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Friday, December 31, 2010

Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do

(click play for some mood music!)

Well, this is it.  Food and I can no longer have the wild torrid affair we've been carrying on for so many years.  It's been pretty intense.  Even through both of my marriages, when times got tough I turned to food, oftentimes behind everyone's back.  In fact that's been a lifelong problem.  Heck, there were times on the way to a perfectly wonderful party I'd stop off for a little bite on the side.  Or after a big shindig where I had a proper serving it just didn't satisfy me, so I'd stop by for a quickie at some two bit drive thru on the way home.  *sigh*  I was, well, a bit promiscuous when it came to my relationship with food.

I can't carry on this 'affair' with food any longer.  It's killing me.  It's not a good next right choice.  I could die of a heart attack or a stroke or some cardiovascular disease.  I could die simply by stopping breathing because of the moderate to severe sleep apnea I have.  The doctors told me three years ago I could greatly improve both my snoring and apnea simply by diet and exercise.  But like everything else in my life, it's never the knowledge of what is right that moves me to action.  It is the willingness and readiness to make the hard choice.  Why doesn't that just come naturally to me?  Why is it such a struggle to do the right thing?

It seems that I become ready to make the next right choice when the pain of the bad choice becomes too great.

Well then, 2010 only has a few more hours and 2011 is on its way.  The day and time has really come.  I'm not sure I'm ready, but I am committed nonetheless, so as of midnight tonight my relationship with food is going to be up front, above board, and purely platonic.  Food will become the fuel it is intended to be.  I can love the food, appreciate the food, the colors, textures, tastes.  I am allowed to still think about food and maybe even obsess about it a little.

There is really nothing wrong with appreciating food, the memories, the connections, the joys (past and present), but my affair with food ends today.  I will not turn to food for my comfort.  I will not sneak a little behind everyone's back.  Integrity is what you do when no one else is watching.  But just to be sure, I'm going to keep posting my accountability here as a security measure, if y'all don't mind.

Goodbye, Food As Love.  Hello NEW ME.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Depression

So I've been all "YAY" and "WOOHOO" and "GONNA KICK BUTT" since I started the blog December21st.  But I'm really crashing today - hard.

As much as the adrenaline from a goal can keep me moving and energized, it all falls apart quickly if I don't take care of myself in a balanced way.

I suffer from depression and have since childhood, I'm now quite certain.  Depression has been a life partner,  I have tried lots of ways to keep the depression at bay.  St. Johns Wort over the counter helped for a while, as did zoloft (better living through chemistry!).  I went without for a few years and then depression crept back in to unsurmountable (by myself) levels and I was put on cymbalta.  That worked for a while, too.

I was not on any antidepressants when I stopped smoking (not a good move; had I known that nicotine itself can act as an antidepressant I would have gotten on something prior to quitting) and plummeted into a deep depression.  Wellbutrin became the latest answer.

But what I'm finding (and have really always known) is that an antidepressant alone is not enough.  If your situation is depressing, you are going to feel depressed whether you are a chronic sufferer from depression or an otherwise healthy, happy person.  Someone like me needs to keep a watchful eye out for warning signs that depression is slipping back in and then, and this is the critical part, take swift action against it.

Over the past couple of weeks I have felt depression sliding back in.  I have felt the world rushing in from several different angles and I'm not responding all that well to it.  I have made plenty of mediocre decisions and a few really bad ones.  Things I really wouldn't call my "next right choices" at any rate.  For instance, I have been staying up too late.  Being overly tired is a fast track, for me, to increased depression.  I have been eating a lot more refined carbs and barely any greens.  Hello? McFly?  This is like injecting depression right into my veins!

There is plenty of 'real life' basis for situational depression in my life right now (won't go into all that until we get to know each other better), but even with that, it is my responsibility to do what I know to do to reduce the depression to a manageable level.

So.  Action steps:

I'm not sure I can commit to much more than that today.  It's been a rough two days, really.

