“I’m swearing off all sugar,” I said, to Josh.
“Good! You can do it.”
“Yep. Starting tomorrow. ‘Cause I start my fast tomorrow, so…that would be a good time to start. Besides, there’s a strawberry cake on the stove.”
“Well good, Birgy. I know you can do it,” says Josh again with a hint of boredom.
“Oh crap! I just found a whole bag of Blow Pops!”
I can’t explain this sugar craze I’ve been on lately. I’ve been eating so many Lifesaver Gummies- it’s sick. Whole packages. Generally, I fast 5 days per week. I do this because it brings me closer to God. I intentionally suffer. On the week ends, I eat whatever I want, but really, I usually eat in moderation- never a second plate and I don’t eat until I’m stuffed. Why blow your levels all out of whack?
Besides, I eat to sustain life- not to cram stuff in my face. I respect that my body belongs to God- and it’s His “house”. So I keep that in mind when I’m preparing food and cooking. Usually, I’ll have a small (healthy) breakfast, oatmeal, etc. and take my daily regimen of pills which consist of:
Evening Primrose Oil
Super B Complex
Milk Thistle (cleanses and detoxes the liver)
Colon Cleanser (psyllium husk/herbal)
Multi-vitamin + Iron
After this, I won’t eat until 6:00 p.m. After breaking my fast at 6, I’ll eat a healthy meal: veggies cooked in either 100% canola oil or imported cold pressed olive oil, + meats (beef/chicken/pork, usually) + multi-grain baguettes toasted in olive oil or something along those lines- but always pretty healthily. I allow myself to snack on fruit and cheese usually, and ice cream and chips- I don’t limit myself to ounces and stuff. I don’t count calories. I don’t “diet” as it were, not in the traditional sense. I don’t fast for aesthetic purposes. I fast for spiritual discipline and cleansing- I’m a big believer in fasting.
Five days per week- Monday-Friday.
What this does is teaches me inner strength and control. When you have the ability to control what you do and do not eat most every day and aren’t “governed” by it, then you’re able to control your thoughts, behaviors, willpower, and many other areas that we often battle and give up control to.
And generally, I don’t go around telling people that I fast often- many people don’t understand. They don’t see why it matters. But it brings me closer to God and His will rather than my own. Also, when you take food out of the equation and “pleasing the self” for 8 hours of the day- it teaches you to “lay down”. It teaches you to be still and be very quiet. At least for that time. And over time, you learn to appreciate these low places in the spirit and soul. Good comes from it. Growth.
So usually, I don’t go hog-wild on whole bags of Lifesavers. I justified it by my fasting I suppose, but then, it does little good to fast like I do, if I give up complete control and eat whole bags of candy after my fast ends. It defeats the purpose of the whole thing.
So, no more wheelbarrows of sugar!
I thought it was about time for an update on my relentless jaw and tongue chewing habit. “Habit” is a mild way of looking at it, actually. When you spend 10 hours a day doing something, it’s no longer a habit, but an obsession and addiction. I was biting the sides of my tongue and jaws on the inside so much that it often bled and was sore much of the time. This exacerbated my TMJ tremendously. What I was doing daily went against all of my beliefs and norms and everything I knew to do. I simply couldn’t stop. I researched it and made a remarkable discovery: this is an area in psychology that is rarely focused on and discussed! I couldn’t even find the scientific name for it and barely was able to find forums where it was openly discussed. Not many cries for help- not many confessions. This confirmed my suspicions that this disease is still done in secret mostly, and so well hidden that it’s rarely discussed. There’s a tremendous amount of shame that accompanies this disorder because it doesn’t make sense to begin with. To confess would be an open acknowledgement that “something is wrong with me”. It’s so much easier to keep it in a locked closet and pretend that it doesn’t exist.
It’s no different than cutting or any other form of self- mutilation. It’s the same processes in the brain that sanction gashing open the flesh and feeling the pain. Not only feeling it, but welcoming it. In my case, it was my teeth doing the cutting instead of a knife. I guess I had to get so sick and tired of being sick and tired of the disease controlling me rather than me controlling it, but finally, I was able to get to the place and recognize that “jaw-biting” was like an abusive partner that I swore to love and commit myself to and even protect. I needed to view it differently if I expected real change. I needed to break up with it.
After “breaking up with” my sick disease, it’s been three months. I haven’t done it once even! A life-time addiction- gone in once second. And I have been through some serious ^&%$ since then. At first, my thoughts were overwhelming. My anxiety was through the ceiling. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. My thoughts were working overtime and very much in an OCD-related way. So much chatter. It wasn’t easy- I just knew I needed to stick it out. After many uncomfortable weeks, the chatter dissipated and all was quiet. Finally, there was peace.
