Wednesday, May 13, 2015


I think Spring is a hard time of year. I can't ever seem to dress right for it. If I go cool, I end up freezing. If I dress warmly, the sun will come out and I'll inevitably end up sweating buckets. If I dress in layers, I end up toting around all sorts of things and I'm still never dressed quite right. I'm Spring-stupid, apparently, and this morning I am freezing!


Right after I last posted how I was doing well, I then went on some sort of rampage where I practically ate the siding off my house. It was bizarre... right up until I realized my hormones were to blame (sorry guys.) WHY does that even happen? I'm fluffy already, can't my hormones just take note and say "Oh, no, we're all good here! No need to go lock yourself in a grocery store over night and have your way with the frozen foods section!"

Actually, it was that, and life stresses that happened. My son got really nervous and upset about something that happened at school, and that made me anxious about it. Then something was up with my daughter too. Then I got caught up in house stuff and being scared about us getting an offer. Then I got a piece of mail that scared the begeezus out of me (false alarm, upon rereading it a third time) and at that point, I lost it. I had intended to skip dinner altogether because I had used up my calories earlier, and finally I just said to heck with it. I sat down and had dinner with my kids, and it was comfort-type of food anyway (healthy, but heavy.)

I know what I was doing. I was looking for any port in a storm. Nothing else was working, I had even taken something to calm the heck down. I was sad, stressed, anxious. I needed something, anything that would help. Exercise, cleaning, talking, painting, none of it was helping. So, I ate.

When my stomach was full, I was completely dismayed to discover that it didn't help anything at all. Usually, I would get a little payoff from eating, a little "Well, at least we're full. Brain, you can now acknowledge that we won't starve to death and feel happy about that!" But this time? Nothing. Actually, I haven't been getting any real payoff for a while now, except on the occasions I have a migraine I can't shake and I finally give into ice cream (did you know that I'm actually not crazy, and there are studies that show that ice cream CAN really help a migraine? I've tried other cold things, but there's something specific about ice cream that makes a difference, it's not just the brain freeze.)

That's when the regret set in. I wouldn't have regretted eating dinner if I could have gained some relief, even for just a little bit. I ended up with nothing, even while I was eating. I should have noticed and stopped, but I think I did notice and kept hoping it would kick in.

I suppose the upside is that I can clearly see it's doing nothing for me, so I won't be doing that again (unless it's a knee-jerk reaction, and hopefully I'll catch it before I do real damage next time.) But the downside is that while I'm glad I'm removing bad coping skills from my arsenal, I'm not REPLACING them with anything that works. What do you do when you try exercise, talking, a hot bath, cleaning, hobbies, etc, and nothing works? What then?

And if someone says "just feel", I will personally reach through this screen and scratch your eyes out. I feel plenty.

Hopefully this is all temporary. Hopefully, once we're all moved and I have a partner again, everything won't be so overwhelming. I don't have anyone here, no one close. My best friend has always been my husband, and we're rarely in the same time zone anymore.

I think the real reason I'm having issues about this is that I signed up for that DietBet to keep me working through the move. I didn't want to toss everything in and GAIN weight by the time we move, I wanted to lose it and I felt the bet would keep me focused. But now that I've fallen behind, I'm feeling like a failure. I'm both grateful it's pushing the heck out of me, and feeling stressed because I'm at a fail point this month with it. It's demoralizing, where if I didn't have this bet I would shrug off what I did and just do better today without penalty.

Ahhh well... sorry, just had to vent!
Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Musings

I have seven weeks until the movers show up, and I'm finding that every day that passes without an offer on this house makes my anxiety increase. Also, people are rather grumpy when you call to find out what you need to do with moving. Like doctor's offices.

"You're moving? WHY would you be moving out of state?"

"...well, because it's where my husband's job is now."

"What, he couldn't get a job here?"

"He HAD a job here, it's a transfer. Same company... what does this have to do with getting records released? What do I need to do when we find new doctors down there?"

"You have to personally sign a release form."

"OK, great, should I fill one out now so you have it on file, or just have the new doctor fax it to you?"

"...well, you're supposed to come in and do it in person, once you have a new office."

"I get that, but I won't KNOW who my doctor will be until after we move and I find them, and I can't come back to sign a form."

