What an inspiring story of perseverance, a lesson for us all!
Month: March 2016
I’m in a Downer-A Frump
Today, I made the mistake of checking the scale.
I got off wanting to scream and cry.
I remember when, what seems like eons ago, I could out eat my dates, and still maintain a svelte figure.
Sadly those days are long gone. Not only that, I can’t eat the equivalent of what I’d feed an infant and maintain any semblance of the old me. They say, whoever the proverbial “they” are anymore, that it’s not how much but what you eat. I get that.
So, I have a good breakfast. Today not so much because I was pissed. I did the binge thing and made french toast(2) with strawberries and whipped cream! Oh and a slice of cantaloupe.
Generally though, I will alternate between an egg or two, sometimes a slice of bacon (yes, just one) with 1-2 slices of a whole grain toast(70cal), some Vegemite, jam and tea or just a bowl of whole grain cereal, like steel cut oats or a multi-grain with honey or brown sugar, a dab of “butter” and almond milk (sometimes but rarely with raisins and nuts). I don’t drink milk or eat boxed cereals.
I can’t eat and then go work out. So, on days that I force myself to go to the gym, I will blend a fruit, kale and protein drink and water. I take herbals each day (a whole handful) some to enhance my digestive system, thyroid, an appetite suppressant, bee pollen for energy, CoQ10, echinacea and other herbs recommended by a nutritionist I saw a year ago. Since then I’ve self diagnosed trying to figure out why my system is not cooperating.
On days I have a regular breakfast, I will have a protein drink for lunch. I eat a sandwich rarely because I gotta have chips with them and I’m a sucker for chips and pickles with a sandwich. I don’t drink coke except with pizza, tacos or hamburgers. Only because I figure whatever is in coke will help disintegrate whatever is in the meat. Again, this is an occasional treat. A regular dinner consists of, usually a salad (I make great salads with olive oil/lemon juice/garlic dressing). My salads include veggies. Then, some meat, which could be one chicken breast (if Russ and I are alone) split in half and pounded thin, we seldom eat red meat, though my trainer suggested I upped that. A side dish includes potato or steamed rice and veggies of one variety or another. (Broccoli, carrots, cabbage or some such- no squash Russ doesn’t like anything in the squash family, so I reserve that for when he’s not around or when we have company). He’s a big pasta and potato man. I do not, but I make it for him. In fact all my cooking has been adjusted for him. I make the regular ol’ southern meal seldom even though I love them.
“They” say to get plenty of exercise. I get that too. Well, maybe not as much as I used to, as I sit here at the computer. All the more reason.
I had a personal trainer a year ago, but I had to stop her since I couldn’t afford the hefty fee any longer.
I was doing okay overall. I was strong and all, but I wasn’t losing weight.
She had me write down all I ate and then had their nutritionist make me a new diet plan. She said, I wasn’t eating enough, especially protein for the amount of energy I was expending. Hmmm.
My body is too damn efficient. It really knows how to store.
I know I needed her because without her my workouts are inconsistent at best. Everyday, I put on my work out clothes saying I’m going to go to the gym to-day! I don’t.
Over the holidays is when I got off the wagon and it’s been hard getting back on. My eating habits have gone downhill every since.
I’m a sunshine girl. If it’s not sunny, I’m not worth a damn!
Then to top it off, I’ve had a young lady visiting me from abroad and that girl is a bottomless pit. Anything at the end of the meal is consumed long after we’ve left the table. Gone. She even licked her plate once (or twice), which I would never have done.
I looked in my cupboard yesterday and told Russ, “I’ve not had to use (or wash) any of my storage containers for left overs in weeks!” There are no leftovers. She’s cute and bubbly and says, “I’m getting fat!” Really?
SHE’S GETTING FAT!? I think all that food she’s consumed is being absorbed by MY body not hers!
I realize I was far more active in those olden days, but I have a frickin’ closet full of awesome clothes that don’t fit!!!
