Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tupelo to Natchez, but not on the Trace

Last Tuesday I was in Tupelo again, working on the research project.  I stopped by Elvis' on my way home--he left the door open for me this week.  I read on someone's blog not long ago that Elvis slept with his mother until he was 9.  I wondered if people knew, first of all, that he lived alone with his mother most of his years as his father was in prison first, and then traveling in his work, and secondly, that he lived in a 2 room house during that time.  It was not unusual for family members to sleep together--it would have been cold, with only a kitchen and a "living" room, there would have been little space for another bed, even if there had been money for another bed.

The Presley family left Tupelo in a 1939 Plymouth.  It brought back memories of our family's Plymouth, which also looked like this one, though ours was blue.  We first had a pick-up truck, and my sister would sit between my folks, my mother held my baby brother, and I stood up in the "floor board" in front of my sister.  When we finally got a car with a back seat, I would still stand and lean on the seat next to my father's shoulders.  He would tell me to sit down, but by then, it was such a habit and norm to stand that it was hard to retrain myself.
Back at home on my Taylor hillside, I sat outside and watched birds for a bit to de-stress before finalizing for the trip to Natchez on Wednesday.  The last of the jonquils was braving the breeze, the blue jay and red-bellied woodpecker were fighting over the sunflower seeds, and the hawks were circling overhead, watching for dinner.

Wednesday was beautiful and Jill and I loaded and headed South to Natchez for the annual NASW conference.  I had worked on a directed study with a student so that she could do a poster presentation for the conference.  I was very impressed with the results of her work and thought she had an excellent chance to take the award.  Her poster was very professional, and only one other poster had also been done using this particular technique.  While Saron's work was definitely impressive, the other student was awarded the recognition, based on the quality of the research.  Her professor, a friend and colleague, said to me when I congratulated her "I told her 'there's your competition.' "  I laughed and said I had told Saron the same thing about the other student.  Saron's research was on her work in Senegal, Africa; the Delta State student's research was on the incarceration rates in Mississippi, and certainly was a good piece of work. 
We always have a silent auction to benefit our PACE committee, and I have been taking something for the auction from my travels to South Africa.  This year, I took a wine bottle tote that had been hand crafted from recycled plastic bags.  It is from one of the women's coops that I visit when I am in South Africa.  I stopped at Katz Wine Cellar in Jackson as they generally carry the finer South African wines and selected the flagship wine of the Warwick Estates.  I bought one for myself, and one for the auction.  The wine alone is a $30 wine, so we set the starting bid at 35.  I opened it, and went by once to up the bid to buy back what I had already bought once. :)  However, it had two higher bids by closing time, so I was pleased that my efforts had made money for the committee, as well as above my own investment in it.

I enjoyed learning a bit about the history of the area that night, when I begged off going out to eat and stayed in my room working on a manuscript.  Jill and I were across the river in Vidalia, Louisiana, in a fairly new hotel on the river.  Our room was quite luxurious and spacious, and we had an incredible view.  I learned the town was named after a Spanish explorer who established the first landing there and his name was Vidal.  I began pronouncing the name of the city with Spanish inflection--"vee-dahl-ee-uh" instead of the Mississippi-Louisiana "Vie-dale-yah"--just for my own amusement.  I am easily amused.

It was also "Pilgrimage" in Natchez this week--an annual event when the city "celebrates" its ante-bellum past.  Jill and I were leaving town Friday and noted this scene, so stopped to peer over the fence.  One of Jill's friends from college who lives in Natchez told her the numbers are so far down this year that there is talk of not having it next year.  This tradition--like many in Mississippi--represents those vast inequalities that are both historical and current.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Natchez, tornadoes, thunder and lightning, and old man river

I am in Natchez for the Mississippi chapter of the National Association of Social Workers conference.  Today was the first day and Jill and I presented an advanced workshop all afternoon on the techniques of using experiential group therapy, or what is sometimes called "adventure based counseling."  It is the first time Jill and I have worked together and I think she was a little nervous about my style--which Jane aka Gigi knows well as we did so many presentations together in the past.  I am a "co-creator" of the workshop when I am inspired.  That means that when I know my topic, the "data" about it, I love to just create the experience of it with the people right there in the room.  I did not want one more PowerPoint of just giving people information, and the purpose of this was to increase the clinical skills of MSWs to enable them to facilitate an experiential group.

