Live or diet…

6 Jan fad diet

fad dietFacebook statuses this week are all about dieting. I’m not a fan of any diet, because I think they are all bullshit. Most diet plans are fads and myths. And consuming processed, boxed meals is a fast, easy and somewhat predictive way to find yourself bored and wind up gaining more than you lost in the first place. Just say no.

Over the years, friends have asked me how I lost 40 pounds. I did it by employing this lean protein, low-healthy-carb, all whole food diet and exercised daily, including cardio and light weightlifting. I cheated here and there (chocolate, pasta) and always ALWAYS drank my beloved wine. Seriously, I didn’t deprive myself of cocktails. When I first started eating this way, I was hungry – I won’t lie. I took chewing gum with me everywhere and chain-chewed to combat my hunger. The fact was, it took me 5 years to gain the 40 pounds and in the beginning of my new meal plan, I wasn’t eating enough. Tis true. On top of that, I expected a month of eating less would have me shedding all the weight that I gained over 5 years to just slide off my body lickity banana split. Tis so not true. There is no miracle and it takes commitment, effort, time, planning, proper shopping, preparation, and did I say commitment?

So for those of you who are serious about losing some el-bees, and like to eat real food, continue on.

First, I should start by saying this is not a diet – it’s about eating the right foods at the right time to kick start the metabolism and to use your own body fat as fuel. It really is important to eat – if you don’t, your body will panic and store whatever your feed it into your fat stores, defeating the purpose. If you want to lose that muffin top, be prepared to lose the chocolate and sweets. Sugar and carbs are what keep your pants from buttoning.

When your body is starved of carbohydrates, it turns to fat to fuel itself. During this time, your body enters a stage called Ketosis – this is the stage you want to be in to burn your own body fat. Symptoms of Ketosis include constant thirst, metallic-y/fruity breath,  and frequent urination. I encourage you to research Ketosis so you know what to expect. Please note: the first time I had bad carbs (nachos in my case), I got nauseous the next day – I didn’t moderate that plate!

Now, because you’ll be eating less carbs, you will want to take a Multi-Vitamin and consider a complex B Vitamin. I didn’t do this at first, and found myself yawning at about 2p every day. Once I started my yummy gummy B vittles, my energy went back to normal.

Super important here, and especially true when your body enters Ketosis – drink a LOT of water. At home, I flavor my water with those Crystal Light mixes. The first couple weeks I didn’t drink enough water, as I wasn’t used to it – but I gradually worked my way up to this amount. Now I drink two glasses in the morning before work, and about 48 ounces while at work. And then I’m finding I drink another 2 glasses of water throughout the evening even if I’m having a couple Cosmos or glasses of wine.

Food

Meals are balanced between protein and carbs, with smaller portions consumed throughout the day. Depending on your goal and timing, you’ll want between 10-12 proteins and 4-6 carbs. Here’s how you determine the number:

1 count of protein is about 1 ounce

1 counts of carbs is about 1 cup

DO’s

Proteins are meat, fish, seafood, eggs, cheese (incl cottage, string, greek yogurt), vegetarian (edamame, vegan, tofu) and nuts and seeds (peanut butter = 1 Tbl; nuts = about 10 or 1 Tbl)

So do eat fruits and vegetables – these are good carbs. Do some research on the lowest carb fruits and vegetables – and try to avoid the starchy foods like carrots, beets, corn, green peas, potatoes, etc.

DON’Ts

Never eat carbs without a protein. Going to have a cup of mango? Enjoy a string cheese with that!

Now, while it’s critical to have protein when you have carbs, the reverse is not true (you SHOULD and MUST eat proteins alone). The reason you want protein with carbs is because the protein requires fuel to break it down – when consumed alone, proteins will look for carbs to help – if there are none, it knocks on your fat stores door and voila! When you consume carbs alone, the energy in the carbs is used for the immediate processing of the food and whatever is left over gets stored in fat store reserves. Unless you are doing exercise AT THAT MOMENT, don’t eat carbs without something for the excess carb energy to work on. Make sense?

You can have just protein, but for health purposes, don’t do that too often – the body needs balance and taking a multi-vitamin does not replace the good fuel we get from carbs.

