Recording the hard stuff

I was talking with someone on a FB group page and they commented that you can’t journal the hard stuff because others might read it. It means you can’t share the page, so others don’t get to be inspired by your art.

I disagree; I’ve always journaled the good, bad and ugly in my scrapbooks and art journals. As an ex scrapbooking teacher, I’ve always shared my art in person and online.

Sometimes I write it all out so it’s legible and figure, if I share the hard or ugly stuff, I might help others get through and be able to tell their stories. We can all help create safe places for others to share their experiences, especially around addiction, mental health and abuse / domestic violence. I’ve never felt my life has to look perfect in order to share online.

But, even for me, there are things I don’t want the world reading about. Sometimes it is just too raw, other times it’s because it would compromise another person in some way. Often it’s about my food addiction, addictive personality, Tony’s health or my relationship with others who support me (or have similar issues) that I’m wanting to talk about.

When I want to record things but don’t want it to be legible, I use “scribble writing” so I get it all out of my head, but no one can read it. I usually start in the middle of the pages then work up and down, so the lines aren’t consecutive, and make sure the writing is loopy and overlaps. If’ you’re a scrapbooker or art journaler I’d encouarge you to record it all, it’s very healing.

For the record, this page is about some of the head struggles I’ve had this week, more than 2 years post weight loss surgery, what I’m doing about it, and the support I get from people.

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My One Little Word for 2018…

My ‘One Little Word’ for 2018 was ENOUGH. You can read about it here. It’s been a good word for me this year, as I start to reflect on the year that’s been.
One of the things I talked about in the original post was ‘Imposter Syndrome’. We held staff training this week and I talked a bit about imposter syndrome, without naming it – relating to something that happened when I was at Christchurch’s new library recently.

This year I choose to go to counselling to sort a few issues that arose after I got past the 2 years of post-weight loss surgery psychology appointments. I’ve talked about it before, so won’t bore you with the details, but in thinking about this post I’ve realised part of what counselling was about was accepting that I *am* enough. Hmm.

So, was ENOUGH the right word to guide me through this year? Absolutely. There’s something quite magic for me in choosing a word, writing about it, creating it on a postcard sized artwork to have in my office, and letting it guide me. Will I be choosing a word for 2019? Yes. But not just yet, I need to dwell on the possibilities a bit longer…

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2 years post weight loss surgery

I’ve just had my final appointments with the weight loss clinic after my 2016 gastric bypass. I had a talk with Atul, my surgeon first. He’s happy with my progress and weight and thinks once I got over all the very serious impacts, I’ve done well.

The dietitian was pleased my weight is almost the same as when we spoke in April. We talked about how I am having to work at keeping my weight up, and some strategies for maintaining that. She recommended I start taking a Copper supplement with my Zinc.

Normally I have a quick chat with the psychologist but this time we talked for about 40 minutes. I have realised there’s stuff in my head that needs sorting, and he was very helpful. We talked briefly about body image and how weird it is to have to eat enough when you struggled to not eat all your adult life.

The main thing we talked about is that I’m increasingly aware I have always eaten my feelings, rather than live/feel them. I smothered them with food. There’s been a lot of triggers to me realising the depth of the issue and, as honest as I am online, even I’m not going to disclose them all here. But I will talk about some of it, because it may help others. There are issues around body image, sexuality, emotions and abuse I need to deal with…

After we’d chatted a bit, Steven asked me if I can easily express my emotions. Hell no. Are you a warm person? No, kind mainly, but not warm. Do you cry easily? Uh, no – I might weep watching the news particularly with stories about kids. Long pause – is that because it feels ‘acceptable’? Yes, I suspect so. Did you parents validate you if you cried as a child? I barely remember crying as a kid, and certainly don’t remember being soothed by Mum. When I think about it, I don’t remember Mum ever saying she loved me as a kid, or even as an adult. I know she did love me, but she certainly didn’t say it.

We talked about the way Mum modeled behaviour, and her own battles with food and weight, and being adopted out as a toddler. I am not blaming Mum for my issues – they are mine – she was a product of her own upbringing and I took some of it on and made it my own.

