Sound the Alarm Chapter

In this day and age, an alarm system for your home is both unfortunately necessary and a luxury.

We received a message from the Homeowners Association that there had been a few thefts in the neighborhood and they were advising us to make sure we parked our cars on the driveway, to make sure that all gates were locked, and the garage doors were well secured. This was a little disconcerting for us.

When you reach a certain age, you want to believe that you can still defend yourself under any circumstance. But then, reality steps in and you realize that you may need a little extra help. We decided our extra help would come in the form of an alarm system.

Holy Moly! This system has so many bells and whistles. I didn’t know an alarm system could do all this. We can turn on the alarm from anywhere in the world. We could even lock a door from Canada. We can watch the house from anywhere via the indoor and outdoor cameras. (I must admit, when the front door bell rings and we are not expecting anyone, it is great to check the camera to see who is waiting outside.–Most of the time the only thing at the door are my daughter’s packages delivered from UPS.)

Now learning to use it is another issue. Yes, it is simple to use, but in the middle of the night, your brain doesn’t necessarily kick in and engage when you would like it to.

The dogs were our previous alarm system. Max barks at everything and anything or even nothing. Pepper welcomes people into the house and barks fiercely at dogs. It must have been two in the morning and Pepper started barking. This is her alarm that she needs to get out. Nasr grumbles and stumbles down the stairs , uses the special easy key to turn off the alarm and lets the dog out.

I am half asleep and I mumble the alarm and tell him to punch a 2. WRONG!!!

The voice of the machine speaks in a very firm loud voice. Exit now! Oops. We set it to leave, not to stay.

Remember, it is the middle of the night and our brains are not functioning. Nasr is pushing keys and is very confused.

Virginia to the rescue! Ok, that is what I do too often and this time I should have stayed in bed. I rushed downstairs and unwittingly set off the motion detectors. LOUD horns blared into the still night like a dragon blaring fire. Luckily, my brave knight punched the right keys and slayed the dragon–as in he turned off the alarm.

No. We did not reset it that night again. I am sure our neighbors are using our names in vain and wonder about the abilities of the dragon slaying fools of the castle next door.

However, our confidence has strengthened and we now set the alarm and let the dog bark in the middle of the night. She is in the garage and we can guarantee that she is less of a nuisance to our neighbors than our dragon alarm.

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Need a Little Help From Your Friends Chapter

December 7, 2015

When you are on a weight loss plan, you do not live in a bubble in which unhealthy food cannot penetrate. That is a great visual though. Something for the next genius to invent. But, until it comes along, I have to live in the real world with real food and real temptations.

The last person I needed to tell about my plan was my dear friend who is a magician in the kitchen. She loves to cook. She loves to entertain. Her food tastes like heaven, and her food is quite healthy. The problem is that she is thin and she doesn’t need to lose weight and worst of all, she doesn’t like sweets, but she makes them for her guests. Yes, they are scrumptious! (I may have encouraged her by drooling over her food and scarfing it down the minute she puts it in front of me.)

I needed her help because she had once poo-pooed the plan because she had friends who had tried it, but had gained the weight back. I know she wasn’t too keen on this plan, she would prefer that I make and eat my own healthy food, but if I could do that, I wouldn’t be so overweight. I needed a drastic change and something with major portion control.

I waited a week to call her and invite her to our house. I was nervous and Number One was not happy with me. He thought I was being selfish, but I told him and myself that there comes a time in our lives that maybe we do need to be a little selfish, particularly when it comes to our health. When I spoke to my friend on the phone, and told her about my plan, she was a little hurt that I thought she would not support me. But when I reminded her of what she said about the program, she understood. She was ready to back me 100%! I love my friends.

So, that first weekend, I wanted to invite them over because they are always so generous with their invitations.

Number One was not too pleased with me because I had invited them over for tea and coffee and a card game. Again, he thought I was being selfish and not generous because I did not invite them to a dinner. I stuck to my guns. It was hard, but I did it.

Our friends came over, I had a nuts and fruit for them along with the coffee and tea. We all like a little wine, but they supported my need to forgo the wine and we don’t need wine to have fun.

We played several rounds of UNO– a game we hadn’t played since our kids were young. There was lots of lively conversation, maybe a little slight of hand with the cards, and we laughed and played until almost midnight.

