Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yay! I get to go...

My Cookie Monster Days appear numbered -- perhaps done for good (although I'll be honest and admit I'll probably eat a cookie or two during the next few days. That's natural when a person is on the verge of trying a very new lifestyle)


I have been accepted as an intern at the Creative Health Institute for three months starting Oct. 16. I'm super excited about it and also very grateful.

Thanks so much everybody for the prayers and support. This is actually all part of my career transition. I need to be healthy if I am going to be effective. I'm so grateful for my friends Emily and Greg at Clean Water Action and for their support and understanding about why I need to do this. They are graciously holding my job for me when I come back and I'm happy for their flexibility. I love Clean Water Action and I look forward to leaving with Emily and some of the staff for a trip to Kentucky this weekend. We are going to a canvasser's convention at a state park. There will be canvassers from all over the United States -- people who canvas on all different issues. It should be extremely inspirational and I am really looking forward to it.

I don't expect to get my car fixed before I go to the center. I am looking for a place to store it close to where I live in Ypsilanti. If anybody has a yard or a garage in Ypsilanti where I can keep car through Mid-January, please let me know. I can't afford to get it fixed right now but it isn't exactly an eyesore. Well... not EXACTLY an eyesore. ;-). Seriously, it doesn't look all that bad. It's probably drivable but I  don't want to drive it more than a mile or so.

Also, I am looking for someplace in Washtenaw County to store a few things -- books, clothes, bookshelves, a wardrobe. Everything I need to store currently fits in half of one medium-sized bedroom. So if you know of someone in Washtenaw County who wouldn't mind letting me keep it in a garage or basement for a few months, please let me know.

Finally, I am going to try to do some paintings while I am at the center. I was very happy last summer to sell a sailing painting for $200 to a friend from Open Salon. I hope to paint more pictures and when I do I will post them here in case anybody would like to buy them.  Don't buy the paintings that I post just to be nice -- not unless you really want them. But I do encourage everyone in this economy to consider buying original artwork for birthday and Christmas presents. It's a very nice way to support the arts and the economy in general.

I do have a few paintings I would be happy to sell now, though, in case anybody is interested. Here is a link to the cyber sale I had a few months ago on Facebook.!/album.php?aid=195017&id=364775722055&ref=mf. I know it's very hard to believe, but most of these fine items are still for sale. Given that I am moving soon and trying to preserve space, and also in need of money, I will be happy to negotiate the price on anything that you are interested in purchasing. :-). Mostly, I thought people would like the paintings.

Thanks again for the prayers and support. I can't wait to really go RAW!

Oh, and here is a link to a cool Raw Foods blog in case you are interested. This blog is done by the childhood friend of Emily Woodcock who I work with at Clean Water Action. She is pretty much my boss -- but not very bossy.


Someone recently was talking to me about burning ships, starting a completely new life and burning the ships and leaving the old life behind

I imagine that if I get into the Creative Health Institute it will be something like that with regard to my diet. I do think there is great value in the 12 Step philosophy and my hope would be to settle in as a grateful member of Alanon so that I can work the steps around my life in general, not just the food. Of course any 12-stepper knows it has really nothing to do with any particular addiction. Whether a person is an alcoholic or a food addict or a gambling addict or whatever, the path is pretty much the same.

So that is my hope -- to work the steps around my life in general and to do this raw food diet. I got a start on it yesterday. I had a salad that was mostly raw for lunch and ate a raw dinner and breakfast two. I slipped and had a few pops later in the day.

This morning my breakfast wasn't raw at all. It wasn't full of meat, though. And it wasn't greasy.

I'm just hoping and praying to get into the Creative Health Institute to learn really how to do this raw foods things the right way and to be in a community of support while I do it. It's a huge step. It's been pretty emotional for me to come to this decision in my life.

I know I've been revealing a bit more of myself in the process of coming to this decision. Some people think it's been too much information. Some people wish I would just stay focused on the career.

But for me, this is about my career. I really won't be very effective at working for two many more years if I don't get this diet business taken care of for good.

So I am hopeful, excited... and also worried that they won't take me for some reason or another. That is a natural worry. I am just going to call there and see how they are coming with the applications they are processing.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


One of my friends and blog readers wrote to say she thinks I am putting too much private information in my blog and that she worries it isn't a good idea. She said she thinks it might be better to write some of the things I have shared in a private journal.

This morning I actually woke up feeling the same thing.

I know many people are struggling with financial, romantic and health issues just like me -- and many are in the middle of career transitions, too.

This friend happens to be very supportive of my decision to switch to raw foods. She has struggled her whole life with eating issues just as I have and like me she has tried very hard to eat in a manner that will keep her weight in balance. The note was very thoughtfully put and I appreciate it.

A funny thing about blogging is that it's like a diary -- but a public diary. I'm not always a good judge of what to say and what not to say. But I do need to write every day. I have for most of my life. The blog has become a window to my journal, I suppose.

The thing is health and relationships and career transitions are always related, aren't they? It seems every decision we make in life is interwoven. I'm not ashamed of anything I've written or anything I've done. I believe in my heart I'm always trying to do what's best for myself and others. But maybe it isn't so good to write in public about certain things.

So I have decided to just keep the blog related to career decisions right now. I am planning to adopt the raw food lifestyle. I had apples and tea for breakfast. I really don't have much in the way of raw foods at the moment. It's a little bit trickier to plan groceries without a car. But it will all work out; I am certain of that.

And I am very hopeful that I will get an internship fairly soon with the Creative Health Institute. They may want me to get totally raw before I go there, so I've no idea how long it will take to get in. But I've set my sights on it and I will keep everybody posted on it.

I'm looking forward to canvassing today for Clean Water Action. I'm happy I have the health today to do that. My desire is to not just maintain the health I have today but to maximise it. I will blog about the transition to raw foods as it seems relevant. My thinking is that it will be quite relevant because it will effect my life a great deal by giving me more energy.

I am very much looking forward to having more energy.

One thing I do feel a little bit sad about is my father. He is eighty years old and his health is not good at all and he has helped me out so much in the past years. I love my dad very much and I do not feel I could have asked for a better dad. I feel sad that he lives by himself now. One of my sisters lives very near by. But I just do not want people to think that because I feel it is not healthy to live with him at this time that he is a bad father. That isn't true at all.

The problem is that I am making big changes in my life and learning something completely new. And with piles of cake and cookies all over his kitchen I just don't think it would be a good situation for me. Also, I would have to give up my job at Clean Water Action if I went to live with my dad.

So all of these decisions are related somehow. If I go to the Creative Health Institute it is very likely to become not just a lifestyle but a career opportunity. People who live this life generally become teachers of this lifestyle and help others to eat this way, too.

Anyway, I am sorry if I gave anybody any bad impressions about my family or anybody else. My family is an excellent family. It's just difficult sometimes to make a big change. Probably I was projecting my own insecurities onto my family. I love those people. They love me.

And I suspect everybody's much more in my corner than I imagined. So I'll give them a call today and we'll work everything out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I finally listened to my phone messages. My big sister Mary didn't say anything specific but I could tell by her voice she is all concerned about me. The call I thought I had received from my dad actually had come from my sister, Kelly, who was at his house this afternoon with my other sisters, talking about me and deciding about alternative things I could do with my life. She said something about Macy's hiring Christmas help.

These people love me. I love these people.

I sent an e-mail to Beth and Kelly telling them I am not planning to work at Macy's and live with my dad but I appreciate the thoughts and I know they are well intended. They are trying very sincerely to be helpful, I know that. But I told them I absolutely have to put health before economics and it wouldn't be healthy for me -- when I have been so off track with my food lately -- to live with my dad, or probably with any of them, as much as I love them.

They are very interested in being near me, I think. They probably want me closer so that they can have a better eye on me. I live an hour and a half from my dad and one of my sisters and two and a half hours from two of my sisters. It's not all that far but...

Anyway, I digress.

The point is I had a real victory in standing up for myself and telling them they are welcome to support me in getting up and going with the raw food gig but I am not going to back down on this and they need to understand that.

And I just wasn't feeling strong enough to call my sister, Mary. She is very loving in many ways but she has very strong opinions and also -- she IS THE ONE who used to make me stand on my bed at attention for half an hour when I was a sassy child (or if I was breathing too loud). I won't take that woman's health advice. I love her. But I think I can do better to figure this all out on my own. This raw food idea is an inspiration. I am increasingly certain of it. I am meant to do it. I am meant to go to that center. It's like destiny. I am happy and sure about it.

I was going to send Mary a long snail mail letter explaining why I feel the way I do and everything and then I realized I didn't have to explain anything -- just assert my boundaries in a loving and warm and creative way.