So, I really don’t mind some of the extra pounds. After all, I’m no longer 20. I know I can’t be 100 lbs. again nor do I want to. BUT, I was 125 when I delivered Tina (hard to believe) and 135 when I had Andrea. That was full term too. But I’d like to get at least close to the pregnancy weight I was with Andrea, which is what is recommended for my age. I’d like to do it for my health if nothing else.
What I know about my body is that if I eat sweets, I blow up and get all puffy. My joints hurt and I can hardly bend my fingers. THAT is an alarm to do something. Actually, that is really my only complaint.
Most people think I’m way younger My hair is good thinner but still good. I don’t look 69 – going on 70 this year. My skin elasticity is very good, better than most teens, so it’s not all bad.
I’ve got four wonderful children, Nine grandchildren and two great-grands, so hell, what’s a little weight?!
I just counted my blessings, didn’t I?
Forget the “Frump”. I’m over it! Thanks y’all. You’ve been great! <BIG SMILE>
Oh! Did I mention my husband works for a cheese import company that sells amazing cheeses to the Hollywood crowd? Yup! And… he just walked in with an arm load!
I’m going to keep this one short and sweet in honor of all the women in my family who’ve reinvented them self late in life.
First, I salute my sister Diana.
My sister Diana, who with me found the stresses of caring for our aged and dying parents quite trying at times. It forced us to find ways to grow and be better than we once were.
Di found that drawing would calm mother as well as herself and she developed her own unique style of crayon art
and from there she wrote her first book “The Importance of Thomas” which reveals, as told to her grand kids, her journey with me in caring for our parents.
Second, My daughter Andrea:
My daughter Andrea, who just started writing her own blog, I salute as she embarks on a new career which is growing stronger everyday.
At 34, she went back to school and was the first girl in my family to finish college and get a degree. You can read her story and goals at the link that follows. (Actually, Diana was the first in my family to finish college, but of me and my girls, Andrea was)
Her blog: http://usmountainstandard.com/about
Third, I salute my daughter Tina
Now, my firstborn Tina, married at 17 and didn’t even finish the last 6 months of school thinking marriage was her destiny, At 45 she found herself evolving.
Despite the fact that she didn’t start her family until she was 29, my former 3.5 grade point average student took her time getting that GED.
I only list her third because she is only now starting her journey.
At age 47, she started college and is now waiting to be admitted for a nursing degree, which I don’t think will be a problem with her getting straight A’s.
Both girls following in their mother’s footsteps taking strides, moving forward late in life. I guess you could call us late bloomers.
And well, most of you know my story. It’s been a rocky road but I keep on truckin’. I’m blogging while embarking on a screenwriting career.
And finally, I salute me:
My first screenplay was written with Andrea in mind, but even though her acting career took a detour, she is now back on track. With encouragement from Sean Astin and others, she has renewed her enthusiasm for film. Like me, she doesn’t know where that will end up.
With Andrea, I have just completed the first phase of a web series we hope to start filming sometime next year.
Both girls are supportive of my efforts and eager to collaborate.
Everything I’ve done I did after 45. It took three marriages for one to take and that was at 45. I raised four children, two girls and two boys and in the interim pretty much kept my dreams on hold. Now it’s my turn.
At 45, I learned to ski and…
I rock climbed and loved it. I would say it was my favorite sport. I also climbed mountains.
and at 50 I got to go to one of the most prestigious acting schools in LA, The American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In addition, I got to learn more from LA Coach Molli Benson, Check out her site: “Specialty Acting Workshops”
At 65, after mother died, I learned belly dancing,
It’s been quite a journey for us, but here’s to the ladies…AND we’re not done yet!
Influence: Identical Twin
Storm’s a Brewin Pa!
It is storming in California and that’s something to write about.
Storms in California don’t come close to being as intense as those in Alabama nor the snow storms of Colorado. Somehow because of its terrain it is unaccustomed to such an onslaught of wind and moisture resulting in a fair amount of damage.
I have a young lady visiting me from France and she’s telling me they are not unlike those storms in the basque country. It seems to me if that were true, she wouldn’t be so enthralled, standing at the back door watching the wind heave palm trees back and forth.