AVOID

Grains and baked goods. You know what these are, bread, bulgar, cake, cereal, chips, cookies, crackers, etc. Yes, popcorn should be avoided!

Stay away from butters and sweets (no white or brown sugar, candy, chocolate), unless you want to look like Madonna when she did “Lucky Star”. Just kidding, Madonna is and was fabulous, but the point is that sugar will keep feeding the belly fat.

IS THAT IT?

No, because this is a lean protein, low carb lifestyle, AND you will be drinking a lot of water, salts and spices are totally fine in this plan. In fact, because it’s a lean plan, fats are ok too (not butter, but good oils) including avocado!

And there are free foods!! Lettuces, celery, pickles, ginger, lemons/limes, salsa, mustards, hot sauce, mayo, soy sauce, etc. – all fine and they don’t count toward the target of 10-12 proteins and 4-6 carbs each day.

MEAL PLAN

When planning the meals, consider how much you buy and how you can avoid wasting leftovers by reusing proteins or carbs in other meals.

A tip on portions:

3 ounces of cooked meat = size of a deck of playing cards

3 ounces of cooked fish = size of a checkbook

1 ounce of deli meat = size of compact disc

1 ounce of cheese = size of two dice

Here’s a sample weekly plan (M-F only) so you get the idea. If you give this a try for a few weeks, let me know how it goes – good luck!

Sample meal 1

Sample meal 2

Sample meal 3

Sample meal 4

Sample meal 5

 

A constant change…

21 Nov IMG_0412-0

Almost two years ago my beloved mother died. This was one month after Rock and I reunited. Since then, I returned to school, got an A in Psychology by the way, my divorce became final, and I itched for change.

I find that I’ve been restless quite a bit. I need to move around a lot after sitting in one place for a spell. After I ran way from home 4 years ago, I moved into a small apartment. Then another small apartment, then a 2 bedroom condo, then a 5 bedroom house. It made sense at the time. Until I took a look inward and realized that the life I was living was not making me happy. I’d get up, drink my coffee, walk my dog, work, school, eat, drink, sleep. Rinse and repeat.

I also took stock of my surroundings. My neighbors were a bunch of assholes and we had nothing in common – at least I suspect we didn’t because they would go out of there way to avoid me as I walked Sparky. Jumping off the curb even. 

We’d go out to our favorite restaurants and look around. When did our little Bay Area town become little India and little Asia? I have no bias, just felt out of place in the community I had grown up in.

And when did it become so expensive? I never ran the AC or heat yet my utility bills were almost $400/month, on top of our crazy $4550/mo rent.

So the itch needed to be scratched. Time to move. Again. 

But this time, why not consider moving someplace where we could afford to really live and by live, I mean LIVE?!

Rock and I started talking about places and we fantasized about buying a house on Chesapeake Bay. And a boat. And toys!! As we combed through Zillow, I started bookmarking houses that fit my range and taste. As we got more excited, we cautiously talked to our bosses about options… And we’d be able to keep our jobs with the move.  Decision made!! 

So we packed our bags, flew to Virginia, and found our bubble of happiness. On a little canal, off the Salt Ponds Marina, which opens to the Chesapeake. I bought the boat too. And a couple of Sea Doos, cuz, you know – toys!

Best part – it’s affordable. 

  

4211 square feet, on the water, in a great neighborhood with greta people, many of which actually say hi, and in fact, I’m happy to call friends! I signed the contract and we started the painful and expensive process of moving all the way across these glorious United States. It was a great adventure. 
It’s been 4 months now, and I’m not restless. In fact, I hate leaving Our Bubble of Happiness. It is our home. I finally feel peace. 

  
The view from my patio at sunset. Can you even imagine?

We had a fabulous summer and so far, a beautiful autumn. More later… Enjoy ~ mwah!

Sleep and dreams

14 Mar

Psychology has always held a fascination for me which is why I chose this for my bachelors degree. In the first week of Psych 101, our essay was on the architecture of sleep and dreams. I got a 99 on this so I hope you find it interesting and useful ~ ENJOY!