And sometimes, the best we can give is the promise to get up again tomorrow and try all over again.  Here's also a video from a Christian angle on what it feels like today.  I think part of my answer can be found in the video.  :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Filters and Distortions

Each of us experiences life through our own set of filters.  Incoming information gets passed through this filter on the way in and we process the information using internal filters.  Then what comes back out as we interact with the world passes through another filter.  These filters are a combination of our experiences, what we believe about ourselves and the world, and any external "rules" we have been given over the course of our lives.

A friend of mine gave me a paperweight a few years ago and it struck me profoundly the moment I saw it:

One interpretation is that I am this paperweight.  Everything I see, hear, touch, taste, and smell passes through the big glass filter which represents my core beliefs and values which don't change very often.  For example, I am a Christian, so I process incoming information in a way that is consistent with that set of beliefs.  I believe that, for the most part, it is better to try to find love in situations than to focus on the negative, so when information passes through it might get cleaned up a bit, letting the nicer parts I want in and discarding the parts that won't let me live out my core values.

Then there are a ton of other filters, or more accurately, distortions, that information passes through.  These were created as I went through life.  The day I picked up a cigarette, a new distorted filter popped up that said "Smoking is fun, smoking is good, you need to smoke."  Even though other information (accurate information) came in like "Smoking can make you sick, smoking can kill you", it passed through my distortions of addiction and got watered down.  "Smoking can kill you" became "Who cares, everyone has to die of something one day anyway" or "So what, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow."  That persistent cough from smoking became "I must be getting a cold" etc.

All information coming in and going out related to smoking passed through a frighteningly distorted filter and the inner junkie in me was in control.  I truly did not/could not see how distorted my thinking was until I became frightened about my health, put down the nicotine, and then worked for many months to correct the thought process and remove that distorted junkie filter.  I know it's still there laying dormant, but I work hard to make sure all information related to smoking passes in and out in a clear, undistorted format.

Now I need to look at the distortions surrounding food, eating, weight, self image, sexuality, self worth, femininity, security, and love. They are all tied together and wrapped into my core beliefs about how I fit in the world.  Some of it may be painful.  Some of it will be uncomfortable.  Some of it is scary.  Heck, I've held onto some of these beliefs since childhood (food is comfort is an example), so to shatter the filters is going to leave me kind of exposed and vulnerable - operating without a safety net so to speak.

It's not going to happen overnight. I'm not going to get this all sorted out in a week.  And some may never get sorted out, and that's okay!  But what I do know, for a fact, is that the only hope I have to get to the other side and tackle all these distortions is to stop using food as a mind and heart numbing drug and just feel the feelings that come out and let them happen.

So starting January 1st, that is my first, big, number one priority.  Step away from the "food as a drug" and follow a healthy eating plan, period.  Food is fuel.  I need a certain amount of veggies, fruit, dairy, protein, complex carbs and essential oils in order for my body to thrive.  I am going to focus on that and leave the emotional stuff to the side for a while.  Whenever a distorted thought tries to squeeze through (like "you are lonely, ice cream will keep you company") I will push it away and stick to the plan.

The simpler I make it, the higher the chance of success.  My job is to eat healthy.  The emotions may swirl around, the distorted thoughts will try to get me back to the "same old, same old" and I will get rid of each and every unhelpful thought as it pops up.  No matter what, I will not use food as anything besides fuel.

I believe if I do that long enough to really believe that "food is only fuel" I can start to tackle all the distortions one at a time as they pop up.  I'm pretty sure it will be like a whack-a-mole game.  One by one the issues around food will pop up and i'll whack 'em and tackle 'em and move on to the next!

And by December 31, 2011, I want those distortions gone so I can see what the world really looks like, and how the world really sees me.  How cool will that be?


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adios, Don Pablo. Hello, Hot Enchilada!

I had lunch with my coworkers today and I stuck with Don Pablos as I blogged about earlier.  I ordered the Don's Sampler with its steak and cheese thingies, the taquito thingamobs, the fahita-ish doohickeys, the cheesey sauce, the sour cream and oh, yes, the guacamole!