"You're not even coming back to visit?" Snide. Really, really snidely.

*losing my temper* "I can't think of a single reason I'd ever want to come back at all, so NO. I can't wait to leave, and I won't be back. How do I get my records released to my new doctor?!"

"I suppose we could make an allowance to have them fax us, if you are on the phone with us at the same time confirming that it's coming from you." All huffy and angry with me.

"OK, great, thanks. Bye." Had to work to not slam the door when I left.

I think it's part losing business, and part just being freaking weird. But, they're not alone. It's a common sentiment here.

That was a negative thing, but here is a positive one I got this weekend! I went to buy mulch. I was very proud of myself, because I get nervous doing new things. I drove the truck to the place, and talked to the right people, and was getting run up when the lady working the cashier shyly said to me "I have two of your prints in my living room."

Every once in a while I get art-recognized. It's rare, and while I don't really fancy being recognized everywhere (because I have the whole social phobia thing going), it gave me a little thrill. I realized that while I'm a hermit here, I am leaving a little bit of a mark behind me. There are people here that, while I didn't sell well in Vermont (I do much better online all over the place, even over seas), there are actually many homes that have my work in them. In fact, after that happened, my son had a new friend over, and the dad realized who I was and then wanted to see my studio and bought a bigger painting on the spot for his wife for Mother's Day.

Makes me a bit warm and fuzzy. Sometimes I struggle with artist self-doubt. I think I don't have the talent for this career. I can't do anything else, but I'm not good enough at this. It's a weird (but totally common among artists) spiral. But sometimes stuff like that happens, and I think maybe I'll be OK after all. Art is who I am, for better or worse.

Speaking of which, I'm having a moving/clearance studio sale on Facebook until Friday. If anyone is interested, you can comment on any of the pieces you want a shot at, or let me know. I'd rather sell them than pack them, if I can. Surreal Art is here, and Fairy Tale work is here.

Food wise I'm doing well. I've been slowly losing (which is actually irritating, because 10 years ago it would have gone at a nice pace with how I've been doing), but at least it's going down. Exercise, yesterday I turned into a disaster. I woke up with a sore and stiff neck, I think from all the weeding and shoveling of mulch. I went for a run, thinking to loosen myself up, and my left knee went out on me for NO reason, and then my right foot with the plantar fasciitis acted up. I quit with only four minutes left on my workout. With colorful language. I think the universe is telling me to chill out and go work on my painting deadlines instead.

With lots of Advil on board. Lots. And ice packs. No one ever accused me of being graceful.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Little Bit Twisty

I've written before about how I grew up in an unhealthy food environment. I've mostly overcome all of that, but lately it's been popping back up. It's funny how things we think that we're past will just bubble up when you least expect it.

My mom was an anorexic bulimic who not only went bonkers over her own food intake, but she controlled ours as well. Sometimes she served just broccoli for dinner. Another memorable time was when she cut all salt from our diets and we all ended up sick and almost in the hospital before the doctors had to explain that human beings need some salt in their diets. We had the no-sugar rounds (which lasted for years), that were extreme and I remember going to friends' houses and eyeing their snack-cake-things with deep-seeded envy (like Little Debbie Star Crunch, do you remember those? And I HATED Little Debbie. I was always a Hostess Cupcake girl. But it was chocolate!) We had the no-meat vegetarian stint, which ended up being no protein because my mom hadn't figured out how to get complete proteins in naturally yet. Then she did, which then resulted in discovering that I was allergic/intolerant to all legumes and basically miserable on a whole other level (lentils are not my friend.) I distinctly remember setting my alarm for the middle of the night so I could sneak a glass of milk because I was so hungry, and milk was strictly monitored.

That would be enough, I think, to mess me up. Yet, I had a brother. My little brother was a bottomless pit. A food black hole. To be fair, the kid went through everything I did, and he ended up being over 6'5. He's still lanky and has to order two entrees at dinner (I hate him just a little bit for that.) 

When my brother was a teenager, he was hungry. He made my "hungry" look pathetic compared to his hungry. If a big shopping trip happened (about once every two or three weeks), that kid would systematically go through and eat everything of any tasty value within about two or three days. All that would be left would be vegetables (you're shocked, I know) and other random things like that super grain bread from the 80's that was alarmingly similar to compressed sawdust, and rice cakes. 