Six months ago I would have said I was fine and didn’t need to continue with psychologist help. We agreed I am stable, and doing well – with all the tools I need for long-term success – but also that more help would be a good thing. For well-being, it’s vital I do more work on my head and have decided to have further counselling. Overall I get an A+ pass mark but weight loss surgery is a journey, not a destination.

dyary sept 10-16

Dealing with the hard stuff

Sometimes the planets align, and they are at the moment. It’s difficult and confronting but has to be done. I realised there are a couple of issues I haven’t dealt with in terms of my food addiction and one of those is all the babies I lost to miscarriage in the 80s. The other issue is one I am not ready to talk about with anyone but I am quietly dealing with it in my own way.

How have the planets aligned? More and more of the people around me are becoming grandparents, which increases my awareness of my childlessness. I’ve had a few people, quite randomly, talk to me recently about their own miscarriages or stillbirths. I’ve read some stuff seemingly by accident. I was going through my weight loss journal looking at the pre-surgery psych work and on the page about my babies I had started to journal then had written ” I can’t write more for now” and never completed it. And so on.

I sometimes go to Hawera Cemetery in my lunch hour. I tell myself it’s because it’s green, quiet and there are very few people around. I realised this week, talking to someone I trust who has also has the surgery, that I go there to be near the memorial stone for angel babies.

Today I was talking to one of my staff about this and I said “well, I always lost the babies very early on so it wasn’t a big deal” or words to that effect. And it struck me … I have been telling myself that lie for more than 26 years. Because each time there was a baby, and each time I did face the loss. The loss of a future child, birthdays, weddings, grandchildren and so on.

How am I dealing with it? I have my final appointment with the weight loss clinic psychologist soon because it’s 2 years since my surgery, so will talk to her. But I am also journaling a lot, dreaming and not sleeping, removing myself from social media a bit to give myself space, hugging my husband and just letting all the feelings come through. What I know for sure, to quote Oprah, is that I am dealing with this so it never derails my weight loss, and stops beings something I lie to myself about – it did hurt, and it does matter. Thanks for listening!

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cjs18 day 29 Jane LaFazio

Today’s artist was the lovely and talented Jane LaFazio. Her project used a lot of drawing skills which I don’t have, and would have needed more time than I have on a week night. However, I loved it so much I wanted to use the general theme. Since my weight loss surgery in late 2016 this recipe has become one of our favourite recipes, so it was good to document it.

day 29 Jane LaFazio

cjs18 day 17 Jen Crossley

Today’s artist, Jen Crossley, used metal for her gorgeous work. Simply put, I don’t do metal. Years ago it was trendy in scrapbooking; I cut myself a couple of times but persevered. Then I *really* cut myself and decided never again…

A day off today was good timing because Tony and I needed to get some stuff done in the kitchen. As part of settling onto insulin, the Diabetes Nurse wants him to have 6 meals a day, and make some food adjustments. So, we’ve given the pantry a good clean out and removed some stuff, such as white rice and pasta (which I don’t really eat post weight loss surgery anyway).

There’s weight loss, & then there’s skin!

I’ve been debating this blog post for a while now. I’ve been very honest about the whole process but blogging about my excess skin makes me hesitate. But if I don’t, how do others know what could be in store if they go the gastic bypass route? In the end, I’m not going to pretend it’s all pretty – cos honey it ain’t!

To recap – I started at 139.9kg, goal weight 75kg, current weight 63.1kg. I’ve lost 76.8kg. A friend who has about the same as me (started heavier but not as light now) just had surgery to remove excess skin and they removed 11kg worth – so I’ve possibly got 5kg or more of skin hanging round. And I do mean hanging round…

People tell me the excess skin isn’t obvious and, fully dressed, that’s fairly accurate. My arms are the most obvious bit. People say most women have flappy arms at our age. Yeah, maybe, but not so loose you accidentally lean on the excess and it hurts 😉

The reality is the excess skin *can* be uncomfortable. Aside from leaning on spare arm skin, I sometimes find I’m sitting awkwardly on a fold of spare bum and it’s unpleasant – try adjusting that in public!