Sleep and Dreams

Dreams are interesting diversions from our waking realities. During the course of the night, our dreams take us on grand adventures, sometimes pleasant and sometimes frightening. While researchers do not conclusively agree on the function of dreams, the point is that sleep and dreams are biologically and physiologically necessary to maintain health. Being deprived of either sleep or dreams results in reduced energy, depression, obesity, compromised immune systems, and slowed reactions to visual stimuli. The importance of sleep and dreams begin with appreciating the sleep cycle, what the brain does during sleep, when dreams occur, and how dreams may differ based on circumstances.

The sleep cycle

The sleep cycle is triggered by the biological clock, following the circadian rhythm, which sends messages to sleep or wake up (Myers, 2013, pp. 92, 97). When it is light out, the pineal gland within the hypothalamus inhibits production of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin, but when it is dark, production is reinstated, thus marking the beginning of the sleep cycle (National Sleep Foundation, n.d., para. 4). The sleep cycle moves between rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages. Sleep starts with NREM and has three numbered sub-stages. During NREM-1, the sleep is so light it is easy to wake up. In NREM-2, a light sleep occurs. In NREM-3, deep sleep begins and waking up during this stage is very difficult. The final stage is REM, evidenced by the rapid eye movement. These stages cycle approximately every 90 minutes in a somewhat recurrent rhythm with differences between frequency and duration. In the first half of the night, deeper sleep occurs and, in the latter half of the night, REM and light sleep dominate (Walker, 2009).

What the brain does during sleep

Throughout the sleep cycle the brain is active and, depending on the sleep stage, will be depicted by either slow, deep waves or rapid waves of neural activity. During NREM-1, the brain waves start to slow, body temperature begins to drop, and muscles begin to relax. In NREM-2, neural activity is irregular with slow brain wave activity offset by spurts of faster brain waves called spindles. In NREM-3, brain activity is the slowest, marked by slow and deep brain waves. Finally, in REM, brain activity increases and, similar to an awake state, eyes move rapidly, body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and respiration speed up, and the brainstem blocks messages from the motor cortex leaving muscles relaxed and immovable (Myers, 2013, p.95).

When dreams occur

While some dreams may occur during NREM stages, most dreams occur during REM, which happens at the end of the 90-minute sleep cycle. These dreams are typically vivid, imaginative, and emotional. Throughout the course of the sleep cycle, REM can occur several times and take up as much as 25 percent of the sleeping time (Myers, 2013, pg. 96).

How dream may differ based on circumstance

Dreams have a direct relationship with tasks performed just prior to sleep, with distressing or painful events, and based on location or culture. One example is during NREM-1 sleep, where hynagogic sensations are experienced. This includes the sensation of playing a repetitive game while sleeping (Stickgold, Malia, Maquire, Roddenberry, & O’Connor, 2000.) Other examples are nightmares, dreams that cause strong emotional responses including fear and terror, which typically occur in greater frequency after a traumatic event (Levin & Nielsen, 2007).  Finally, dreams can take on an aspect from reality by incorporating the stimuli into the dream. Examples of this include when hunters and farmers have dreams involving animals (Mestel, 1997) or musicians dreaming twice as much about music than non-musicians (Uga, Lemut, Zampi, Zilli, & Salzurulo, 2006).

The function of dreams: Freud’s theory

In 1900, Dr. Sigmund Freud made what he felt was his most significant and important discovery about dreams. In his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud claimed that dreams were representatives of wishes left unsatisfied, and expressed unconsciously through hidden symbols contained within the objects present in the dream itself. He proposed that inner conflict could be expressed through dreams safely, and that the function of dreams helped to satisfy those unspoken wishes (Myers, 2013, pp. 106-107).

The function of dreams: New theories

In addition to Freud’s theory, new theories about the role dreams play have since emerged and point to four other potential functions of dreaming. The first one suggests that dreams serve to allow the brain to organize and file away facts from the day which in turn leads to increased memory. The second theory is that physiological function is improved because the sleep cycle provides periodic stimulation to the brain’s neural pathways. The third theory proposes that neural activity in the brainstem evokes random visual memories and, together with the limbic system, weaves the visuals into story-like dreams. Finally, there is the theory that dreams are the result of the brain maturing and reflecting its cognitive development (Myers, 2013, p. 108).