We had discussed the "plan" and had an overview of what we wanted to accomplish, and had an outline, but I really wanted to just go in that room and create the experience that people could take away with them, as opposed to taking away "information."  I can be pronoid to a fault, but this was one of the best experiences of my professional life.  Initially, as is usual, folks were reticent to participate.  We worked with what we had--after all, "it is what it is."  We identified the objectives of the day, our plan, and we had set it up so that people could participate but in a controlled way that would enable us to reach our objectives.  It was the most amazing thing to watch this group of individuals turn into a group, teach each other and us, challenge themselves, and ultimately, create and demonstrate the exact thing we had hoped to accomplish.

For me, it reminded me again of how much I really can trust others and trust myself in our common work.  We asked people in the workshop (all were MSWs, though at varying levels of experience) to process the exercises we were doing with the basic format of What? (was that experience like for you), So What? (does that mean, has that ever happened before in your life), and Now What? (will you do with this knowledge, insight, etc.)  I advised them that my teaching technique when I want to "process the processing" is to call a time out, or "pause the video tape" and discuss the discussing and what we are thinking.  I was doing that at one point, pointing out and identifying some important things that had happened and various understandings.  Two women were talking, and I thought they meant to share with the group and asked them what they wanted to add.  One of them said, "We were just saying how good you were at this."  I said, "Well, thank you" and moved on.

Besides the fact that it made me feel good, it reminded me of the time in grad school when I had a wonderful woman faculty member who taught me so much and was such a mentor to me and thinking I wanted to be that for students some day.  Over the years as I have had students tell me that, I am always so appreciative of it as I know what it meant to me to have Dr. Barrett in my life.  There was that wonderful moment when those women said that and I felt so validated in the work we were creating in that room--not just that it was me, though there were moments when the inspirations in my head were just being revealed to me without conscious thought or effort--but that it truly was we were creating the experience of the group.

By the time we finished the 3 hour workshop, every person in the room was participating, physically and verbally.  One participant was a young man who uses an electric wheelchair and has limited use of his arms and hands.  It was so interesting to see how he engaged so, took risks, was willing to be vulnerable,  yet was so astute in his observations and contributions to the group, how he would attempt so much yet asked for help on some things--liked tying on the bandana when they were blindfolded, or adapted to the exercises as he was sitting and lower than the rest of them.  Over and over, I was amazed at humans--our insights, our weaknesses, our compassion, our lack of planning and thinking, our ability to think and plan.

I know you cannot capture a day like today with words necessarily, but it was a day when I was proud to be a social worker, loved the life I have led, and felt and believed that a group of people can learn, grow, understand, and become in a way that we never can alone, and that if somehow we could share that experience of today with more people, this world would be a different place.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Red bellied woodpecker

Friday night I saw what I thought was a woodpecker swoop down and take some sunflower seeds from the ground.  I shot a quick picture, but it was blurry as the bird was so far away and then took flight.  I diligently searched the web to identify it.  Today, I finally found it: a red bellied woodpecker.  Kind of a strange name since it does not have a red belly, but nonetheless, that is what I saw.

I sat outside for a few minutes to cool off while cleaning house this afternoon and suddenly there he was.  I came in to get the camera and it took about 45 minutes of patient waiting for him to come back.  What a treat!  Since Woody Woodpecker was a red headed woodpecker with a crested head, I guess I have to stop calling this guy Woody. :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

A little research break on spring break

Endive with Greek yogurt, walnuts, strawberries, drizzled with a honey-balsamic glaze.
My little dogwood tree is flowering.  Still tiny as they just opened yesterday and only a few are open.
I've been looking to figure out what kind of bird this is, but no luck so far.  Yesterday, we had a group of brown-headed cowbirds in the feeder, however.  They do not play well with others.
Last spring I planted my Alaska seeds I brought back.  It would appear from these little babies coming up in the yard that my attempts at keeping them in the basket due to being non-indigenous may not have worked.  Probably the same reason I am finding cilantro all over the front flower bed when I planted it in a pot.

