Friday, October 17, 2014

The Gap between the Spaces

It is the quiet moments between activities here at the Robinson home. The middle children have caught the bus and are headed for school. Bear is still sleeping. Our houseguest is not yet up, nor is Hubbs, who worked long into the night to complete a pressing work assignment.

It is a time, where I could do something productive: clean the kitchen, sweep the floors, carry out the recycling to the curb. There are any number of things that I could be doing. Instead, I am choosing to be mindful of the "gap between the spaces" and taking the moment to be still and just enjoy being. Just sitting here on my front porch and watching the daybreak. The sky, once streaked with pink is now a feathered blue with soft lemon light just above the trees. There is a crow making noise and some Canadian geese, native now, who honk by in flight. Mother and daughter walk past on their way to school. The cat comes out, curious as ever. There are sounds to creatures that I do not know how to match: is that a squirrel? Some odd bird?

The world is waking up, gently shaking off the evening with each passing moment.
And I will sit and breathe and know a few minutes of stillness; relaxing into this moment and not requiring of myself to even have thoughts.
Just breathe.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Where there is breath, there is hope.

When it is your child, or a spouse, or a dear friend, it is so hard to watch them suffering in their addiction.
It is hard to trust God.
Hard to stay calm.
As an food addict, I know that no amount of "good intentions" or "policing me" ever helped. It only fueled my resentments, and I became a closet eater and even more fat. I was a sneaky eater. Someone who never, ever, ever ate large quantities of food in front of ANYONE, including myself. Like all addicts, no matter the addiction, I had to hit my personal bottom all on my own. When several years ago, someone said to me, "it might be something (the eating) more than any simple (or magic) diet could fix", it burned me up inside. It also though, planted a seed. A seed that took root and grew, so that when I was ready, when I did become truly desperate, I could give up and trust something greater than my own abilities. And for that seed, I am truly grateful.

Tonight, I wrote a short note to a anguished mother who so anxiously wants to help her daughter. The daughter is not there yet. She's still, where I was, mad at the world and fueling that hate. I've mildly edited it and copied it below, just in case you need a seed to grow in your heart.

Also, Al-Anon is a safe place if you are involved with an addict. (Please understand I am not encouraging anyone to jump into a relationship with an addict... that is like willing walking into HELL: don't go there, because you can't save them. Only they can save themselves, with God's help.) But if you find yourself there, Al-Anon is where you can go and learn the tools to live your life, without being co-dependent. Whenever other dear people of my own are acting out, I am told by my closest supporters just one word, "al-anon". Another Darling has said, "consider it free therapy." So look there. And therapy. Not for your loved one. For you. Consider it a tool.

Hi Friend,
Thank you for reaching out on behalf of your daughter. My name is Erica and I am a compulsive overeater. For me, sugars, grains and most carbohydrates have the same affect as alcohol does on certain people with a sensitivity to alcohol. In 2009, when someone close to me suggested that dieting might not ever be the answer for me, that I might in fact be a compulsive overeater and need a program like AA for food drunks, I was highly offended: I just hadn't found the right diet (or pill)!

Later, as I was eating/binging that same friend, when I asked why couldn't I change, encouraged me to "pray for the willingness to be willing". I am a stubborn girl. And was full of anger and resentments about a lot of things, especially how unfair my life was: that other people could eat and be thin, yet I couldn't. It took three years for me to become willing. During that three years, my weight crept up to 296# and I threw away my scale, so that I would not see myself at 300#. When I started this program in June of 2012, I weighed 273#. Today, I weigh 167#.
You can read a part of my story here, if you'd like.

My suggestion, caring mama, would be that you pray for your daughter more than anything. Talk with her, if you can about addiction and food addiction specifically. Or talk to her doctor, if they are open to that. My experience is that recovery is only possible when the individual themselves is ready to do whatever it takes to be free of the addiction. And that "whatever" usually involves facing a lot of feelings. It can be done, bravely, simply, just by taking it one day at a time. One day, one meal, not harming one's self with food; trusting that it will be enough and that we will not die of starvation before our next meal. 
In peace,

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Change your life in 15 minutes!