A good time was had by all, and even though I thought I might grieve for the fact that I won't be visiting 'ole Senor Pablo for a while, the fact is that I feel really good about it.

I have a theory.  Each of us is born with a certain ration of various food types and it's equal among all of us.  The way I see it, I have now used up most of my lifetime rationing of fat, cheesy, sour creamy Mexican food, but I have a big 'ole heaping mountain of spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and green beans awaiting me!  Most of you probably balanced out your rations a little better than I did over the course of your lifetimes, but I'm learning!  I hope I still have a pile of Ben and Jerry's tucked away somewhere.  :-)

Don Pablos 12/28/2010 BDay lunch
Well now that lunch is behind me (pardon the pun), it's time to really get serious about looking ahead at my goals and breaking it out into *ahem* bite-sized chunks.  I will map out a game plan, but remain flexible.  I learned when I quit smoking what counts most is commitment to the end goal.  Plans will shift, motivation will wain, crises will appear, but what sees us through is the commitment that NO MATTER WHAT, we will stay the course.

So now it's hasta la vista, Don Pablos and hello spicy mama.  Or something like that.  :-)

Carly <---- a little stuffed and feeling kind of like napping just now.

p.s. I did not arrive at the restaurant with that hat.  I may be a little cooky, but I have much better taste in hats. ;-)

Sakes Alive, I'm 45!

While the "Year of Me" timeline is from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011, today starts a brand new year of being me, literally.  Happy Birthday, me!

Funny little story....

While my parents were visiting for Thanksgiving I realized that the person to whom I had lent my super duper electric hand mixer with built-in accessory tray did not return it.  So at 9:30 pm the night before Thanksgiving I was searching from store to store to find a mixer for pies.  I ended up with some baby $8.99 hand mixer that almost seemed disposable.  My mom mourned the loss with me and said she always loved my hand mixer.

So I sent her one for Christmas.  She thanked me on the phone and called me a "hot ticket" for sending her that - sounded like she really liked it.  Carly scored in the gift department!  So I just opened the package she sent me for my birthday (that was triple sealed with some kind of unrippable tape and marked "Do not open until December 28th, Carly")   Guess what it was?

I LOL'd.  ;-)

What I REALLY like about it is there's a liquid blender rod which makes this one kind of like the Braun handheld.  One reason I almost never make smoothies is I don't feel like going through the mess of getting the blender out, blending, then washing the blender and putting it away.  I have an uber tiny galley kitchen and I just don't have the room to leave it out.  But I LOVE smoothies with berries, yogurt and fresh ground flaxseed when I'm eating healthy, and this gift may have been an even bigger gift than she realized.  I will have to let you know how it works on the smoothies.  (By the way, the one she sent me was much better than the one I sent her.  Now I'm going to have to step it up for her birthday.)

Today is going to be a good day.  The start of one of the best years of being me.  By the time I hit 46 I want to say "I have never felt healthier or more fit" and "Wow, I have never felt sexier."  (Sorry mom, I should have told you to avert your eyes for that one.)  hehe

I have a good feeling about all of this. I really do.  And I almost never fail to do something once I have truly made up my mind to do it, so the odds are with me!

Happy Birthday Me (and a Happy Anniversary to my parents.  After all, if they didn't get married, there would be no 'me' to blog about!)

*huge hugs*

Monday, December 27, 2010

Birthday Dilemna

The time has come.

I have delayed, distracted, stalled, procrastinated.  And today, ready or not, I have to decide where my coworkers are going to take me for my birthday lunch tomorrow.  I have to decide so an email can go out so that people know where to show up!

This is not easy for someone like me who loves everything.  And it's further complicated by the fact that Columbia, MD where I work must have 500 restaurants.  Fuddruckers with the deadly 3 cheese cheeseburger?  Don Pablos sinful mexican?  Cheeseburger! Cheeseburger! whose burgers are mediocre but who's ice cream shakes are epic?  Or Panera Bread with it's creamiest mac and cheese or better-than-mom's chicken noodle soup? (Sorry, mom.)