So I sent a postcard instead. It's a gargoyle postcard from Notre Dame that I picked up a few years ago in Paris. That made me feel like a grown up. Mary's never been to Paris. She HATES travel. Hates it! We are polar opposites. I'm happy just to sit in an airport or train station. It always makes me smile to see people coming and going. Not Mary. She hates the rigmarole. She hates ANY rigmarole. That's my big sister -- a hater of rigmarole. Personally, I always have been quite a fan of rigmarole unless, of course, it's bureaucratic (but if it involves an opportunity for using my special talent at charming bureaucrats, then even that type of rigmarole isa an adventure).

So anyway, I just sent her a postcard:

"Dear Mary, This postcard I picked up in Paris years ago. Hope you enjoy the Gargoyle! I love you very much but I am not returning your phone call until I get accepted into the raw foods community because I suspect you will not like it and I am going to do it anyway.
Love to you always,
Patty xoxo"

Don't Worry, I'm Just Moving To The Moon!

For two days  I've been feeling pretty sick to my stomach. And to tell you the truth, I don't think it's food poisoning or the stomach flu. I think it's mostly just nerves -- related to my car crash last week and the thinking I've been doing about my life since then. Major changes are afoot. I truly believe the whole car accident and events that occurred since then (I've been blogging about it; read from Friday through Sunday to get up-to-date) are a gift from God to help me to set my priorities in line and to get started on a fresh path.

I spent several hours last night reading up about Raw Food Diets and watching videos recorded by people who had been on these diets and had major successes. I also had a very warm conversation with the director of the Creative Health Institute in Hodunk Michigan where I hope very much to secure a three-month internship to learn all about raw foods, how to prepare them and how to help myself and others benefit from them.

This is what I want to do. And I've spoken with some professionals who work with people who have eating disorders and received their blessing to go ahead and give this a try. The worse thing that could happen is that I could try it for three months and not experience a benefit. However I do not expect that to be the case after looking into it. I expect to be very successful with this venture and to learn some things that will be helpful to others and possibly even earn me some money in the future.

I am excited about the possibilities. I am so happy to be closing the door on things that just have not worked for me. I'm feeling a little bit nervous and worried that I won't get accepted. That is always a possibility. I can't think of a reason why I wouldn't get accepted but it is something to consider and always a worry whenever you apply for an opportunity to do something that you really want to do.

And in addition to all of the uncertainty and excitement I am feeling worried about what my family and friends will think. I have managed to get some people on board with it and that means so much to me. But many of my closest friends are ardent 12-steppers and it is always difficult for 12-steppers to hear about one of their own trying something new as a means of nutrition and health. Part of being in a 12-step program is truly believing that it is the very best method and the only way to freedom. But then I tell myself this is silly. Those ladies can still go out for steak dinners with their husbands. So this is something more extreme than what they do to stay healthy. And none of them would want to do it unless they found what they were doing was just not working for them anymore. For me, the 12-step approach truly is just not working anymore. When I spoke with a prominent staff member at one of the nation's leading treatment centers for eating disorders and he said he didn't feel he could give me medical advice about my situation because he is not knowledgeable about Multiple Sclerosis. It was an interesting conversation. He didn't exactly tell me to go for it with the raw food folks. But he didn't tell me not too, either. He acknowledged that my situation is unique and that an appropriate diet for me may not be the same as an appropriate diet for other compulsive overeaters who find success with a 12-step approach. Later he wished me luck with this path in an e-mail. That e-mail meant a lot to me because I very much respect his opinion and work with people who have eating disorders.

After the conversation I meditated and that is when I got the idea to look online for some videos related to Multiple Sclerosis and Raw Food Diets. I saw quite a few interesting stories on Youtube. Here is one...

So I've given a bunch of thought and prayer to this and it's really what I want to do. It is what I intend to do, God willing. My hope now is that my family and friends will be able to get on board and be supportive because it will be a major life change. I admit I have not been returning phone calls during these past two days when I have not been feeling well. I saw my dad called today and he never calls me so someone must have told him something. I never actually mentioned anything to him about my car accident last week. I didn't want to worry him and I felt like such a fool. Also, to be honest, I was quite afraid he would be upset with me. I also received a phone call from my oldest sister, Mary, last night. That one really gave me a stomach ache. I think she left a message for me to call her back but I haven't listened to my messages yet. Mary loves me very much and does many nice things for me. She dotes on me in the classic way that a sister who is ten years older would dote on a baby sister (still today even though I am now forty-four-years old!). But she is so full of opinions and advice about everything -- especially anything that is related to medical care of any type because she is a nurse and very knowledgable about certain aspects of western medicine.

But the fact is, I have truly, truly, truly, truly been walking this road with my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis all alone. I love my family but they have not really been able to be available for me. They are extremely busy with their own lives and their own families for one thing. And for another, I don't think they have known what to do about this situation of having a younger sister with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and inadequate access to western medical care.

The truth is, I have asked for some help from time to time trying to figure things out. And as much as they have offered me help in other areas of my life, nobody in my family has ever come up with any idea at all for helping me to live with this diagnosis and keep my energy and health up. It's been sort of like a one-sided conversation. I hate to say that. I know they are not intentionally ignoring me and I don't doubt they love me. But it's seemed as though they've thought that if they ignore it, it will just go away. And since I've always been strong and resourceful and clever, maybe they've thought I could figure it out all by myself. But the thing is -- these people are not the LEAST BIT comfortable with holistic health ideas and alternative medicine. I believe they frown quite a bit on it. We when it comes to nutritional suppliments and the like, I doubt anyone in my family has anything more basic than a bottle of multiple vitamens in the cupboard.

Trust me on this, when my family starts watching me make green vegetable drinks and taking shots of wheatgrass juice, it's going to be really, really wierd for everybody. These are people who would not change a single ingredient in our grandmother's thanksgiving stuffing recipe -- ever. It would rock the boat. It would cause waves! I think somebody made stuffing with sausage in it once and it was the cause of whispers. I'm not exaggerating very much. In my family love and community is expressed through cooking and eating. My family loves eating together the same foods our mother and grandmother prepared. I've been an outsider for years in this respect due to my eating disorder and 12-stepping. But my whole 12-step thing was like moving to Ohio from Michigan. It was questionable to them, for sure. This raw food thing is going to be like moving to the MOON!

So this is what I am doing. I love my family. I love my 12-step friends. I love all of my friends very much. And everybody's love and support in getting on board and expressing positive thoughts and encouragement to me right now would really mean a great deal to me. Please -- no negative thinking!

Thank you.

p.s. I did exchange e-mails with my very good friend Dcn. Nate Harburg yesterday and he is really praying for me. I felt like including this video of Iz singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" in thanksgiving to all of my friends who pray for me and especially to Dcn. Nate Harburg who has filled Heaven with prayers for me on multiple occasions. Dcn. Nate is the great grandson of Yip Harburg who wrote the song. This version by Iz is especially touching to me because the performer died of obesity before the age of 40. People often tell me my eating issues are not so bad and I make too much of them. But it is only because I have worked so hard to overcome them. It has been a constant battle for me.  I assure you that if you added up all of the pounds I have gained and lost over the years, I would be at least as large as Iz. Weight is only a side effect of compulsive overeating. Many people suffer from this condition and maintain fairly normal weights for most of their lives. Thank you again for the love and prayers and support.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bozo On The Bus

So today I'm going to be just another bozo on the bus quite literally. I'm taking the bus to work. It will pick me up just a ten minute's walk from my house at 11:36 a.m. and drop me right in downtown Ann Arbor, about ten minute's walk from the Clean Water Action office at 12:15 p.m. Since I don't have to be to work until 1:30 p.m., that gives me a nice cushion, in case something goes wrong. There's lots of road construction all over the place these days, so there's a pretty good chance that something will go wrong. Much of the construction is due to the fact that Michigan is getting a bunch of stinking traffic circles. They are supposed to be environmentally friendly as studies were done to prove they reduce auto emmissions. However, just between me and you, I think they're a death trap. Seriously, I really don't care for the combination of traffic circles and Michigan drivers. If we had all been required to go to some sort of seminars before they launched this mission of instituting traffic circles, things might go OK. But they didn't. And Michigan drivers are unlike any other drivers in the world. Michigan drivers have a strong sense of entitlement. We build the cars here in Michigan. Our grandparents built the cars here in Michigan. And Michiganians damn well feel they have a right to drive them -- as fast as possible without interfearance from the traffic authorities. Traffic circles might be a good idea in other states. I recall a big traffic circle in the greater Chicago area and it was never a problem at all. People in Illinois seem more equipped to adjust to these innovations. But here in Michigan, I'm telling you, not so much. You wouldn't believe the hostility I've experienced in traffic circles. So many type-
A drivers, so little time, so little clue on how to yield and read the managarie of road signs and arrows. I'm telling you, all these traffic circles in Michigan are going to be a huge disaster. Someone ought to start the casualty report now. They're going to be a major death trap. In fact, I bet they probably are already.