But then she has many child like qualities, so it could be she has not lost a child’s fascination for storms. At least they don’t frighten her like they did my step mom.
In Alabama, my dad had this one room without windows for that very reason. It was Rita’s “safe” place.
Rita had been through the war in Italy where her family had spent a good deal of time hiding. Especially the girls. Families would hide their girls when the German troops came through to prevent them from being taken and violated.
When Katrina blew through, Rita had already passed on, but Russ and I were living there and yes it did feel much safer.
I remember hearing the sirens going off and you could hear the wind blowing furiously overhead. Fortunately, Dad’s place in general was pretty secure. His house was situated on the northwest side of a small valley and when tornadoes blew through, you could almost imagine them skimming over the top but never dipping down as the winds howled and screamed. With Katrina being the exception, which tore up Daddy’s greenhouse and its clear fiberglass siding, we were pretty much “snug as bug ” there. What was interesting is how just before it hit, everything would get ominously quiet. Spooooky.
This year in California and today, we’ve had it all. Rain, Wind, Lightning, Thunder and hail. The water coming down the street was gushing over the curbs. Wind wailing and dark skies made you think it would last forever. Now it’s clear.
In Colorado, the ground was so porous and the weather so dry, that moments after a storm such as that, it would look as though nothing had ever happened. The only give away being that things did look greener, softer and clean.
We lived in the high desert part of Colorado on the Utah border, so when I say Colorado, people usually envision lots of trees and mountains. That’s not where we were. It was desert.
Alabama on the other hand was extremely green. Even when they complained of drought, it rained at least once a week. There the soil was accustomed to getting lots of water, so droughts affected them completely different. You’ve heard of sink holes? Well when the south doesn’t get enough rain, you get sink holes.
I have nightmares about sink holes.
After that guy got swallowed up, bed and all in Florida, I couldn’t sleep. We were in a drought then. There were already signs of sink holes in the streets, where pockets were showing up. I didn’t know this about the south. Needless to say I worried about sink holes.
I don’t think California has to worry about that. They have mudslides, earthquakes and flash floods, but no sink holes that I know of.
Spring came early as Punxsutawney Phil said it would and we’ve enjoyed mostly warm and springy days so far. So we can’t complain.
It is currently March and already we’ve had two major storms in the past two months.
Isn’t it supposed to be “April showers bring May flowers?”
I wonder what April will look like then?
I can hardly wait.
Lights, Camera, Cure
I remember growing up and hearing about children dying of leukemia, the most commonly known cancer in children.
What people don’t know is that every year, over 15,000 children and nearly 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. Maybe not as many as adults, but think about this. These are young people whose life has been cut short and not given a chance to make their mark in this world.
I have committed myself to stay on my feet for a good six hours for the sake of raising money for a cure for childhood cancer. Yes, I’m going to jiggle this 69 year old body for a worthy cause.
In 1978, my daughter, Tina, lost a very dear friend of hers to cancer. This was a vivacious young teen, who was diagnosed at the end of the school year, received treatments, went into remission and then died the following summer. This was a kid, well liked, friendly and easy to talk to. If Tina wasn’t home, Mike would think nothing of keeping me on the phone chatting for hours. He was that kind of kid. It devastated everyone who knew him. For a brief period there was hope because he was doing so well and we thought he had it licked. It was painful, not only for her but everyone in her class.
I have committed to raise at least $300 MINIMUM
With your help – HIT DONATE NOW -let’s make it be more.
It is the 5th Annual Hollywood Dance Marathon presented by Lights Camera Cure which features hundreds of participants dancing for 6 hours, raising money and awareness to battle pediatric and young adult cancer.
One day we’ll dance in celebration — until then we’ll dance for a cure!
There will be live music, DJs, dance groups, celebrity VIPs, silent auction, red carpet, and raffle prizes are REALLY FUN!
WHEN AND WHERE?
- Saturday, April 2, 2016
- Avalon Theater – 1735 N. Vine St., Hollywood
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
Pediatric and young adult cancer programs at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
You can help by joining my team. This is me at my computer working on my screenplay and entreating you to help me reach my goal.
