Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When Push Comes to Shove

Why do we so often wait for an external stimulus that may not be coming? We all do it, at different times to varying degrees. The moment will come. Something will happen that will change things. Get in shape, change jobs, ditch that deadend relationship. In time, when the moment comes...

Maybe it's fear of failure, maybe it's laziness or maybe it's a refusal to give up something that may not be good for you but has become oddly comfortable and familiar.

I don't think being diagnosed with diabetes was that moment for me. I think it was the moment when I said, "The moment isn't coming." The day after my diagnosis I signed up to work with a personal trainer 3 times a week at the gym. I also signed up to work with a registered dietician once a week for the next 10 weeks.

To think it has only been a week. It feels much longer. It feels like a lifetime ago.

For the greater part in my life I have been carefree and happy and I have been that through some pretty hard things. I was used to taking care of myself. Didn't feel broken before. Up until 2 years ago. The last two years were in many ways the the worst thing that happened to me. And the best. The aftermath left me vulnerable, weak and insecure. I let go of my defenses and never got them back. Not that letting go of my defenses was necessarily a bad thing but losing it, and losing myself, was.

I got over T some time ago. I even got over my mom's health, career setbacks and financial losses. And now I think I am finally forgiving myself.

It's okay to screw up, feel vulnerable, show your emotions, rely on outside help and not always know how your life is going to turn out. It's okay to be weak. It's okay to fail. As long as you can pick up the pieces and move on. I am.

To my faithful reader community of 1 and occasionally 2 - I started a separate blog to track my workouts and nutrition as I work towards my goal of running a marathon some day so I probably won't be posting as much here. Not that I currently do. :-) But I will be posting here, and in case I lose you before I get my next post up, I just want to say thanks. For reading and for your words of encouragement.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Fears and Getting Over Them

I made that list in my head as I was driving back from my doctor's office today after finding out that I have diabetes. I have probably had it for some time, at least a year. We are guessing a year because my last blood test a year ago was normal and I started gaining weight around Dec which according to my doctor could have been an early sign of insulin resistance which left untreated developed into full blown diabetes. Being genetically predisposed to the disease probably didn't hurt either.

Deepak Chopra says we fear most that what has already happened to us. I guess it's true. It's definitely true in my case. On the drive home I made a list of all my fears. It was triggered by a comment my doctor made about not being afraid. To my surprise my biggest fears turned out to be those that have already come to pass. Not that that makes it any better or more bearable or the possibility of it happening again any less frightening but knowing that you have come through one thing does make you believe that maybe you can come through another too and even simply admitting to yourself that you have fears but knowing you haven't let them hold you back makes you feel stronger.

And then, of course, a little voice in your head pipes up and petulantly asks, "But how much longer? And why me?" But thankfully, that voice is easily suppressed. For today.

There are days when I would really like to wake up and find that it has all just been a bad dream and my life is flawless. Perfect. Like a hothouse flower carefully grown in a climate-controlled environment and transplanted with great care into a gilded vase - beautiful, blissful, untainted. And for years to varying degrees I have rejected reality and pretended I was living some kind of a metaphoric Cinderella story. The glass slippers were just twinkling around the corner waiting for my feet. But, somehow, I don't think so. I think this is it. And I think I am finally growing into the fact that this is my life and I just have to make the best of it. Not that I haven't but for the last few years it has been easier to break down than to break mold. And then, for a while afterwards, it was all happiness all around because things weren't as bad as they had been. "Things could be worse." "My life doesn't completely suck." "Many people don't even get this. Who am I to complain? What right do I have?"

And now? Now I guess is the next revolution. Whatever that may be.

Monday, July 31, 2006

And Life Goes On

Wow, it has been over a month since my last post. My, how time flies when one is not anguished. I think this is the first time in the last few years that I have not felt confused, conflicted or unhappy about some thing or the other in my life and it shows. Someone once said that pain was the essence of all great creation and although that seems like a rather morbid viewpoint to take on life I do kinda get it. It's those emotional unheavals and inner turmoils that we would like to avoid in life that give it its color. Which, depending on whether you are just a happy, go with the flow kind of person by nature or the soul-searching type, will either sound horrible or make the most perfect sense of all.

