Log: Page Two
Previous pages: Page #1 (newcomers, read this FIRST!)
Monday, October 21st, 2003. As this Blog
is becoming quite large and unwieldy, I'm going to have to
start putting it in classic form; that is, I have archived
it. Click on the links above to read the adventure from the
beginning. As I add to the story I'll put each archive at
the top of the page.
I think I've finally gotten it through my thick skull
that the major source of my stress is my expectations.
And I should know better, being a half-assed Buddhist, that
expectations naturally lead to disappointment.
I wrote in Karmic Palmistry about expectations. I
said that ALL expectations are unrealistic, because we have
no responsibility -- either moral, legal or karmic -- to
meet anybody's expectations of us. This is just
another tool of manipulating our behavior.
Nevertheless, I fell into the trap of expecting the
people around me to understand my worldview, my values and
my needs -- and to respond accordingly. When they did
not, that is to say, when my needs and feelings were
ignored, I'd get upset. Where I made my mistake was
expecting those who professed to care about me to understand
or care about my values, needs, etc even AFTER I carefully
explained them. You see, I thought it was simply a
lack of understanding, not caring. Now I know better,
and I remember again that the world is a cold, narcissist
place and that you have to look out for yourself.
Today I got an e-mail from a reader that gave me quite a
perk. The message was warm, friendly and loving.
Sometimes, the Universe is kind.
The World is a cold place, but the Human Soul is warm.
Winter is just around the corner. Brrrrr.....
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Saturday, October 25th, 2003. Some
performances are terrific -- audience and entertainer just
seem to click; there's great energy and eye contact, a
relaxed, cooperative attitude.
And then there's the opposite. Performer's
What do you do when five minutes into your show you
realize that most of your audience is SCARED TO DEATH of
you? That what should be a fun, exhilarating time for
everyone has turned into a brain-searing visit from SATAN
Welcome to performing a mind-reading act in the
Southeast. It doesn't happen often, but it happens
occasionally. I could give you details, but it would
be too traumatic, but imagine asking someone to come up to
help and they cringe away saying, "No -- get away from me."
Sheesh. How can you do a mind-reading show without
volunteers? You can't stand up there and READ YOUR OWN
I managed to turn it around about halfway through, but it
was definitely a struggle. Afterward I was exhausted
and bewildered. This IS the 21st century, isn't it?
But I didn't dive into an all-you-can-eat buffet for
comfort. Nope. I read Green Lantern comic books
instead, which depicts a fantasy world wherein supernormal
powers are accepted and applauded.
I'm about THIS close to moving to a place where people
have some common sense, like ehm, er .... Mars, perhaps?
November 1st, 2003.
My mother was a heavy smoker all her life, and
for the past twenty years or so, her continued existence was
a medical miracle.
The miracle is over.
went into the hospital on Halloween with pneumonia and I
spoke with her. She was in good spirits and expected to move
into a private room today. But this morning the doctor
called us and told us to get to the hospital NOW. She had
been moved to CCU and wasn’t expected to live long. She lost
consciousness and passed away peacefully at around 1:30
today. Me, my brother Paul and my son Jonathan were with her
and she knew she was loved until the very end. Even though
she was sick for a long time, she always enjoyed life,
The pic to the left is my Mom in her prime, and the
unbearably adorable little chap is me, aged two years.
Considering all the truly horrible ways she could have
died (COP, emphysema, lung cancer, which they suspected she
had) this peaceful end was a blessing. I held her as she
breathed her last, said a brief eulogy for her at bedside
and told her goodbye. She was truly a magnificent, beautiful
and ornery woman, whose sense of humor and stubbornness
impressed everyone who knew her.
I know it's not trendy to believe in the afterlife, but
I've always been old-fashioned. I truly believe she's
in a better place, young and completely healed, and glad to
be free of that tired, old body.
Wish her well on her way. God, I’m going to miss the old
girl, but I’m relieved her suffering is over.
November 2nd, 2003.
A beautiful November day, and the landscape looks like it's
on fire. I imagine my mother walking among the trees,
enjoying her new life in spirit.
We talked with her doctor today, and
most probably lung cancer that ended her. A localized
area eroded her esophagus through the lung, and the lung
just let go and she bled to death through her GI system.
Damned tobacco companies, I wish I could ruin them. If
you smoke, QUIT.