So, anyway, I guess it might be for the best that I'm taking the bus, with all these traffic circles happening all over the place. Geoff Larcom takes the bus nowadays -- and City Hall is named after his father. He's been raving about it in his Facebook status updates. All sorts of people are taking the bus these days. They've got a campaign. Smiling Ann Arborites in soft focus on billboards all over the place. They oughta get Larcom on there. He'd be a great poster child for public transportation. Geesh.

My nephew, Joe, texted me yesterday. "How do you like the bus?" he asked.
"I haven't taken it yet," I said. "I've been getting rides."
There was a pause in texting.
"I'm taking it tomorrow."
"You're going to love it!" he texted back.

Joe hasn't been driving for several months. He ran into some financial difficulties, too, when he bottomed out with his alcoholism. He told me it's OK to blog about it. He's doing wonderfully, now -- a huge inspiration. Recovering alcoholics are some of the most amazing people in the world and I'm amazingly proud of my nephew. No kidding -- the guy is amazing. I never would have imagined he had such a problem. I suspected something was wrong. But no kidding, he was really suffering. Thank God he's doing so great now. It inspires me to take care of my health, too.

I did send off the resume to the Creative Health Institute. I'm planning to call them today before I hop on the bus to see if they got it. I'll keep you posted.

Well, I guess I better pack my lunch and get ready for the bus. I do enjoy people watching and I have enjoyed public transportation in other places where I have lived. But in Michigan it hasn't ever seemed as convenient. Part of that is simply a frame of mind; I'll admit it. Michiganians are the only people in the world who will get in a car and drive to the corner store to get a loaf of bread. Seriously, we do that here. We're incorrigible when it comes to driving. It's a cultural thing.

The only thing I wish is that they'd keep the bus running until at least Midnight. You know? I'm going to have to get ride home from work from someone who lives in Ypsilanti because the bus stops running before I get off work.

How do you like the way I used the singular form of bus throughout this report, incidentally? I thought it was pretty clever. I've never in my life been able to remember which busses is the vehicle and which buses is the kisses. I am pretty sure the kisses have two eses. But this is just me living life without an editor. It's fun most of the time but every now and then it gets a bit dicey.

(P.S. I ran spell check and I'm pretty sure now that busses are kisses as it was flagged. But I wanted to let you know that Spell Check is incorrect in its suggestion that I change Michiganians to Michiganders. The Associated Press decided more than ten years ago that Michiganians was much better due to the fact that feminists might feel excluded from the gender-specific inclusion of ganders in reference to the populace of our fine state. No kidding. It's a truth. Look it up.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hamster No More

Before I go to sleep tonight I plan to send a resume to the Creative Health Institute in Hodunk, Michigan (incidentally, a Battle Creek Enquirer columnist once walked from Hodunk to Podunk Michigan and wrote a really great column about it) to inquire about a three-month internship there.

Thank you, Lois, for the Webmed article. I am once again having trouble with my comments feature on the Google Blog. I actually have read quite a lot about the Raw Food Diet and I have eaten quite a few meals at the Creative Health Institute so I have a pretty good idea what it is about. I do not look upon it as a cure for my Multiple Sclerosis.  I do look upon it as a way to maximise my energy and stamina and keep my weight in balance -- and also, it will routinely expose me to lots of antioxidents. That's a good thing. I have gone through vegetarian phases in my life. It's no big deal to me. I like vegetarian food. I've also gone through periods of eating mostly raw foods. I know that my body loves sprouts and wheatgrass juice and lots and lots of the things they eat there. In addition, I am pretty anal about not losing too much weight. (especially now that I am getting older... it makes for unflattering wrinkles and stretchy skin). Although I have suffered from compulsive exercising phases and body image issues at different times in my life,  I've never ever been underweight. Not ever. I have been at the low end of my weight-range, though. And I loved it and my nutritionists and doctors (who I can no longer afford to see) thought it was very healthy for me. I had more energy than I'd ever had in my life (incidentally, I was at that phase just five years ago and in a way it feels like yesterday and in another way it feels like a million years ago), I've talked to other people who live with Multiple Sclerosis who are physically active and they agree that their energy level increases dramatically if they are on the thin side.

I received a nice e-mail from my sister, Kelly today, too. Kelly and her husband, Dan, helped me out when I was trying to break into the insurance business by giving me cash loans they did not expect to be paid back. They are very generous and I know they would give me more money if I asked for it. But I do not feel that borrowing more money from my family is a good idea for me at this time. It is starting to become a pattern and I don't like it. Until I lost my job at the Ann Arbor News in 2005, I was never a money borrower. Anyway, Kelly didn't have an opinion one way or another about the raw food idea and I was happy for that. But she did encourage me to exercise at least thirty minutes a day to keep my energy up. I agree with her. Exercise is really important. That is one reason why I really like working for Clean Water Action. I like the fact that I actually get to walk to do the work. And actually, I have felt a bit healthier since starting that job.

But the fact is -- I am sitting here approaching the winter in Michigan fifty pounds heavier than I was last year, still having a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis and not having money to fix my recently smashed car and pay  my rent. This is not the first time I have been in a situation like this since I lost my job at the newspaper. Life has been really chaotic. I definitely have had health struggles with the eating disorder and the Multiple Sclerosis. I have tried the 12-Step eating program again and again and again and I keep gaining and losing thirty pounds -- now it is fifty. So this is what I am going to pursue next.

I am looking forward to it. I think my body will respond very well to learning a new  way of eating. I am not sure when I will go to the center but I do believe in my heart that it will be fairly soon. I will see what opportunities they have and talk it over with Emily and Greg at Clean Water Action to find out what will work for them. After I have finished the internship I will plan to come back to Ann Arbor and work at Clean Water Action some more -- assuming that they will welcome me back. I suspect they will be supportive of me doing something to get my health in better order. It is obvious to anybody who has known me for several years (and Emily and Greg have known me for five years) that my health and stamina have deteriorated quite a bit.

It might not have been the best idea to blog about this before talking to Emily and Greg. But I suspect they will understand. Emily is actually the one who put he raw food idea in my head. I am excited about it but a bit nervous about how everything will work out with keeping my job and learning the techniques.

But I am just going to trust today that everything will work out.

P.S. I  hope I didn't offend any of my blog readers with my glamorous back shot. I had taken it as my avatar on Facebook for a little while, too. But then I realized it might be a bit provocative.

P.P.S. In case I didn't make this clear -- I feel that God has given me a very CLEAR message to get my health in order first and the rest will follow -- even economic security. And I do plan to pay back my sister and her husband and my father as well. I have never been a lazy person or a slacker and I have many, many projects in the works that can eventually generate income. But if I don't have the stamina to complete those projects in addition to working to earn a basic living, I'll never be able to pay anybody back or get ahead at all. So the bottom line is, I just had it backwards, God showed me that. Putting economics before health was causing me to spin like a hamster on a wheel.

St. Joseph's Girl

People can't give you what they don't have: this is the phrase that was in my head this morning when I woke up.

Given that I spent about four hours in prayer and meditation yesterday and that's not something I usually do, I feel like that phrase is a pretty pure and clear message from God. Four hours of prayer and meditation has a way of clearing away thought cobwebs. Four hours of prayer and meditation has a way of closing the door on the world's noise.

God has gifted me with many fine qualities and experiences. He has given me boldness, creativity and kindness. I am grateful for those qualities and I feel that when I embrace them,  it makes my Creator smile. God has also gifted me with a fair measure of natural beauty. He has given me large eyes and strong features, lovely hands and a tall body. I believe it pleases my  Creator when maintain the beauty he has given me by dressing flatteringly and taking time to highlight my good features. But I haven't been doing much with my natural beauty in the past few years -- and I haven't been doing much with my creativity or kindness or intelligence, either.

For five years -- since I had my first and only major attack of Multiple Sclerosis at a time when I had no health insurance at all and had recently lost my job and career as a newspaper journalist -- I have been fighting just to stay afloat. Everything in my life has been a huge struggle. Life has been extremely hard on many fronts. If I were to take a photograph of myself today and place it next to a photograph of myself that was taken five years ago, I feel as though I would look like a woman who has aged ten years, not five. Maybe I look like I have aged fifteen years. And I look this way because I have not been taking care of my health. When they say "you are what you eat," it is a true statement. So I guess I am sort of a combination of McChicken $1 meal sandwiches and oatmeal cookies -- with some V8 juice here and there for good measure. I have tried very hard over the past five years to maintain my health through the twelve step eating programs and I have not been successful with those programs.

