Massage Day

MassageI treated myself to a wonderful restorative hot stone massage after work today, my reward for having to work this Intersession holiday and to end the year on a pampering note. If you’ve never had one of these before, I highly recommend it.

The therapist uses stones heated to 120 degrees, placing them on the body to let the heat penetrate the muscles to allow the massage to go deeper and work on tight knots. She also uses the stones, covered with oil, to actually do some of the massage, which is incredibly relaxing and meditative. I found that after a while I simply felt the weight of the stones on my body and not their heat as I went deeper into the experience.

Massage time is quiet time for me to center in and focus on my body. I pay attention to the feeling of being touched, which doesn’t happen to me all that often – I get touch-deprived, actually, so I want to really savor the experience. I find concentrating on the hands working on my body to be a way to connect with what’s going on with me. As the fingers find problems with muscles and gradually work through the knots, I feel tension release in inside places, too. For me massage isn’t optional, it’s a necessary way to take care of myself.

Steel cut oats revisited

Oatmeal porridgeI woke up this morning to the tantalizing aroma of oatmeal with apples and cinnamon bubbling in the crockpot. The cans of steel cut oatmeal were on sale at my supermarket last night and I snatched up two of them since they can be hard to find, not to mention saving $3 per can is nothing to sneeze about.

The original recipe I posted back in October is the single most popular entry on my blog, which I find fascinating. It makes boatloads of the stuff in a big crockpot, but it keeps well in the fridge and freezes beautifully to take out and have later on. I tend to be rushed in the morning, trying to get ready for work and make lunch and generally wake up, so just being able to zap the pre-cooked oatmeal and add a little milk and maybe some Splenda brown sugar is a great way to have a filling breakfast. Taking the advice of the Shrinking Knitter, I’ve started adding a chopped up apple and “some” cinnamon (I never measure) when I cook it in the first place.

If you don’t have a huge crockpot, I wouldn’t recommend trying to cut this back and cooking it in a small one. I don’t know how to figure out the time. I think you’d be better off making it according to the directions on the can in a pot on the stove (it cooks for 45 minutes or so, if I remember rightly) but then you can also make ahead and from there it would be the same. Adding dried fruit or a chopped apple and cinnamon helps make it more yummy.


Boxing Day

Traffic jamI spent 5 hours getting home today, a trip that usually takes 3 hours but was lengthened by all of the other people who decided to head home from Christmas the same day that I did. You’d think we could have coordinated this better. I really don’t like driving at night but although the traffic was heavy and I had to be on my toes, at least I didn’t need to worry about rain or snow or ice, always a possibility in this part of this world at this time of year.

My Christmas was good but different. I spent it with my friends and their seven cats and two dogs – there was lots of furry love going around and pet hair is a condiment, but one enjoyed with laughter. Dee and Gary opened their home and their hearts and included me in the family festivities; she is a sister of the heart and we needed this time together to cook and shop, talk and do puzzles, be silly and be serious.

Christmas Eve we all bundled up and headed down to Staten Island and a big family gathering that was a totally new experience. It was a totally Southern Italian huge food extravaganza with family talking over each other as gestures got more expansive and the food kept coming. Apparently there is a Southern Italian tradition of having seven (or nine or thirteen!) seafood dishes on Christmas Eve. It’s a vigil and good Italian Catholics don’t eat meat – as a good Episcopalian, this never occurred to me before.

I didn’t quite know how to deal with all the food. I wanted to try everything, and to be honest, I did. We sat around the table in this huge kitchen and talked and drank soft drinks or water and ate as things came out of the oven in waves – it took a long time. I didn’t really like it all because it was all brown; even the vegetables had been breaded and fried or oven baked or something that made them coated. I’d never seen breaded broccoli or artichoke hearts before and I don’t plan to put them on my regular menu. I felt like a stuffed pig when we finally pushed away from the table to go open presents. No one made me eat everything; it was my own idea but I’d wished I’d practiced better will-power.

On the other hand, it was a fun evening and we drove home via the west side of New York City. I gawked like a tourist (which I was) and marveled at the lights on bridges and buildings, and at the red and green lights on the Empire State Building. We drove through the night with a soft background of Christmas music playing, talking quietly and lookng at the way different houses and neighborhoods were decorated.

Christmas dinner was lasagna, not traditional for me but certainly tasty. We made teeny tiny meatballs to put in with the sauce and then big meatballs (mine looked more like hamburgers) which bubbled in marinara sauce on the stove while the lasagna baked. I loved it but I ate more garlic bread than was wise.

But the day, the visit was about more than food. I made some choices that I’m not terribly happy with and today I found emotions bubbling just below the surface – a vulnerability of being with people who cared about me and knowing I was about to get in my little car and drive home alone to an empty house. I had the furry love of Marisa as I cried and the tight hugs of my friend to remind me that I’m loved whether I’m there or not. It was hard. Coming home alone is hard, even though I live alone and am used to it. It’s always hard after I’ve been away and with people I love.

On my long way home today I heard a song on the radio that I hadn’t heard for years – Georgie Girl – and as I absently sang along, the words suddenly hit me with force. Here is the last verse:

Hey there! Georgie girl
Dreaming of the someone you could be
Life is a reality, you can’t always run away.
Don’t be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself.
It’s time for jumping down from the shelf a little bit.

I’ve been pottsing around with the weight stuff for a while, not really doing it but not NOT doing it either. It’s time for me to get focused and change that. I need to center in and find my purpose again and then do what I know I can accomplish. First, though, I think I”ll finish unpacking.

Off for the holidays

ElfI’m off in an hour or so, heading to New York state to spend Christmas with friends.  I was with my family over Thanksgiving but I’ve learned over the years that my family is bigger than just those related to me by blood or marriage.  Family includes the people we choose to consider family – why limit myself to the small nuclear family that lives half a country away?  I’m delighted that Dee and Gary are welcoming me to their home to share this day.

The presents are in the car; I loaded them up earlier before the rain came so the pretty colors on the paper wouldn’t get all weird.  I still have to pack but I’m good at doing it and keep a little travel kit pre-stocked that I can just throw in with some clothes and my camera.  This is a low-key visit; my instructions were NOT to dress fancy, which is fine with me.  It also makes packing easier.

I’m feeling a little hung over from having slept for 11 hours last night.  I gave myself permission to sleep until I woke up, something I rarely get to do, but I had no idea that would be the result.  Obviously I’ve been more sleep-deprived than I thought, and I knew I was having problems.  Driving makes me sleepy so I have to be sure I pace myself, have plenty to drink, and listen to peppy tunes.

May you all have a relaxed and happy holiday.  Give yourselves the gift of time to not race through everything but to really enjoy yourselves and the people you are with.  Cameras will be everywhere and pictures taken to capture memories.  Don’t be afraid to be in those pictures!  You are loved and wanted because of who you are right this minute, not just when you’ve lost the weight you want to lose.  So smile and allow yourselves to be included in shots with those you care about.

Merry Christmas!

Piglet people

Bejeweled Flying PigPiglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered. “Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”
~A.A. Milne

I am a Piglet Person. I love pigs, though not quite as much as my friend Phyllis. I like that they are pink and strong and big and solid and sure of themselves. But Piglet actually isn’t all that sure. Most of us aren’t. Sometimes we just need to sidle up to people and take their hand and just be with them, to re-establish a connection, to know we are not alone. Piglet does that for me.

My friends know that pigs, especially flying ones, make me happy and I got this beautiful bejeweled one for Christmas from a colleague. I named her Charlotte and she lifts my spirits just to see her, looking up with those little wings, ready to fly.