The decision wouldn't be so hard except I feel like this is the last supper.  The last birthday I get to choose something really over-the-top unhealthy without shame.  The last work luncheon where I won't be counting points or budgeting calories or substituting salad for fries.  This is a critical choice, and I've been paralyzed!

Then there's the fact that tomorrow is my 45th birthday.  Not 44, or 43, which are closer to 40.  Nope, this is 45.   From that moment on I'm going to be literally closer to 50 than 45. (Can I tell you how much that sucked just typing that out? Egads.)

The reality is that I need to master this upcoming year, not just so I can get made over into a cougar (you think I'm kidding, don't you?) but because I'm at an age where I need to actually start worrying about my cholesterol, my heart, my skin, my circulation, etc.  I need to start choosing healthy because I want to BE healthy.  I need to choose the salad because my body needs and craves it, not as a punishment or atonement for my cheesecake sins of yesterday.

So back to today.  The adult in me believes this isn't an "all or nothing" choice and that I'm blowing it all out of proportion.  That even when I start into this healthy year, if I want the occasional "bad" food I can do it, so it's not like this is the last time I'll ever get to eat junk.  But the melodramatic teenager in me prefers to make a big freaking deal out of it all and go for the big bang.

I'm going with Don Pablos and I'm ordering the worst possible thing on the menu.  The Don's Sampler.  There are more calories in this one appetizer than I should eat in a whole day.

 I won't be able to eat it all (well, I wouldn't put money on that statement), so the rest will come back to the office where I can enjoy it for another day or two before January 1st kicks in and all bets are off.  I know this is a bit over the top.  But you know, that's kind of how I roll......

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Leftover Turkey and Cranberry Sauce Chuckles

Christmas is behind us and some people have turkey leftovers.  I saw this recipe on TV after Thanksgiving.  It's not exact because I didn't write it down, I don't know who to credit with the concept, and it's not exactly low cal, low points, low carb or low fat.  Which means it's HIGH taste!

Let me know if you try it and what you think!  Next year I'm going to be doing something healthier, so I'm glad I got to try this for 2010.  Mmmmmmmm.

Pillsbury Turkey Roll <---- I made up that name

I roll Pillsbury crescent rolls
cranberry sauce
leftover turkey, shredded/cut into small pieces
shredded monterey jack cheese

  1. Preheat to 400 degrees
  2. Unroll the package into a single rectangle.
  3. Spread some cranberry sauce over the dough.
  4. Spread some turkey over the cranberry sauce
  5. Spread some cheese over the turkey
  6. Roll it up.
Now here's where it get's sketchy.  On the show I watched, they made 1" slices and then  laid the "pinwheels" on their side on the cookie sheet and baked for 10-12 minutes into wonderful individual servings.

I don't know where I went wrong (probably trying to stuff way too much in there) so for starters, it didn't really roll without busting at the seams, so I ended up unrolling a second package of the dough and wrapping it around the first to keep everything from falling out.

I baked it as one long log instead and probably for closer to 30 minutes.  

I also didn't use leftover turkey because that would mean I would have had to cook a turkey yesterday.  Shyah, I don't think so.  I bought Perdue shortcuts precooked turkey and it worked just fine.  In fact, it was my main course yesterday!

You can't see it, but the cranberry sauce is in there and it really makes the whole thing extra delicious! 

Speaking of Cranberry Sauce, I got the best Christmas gift ever this year.  I'll get to that in a minute.  Here's the background....

During one of my parents' visits, my mom was frantically looking for something in her pocketbook while sitting at my dining room table.  She took some papers out of her purse and set them on the table.  Then she took out an address book.  A few single 'wet naps' were followed by a miniature combination salt and pepper shaker.  I was amazed, not only that she had salt and pepper in her pocketbook, but that she somehow got it all in there.

But the real hoot came when she removed a tiny can of cranberry sauce!  I was bewildered and maybe even a little mortified.  "Mom," I asked, "What on earth are you doing travelling from Maine to Maryland with cranberry sauce in your pocketbook?"