The importance of sleep

Sleep deprivation has many consequences, including feelings of fatigue, disorientation, memory loss, and could lead to depression, obesity, and mistakes (Owens, 2013, pp. 99-102). When deprived of REM sleep, sensitivity to pain is increased (Roehrs, Hyde, Blaisdell, Greenwald, Roth, 2006), and after a deprivation period, depending on the length and frequency of deprivation, the brain attempts to repay the sleep debt by adjusting sleep cycle to compensate, thus illustrating the biological need for it (Cartwright, 2013).

While there is no conclusive reason why we dream, sleep supports a fundamental need. Considering that our biological clock triggers the onset of sleep, giving the brain an unconscious outlet for discharging information, the mind processes this information in the form of dreams. This means that sleep and dreams are a necessity for a healthy and balanced life. When sleep is deprived, specifically REM sleep, the impact is with the ability to form new memories. Without adequate sleep, learning new things, and remembering them are greatly impacted (Walker, 2009).

 

References

Cartwright, R. (2013, December 10). Sleep Deprivation. Encyclopedia Brittanica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/548545/sleep/38767/Sleep-deprivation

Levin, R., & Nielsen, T. A. (2007). Disturbed Dreaming, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Affect Distress: A Review and Neurocognitive Model. Psychological Bulletin, 133(3), 482-528.

Mestel, R. (1997, April 26). Get real, Siggi – Freud would have been furious – hard-nosed pragmatists are invading the fabulous dream industry he founded. New Scientist. Retrieved from http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg15420799.700-get-real-siggi–freud-would-have-been-furious–hardnosed-pragmatists-are-invading-the-fabulous-dream-industry-he-founded.html

Myers, D. (2013). Psychology in modules, (10th ed.). New York: Worth.

National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.) Retrieved March 6, 2015 from http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep

Roehrs, T., Hyde, M., Blaisdell, B., Greenwald, M., Roth, T. (2006) Sleep loss and REM sleep loss are hyperalgesic. SLEEP, 29(2), 145-151.

Stickgold, R., Malia, A., Maquire, D., Roddenberry, D., & O’Connor, M. (2000, October 13). Replaying the game: Hypnogogic images in normal and amnesics. Retrieved from http://www.bostonneuropsa.net/PDF%20Files/Stickgold/Tetris_Science.pdf

Uga, V., Lemut, M. C., Zampi, C., Zilli, I., & Salzurulo, P. (2006). Music in dreams. Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/dmalt/Public/9.10/02sdarticle.pdf

Walker, M. (2009). The Role of Sleep in Cognition and Emotion. The Year in Cognitive Neuroscience (2009). 168-197. Doi: 10.1111.j.1749-6632-2009.04416.x Retrieved from http://walkerlab.berkeley.edu/reprints/Walker_NYAS_2009.pdf

Back to school…

26 Feb

I never finished my college education, and while it hasn’t stopped me from excelling at work, achieving promotions and higher salaries, it did make me feel like I was missing something important. You know, an education.

salute to education

Late last year I decided what the hell, why not go back to college and get a degree? I can take courses online and one day I will matriculate my happy ass across a stage wearing a robe and cap and whoop it up. Provided of course, I get my degree before I’m in a walker.

See, I’m 49 now and will be 50 this year. I have many many many courses to take and seriously worry I’ll be retired before I get my coveted degree. Now, I’m not doing this to start work in a new field – after taking a peek today at my retirement, pension, and 403b plan from my employer, I am more committed than ever to stay a happy employee there until at least 2022 (that’s the earliest retirement date I can take to get my pension.) At age 56, I may have to take an early retirement just so I can go to school full-time.

My first college course is almost over – this is the final week and I have one essay left to complete. This course is called Success Seminar and teaches the value of a liberal arts education and prepares the student for success, including how to use APA format, how to research topics and sources, and how to properly cite them. In fact, we were given an assignment to choose a topic from our Issues For Debate in Sociology and write a thesis paper. I don’t recall EVER writing a thesis, and of course knew nothing up front about the structure of a research paper – the whole intro and hook, three paragraphs for the thesis’ main points, and conclusion. However, I think I did pretty well, in fact, I score a 94 on the paper. You can find it here and share a giggle with me. The topic I chose was Hip Hop. Yep, this 49 year old, white, suburban woman knows a shit ton about hip hop, yes? I totally relate to that culture and listen to underground rappers all the time. On the other hand, my thesis took a more commercial spin. If you read it, drop a comment and tell me what you think.