It was a fun night and no food for me. Except, when they left, I had my Jenny chocolate cake!

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Schedule a Routine Chapter

Every administrator and teacher knows that for children to be successful they need to have a consistent schedule or routine. Well, retirees need a routine or a schedule, too.

FLOUNDERING AND GRASPING

I jumped out of the wide, deep, ocean of the working world into the retirement world. Now, I find myself floundering in the middle of an aging rowboat, flopping around, gasping, and grasping for a direction in which to take my life. I keep flipping to one idea and then flopping back to another.

TOO MUCH FREEDOM?

Yes, I am happy that I retired–ecstatic actually. I enjoy the freedom of not getting up in the morning, but I am crippled by the fact that I have so much I WANT to do, and I don’t know where to start and at the same time, I know I have to pace myself.

I WANT TO DO IT ALL!

I am trying to fit in a time to study my German–it was my father’s first language, but he never passed it onto us. I had a good handle on it in 1984, but when you don’t use it, you lose it. When and how can I do this on a consistent basis so I really learn it.

I signed up for several on line classes. I want to learn so much that I didn’t have a chance to when I was working or in college. I want to learn Storytelling so I can volunteer my time. I want to learn about the Vikings, the Pharaohs, geography, oceanography, photography, Tai Chi, how to understand great art, and take more writing classes.

I created this website and I want to write on my blog every Wednesday. I want to add to my Losing It blog every week.

I am going back to writing my children’s books and am attending meetings and classes to learn more about the publishing side of writing.

I have to go to the gym or exercise outside every day.

The weather is so beautiful I want to be outside drinking up the sun and the ocean breezes.

I want to spend time a lot of time with my friends and family.

MY SCHEDULE

I need a workable schedule. I need a routine for retirement. I need to feel in control and I need a specific schedule that will get me started and keep my going so I am not reeling and feeling like a fish out of water.

But, that is one more thing that I have to do.

So, do you have any idea when I will get it done?

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Thanks Chapter

At this time of year, we have to sit back and take note of what we have in our lives and for what we need to be thankful.

CONTORTING

Yes, I have some aches and pains–especially this morning after trying Yoga for the first time yesterday. But, I consider myself very lucky and thankful that I can, at this age, contort myself into various yoga poses–hey, I can do a Warrior 2 pose. The only thing is, I have to fight the stiff neck and shoulders to stand up today. I may never do Yoga again, but I am thankful that I can.

RED MASTERPIECE

Have you seen a huge, full, red leaf tree in fall? For many of you on the East Coast, that is not such a huge event. But here in Southern California, there are lots of palm trees, but not color-changing trees. I am thankful that I saw this masterpiece and that I took time to really look at it and appreciate it. I am thankful that my eyes are still functioning well enough that I can see that beauty and feel such peace when I look at it.

FOUR HOUR LUNCHES

Four hour lunches are something to be thankful about. It is at this time that I recognize that I am also thankful I am retired so I can do a four hour lunch–guilt free. No, I did not eat for four hours, but I did drink in the laughter and happiness and a few raunchy comments that 5 other women and I enjoyed while overlooking the sparkling lagoon. We were free to catch up on each other’s lives and enjoy their successes grumble together about the issues we have in common–usually punctuated with a few jokes and witty comments.

REFLECT

Now, that I am retired, I have time to reflect on so much and take a moment to appreciate all the things I took for granted during my working life.

On this Thanksgiving day, after all the cooking is done, after your stomach is full to the brim, and before you start writing your shopping list, take a few moments to look around you. Look outside. Look inside yourself. You will find thousands of things to be thankful for. Don’t skim through them. Really think about each one. Write several of them down and put them on your refrigerator.

Now, when you have one of those days, you can look at this list and realize, life is a lot better than that one bad day.

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Support Chapter

NEXT STEPS

I had the plan, now I had to get the support from the important people around me. If the people who mean the most to you, don’t support you, then you will have more of an uphill climb.