I don't have much to say (we're dealing with all the
minutia of laying my mother's remains to rest) so I
thought I would post the following wonderful poem by Tony
Hoagland that I think captures much of the spirit of my
November like a train wreck—
as if a locomotive made of cold
had hurtled out of Canada
and crashed into a million trees,
flaming the leaves, setting the woods on fire.
The sky is a thick, cold gauze—
but there’s a soup special at the Waffle House downtown,
and the Jack Parsons show is up at the museum,
full of luminous red barns.
—Or maybe I’ll visit beautiful Donna,
the kickboxing queen from Santa Fe,
and roll around in her foldout bed.
I know there are some people out there
who think I am supposed to end up
in a room by myself
with a gun and a bottle full of hate,
a locked door and my slack mouth open
like a disconnected phone.
But I hate those people back
from the core of my donkey soul
and the hatred makes me strong
and my survival is their failure,
and my happiness would kill them
so I shove joy like a knife
into my own heart over and over
and I force myself toward pleasure,
and I love this November life
where I run like a train
deeper and deeper
into the land of my enemies.
Copyright 2003 by Tony
Hoagland. From What Narcissism Means to Me. All
5th, 2003. All I can say is that there's a
hell of a lot of paperwork in taking care of a deceased
person ... I long for the old days when all you had to do
was put the body on a funeral pyre, dance around naked
waving a spear, and feast afterward.
She was cremated yesterday (though the actual funeral
will be Friday) and we saw her just before the
ceremony. She had a sort of characteristic, smart-alec
smile on her face, like she knew something we didn't.
I suspect that she does.
It's raining today, which is nice and calming.
Unlike a lot of people, I like rainy days, and so did Mom.
Perhaps she put in a request.
November 7th, 2003.
In a private ceremony surrounded by family, I said a few
words and my brother, son and I committed my mother's
cremains to her final resting place. She died as she
lived, under her own terms. Now it's time to move on.
November 9th, 2003. Going to Arizona for a
week, back Monday the 17th. You folks stay out of
trouble. With winter at our throats again, I'll leave you
with a poem that cracked me up in high school:
by Ezra Pound
Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!
Sing goddamn, damn. Sing goddamn!
Winter is i-cumin in,
Lhude sing goddamn!
Raineth drop and staineth slop
And how the wind doth ram
Skiddth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing goddamn.
Goddamn, goddamn, tis why I am goddamn,
So gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!
November 18th, 2003. Back from Arizona,
where from all accounts I did some amazing shows. I
don't recommend going on a whirlwind tour the day after
burying your mother, though. It does strange
things to one's head. I felt like a spectator in my
In my youth, I studied two very interesting
forms of Asian martial arts, Chinese Wu-Shu (kung fu) and a
Burmese form of kung fu called Bando. Lately, I've
begun practicing the moves and forms again to prepare myself
for entering training with a school. I want to be in
some semblance of shape so I don't get my ass kicked too
badly. Actually, I've found that most of the skills
have stayed with me over the years. I may be old and
fat but there's still a warrior in there somewhere.
All I know is that I need to get on with my
reduction plan. I've been stuck at 260 pounds for a
month and a half now, and it's time to increase the burn.
I know I've been through some hellish times, but enough is
20th, 2003. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN...
have broken the plateau.
This morning when I stepped on
the scale it reported 258 pounds!
This calls for a
picture. The one of the far left is me today, the one
on the right is me at 273 pounds, about a month or so into
The belt is on its last notch, and I'll
get myself a new one for Christmas. The jeans are
getting saggy too; I may have to retool my wardrobe soon.
November 21st, 2003. Grief is an assassin.
It hides around corners, in the dark shadows of your
It sneaks up on you when your back is turned, when your
guard is down, when you're tired and weak.
You go about your day, your work , your life; you think,
"This isn't so bad, I'm going to make it through this," and
then the Assassin cuts you with His rusty razor. And
he cuts deep, with a surgeon's precise touch.
On one side of His pearl-handled razor is etched the word
"Memories." On the other side, the word "Regrets."
His scream is the scream of train whistles, of dogs
howling in the night, of babies crying at four in the
morning, of the wind biting through the bones of ancient
people who know they're living their last winter.
Grief is an assassin.
December 15th, 2003. Grief is also a
coward, by the way -- it never attacks you when you're in
full combat mode, ready to defend yourself. it always
gets you when you're tired, weak, and helpless. The
But other than that, happy holidays. My performing
season is over and I was on the road a lot, hence the long
delay in posting.