I’m not asking can you do it, but will you do it…FOR THE CHILDREN?
JOIN A TEAM! — MY TEAM PREFERABLY
The best way is to be a part of a team. If you already signed up as an individual dancer and now want to join your friend’s team or create a new one, email firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll help you out!
IF You CAN’T ATTEND?
Stop in at my link and help my team reach their goal or…
Register and have your own dance party at home — LCC will be live streaming the event!
REGISTER TO BE A DANCER/FUNDRAISER
- REGISTER as an individual or grab some friends and create a team of your own. It’s more fun to DANCE WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
- Your $30 registration fee goes toward the suggested minimum fundraising goal of $300 per dancer/team.
EVENT PRODUCERS The event is co-produced by Lights Camera Cure (LCC), a Los Angeles-based 501(c)(3) charitable organization and the Penn State Los Angeles Alumni Chapter (PSULA).
Please visit our websiteLightsCameraCure.com for more information, to become a sponsor, or to see photos/videos from previous events.
QUESTIONS / COMMENTS
If you have any questions feel free to reach out to email@example.com
What people do not realize is that there are many children fighting this horrible disease and we are all so totally unaware. We hear of adults with cancer and we immediately respond, but we are seldom informed when a child gets cancer.
I THANK YOU!!
This is me ; > ) smiling.
Alzheimer’s & Schizophrenia
I was actually going to title this “What I Learned From my Mother When..”, But that was a bit verbose.
Actually, I was missing mother the other day. I was missing her in an overwhelming way and with great sadness. My mother was great at gardening and my yard looks like shit right now. What with California’s water restrictions, how can anyone have a decent looking yard? I was thinking how she could easily turn my mess into a garden of Eden. I’m also certain she and the water police would have ended up on a first name basis. She liked her plants.
Perhaps that’s why she moved to Tennessee. No water police and lots of rain for growing things.
Mother, who mistreated us and couldn’t get along with her children managed to grow just about anything. Plants and flowers did very well with her. She had fish ponds with fountains and lilies. Fruit trees overflowing with avocado, lemons and oranges. (I noticed she was especially fond of the dwarf varieties because she was short and she didn’t want to miss harvesting every delectable product, which she could then share with neighbors and friends. She could grow whatever her heart delighted and tended to them in a way we kids envied. Why is that do you think? I never could figure out how someone so abusive could feed and nurture plants and get them to grow prolifically while leaving her own children to starve for affection.
You might ask and well you should, “You missed that?” Well, not exactly that, but…Yes.
If you got her talking about flowers and plants, she was captive and kind. I miss her catalogue of information when it came to gardening.
I was missing and will always miss the woman I felt was somewhere buried inside and that I only occasionally got a glimpse of. I sensed deep within my soul that somewhere, out of reach, was a kind and loving human being wanting to get out. Why do I believe that? Well, I figure anyone who would give birth to five children, who are generous and have kind hearts and thoughts, must have been a good person in another life. I will never know or understand why we were cheated of the person she could have been, but we were.
MOTHERS LIFE AS I KNEW IT
When she was ten, her father contracted tuberculosis. He was a fisherman or so I believed. I don’t know why I thought that, but she talked about her father fishing and living on the beach in Mazatlan, Mexico just hours from where she’d been born in Esquinapa.
She told me that one day they were on this boat together, just the two of them and he told her to dream big. Finish school and do well. But that wasn’t to be.
When he could no longer work, she would be in charge of caring for him when his health deteriorated until he died. Grandma or as we called her Abuelita, would work. Abuelita would sometimes make tamales and my mother would hawk them on the streets, selling her wares so they could eat. It also accounted for why mother was so generous to the street urchins in Tijuana selling Chiclets. Because the income was so little and overly time consuming, Mother had to quit school and help while her two siblings continued getting an education. It didn’t seem fair and I think mother always resented being the one sacrificed to her lot in life. But it was not uncommon in those days for the eldest in any family to make that sacrifice.