Recapping the letter:
[Originally posted February 12, 2013]
Dear bad habit,
I don’t know how to tell you this, but
I just want to be friends I want to break up with you. You know I love you! And it’s not you- I swear- it’s me. I just can’t do this anymore. I don’t like the way you’re constantly attacking me, and it’s like I have no time to myself. What you’re doing to me seems harmless, but it’s abuse, and I will not stay with somebody that abuses me. We’ve been together for 35 years. I know I’ll never see you again after today. I can’t say that I’m sorry about that. Goodbye. And thanks for everything.
I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since I’ve started this blog. I’ve always kept a diary, since I’ve been a young girl, and so I thought, “Why not make my diary public?” It really is just that, my diary. I’m sure I could start a blog, perhaps a commercial one, and “like” everyone to death and “follow” tons of people, and, as the unspoken rules dictate, reciprocally speaking, in turn, have tons of “followers” as well. But that’s a double edged sword. Nothing wrong with it, but I don’t like to play the back-scratching game. Some people make their whole lives their blogs, and as with anything else, feel so bonded to it that they don’t know who they are without it. Much like Facebook. We all want that 15 minutes! But why? Why do we need to feel like we have to have 560 “friends” or 300 people “following” us? How many of us would be able to kill our online identities and never look back? I’m speaking from experience, as I’ve done this several times in the past.
My first Redbubble (art/photography) site had hundreds of people who were “watching me” and after a while I actually felt responsible, like I had a new obligation to report to them or something. I grew tired of the notoriety and perhaps responsibility that goes with the territory and, without a word to anyone beforehand, wiped out my account entirely. Hundreds of pics- gone in a second- and I simply vanished. I did the same thing with my Facebook account- poof. Gone. That was over three years ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It killed my vanity immediately! I had to do some in-depth soul searching and re-prioritizing. I didn’t communicate with anybody for almost 30 days. Ironically, that was the same time I was published in Digital SLR Photography magazine. Oh the irony! I was finally published and I couldn’t even tell anybody, because I virtually murdered my online identity! Even so, it was an enlightening experience and one that has changed my views of society and social circles overall.
I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I know that I want to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, perhaps through Photo Therapy. I’ve seen few programs on the subject and it’s virtually unheard of in my community. I would like to develop a program that teaches children/teens/disabled/disadvantaged people how to express themselves through photography. To tell a story.
For me, taking pictures allows me to control my environment, instead of my environment controlling me. I can change the scene and manipulate my perspectives and make the sun dance in any direction I want- it’s really quite empowering! I would like to help kids, in particular, to tap into the rich stream of art within themselves, and to be able to express their angst, joy, hatred, love, laughter- whatever it may be- through photos.
I can see the light on the horizon. I’m not there yet.
Maybe I’ll volunteer at the Boys and Girls club of America.
I’m just not sure yet.
I know this: I am a poor woman. I will probably always be a poor woman. But that’s what drives me. I have a constant hunger that pushed me to go outside of myself- always- and think of others, do for others- to really try to make a difference in their lives.
I have a message, and it is this: “Never give up. Know your value. Always believe that you were created for other people. The more you suffer in this life, the more valuable you are to others. We all take turns on the great wheel of pain. When it’s your turn- step up boldly. Remember that every drop of pain you go through can benefit another human being- somewhere…somehow.”
When I was a child, I was given five dollars in quarters, as were all of my siblings. When nobody was around, I split up my quarters into four little, equal piles, and then I hid a pile in each of my siblings’ drawers, underneath their clothes. It was my delight to sit back secretly and wait for them to see the extra money they had.
I never told them that I did that. 🙂 After all these years, it has been my little secret. I learned something that day; there is no better feeling in the world than to give to somebody else, and it’s all the more powerful if your pockets are empty afterwards. This, is my joy in life.
And now I will share (with whoever may want to read this) a special story of giving, that involves a pair of grey house slippers, a homeless woman, and myself.
Merry Christmas to whoever may be reading this, and know that God is watching over you; He sees your struggles, hears your cries, and genuinely loves you. ♥
Pay it Forward
Today I was at my mother’s house. I’d popped in to collect some library books and chit chat for a moment. I was pressed for time because my classes started last week (Behavioral Sciences/Substance Abuse) and 5 classes + 2 teens is nothing to sneeze at! She asked me if I wanted the new pair of house slippers on her sofa- her neighbor had given them to her: size 10, just my size. They were gray, with gray fur trim around the edges and super soft inside. I accepted them, and with a hug and a kiss I was out the door.
I had only driven a few blocks down the road when the feelings were put on my heart to go and take the shoes to the local homeless shelter. It would have been fairly easy to go and drop them off as a donation, I’m sure somebody could have used them. But this felt more personal, and the feelings that were tugging at my heart were very clear, “Go to the parking lot- somebody will be there that can wear them.”
