Thursday, October 29, 2015


There were no ghosts at the top of the stairs.  But the people coming for the estate sale had to know if the tales of their youth were true.  Some claimed The Tower Room had been the Witches’ Room when the house stood vacant for years.  In thirty-three years of vacations, holidays, birthdays and even Halloweens, I had not met a ghost, yet.  But, I had never volunteered to go up to The Tower Room when it was dark and the rest of the folks were two stories below.

One of the oldest homes in town, the Dutch Colonial sat on a prominent corner.  With two upstairs balconies and a third floor “Tower Room” capped by a gold dome, it seemed a castle to four grandchildren.  The original hitching block stood by the street where buggies had passed a hundred years before.  Old photographs show an almost bare yard, which now flourished with tall oaks and old-timey vegetation like Rose of Sharon, Gardenias, pyricanthas, Bridal’s Wreath and Irises.  During the spring, an old oak wrapped in Wisteria vine seemed to breathe in and out, covered in purple petals hiding the movements of a thousand bees.  The easily heard drone was a warning sign not to come close.

In the house’s great century, my family had used up thirty-three years, running around the porch, walking through seventeen doors, looking out of thirty plus windows, sweeping ten rooms, not tripping down two stairways, and bathing in one cast iron footed tub.  The kitchen resonated with the ghost of Pa’s chicken frying in hot grease, the newspaper being discussed, someone running overhead, the Elk Hotel grandfather clock striking the hour and the whirl of the lazy-Susan on the old quarter sawn oak table.  As the sun set, a kitchen entry wall of windows and shelves, holding antique crystal and colored glass, painted the walls with color.  

The living room was well-lived in from celebrating.  Eightieth and ninetieth birthdays or playing the Question Game with a circle from age four to eighty-five.  Toddlers sitting on the bench playing at the Steinway.  Deep seated chairs after hours listening to jazz on the hi-fi.  A soft but constant admonition to watch your step as you came down the stairs, so as not to fall into the glass displayed on a nearby cabinet.   

A red wool rug under the mahogany dining table caught errant olives and breadcrumbs from family diners using the sterling, crystal and British Castles for holidays.  A couple beamed proudly at the 50th year of their love story as the pure cold finally cooled the July air.

The front room smelled like a library.  Three large window seats and an entire wall held every book owned by the two previous generations.  Thousands of conversations hung like spider webs on the thirty-seven plates leaning against the plate rail, at the top of the ten foot ceiling.  The braided rug made by Grannie, using wool suits and skirts, to waste not, want not, covered the painted floor.  Ice cubes hitting the floor from a purple glass full of Dr. Pepper, spilling on the floor as cousins fought over who got the rocker.  The quiet Color TV with Remote kept the world spinning, delivered Walter Cronkite and the Noon Day Report for 60 Minutes at the advice of Marcus Welby in deep, dark depression, excessive misery. 
The ghosts of thousands of friendly waves lingered over the wrap-around porch, stirring the air just enough to give Grandmama’s wicker swing a push.  The same evening sky appearing, night after night, but finding emptiness where there had once been children, anticipating the ascent of the evening star or the acrid clouds from the mosquito truck rising above the trees and rooftops.  In spots, the porch almost sagged, full of phantom footsteps after years of family photos.    

Upstairs, life was slower.  Two duplicate bedrooms made up half of the second floor.  Large doors in the middle of the shared wall were never closed, making one large room with two separate bedroom suites.  Each room had a small balcony, absolutely off limits to grandchildren,  With excellent cross-ventilation, the house lived and breathed with the seasons.  In the spring, summer and fall, the house was kept open as much as possible, even during rainstorms.  Four large gas stoves kept the house toasty during the winter.