I became an expert at making half-way decent things out of the strangest ingredients. That has served me well as an adult and cooking healthy, because I can pretty much make a healthy version of everything with the substitution experience I gained! Yet, once my brother discovered Dagwoods, all was lost. Technically, I think a Dagwood is supposed to be like a repeated sandwich over and over again like a tower, but my brother was hungry too and once the normal stuff was gone he would just throw ANYTHING in there. Leftovers. Things you don't even want to imagine. And he actually ATE it. 

He must have been super hungry, now that I think on some of his disgusting creations. I feel kinda bad for him now. Well, a little bit anyway. You see, the stinker would get into anything that wasn't nailed down. I worked from 15-years-old on, and with my own money I often bought food. 

I thought if I bought my own food, it would be mine and be safe. He ate it.

I thought if I bought my own food and LABELED IT AS MINE, it would be safe. He ate it.

I thought if I bought my own food and labeled it and hid it, it would be safe. It took a while for him to figure out what I was doing, but once he did he would hunt out my stash and it would be gone. He ate it all. (I would get in trouble if I complained, which I often tried.)

Between my mother and my brother, by the time I moved out with my husband I was a mess. He caught me hiding ice cream at one point and told me I didn't have to hide it. He would go out and buy me MORE if I wanted it, and I never had to worry about him like that. I was so ashamed and embarrassed... and really grateful.

I've come a long way since then. I'm almost normal now! I only hide food when my parents visit (to be fair, my husband does too. Once they lived with us, he found himself doing the same thing one day and was so shocked that he came running to tell me about it and how he finally understood.) I am a grown-up now, and I do not have any secret stashes.

However, I have to say that lately I've been feeling a bit twitchy. My son is 14  (15 in November) and he's started to grow. He's putting on an inch or two in height unexpectedly here and there (so glad we're into shorts season, the cost of buying new jeans every month was getting ridiculous!) He's already wearing size 12 shoes. 


I make sure that I have all sorts of healthy food for him to have access to. He has started taking about four separate big snacks to school for in-between breakfast, lunch, and track after school, and he always comes home hungry anyway. I can see the black hole forming... and it's made me twitchy.

The other weekend, I put the ice cream downstairs in the deep freezer (not a big deal, any junk goes downstairs, because out of sight out of mind, and junk is only allowed once a week - not as a binge-fest.) When I went to shut the freezer, I realized that I had pulled other things over the ice cream. Hiding it. Without even realizing what I was doing, and I know I did it because it was my favorite flavor. 


This lead to me asking "WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH ME!?!" 

I'm the grown-up. I control what is in the house. My son doesn't sneak into anything. He might drive me crazy asking to get into the junk every week that I end up having to yell at him to knock it off, but he doesn't get into it. He waits like he's supposed to. More, I have the ability to buy more. If something were gone, I could replace it. And let's face it, I don't need to be eating it anyway.

The only thing I can figure is that he's starting to become that ravenous teenager (reminding me of my brother), which is totally natural, and I'm trying really, really, really, hard to stay on track right now. It's been a lot longer than usual since I let myself have anything like ice cream. Maybe the first thing would be enough, but couple it with the second and I think I might see the trigger.

Still, regardless of the reason, I suddenly felt very much like the old 16-year-old me. NOT in a good way. I was embarrassed and ashamed, even though no one had even seen what I had done. I don't like feeling this way. I'm a grown-up, and I should be long past ever feeling this way again. I uncovered the ice cream, and instead made it a little nest out of the bags of frozen vegetables. Clearly visible. Maybe a bit weird, but visible.

I didn't eat any ice cream. I didn't sneak into it, I am not tempted today to go get into it. But I feel bad about it. I feel just as bad about it as if I had eaten it, isn't that a peculiar thing? I'm not even sure what to do about it. I suppose that is why I'm writing it out here. It makes no sense. It's all twisty and dark. But maybe I'm not the only one with weird quirks that pop up out of nowhere from a long time ago. Maybe there is someone else with their ice cream in a nest of spinach and broccoli, who would totally understand what I am saying? 