I used to wear a 26DD bra, now I wear a 14D but I sort of fold my boobs into it. Last time I got fitted the lovely lady at Farmers said “I’ll let you do the origami, you know how they go!”. Karma got me on that one, because I used to laugh as I folded Mum’s boobs into her bra..

I had a botched open surgery hysterectomy in my late 20s and that scarring, combined with the weight loss, is pretty ugly to be honest. One side of my tummy is longer than the other, and the whole things hangs low … if I get up to the loo in the night it audibly flaps. Not cool, or sexy!

Would I consider surgery to tidy things up? No! For a few reasons. With all the complications I’ve had I think elective surgery would be unwise. I had the weight loss surgery for my health, not appearances, and the skin isn’t a health issue for me (but it is for some). And, as I’ve said to a few people, Tony is 18 yeas older than me – he never expected to gain a slim wife in his 70s so a few wrinkles don’t matter!

If you are thinking of weight loss surgery, great! It’s life changing and life saving. If you think you’ll have the body of a 20 year old, think again…

Footnote – I’m really struggling to hit publish. My head tells me people in a bikini show a lot more flesh than this, but I feel so exposed and so, what’s the word, faulty maybe?

 

 

 

 

As 2017 ends

As 2017 ends I can look back on a busy year with some unusual highs and lows even by our standards. Here are some of the things that stand out, from both sides of the ledger, in no particular order:

  • Losing my voice due to medical misadventure
  • Library conference, which was awesome
  • Getting down to goal weight, then 10kg below that!
  • Flying to Auckland for a shopping weekend with my sister, Ailsa
  • Spending time in ICU due to medical misadventure
  • Getting my voice back after about 7 months
  • Tony didn’t need surgery this year – fantastic!
  • Discovering I didn’t have a stroke but do have a spinal issue
  • Faith got settled on new heart & Cushing’s medication and is doing well

I don’t have major goals for 2018, in many way it’s just more of the same, but perhaps a bit more refined. So, my aims are:

  1. Painting more
  2. Doing art/craft regularly
  3. Stay at goal weight while eating a little more normally
  4. Drinking 1200 mls a day, every day
  5. Walking 4,000 steps minimum, every day
  6. Connecting with people who feed my soul, through snail mail and Twitter
  7. Making sure I am a positive influence in the world

That’s it – nothing too dramatic and no rocket science. Just a happy, balanced, quiet life. I wish you all peace, joy and a magical 2018.

 

 

 

CMP weeks 40 & 41, and Auckland

Playing catch up after spending last weekend in Auckland with my sister Ailsa. The flights were my birthday and Christmas present – we shopped, went to libraries, talked, spent time with family, and had a wonderful time. I bought a bunch of summer clothes and got some real bargains.

CMP pages – Dina Wakley & Dylusions paints, stencils, Simon Says Stamp inkpad.

 

A trip to Christchurch

I’ve just come back from 5 days in Christchurch, attending the LIANZA 2017 conference. I was able to have dinner out with my brother-in-law Roger one evening as part of a larger group, and pop in to see my stepdaughter Yasmine, her partner Adam and our grandson Rory – it’s just a pity time was so short.

I hadn’t been to Christchurch since pre-quake. It was weird looking round because I can see the damage but, in many ways, can’t identify the changes as I didn’t know the city beforehand. We took a taxi a couple of times and it was interesting to note how careful the taxi drivers are to explain why they have to take the long way round sometimes; I suspect they occasionally get abused about detours which are not their fault.

This was the first time I’ve flown since my surgery. No seat belt extender needed this time. It was also my first test of eating ‘normally’ away from home; not totally successful but not a disaster either. I only felt really sick once, and lost a few hundred grams so the odd food choices did no harm. The worst moment that’s food related? I was sitting with the “cool kids” from Auckland Libraries – a really lovely bunch – and managed to throw my entire lunch down my jeans, over my sneakers and across the floor. They were so nice, they got me to sit still while they cleaned up, then got me some more food…

So, travel post-surgery is perfectly manageable – that’s another thing ticked off the “hmmm, I wonder…” list.

Photos are Lis & I ready for the gala dinner; Sumner Beach, Rory, Roger and I; Rory with his junior dragster; my seat belt on the plane.