I’m glad I’m back in school – it’s opening my eyes to a lot more than I thought it would. The experience has been amazing so far. Next week, I start Psychology 101. Finally I’ll be able to interpret those crazy dreams of mine…

White and Female: The Face of Mainstream Hip-Hop

26 Feb

In 2014, Iggy Azalea, this 24 year-old white rapper and model from rural Australia, took both the number one and two spots with rap songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. What makes this impressive is the fact that these were rap songs, she’s white, and a female. Considering 2013 was a year where white artists claimed the top spot eighty-four percent of the time on the Hip Hop chart, Azalea’s success showcased that more commercial rappers are now white. In fact, white female rappers will continue to rise in mainstream popularity when they appropriate black culture, collaborate with or include pop music in their songs, and when they use sex appeal to their advantage.

Despite being lampooned in the press for her fake black accent, this has not affected Azalea’s album sales or popularity.  Langston Wilkins, in an article for the Washington Post summarizes the global rhetoric that “her style is ripped from a culture born half-a-world away” using a “distinctly inner-city African-American female vocal style.” (2015). Furthermore, she came to America at age 16 mentored by hip-hop artist T.I. in the southern style of hip-hop. In a nutshell, businessmen “saw the commercial possibilities of a thin, blonde-haired Australian woman with adequate rapping skills.” (2015). In Azalea’s case, her affectation may have been drawn from inspiration by her short time in the south, but it’s still mimicry given she had no real connection to this culture. Actually, from jazz to blues to hip-hop, in America, whites have adopted music that began in black cultures as their own (Ainsley, n.d.). Benny Goodman, Elvis, and Eminem, each hold recognized titles claiming the thrones in genres rooted deeply in black culture. They commercialized these genres, appealing to a wider buying audience that could relate to them, because in fact, they looked like them. Lucien Flores (2012) described the reality that top record labels have catered and advertised to white consumers because it’s whites who were buying 70% of hip-hop (as cited in Hurt, 2006). It is also a commonly held belief that young, suburban white teens are the ones actually buying hip-hop. “…Hip-hop’s cultural movement has helped equate “black” with “cool” for the younger generation of white Americans.” (Kitwana 15). Thus, success is dependent on two things: blending in and being cool. For example, in 2013 when Miley Cyrus popularized twerking, a dance move from New Orleans’ bounce music scene, a sub-genre of hip hop, she took a facet of hip-hop culture in order to be seen as outrageous. For Iggy Azalea, her appeal was not just because she is white and therefore relatable, her rapping style made her seem hip, edgy and cool. The audience did not mind that she was not black, or that she couldn’t directly relate to the black culture – they still bought her music.

Besides the cultural appropriation, one way an artist can sell more records is to dip their toe into another genre’s pool to create something new or refresh something old. In 1981, the song “Rapture” by Blondie topped the charts on Billboard’s Top 100. A review at the time by Isler (1981) posited that “…”Rapture,” seems to be doing for rapping music what “Heart of Glass” did for disco…serving a black/esoteric musical form to a white/mass market.” Since then, we’ve seen other successes emerge by blending genres. In 1994, alternative rocker Beck reached success with his rap song “Loser”, and in 1997, Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”, reached number one with his remake of Herb Alpert’s jazz hit “Rise”. Of course, another way a rapper can sell more records is through collaboration. In 1986, Run D.M.C. covered “Walk This Way” with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry guest starring. Not only did this revitalize Aerosmith’s career, it catapulted Run D.M.C. into the mainstream (Effron, 2013). This landmark collaboration paved the way for many more successes including Rihanna and Eminem on both “Monster” and “Love The Way You Lie”. Each of these songs reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, proving that combining forces between pop and rap equals commercial wins. In fact, Iggy Azalea reached the number one and two spots by collaborating with pop stars: Charlie XCX on “Fancy” and Ariana Grande on “Problem.”

