Sunday, 30 October 2016

SHORT STORY for Halloween 2016 - hope you enjoy

Twinkle, twinkle little star, Full of wonder from afar, Now from heaven I do peek, to find peace is all I seek.

The red convertible traveled effortlessly over the worn asphalt country road. Its high performance engine purred with life. The driver, a young man - a dreamer if you will - pressed the accelerator. As the speedometer climbed to 95, the young man smiled.

There was something to be said about living in the country - for one, posted speed limits were for tourists and old folks. For two, the long stretches were surrounded on both sides by green grass. Further in were tall trees. The air smelled clean, fresh and everything was few and far between. He liked that. He wished the road could go on forever.

Occasionally, in the distance, he could see a patch of light, someone's house, perhaps a ranch. There were no buildings, no cars, no people, nothing except an occasional cow or two dotting the many pastures he passed by. They paid him no mind. It was just him, the open sky dotted with a billion pinpoints of light shining down on his in the early evening dusk, and the open road.

He inhaled deeply. The crisp country air jumpstarted his senses. He felt a familiar tingling deep in his gut, as he always did when he travelled this road, with no particular destination in mind.

He glanced at the passenger seat. He saw his briefcase with initials, L.B, embossed in gold. He remembered the day he had received it. He had just graduated from law school, a gift from his mother. A little over a year had passed and he was now a junior partner in the most prestigious law firm in the city. He worked hard during the week and played harder on the weekends.

He placed his hand on the cherished briefcase. A ton of work lay within. Research from three cases going on at the same time. He felt a momentary pang of guilt. Then as quickly as the feeling came, he dismissed it. It was the weekend. The work could wait.

He pressed the accelerator and the speedometer climbed to 105. Then 110,115. The car only trembled slightly as the suspension adjusted to the speed. The young man glanced up at the open sky, light shining down, and smiled inwardly.

This is the life, he thought. 120,130,140. As the car rocketed down the road, the headlights picked out... something. The young man frowned. He couldn't quite make it out. Curiosity kicked in and he slowed down - 80,70,40,20. He pulled over to the side and got out. The headlights bounced off a shape far into the field, half-hidden behind trees to his right. It was metal, twisted, crumpled, and rusted. A red car, and from the look of things, it had been there a very long time.

As the young man walked slowly down a ditch and toward the trees, he saw it. An old briefcase, deteriorated, faded, with raised gold lettering. He brushed the leaves and the dirt away. L.B.

The young man reached down to pick it up. He straightened up quickly, heart racing. He looked toward the wreck, hesitated but a moment and slowly approached the twisted metal of the red convertible. His eyes travelled to the decaying corpse inside, a young man hunched over the steering wheel. He did not attempt to touch it.

He quickly turned around and walked back to his car. He placed his hand on its hood. The warmth of the engine was reassuring.

Sitting in his car, the young man looked up towards the open sky, dotted with a billion pinpoints of light, shining down. He understood.

The red convertible traveled effortlessly over the worn asphalt country road. Its high performance engine purred with life. The driver, a young man - a dreamer if you will - pressed the accelerator. As the speedometer climbed to 95, the young man smiled.

There was something to be said about living in the country - for one, posted speed limits were for tourists and old folks. For two, the long stretches were surrounded on both sides by green grass. Further in were tall trees. The air smelled clean, fresh and everything was few and far between. He liked that. He wished the road could go on forever.

Twinkle, twinkle little star, Full of wonder from afar, Now from heaven I do peek, to find peace is all I seek.

Monday, 11 June 2012

June 2012 - Weight Loss - continued

It's been a while. Am still doing my exercises - but now only every 2nd day or whenever I feel like it :)  -  I have lost, as of today, 31 pounds. Not bad. Am still looking at losing another 15-20 pounds but hey, what the heck. I feel better and that is what is important.

We have gotten Fiber Op and there is a TV station that plays music of the 60's. Wow - I have a TV in the exercise room and turn on music of the 60s and away I go for 40 minutes of bicycling. Then it's upstairs for my 15 minute floor exercise - usually putting on TV to the Games Channel. Life Is good.