The big room was filled to capacity with the words of hundreds of late-night conversations between grandchildren and grandparents carried on long after the pretense of going to sleep.  A first White Christmas still glimmered in a child’s memory after waking in the bed next to the big window.  Grey shadows lingered against the wall, where they had danced so lively in the hot lights of the winter stove.  A shadowy bat carried the memory of scaring an old black lady and an older white lady to death as they moved like young girls, jumping into the bed and throwing the sheet over their heads.  They survived but soon were parted by the cobwebs of the mind.  Inspiration and perseverance had worn out the fingers of a budding writer, as she learned at the keyboard where her own patriot grandfather composed his letters to make a difference for the ones who would follow. 

In the corner of the big room, a closet tunneled through to the bathroom where the large footed tub was tucked in under the eaves.  A spot next to the tub was forever clean, where a small, dented saucepan was dropped over the edge of the tub, bath after bath.  A bathroom light would forever cast a glow, after thirty-three years of being the sole light in the big house at bedtime.  Another door opened to a large hall and the top of the stairs.
The guest room was a large bedroom full of girlhood furniture.  A vanity mirrored the secret admirations of girls of all ages for over eighty years.  Summer after summer, the gardenia bush climbed higher, orchestrating dreams of those sleeping near the opened window.  Over the peace and quiet of the middle night, trains could be heard jostling at the rail yard, as if just around the corner.  A large, added on closet held bags of beautiful clothes, old movie magazines, wedding shoes, and hats in boxes.  A grandchild could find simple pleasure in flinging the closet doors open and then shutting them suddenly, creating a heady rush of mothballed air.    

An unbanistered stairway went up the wall to the third floor Tower Room, originally built by a very protective father, according to local legend.  The octagonal shaped room was more windows than walls, with large windows on five walls.  An original aged banister still stood across the portion of the room open to the stairs.  At one time, this room had been the highest real estate in town.

In the last years, it had slowly become the keeper of aging luggage and tax papers, in an old house with few closets.  But years before, The Tower Room had been the domain of grandchildren with few toys but creative imagination for paper, pencils, connecting Popsicle sticks and oatmeal boxes.  Playing house, office and store had given way to day dreams, reading and writing, in the magic of the gold dome, but not before leaping and running down the stairs had permanently jarred the bedroom floor below and given adults in the library pause to look up and wonder if this would be the jump through the ceiling as the light fixture rattled on the first floor.

Over and over, these curious people wandered through, asking if they could go upstairs.  There was something about The Tower Room which fascinated people.   I chuckled to myself, but inside I knew.  As children, we played there happily, unaffected.

As the crowd began to lull and my precious grandparents' beautiful possessions were carried out the door, I knew I must say goodbye to what had been my second home.  As I paused, looking out the kitchen window or standing beside the desk where the typewriter had stood, the memories were so real it physically hurt.  

Going up the stairs to The Tower Room, I knew this was the last time.  I sat down on the sofa, crying, grieving for this leaving but also bursting with thankfulness for all of my grandparents and the difference they made in their homes and in this town.  I quit crying and felt peace in the rightness of the moment.  I looked down at the green sofa, for the first time realizing there had been something about this room after all.  And it had always been here.  

For all of my life, I had heard the story about my great-grandmother.  My young grandmother had been sitting on the green sofa with her visiting mother, a few days before Christmas, looking at cards.  A card fell from Meme’s hand and her life was over.  My grandmother would grieve the rest of her life, especially at Christmas, while the young grandchildren would quietly celebrate the holidays for years to come. 

I don't believe in ghosts, mostly.  Sometimes you never know.  We grew up with the story and played around the sofa for years.  For the first time, I stopped and wondered if maybe this room didn't hold a piece of her guardian spirit.  Four kids playing on the third floor in a room surrounded by five windows.  Wouldn't all of those people wonder if they knew?  We had a loving, protective great-grandmother looking after us.



If you are lucky in life, you will have a good old dog.  This post was written for our first.  We are double lucky, going on good old dog number two.  Wouldn't think too much about it but the weather has turned cooler and those old dog joints start creaking.  Still he remains faithful, following my every step.  Here's to all the good old dogs.