Since some of the readers of my adventures have told me
that my approach to reduction bears similarities to the
famous pop psychologist's Dr. Phil McGraw's, the famous
drawling good-ol'boy psychologist whom Oprah made famous, I
decided to break down and read Dr. Phil's
Ultimate Weight Loss Solution.
The Philster and I are definitely on the same page when
it comes to the Body Mass Index. He says that it's
misleading and fails to take into consideration your body
type. According to web sites devoted to calculating
your BMI, I should weigh around 187 pounds. At that
weight, I would be a shriveled corpse, folks. I have
large bones and am well-muscled under the sixty pounds or so
of excess flab I'm currently carrying. According to my
doctor, and Dr. Phil's revised chart, my ideal weight is
between 197 - 205 pounds.
Dr. Phil has also spent much time analyzing the
connection between the spiritual/emotional state and the
physical manifestations of overeating. He's developed
"Seven Keys" to help the reader stay on track in
reprogramming him or herself to overcome the negative
mindsets that contribute to overeating. He also has
contempt for diet fads, quick fixes, and easy solutions.
I'm in whole-hearted agreement here.
I guess where we part company is that Dr. Phil buys into
and advocates the Winners and Losers attitude so prevalent
among motivational speakers. He even uses the terms,
and quite frequently. "Winners," he says, do this "...
and losers, do that."
I HATE this. I've always
hated this arrogant assumption, so popular among
motivational speakers like Dennis Whately, that people can
be arbitrarily divided into two categories based on
behavioral standards. WHO is ANYBODY to
determine who is a winner or a loser in life, based on
money, power, job position, weight, or anything? By
some people's standards, I suppose I'm a loser because I
do not work a nine-to-five job. But by other
people's standards, I'm a hero because I do
not work a nine-to-five job and I BEAT THE SYSTEM.
Weight loss isn't a battle to win or lose; it isn't a
goal at which we achieve or fail . You cannot BECOME
anything. It's like a violent person trying to become
non-violent. The very idea is ridiculous, if you think
about it. However, a violent person can
put an end to his or her violent behavior. Therefore, in the
journey of weight reduction, we don't see weight as an
enemy, but as an ally whose time has passed; not as an
opponent but as a security measure we no longer need.
We let it go gently, without violence or hostility.
There is no winning or losing here. We put an end
to the behaviors, habits, wounds, hurts, reactions, and
fears that caused us to retreat from the world and leave it
at that. Our bodies will respond to this loving and
brave act by healing on its own.
I recommend Dr. Phil's book, by the way. Other than
the Motivational slant and the deep-south aphorisms (which
get old, and I'm from here), there are some great procedures
found within. But it's still a close second to my
Bible, Lean and Mean by Shaevitz!
Hypocritical diet tip
of the month:
Though this Blog is not about dieting, I occasionally
sneak in one of my favorite low calorie food tricks.
Previously, I regaled you with my low cal counterfeit Egg
McMuffin and the wonders of Spaghetti Squash (see the first
Archive). Here's a recipe for a low calorie Bleu
- The problem with store-bought
Fat-Free Bleu Cheese Dressing is that it isn't very
satisfying, because it doesn't have any cheese in it and
the flavor isn't quite right. But I figured out that
if you add some cottage cheese it simulates Bleu Cheese
chunks (it even absorbs some of the flavor from the
dressing) and then put a couple of drops of lemon juice to
zing it up a bit. It tastes pretty good this
December 18th, 2003.
Arggh, what is it with these bugs? I have something
going on in my lower abdominal region that feel like I'm
trying to digest a live raccoon. I'm going to lie
around a while and try to set it free, so that it can roam
freely in the woods as G-d intended and leave my poor bowels
I don't think anyone
realizes how difficult is it to confront a life-long weight
issue. Oh, a lot of people have contended with five,
ten or even twenty pounds that crept up on them when they
weren't looking, but carrying a lot of weight -- fifty
pounds or so -- most of your life is a different matter.
It affects every aspect of your life; it separates you from
the rest of the world. There are things you can't do,
activities you can't enjoy to the fullest. People
judge you, sometimes you have to settle for inferior job
positions. All of these things, of course, become
emotional triggers, which feed the monster (see blog entries for August 9th -
and the notorious vicious cycle spins away.
Then there's the anger. Man, do you get mad at
yourself! WHY can't you stop with the onion rings?
You know what your doing. Or do you?