There are two main reasons why I have not been successful with the twelve-step eating programs. The first reason is economics. In order to follow the twelve-step food program that has worked for me the best in the past, I need to go to see a nutritionist at least every six months and I need to weigh and measure my food according to a plan that she designs for me. I have had trouble paying my rent and car payments since I lost my job as a reporter. I went through a bankruptcy. I have just had a really, really hard time with life in general. Very good people who love me have tried to help in different ways and I am so very grateful for the love and kindness and support. But the problem for me is, when people help me, I feel obligated to take their advice on things, to follow their suggestions. I feel that I don't want to disappoint them and I want to show my appreciation for what they give me. Also, I have been so confused due to so many rapid changes in my life, I haven't really known if one way is better than another. So I have walked the paths suggested by people who have given me financial assistance and material support. This has not been all bad, mind you. My twelve-step friends who gave me groceries have wonderful suggestions about life. My father who has given me thousands and thousands of dollars over the past five years has great confidence in me and has always expected that I could become both the president of the United States and Miss America.

(Break for interrupted thoughts... cups of coffee, Sunday morning Facebooking, etc...)

So anyway, God told me I can't expect people to give me what they don't have.

And a few days ago He gave me health as my number one priority.

And as you know (if you've been reading my blog) I've been considering going to live in the homeless shelter for a few months due to a financial disaster and the fact that I feel like as much as I love my family, I can't live with those people because when I do, it leads me back to bad habits with regard to eating and smoking. Given that I've just gained fifty pounds trying to be an insurance saleswoman (GAG! I just HATE insurance sales!), I just really don't think living with them is an option.

My former future mother-in-law (the mother of the 28-year-old seminarian I so inappropriately had a crush on for two years -- hey, I'm over the top sometimes -- God seemingly made me this way) told me yesterday she's looking around for a free place for me to stay and I can even go and  live on her couch for awhile if I need to.

I feel the love. I love the love. I have such wonderful, wonderful people in my life.

But the thing about people is they are always promoting ideas and values and lifestyles and things. In some instances they actually push these ways.

My former future mother-in-law doesn't. At least she  doesn't do it as much as other people. She's a special education teacher so she knows how to deal with challenging people such as me.

I digress...

The bottom line is that I truly, truly walk alone with God and God has some work to do with my health right now. So I have to put my health as my main priority -- above family, above work, above love.

And the bottom line is, I've decided to become a Raw Foodist. No kidding -- this is something that came to me after four hours of prayer and meditation. If you have any adivice for me. If you want to argue or turn up your nose -- go ahead and do it. But before you do, please go sit in prayer and meditation for four hours.

And the best part is -- I didn't even just pray and meditate at any old place. Yesterday fate dropped me literally at the doorstep of the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Suffering and Dying. I kid you not! It wasn't planned. I got dropped off there just as morning Mass was starting. It was incredible. Here's a link to it:

If this wasn't enough, Emily, the Clean Water Action Canvas Director started talking to me about her friend who is a Raw Foodist and who blogs about it. I didn't thnk anything of it. But then I woke up this morning and within half an hour I decided I need to become a raw foodist. No kidding, I've met these people before.
They're the healthiest people you'll ever meet in your life. I did stories about them fifteen years ago when I was at The Battle Creek Enquirer.

I thought then that the Raw Foodists were some of the most outrageous people I'd ever met in my life.

So I guess they ARE outrageous. And I'm going to be one of them.

If the shoe fits, wear it!

So anyway, sorry this post is so rambling. But I think it's pretty exciting. I have to get to Mass, so I really don't have time to edit. But I just wanted to update everybody on the exciting news.

I am not 100 percent certain, but I am pretty sure that sometime in the pretty near future I'll be going to live at The Creative Health Institute in Hodunk, Michigan for three months.

I got my first massage there about fifteen years ago from a guy named Igor who was raised in Moscow and came from a family of Russian Massuses. It was  so amazing. Honestly, I was smiling for three weeks. Igor is long gone, of course. But I am sure there will be somebody there who gives a decent massage.

(p.s. the fact that I randomly ended up at the Pious Union of St. Joseph for the Suffering and Dying is especially incredible given that I have a huge devotion to St. Joseph and say an ancient prayer to him nearly every day. In addition I have been in single woman's Rosary Circle for about two years. We get together about once a month and pray a Rosary to St. Joseph for our future husbands. We call ourselves St. Joseph's Girls.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010


It's been a weird day.

I woke up dreaming about the man I went on two dates with a few weeks ago -- the 6-foot, 4-inch Navy Veteran who brought me a melon, the one who randomly happened upon a gig as the Dalai Lama's security guard for three weeks and ran with the bulls in Spain many years ago. He's nonchalant about all this stuff, like an organic story farm or something... these stories just grow from him.  It's amazing. He should be a writer or something (I'd been thinking something LIKE a writer's husband). I don't know. He just did something to me, this guy with the melon. He told me he wanted to sleep in a sailboat in Amsterdam in the off season some year -- lots of stuff like that and, of course, I totally imagined doing it all with him. He was a fabulous kisser, so warm and thoughtful and really strong. So I woke up thinking about rocking in this boat in Amsterdam with this guy. It felt so real, I could, like, smell the sea breeze and his T-shirt. We are supposed to be taking a break. Rather, I am supposed to be giving him space so he can get over his ex-wife who really  broke his heart three years ago. I don't know what went wrong  with his ex-wife, exactly. But it hurt him. I get it. I've had my heart mashed out with a wooden spoon by someone. It sucks. I hate it. So I was supposed to be giving him a break. We were not supposed to communicate at all until Oct. 10. But I've been feeling lonely -- and there's this issue with Facebook. He has quite a few beautiful female friends. One is a plus-sized model. He comments on her photos and tells her how sexy and beautiful she is. She took a photo of herself with him as her profile picture. Those of you who think I sound like a Facebook stalker just shut up. If you're on Facebook and you like someone, you're totally checking out whose wall he is commenting on and what she looks like in her other photos. Don't lie about it.

So this morning I woke up in Amsterdam in this guy's arms, smelling his T-shirt and everything ; except I realized that I wasn't in his arms at all. I wasn't even in Amsterdam. I was in Ypsilanti, sleeping in this twin bed that used to belong to my roommate's sister. And now she's in a convent. No kidding, she joined the order of nuns that was started by Mother  Teresa. If that isn't bad enough, several people have suggested that I would make a great nun! OMG, what kind of impression do I give? Seriously, if that were what God intended for me, life in a convent, I'd much rather He just went ahead and took me home Thursday afternoon when my car spun out on the Interstate.

So here I've been having this huge crush on this guy who seems pretty wonderful and I'm even dreaming about him and everything else. And the reality is, I'm sleeping in the bed of a nun. It felt so depressing. So I e-mailed him a glamor shot of myself from a few years ago, a beach shot of my back. The one who mashed my heart out with a wooden spoon took it at Lake Michigan one afternoon when we were having a picnic and messing around with the purple sand vetch. It was a little impulsive, I suppose. But I hate how so many  women post a million glamorous photos of themselves on Facebook these days. I mean it's bad enough that I've been sleeping in a nun's bed and that I gained fifty pounds in the past six months while I was trying to become a superstar insurance agent.

He didn't respond. But I checked his Facebook wall to see what he's been up to today. And now I see what's really going on. He's in love with this extremely beautiful woman who he went to high school with. She is a few years behind him. She's really, really pretty and owns her own salon. She's married but I don't think the marriage is going very well. It bothers him that she's married. He doesn't want to date a married woman (I know all this because he told me all about it the first night I met him. He said he had just bumped into her and it had made him crazy. They had been intimate many years ago and the feelings are still there. He doesn't know what to do.  But then he told me there  was just no way with her because she is married.) He's a good guy. He's just not that into me. And you know, let's face it, I might be going to live at a homeless shelter for three months -- and even if I wasn't, I've recently gained fifty pounds. I am still considering the whole homeless shelter thing. I mean I haven't ruled it out. It seems a little bit extreme but I just don't know what to do.  My faith is important to me but I am very tired of unsolicited advice from people who are more holy and/or better tweleve steppers. I sort of like imperfections in myself and other people. I used t o visit a glass factory in West Virginia to buy the vases that were blown with bubbly imperfections.  They cost a fraction of the price of the other vases and I always found them more interesting and beautiful.