She never stopped moving things around in her purse and she very matter-of-factly stated, "Well, you never know when you are going to be somewhere that they serve poultry and they don't have cranberry sauce!"

I laughed so hard.  That was just freaking hilarious.  I love my mom.  That quirky lady has saved more than a poultry meal with what she keeps in that magic pocketbook.  She always has the needle and thread, pen, safety pin, stamps, etc. that you need when you need it.  She is like the Mother of all Girl Scouts.

Which brings me to this year's award winning Christmas gift.  My mom has no problem laughing at herself.  She sent me a stocking and here's part of what was in it:

Miniature cranberry sauce and a note "Your own salt and pepper. Love, Mom"  ♥♥♥

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas! Let the 7 Day countdown begin!

My son is over at his dad's for Christmas Day this year, which in a way works out great since I haven't wrapped a single one of his presents yet.  You know how people say they use their treadmill as a place to hang clothes?  Right now my treadmill and exercise bikes are Wrapping Station Central.

Bike and Treadmill: Both used twice (really)
I'm starting to get a little prickly about the upcoming New Year.  It's just 7 days away and I've gone rather public with this whole lifestyle makeover.  Not that I can't do it, mind you.  I can (and will!)  I just have this Perfectionism Complex which creates angst if I can't do something perfectly (at least while everyone is watching.)  So one of the things that will have to fly out the window is the notion that I'm going to do this perfectly. (Get on the treadmill every day, eat healthy every meal, remember to blog every single day, etc.)  I need to manage my own expectations so I don't deflate early in the process.  Because this IS a process and it's going to take the whole year to get where I want to be.  

Which brings me to another conundrum.  What exactly are my goals?  "An extreme makeover" is a pretty broad brush to paint with.  So over the next week I'm going to try to make that a little more concrete and actionable.  Weight, exercise, food choices, dental work, hair, makeup, wardrobe.  I suspect there will be more internal makeover action happening, too, as a result, so I might want to sprinkle in a little therapy to go with it all.  (Not shopping therapy, I mean the real kind!)

While I contemplate all of that, I think I better get busy wrapping the too many presents I got for my son, and then dusting off the treadmill to make ready for 2011.

A very Merry Christmas from my home to yours - and let the 7 day countdown to a new me begin!!!!

Carly ♥♥♥

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

I just noticed there have been 1,000 (exactly) page views and I just started this 3 days ago.  That is too cool for school.  I'll try to post at least once each day....and thank you for stopping by!  Please feel free to comment or share using one of the buttons below the posts.

It's Christmas eve and I just got back from dropping my son off at his dad's.  We attended a Christmas service first which was nice.  They offered communion tonight and also had little "to go" communions in case we wanted to show extra reverence at home over the holidays.  I admit, I did wonder how many weight watchers points each one would be, but since I'm not ON weight watchers QUITE yet, decided to not think about it anymore.

Vladamir Blovik - The Nativity

I'm going to sleep incredibly grateful tonight.  Grateful for loving family and friends, for an amazing son, for gifts and talents explored and yet to be explored, for my faith, and for hope.  Hope is a pretty powerful motivator.  I never lost all hope for reaching my life goals and with just a little tiny spark, they have all become ignited again.  I love hope.  I love goals.  And I love having another chance to reach for them.

I'm adding my all time favorite Christmas song.  Since giving birth to my son it just takes on a deeper meaning to me.

Food is a Love Language

I just assembled the baked stuffed french toast casserole that I make every year for my son for Christmas breakfast.  I hand whisked the eggs until I could feel just the right consistency.  I put just the right amount of cream cheese tucked into all the little corners of the casserole.  Made sure every little bit of bread had cinnamon, and after the liquid was poured over the bread mixture I placed saran wrap over the top and gently patted and smoothed and pressed to make sure every bit of bread was evenly soaked.

Food is a love language.  At least for me it is, and I speak it fluently.

Carly's French Toast Casserole 12/24/2010.  RIP.

When I am making it for you, ordering it for you, thinking about it for you, I am expressing love - thinking that you are going to love it the same way I would - and showing you that I love you enough to get or make you the very best that I can, hoping you are going to love it, too.

