Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


Holding fast to my convictions

The President announced last week that churches are essential services and must be allowed to open. What he doesn’t understand, what so many people do not get, is that the church is not the building. It’s NEVER been the building, no matter how beautiful it is and how much people like worshipping there. This pretty much sums it up for me:

Image may contain: outdoor, text that says 'Churches are essential... we already knew that. When the faithful are scattered in every age due to persecution, disaster, plague, we persist worship and service, in sacrament and sacrifice- feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, being good news for the poor, working to free the captives and oppressed. Our highest and holy calling is to be the church, not go to church. CJS'

I work in a church that has not held in-person services since March 15th, but resumed yesterday with Golf Cart Church outside. Everyone was so excited to be back but I couldn’t make myself go. I knew almost no one would wear a mask which isn’t so scary to me outside – except they were singing. I cannot make myself do that; it’s too risky.

I’ve been singing in church choirs since I was 6 years old. It’s how I worship, it’s my community, it’s my home. But singing projects the virus far greater distances than even coughing does – as it also projects flu and colds. The coronavirus is highly contagious and there is no vaccine and won’t be for some time, no matter what the President claims. Science isn’t politics. Until there is a vaccine, it’s not safe to sing in groups; adding in close proximity and indoor spaces of being inside a church multiplies the risk. Not everyone will agree with me and that is their right. For me, this isn’t negotiable. Neither is wearing a mask out in public.

The country is opening back up after many weeks of shut down and almost 100,000 deaths, which are continuing to climb. But things couldn’t stay closed forever. Too many people are out of work, too many businesses are in financial distress or facing permanent closure. My neighbors are busy shopping, getting their hair and nails done, going out to eat, gathering for dinner parties. I rarely see any of them in a mask even though they are strongly recommended.

I’m wary. I’m not afraid of getting the virus, or even dying from it if it comes to that. I just don’t want to give it to someone else. Wearing a mask is a small thing to do – and it pisses me off that so few people do it. I’ve done a little shopping (okay, two stores other than grocery) but have no interest in eating out, dawdling in stores, or even getting my hair or nails done. They need it mind you, and my hair is ready, but I’m not.

So I’m feeling distant from my neighbors and friends. Well, there was a lot of that already because of politics. They are being true to who they are and the steps they think are the right ones for them to take, but those steps are not ones that feel right to me for myself. I think my Covid Isolation will continue a while longer and once it starts to get really hot (which is overdue), I know I won’t want to go out no matter what.

I do miss the gym, though, which is such an odd thing for me. It reopened this week but I’m giving it a little more time before I try to figure out a good time to go when minimal people will be there. Even without the gym and without getting maximum steps, I’ve continued to lose weight on Noom during lockdown. As of this morning, I’m down 45 lbs from my start in January. It feels good and I was actually insulted last week going to the doctor when they didn’t want me to get on the scale first.

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Anne’s Gazpacho Recipe

Gazpacho is a classic dish of the Andaluz region of Spain. Some recipes make a thin base soup to serve with chopped veggies. Others make a thick soup without additions at table. Me, I like thick soup AND added veggies! I’ve been making this recipe since college; it most closely approximates what I ate in Spain during my semester there. I make it often in the summer when fresh veggies are plentiful and hot food loses its appeal. This is a great Noom green food that’s easy, filling, and refreshing. Enjoy!

1 med. Onion, quartered
1 med. Cucumber, peeled and sliced in chunks
1 med. Green pepper, cut into chunks
1 qt canned tomatoes

1 qt tomato juice (can use V8)
1 can beef consommé  (NOT broth or stock)
¼ C. lemon juice, or juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Dash of Tabasco

Puree onion, cucumber, pepper, and tomatoes in food processor (or blender). Pour into large bowl. Add tomato juice, consommé, lemon juice, Tabasco, salt & pepper. Stir well.

Let sit at room temp for 3 hrs, then chill 6-24 hours before serving.

Serve cold with bowls of the following chopped veggies:  cucumber, tomato, green pepper, onion, and croutons.  Makes thick base soup.

Yield:  11.5 one-cup servings of base soup + chopped veggies.
65 calories/cup


Nooming in Isolation

One of the things I’m grateful for while under COVID Stay Home orders is that I’m on Noom and have enough time under my belt for it to have become a way of life before isolation started. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, and I know it’s far easier for me than for someone with others to cook for, or who are medical professionals now working insane schedules under intense pressure.

I asked my Goal Specialist to reset me to Week 1 when I realized I was blowing off DOING article work instead of just reading. I also wished that I’d known to start taking notes and journaling at the beginning of Noom and not two months in. I now have a beautiful journal at my side, with pen attached, and take notes as I work through the articles. Blogging is also a form of journaling but I’m making notes to myself in writing as I go.