In time she would get hired out to care for and wait on the rich families in the area. It was here that she would develop her expensive tastes. She told me she had always dreamed of the finer things in life and of playing the piano. One day when walking by this house, she caught sight of a young girl through the window learning to play. Mom was not unlike the little match girl yearning for what was not hers to have.
This was in the 30’s and I don’t know if the depression was worldwide but it didn’t matter, their life was the depression. For a while, they lived under palm leaf lean-to’s on the beach. Mother as she got older picked up an additional chore, a weekly run to a farm to get milk and deliver it to town to sell. On this run, she was accompanied by a boy of whom she spoke fondly of so I’m guessing by now she was older and it probably did a lot to make the task a bit tolerable, but it still wasn’t an easy life.
In the early 40’s, mother moved from her native Sinaloa to Baja. With her cousin, a priest in California’s sponsorship, she was able to get work in San Diego, where she would eventually meet my dad.
Mother often spoke of her mother with disdain telling me, “you don’t know what it’s like to see your mother with other mens!” So I guess grandma did what she could to put food on the table. I don’t know the whole story there, because I could never get any further elaboration. Was grandma selling herself, or just hooking up with whoever would help her out and give them a roof over their head? Was mother’s perception based on her loyalty to her father? There’s that too and no one would have been good enough, knowing mom. From what I gathered she had little respect for her mother. Whereas I adored her.
Unfortunately, all that bitterness carried itself over to us and her marriage.
That mother was not mentally stable was never in doubt, so when we got glimpses of who we thought she really was, we would bathe in it for however long it lasted only to be slapped in the face moments later. It always struck me odd that no matter how many times this transpired, we always fell for it. Well, maybe not all of us, but I would. I always hoped the gear would get stuck on the good mommy and that that was the one we would get to keep.
Years later when we realized mother was not sane but suffered from schizophrenia all my siblings fled the state. I alone was left to deal with her. My brother and younger sister were in Florida and my Irish twin went to Alabama to be with my dad. Actually, I lie. I was not alone but I was. My step siblings (there were four) had also left the state with the exception of one of the younger sisters, who had a child out of wedlock and not deemed worthy to grace mothers’ doorstep. My youngest brother was the product of my stepfather and mother and was five months older than my oldest child, so he was in no position to help deal with mother at all. After everyone had left, he would endure a nightmare only he could tell but we will never discuss. (These are older pics ) He is 50 now and the photos are not how he appears today.
We older kids at least had a buffer in each other against her anger and spats of rage and unpredictability. Because of him, I stayed deeply involved and close by. I did my best to intervene whenever possible. At times I’d rescue him by having him over as often as I could for sleepovers with my girls. Even so, mother would pull in the reins for fear we might turn him against her.
When mother started accusing me of stealing a thimble or a spool of thread, I had not guessed she had Alzheimer’s. I thought perhaps this was a deviation of her mental state. I would try to reason with her and say, “Mom, if I wanted a spool of thread, I’d ask you for it.” She would respond, “Then, why didn’t you?!” It was nonstop and ongoing. If the other sister who had by now gotten in good graces with her because of the grandchild, and happened to visit, she would be accused of stealing towels. She was always stealing towels.
Because of HIPPA, we were never allowed the privilege of speaking to her doctors, so we were for many years out of the loop. No one would talk to us. No one would listen. Yet, I was well aware that her mental state was grave and getting progressively worse.
When my stepdad had a stroke, I was living in Colorado, so I called the authorities in Nashville and informed them of mother’s state of mind and how someone needed to attend to her. She was alone, not stable and in a panic. Because my step dad was coherent but unable to walk well and fraught with worry about her, his wanting to be released quickly in order to get to her only validated the information I’d given them earlier. They went to the house and took her to a facility for evaluation. With both parents in care, I was all that was left to consult with doctors. My step father, gave permission for me to be included in the consultations that followed and that opened the door for my first opportunity to discuss her state of mind.