My son has moved into his own apartment as of June 1st. What a great accomplishment for him. I am so proud of him. He works part-time and is feeling pretty independent right now. So much for the doctors saying he needed to be in a Special Care Home. We said No!!  We stayed positive and tried to pass it on to him.... only positive allowed, I would tell him.  If someone or if he said anything negative, I would say 'BIG X' - which meant to stop thinking or saying anything negative :) 

Till next time.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Weight Loss - continued

I haven't written here for a while. Thought I would update so those who read this will know that I am still on the right path. As of today, I have lost 23+ pounds. I enjoy listening to my 1960s music and exercising.

I sometimes get discouraged though. Those pounds seem to take forever to lose - yeah sort of. When I look at the amount of weight I have lost, it amazes me. Yet when I look in the mirror, I don't see much difference. Am learning that the mirror is not important though. What is important is the way I feel: a whole lot better!!

Talking about learning, I have been taking a creative non-fiction class. I found the teacher good in many ways, however, she never gave any positive feedback on anyone's writing and the class dwindled from 11 students to just 3 (including me). I was finding my writing enthusiasm was starting to suffer. I was feeling like I was a horrible writer. Was it me or was it her? Someone told me she was the one with a problem. I had asked her if she thought giving positive feedback was important and she had replied with 'if a student cannot accept criticism, they have a deep-seated problem that needs attention." I was ready to give up on her and then realized that perhaps my ego was my 'deep-seated' problem. Not that I thought I was ever a great writer - I have struggled with negative feelings about my writing for a long time. Never thinking what I wrote was any good. Some people call it 'IC' or Inner Critic. I thought about it and realized I had posted negative things about her teaching methods on my facebook page. I realized I had to look at what she taught in a different light.

I believe - truly - that no-one crosses our path without a purpose or a reason. So why was she put in my life at this particular time? What lesson did she have to teach me - life lesson that is.  I realized she was teaching me I could not judge another person because I had not walked in their shoes. Me, who prided herself in being non-judgemental, since I was so involved with the Advocacy Committee for those who had a mental health issue. And yet here I was, judging her. This was the lesson she was teaching me. My pride in being non-judgemental was being tested. I was judging her while at the same time advocacing against others judging others. How hypocratic of me.

Will I go to another class? I don't know at this time. I will wait until Thursday to decide. I have never quit at anything - well that is not true, I used to quit at things. But not lately. Am I going to start quitting now? I can be strong enough of a writer to take negatives and not let it affect me. I can finish the course. Or I can let her negativity discourage me enough to quit.

If I quit her class, what else will I quit? When the going gets tough..... etc.  I might be placed in her path for a reason also. Perhaps I have something to teach her. Usually teaching goes both ways. We will see.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Day 59

Day 59 ... hmmm - that would be 8 weeks plus a few days. Have lost 14 pounds which averages around 2 pounds a week. I feel better, have more stamina, and find that exercising is good for my health (both emotionally and physically). I try to exercise now at different times during the day (or evening).

It really has become easier to exercise - am reaching 250+ burned off calories on my exercise bike and after doing my stomach crunches, I am not as tired.

This week, I actually thought I would have put on weight as I went out to a restaurant and ate some pasta and last night, I made some beanless chili (putting in Tostilos instead of beans in the casserole). Plus had 2 pieces of home-made garlic bread. But I am seeing that as long as I exercise every day, I can eat these things and not put on weight - even lose some. Surprise, surprise.

The strange part of my weight loss program is that I am starting to get comments about the way I look. But strange comments. Three people have asked me if I had gotten a haircut. Now, this strikes me as strange and I actually wonder if hair can lose weight. But the fact is that I am letting my hair grow out - I want to grow a 'bob' - shoulder length hair. So when I started the weight loss program without the word 'die' in it, I had gone to my hairdresser who suggested that my hair would look thicker and better if I let it grow a bit - so have not had a haircut since before losing those 14 never-to-seen again pounds. So why are people looking at me and asking if I have cut my hair? Don't know - maybe they see a slight difference in the way I look but can't quite put a finger on what it is yet. Which is OK. Come spring, I will be able to shed some clothes and reveal a new body behind the layers of clothes I wear. Shock, shock, to everyone.

I keep myself busy during the day - joined a creative non-fiction class. Submitted short stories to two contests. Whether I win or not, I know these are good stories.