So, maybe we don't get better. Maybe we just get better at managing all our weirdness. 
Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Few of Your Favorite Things

I've been working hard on losing weight and behaving myself. Yesterday, however, I had a mild freak-out. The good news is that I didn't really destroy anything with a freak-out that tallied 1400 calories total for the day, AND when I started going "Woe is me, I've been stupid, all is lost... do we have mint chocolate chip ice cream? I think we might..." I managed to put enough space between myself and the issue to leave it behind. Sometimes, it really is just a matter of TIME. Allow enough time pass, and the food focused freak-out passes. Usually.

So, what was it that did me in? A bite of cheesecake? The smell of pizza? Nope. I was lonely, and I discovered we had low-fat, no preservatives, low-sodium beef jerky.

Jerky, people.

Jerky should NOT be a problem, but it turns out that jerky is one of my healthy trigger foods. I have others too, like nuts. I think my spirit animal is a squirrel, because I could live off nuts. Pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, and OMG macadamia nuts! *drool* All nuts and seeds. Well, except for pistachios because those are just nasty (my husband loves them though. Ick.)

Don't get me wrong, I have treat trigger foods galore. However, I find it a bit infuriating that there can be healthy ones too. I mean, why wouldn't there be, I know... but it just seems to me that if a food is going to make you lose your dang mind it ought to be, well, unusual. Certainly nothing you could find existing in nature. Pizza and ice cream don't grow on trees, ya know! But nuts do. I'd be the fat neanderthal in the pecan orchard, refusing to come down out of the tree. Of course, logic would hold I'd be a really thin neanderthal when everything was out of season (and those darn saber toothed tigers were eyeing me up for dinner.)

So, what I'm really saying is that I need to be able to gorge myself on nuts and jerky and those sorts of things, and then starve and run for my life for a good portion of the year. I may have discovered the perfect diet plan! I could totally market this...

OK, maybe not.

I keep thinking that they're healthy, so I should be able to work them into my daily healthy lifestyle. After all, I LOVE them. LOVE. If I love them, then aren't they like having a treat every day, except they're good for me? My problem is that when I have them, I don't want to stop having them. If I buy a tiny portion of them and have it, I spend the rest of the day wanting MORE. MORE!!! GIVE ME MORE!

For now, I keep them out of the house. I'm 40. I think if I haven't learned how to incorporate healthy trigger foods in a controlled way, I probably never will. I'm an all or nothing type, and I always have been. I envy the sorts who are not this way. (I remember hearing Dolly Parton talking about her diet and how she has whatever she wants, but only a couple tiny bites of it, and then she moves on. If I did that, my eyes would glaze over, and they'd find me three days later sprawled in the middle of a buffet somewhere in a food coma. I know, because I've tried. I can cook anything, be around any food, as long as I do NOT have even a crumb of it.)

Anyway. Healthy trigger foods! Nuts, jerky, avocados, grapes... I clearly have them - what about you?
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Final Countdown

I dropped my husband off at the airport yesterday. This past week was Spring break, and my husband came back for it. It will be his last trip here before we move. I won't see him until the weekend of the 4th of July now, when the movers show up and all that gets rolling.

We'll probably literally be on the road on the 4th of July (although I'm going to shoot for the 3rd.) My plan is to drive as early as possible in the day because I'm worried about drunk drivers, but it's a 12+ hour drive straight through. With stops and possible traffic... 15 or so? Nightmare, no matter how I look at it. We're renting a van for us, the kids, the animals, and all the stuff the movers won't touch (like my paint! This seriously irks me.) Maybe we should find a hotel that will let us stay half-way, but I just can't figure out how that would work on the holiday weekend and a cat, rabbit and two dogs - plus I can't leave my paints in the van to heat up. Anyway, my mind is spinning over the details... and it's really only about nine weeks away. To me, we're in the final count down. I even scheduled my last haircut. That's serious stuff, right there folks!

Anyway, as my husband has been living out of hotel rooms (and staying for brief periods with my parents in NC when he's not in CA) since October, by the time he got here he didn't want to go anywhere. And who could blame him? So, we were the boring people. We did a movication instead.