Some other guys have expressed an interest in dating me and I suppose I'll just go ahead and go on some dates with some of them. It's  a bit hard. This guy was so cute and interesting! But some  of these other guys will probably be  cute and interesting, too. A few are guys who I've known at various times in my life and become reacquainted with through Facebook. They know what's going on with me -- all the drama with being ten minutes away from living in the homeless shelter.

But there are tons of guys from this free online dating site who I also could try to date.  The thing is, I wonder if I should update my profile to say something like "Homeless Hottie." Life feels a little bit over the top right now.

But St. Joseph is looking after me. Today I was dropped off for canvassing right across the street from a Shrine to St. Joseph in Grass Lake. I needed to add a layer of clothing; the day was colder than I'd anticipated. So I opened the door to go in and use the bathroom. Mass had just started. I stayed for Mass. I prayed a Rosary for my future husband. And I lit candles for the future husbands of my roommate and me. My heart's great desire  is for him to arrive before Christmas. I just don't want to go through another Christmas alone.

With regard to moving into the homeless shelter, I am just not certain what to do. I have prayed for clarity and I am sure that God will answer my prayers. A good friend of mine from Church told me she just really doesn't want me to do it. She said she knows of places where I could stay and that I could even sleep on a couch at her home for awhile If  I needed to. I told her I  also wondered if God wanted me to go and live with my Dad.I honestly just don't know what is the best thing to do yet. I'm confused.

I'm trying to find my way in this world as a divorced Catholic woman and it isn't easy. I'm not especially holy and the truth is, I don't have a huge desire to be much more holy. People who try too hard to be holy can be really irritating. I am especially irritated by the advice givers - especially those who offer advice but no practical solution.

I don't know what I'm going to do, exactly. I suppose I will be praying quite a lot about it tomorrow.  I pray because I need God, not because I want to be an especially good person. I suppose it is good to be prayerful. But I'm just not trying to win any contests to get into heaven. And I sort of think God totally understands why I woke up this morning on a boat in Amsterdam.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Free Rent

(Please Note: Google Blogger changed its format yesterday and I've yet to locate spellcheck. Sorry!)

I woke up at six-forty-five thinking about numbers -- dollars and priorities. There's something about the experience of calling out to Jesus from the driver's seat while the car is bouncing around the Interstate like an amusement-park ride, calling, "I guess I'm ready, Sweet Jesus; no kidding; I'm sorry for everything I've done wrong." It changes a person's perspective on numbers.

The near-death experience of yesterday afternoon has made me braver. I'm considering seriously going where I've never gone before even though it will alarm some people and I know people will try to talk me out of it. No kidding, I'm thinking about preparing to move into the Homeless Shelter in downtown Ann Arbor for three months starting in October. I thought of this once before during my post paper-newspaper missadventures and people came to my rescue. But I don't like being rescued. There are always strings attached. I'm a very stubborn person. And it's actually my crowning feature as a human. No kidding, I like this about me. I'll get back to the strings that are attached to a rescue in a minute.

The thing is, I'm just a storyteller. It's the only thing I'm any good at. And even when I'm not that good at it, it is what it is. It's who I am. It's what I do -- tell stories. And at the moment I am a storyteller who is writing about her career transition from paper newspapers. So when these events happen in my life -- when a job doesn't quite work out; when I gain fifty pounds; when (like a moron) I get in a nearly fatal car wreck with no car insurance and four more years of payments -- when these events happen, since I am truly the center of my story (and I have fans!), I don't see myself as a victim. It's hard to be a victim when your the protagonist in your own story. It's especially hard to be a victim when you're a storyteller who has a near-death experience.

Almost dying (or is it dieing... there are a few occasions each day when I miss editors) has this way of alligning the priorities of the heart. Here's what I'm feeling:

1. Be my healthiest self physically -- go ahead with that new food plan I had intended to start today even though that means putting nearly half of my paycheck for the next two week toward groceries and nutrition.

2. Continue my committment to this humble and important canvassing work and to writing about my career transition for my "Poor Journalist Gets To Business" series.

3. Keep hoping to fall madly in love with this wonderful man who worked as the Dalai Lama's security guard for thee weeks, served in the U.S. Navy and ran with the bulls in Spain as a young man. He's a keeper. But if he isn't the one for me, plan to fall in love with someone equally wonderful within the next year because it's no good to go to bed alone every night year after year after year. That just isn't living life right -- not for me anyway.

That's it. Those are my priorities: Health, work I can feel good about, belief in the availability of true love to me.

So you see, vehicles and wardrobes and houses do not have a place on the list of most important priorities. They're good things for certain. I like it when I have a reliable car. I loved it when I had a little home with a kitchen and dining room flooded with natural light. I loved it when I had my own queen-sized bed and wonderful bedding (for the past two years I've slept in this unattractive little twin bed that belonged to my roommate's sister before she joined a convent).

I like things but I am not dependent upon them for my happiness. And as the protagonist of my own story, I have to follow the story. I know how to do that. It's what I do best. So no kidding, I'm thinking about moving into the homeless shelter downtown for three months so I can get back on my feet financially.

I thought about moving up to Saginaw to live with my dad. He is 80 and can use the company. I love my father very much but I cannot live with him for three months and keep my sanity. I tried it just before I filed for bankruptcy in 2006. My father loves me and he will always give me money when I ask for it. I wouldn't starve to death, either. But that's part of the problem. My father's entire kitchen is loaded with junk food and desserts. He loves to eat that junk. And since I find it quite stressful to live with him, it's just a recipe for disaster at a time when I am trying to get back on my feet. In addition, my father does not think of me as an adult. I am the baby of seven. In his mind, I haven't yet entered high school. I am still his little girl. This is a problem. It is not the sort of situation that promotes self esteem when a person is trying to overcome a recession and make a career transition. For instance, my father does not allow me to drive his vehicles. He is certain I will wreck them. I have had a few car accidents but never received a ticket in any of them. And other people in my family have been in accidents, too, but they are welcome to drive my father's minivan. This is a baby-of-the family thing. Seriously, he really does relate to me as if I were an elementary school child. He's eighty years old and this aspect of our relationship isn't changing. He gives me instructions each time I refill the ice trays. And when I go out to the store for anything he draws me a map with colored highlighters. The purpose of these maps is to enable me to negotiate my way through Saginaw (where he lives now but not where I was raised) without having to make any left-hand turns. Hey, I'm his baby. Left-hand turns are dangerous. I kid you not. Can't go live with dad. It'll mess me up. Love him, but no.

Friends are going to jump in and offer to let me stay at their homes for a few weeks here or there, I bet. But here's the thing, I don't think the whole Washtenaw County couch-hopping gig would work all that well for me. Maybe I am being stubborn but I tried it before and I still can't stand to talk to one of the people who tried to rescue me. She just about drove me CRAZY! I have a few good friends who I know I could live with seamlessly for a few months and it wouldn't feel like a burden on them or to me. But none of those friends live anywhere near where I live and work today. I have great friends in Washtenaw County, don't get me wrong. I love these people. But there are very few people in the world who anybody could live with for free and not have it feel like a big burden. The few friends who I have who fit in that catagory live in remote places where I would not find a job or public transportation.

So th homeless shelter for three months is a pretty good idea -- very epossibly the best idea. First of all, we must remember that I am a journalist. It's bound to be a journalistic adventure. Second of all, I am a person who firmly believes that anybody can do anything for three months if she accepts that the situation is simply a means to a better future. In the third place, the homeless shelter is really close to where I work. I wouldn't have to worry about the bus and the fact that the last bus from downtown to where I live leaves shortly after 10 p.m. and I work until 10:30 or 11 p.m. most nights.

So seriously, I'm really thinking about it. It might be perfect(Well, in an imperfect sort of way. I've no illusion that it will be easy.).

Please don't gasp. PLEASE, just don't.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Window

I sat outside and drank a raspberry beer from Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall tonight and contemplated life and circumstances. Emily Woodcock bought the beer because she knows it's my favorite and I'd had such a horrible day having had my nearly fatal car accident and then realizing may insurance had lapsed and all. I hardly ever have an alcoholic beverage and I hate to even mention it due to my many beloved recovering alcoholics in my life. But somehow tonight that Raspberry beer was a real treat. It reminded me, I suppose, that I'm just a regular old girl and I've never really aspired to be much more than that.

What a beautiful night it was for sitting outside, though. Earlier, Greg Sobczynski had played me an early vinyl Greatful Dead album because of some things I'd been saying about life and death and fate and everything. It was all good and fitting and it was soul food to be around people who care about me. Greg and Emily run the Ann Arbor Clean Water Action office and have been a couple for many years. They fit together very well. I like them and feel lucky to work for such nice people.