NUMBER ONE

I looked at Number One and told him we needed to talk and that I would tell him where I had been. His face went a little white as if I was going to give him some very bad news. The relief on his face when I said that I went to the diet store was almost comical. It was weird, he beamed with happiness. At first I thought it was because he knew I wasn’t sneaking off to a have a Sunday morning rendezvous, but then it dawned on me that he was happy that I was taking care of myself and doing something about my weight. As I have said several times, he is smart and he is smart enough not to say anything about my weight because I would fall into a deep depression and eat more.
I know he wants me healthy, besides, who wants to walk next to a fat, old, lady? He did say that he noticed I was waddling on the hike, though. It was a good thing I had already made up my mind to lose weight for my own reasons, not because he said I waddled.

NEXT MY DAUGHTER

My youngest was home for winter break and enjoying the warm “Cali” weather and sending lots of Insta-grams to her friends on the East Coast who were suffering in the cold. My daughter was another person who needed to support me. She is thin naturally–it isn’t from my genes. She loves to go out to lunch and dinner. I gently told her that for the first few months, I was not going to go out to eat unless I didn’t have a choice. She was ok with that. “I want a healthy mom,” she said.

I have come to the conclusion that healthy is a euphemism for thin. No one ever tells an overweight person that they look healthy. So, obviously, she wants me to lose weight too, without telling me that I am fat.

When I go into her room when she is getting ready to go out, we have long conversations in front of her mirror. (Luckily, I can have a long conversation because she takes a long time to put on her makeup.)
My reflection in her mirror is that of a frumpy, overweight, old lady.
When I see myself next to my daughter, it just intensifies my feelings of failure and low self-esteem. The first words out of my mouth are usually, “Oh my God! I look awful!” (Which to be honest I do.)

SURPRISE RESPONSE

My daughters response surprised me. She was so upset that I always have such negative self talk about myself. My daughter thinks I am beautiful. Isn’t it wonderful to have daughters who think you are beautiful. (Which reminds me, I have to get her eyes checked.)

POSITIVE SELF TALK

Positive self talk is one thing I need to work on. I have a hard time saying good things about myself. I am a Pollyanna. I can find good things to say about anything or anyone. You don’t hear me trash talking about anyone, except myself.

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To Your Health Chapter

To My Health

We rarely think about our health, except when we are not healthy. Whenever I feel this bad, my healthy imagination takes me to the worst of places. The word plague has been popping up in so many places lately–news, the books I choose to read, European city tours, and in my healthy imagination. I learned on one of my tours that the filthy water caused and perpetuated the plague. To solve that problem, they brewed wine and beer to drink instead. That is why when you toast with an alcoholic drink, you say, “To Your Health.”

Truckload of Alcohol

Today I feel as if I need a truckload of plague resisting alcohol.
However, as most of you know, if I drink 5 sips of wine I am three sheets to the wind. So…alcohol is not going to help me. Therefore, I have to rely on myself.

Mongo Bug

The bug that hit me is huge and ugly. I feel like a grey haired, whiny, little grandma with a short cane and a long sad face ineffectively poking at the gargantuan virus that is going to swallow me whole.

Visualization

I am told that visualization is the key to getting what you want. If you see it, you get it. Okay. I am visualization a healthy (I paused because I hate to think about my age) 50’s generation grandma–No. That doesn’t work because all I see is a wrinkled old lady in a ponytail, poodle skirt, bobby socks and saddle shoes. She couldn’t defeat this awful bug, besides her bubble gum bubble would get her infected more when the bug breathed on it.

I got it! I am visualizing myself as Batgirl from the 60’s Batman television series. Yes, I have the same hourglass shape that Yvonne Craig had, (look, if you are going to visualize–make sure you look the way you want–not the way you are),and those long legs that slid into 5 inch spike heeled boots. I see myself as tall as she was and I am kicking and punching that scrawny bug to oblivion.

POW! CRACK! ZAMM! ZLOP! ZLUNK!

Holy Headache! I might be working.

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The Journey Begins Chapter

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This is a journey. This is a journey. I have to keep telling myself that because the day you start your die-it, you feel you are going to die of deprivation and at the same time you hope for a miracle that at least 40 pounds are going to disappear in the first 5 days of your diet.

My journey started January 5, 2015. First, there are no miracles in weight loss. My guardian angel has provided some spectacular miracles, but this problem is way out of my angel’s league. Secondly, I did not die of deprivation. You could even say, I didn’t feel deprived at all. Maybe that was the miracle that my angel gave me. She gave me chocolate.