Now that we’ve explored how rappers create product, exploiting their erotic capital is one of the best ways to sell it. Dr. Maestripieri (2012) explained that “Good-looking people are more appealing as potential sex partners” and that people wanted to buy products from people who are attractive. In an online interview, Kim Osorio, Editor In Chief at The Source, said that sex appeal made female artists stars and that we valued and praised the sex appeal (as cited in Victorian, 2014). Iggy Azalea used sexuality and provocative imagery in her videos. In “Booty”, a collaboration with Jennifer Lopez, she’s seen in a skimpy bathing suit bent over for most of the video. Nicki Minaj also showcases her curves and uses suggestive imagery like she did with the cover art for “Anaconda”. Artists who follow a traditional advertising model using sex to sell are proving it to be profitable.

To summarize, white female rappers are in a unique position today. They stand a greater chance for mainstream success that didn’t exist before now. Never before has a female rapper, black or not, reached the number one and two spots on the Hot 100 chart. The success story of Iggy Azalea showcased that capitalizing on her white model good looks and sexuality created the right amount of buzz to keep people talking about her. And catapulting her rise to fame was based on two ingenious, if not calculated, methods. The first was knowing her target audience would respond to her false portrayal of a sultry southern-styled rap vixen, and the second was serving it up with a one-two punch through collaborations with fellow female pop stars to deliver music that was catchy, danceable, and made you want to sing along. All of which lead to phenomenal mainstream success.

 References

Ainsley, S. (n.d.). Black Rhythm White Power. Morningside Review. 2007/2008. Retrieved from http://morningsidereview.org/essay/black-rhythm-white-power/

Effron, L. (2013, April 13). ABC News. Run-D.M.C’s Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels Reflects on ‘80s ‘Walk This Way’ Cover. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2013/04/run-d-m-cs-darryl-dmc-mcdaniels-reflects-on-80s-walk-this-way-cover/

Flores, L. J. (2012). “Hip-Hop is for Everybody: Examining the Roots and Growth of Hip-Hop.” Student Pulse4(05). Retrieved from http://www.studentpulse.com/a?id=639

Hurt, B. (2006). Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Retrieved from http://www.bhurt.com/films/view/hip_hop_beyeond_beatsand_rhymes

Isler, S. (1981, June). Blondie: State of the Union 1981. Trouser Press. p. 19.

Kitwana, B. (2006). Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, And The New Reality Of Race In America [e-book]. Retrieved from eds.a.ebscohost.com.vlib.excelsior.edu

Maestripieri, D. (2012, March 8). Psychology Today. The Truth About Why Beautiful People Are More Successful. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/games-primates-play/201203/the-truth-about-why-beautiful-people-are-more-successful

Victorian, B. (2014, April 11). Madame Noir. Kim Osorio on Women in Rap. Retrieved from http://madamenoire.com/419202/kim-osorio-2/

Wilkins, L. (2015, February 7). Stop hating on Iggy Azalea’s ‘blaccent.’ She’s no hip-hop’s real problem. Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/02/07/stop-hating-on-iggy-azaleas-blaccent-shes-not-hip-hops-real-problem/

A new life…

3 Jan

I took the past year off. From a lot of things. From my music to singing to guitar. From things that made me happy. Like writing. I didn’t do this on purpose of course. I did it without even thinking. It’s been a year. A lot has changed in the past year. And in many ways, nothing has changed.

My e-pen to e-paper writing skills are still a bit e-rusty, so this post should be short. Sweet perhaps, but maybe a bit salty too.

My beloved mother passed away on 12/27/13 – for those of you that haven’t read or knew about this – just recapping. She was quite a woman. Solid, humorous, outrageous – with a huge sparkly personality only outmatched by her love of huge sparkly jewelry. I did sing at her service, and while (to me) it was out of tune, and I sang through tears in my throat, it was really just for her. And it was OK. The rain that January day let up enough for us to send balloons up to greet her. The message on my balloon was simple: “I’ll never forget you.”

On Memorial Day, I planted the seed paper we gave at the service along with her ash dust. On Labor Day, she bloomed.

Mom flowers
Us 006Rockstar stood next to me at every change.

Held me close and made me believe in hope.

His life took an amazing turn in 2014. With his life rising from the ashes, my phoenix and I made plans to start ours afresh.

We took the next step and moved in together just after our 3rd year anniversary trip to Hawaii in June.

Since then, we’ve settled into “new couple” patterns. You know, kissing and cuddling, bickering over chores, cooking together, and dog duty.