It has been a long day after a long week of almost all-day long research on the manuscript I am revising.  It has consumed most of my time during the break, and is certainly not how I intended to spend this week.  However, with only a 30 day window in which to do the additional research, revise the article and resubmit, it was spend the week in research or possibly be unable to meet the deadline.  The reviewers indicated it would be an important contribution and provide a valuable service if adequately revised.  That alone has kept me going.  And after all, since the major plans I had for this week were cleaning house, one thing about it: this dirty house will be here when I am done.  I did manage to get the living room and kitchen cleaned and free of dog hair, but that is about it.  I would have loved to have opened my window during the lovely spring weather--but I cannot get to it.  As we are in the midst ofthe never-ending remodeling, the pile of boxes in front of my window blocks the access.  It's my redneck security system: it will also prevent anyone accessing the house through this window.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nurse Mom

J had surgery this morning to get his wisdom teeth and an impacted molar removed.  He had to have a designated driver so he requested my assistance.  He was as nervous as the proverbial long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers while waiting, so he was kind of talkative.  It reminded me of when he was a teenager and he would come into my room in the evening while I was studying, flop across the end of the bed, and start talking to me.  Even when I was really busy, I would lay my books aside as I never knew when he might seek me out again.  Those days have pretty much passed; he rarely wants to talk about anything of importance these days, and if so, he is much more likely to talk with his dad.

So when he began to tell me he is almost finished with the game he and his friend designed and are marketing, it signaled time to put my work away and catch up on something going on he has spoken about very little to me.  J is quite the talented artist and creative writer; his friend--the other J--is a computer mastermind in terms of programming and all the little ins and outs.  Together, they think they have a good team.  I know J has worked relentlessly and consistently on this project without losing interest.

After the surgery was over and I got all the post-op instructions and the nurse had wheeled him to the car, the aftereffects of the anesthesia kept his tongue loose again for the time it took us to go get his pain medication and antibiotics, a milkshake, and back home.  He was looking at the manuscript on which I was working and asking questions--speaking slowly due to a numb mouth and one full of gauze at that.  It may have been the longest he has carried on a conversation with me about my work since his early adolescence--back when he was still interested in my work...and in me.  We talked the rest of the way home.

The doctor said he was in for a couple of very uncomfortable days due to the fact that one tooth was twisted at an angle and another one almost flat--resulting in quite a few stitches.  He is thoroughly medicated and resting with an ice pack for the moment.  It will be interesting to see if his interaction with me continues for the next few days, but it was a pleasant interlude this morning, even if an expensive one. :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Family Ties

I have determined after having dinner and a wonderful visit last night with my sister and brother-in-law that the problem in our family is inadequate danger warning signs.  Any interaction is like a big ole invitation to falling off a cliff.  

I did not get to see my sister at Christmas due to falling off a cliff and having to be air-lifted (okay, Avalanche-lifted) back to Mississippi a couple of days earlier than planned.  When she called Saturday and said they would be in Tunica (a little over an hour from here) for a couple of days on their way home, we made plans to drive over and eat dinner with them.

Over a wonderful buffet at one of the many in the casinos, we caught up on their family, mine, mom and dad's degenerating health, cousins, grandchildren (hers, not mine) and laughed a lot.  Talk turned to the falling off the cliff episode at Christmas.  On one hand, I felt some sense of relief that their reality was similar to mine.  On the other, it was still a sad and unnecessary breach in the family ties that may well never be able to be mended.  The thing about falling off a cliff is usually that it is a long way to the bottom and you are bruised and bleeding when you land, making it rather arduous to attempt to climb back up to the top.

My sister and I have talked more than one time about the genetic disposition in our family.  One side of the family was pretty calm most of the time, valued higher education, deeply committed to family above all else--or at least all else that was evident--and very protective of each other.

The other side was pretty volatile much of the time, and family rifts were common--with folks going for months if not years estranged over something.  That's not to say there were not reasons for those issues, as the more I learned of that side of the family history, the more I understood the wounds those family members carried.  

Now if you mix those two elements in a family, naturally, you are going to get the make-up of both sides.  Kind of like having blue eyes and brown eyes, the mix is going to throw down differently in each member.  I would say my sister got mostly genetic material from the side of the family who is calm and committed to family; while she has been known to have her episodes of falling off the cliff, they are pretty rare.

