  I miss chewing and escaping into a hearty bowl or plate of food.  Relearning how to eat at 43 is tough. As I made the family dinner tonight, it was all I could do not to take a bite.  I’ve been spending a lot of time AWAY from the kitchen.  I’m grieving that too.  Cooking for my family and making them foods they love gives me a sense of pride.  In a few months I’ll get to eat again solid foods again, so at least this isn’t forever. It’s just feels that way now.

I’ll leave you with this: A not-so-perfect story of losing 180 lbs. Real life isn’t a fairy tale. Jen Larson’s book: Stranger Here scroll down to view the video advertisement for her book.