My creative non-fiction class started last Thursday. We had a homework assignment - which was to write down 12 questions that would reveal the essence of a person without getting into anything too personal. One question I came up with was 'what makes you smile'. Then yesterday morning, I thought about the question and asked myself that same question. And found that I could not answer it. The realization came that there is not not much in my life to smile about. Sure, I love jokes and smile. Sure, I watch a funny movie and I smile or laugh. But what makes ME smile? It was a cruel twist to realize that my life did not contain many 'smiling' moments - I paid attention yesterday to see when I smiled and why. And in bed last night, I realized that I had not smiled in earnest all day and actually for quite a while. Sure, I smiled at people, I pretended I was happy. But was I? I realize that when I smile, it is when I am with people, when others make me smile, be it a pun (have a few friends who are great at puns). Subtlety is essential to a good pun. Fun puns are great. I enjoy making them, and I enjoy hearing them. So I posted a question on my FB wall asking my friends what makes them smile and hope that it does not create the sadness it created in me. But I digress....... this is about my weight loss (which really should make me smile). Inside I am glad I am losing weight. I want to be healthier.

So I continue putting one foot in front of the other (or in the case of when I am on my bike, feet turn around and around) and I look forward to exercising today. It is a joy. Does it make me smile? Not really. It just gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Then again, I did smile when I sent off my entries to the 2 contests this month. Will I smile 'when' I win? I don't know. Smiling comes from within. Maybe after I finish all my blogs about my weight loss and when I reach my target goal, then I will examine why I do not have a smile that exists deep within me. Or accept life as it is. Or change my life.

People are essential to my happiness. That much I do know. A touch is also important but touches are few and far between. But again, that is a subject to be dealt with another day.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Day 48 - Weight Loss Program with a twist

Day 48 – Well, I have lost 12 pounds thus far. OK, not making quite as much progress as I was hoping – but have been busy, although I have been faithfully doing all my exercises every day (think I missed one day since the last time I posted). 
Since my last Blog, I had a wonderful birthday.  Had an appointment in morning with my cardiologist who gave me the good news that all my tests had showed nothing structurally wrong with my heart. Had a pleasant day with family and friends. Went to supper and had scallops (not very good) and a pretty good Caesar Salad. I filled up pretty quickly. Almost ordered a 7-Up but opted for a tall glass of water instead.
Last Friday, I was supposed to go Line Dancing, but before, pain struck and I knew I was passing a kidney stone.  I had passed one about 6 months ago and so this time, I knew what was happening. It was not as bad as in the summer. Pain was as bad, but at least I did not bother rushing to the hospital. Plus the fact that there was next to no blood (where I am on warfarin), I just waited it out. I would have gone to the hospital if I had thought it would have done any good. But why go when all they can do is watch me writhe in pain and say ‘ouch’ once in a while. It passed. (the pain and the stone).
So that was the day I decided to skip my exercise routine. Hey, one has to be nice to oneself once in a while :o) 
So still losing weight. Not as much as I would want to. But am averaging close to 2 pounds a week. Not too bad. I still have about 30 pounds I would love to lose, and I know I can do it. Just a matter of doing exercises every day (or most every day).
The strange thing I notice is that my shoes are starting to feel too big. I am losing fat around my ankles – and also am noticing that my wrists are thinner. Why oh why does weight come off wrists and ankles instead of neck and stomach? Oh well, I figure it will eventually.
Not really getting much support from family yet. But then they do not see the scales every morning – and not sure if they see any signs of my weight loss thus far. I just know I have not seen ‘that number on this morning’s scales’ for a long time (a year?). 
Food intake has diminished slightly. Not as big a portion before I am full. I saw somewhere ‘top 5 foods to avoid’ and bananas was there. However, I need to eat a banana a day to ensure my potassium stays within the normal range. With the meds I am on for my heart, one of the side effects of one of them is loss of potassium. But with a banana each day, I am able to bring it up to where it should be. I had tried (about 2 months ago) to just eat a banana every 2nd day and my potassium level fell considerably,  so back to eating one of the ‘top 5 foods to avoid’.  Oh well.
I find that I feel better (another plus to shedding a few pounds). Mentally and physically. I also have more energy and I sleep better. Another plus.  I eat snacks (but healthy snacks like carrots – and I have one  tablespoon of dip … only 25 calories in the did).   I am so thankful that I was never a junk food junkie (well except for anything with peanut butter in it). I don’t go to the corner store – well I have, but I  avoid the aisle with  that peanut butter fudge.
Entered a writing contest yesterday. Yah. It is a non-fiction short story. I think it is a great story actually. True story too.   Funny. I realize that perhaps my calling is in writing comedy. Maybe. I know I have written so many stories that are such sad stories that even I am getting sick of them. So I have decided to put a slight twist to my stories and make them more humorous. I think one can turn anything into a slightly funny or witty story. 
Today will be a busy day so I need to get on that exercise bike soon. Probably will try to update here every week (every 2 days is a bit unrealistic).  See you later…….