When I am stuffing my own face with it, I think it's another kind of love language, a dialect.  I think I'm trying to GET love from the food.  Comfort me, mashed potatoes.  Hold me, warm baguette.  Love me long time, sesame chicken.  :-)

My earliest memories associate food and love.  Sitting at the table with my dad with a loaf of bread and a jar of jelly wasn't just a snack - it was a shared bonding experience that started with the anticipation "I'll get the bread, you get the knife ho ho ho" Dad would say.  Such excitement was unfolding!  He'd slather one slice with some kind of jam or jelly or preserve, then set it before me.  I'd wait with anticipation.  He'd slather another, set down the knife and hold his slice in both hands.  I'd grab mine the same way.  There were moans and groans of delight.  Why, this was the best stuff since..... oh.  Sliced bread? lol  It was a shared experience of togetherness, bonding, and of love.

My mom's shepard's pie with its cream style corn and mashed potatoes and onion and ground beef smothers you in kitchen love and comfort.  Waking up on a cold winter morning to hot chocolate with marshmallows screams "I love you."  Walking to my grandmother's house a quarter mile away knowing she'd have ice cream in her freezer and she'd let me have it no matter what time of day (even 9:00 a.m.) was our little secret of love.

And cheesecake on Christmas eve at my other Grandmother's house was an epic experience of love and belonging.  My earliest memories of visiting her lakeside home involved my aunt and Grandmother reveling in the fact that I truly loved the cheesecake and smiling and saying, "Yep, she's one of us alright."  Talk about belonging!

Secret Family Recipe bears uncanny resemblance
to the recipe on the Philadelphia brand label.....

There's surely a genetic component to my food addiction and the way that the refined carbs - the sugar, flour, and refined wheat - trigger a need for more.  I have explored this and the book Food Addiction: The Body Knows: Revised & Expanded Edition by Kay Sheppard truly nailed it for me.  I am addicted to some foods like an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol or a nicotine junkie (like me) is addicted to nicotine.

But like with all addictions, there's more to it than that.  There is that need inside of me - to be known, to be liked, to be loved - that desperately wants to be filled and I think I have spent a lifetime trying to fill it from the outside, oftentimes with food.  I need to start learning a new love language and stop trying to communicate to myself and the world around me through the food language.  Just like if I were studying French at the age of 44, it's going to be weird, awkward, and well, um, foreign to me.  But I'm going to have to do that.

This year for Christmas I sent friends my love in the forms of Zingerman's gourmet artisan breads, Wolferman's delicious english muffins and jams, cheeses and chocolates, and my son will be waking up this morning to my infamous french toast casserole and he knows there is truly love in every bite, like my friends know in their gifts. - best.english.muffins ever.

2011 is going to be a little strange, but I'm going to figure it out.  I'm going to learn a new love language and start speaking it to myself, then trying it out on others.  You guys can let me know how it sounds as we go.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quitting Smoking Pays!

I won a Haiku contest at for their annual Great American Smokeout Contest.  WOOHOO!

My prize is a premium paid membership for life.  At $100 per year membership, that's pretty darned good!  On there are a ton of tools to quit smoking and I used most of them:  chat, forums / discussion boards, individual clubs based on shared interests, and expert advice areas.  (I'll post later about the whole quitting smoking experience, but it's in part responsible for a major weight gain! lol)

There are a few important "takeaways" or things I'd like to share from today's news.

1. You can't win if you sit out life's contests!  Get in the game and play!

2. Quitting smoking can be FUN!

3. There are a lot of great people in life who would love to support you in achieving your goals.  But you have to put yourself out there a little and let them know you are trying and need support.  I did and have now met some amazing friends - just because I said, "I need help."

What a nice day today is shaping up to be.  Oh, and a 3 hour early dismissal from work rocks!!!

*Huge hugs*


Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Well, just planes.

My son is off school until January 3rd, so I am doing what any loving, warm, caring single mother would do.  Shipping him off to my parents for the majority of the vacation!  YEEHAW!  Party at Carly's!    I will miss him and eagerly await his return.