Emily persuaded me to come out of the house tonight. I had to pick up my check anyway. I need it. I've absolutely no money. We get paid on Thursday nights and Thursdays are also staff night. Staff night is a time when canvassers all over the United States throughout the Clean Water/Environmental network get together in their various cities for socializing. Work talk generally doesn't happen, except as it relates to good storytelling.

Greg told me some jokes. I told him my two jokes. It's all I got. I've been retelling the same two jokes for twenty years. We sang each other some really old school folk songs. Emily and this guy named Nick who hiked the Appalachian Trail this summer did some wierd video disco game. They were jumping all over the basement with this rapid-fire footwork.

Megan Owens, an old friend from my Chicago years, posted on my Facebook page from her home near Sacramento that I should start feeling around for a window.

It's easy to get all philosophical and a little bit crazy when something big happens -- like crashing a vehicle and narrowly escaping death. It's easy to start contemplating a special purpose, the reason for existance, big questions such as those.

But you know, I just don't have energy today for big questions or big solutions. I made a decision to put my health first and trust that my finances and everything else would fall into place.

So now I am going to bed -- grateful for the loving friends and family members who I have in my life today -- and grateful that I do have a job to go to tomorrow. I'll work something out with this financial mess. I guess I'll make payments or something. I'll figure something out with my car. I can take the bus to work. Emily said she can give me some rides home. There are other staff members who live near me, too. It will all work out.

For awhile today I felt panicked. I wanted to move to a state with better jobs. I wanted to make more money. I wanted to feel secure.

But nothing's secure. There are no sure bets in life. We're really not in control of much of anything. Days like today reinforce that reality.

So I am going to keep walking for the Great Lakes through February sixth as I had planned. It's work I value and every week I feel myself getting healthier for it. I'm learning a great deal, too -- about leadership and being a team player. I'm also learning so much about keeping a positive attitude, about trusting, about keeping my side of the fence clean.

If something else comes my way, I'll consider it. But I don't have the energy to push and pull and weasel my way into something else just because it pays a little bit better. This job doesn't pay much, that's true. But it is secure. And if I get better at it, there will be opportunities to earn more money than I am making at the moment. And I shouldn't even say "if" I get better at it. The fact is, I will get better at it because I am working hard.

I'm pretty shook up about that accident, though. I guess I'm glad that I don't have to figure everything out.

Hope is faith holding its hand out in the dark, right? That's my mantra and I'm sticking to it.

Thanks everybody for being so awesome.

(Note... the format for the Blogger has changed and I can't find spell check or how to post a photo. Sorry!)

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

The numbers are what made me cry -- just not enough of them going into my checking account this week to deal with the situation at hand.

The tow truck driver looked over at me as he prepared to tow the car I'll be paying on for four more years from the median of I-94 Westbound to an undetermined location. Nicest tow-truck driver in the world. Josh. His wife is a Pittsfield Township cop. I didn't know all this until about twenty minutes later when he was unhooking my car at my home. But I could tell the minute he hopped in the driver's seat, through all my tears and snot, he was a pretty good guy.

"Not the best day, huh," he said.

"It's a terrible day," I said. The weather, couldn't have been better, 76 and sunny when I left the house -- and I'd just walked away from a crash that could very well have been fatal. It isn't the first nearly-fatal crash I've walked away from. When I was a reporter in West Virginia a truck plowed into me during a light snow when I was trying gingerly to make my way around a mountain. I went airbound in my Chevy Corsica. No kidding, I flew through the air that day. Thankfully snow and tall grass cushioned my landing. I took out a fence. The car slid about two-hundred feet through a farmer's field. People from the holler gathered on the road up on the mountain and watched me open the car door and walk through the valley. I might have waved to them or something; I don't recall. I just remember sitting in this truck with the guy who pushed me off the mountain waiting for what seemed like forever for the sheriff's deputy to arrive. When he did, he had a few simple questions: "Been drinking?" We said no. "Anybody shooting any guns?" Again we said no. "Been feudin'?" The accident report was pretty straight forward, even though I'd just flown through the air off the side of a mountain -- not the sort of thing that happens to a Michigan girl every day.

The police officer (who kept borrowing my pen today) asked me what happened. I told him traffic stopped quickly in front of me. It was either smash into the car in front of me or get in the median. I think the car in front of me swerved into the median for a second, too. It was fast. I clipped the wall. My car flipped in a fish tail and my backside hit the wall, too. Then it flipped again. My airbag didn't even activate. A bunch of cars pulled over and asked me if I was OK. I got out of the car so everybody could see me. No blood. No guts. I had been wearing my seatbelt. Hadn't been on the phone, hadn't even been drinking a pop or anything -- I had just been on my way to work. I waved to the people in the passing cars. "I'm OK," I said. "Are you sure you're OK?" A bunch of drivers asked. "Yes," I said. "Not a scratch."

Something like that... It's such a jumble.

The officer asked me for my insurance and registration. He went back to his car with my license. I couldn't find my insurance and registration -- not in my glove box. I admit, I am not detail oriented. Sometimes I forget to put things like that in the glove box. I don't know why I do these things! I told him I would look for it in the back seat while he processed my license. I ruffled through all the Aflac brochures in my back seat and couldn't find it anywhere. I called my insurance agent. He wasn't there. He had been calling me a couple of times a week to get me to sell insurance with him. He wants me to get licensed to sell property and auto insurance. I almost did. But I just don't like insurance. It doesn't make me happy. I was getting fat selling the Aflac. Seriously, I gained fifty pounds in six months. That's a sign that it's not a good fit. That's a sign that something needs to give. So, I just didn't get around to calling him back.

I should have called him, though. This afternoon his secretary told me my insurance was due on the Sixth of September. Damn it. Seriously, I thought I was paid up. I am sure he had sent me a notice. But I swear to you, I thought my insurance was paid. It seemed as though I had JUST PAID it.

So that's why I was crying in the tow truck. I felt like such an idiot. I told Josh. I said, "I can't believe what an idiot I am!"

He said,"You're lucky you're alive. I've seen crashes that aren't nearly this bad and the people die."

"That's true," I said, grateful I'm so anal about seatbelts.

"And you made the right choice by going into the median," he said. "You could have killed someone in the car in front of you."

"That's true," I said. "I am a pretty good driver."

"You're just lucky nobody's dead or even hurt."

"And I didn't even hit anything but the wall," I said. "That would have been REALLY bad if I'd hit another car with no insurance."

He saved my bumper and the lights for me, said it looks like they can be put back on. The trunk is a bit smashed but it opens and closes. The radiator is moved a bit, he said. But it looks like maybe it's still OK.
That's the main thing that could be a problem, he said -- the radiator. Other than that, he said it might just be cosmetic. I asked him about the frame. The police officer thought maybe I'd messed it up. Josh was a mechanic before he started driving the tow truck ten years ago. He got under my car for and looked at it. He said it doesn't look like the frame is messed up.

I just bought two new tires for that car. It doesn't even have 40,000 miles on it yet.

It's not a happy situation. It's going to cost me.

Everything does, though, doesn't it?

I told Josh how much I appreciated his kindness. He assured me I wasn't nearly as much of an emotional wreck as half the people who have things like this happen. He also shared stories about other people's hard luck that made me feel super fortunate. Misery loves company. One woman he'd towed recently had packed up everything she'd owned into a moter home to head out of state and start a new life. About twenty miles into her trip she rolled her home on wheels and lost everything. What wasn't wrecked in the accident was damaged by the firefighters who hosed down the crash. Josh's wife worked exclusively with domestic violence cases for two years. Josh himself has picked up Christmas presents that have been scattered all over the highway.

Today wasn't the greatest day of my life. But I know enough from having been a reporter for more than ten years to realize this day is really small potatoes in the scheme of calamities.

The numbers do make me feel like crying more, though. Maybe I'll cry again. I think I could use a really good cry. Maybe I'll watch a sad movie.

Even though I feel as though I want to cry my heart out, I'm so grateful to be sitting here without a scratch. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you Guardian Angel.

St. Joseph, pray for my car situaion.

St. Anne, St. Anne, send me a man.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just Being Human

So the whole completely giving up compulsive blogging thing didn't work very well.

I suppose it's the sort of thing that shouldn't be approached cold turkey.

Rather than give it all up, I've decided to just make sure I go to the gym sometimes -- in addition to blogging -- and, you know, remember to pay attention to my social life outside of the computer. To that effect I'm sitting here in my pajamas concocting weekend plans and considering the most efficient way to pack my gym bag for tomorrow -- when I also happen to be having coffee with my big brother of of Ann Arbor journalism at noon (unless one of us happens to cancel again since we keep canceling on each other).