I think I am kind of in the middle--I have many of the traits of the calm side of the family, but far too many cliff hangers for my liking.  I have worked on that most of my adult life since starting graduate school and beginning to understand it for the first time in my life.  The thing that became clear to me as my sister and I were talking last night is the inadequate danger signs.

In the old TV show "Family Ties" the family had a warning system.  When things were about to get out of hand, Mom Elyse would say something to the effect of 'things are getting out of hand, here' and would generate something to de-escalate.  The message was clear about the boundaries in the family.  

In my family, Mom may try to de-escalate, but the adrenaline rush of falling off the cliff (or more common, pushing someone off the cliff) appears to just override all else.  Much of the time, there is no warning sign that you are approaching the edge of the cliff, and need to back off.  A comment is made, and someone erupts seemingly out of the blue, with a volatile outburst that takes everyone by surprise, and alas, someone ends up at the bottom of the cliff asking 'what the hell just happened here?'

Maybe we need to start equipping families with those new electronic devices on cars where it warns you: someone is too close, slow down; you are about to back into an object, stop; vehicle approaching your blind spot, use caution.  We put them on cars because people tend to just drive and not think about their driving.  That is probably the same reason families should have them. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Going to see Elvis

I went to Tupelo today--birthplace of Elvis and his home for the first few years of his life.  It is telling of his significance in the community that there are pictures and posters of him in the University of Mississippi Tupelo Center. :)  It was not a "pleasure call" however.

My Tupelo colleagues (and friends, lucky me) and I are embarking on a new research study and we finally were able to begin today.  We were waiting on our approval from the Institutional Review Board to adapt the proposal I had approved last year.  It was not funded :( but I still wanted to do the research and it really is not much money due to the fact that it is survey and interview of students, so we are talking a little gas money, copy costs, and eating lunch in Tupelo about 4 times this semester.  I give props to my friend and colleague Sherry, who helped me write the grant proposal a year ago when we hoped it would be funded.  

It takes all of an hour to drive to Tupelo from Oxford, and then another 10 minutes to get to the campus and in the building.  I needed to make the copies of the instruments as our copy machine was ailing yesterday of all days.  No problem--I got up at 6:15 so I could leave in plenty of time.  Of course, that was not counting on a couple of things.

J needed the shower and the car as he had somewhere to be this morning.  (Side note: our jacuzzi should be in this next week and I can begin to rebuild the second bathroom, thank goodness.)  No problem--I still had plenty of time, and I had to work on the revisions of the MSW class I am teaching.  Our second benchmark for the Council on Social Work Education initial accreditation is coming up and the report has to go to the printers today so our chair can get it in the mail tomorrow.  I thought I had about 10-15 minutes left of work to do on the revision.  

I was wrong.  I finished at 9:24, emailed it to the chair, and headed for the shower.  I needed to leave at 10 to have enough time.  At 10, I was in a sarong with wet hair and no make up.  I started printing the copies thinking at least I could cut out that time needed, and never got dressed, hair dried and make up on so fast.  In fact, I beat the copies.  Of all times to have a state of the art Photograph quality copier--which was taking forfreakingever!

I ran out the door (in the rain and 36 degrees) at 10:38.  Let's just say that I was able to get behind my friend the truck driver and while I am not one to flaunt fate, I was in Tupelo at 11:25.  There is no way to speed up those 10 minutes it takes to get from the highway to the campus--at least no way I am willing to do--so I ran into the building and up those two flights of stairs as fast as I could.  Pete was pacing outside, and ushered me into the classroom and introduced me.  I was so short of breath, I could hardly talk, but thanked them graciously for waiting for me and began to pass out the information and explain--between gasps for air, that is.  The last 5 minutes, I was actually able to speak calmly in a normal voice, being able to breathe again by that point.

Afterwards, my colleagues/friends and I went to a nearby Chinese restaurant for lunch.  It was a perfect day for wonton soup, hot tea and moo goo gui pan, to talk about the project, and to catch up on what is happening with each of us in terms of our professional endeavors.  One friend is off to Phoenix, one off to Florida, and one off to England and Scotland next week; me, I will be in the little cottage on the hill in Taylor, but that sounds wonderful to me right now.