Monday, 9 January 2012

Day 39 of Weight Loss program

Well, I wrote a blog last night. Thank goodness I decided to write it in a word doc. I was not having a very good day yesterday and it was a negative post. It was along the line of eating to fill the emptiness inside. Enough said.

So last night, I burned off an extra 210 calories on the exercise bike instead of posting that blog. Made me feel slightly better and went to bed early to avoid any more negative emotions.  This morning, I wrote a short story (which by the way could easily become a book), then I did my exercise routine. Breakfast consisted of cereal (Special K ... not that I am advertising that) and skim milk. Lunch was my daily banana. It is now 2:20 p.m. and at 3 p.m. I will eat my regular (yummy) vegetable crackers. Have drank about 4 glasses of water so far today.   I did weigh myself this morning and I think??? I may have lost another 1/2 pound. Hey, half a pound every  2nd day sounds good to me.  My stomach crunches have jumped to 65 reps. Total time exercising is 50-55 minutes (with bike, rowing machine, crunches and arm strengtening).

I had also given up drinking my regular 7-Up and replaced it with water. Do not miss it actually.  I used to drink Pepsi and when I stopped that (about 3 years ago), it was really rough. Think it had to do with caffeine withdrawal. But giving up 7-Up  is easy.  Even at a restaurant, I just get the water. I used to indulge in 7-Up but really, why bother? It is just empty calories.

I love the fact that I do not have to restrict my food intake (as a matter of fact I eat more often) - it is just that the portion sizes automatically reduce themselves as I am full a lot sooner now.  And I tend to look at the fat content and calories on stuff I eat (e.g. last night son was out with friends, so I just opened myself a can of soup - picked one that was low in calories). I mean, shoot, if I am going to work on that bike of mine, I look at the calories and think to myself:  Is this worth 36 minutes + of exercising. Nope. So I resist high calory/fat foods automatically.

Will blog again in 2 days (that would be next Wednesday for all you people who check this Blog on a daily better...).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

My Diet without the word 'Die'

I have finally found the courage to make that leap of faith and start a Blog about losing some of my extra weight.  I refuse to call it a diet.  Anything with the word 'die' in it does not sound like a good thing to me. 

To tell you the truth, dear Blog, I started trying to lose weight 5 weeks and 3 days ago.  I have been wanting to lose weight for some time, and out of fear (no, not fear of failure but because of health issues), I kept postponing it.  Why try something that might kill me? What if I should fail? I had done enough of that in my life experiences. There were periods of time that I felt like the word 'failure' was my middle name. 

But one day - and I cannot remember the exactly reason why - could have been because I was just fed up with everything, I said to heck with it, if I die trying to lose weight, at least I will lay in a casket a few pounds lighter.  So off I went.

In 5 weeks plus 3 days, I have lost 10 pounds.  Holy moly.  Did not expect that to happen.  And hence came to idea to start blogging about how I am losing weight.  And of course, with the whole world reading this particular Blog Spot - sure, sure - I feel motivated enough to put myself out there and chance the ridicule of not losing any more weight.  But wait (oh how I love using words that sound the same but are spelled differently), I do need to think positive.  I WILL lose the weight I want to lose.  Especially with the world backing me up and encouraging my efforts.

So what, do you ask, Dear Blog, is the secret to my having lost 10 pounds in 5 weeks and 3 days?  Well it is not by die-ting.  It is merely be deciding to be a bit more active.  The first thing I had done was post some old pics of me on my Facebook wall.  They were pictures of my wonderfully thin and young body - of a few years ago (ok ok not just a few - but many years ago). But the ultimate reason for my wanting to lose weight was to feel better.  To have more self-confidence, and one cannot have any selfc-confidence without the word 'self' being in there.  It was time to my my-self first for once. 