Wrapped in a warm blanket of carbs, lost in the sensual
pleasers of taste and texture sensation, the furthest thing
from your mind is what you're doing to your body. I
think that at such times, you aren't really in your body at
all. Is obsessive overeating an out-of-body
Actually, during those times of comfort eating, it's like
you drift away into a magical world of no-consequences.
There's no connection between cause and effect. You
don't equate a large order of fries with half a pound of
body fat. If there were such a connection, you would
put the cheeseburger down and say, "No more."
Is there, perhaps, a just a dash
of the desire for
freedom from accountability
toss into the emotional underpinning of obsessive eating?
Hmm ... I must consider that one deeply.
And once again let me remind you that
the first part of this journal is archived
This archive records the beginning of this project and the
development of the approaches that are working amazingly
well for me and for several people who are actually applying
them to their own emotional recovery.
December 22nd, 2003. About 2
1/2 months ago, I'm pretty sure that I saw God.
I was standing in my back yard, filling the bird feeders. Late September,
the leaves had turned and fallen, the wind was cold. At one point, I felt
that I was watched. I turned around, slowly, because I sensed that the
eyes upon me were not human eyes. Not three feet from me, standing
perfectly still, was a yearling doe.
And so we faced each other, eye to eye, me watching her, her watching me, a
moment of perfect trust. I couldn't move, couldn't think. Couldn't
breath. My eyes were candles, dripping hot wax down my cheeks in twin
molten rivulets. God! If I blinked, the spell would break and she
would run away! The doe looked at me with no fear at all; she knew I meant
her no harm. I've never been a person who could harm animals. I feed
the birds and the squirrels, adopt stray cats, pet the neighbor's dog. It
was then I realized that the doe had no reason to fear me, because she was no
ordinary doe at all.
This doe was God Herself.
She had come to tell me that everything is all right.
Things come and they go. People come into your life and they pass away.
There is chaos in the world. Loneliness. Fear. It's easy to
despair. But somehow, you have to find an axis within yourself, cling to
it and hold on, and let the world turn around it.
That day, that doe became my axis. Whenever it seems that the world's
insanity is about to get the better of me, I think about her clear brown eyes
and know peace.
December 30th, 2003. And I
hope everyone had a relatively stress-free and happy holiday season. Mine
was spent with the families, and I had a death-match with my nephews and niece
... I lost, but swore I'd return for a rematch.
I've returned to an old strategy I used to swear by to
help with between-meal hunger pangs. I got out my
crock pot and stocked up on frozen vegetables. You
know, those large bags of Veg-All that are ridiculously
inexpensive. Armed with a few bags of veggies, some
beef stock, canned tomatoes, chopped onions, a few potatoes
and beans, I tooled up my most potent weapon in the
fight against between-meal snicker-snacking:
The bottomless veggie-soup pot.
In a study I read in some health magazine, the two foods
with the highest "satiety index" -- which means the most
satisfying to the appetite -- were potatoes and tomato
soup. Personally, I love soup in any form. A
large bowl of hot soup, especially during the cold months,
along with a piece of bread, and I call it fine.
You don't have to be a culinary genius to prepare this
delight. A crock pot, a bag of frozen veggies, a few
miscellaneous cans, a jar of Orrington Farms beef stock
powder -- it doesn't get much simpler than this. When
you feel the urge to eat between meals and you don't have
the time (or don't want to take the time) to prepare a
healthy snack, why, there it is! Have a bowl or two.
To replenish your supply, toss in more ingredients before
you go to bed, set the crock pot to "Low," and the next day
you have a fresh batch.
If you work for a living, there are these nifty devices,
called Thermos jugs, that hold your soup and keep them nice
Some other tips:
I use V8 vegetable juice for
flavoring, both in my soups and chili.
- You can add stew beef if you're
a fan of such.
- Sometimes I make a variation
that's high in cabbage. It's based on the famous
"cabbage soup diet" recipe, which of course was a
ridiculous plan, but the soup was delicious.
Basically, instead of the mixed veggies, your mixture
consists of cabbage, chopped celery, onions, and red
beans. WARNING: You will have alarming gas
- Don't go crazy on the potatoes
and beans; these are high-carb foods. Use just
enough to provide texture.
- In my opinion, the more onions,
the better. Dried, chopped onions work if you don't
want to do it yourself.
- If you're sodium sensitive, you
have to adjust the recipe. Beef stock is extremely
high in salt. But being aware of your diet is a
vital part of taking care of yourself.
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