After meeting with the second class at 2:30, I headed home.  The phone rang just as I got to the turn off to Elvis' place--I had intended to swing by and say howdy, how you doin'? but got sidetracked with Jill saying a student had a question about the research.  That's okay--Elvis knows I love him.  After a much more leisurely and relaxed drive back to Oxford, I stopped at the grocery store for dinner fixings and headed on to my little hill.  As I was unloading the car, Woody Woodpecker was having a snack on the dead pine tree next to my car (last summer's hurricane force winds took care of its few remaining years).

After stowing the groceries, I got the camera and sneaked out to see if I could catch Woody in the act.  Alas, he was a clever little thing.  As soon as I got within camera distance, he would hop around to the back side of the tree so I could not see him.  Wait...wait...wait...he would come back to his spot...I would aim the camera and focus....he would hop out of sight...after about 3 times of this, he flew off, so I gave it up.  I fed the birds (the ones who depend on me for food--at least some of the time), and the squirrels and deer, and then let my doggies out for a little back yard run.

It was just a perfect day.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mississippi responds

I had a response to my letter to Rep. Moore, the principal author of HR 58 this morning.  Without salutation, or closing signature, Rep. Moore wrote:
Thank you very much for taking the time to write.  Isn’t this country great!  It sure is nice that one opinion does not have to prevail.  ALL ideas and opinions count.. I really appreciate your position and your beliefs.
I responded, noting that he had failed to answer my questions, failed to address my concerns, and in fact, in his cryptic response without salutation or signature, appeared to dismiss my concerns, leaving me to assume that the only opinion prevailing was that the Mississippi legislature chose to validate the actions of a white supremacist organization without considering the ramifications.

I commented that I was disappointed and expected more from someone in his position.  I agreed that the US is great, and that I love this country and Mississippi, and look forward to the day when all views and opinions do count, but that sadly, that is not the case as he well knows.  I said I did what I did to make sure the opinions of those who are not among the pro-majority are heard.

No, I did not expect that Rep. Moore would read my letter and have a sudden conversion.  After all, he is--per news reports--quite connected with the Conservative Citizens Council and the inner circle of white lawmakers who along with Trent Lott thought Mississippi would be a lot better off if it had remained segregated.  Lott at least had the political good sense--if not any change of heart and mind--to distance himself from the CCC and such statements after it cost him his leadership in the Senate.

Perhaps I did not really expect Rep. Moore to read my letter, thoughtfully consider, and at least, provide some information to explain why he would author such a resolution or continue to support it when it is being so criticized.  I do not think that the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, National Association of Social Workers/Mississippi, the representatives who voiced dissenting opinions, Rep. Johnson, or those of us who have contacted our representatives really constitute "one" opinion as Rep. Moore so blithely dismissed my letter.

I do not know how this scenario will play out yet, but I find it simply unacceptable that this kind of thing continues under the guise of state government.  The state government was complicit in and orchestrated much of the violence of the past; it certainly does not have to perpetuate it--even if only in written form--in the present.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Mississippi's On-going Love Affair with White Supremacists

The Mississippi state legislature passed House Resolution 58 and Senate Resolution 31 February 27.  The resolutions allege Governor Barbour has declared March 2, 2009 as "America's Foundation Spirit of Community Day" to honor seven high school students for athletic performance, scholarship, and citizenship (although a spokesperson from the Governor's office denied that the Governor had made such a proclamation, nor that he intended to).  So, what is the problem with that?

First of all, the sponsoring organization asking for the resolutions is headed by Richard Barrett, a Mississippi resident who has long been identified as a leader in the white supremacist movement.  Barrett has a sordid history of racist comments and is currently a leader in the Nationalist Movement, which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League track as a hate organization due to the violence of their views and actions.  The Senate Resolution was authored by John L. Moore, who is connected with the Conservative Citizens Council--the modern offshoot of the old White Citizens Council during the Jim Crow era.  It is a pretty far stretch of my imagination to think that Moore did not know of the connection between Barrett and the Nationalist Movement.