Years ago, I asked the vet if this year old pup would ever settle down.  Everyone oohs and aahs over the cute little things, but puppy hood is fleeting, at times it can seem unending.  After raising a puppy and a baby, I have decided a baby is easier than a puppy, except you can’t let the baby sit outside on the deck for too long.   

Good Old Dog #1
Last week while taking the old dog to the vet, I was introduced to two different breeds of dogs.  The first dog was an adult Shar Pei who had grown into his skin and wasn’t so cute anymore.  The other fellow was a Basenji pup, already very trim and no-nonsense.  He was adorable. My cousin had one that bounced off the walls.  Then there was this old mutt, my dog, panting heavily, walking poorly, eyes dulled in pain, who had just wet the car seat and was horribly embarrassed.    

Burt's parents have a new puppy.  We were re-introduced to the daily rigors of puppy pandemonium - all legs and no grace, eager to explore every little thing.  It was like getting to play with a fun toddler but you are happy to see the parents come home.  Sigh of relief.  Despite the charm of youthful exuberance, puppies just can’t compare to a good old dog.

With a bit of smarts, loving care and a good fence, most dogs can get old but being old doesn’t make every dog good.  Being the owner of a good old dog is bittersweet.  A picture on the shelf captures a five-year old squeezing her new Humane Society pup as she carries him into his new home.  Now he rests just a few feet from the picture frame, all sixty-five pounds, dreaming of the years he could lasso the water hose.  Or his adventures with Buddy, the big black lab on the lam, who could open gates and lead a good romp through the neighborhood, ending with a splash in the fishpond next door.  Dreaming of pork roast, chicken fried steak, an occasional chicken bone, the old dog licks his chops in his sleep, remembering his flavorful prowess in the kitchen.  Little bits of bark in his sleep, remembering his important job as gatekeeper and the one time he truly charged a questionable sort, chasing the dude out into the yard, away from Mama and the front door.  Pretty good for an old dog, and then obeying her command to come into the house, never looking away from the stranger. 

Old dogs do learn new tricks.  Wetting on the snow covered deck, instead of going down the snowy stairs.  Realizing veggies are pretty tasty, but never lettuce.  Cats are not worth the effort.  The garage can be comfy, with blankets.  Low grumbles are not favored.  Peppermint will only last so long.  Respect can be gained with a full body stretched across the main route to the kitchen.  Jumping is not fun, even to curl up on the reserved spot of the bed or lay right under the pillows.  Aches and pains are almost cured when someone you love gets down on the floor and curls up with you.  After all these years, humans can still learn new tricks.       

Thursday, October 22, 2015



Luke 5:12-16  

Once, when Jesus was in one of the cities, there was a man covered with leprosy.  

The leper lives a hopeless life.  He is alone, living with a disease which banishes him from any human contact.  Going along, all day long, crying out, "UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN.  Move away from me"  - the constant reminder of his lot in life, the obvious deformity of his diseased body.  He is responsible for keeping others at a distance. He is hated and feared because of this horrible mystery.  He alone carries the burden.  He is desperately hanging onto a knot at the end of his rope.

One day he hears about the man called Jesus and the miracles.  A spark fires in him.  Dare he hope for his own miracle?  He imagines a life living with touch and conversation, family and friends.

And then one day he sees Jesus.  Hope is walking down the dusty road towards him.  The leper bows his head to the ground in awe of possibility.  Begging.  He is used to begging but this is for his life.

"Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean."   His heart must have been racing and his ears pounding.  But his words don't come across as frantic.  Controlled but bursting with hope.  Scared to death.  Pick me.  Pick me.  Make me the next miracle.  This is my chance.

Then THE GOD of the universe reaches out his hand to touch this unclean man.  Jesus stretches down to reach the man lying in the dust, pleading for his life.

How long is the second before Jesus replies?

"I do choose.  Be made clean."

Immediately.  No leprosy.  The man feels his face, looks at his arms, rubs his hands over his body.  No deformity.