Well, one day we went out and went bowling, but the kids seemed less than impressed with that. It was also cold and rainy almost the entire time. One day it even actually snowed a little bit, but other than that it was just straight on gloomy. So, over the week we watched Into the Woods (liked it, it's like watching a Broadway play, not a movie), Interstellar (LOVED it, it's a thinking movie), Unbroken (liked it, but it's hard to watch sometimes too as it's based on a true story), the Guardians of the Galaxy (loved it), and... a few others I am forgetting. Not to mention my husband got caught up on things like Game of Thrones, and started watching Daredevil on Netflix.

The first part of the week I did well with my food in the household. The second half, I just totally went into a downward spiral. I hit all my workouts, but I chose so badly in the food department. I stepped on the scale this morning, and I'm horrified. I'm back strictly on track now, and I'm worried I actually won't make my next DietBet weigh-in on the 18th. I don't see how I could make it, but I'm going to try. I should be in the 170's now (that's the next goal: 179.8) and instead it said 191lbs this morning. I know some of that is water weight, but a whole lot more is just my bad choices.

My husband came home and instead of losing the 10 lbs we had promised each other, he had gained 10lbs more than the last time when he had gained about 15lbs (I had lost 8lbs this time.) I have NEVER seen my husband this heavy. It was really a kind of shock. When we went to the grocery store, he bought all sorts of things that he shouldn't have.

The kids felt like this was a prison vacation if dad was having fun food and they weren't, and after a failed discussion for unity on this... I gave in. Yes, I did. Bad parent that I am, I bought stuff they're not normally allowed to have. It did seem to lift the gloom that had settled over us a bit, though. Hey, if food didn't have a pay-off like cheering people up, none of us would have a darn weight problem, now would we? Well, I wouldn't anyway.

I told myself that it was OK for them to have the junk in the house for just the five days that were left. I just wouldn't partake. I could stay on my strict plan and be fine with my egg whites while they had all sorts of things. Then I told myself "Well, I'll just track it and keep my calories down even if I partake." That would have also been acceptable. Yeah, but then I found myself eventually saying "screw it" instead.

The truth is that we're all depressed. I mean that. I've been struggling for a while now - sometimes it's hard to go and do anything even if it's supposed to be fun. It's entirely situational, though. Who wouldn't be stressed out and depressed with trying to sell a house and being afraid of things not working out like they should, and not seeing your spouse for months on end, and the teenagers freaking out often enough that you realize you really are scared and alone, and things breaking, and... it SUCKS, people. It really sucks!

Which is no excuse, but it is the reason I have been struggling. It's the reason my husband is struggling and losing the struggle altogether. He has a hotel room with a kitchen and a grocery store across the street, and he is choosing to find comfort in food when he's all alone. I can't say that I would be any different. I'm at home and struggling the same way, for crying out loud (although in my case it seems to be more about eating too much even if it's healthy.)

But I want to be better than this. I don't like how I feel when I eat junk food. I don't like how I feel when my clothes don't fit, or I'm embarrassed about how I look in public (although, I'd probably always be embarrassed, even if I was a size 2.) I don't like who I am right now, or how I feel in this skin. I was doing something about it, and now I'm back to doing something about it.

I'm trying to use the next nine weeks as a count-down. A 9-week-challenge.

In nine weeks, I will be moving to my new state (just not my new home. We'll be in a two bedroom apartment for a month or two until the house is ready. It's a good thing that I can't drink, because I'd probably take it up as a hobby at that point.) It should be hot out. Wicked hot in North Carolina, actually. I'd like to be able to put on shorts and feel less like I do right now, which is awful and ashamed. I won't be able to hit my healthy goal by then of 155, but I should be able to hit "not over weight according to BMI charts."

So, that's my goal. Strict. Trying to move towards something better. We have a real date of when we'll all be together again. It might be scary crazy and stressful, but it's real and it's set now. That's something. I'm just trusting that everything else will work itself out too.

And ending on a totally different note, I finished my painting for the newest issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine, and I totally love it:

"Beyond the Pail" 9x12 acrylic on stretched canvas.

Those are tennis balls instead of stars, "waves" of grass, and paper boats. It just kind of makes me happy. I think I'm going to paint more paper boats. They remind me of childhood and wishes!
Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nothing New

I've sat down to write several times, and just... didn't take it across the finish line. I'm just so tired right now, even though life is pretty much the same. No showings of the house to report. Nothing exciting to share. I DO have an official move out date now, in July, so if the house hasn't sold by then I know I'll be on the road regardless. I have high hopes with the warmer weather finally starting up that people will start shopping again and we can get this under contract (no green grass yet, but it can't be far!)

