Sunday, October 18, 2009

Comfort - Without the Calories

As I've mentioned, it's been really cold here lately, unseasonably cold, and I'm finding myself wanting to hibernate like an old bear, seeking warmth, comfort and emotional safety as well as deep sleep in a way that I do EVERY year at this time, but even more so what with all the financial uncertainty out there and Bob's job going away soon.

But anyhow, I'm not here to kavetch about that overmuch. The point is, because I'm in this sleepy, hungry, cold, and inactive mode, I haven't been exercising regularly AND instead of veggies, I've been craving soup, casseroles, and pie (my favorite is French Silk) - why the heck pie, don't ask!!! But this isn't helping my efforts to keep my weight steady. And it's certainly not helping me lose - the scale is creeping slowy up. Not drastically, but not the direction I want it to go.

So today, I decided to start thinking of comforting and warm and nurturing things I could do besides eat high cal foods and hunkering down in my comfy bed.

How about:

Broth soups instead of creamy soups?

Warm veggies instead of salads. I'm not feeling the salad at all lately.

How about hot flavored tea instead of high cal dessert drinks?

How about laying out my exercise clothes right by my bed so I can jump into them in the morning?

How about those 60 calorie chocolate puddings instead of the chocolate pie?

How about rewarding myself with sitting in bed and knitting while watching a movie only AFTER I've done my exercise for the day?

Any other ideas and insights would be greatly appreciated.

One more thing - I'm going to try to make my favorite high-cal drink at the local coffee shop and converting it into maybe lower cal alternative? The drink is called "London Fog." And it is the yummiest thing and most stomach-warming thing I've tasted in ages.

London Fog:

Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Flavored Black Tea (1 teabag)

1 oz Monin's Sugarfree Vanilla Syrup

1 cup steam skim milk

Sprinkling of cinnamon on top

This morning, I just treated myself to a cup of that hot cinnamon tea all by itself, without the milk or syrup, but I served it to myself in a really pretty mug and it made me feel cozy and comfortable. So sometimes comfort can be had without ANY calories, but just a bit of self nurturing.

Questions to ponder today while spending some time curled up with my journal: "Why are you hungry? What in life are you hungry for? How can you feed yourself in a way that doesn't involve food?" Okay, not only am I going to sip tea, I'm going to sit down with my journal and explore those questions. Hunger is about more than one's stomach. And there are many routes to comfort.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Freezing: Still, A Three Day Weekend is a GOOD Thing

It's hard to believe this is us only a couple of weekends ago, in late September, enjoying a very sunny day together sitting outside on a veranda. But now, we've been plunged into heavy jackets and are huddling inside.

It's a three day weekend - a rare but wonderful treat. Three day weekends are one of my favorite things on earth. I am so happy to be off. Yay! We were thinking of taking a road trip out of town, but we're too tight on money right now, so instead, we just stayed at home, cleaned out our kitchen pantry and closets and had a relaxing time together. Besides, the temperatures were FREEZING, no joke. We had unseasonably cold snap for early October. So we choose to stay at home, in front of the fire to read knit and watch movies, sounded like the best possible thing to do.

I got a lot of knitting done on my secret swap partner's shawl. I can't post a picture yet - either here or on Ravelry until Thanksgiving time, when we all do the "Big Reveal" but my knitting buddies have seen it growing progressively over the two months it has taken me to make it. Now I'm ALMOST done. I'm within 2 more repeats of being finished. Then the blocking. Then it will KILL me not to show the photos, but I'll restrain myself. Thanksgiving is really not that far away. Is it?

What's weird is that we have these extremely cold temps before our leaves have changed color. That's unusual. The trees are still largely green, with just a hint of autumn color, and I still have (or had?) tomatoes clinging to the vines, and yet we got down to 29 degrees at night and highs in the 40's maybe? I'm not sure. All I know is that when we took a quick trip over to Lawrence, Kansas yesterday morning I was so cold in my light jacket that we didn't walk around much.

One thing we DID do while in Lawrence was to visit Yarn Barn, my very favorite yarn store in the area. You guys would be SO proud of me. Instead of buying up a bunch of yarn, which I can't afford to do and don't NEED to do, I restrained myself by buying only the thing I set out to get - a Lantern Moon Maya Floral Sock Project Bag ($29). Here it is. This is the greatest little bag. It is light weight, in a delicate silk fabric that is reversible. It has pockets on both sides. It has a closure button on both sides, too. My bag is Garnett on one side and JadishCharcoal on the other. In spite of the bag being small and lightweight, it holds quite a bit - see it holds sock yarn, a completed sock, and one sock still on the needles. It also holds the folded up pattern.

Monday, October 05, 2009

What I Learned From Olive

I have been reading a lot more. Ever since I bought a Kindle II electronic reader from Amazon, I've become obsessed with reading because it is even easier to grab my Kindle than to grab my knitting. It goes along in my purse and I can pull it out and do quick snatches of reading in short periods of stolen time. I've been gobbling up books greedily.

Now let me tell you about Olive Kitterage. She's not a REAL person, but I feel like she is. She's the focus of a novel called appropriately enough, Olive Kitterage by Elizabeth Strout. It won the 2009 Pultizer Prize for fiction. This novel is a series of short stories featuring Olive, a middle-aged math teacher. The story unfolds in a series of vignettes about her life at various stages. Sometimes Olive is the main character, and in a couple of the stories she merely plays a supporting role - but with each passing chapter, we get a deeper and broader picture of this character and her life.

I think it takes BEING a middle aged woman to look back on your life and see yourself and others in Olive. Granted, Olive is probably an extreme that most of us don’t reach, but there’s the little bit of “witch” in all of us that we see coming out sometimes. And then, there’s the dicotomy - the really compassionate nurturer that also comes out when we feel moved by someone/something. Although there’s more of the witch in Olive when she’s young, there’s the compassionate Earth Mother that shows itself increasingly as she ages - and a definite theme of regret rings through the later portion of the “novel” (collection of short stories). Yet what I admire about Olive is she doesn’t shirk or shrink from her own failings. She admits them, if privately. She mulls over those things - and in a way, this whole book is a collage of her life, much of which she probably wishes she did differently.

In one story, she remembers back when she and Henry (husband) were middle aged. She thinks a very profound thought. “There were days, she could remember this, when Henry would hold her hand as they walked home, middle-aged people, in their prime. Had they known at those moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

I have to say that in some stories, she comes off as fairly unlikeable but as her self-awareness and compassion grow, she becomes more likeable. Not only that, but even at her most unlikeable, the story is still absorbing. It's a cautionary tale of why I don't want to let some of the "Olive like" negative qualities creep into my relationships and damage them as they have in Olive's life.

Olive has taught me to be kinder and gentler to those I hold dear. To be less insistent on having my own way. To release my child a little bit - let her find her own way and to not be as judgmental. To be more flexible. To keep finding renewed meaning in life at every stage. Most important of all, nothing is as valuable as our relationships. We should be willing to bend, to reach out, to forgive and to give up our own petty hurts from the past so that we can keep the door of our relationships always open.