The first thing I learned was that my idea of reasonable portion size was about 15 times off the mark. I was eating healthy food. I ate quinoa, grilled meats and lots of vegetables. But my portion sizes were gargantuan compared to Jenny’s portion size. The scary part was that I really didn’t think I was deluding myself. I truly thought I was eating a reasonable amount of food. This was a real wake up call to me. When experts tell us to eat a portion of meat that is the size of a playing card, I guess I was thinking my playing cards were the size of kids huge flash cards.

Luckily, I was still on vacation during my first week of the plan. So, I didn’t have to deal with workplace donuts and goodies that are always in the office the first day of my diet. Also it was a stay-cation so I wouldn’t be embarrassed when everyone was eating out and I was eating microwave food.

I also knew I had to have the support of a few people to make this happen. Number One was so curious about where I went that Sunday morning. I usually am very effusive about where I go and what I’ve done during the day. He usually half listens, but he was worried that I didn’t have anything to tell him. I wanted to tell him, but I was afraid he would think this would be another failed attempt and not really support me.

We went out with friends that day and walked the gorgeous, scenic bluffs and trails of Torrey Pines State Park. I wanted to talk about my new decision with my dearest friend, but yet I didn’t want to. My pain and humiliation from my bike ride was way too raw to bring up in a fast, casual conversation. Oh, I’m on a diet again. No. That wasn’t right. Would she also think–well, here we go again. Would my friend think that I have done this before and failed, so why bother?

How do I tell the most important people around me that I need their support? How do I convince them that I am really serious and I have to do this?

The Beginning and The End Chapter

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As I sat at my desk on my last day as a working professional, I knew it was my beginning day and my end day. Luckily, it was not a very strenuous day. But it had been very emotional knowing I would not be working with my wonderful staff anymore. On that unusual day, a young couple who had met at the school in fourth grade, arrived to take pre-wedding pictures. The school was, yet is wasn’t the same for them. For this young couple it was both the beginning and the end.

The clock ticked loudly announcing the passage of time. My desk was empty, except for my keys. I dreaded putting them in the safe. Once I put them inside, it would be final. It is a little gut wrenching to think that placing the keys in the safe is your final act of your working life. I was sent off with a bang. The staff put on a heartfelt and emotional retirement party that was more spectacular than I could have imagined. But the party was not the end. I still had two weeks to work and finish up and prepare for the new year. (I wanted the new principal to not struggle with minutia when he/she arrived.)

I worked in education for 25 years. For some, that may not seem like much, but I was almost 40 when I started. I had three other careers prior to education. However, this has been the most rewarding career that I could ever have imagined.

As I sat at the desk I could hear the loud hum of the air conditioner, but there were no other sounds coming from the office. There were no sounds of kids screaming with laughter and joy, no sounds from the teachers enjoying their camaraderie and their concern for their students, no sounds from the parents planning their PTA activities and voicing their questions and issues.

I skimmed my hand across the top of my very large desk. A principal’s desk is both power and protection. The heavy wooden chairs that surely had been there since the school opened in 1959, no longer held the little culprits whose infractions were usually easily remedied. As I stare at them, I notice for the first time that they have vertical slats on the back. Many of the students entered my office and looked at me through those slats. Now I realize that from their perspective, entering my office was rather prison-like. Behind the chairs, the apples and the dolphin mascot trinkets still adorned the shelves. It seemed sacrilegious to remove them from the school and take them home.

All I kept thinking was, how do I say good-bye to this school and to the position I held for 15 years. In a few short weeks, another capable individual would be sitting in this chair and dealing with all the issues, trials and tribulations and joy of running a school. How would I go from being frantically busy every second of the day to not having a real job or responsibility.

This is the beginning and the end.

A few minutes later I started taking things out to my car. At this point, it was very real that I was leaving. Once I finished packing up my car, I realized that I’d unlocked the door to the school for the last time. My computer shut down and it went to black.

What if I had left something essential to my life? Would I get it back? I was not talking about a thing–I am leaving whatever POWER I thought I might have earned behind and I knew I would never get it back.

WISH ME LUCK. HERE I GO.

The door clanked shut, the lever was dropped and the tumblers clicked into the place. I hadn’t realized that closing that safe would be so sad. I had just locked up my career. Tears streamed down my cheeks. The custodian who was cleaning the office asked if I was ok.