Jesus tells him to tell no one and to go straight to the priest to make an offering for cleansing which will be a testimony to the miracle.
The miracle of the leper spreads throughout the community and abroad.  Crowds of people come to hear Jesus and to be cured.

The man Jesus withdraws to deserted places.  Now he is hanging on the knot, alone, exhausted.  So many people demanding much.  Give. Give. Give.  He would never cry out unclean but he can feel what the man feels, the exhaustion of doing life along the dusty road.

This is the miracle of Jesus.  His humanity.  Alone and in prayer, he has the ability to be filled back up with with love and giving and life changing miracles as THE GOD of the universe.


Luke 5:17-26

The paralyzed man does not ask Jesus for anything.  Maybe he doesn't know about miracles.  Maybe he can't speak.  Or maybe he is just worn out living with his illness.  He has an obvious impairment but he doesn't have to shout unclean.  He is confined to his dusty mat watching people live their lives.  He could give up except for the concern of others.  He is not alone.  

His friends tell him about Jesus and he has no choice in the matter.  They gather up the four corners of his bedding and go to town.

Jesus was speaking to a large crowd and the power to heal came upon him.  The Pharisees and teachers of the law had travelled from near and far to hear exactly what he was teaching people. 

The friends realize the crowd is too large to push through to the front.  They will do everything possible to get their friend to Jesus.  Stairs?  Why not?  Up the stairs to the roof.  The paralyzed man has no control.  His friends are in charge.  Through the roof, literally.   God looks up as dust begins to fall from above.  More dust.  Four men have the corners of a mat and are lowering a man to the ground in front of Jesus.  Hope is falling through the roof.

Everyone is speechless.  Some people look on in wonder.  How wonderful to have such friends.  Some people look on in disapproval.  How could they tear up the roof?  Others were jealous because the man was so close to Jesus.  Even in the presence of Jesus, others stand in disgust over a paralyzed man even being brought to Jesus.

"When he saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you."

The Pharisees and teachers bristle.  Who is this blasphemer forgiving sin?  Only God can forgive sin.

Jesus asks them which is easier, forgiving sin or making a man walk.  To show all of the crowd his authority on both counts, he tells the paralyzed man to stand up and take his mat and go home.

Immediately.  He stands up, taking up his own mat and goes home, glorifying God.  Finally, he has a response to Jesus.

Jesus didn't touch the paralyzed man.  His words were enough.  Neither the leper or the paralyzed man expressed any doubt.  The Pharisees and teachers were always doubting.

When we see Jesus coming down the road we can begin to hope.  Do we fall to the ground and beg?  Flat on the floor of a hospital waiting room or the floor of a bedroom?  How long is our second before Jesus replies?  Lord, if it be your will.


Sometimes we are carried along by our friends.  We are so paralyzed by the shock of events we can't speak.  Sometimes the pain of nothingness pushes us away from Jesus.  We only get to Jesus because of our friends.  If you have four tremendous friends, who needs more?

Are we just like the Pharisees?  Doubting the miracle of Jesus in our lives?  The miracle of Jesus knowing just what our pain is even though we don't shout unclean.  Making us clean and whole even though we live in the dust of the road.

Monday, October 5, 2015


Butter on pudding.  Butter on pie.  Butter in potatoes.  Butter on rice.  Butter in eggs.  Butter on steak. Butter on popcorn.  Butter on crackers.  Everything is better with butter, butter everywhere.

A person has to eat to survive.  Food had became like an addiction, the only acceptable drug for me.    Even at a good weight in college, I came close to becoming bulimic.  Ice cream, cookies and chips or driving through fast food for a hamburger and fries, sometimes everything at once, I would head to a friend's house, eating as much as I could.  When I was stressed, food became my obsession.   Seriously considering bulimia to control the results of my binge eating, I remembered another friend whose sister was dying from this horrible disease.  I chose to keep eating, no matter what.