Representative Robert Johnson advised the House members of Barrett's long association as a white supremacist, and his connections with the Nationalist Movement, as well as his 3 decades of segregationist and racist activities.  He urged the house to not support this resolution based on the connection with Barrett.  Because it was a resolution and not a bill, there is voice vote only, but apparently--per the Clarion Ledger and Sun Herald, the resolution passed with few no votes and NO DISCUSSION even after Johnson raised his objections.  Johnson has called for a motion to reconsider, and the resolution reconsider will come up as early as Monday, March 9.  A colleague and I have been working to contact Mississippi residents to ask them to contact their representatives and rescind this resolution.  We have further long-term action coming, but right now, the urgency is to address the Monday debate in the House.

In the March 2009 Nationalist Movement Newsletter, All the Way, there was an article where the movement has issued a call for "pro-majority" members in their teens and twenties to move to Mississippi to help build the movement, litigate, and provide security.  Some called for "whole families to move up to Mississippi, to put our hands in to help the movement."

Another article in the March 2009 issue--full of misspelled words--reported that in spite of the general anti-abortion stance of Mississippi, "segrationalists [their spelling] insisted that abortion be available to Negroes, to stem the welfare-element, which had been over powering social-services."  The article referred to the governor as "Indian Governor Haley Barbour" and to the Chancellor of the University of Mississippi as "Lebnese Chancelor Robert Khayat who had tried to ban the slave-master icon, Colonel Reb."

Barrett himself authored an article in the March 2009 newsletter titled "Blood-base lined up when 'bailout' collapses" in which he referred to the Obama administration as the "Kenyan-occupation" and stated "no real Americans are dealing with or adding legitimacy to the Africans" and referred to the White House as the "Black House." Barrett further wrote "The evacuation [of patriots] has been across the board, letting the Republicans slip into the same Negro-hands as the Democrats, as if to say, 'When you reach rock-bottom, we will be around to build things back.' "

This is the character and the activity of the individual about whom Representative Joe Warren, Chair of the House Committee said, "I am not concerned about this individual.  I am concerned about these young men."  And how much of an "honor" can it be for the young men selected by this individual?  If I were one of their parents, I would be appalled to have Barrett and his organization select my child for recognition--knowing his views.  I find it impossible to believe that in the entire state of Mississippi, only 7 young white men, all from southern Mississippi and 5 of 7 attending private white schools, are the only high school students who are achieving scholastically, athletically, and in citizenship leadership.  Given the role of 34 members of the Mississippi legislature who are members of the Conservative Citizens Council (formerly known as White Citizens Council), what kind of leadership are we talking about? 

For the Mississippi legislature to support this resolution is appalling.  My colleague and I are organizing opposition for the resolution and a demand for accountability.  Please join us, even if you are not in Mississippi.  The legislature needs to hear loudly and clearly, and words from people outside Mississippi are important.  Contact Representative Robert Johnson at rjohnson@house.ms.gov and let him know you appreciate his taking a stand to oppose this action.  Contact Representative Joe Warren at jwarren@house.ms.gov and let him know that he should be concerned about sponsoring a resolution requested by a known white supremacist connected to the Nationalist Movement, and it is very much about him, not just the young men.  Contact the authors of the resolution, John Moore at jmoore@house.ms.gov, Lester Carpenter at lcarpenter@house.ms.gov, and Mark Formby at mformby@house.ms.gov immediately and ask them to support rescinding this resolution and be accountable for knowing the ramifications of resolutions.  If they did not know Barrett's connections (which is highly unlikely) they knew when Representative Johnson argued on the floor to oppose the resolution.  If they did know at the time they authored it, that is even worse.

My colleague and I will be continuing to organize to communicate with the Senate, newspapers, national newsletters, and other mediums to address this issue, and I will follow up with other action information later.  Please make a contact now, though, as this will come up Monday.  It should not come up without Representative Johnson being able to tell Mississippi that--once again--the world is watching.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

HALTing to start

I had lunch with my friend and colleague Pete last Friday.  It is always helpful for me to talk with Pete, as he is very adept at tuning in, and his philosophy and way of questioning is so supportive, yet right on target.  He helps me see the meaning in issues with which I am dealing.  I have been on quite the downer since Christmas--occasional times of joy and clarity, but for the most part, either despondent, angry, or just not caring in general.  I have likened it to having the motivation of a gnat.  Mainly all I think I have done is eat, sleep, and flit around annoying people.