Our next house isn't due to be finished until some time in August though if we're lucky, so I might lose my mind somewhere in there. We'll be in temporary housing, and I won't have access to any of my art stuff... and maybe not even my computer.

I'm trying to figure out how to plan some fun vacations in that time since it will be summer break. I know moving is insanely stressful, but if we're out of house and home anyway, it seems like I should be able to plan some fun getaways in there... right? Totally sound logic! Back me up here, I'm trying to make this argument to my husband, and I need all the support I can get! And suggestions of where to go would be good too. I have Universal Studios on the list for example, because I want to shop in Diagon Alley. (Because I'm a geek. I own it. If there was a Hobbiton there, I'd be all over it too. *ahem*)

I thought about perhaps renting a little beach house for a week, thinking that would be a nice relaxing time for the kids, and something unique for us since we're beach-less in Vermont. And then I saw the rent costs. (I could buy a CAR  for that!! Seriously?!) So, now I'm trying to figure out how to make this exciting and fun and worth the time. Especially since this is our last summer with my daughter, really. Next summer, she'll be packing up for college. *sniffle*

Other than that, and my excitement over Outlander and Game of Thrones being back? Yeah, I'm as boring as ever! My cat has been getting more and more blatant about nap-bragging (you know, that's what they do when you're tired and wish you were still snoozing in bed, and you walk by and see them in YOUR spot snoring away?)

Socrates actually has his head ON MY PILLOW!

Oh, and he's been hoarding my kindle too...

Why do animals seek out the electronics and lay on them? He's particularly fond of the cellphones.

I've been working to meet a magazine deadline. I finished one piece that depicts domestic violence (it fit the piece I was assigned):

And today I'm desperately trying to finish this piece, but I have a long way to go:

The piece I was assigned started out with a Jack & Jill theme, so I went with it.

I've been getting all my workouts, but struggling mightily with my food. I may or may not make my weigh-in goal for round two of my DietBet on Saturday. We'll see. I've been veering towards weighing more than once a week than not, because it seems to focus me a little better right now when that is something that seems to be severely lacking.

My husband is coming back tomorrow night for a whole week! I'm excited. Of course, we'll spend that time fixing things around the house, but I'm hoping we'll get in some fun things too!

How is everyone else?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gratitude Attitude

I've been thinking a lot about perspective lately. I think it's because I'm trying to get some, as where I'm sitting now just feels bad almost all of the time. The truth is that I'm actually not in such horrible circumstances, and I know it, which only makes me feel like more of a horrible person for feeling awful about my current situation. Translation: I'm a bad person for feeling bad. I'm not sure how to escape out of the bad-person paper bag, though.

Everyone always admonishes everyone else to feel grateful, but attached to feeling grateful is also a sense of feeling bad for being grateful because not everyone else is so lucky. It's a sort of guilt-gratefulness when it's not in the moment.

When something goes your way for once, you feel instant gratitude. That's the awesome stuff, no bad feelings involved. It's a no-strings-attached gratitude that floods you right then, and it can pick up your whole day! But when you are feeling poorly about things and someone tells you to be grateful for what you have, it's always because someone else isn't as lucky as you and you should feel grateful you aren't worse off. Guilt-gratitude. So many strings attached that a cat wouldn't know which one to chase. Still, is guilt-gratitude better than none?

Yesterday, I was in the grocery store picking up food to throw at the teenagers before they started gnawing off the edges of the kitchen table, or each other's legs. While there, my daughter asked if we could pick up blush (she's been walking around looking like a zombie because her only thought was to wear base to cover up teenage acne, along with black mascara and eyeliner. Never mind that it suddenly made her look like she was suffering from severe blood loss.) I said yes. A cheap one. Make-up is one of those things that I sort of walk the line with as far as us covering, or her needing to use her allowance on... anyone figured that one out yet? I have it kind of divided into necessity (cover-up, base, blush, we buy) and non-necessity (funky eyeliner or something, she buys.)