Not that everything is smooth sailing. For one, I just switched jobs and adjusting to the new one is turning out to be harder than I thought. Technically, it was an internal transfer but my company's idea of internal transfers is to subject employees to 8-10 hrs of gruelling interviews so that by the time you are done you are so turned around that you kind of forget where you are. But it's still the same company, the same vision and some of the same people and so you think transition has to be a breeze. Only not so in reality since you all suddenly realize at the same time that being part of a newly formed group means the old reporting structures no longer work and the power seats are up for the grabs. In a tidal pool of type A's who are all the best in class in some way or the other in a company that only loosely relies on a structure preferring instead to reward innovation and self-direction it creates for some interesting inter-dynamics that can last a while.

My marathon training isn't going too well either partly thanks to long hours. Nor is my rebellion against commercial diets since I seem to have managed to lose the exact same 2.5 lbs 5 times in a row and I am back squarely to where I started. Matters not particularly helped by my mother who said I was getting fat and that it sickened her (love you too, mom!) to which I characteristically responded by eating ice cream because I am too much of a wimp to tell someone I love to their face when their comments hurt me for fear of hurting them.

If the weight doesn't do me in, my pathological desire to please everyone just might as amply demonstrated by the fact that when my brother suggested that he may need to borrow considerably large sums of money for his UK exams and trip later this year I rushed into a gushing "Of course!" even though I had a sinking feeling at the bottom of my stomach because I knew it would mean cutting back on a lot of my own plans.

So, yeah, not all smooth sailing in all quarters. But, the work situation is temporary, there's always a personal trainer to shift my marathon training (and hopefully, weightloss) into the next gear and helping my brother won't exactly leave me indigent which is a lot more than many people can say. So for the time being I am just happy that the sun is shining, that I am smiling and that life goes on.... because I know that things can be much worse.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The No-Diet Diet, 7 Day Recap

Foods eaten - 6 bowls of cereal, 6 cups reduced fat milk, 1 Denny's pancake breakfast with real butter and syrup and 1 cup of coffee; 3 grilled chicken salads, 2 veggie wraps and 2 boxed lunches at company seminar; 2 cilantro burgers with salad, 2 Trader Joe's frozen Thai Green Curry, 1 Morton's Steakhouse NY steak and salad, 1 Bertolli's sausage and rigatoni and 1 trip to the Dim Sum place with friends; 1 tin of The Chocolate Factory bittersweet chocolate, 6 pcs of sugar-free butterscotch candy over the week and 1 chocolate covered vanilla ice cream bar to celebrate Sunday; - approximate calories: 1 million

Total workout - 7.5 hours of biking, 2 hours of dancing and 4 hours in a sweltering hot kitchen; - approximate calories burned: at least a half million

2.5 lbs lost in 1 week - priceless.

Okay, so I am not going to win any new diet revolution award but turns out eating the way your mother taught you along with exercise actually works. Who would have thought?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Duck Story

When I was a young girl, no, I did not drink ale but I sure as hell tore up a lot of paper.

Ever since I have been writing I have been faced with the same problem. I would write something down only to find two days later that I no longer liked it. Either I had changed my mind or time had given me a new perspective or what was of utmost importance two days ago was of no consequence today. As a result what I wrote often felt out of step with my recollection of things and having paper documentation of the way I felt/thought/saw life two days ago only conspired to mess with my perception of reality at the moment. For this reason I have never kept a diary or what most people would call a diary which is a chronological recounting of events and emotions.

However, I did write. I wrote fiction. I wrote short stories. I wrote chapters for novels. I wrote reflective pieces, essays and narratives. I did from time to time write down things that had happened to me during the day, the week, the month too but only rarely and only generally to tear out the pages later. Reality in retrospect has always been my reality.

I don't know whether this is normal or healthy or a form of escapism and I am not about to start a debate on the presence or absence of any absolute truth which by extension implies a presence or absence of an absolute reality thereby making reality in retrospect either a completely irrational or the most rational viewpoint to have depending on how you look at it. What I know is that the way I remember things is to me a more honest reflection of how I have lived my life than a factually correct account of events in motion.

Now I am not talking about deluding myself to what really happened. No, I don't mean that the facts change or should be changed to fit into the kind of memory I would like to have. What I mean is that events in isolation can take on a greater or lesser meaning and they have to be put in the right context for full understanding and that that context often does not appear until days later.