Even when I was not overweight, the weight issue never stopped being a daily presence in my life, affecting my self-esteem - the way I lived my life.  An expert calorie counter, I carried a paperback with every bit of information about any food, anywhere.  

For years, every special occasion required a prerequisite quick and successful diet in order to enjoy myself.  My mind was wrapped around pounds that were a primary source of my self worth.  I think there are very few women who have not felt this way at some time.

Being pregnant was freedom.  I was not my "ideal" weight but I didn't balloon with extra weight, instead, eating what I needed.  My good eating habits left when I began to suffer post-partum depression.  The urge to binge returned.  I would order a pizza delivery, eating every bite of a large pepperoni, then tearing the pizza box up into little pieces for the trash.  No one knew.  Sneak eating became my new binge method.  At the time, we couldn't afford the pizza and I couldn't afford the carbohydrates.  On and on.  This is just one detail of the path I headed down without control.

After a certain point, I never weighed.  The weight doesn't exist without a number.  Ha.  Every overweight person knows the gig.  A number can be hard to face, especially if it has been such a measure of worth.  My clothes were truthful.  I remember holding up my jeans.  How could all of that space be me?  At this point, I hated having my picture taken.  Now I'm glad I have the pictures to prove where I was in life.  Looking at them, I can hardly believe that is me, my life and mind have changed so much.

It was no secret I was miserable.  No one knew what I was contemplating.  Weeks were spent devising a plan I could live with and still lose weight.  I was very scared to try again.  It was all or nothing.  I told myself I wouldn't live if I failed again.  This had to work.  These wobbly beginnings saved my life. And gave me the experience to share with others.

Fall 2015
I am not a psychiatrist or a nutrition expert.  While my weight has fluctuated briefly, the majority of my success has lasted for over fifteen years.  I am an expert only in the years it has taken me to arrive at these points of possibility and the freedom they give my life.
Thank goodness for my good bag and good shoes
Woman swallowed by old jeans
 1.   Numbers are not important.  Weight, dress sizes, ounces, calories, deadlines.  I just wanted to lose until I felt better.  This loose goal didn't set me up for failure.

2.   Time is limitless.  I didn't care how long this process would take.  Slow weight loss is easier to keep off.  Life fluctuates.  I have lost over 115 pounds but I'm still a work in progress.  Being "skinny" is in comparison to my old self.  I finally have given myself a goal range.

3.   Live it.  No diets.  They didn't work in the long run.  Making life changes at my own pace brought success.  My first action was to cut out seconds and thirds.  The next week or two I slowed down my eating time.  With each success, a new idea was added to my live it process.  Slow and easy wins the race.

4.   Permission to eat.  Nothing is off limits.  No denial.  This was a huge step for me.  I don't like to be told much of anything, but especially what I can't eat.  Obviously, it had not worked.  Dieting is about denial.  I couldn't live the rest of my life with pre-measured meals or measured points.  I had to learn how to eat again.  Diets had only reinforced my obsession with good and bad foods.  I used to think about food all of the time.  My life is happier because I don't have that obsession.  Now when I see a Butterfinger Candy Bar at the store, I can buy one, if I want.  One candy bar will not break the bank.  No one likes to be denied anything.  This freedom usually satisfies the want and has removed the guilt.  The angst over giving in to "bad" food is gone.  Usually, I decide not to eat the food.  This control is powerful.  And it is true freedom, after years of being tied up in "oh, I shouldn't have." Food is not bad.

5.   The lack of restrictions is not permission to overeat.  I can eat anything, just not all of anything or everything at one time.  Even with permission to buy the candy bar,  I go months passing it by.  With time, choices become better.

6.   Eat delicious calories.  No calories wasted on anything that doesn't measure up.  I don't eat Aunt Bessie's awful cake just to be nice.  There are other ways to be nice.  No more calorie counting but I do consider bad taste against good taste.