For the past several weeks, a couple of times a week, I have been posting on social media my "daily 3": three 15-minute housekeeping challenges. It's been fun to watch a few people join in and do a micro-blitz on some section of their home. Some days, I'll do all three at once, though usually, if I'm honest, I'll dilly-dally around and drag them out till after lunchtime. Last night, I offered to do one with a couple of friends this morning, so I made and posted my list and set my timer:

C and A, (and anyone else) here are my 3 15-minute challenges for today:
1. The 3-load pile of laundry on my couch (fold, put away)
2. walk-about and dust (general tidy/pick up around the house)
3. clean the windows around kitchen/den (back deck, puppy "smarms"...bothers me every time I see all those smears)
Bear is my "helper". We make it a race... he will get first turn at the duster and help with a window or two. Have fun!
The timer is in the kitchen, so by the time I walked back to the bedroom, where the 3-load pile of laundry awaited me, I already felt "behind the gun", but apparently, I wasn't too overwhelmed, for my folding rather resembled a pleasant stroll than a sprint. As I continued folding (and realized this pile was not made up of giant, easy towels, but lots of socks and little kid shirts and underwear), my pace picked up because I could tell, this was going to be a miracle to finish this before the timer. "Fold and put away." As the compressed pile of clothes continued to expand, the deeper I went, reality hit: no way is this pile getting finished in 15 minutes. What to do? What to do? These napkins really needed to be ironed first, they were a wrinkled mess. I debated putting them in the charity pile, but simply folded them instead. I can iron later. As my folding started to hit its rhythm, I thought ahead to the next challenge. It was kind of a "cheat" 15... I mean a walk-about could be anything and if I didn't quite get the clothes done, walking them to the bedrooms and putting them up would still "count", right?
So I folded and folded and folded and started to put things away. Mid-stride, the timer went off and I briskly walked to the kitchen and reset it and kept briskly walking to the children's rooms to put away their piles. Make a bed here, open curtains there, put the shoes in a nice line. I walk past the timer thinking I will have at least 10 minutes remaining before this challenge is up. Five minutes and 20 seconds remaining! Yikes! How did that happen? Quickly, I pick up dust bunnies. Where's the duster? Bear has decided to use one of his 30-min "tech blocks" and is busy playing Angry Birds. I thank God as I am now on my hands and knees under the table trying to gather up what seems to be an exploded part of last night's dinner. There are dust bunnies everywhere. They swirl around just out of reach as I swat at them with my duster. The old electric clock starts its quarter-chime and I know that I've got about one more minute before the kitchen timer goes off. Kitchen floor crumbs or bedroom dust? I choose kitchen floor and grab the dust pan. By now, my face is turning beet red and my hair is starting to stick out in all directions. As I sweep, I think about the next challenge: windows. Why the HELL did I say I was going to do that one? They are filthy and there are 7 of them in the kitchen/den area...and they have TWO SIDES, an inside and an outside! Bad idea, Erica. Bad idea.
The timer dings and I reset it and grab the paper towels and windex and start cleaning the interior windows like my life depends on it. Spray, spray, wipe, wipe, wipe. Up. Down. Figure 8. I am grunting and huffing and my back is saying, "What are you doing all this moving about for?" Is this sweat? How did I become so lazy that this simple chore is kicking my butt? Quick. Quick. Quick. Inside panes done, I grab the ratty broom out of the garage and quickly wipe down the two sides of my glass back door. Ugg. There's a chocolate milk ring on the glass patio table. I clean it as I set down my supplies. Gross! What did I just step in? Chicken poop? I had seen Pilot up here yesterday, stupid bird. I wipe down my foot and take the broom to attack the spiders and cobwebs and leaves that are all over the sills and edges of these windows. My reflection stares back at me: who is this woman acting like a maniac? I spray and wipe as fast as I can. When did I do this last? Thinking back, and back, and back: springtime maybe? No wonder it looks so bad. Finally, I finish. There are still two more windows, but those are a part of the master bedroom and technically do not count, so I gladly walk back in to check the timer. Seven minutes blinks back at me. I have seven minutes remaining? What the heck? I laugh and go back on the deck and clean the other two windows, then do the inside panes that they belong to. Then clean two toilet bowls, and wipe down two bathroom counters, and a light switch that looks amazingly spattered with grime. There is one minute left and I wipe down the kitchen counter. Somewhere in the world, two women are believing me when I say I'm going to do something. They are doing their little somethings, too. And though my house is not fully clean, it has been cleaned enough for today. Anything extra is a bonus. And the bonus doesn't need to happen to make me feel better about myself. It is enough for today, in and of itself. 
Bear is restless now. The library and park are on the agenda today.
15 minutes can change your life.
It's changed mine.