Anyway, at the check-out there were two young men in front of us. They had the belt loaded up with food, but were sorting certain things from the cart or belt to the hand basket under the end of the belt. I realized they were dividing necessity from wants. Money is understandably tight up here, especially since everything here is insanely priced (seriously $4.50 for a dozen eggs? I can't wait to move.) They were checking their money, and making sure to take anything off that wasn't a necessity as they started tallying their purchases.

Now, I've only once been at the checkout where I had to pull things off the conveyor. It was mortifying. After that, I started carrying a calculator with me and keeping a running tally of what I was buying (this was before smartphones, where you could be more covert. Everyone knew exactly what I was doing.) I remember having to put back things that I wanted in order to have things that we needed. And goodness help the cashier when something rang up wrong and they didn't want to fix it. I would get into a knock down drag-out fight to save a dollar if I had to. I will never forget what it feels like to live like that.

Yet, as I loaded my things onto the belt behind the men's yesterday, I realized I had silly things on there. Like blush. More, I haven't had to carry a calculator through the store for a long time. I still pay very close attention to the cost per pound or count (even if I won the lottery, I'd probably still do that,) but I know that as long as I'm not being frivolously stupid I can cover my grocery bill without sweating it. I've come a long way. Perspective, with little bit of guilt involved because it was the men in front of me who put my trip into perspective in the first place, but perspective worth having. (I wonder if I put anyone else's perspective in place back when I had to do what they did?)

I'm trying very hard to think myself out of my bad feelings right now. I'm a control freak with no control, and that makes uncomfortable situations even more miserable. I can't change my stripes, so I'm trying to think my way around them instead. I know I need a better perspective. I need to channel Pollyanna somehow... But constantly trying to feel gratitude when there is guilt attached isn't working. I somehow feel even worse, even if I am grateful. Guilt makes me want to rebel, and that makes it significantly harder to feel positive (although, resentful ends up being remarkably easy!)

I know, I know, I know. True gratitude is all sunbeams and rainbows and unicorns frolicking through the meadows while birds sing, and there is no guilt. Supposedly. I think that unless we're talking about immediate response gratitude, that hard won gratitude is always caked in guilt. How does being grateful and guilty at the same time help anyone? The only thing I can figure it helps out is possibly as a tool in regaining or changing your perspective.

And I'm really trying to change my perspective. I know mine... sucks. So, I have a crappy attitude about feeling gratitude along with a heavy dose of guilt and knowing I need to somehow change my perspective (and for some reason, being fully aware of that just makes me angry at anyone who tries to tell me off about the whole thing.) I think that deep down I just really want someone to blame, blast out of the water, and get my life back. However, it's not really anyone's fault per se, and what little fault there is can rest on my head and my choices in life, such as they are.

*sigh* I think it's the control freak in me trapped in some sort of life-nightmare. The really funny thing is that I chafe under rules and expectations. You would think a control freak would thrive in that environment where everything is laid out and you just do these specific things. With everything wild here, there really are only certain things I am allowed to do, things I can reach and strive for, and all the rest have been taken away from me. So, I'm a freedom loving control freak out of control because she's under too much control? Regardless, my attitude is not helping and all methods of changing my attitude just make me angry I have to change it in the first place (I am aware that I sound like I'm six years old. I'm working on that too.)

I finished this piece recently. If you think about the theme of perspective (I wasn't at the time... at least, I don't think I was) it has an eerie meaning.

"Cat's Cradle" 9x12 watercolor (little acrylic in her hair) on 140lbs hot-pressed 100% cotton professional watercolor paper.

Someone even asked me what made me think of this. Honestly? I have no idea. NONE. But it's that way with so many of my paintings. She reminds me a bit of a seer, (or one of the Graea) which is interesting from the idea of control, or lack thereof of future events. Perspective, right? Control? What is in our control, what isn't?

Maybe nothing is in our control, but how we feel about it and react to it is. Perspective plays a heavy hand in that. I'm just trying to figure out how much gratitude also plays into it. And apparently guilt.

On the positive side, if I whine this much when I'm miserable, you can be sure I'm also vocal when things are going well (...somewhat. People get really mad if you are really happy about something, have you noticed that?) So you'll have that to either look forward to or fear, because I KNOW things are going to sort themselves out. They just have to. I won't stand for anything less! (control freak!)