I feel super happy and all of the grouchiness from the weekend has passed. Sorry to those of you who I more-or-less told to shut up. I had enough noise in my own head and just needed the quiet. Plus, I get sick of everyone's nurturing and advice sometimes. You know? I'm going to be turning forty five in a few months. People can stop worrying about me. I know how to look both ways before I cross the road and usually I do it. And when I don't, I'm willing to accept the consequences. Although I must admit I have appreciated the few occasions in my life when people have grabbed the back of my shirt and pulled me back to the curb. Smile. Seriously, this has happened to me twice as an adult. So, I guess I don't really mind people looking out for me. I sort of like it. I just wish you'd all keep it to yourself and stuff like that. I can do things. I'm very competent. I'm an adult after all!!!

So, before I head off into the wonderful world of fall canvassing on a beautiful day in Michigan (There's no better work than this, I kid you not. We were in Adrian last night, out in the country, beautiful farmland with rolling golden soybean fields and maples just starting to turn red and yellow), let me just update you on a few things related to my career and life transition.

First of all, some of you may be wondering why I write about weight and dating in a career transition blog. And I decided it's a topic worthy of discussion. The fact is, as a compulsive overeater I've found it difficult in my life to find balance. Most people who deal with any sort of addiction or compulsive behavior can relate to this, I am certain. In my life I have often used work in the same way that I have used cookies and cake. I've poured myself into it to such a degree that I've ignored my feelings and relationships.

So I decided, when I quit trying to be a superstar insurance saleswoman and realized it just wasn't happening for me, that maybe I should just try dating a little bit. I had been mostly thinking I should wait until the Poor Journalist got back to business to date. I thought I would feel more able to contribute to a relationship then. Also, I felt like I didn't want to date if I wasn't where I wanted to be financially. I had all sorts of excuses in my head for avoiding the mess of relationships. But then I realized I didn't want to go through too many more Christmases without having anybody special to hang ornaments with me. So, I thought I could just try it and see.

I'm really glad I did. I think there's a pretty good chance things will work out with this guy who I have a crush on now, too. He's a super guy in lots of ways -- my favorite way being that he's much more in touch with what's going on emotionally with himself and with me than any other man who I've ever dated. He's also very frank and up front. That's cool. I like it. He's taking cave time right now -- figuring out some stuff from a past relationship. I like that, too -- a man who knows when he needs time for himself to figure out what's going on in his heart and head; and even better yet, a guy who's willing to step up and give me a call and tell me that that's exactly what he needs to do (some guys will just leave you hanging, wondering if they've flown off to Siberia with a circus maiden). So whatever happens with this guy, I think the experience of dating him has been really helpful for moving me in a direction toward balance and maturity. And no matter what, he gets to go down in history as the first over 40 man who's ever kissed me. Totally excellent kisser, mind you.

So, enough about kissing and romance... on to weight and boundaries with that.

In addition to the stress of having new feelings for someone (feelings are stressful for people who are compulsive overeaters -- happiness, surprise, sadness, worry, waiting, wondering, anger, jealousy, joy... all reasons to eat sugar. Any feeling makes us want to eat sugar), I have decided to break away from the pack of my friends who attend my eating meetings. This has been really stressful to me because these are some of my very closest friends and I haven't wanted to disappoint them. Also, since I am not sure that what my heart desires to do with regard to my food plan is really the best thing, I have been feeling really worried that I might lead some of them astray, too.

One of the hardest things about being a food addict is the very public nature of the condition. I rely really heavily on my friends for support and encouragement and I get quite a lot out of the twelve-step spirituality. For long periods in my life I have had success with following a food plan from a nutritionist and following a daily set of routines and rituals that are practiced by many of my friends in the twelve-step fellowship. I actually was one of the first people in Ann Arbor to adopt this regimented way of dealing with the food addiction and I co-founded one of the most successful and popular twelve-step meetings in Ann Arbor in 2003. I was a poster child then for the fellowship. I travelled to Washington, DC, a few times to be a lead speaker and share about how I had lost so much weight and kept it off by following the twelve-step way of life.

But for the past few years this hasn't really been working so well. And I am glad for some of our slogans in the program. The slogan I keep thinking about is, "Take What You Want And Leave The Rest." I also keep thinking about a statement that's read at every meeting. It is, "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively." I don't have to follow a particular food plan. I don't have to weigh and measure my food. I don't have to talk to a sponsor every day. Those are excellent tools and they have worked well for me in the past. They may work well for me again in the future. But at this moment in my life, those tools are not working for me. So, I have decided to step away from the pack and try this other nutritional program that a friend from church is involved with. It's what I want to do. I've decided not to mention what program it is because I know that if I do I will get a ton of opinions about it and people will share with me their experiences good and bad. I don't want to hear it although I do appreciate the concerns.

I'm just going to do it -- and continue going to my eating meetings because I feel as though I really, really, really am a certifiable compulsive overeater who has been addicted to sugar her whole life. I need my friends. I love my friends. I intend to hang out with my twelve-step friends even though it might make them a little bit uncomfortable that I'm doing things a little bit differently now. That's OK. I'm not trying to promote my choices.

I'm just trying to be an emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy human today.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


‎"Perfect charity consists of enduring the faults of others, of not being at all astonished by their weaknesses, of being edified of the smallest acts of virtue which one sees them practice." ~ St. Therese de Lisieux

So what's really wrong with me? I've felt like such a grouch all day.

It has to do with this crush that I have, I suppose.

I think it quite possibly won't work out and that feels sad. He's such a nice guy -- so handsome, so smart, so cuddly, such a good storyteller, so experienced. I like him.

But I went and told him about some boundaries I have because of my faith and emotions with regard to some personal issues and I am worried we aren't going to be compatible now. And the really disturbing thing is that I'm no good at talking about these sorts of differences -- and I told him via e-mails of these very personal things which should be spoken face-to-face. It's true: I have an e-mail problem! I explain waaay too much, possibly waaay too soon. It comes off looking a little nutty, I suppose -- um, because it IS a little nutty.

Fear of rejection, I guess, is what I'm feeling now. And that's sort of silly. I know how silly it is. If he's not the one for me, he's just not the one for me. But he ran with the bulls in Pamplona when he was in his early twenties. And he spent three weeks as a security guard for the Dalai Lama. And he's super cute and a great kisser and soooo cuddly. Of course I want him to be the one. Anybody who knows me knows how much I love these sorts of qualities in a man. Sigh. But the fact is, he very well might not be the one for me. Maybe God has someone really boring in mind for me or something. You never know.

I just had to come clean and admit this whole silly crush is at the heart of my grouchiness, this crush and the feeling that it possibly isn't going to work out and also the knowledge that I handled the whole situation in a manner that is not especially attractive.

I've never been very good at the whole romantic seductress sort of thing. I leave no mystery. I'm overly concerned about the truth of matters and other people's feelings -- and my own feelings, perhaps. Maybe not. It's hard to say.

This is the way I've always been. I suppose I'll always be this way. I sort of like me most of the time -- except when I'm having a crush on someone.

So I went to sit in meditation at my church's Eucharistic Adoration Chapel for a little while to get some peace in my soul, to let go of the agitation, to just sit with Jesus and feel the unconditional Love God has for me.

It was nice. I started reading a chapter of I Believe in Love A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux by Father Jean C. J. d' Elbee.

I read a chapter about Charity and within a few pages I stumbled upon one of my favorite quotes about love from St. Therese of Lisieux.

"Perfect charity consists of enduring the faults of others, of not being at all astonished by their weaknesses, of being edified of the smallest acts of virtue which one sees them practice."

It may seem funny but I didn't even realize until a few years ago that Charity is actually a high form of Love. Charity is a special type of love. My friend Dcn. Nate Harburg explained it to me. He is a big fan of St. Therese and her writings. He prays for her to intercede for me quite often. When Dcn. Nate prays to St. Therese she often sends him roses. He's very close to God and I feel lucky to have a friend who spends so much time in prayer. I could use to spend more time in prayer and less time on Facebook.

I have been so grouchy. Having special feelings for someone makes me feel a bit out of control. Feeling fat makes me feel out of control. Feeling grouchy and irritated with life, I suppose, helps me to feel some element of control.

It's never easy for a person who struggles with an addiction to deal with feelings. Here I am dealing with feelings toward a man at exactly a time when I am trying to face my resurfaced eating issues.


I'm giving myself a little break. St. Therese refers to charity for our neighbors and I'm down with that. But also, I'm thinking, I need to practice more charity towards myself this week.

Treading very gently now... with no need to solve the mysteries of the world or even the mysteries of my heart.

It's good enough just to be human and to feel my own breaths. Today I just need the simplicity of The Little Way.