I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that these feelings were too strong to ignore. I had to go. The shelter used to be a church- it’s in a seedy part of town and known to be running rampant with drug addicts and alcoholics. I know the scene well- I lived there years ago. I took the back alley, keeping my eyes peeled; I didn’t see anybody at first, it looked pretty empty. As I got closer, I could see two couches out at the dumpster right at the edge of an alley. Sitting on one of the couches was a woman in her 50’s, facing the alley- backpack at her feet. There was nobody else around. She sat as still as a stone and even as I pulled up alongside her, she didn’t turn her head. I knew immediately she was the one I was meant to find.
I took the slippers and walked up to her and said, “Excuse me, I have some new, gray slippers here, would you happen to be able to wear a size 10?” (I didn’t want to come across as a total whack-job, but I knew I had to do this.) She was startled, but gratefully accepted the slippers- she wore a 9 1/2. Bingo!
We talked for a moment and she told me about her sister who’d been brutally murdered in the city next to us only a year before. She also told me about her daughter she hadn’t seen in over three years. I shared some of my own story with her along the same lines and I felt for a moment, that we were able to share an understanding of sorts, we truly had walked in each others’ shoes in life. I shared with her that I was a former resident and knew her plight all too well. I too was no stranger to losing a child. I asked her if she had a Bible- she did, a small one in her pocket. Then I asked her if she had any money. She looked frightened and I realized how my question had sounded! I explained that I didn’t want money, I wanted to give her a few dollars. At first, she was hesitant, but I knew she was embarrassed, so I made light of the situation, handing her $20.00. I told her that if I had two pennies, I would give her one, knowing that God had all things in His hands. What I give, He will make sure I get back somewhere else.
She broke out in tears and I gave her a big hug. I asked her her name and she told me it was Lucille. “Lucille, I’ll keep you in my prayers. Everything is going to get better, it really will. It’s going to take time! But it will get better,” I told her. And with that, I left.
This evening my friend stopped by. I hadn’t seen her in several months and we had tea and cake and a nice visit. I shared my earlier experience with her regarding Lucille. I had been feeling almost selfish, like I wanted to keep Lucille all to myself. It’s not every day something like that happens! It had become suddenly very precious to me, but I told her about Lucille and how God had put it upon my heart to go and look for her there.
After my friend had left, I went to my computer. (I needed to try and get an Algebra assignment in.) Sitting there by my keyboard was a twenty dollar bill. Before my friend had left, she had snuck in here and left the money on my desk. Smiling, and in shock, I sat here and shook my head, and then I laughed. I knew exactly how Lucille had felt earlier.
I love that life is so beautiful. (So hard sometimes!) But so beautiful, and our lives can be touched by total strangers…
I’ve written a BIO for those who want to know more about me.
(Tab at the top.)
Everything in it is incredibly true.
I’m so disheartened. I haven’t had to drop a class in years. After the car accident, I’ve awaken every morning with a splitting headache- as if I have socks stuffed in my head completely; accompanied by nausea and a stiff neck, along with an aching back, shoulders and now I’m having unidentifiable pain shooting through my eyebrows and the bridge of my nose- that’s a first.
I feel like I’m 75 years old in my body. This is not good.
I can’t focus. I’m disoriented and find myself as if I’m in a daze. I want to do my Algebra but keep finding myself in a stupor, having to push, metally very hard, just to comprehend what the instructor is saying. This was not like this before the accident.
I have no idea what’s happened to me but I know that I didn’t receive the care I needed at Clark memorial Hospital. A cat scan won’t even pick up my cerebral cyst- it takes an MRI for that, and I didn’t receive a post-accident MRI. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still “unseen” regarding medical care.
I can’t believe the nurse actually gave the patient in a wheelchair a cigarette! He was threatening a doctor even!
In the grass, in the front of the hospital, there’s a sign that touts that the hospital is a “tobacco free campus”.
It grieves me that I’m going to have to drop my Algebra and Public Speaking classes. They’re simply too much for me at the moment- my head is a total wreck. 😦
I wanted to work on my songs too. A CD even perhaps, and, revise my children’s book “Peanut Butter Soup” and start doing school tours, like the one I did at Pine View in New Albany. The mayor and I took turns visiting classes and reading to the children.
Looks like everything is on hold for now until I know what is going on with my head and back.
I’m still having sharp pains shooting through my right ear too, only now, it’s joined by pains in my left ear.
Every day is a battle to simply “go through it”. This accident has really messed me up.
I’ll have to postpone my degree, but I’m still working toward it. I will stay in my Nutrition class, which isn’t too demanding, and my Substance Abuse Treatment Centers class as well. I was scheduled to intern at an actual treatment center beginning next semester. Looks like that will have to wait also.