Having had some health problems in the past, and being on heart meds, has not been easy - gosh at times it has been downright dreadful.  A-fib has me on Warfarin (Coumadin) and it is well known (at least by coumadin users) that the K blocker (K helps the blood clot and so Warfarin blocking K in the blood makes it clot a lot less) - anyway as any 'user' knows, it has been known to have people put on 10 pounds easily during the first few months.  A few years on it and one puts on way too much weight.  Or at least that made sense to me, although I knew that my lack of exercise might also have had something to do with the pounds being gained. 

But so what? I wanted to lose weight. It was time.  I was getting older and as I gazed at my younger self on my FB, I knew I needed something.

So - let's see - I could starve myself.  That was one option. But that did not sound very appetizing.  I might get hungry and go for a Big Mac or something as dreadful.  Eating better sounded somewhat nicer, but hey, I still wanted some pasta once in a while.  Thankfully I was not a junk food junkie. I did not even like chocolates that much - oh I could eat one or two, but I could also not eat any. Ice cream? No, that never did appeal to me. The one sweet I had trouble resisting was anything with peanut butter in it.  So all I had to do to limit any sweet craving was forgetting about getting those yummy peanut butter fudge thingies one can buy at the local corner store. Not a problem if I never went there.  But never eating pasta? Now that was another story. I loved my mac and cheese casseroles, my spaghetti, my rice (with sweet and sour meatballs of course).

So I looked around. I did not have far to look. There behind me (literally) was the basement home gym that we had done up for our son.  In there was a treadmill, a stationary bike that recorded time and calories, and a rowing machine thing.  That looked do-able - even to me.  I had once, a long time a go, joined a gym and lost some weight (not that I really needed to lose much then, but it took next to no time). There was also a benchpress for free weights, but I was being realistic and knew I would not be lying down on it. I also knew that somewhere in the other basement room was an old stomach cruncher thingie.  And I also had these elastic pull weights that I had used a few years back when I had had 2 frozen shoulders.  So yeah, I could start exercising instead of - what? - being on FB for a few hours or playing computer games at other sites. 

The first time on that bike was torture. Boring as heck since the TV in the exercise room had been disconnected so my son could have cable on his huge flat screen TV (not in exercise room by the way).  So - now what? Give up?  Well, I have been told that I can be stubborn (I don't believe it, although I will admit that maybe I can appear to be ;o)  -  Then, I started listening to music on the computer and a Eureka moment happened.  I took out my CD player and old CDs and started exercising while listening to the 'oldies' - my fav type of songs. 

A week later, I weighed myself and saw I had lost over 2 pounds. Good grief. Was this really going to work?  I continued and now, 5 weeks and 3 days later, I have lost 10 pounds - with quite a few more to go (pounds and weeks).  I know I am not there yet, because no-one has looked at me and said 'wow, have you lost weight?' - at least not yet.  So I let the scales tell me that for now.  My clothes also tell me - especially my bras - believe me there were many times when the thought of a breast reduction sounded wonderful. 

What I do is 36 minutes plus 30 some seconds on the bike while listening to music (have progressed to an MP3 thanks to my wonderful son, then I do floor exercises (am into crunching up 60 reps up, then crunking on each side 60 reps each and back to front for 60 more reps, then I do the rubber thingy for arm strengh 50 reps on each arm.  Takes me about 45 minutes - 50 minutes top. 

I am finding myself also trying to fool my body's metabolism.  I eat more - sounds ridiculous? Yeah. But I used to skip lunch - now I have my Special K cereal (commercials do have an effect) with a banana (I need to eat a banana a day for low potassium),  - then comes lunch and low sodium soup or something similar. Mid afternoon, I eat 6 small crackers (low fat ones) Supper time is supper time and I don't pay much attention - I do love pasta remember? But I have found that I am not as hungry as before (maybe because I have eaten a good breakfast, lunch, snack before supper - also I drink about 6-8 glasses of water each day.  And - just to make sure my body does not store that extra fat overnight, in the evening, I eat 6 small carrots with a low fat teaspoon of cream cheese - yummy. 

I always weigh myself in the mornings after going to the bathroom.  Don't ask me why - but I think I read that was the best time of day to weigh oneself because one weighs less then.

I will keep blogging my progress every 2nd day.  Hopefully before Easter, I will have reached a goal that I will be proud of.  By summer time, I will be fit.  And slim.  But alas, not younger.

If anyone has any die-ts on how to become younger, let me know.  In the meantime, I think positive and know that I am doing my body a favor. And most importantly, I am doing my self a favor.