“I will be,” I whispered. “I will be.”

Hitting Rock Bottom Chapter

Like all junkies–and yes,I am a food junkie, I hit rock bottom when my bottom was too heavy to get up that hill. So, I had to find my own rehab–I couldn’t do this on my own.

My doctor had been screaming in my ear for months about my health, about diabetes, about not living to see my grandkids–well that got me scared–, but that day I finally reached a point when I had to do something about my weight and I had to do it now! I actually did listen to my doctor and tried her suggestion.

REHAB

Rehab opened at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning. After breakfast–my last meal–I told Number One that I had to run an errand. He looked at me funny because I am not a morning person, particularly on a Sunday. I had done my research the night before and by 8:15 I was walking into a Jenny Craig–my rehab center. I knew I was meant to be there because when I walked in, I found a lovely young woman waiting to talk to me. We went straight back to her office. We talked. I joked. Joking is my coping mechanism, particularly in nervous or difficult situations when I cannot eat. Unfortunately, I could not eat in front of the weight loss consultant.

ASSURANCE

Lovely Rachel assured me that I would lose weight. I was hoping for a guarantee or at least a 5 month warranty, but it didn’t happen. I had to settle for assurances. For reasons, I will explain later, I was going to have two consultants and I would be successful. Success is such a lovely word, when you are rolling and plodding on the bottom.

DREADED WEIGH IN

The weigh in is always the scariest and most devastating to your ego. SHAZZBOT!!! (Thanks Robin Williams) I was 12 pounds more than I expected, 22 pounds more than I hoped and 70 pounds overweight according to the official standard of height and weight for women. I never remembered being this heavy.

I’m older than I behave and heavier than I feel. It is ok to act a little younger, but I was deluding myself into thinking my weight wasn’t really as bad as I thought

WHAT DO I EAT?

Ok, now I had to see what I was going to eat. I hate diet foods. I was miserable even before I tasted the food. I am not a picky eater–obviously, based on my size, but I wanted a substantial breakfast because my days are crazy and it is difficult to determine when and if I will have lunch. Yes! She found it for me. Ok, the part of the diet that is the most important to REAL dieters is the desserts. Diet desserts are still desserts and you cannot live without them. When I looked at the desserts and snacks there were so many salty things that I could feel a tear coming down my cheek. I am not into salt, I am into chocolate. There were several sweets, but I don’t want sweets, I WANT CHOCOLATE!!!!

Yes, I do have a guardian angel looking over me. I could switch between chocolate cake and brownies EVERY DAY! I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Chocolate every day and I am on a diet.

Does anyone else see any pitfalls here?

No Longer Cool Chapter

A car emblazoned with the words SENIOR PRIDE!!!!! on its back window flew by me, I’m sure, on its way to someplace cool, fun and exciting. Remember when high school seniors were the coolest kids in school. During your entire high school career, I’m sure, you dreamed of becoming a SENIOR! Yes, it was always capitalized because seniors had power. Seniors were soon going to be adults and their parents couldn’t tell them what to do, anymore.

A DIFFERENT SENIOR

Why is it that when you become a senior, as in senior citizen we are not painting it all over our car windows? Why are we not the coolest in the community? We do have a little power, maybe a little more financial power than high school seniors. However, most of us would give up a lot to have our parents tell us anything right now.

START A MOVEMENT

I think we need to start a movement! Real seniors need to start marking up their cars with senior pride! I think we have a lot more to show for it than a mere 4 years of high school–actually they think they are seniors with only three years under their belt.

We are seniors with 40 or more years of work and life experience. We survived our own teenage years AND we survived our children’s teenage years. We have gained more knowledge, more patience (most of the time) and wisdom that few want to take advantage of. We know when something won’t work or someone is making a bad decision. If they listened to us, they wouldn’t suffer. Maybe they have to gain the same experience by living it. But isn’t that what history books are for–giving us a chance to learn from our past without suffering through the wars again.

TAKE THE CHALLENGE

Now is your chance to take the challenge and cover your car in paint announcing that you, too, have SENIOR PRIDE!!! I am heading to my car to paint it proudly in purple paint.

The only problem now is that I am having a senior moment and I can’t remember where I put the paint brushes.

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