7.  Choose to eat.  When someone else plates my food, I eat only what I want.  When serving myself, I take only the amount I want to eat.  My membership has expired.  No more  Lick Your Plate Clean Club No Matter What Just Because Someone Thinks You Should.  If my plate is clean, every morsel was delicious.  

8.   Eat half of everything.  Eating less over time will shrink the stomach.  This was hard because I was used to large quantities.  A smaller stomach will feel full more quickly.  Returning to large portions, took me back to old ways.

9.   No weight loss without being hungry.  No matter what the experts say.  Depends on the degree of hunger.  My first action was to eat only when I was hungry without an automatic breakfast, lunch or dinner.  This helped me learn what I really needed instead of automatically turning to food.  I would eat just until I wasn't hungry.  From there, I went to smaller snacks every few hours like fruit, a glass or milk or a slice of cheese with a few crackers.   Being a little bit hungry, all day long, helps me not gain weight.  But being too hungry will lead to overeating.

10.   Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Breakfast is my favorite meal.  On a rare day, breakfast may be milk in my coffee.  Usually I have cereal but I love eggs and toast.  Not eating breakfast makes me too hungry all day long, resulting in overeating.  Lunch is very light.  Maybe half a sandwich and fruit.  I eat a good dinner.

11.  Weigh regularly.  I didn't weigh once I zoomed up the scales.  I began weighing again after there was a slight difference in my clothes.  Wow.  Shocker.  The highest number would have been even more depressing.  But not knowing is a dangerous game.  Experts suggest weighing  once a week.  I weigh every other day. first thing before breakfast.   Knowing my weight does help me regulate and know where I stand.

12.   Eat slowly.  I try to savor every bit and it helps me eat less.

13.   Early on, I decided to try and eat only what was available to my grandparents.  They ate plenty of delicious foods.  Somehow, they managed without Big Macs, Fritos, Little Debbies or anything hydrogenated.  Food in moderation didn't make me fat.

14.   Drink plenty of water.  Water is filling and quenches thirst.  I don't think water alone brings weight loss but being full of water turns off hunger.  I include my coffee and my iced tea because they are almost pure water.

15.  Until recently, we didn't have a full length mirror.  Big mistake.  Everyone looks pretty good from the waist up, ready to head out, checking themselves out in the bathroom mirror.  But a full length mirror opened my eyes.  I had wondered what was sneaking up behind me.

16.  Prayer for strength all along the road.  Strength to roll out of bed and do life.  Strength for the next step or the next breath.  Strength for my inner voice.  Strength to be around strangers.  Prayers for encouragement during the slow process of years.  Prayers of thankfulness for the changes in my life.

One spot is glaringly absent.  I do not mention exercise.  I have had many gym memberships.  For some reason, I have a hard time sticking to this routine.  Now that I have lost more weight, I really need to work on my core and tone my jiggles.  Surely, my weight loss would have come sooner with regular exercise.  Exercise is my next thing to tackle!

I never imagined I would become a before and an after.  Never shy, I decided to throw this blog out there, wanting to share these points of possibility and the freedom they give me.  I am proud of the results of my hard work.   On the inside, struggling with a weight issue is very personal and private.  Unfortunately, the struggle is obvious on the outside.  My only yardstick is my own success.  None of us should be judged by the size of our waist.  Love is on the inside.  It keeps us all going.  

At my heaviest, I would look in the mirror and try to see my real self.  Usually those glimpses would trigger the self-loathing always just under the surface.  Looking at these old pictures now, I try to remember living in that body, hurting physically and mentally.  My little voice kept me going. The love of others.  It was an effort to put that smile on and do whatever task was at hand but I knew deep down I was still me.  And she may be fat....but she's pretty.


Sunday, October 4, 2015


Summer 1998
Please suspend disbelief and imagine this is an article in Good Housekeeping or People Magazine, just another one of "those" stories.  Perhaps.  But it is my story to tell and I feel like sharing.