P.S. No advice, please. I'm not looking for any advice on this post. I just felt like writing about it all and now I feel better for having done so. Thank you.

Just Shut Up!

One of the things I hate the most about being a compulsive overeater is the public nature of the condition.

When a person gains fifty pounds in six months, as I just have, it's pretty noticeable. People generally don't say anything when they see you gaining weight. They may whisper behind your back. And of course, if I were a celebrity (THANK GOD I'M NOT!) unflattering beach photos would be the talk of the town. But for the most part, people don't really say anything honest to someone when she's gaining wait. Nobody has ever said to me, for instance, "OMG! You're busting out of those jeans!" Nobody's ever said,"Keep eating that cake, Patty, you can sign up for the Diabetic Support Group next week."

No, people don't talk like that to compulsive eaters when we're getting fat -- possibly because most people eat compulsively at one time or another during their lives and because hardly anybody's ever at exactly the weight they want to be at. I was for about ten minutes one day. It was GLORIOUS. Did I ever look like a hottie! Someone even told me I was modelesque. Modelesque. Now that's a sweet sounding word to hear -- especially when you're pushing forty.

But let's face it, my modelesque moment is gone. I'm forty-four. And I'm fat! Seriously. I am SOOOOO fat, it's unbelievable to me. I was this fat before for awhile. But I haven't been anywhere near this fat in a decade. I'd forgotten what fat feels like. I'd been in denial of what fat feels like. It feels TERRIBLE. I hate fat. Hate it.

Here's the thing, though. Even though I know I'm really fat (Seriously, this much fat is a health risk), people won't agree with me that I'm fat. They tell me I look good (OK, so I admit, I photo shopped some recent photos a bit and it might not totally be their fault). But the fact is, people don't like to tell other people they look fat. I suppose that's fair enough. I mean, I can't really imagine myself going up to someone and saying, "Wow, you've really gained a hell of a lot of weight. You're enormous." You know, stuff like that, it just ISN'T NICE.

But here's the thing I hate the most: People won't tell you you're fat when you're fat. They tell you, you "look good!" They say, "I hadn't noticed." They say, "Oh, there's no way you've gained that much weight. The scale must be broken."

But the moment I lose ten pounds, the comments begin -- and they won't end! Everybody and their seventy-nine closest friends and neighbors has SOMETHING to say about a person's weight loss. I hate it. I wish people would just shut up. I've been down this road before. I know what I have to do. It takes commitment. It takes support. It takes planning. It takes exercise. But really, it's not all that difficult once I've become miserable enough with the consequences of eating cookies. And I'm pretty miserable. So the weight will come off.

And the comments will start in about two weeks:

"You're looking so good!"

"You're doing a great job!"

"You're being so good!"

"You have so much willpower!"

This sort of nonsense. I hate it. I don't like hearing it. It bugs me. Why does it bug me? It bugs me because of the way in which people in our culture associate thinness with goodness and fatness with badness, I suppose. It bugs me because of the way in which people associate fatness with ugliness and thinness with prettiness.

It bugs me because I get irritable when I give up sugar. It bugs me because I feel watched. It bugs me because everybody tells me their tips on weight loss when I haven't asked for them. It bugs me because all of a sudden my personal medical business has become everybody in the world's business.

Compulsive overeating, like alcoholism and diabetes and lupus and muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis and cancer -- is a medical condition. It's an illness. I don't overeat because I am a weak person. And I don't lose weight and get fit because I'm a good person or a strong person or an admirable person.

It just is what it is.

And I'm grouchy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Letters and happiness

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It's been a great week. I'm getting in a groove. I really love canvassing and now I'm getting the chance to mentor other canvassers because I'm starting training to become a field manager. I've made a commitment to stick with Clean Water Action until Feb. 6 and it feels good not to be thinking about job hunting.

I just feel happy. I don't feel too much like blogging and I guess that's healthy.

Let's see... some highlights from the week:

1. Totally walked through the shrubs of an average-sized lake-front mansion on Grosse Ile this week and found myself on the middle of the lawn of the hugest mansion ever. It had glass windows all around it. Boy, did I feel sneaky. Finally I found a door that was not also a window and knocked. Nobody answered. I really don't think anybody was home. Good thing we canvas with permits. It would have been a little bit embarrassing if I'd encountered security, given that the house is actually heavily gated (I hadn't noticed the gates, of course, since I'd just slipped through an opening in the neighbor's shrubs.

2. Totally bumped into a street sign with the name of this guy who I'm crushing on. Sigh. The small pleasures in life.

3. Got tons of kids and their parents to write letters to President Obama on the topic of significantly raising our miles-per-gallon standards starting in 2017 to decrease our dependency on Foreign Oil. Lots of kids drew pictures on the letters. Some were even related to the topic. We collect the letters at the end of the night. People tape them to their doors. Clean Water Action is hand delivering several thousand letters to President Obama at the end of month.

4. Had a great presentation by Ashley from Cleveland who told us how her organization uses "Good Neighbor Campaigns" to get companies who are major polluters to stop polluting and clean up their acts. Rather than go through the government (since the EPA fines these businesses but doesn't force them to stop polluting), the Cleveland canvas gets people to write letters directly to CEOs of companies and puts pressure on them to become more concerned about toxins and pollution. It's very effective in Ohio.

5. Met Sarah Roberts.

6. Took a little break at an Oak Tree when I was canvassing Saturday afternoon in Saline and met a little gopher-like critter who lives in the tree. Very cute. A little bit shy. I love these little encounters with wildlife.


That's about it. Sorry I just don't feel like writing more this week. I'm busy getting happy.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Boundaries

I've become quite a compulsive blogger. It's been complimenting my compulsive eating (I've pretty much been eating compulsively ever since late February when I started blogging) and keeping me from doing some important things I need to be doing -- like laundry and getting to my eating meetings and going to the gym.

It all started with trying to be a great saleswoman, I suppose. I was so bent on being the super hero who proved she could beat the recession in Michigan after all the attention my stories were receiving on Open Salon. After having received such a rude and abrupt dismissal from the Ann Arbor News in 2005, I'd really lost my confidence as a journalist. So I guess I thought I had something to prove.

Well, I did prove some things -- but I didn't prove I could become a rock-star saleswoman with no previous experience and single-handedly beat the recession in Michigan.

I guess I won't be doing any book signings or window displays at Borders in the spring. No kidding, some of my buddies on Open Salon were certain I was writing a bestseller. They were also certain that I wasn't only going to make 57 K this year but that I was going to make 75 K. But there's so much gratuitous flattery on Open Salon. People are overly gushy, in part, because they want you to visit their posts and say equally gratuitous things. I admit, I did it too. It's the culture -- something like Junior High School. And what's really sad is, who knows if Borders will even be around in the spring considering the rate at which bookstores are closing.

I am sorry to disappoint anybody. But I expect I'll earn less this year than I earned last year.

At least I've learned some things about compassion for myself and others. That's pretty useful, I suppose, and not to be underrated.

But I've made some decisions about my life this weekend that pretty much rule out the possibility of me getting anywhere near that 57K this year. In fact, the path I've decided to take ensures that I'll only make about $12,500 in the next six months.

It feels peaceful to me. I've never needed expensive things to be happy. I've only needed to enjoy what I'm doing and feel respected and appreciated by the people around me. I feel that way at Clean Water Action. And since I've got about fifty pounds to lose (that will probably take twelve months, not six), I need to keep my work life really simple.

I don't want to look for a different job right now. I just want to work for Clean Water Action for the next six months while I really focus on my eating program. It's something I've learned over the years that I have to be extremely diligent about. It takes commitment. It takes time. It's not easy. But it brings me so much peace.

I'd much rather be free from the habit of compulsive overeating than be rich. I'd much rather be free from the habit of compulsive overeating than have a job that people admire.

So I'll start considering how I'll layer my clothing during the winter months while I consider this important canvassing work that so many people frown upon. I'll get a headlamp so I can read house numbers during callbacks. It's already getting dark by 8p.m. and we canvass until 9 p.m.

I'll just suit up and show up and do the best I can.

Oh, and with regard to the blogging - I'm going back to once a week, at least for the next thirty days. I was starting to get my urge to save the world again. It's something that comes up when my eating is out of control -- this whole saving the world business. Most people really don't want to be saved. And I'm not very good at saving anybody, anyway. It's my big sisters who are the nurses, not me.

Big Sigh.

Thank God I don't have to save the world or anybody in it today.

The only person who I have to take really good care of is me.

Goodbye flower-frosted cookies from the all-night-drive-through bakery. It wasn't really all that much fun while it lasted anyway. To be honest with you, you're really sort of disgusting and certainly crumby.