The world has changed since January and COVID-related articles are included now. The basic ones are the same, but others talk about how to maintain mental health, making yourself a priority, and readjusting goals under changed circumstances. Sometimes working on behaviors and habits are more important than getting in a big workout (not that I ever did a big workout, but other people did).

Reading articles, planning meals, and logging my food provide a structure that continues what I was doing back when things were normal. They’re not things I’ve imposed on myself because of isolation, but they do help me in an otherwise fluid time. When our office was closed and I was working from home, I got work done but during different hours than in a pre-COVID work day, and I found myself getting all snacky and reaching for things that by themselves are not a problem but are when eaten in a fog.

My goals for last week and this week are to eliminate the snacking except as planned out, and go back to what worked in my Noom early days: sitting in early morning with a bottle of water and logging what I expect to eat at all my meals and snacks BEFORE I actually eat them. That gives me huge structure and a calm. I can plan for a Healthy Choice Fudge bar or a slider basket delivered from the club when I want to work in something special. When I follow this pattern, I feel in control and I lose. Win-win!

Every two weeks I make a huge batch of chunky applesauce in the crockpot to eat as a snack or mix with yogurt or oatmeal. I bought 5 lbs of 90% fat free ground beef at Sam’s on Friday when I went to pick up prescriptions, and will be making meat sauce today (love my crockpot!), as well as two batches of taco meat for the freezer and a package of browned meat with onions for some future recipe. I also have a rotisserie chicken to pull apart with meat for salads; some of that will go to the freezer, too, joining lots of meat, veggies, and fruit.

One thing I’m having trouble with is getting in my steps. While I’m not a gym rat, I really was enjoying being more active, and I miss at least getting in all my steps. Usually at work I’d make laps around the sanctuary a few times in a morning which helped, and would go to a big box store to go up and down the aisles even if I didn’t need to buy anything. I do better holding on to a cart or a treadmill than just walking on the streets of Emerald Bay, but I’m still getting 5K+ steps most days, even with flaring sciatica. Go me. I’ll be glad to have the gym again when it’s safe to go.

I know myself and know how I’ve reacted in the past to enforced stay home time for blizzards and surgical recovery. Usually I’d be eating all day long, feeling bloated and lethargic, and disappointed with myself. This much longer COVID time is different. I’m eating healthy, tracking my food, building in movement and meditation, and providing structure without making myself crazy.

Noom works for me, with daily readings and accountability steps. And as of this morning, I’ve lost 41 lbs since January, 8 lbs since COVID became something to factor. I’ve got this.

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A Gem in My Mom’s Handwriting

I found a blue spiral-bound copy of The Bride’s Notebook yesterday while emptying and sorting drawers. It has pages and pages of notes and names in my mom’s handwriting, dating from the months before her wedding in December 1951. Using my clever math skills, I realized it was almost 70 years old. Yikes!

Some things never change. This little book includes sections for everything the 1950’s bride needed to keep track of – wedding details, etiquette, wedding invitations and announcements, gifts, clothes, and room-by-room things you want for your new home. Not sure if brides registered at department stores then, but this at least told me what Mom thought she needed. [UPDATE: Apparently bridal registry started in 1924 at Marshall Fields. The stores listed in Mom’s book (Bamberger, Kresge, Hahnes) are no longer around under those names if at all.]

Most interesting to me were the list of wedding guests, in alphabetical order and with my mom’s perfect handwriting. Entries included full names and addresses, as well as checks and X’s to indicate who had accepted. My grandfather had many business associates who were included on a similar list for wedding announcements. Reading the names was a walk down memory lane: I remembered many of the people, either from my childhood or because my mom or grandfather talked about them.

And of course there were family members that I never heard of for years but now recognize: my great-grandmother’s sister Belle and her children; Grandma’s brother Leighton; my grandfather’s many Heginbotham and McCormick cousins. On my dad’s side were the Dails and the Keels. Funny, it never occurred to me that my grandfather Myers’ sister would have been invited but yes, of course. She didn’t come, but she was invited.

Then there was the meticulous list of wedding gifts. Silver trays and candlesticks were big that year. So were tablespoons and place settings in their Old Master silver pattern, and money. Because I was curious, I looked up the values today – a $10 gift in 1951 would be $99 now. Some of the gifts recorded looked more like items a bride would get today at a shower: electric broiler, waste basket, vases, clock, lamp, ash tray. My mom’s sister gave her a set of 12 towels, hand towels, and washcloths, which made me wonder what Mom gave her for her wedding 3 months earlier in the same church, the same dress, with a lot of duplication on the guest list.