Sometimes I just want to jump up and down on my sofa and tell the world it's not all about vegetables and deprivation.  I am walking proof of living a life eating hamburgers, steak, Butterfingers, fried catfish, mashed potatoes, cornbread, anything I choose and losing over 115 pounds during the process.

My beginning was two months ahead of schedule.  In my day, I was considered teeny.  After a month in an isolet, I reached five pounds and gained a homecoming to extremely nervous parents.  At some point, my teeny gene went into overdrive.  I grew into a generously healthy adult woman.

My mother was a good cook.  No picky eaters were allowed in our home.  I always wanted pudding.  And I never thought about wasting food when there were hungry children in Vietnam.  To this day, my mother has these little, bitty storage tubs which hold about two teaspoons.  Pull out five or six from the freezer and you have an instant feast.

We always had delicious, nutrious, homemade meals.  We didn't drink Cokes except for special occasions.  We seldom asked for seconds.  A snack would ruin our supper.  My best friend, Anita, had a glorious cookie jar full of Chips Ahoy cookies.  I would go straight to her Granny's kitchen and devour two handfuls of forbidden treats.

To this day, my mother makes great pies.  She would make a Lemon Meringue or Chocolate Pie and complain the next evening when the pie had disappeared.  It would make us laugh to imagine such a good pie lasting long at our house.  

I reached my glorious height around thirteen.  A little baby fat hung on for good measure which resulted in teasing, helping to begin my life long weight issue.  The ups and downs of losing and gaining, losing and gaining.  In my late thirties, depression, medication for depression and a broken ankle resulted in such a fast weight gain of forty pounds, I decided to gain thirty more and reached the breaking point.

Never mind my health issues like pre-diabetes and difficulty just doing life.  My point of decision was sheer vanity.  I was already in Women's World but my new weight left me no shopping option at my store.  My size was out of bounds, sending me to another shoppe once declared a "stylish stout shop."  For a fashion diva, this was too much.  Around this time, a friend of mine died from lupus.  Her mother sent me a box full of her beautiful clothes.  They sustained my love of beautiful things until l could turn this tugboat around.

I have tried every diet in existence.  The water diet in ninth grade.  Nothing but H20 until dinner.  Five pounds in five days.  Banana, hot dog, boiled egg three day diet.  Hilton Head diet.  Weight Watchers.  Jenny Craig.  The lovely liquid fast diet.  And a favorite, the prescribed magic pill which gave great results (20 pounds in six weeks) with enough energy to run the world.  Many diets multiple times.  I was always very successful at losing the weight.  And even more successful at regaining the weight, adding a little more just for fun.

A doctor of mine once told me, "Amy will lose the weight when she wants to."  He knew me well. This is an encouraging, truthful piece of advice for anyone struggling with a weight issue.  The power is in your own head, not a diet or another person's desire.  I finally had to reach rock bottom and tell myself enough was enough.

Truthfully, clothes weren't the only issue.  I regretted the control my weight had over me.  I was involved in my daughter's activities but I knew I was usually the largest person in the room.  I regret the outdoor hikes, parades, festivals and other activties I missed with my sweet family because big mamas don't do heat well.  No matter what, my family's love, patience and encouragement never wavered.

Santa's helper
As my weight came back down the scales and my self-esteem started to find me again, a new attitude kicked into place.  I didn't care how much I weighed.  Weight was not going to define how I lived my life.  I bought a bathing suit for the first time in years.  I focused on using clothing to my best advantage even if the size was not where I wanted to be.  I had to accept myself where I was.  Amy finally wanted to get the weight off.

"Pretty fat" became my inner go-to mantra.  Not as a putdown -  Yea, she's pretty fat, man!  But pretty, fat as pretty and fat at the same time.  There is even a muscial rendition.  She may be fat but....she's pretty.  I have used it for all of these years to perk me up, put a smile on my face.  Learning to laugh about myself, not to harshly criticize, has helped immensely.

Part One of Two