For example: Over this weekend a guy cut me off pretty badly on an expressway which made me really angry at the time. The next day I saw a duck fly overhead in a parking lot.

If I was keeping a diary in the most prevalent sense of the word I would most certainly have had to write about the guy on the expressway. And years ago I would have only to tear up the page two days later and write about the duck instead because by day two the anger would have subsided but the surprise at seeing a duck fly overhead in a grocery store parking lot would have remained and I would have come to realize that two, ten, or twenty years from now the duck memory would still make me laugh while the expressway story would be relegated to a non-event that barely deserved a mention.

Of course, I realize this is not true of everyone. There are people who are capable of being inspired/awed/surprised/enraged/enthralled/excited in a moment and recall the same emotions in retelling. Clearly I am not one of them. My mom says she never knows what to cook for me because by the next time she sees me I am sure to have a whole new set of likes. And today Dave didn't bat an eyelash when after he offered to come with me to look at the condo upgrade options I first said yes, then no, then maybe and then no and then maybe again. I left him at maybe at 7:30 looking completely unsurprised.

So, maybe, it's not so much that events need context as that I am inconsistent and I don't want constant reminders. Fortunately the eletronic media is a lot more forgiving than paper diaries which have long memories in the form of reproachful clumps of torn pages that stare back at you from inbetween unblemished ones, their presence mocking you with silent homage to forgotten events.

But the duck story stays.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Far from the Madding Crowd

Watching a man bump into a woman today as I made my way across a crowded street at lunch I realized for the umpteenth time just how far I had come from New York. The man apologized, the woman accepted the apology and no profanities were exchanged. It was politeness all around. And although I still love and miss New York and its general apathy and lack of consideration for anyone but the supreme self (or the extended self in the case of coupled individuals who actually like their other halves) I realized something else for the umpteenth time - that although I still missed New York I no longer missed my New York ex.

This isn’t necessarily cause and effect but there is correlation. Up until a few weeks ago I would not have been able to think of New York without thinking of T. But now my love for one has nothing to do with the other. T could be happy, sad, coupled, single, cheating, faithful. He could remember me or forget me altogether. It doesn't matter. There are no triggers that bring back memories. No tears. No "How could he do this to me?" that eventually gives way to "How could I let this happen to myself?" Not because the questions weren't important or because you have all the answers but because they have lost their edge.

What no one tells you about a bad breakup is that afterwards there comes a point where you don’t want anyone anymore. And it’s not like the way you didn’t want someone when you were younger and carefree or the way you might not want someone whom you didn’t love. It goes deeper. It’s something intangible etched in your psyche pushing you away from intimacy. It’s not fear. Not at surface. Maybe if you took a deeper look. But you don’t want to look because you have finally stopped riding the emotional wave and it’s a nice place to be for a change. And because a part of you wonders if the not wanting anyone new is not really a different spin on a familiar feeling, that of wanting someone old.

And then, some time later, you come to another bend in the road where you no longer want to start anything new but not because you still want someone old. You are done with that part. It’s over. And it makes you neither happy nor sad because it’s neither a happy nor a sad realization. It’s just there.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

In a New York State of Mind

And just when I thought New York had finally faded out of my consciousness and into the majestic mountains that surround me, it's back. The longing.

I wasn't born in NY, it is inarguably not the cleanest, safest or the nicest smelling place in the world and I am not even sure I liked it all the time while I was living there. -- I know I did not like the time I got gum stuck to the bottom of my pants in Times Square. I did not like the time some 6 ft 200 lb guy pushed me out of the way to grab the cab that I had hailed. And I definitely did not like it when after a really long day at work my train got stuck on the tracks due to some mysterious "mechanical problem" for the third time in one week. -- And yet I miss it. What is it about the city? It's like a guy you can't forget except the guy-you-can't-forget does eventually fade from your memory but the city lingers on.

I guess the thing about New York is that you have a sense of belonging that you don't have in other places. Most cities are just places to live while New York can feel like home. And as someone who will never visit her childhood home again because it no longer exists maybe what I really miss is a place to call home. What I have to remember, what I need to remember, is that it's people who make a home, not places.