Living in Stressful Times

StressedI’ve been reverting to very old habits as the weeks have passed with more dreadful economic news every time we turn around.  I know it’s not healthy but there is comfort, albeit shortlived, in eating candy and salty stuff instead of making a healthy meal or taking a walk at lunch time.

We are facing budget cuts of 7.5% this year with another 5% next year and I’ve been spending my time canceling things that have been part of our library’s collection for years.  It’s not completely bad:  this careful review of continued spending obligations is giving us a chance to really decide what the collection of the future needs to look like.  But the short-term is very hard, as is the increasing awareness that there will be personnel adjustments as well.  No knows what that will look like and that’s the hardest part, the not knowing.

I’m not sleeping well, not eating well, not exercising at all, and generally feeling pretty crappy.  And yes, I know that all of this is connected.  The problem is pulling myself out of it.

My former WW leader used to tell the story of a friend who was facing an assortment of problems involving medical, financial, and family issues.  Yet she was able to stick to her WW plan through it all.  When asked how/why, she replied that her food was the only thing she COULD control, and controlling that one thing made her feel better about dealing with everything else spinning out of control around her.  At least one thing was being managed.

I need to pick one thing, even one little thing, and make a firm commitment to it.  I don’t think I’m ready to say I can do that with food.  But I will commit to drinking 8 glasses of water.  Maybe starting with that one small step I can start to pull my way back and keep my world on an even keel.

Looking for a New Car

Red Saturn (not mine but mine looks like this)My beloved little Saturn is 9.5 years old and I’m exploring options for finding a replacement.  It only has 43,400 miles on it – all original owner – so clearly I don’t drive all that much.  I would keep it until it ran into the ground (I’ve only had 2 cars in 24 years which tells you something) but I feel as though I’m sitting in a hole when I drive, and my knee twists and torques in uncomfortable ways when I get in and out.  It’s time for a change.

But what to buy?  New or used?  Hybrid or regular?  Sedan or wagon?  Mileage matters, especially remembering days of $4/gallon gas which will come again.  But mileage isn’t everything.   I don’t want a big car, finding little nimble ones easier to park and manouver.  My current car is a sedan but I miss the functionality of the hatchbacks which I had for 20 years.

I need something I can climb in and out of without pain and without falling on the pavement trying to get in.  I need to be comfortable – and as a large person, that’s not always easy. Oh, and I want a car from a car company I think might actually be around in 5 years and whose product has resale value.  That pretty much eliminates American cars.

I’ve been stalking cars in parking lots, checking out lines and peeking into windows to look at dashboard configurations.  And I’ve cornered strangers getting in or out of cars that interest me, asking them what they think of their cars.  Most people are happy to say something, especially if they either love or hate their vehicle.  You can tell a lot by the level of enthusiasm in their voice.

There’s tons of research I can do online, playing on car company sites to build myself a new car, then changing things and seeing what that does to the bottom line.  I have an account at Consumer Reports Online so I can read reviews and ratings, and have also explored the AAA version that shows you invoice costs vs. sticker price.

But I can’t actually SIT in the cars from the comfort of my recliner in the living room. I  have to actually get into the dealership, sit in the ones I’ve decided I like, and take them for test drives.  Tho I’m guessing that some of the ones I like on screen will not even merit a test drive once I climb in and sit down.

Current favorites:  Toyota Rav4 and Subaru Forester.   They look fun to drive and the folks I’ve talked to who have them rave more than my neighbors with their gray or silver sedans which get better mileage.  While mileage obviously is important, so is comfort.  I’m going to keep this a long time, whichever I get, and I want to not be poked in the sides by assorted little knobs and buttons simply because I was too cheap to get something more.

What do you drive (year/make/model) and are you happy with it?

Weird Dream

Dreams PosterI was very busy in my dream last night and it directly reflected my TV viewing earlier in the day (Last Holiday and home decorating shows on HGTV).