She had several doctors but the psychiatrist was the one who broke it down. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder clouded by what appeared to be early stages of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. Because of the complexity of her condition, it was hard to see where one left off and the other started. He said at this stage of her life, there was nothing we could do. If this had been diagnosed when she was younger, with medication and counseling there may have been a chance for a normal life. He said that at this age, it had now become a part of her personality. In other words, embedded in her hard drive.
The home we took her to after my step father died, proved to be invaluable. They gave us classes on how to respond, what to do and not do. Had we known this information earlier much of her data might have been rerouted. For one, never deny. DON’T say, “I didn’t do that!” Or No, anything. Because they will always respond, with “Yes, she/he/you did” and each time they say it, it then becomes their reality through repetition and to them it is true. Instead, side step it, change the subject and move on to something else. In mom’s case, the neighbors were coming in and stealing beans, flour, coffee, detergent and heaven knows what else and I would argue,” how could they?” She would respond “up the back porch.” and I “but it’s 20 feet high and there are no steps to it.” and she, “Yes, but they are in construction, they have tall ladders.” and so it goes. So my advice? Don’t bother arguing with them.
Also, don’t make this mistake. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THEIR MIND.
When my husband and I finally got permission to move her down to Alabama from Tennessee where I stayed until the court gave me permission to move her, she was like a child wondering how long it was going to take. It went like this,
She:”Where are we going?”
I: “To my house”
She: “Where’s that?” ,
I: Alabama. (She didn’t like that)
She:”That’s where your dad lives. How long is it going to take?”
I: “Three hours.”
She: “Are we there yet?”
After those two lines of questions were established, she settled on three. How far, how long and are we there yet.
My responses were, “not far, in a couple of hours and no.
At one point, I varied it, tiring of the same answer and I said something like, one hour, 45 minutes and so forth. Then one time I changed it back and she said, “No, you said… ” Russ and I cracked up.
When the home she was in determined she needed a full time sitter, I knew I couldn’t afford that. My sister moved up from Florida and we bought a house together, baby proofed it to meet health care specifications for her situation. We took the knobs off the stove, put special locks and alarms on the door, ones she couldn’t reach to prevent her from exiting without our knowledge.
This was still a concern though because even with the demented mine, they found ways. Like the story of an old Marine officer who after he retired became an electrician. He dismantled the alarm system and when the nurses went to check on the patients, they were all gone. This old guy had delegated various patients to manage those less able and they were marching down the street for a getaway. They knew this old codger nor his troops would be easily corralled because they were marching with purpose. In fact, to confront them might cause them to scatter, so the doctor got the van and went straight to the commander in charge. She said, “It looks like you could use some help” and he looked at her and sighed, ” I sure could. These soldiers can’t get it together” or some such.
So, yes locks were a must and in her case they were put high on the door jam. We also didn’t include footstools because it would not have taken long for her to find them. Even so, my sister got distracted one day while changing mothers bed after she’d had an accident and I had only been gone five minutes, when Di calls to say, mom disappeared. She was crying too. It was 16 degrees out and mother was in a thin nightie and barefoot! We called 911 and the police only a couple of blocks away, came quickly. I turned around, but fortunately by then one of the neighbors had spotted her first and headed her home.
Like a child, she looked up at me and said, “It’s cold.” and I scolded her as you would a child, telling her “not to worry us like that again!” She said, “Okay”
Yes, I miss my mother. I missed her my whole life and yet she left her mark on me. Because of mother, I will like plants and flowers and pretty things. Expensive things. I like diamonds and gold. Nice clothes, nice houses. Cleanliness. Fancy restaurants, travel and many things I can live without but don’t want to. My mom taught me to reach for the stars and so I will until I die.
Mom wanted to live vicariously through me pushing me to do the things she always wanted to do herself but felt ill equipped to do because of her lack of education.
Yet mom, taught herself to read and write. She studied all the time and I think of her always determined to better herself. Mom did the best with what she had.
I look at it this way. I’m still going for my dream, however late in life it is I’m starting, It’s those dreams and that drive she instilled in me that move me forward and keeps my mind active.
I have dreams of one day writing the finest Academy Award winning screenplay ever and saying, “Mom, this is for you!”