The usual shenanigans. It’s been a hell of a ride. A good one. A very happy one!

I spent most of the summer getting a tattoo of all things. It all started when I decided to tattoo my mom’s thumbprint somewhere and ended with a pretty big back piece. Ain’t gonna lie, this hurt a LOT. The thumbprint is actually inside a frame on my lower left thigh.

After I sold my mother’s house, and paid off her debt, and split what remained, I started asking myself what I should do with my share. What she would want me to do. Well, she’d want me to invest in a face lift, I’M SURE, but that’s just not my way. However, Botox is something that I can always get behind.

She always said she loved talking with me about stuff because I always listened to her and gave her good advice. I think she’d be proud that I’m using her legacy to go back to school to get a degree in Psychology. I start on Monday (Jan 5). Wish me luck because while I took the past year off from some things, work isn’t one of them.

2015 will bring a lot of change for me. I turn 50 this year. I have wonderful friends who fill my life with laughter. I have the most loving man whose smile lights up my day. I have memories, voice mails, and maybe a video or two of my mom and while I can’t quite yet listen or watch, they are there for me when I’m ready. In the meantime, I can and will squeeze every ounce of life from and to this life I have now.

My mother’s eulogy…

26 Jan
In loving memory... Feb 2013, La Rochelle winery

In Loving Memory… La Rochelle – Feb 2013

Mom died on December 27th. The next two weeks would be a flurry of activity for my siblings and me. My brother offered that he and Rod would take my mother’s beloved pets, Cooper and Dolly, which we shared with my mother when she may have still been lucid and for which I will always be thankful.

My sister will list Mom’s house as we will need to sell it.

And I will deal with all the finances.

My sister inherited the part of Mom’s creatively arty side so we quickly agreed that she’d take care of the memorial tribute video and reception, I’d sing Grace Potter’s “Stars” at the service, and each of us would give a eulogy.

I wrote mine through a blaze of tears. Here it is…

————————–

I would have said that she was a dirty clothes whore, but maybe that’s just me.

I usually have witty things to say. Sometimes snarky, sometimes mocking, but rarely have I been at such a loss for words. Until I sat down to write something about my Mom.

I could regale you with her antics and shenanigans with me and my friends, many of whom are here today and very likely reliving their own greatest hits with Linda. I could share what a loving, vivacious, bodacious and giving woman she was. She lived life out loud, from her personality to her clothes and jewelry. Every single one of you already knows these things. Instead, I’m going to share how I feel about this loss.

I’m not ready to no longer have her in my life. I want to see her come in that door right now. I want to hear her voice, feel her touch. But she cannot walk through that door. She’ll never walk through that door.

She is gone. I don’t want to believe it. I’m not ready. I want more time. I need more time.

She is gone. I’ll never see her throw her head back and laugh with abandon. Or hear her chuckle over a good dirty joke.

I am mad as hell that I can no longer call her and hear her voice. Hold her hand as we walk into our favorite restaurants. Go wine tasting and hear her ask for “just a squidge more”. Soon, I won’t be able to smell her on her scarfs and shirts.

She is gone. I don’t want to accept it. It’s not fair. It’s wrong.

She is gone. She’ll never be able to kiss me or wipe my tears.

I’ll never be able to tell her again how much I love her. How proud I am to be her daughter and that I will always be thankful for her. For things that I got from her: her laughter, her sarcasm, her wit, her joie de vivre, her love of adventure, her unique identity of style, her flamboyant makeup, and for having the same size shoe so I could learn early on how to wear stilettos.

I had a most precious experience the night she died. I felt her. I felt this presence wrap around me and fill me with a serenity like no other. I have tried to describe what I saw and felt and I’ve found that there are simply no words to do this justice.

I am grateful and honored to have had her in my life.

She is gone. I am simply not ready to lose her in this world. HER – I simply feel lost without her.

I will always miss her. And I will carry my love for her with me always.

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Thank you dear readers for sharing this journey with me. It hasn’t been an easy road to travel, putting e-pen to e-paper and sharing the rawness, but it has been cathartic. If these posts help even one person prepare for the death of a loved one, it was worth it.

Be kind to each other, and especially, yourselves.