But really what got me were the names and Mom’s beautiful handwriting. I remembered so many of the people. Minnie Mae Gautier in Wisconsin sent a bone carving set that I passed on to my brother after my dad died. I always loved her name. She was a private secretary in 1930 when she was a boarder in my grandfather’s home during the Depression. Mom remembered her and obviously she remained on good terms with the family after she moved back home.

Also the Coughlins who lived in Flushing, NY, where Dan was a policeman. They rented the “little house” in Manasquan for years. I never asked or knew how they knew my grandparents, but they were always part of our summers at the shore. Mr. Margolis from Williamston, who ran a men’s clothing store and made Daddy a loan to buy the engagement ring. Roy Ackley and his wife in Orange, NJ, who worked with my father and grandfather and was actually the one to introduce me to genealogy in 1970. Aunt Belle Glidden in Ormond Beach, FL, which is a new piece of genealogy information for me. Grace Kellner, my grandfather’s secretary for years (and how on earth do I remember that??).

Remembering these people made me smile and remember my parents and grandparents, too. And as long as I remember them, they still live a little longer.

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Covid Phase Two?

We’ve been under Stay Home orders now for a month, and they were extended until April 30th by the county judge to conform with the Texas governor’s executive order. But today he started changing that, to open up the state and get us back to normal, whatever that is.

It’s not that easy. He and President Trump don’t get to decide when I, and many others, feel we’re ready for normal. We do. Yes, the economy is in the tank because so many millions are out of work with businesses shuttered. Many will not reopen. But coronovirus is still very dangerous and highly contagious, especially for people with compromised immune systems. As a fat person with breathing issues, I’m one of those people.

Many Texans, including family and neighbors, are ready to jump back in as though nothing happened these past weeks. As though 35,000 people didn’t die. Our Lieutenant Governor believes old people would be happy to die so their children and grandchildren have a strong economy. Maybe some would. I’m not volunteering myself for that. Maybe he will.

Maybe we’re moving into Covid Phase 2, but I’m going to watch and wait. Wear my face mask when I go out anywhere except, right now, to my locked down workplace, when I’m driving my golf cart, and when I’m out in my own yard. Wash my hands a lot. Keep at least 6 feet of distance between people when I happen to see them. No hugs, no travel, no eating out, no shopping, no church.

Lots of Americans don’t much care about what’s happening in New York. It’s far away, it’s city, it’s not Texas, it’s liberal, it’s abstract. But I grew up in New Jersey, lived in Connecticut, and was in Boston during 9/11. New York is a real place to me. I have friends there, including some who had and recovered from the virus. Thank God, no one I know has died. I’d like to keep it that way.

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Three Months Later

I now have three months of Noom under my belt – but that belt fits differently now. I weigh every day but on the first day of each month, I also take measurements. It’s a non-scale way to measure change.

And as of today, I’ve lost 36.6 lbs and 13.5 inches. I’m down two sizes in clothes. Even jewelry fits differently; necklaces are longer, bracelets actually dangle instead of strangle. Shoes will be next.

My closet is mostly purged of things that are too big and I’ve added clothes that fit or will soon be wearable from eBay and strategic purchases before we were in Stay-Home mode. I even have some Lands End pants from my working days that now fit.

Right now under the stress of COVID-19 and restricted movements, the only thing I can really control is what I put in my mouth. I am so very grateful that Noom has given me tools to change how I eat and how I relate to food. It’s not a diet, it’s a new way of eating. And it works. Who knew?

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Daily Quarantine Questions

These are good questions and I’m going to try to answer them every day, thought not necessarily here. But they will help me focus on something bigger than worry and stress as the world changes around us. I’m not actually quarantined (yet) but they are still good questions 🙂

What am I grateful for today? – For getting a good night’s sleep and being able to stay in my robe all day just because it’s wet and gray and I felt like it. For getting some “thank you” notes from church members for helping them be connected to church this morning.

Who am I checking in on or connecting with today? – I excelled at this one today! Spent over an hour on the phone in conversation with each of two friends, talking about life and politics, food and cats. Sent a long-ish email to a friend who may be lonely in this time of limited interaction.

What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today? – Hmmm, not really sure I did this today. Maybe the “normal” of knowing what the next day holds, since each day is different.

How am I getting outside today? – It’s raining and gray and I didn’t go out. I spent a little time on the porch with the kitties but not much coz it just felt raw.

How am I moving my body today? – I’ve been a slug. Normally I get in 5K+ steps at least, but the most I did was move from my room to the laundry room multiple times with laundry. It is the most spread out I can be in the house, but my body isn’t happy that I didn’t do more.

What beauty am I creating, cultivating or inviting in today? – I created one of my favorite recipes, Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole, that filled the house with wonderful smells.

Doesn’t seem like a lot today, but connecting with other people made me the happiest.