I shared with him the HALT that one of my long-time friends back in Texas told me: When you think you are depressed, HALT.  Never get too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, too Tired.  She also added an S: too Sick.  I knew I had been way too sick, since the second week in January--which made me too tired.  While I was not particularly lonely, I had isolated myself a lot of late.  Not eating appropriately in a balanced and healthy way often left me too hungry at certain times, while satiated and miserable at others.  As we were talking, I said I knew I needed to start taking better care of myself, but sometimes I just have to sit on the pity pot until I am ready to get off and get on with it.  Pete said, "It sounds like you are HALTing, before you get ready to start."

For some reason, that just hit a connection for me; I do prepare myself for changes by overindulgence at times, avoidance at times, and certainly, by sitting on the pity pot, moaning about having to do something to make the change in the first place.  I did not get to this point of needing these changes in my life style without my own cooperation, after all.  So, Friday night, I had a short discussion with Rando about some decisions I had made, that I intended to begin in 2 days: Sunday morning.  I said I did not like my behavior, nor the tension it was causing between us, nor how I was feeling.  I asked him to just "indulge" me on the pity pot for Friday night and Saturday.  He started to make a suggestion, and I raised my hand, and said, "All I really need is for you to indulge me for two more days--and then I will be ready for a change."  I did not want him to tell me what I "should" do, when I had already decided what I "would" do.  He said okay, and for the rest of the night and Saturday, we had a pleasant and peaceful weekend.

So, now it is Wednesday, and the third day of "the change."  I have lost 7 pounds (Oh, if it were only that easy all the time, but I know the first 20 come pretty easily for me; it's after that I face the real challenge.)  I am feeling better, have slept really well the last 3 nights, and waked at my used-to-be normal time of about 7, ready to get up and feeling good.  I have been productive in terms of work accomplished and in particular, a tremendous amount on the research that I did yesterday.  I spent the entire day except for the time to feed the dogs and run to the pharmacy in front of my computer, working.  

I dealt with some demons yesterday on the eating, to be sure.  I drank a lot of water, and had a tea break twice.  I am sticking to the formula that I know works for me: protein, whole grains, dairy, and lots of veggies.  I am having yogurt (the Greek style with no sugar, but so creamy and smooth) twice a day.  I am off sugar except for the kind that occurs naturally in fruit--no processed sugar, no white flour.  When I was in Belize, I noted immediately how much better I felt and slept, and Kim said it was because they don't use preservatives in their food, and no hormones in the meat and milk, so you are not getting those toxins in your system.  While I cannot control that totally here, I do buy meat that has no hormones or antibiotics (at least, per the label) and only fresh fruits and vegetables.  Switching to Greek style yogurt cuts out the sugar--and it actually is a better tasting yogurt, with the natural live bacteria that is good for you.

I was thinking about St. Paul, Alaska, where I was last summer, and how good I felt there--emotionally, and physically.  While I did not always eat in the healthiest manner (given the limitations of the one company store and its general lack of fresh fruits and vegetables or meat), it was not junk food.  I just ate a lot of pasta, cheese, and beans, supplemented on occasion just after the barge came in with fresh fruits and vegetables.  I think I had chicken once, and other than that, it was a pretty meatless 5 weeks.  

I remember the day one day walking down the hall with a co-worker and she said, "It is so nice to work with someone who is happy and in a good mood all the time."  I realized when she said that, what a really "good mood" I had been in since there, even with all the work and the distance from family and friends.

I should take a look back at Rules from Turkey Neck Man:  moderation, nurturing your body with good food,  meaningful work, time to play, and good friends.  Sometimes HALTing is a good way to get going.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009


About 2 inches of snow fell during the night.
Killer wondered what happened to her outside water.  She spent the night inside, of course.
Snow on the kennel fencing.
Already melting as this fellow came looking for breakfast.  I love that you can find 5 or 6 cardinals and their mates out in the tree by the feeder at just about any time of day.

And soon, it will be time for the final Ole Miss women's basketball game of the season this afternoon.  It's Senior Day--the awards ceremony at half-time.  The look on these faces shows cheerleading is not all fun and games!