I had a plane ticket in my hand to go to Europe (I’m not exactly sure where).  It was an American Airlines ticket but somehow it was one of those “code share” things that had another airline’s codes on it.  I was running around excited, packing and getting ready to leave.  Suddenly the scene shifted and I was standing in front of a mirror crying because I was alone and had no man in my life (something that I don’t usually notice at all).  Doug Wilson from TLC appeared behind me to give me a hug and whispered that my next trip we would go to Cambridge, England together.  Why, I have no idea.  But hey, Doug, if you read this?  I’m up for it.

Shift again and I look at my ticket and realize I need to get to the airport.  But when I do arrive, the American Airlines people tell me that the ticket isn’t for one of their flights at all (even though their name was on it) and I had something like 35 min. to change to the International Terminal, clear security, find my gate, and depart.  Like that was going to happen.

I scrambled outside and went into this weird race with shuttle buses and subway stations that only went away from my destination, and clearly it took more than 35 min. to get there but when I finally did, the flight had just left.

Moral of the story — go to Cambridge on my own, reconfirm my tickets, and leave plenty of time to get to the airport!

I Want to be Queen Latifah When I Grow Up

Last HolidayI just finished watching Queen Latifah in Last Holiday.  She plays a sales clerk from New Orleans who loves to cook and has a Book of Possibilities but never really lives out the things she wants.  When she gets diagnosed with a fast-moving disease that gives her weeks to live, she quits her job, cashes in her 401K and goes to Europe where she grabs life with both hands.

Queen Latifah is a gorgeous woman.  She has that wonderful voice, incredible skin, a beautiful smile, and a voluptuous body, and she has not been afraid to take risks, moving from rap to Chicago to musical standards  and acting.  She’s accomplished in all that she does and carries herself with style and confidence.

Georgia, her character in the movie, simply blossoms and glows as she does things she has only dreamed of, living with honest exhuberance as though there is no tomorrow.  She stops worrying about dieting and dresses herself in beautiful clothes that fit her curvy body.  She bungee jumps and snowboards, goes to the spa and gambles – and cooks with someone who is her idol.  It brought such a smile to my face and my heart to watch her stand up for herself and her dreams and make them happen.

If there is a lesson – and there were many – it’s that life is not about regrets; go out and fulfill your dreams and enjoy the life you have, because any day could be your last.

Seeing Myself Through My Brother’s Eyes

Heart shaped glassesThe other night I had a long phone visit with my brother in Texas.  We only see each other once a year or more but we stay in touch regularly through phone calls, usually ones he makes while driving somewhere in his truck.  It’s the most private time he has and although I make fun of the fact that all the calls happen that way, I cherish that he makes them – and tell him so.

We were catching up on stuff and he asked me how my knee was doing.  I  almost started to cry when I said that it hurt a lot and that the doctors didn’t want to operate because of my weight – not as a surgical risk but because a replacement wouldn’t last as long in a heavy person as in someone who is lighter.  I was feeling once again like a fat failure.  I almost didn’t hear what he said next, but it was important.

He said that he, his wife, and the kids (he named them all, in birth order – maybe in case I’d forgotten) all loved me exactly how I am right this minute.  That if I didn’t lose a single pound for the rest of my life, they would love me and want to spend time with me because of who I am as a person.  They want me to be happy because I make them happy. They didn’t want me to hurt but they didn’t want me to feel inadequate or insufficient in any way because to them, I am neither.

Knowing that is one thing, and I did know it.  But hearing it right that minute mattered so much.  It was heartfelt and honest – and was a balm to my heart and wounded spirit.  Obviously being smaller is better physically and medically.  But knowing that I am loved unconditionally by people who mean the world to me – well, that helps give me strength to work on hard things and know that I’m not a failure even when things don’t work out.

So on this Valentine’s Day, where we hand out chocolate and candy and little cards to virtual strangers, please take a minute to think of someone you care about and tell them how you feel.  Not necessarily your spouse – maybe a friend, a neighbor, a sister, a colleague.   Heartfelt words carry truth and power and you have no idea what positive energy those words might create in someone else’s life.