Seriously?  No one on this planet loves him as much as I do, except my parents.  Their bond with him is magical as he spends a few weeks there every summer and we are so blessed to have a close family.

So now I have flying on the brain.  I bet I'm the only person you know who owns her very own seat buckle extension.  You know the one they use to demonstrate how to buckle and unbuckle your seatbelt (if you don't know how to do that, we have much bigger problems than you think.)  Anyway, I stole one from Air Tran and every time I fly I bring it "in case."

AirTran buckles don't fit Southwest seats.
Just thought you should know.

Some trips I have been down on the scale and upon arriving at my seat have a little victory party.  Some trips (and airlines) I have had to squash in and suck it up and buckle it to a point of near bruising, but by God, it fit!  And other years/times I lost the battle entirely and had to resort to the extra extension.  I stole my own because there's nothing quite so humiliating as having to ask the flight attendant for one, having her bring it back once everyone is already seated and listening, and saying out loud "Here is your extension."

One time I was sitting beside a businessman who looked pretty annoyed that he had to sit beside me.  The little arm between us had gone up and apparently a little, um, tummy "overflow" ran over to that spot. When he went to lower the arm, it landed on top of me.  I said, "oh, pardon me" and started to move to adjust.  And he proceeded to SLAM the arm down, with a shove and a hearty heave ho, which pinched a good chunk of me in between and caused tears to flow it hurt so bad.  Okay.  Maybe that was more humiliating than the flight attendant.

Anyway, I am not sure when in 2011 I will be flying, but I do travel quite a bit so it will be coming up.  And we're going to celebrate together.....k?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On Honesty

There's a saying:  "You can't change what you don't acknowledge."  I have seen it attributed to Dr. Phil, but I know I heard it long before he came around.  Regardless, it's one of life's truths.

One thing that I have been having a really hard time reconciling inside of myself is the grand canyon divide in my mind between what I really look like and what I want to look like, what I want the goal to be.

At times I have seen myself as "normal" weight, pretty, professional looking - not in great need of too much 'fixing.'  I'll admit, I have no full length mirrors at my house and haven't for many years.  I see from the shoulders up.  And since the dawn of Facebook I have figured out many amazing angles for getting just the right flattering picture, too!  Take my blog photo.  That's me.  It was taken in November 2010.  There is no doctoring.  BUT.  My hair is pulled forward hiding the puffy bits, I'm not smiling (which also creates puffiness), and the camera angle is slightly up, which makes an extra chin or two vanish magically when done right.  (Added note:  I have since taken that pic down and replaced it with one from 1/13/11)

A person can get an ego boost looking at a hot pic of herself thinking, wow, I really AM okay!  But then my dad visited a few weeks ago and walked by my laptop when I had the facebook pic up and he said, "Who the hell is that?" I guess that's called a "Reality Jolt."  I explained it was me and even he didn't believe it.

Now I'm thinking of all my online friends who see that and think I'm .... well....someone else and it's pretty  deflating.  Or the folks I went to school with on Facebook who must be thinking, wow, she really changed.

"What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."  ~Sir Walter Scott.

So in order to get busy evolving into what I want, I have to start at ground zero.  Where am I starting REALLY?  I'm not ready to post stuff like weight or measurements.  Let me get a good headstart into the process and I'll backtrack and tell all.  Really I will.  Right now it's too fresh and raw to leave exposed.

Here are two more accurate starting pictures.  They are poor quality, but I'm posting them anyway because they have meaning.  They were taken before and after a Phil Vassar concert.  This first one is a full body shot so we (you AND me) can get the *ahem* bigger, more accurate picture. (Same me, just no trick camera work :-)

November 7, 2010

The second was taken a couple hours later with Phil Vassar himself
(note I was groping him hehe)

Now the significance:  He wrote a song called "Carlene" (my given name) which is becoming my theme song as I get ready for a big class reunion in 2013.


by Phil Vassar

I was lousy at math, failed historian
Carlene was the valedictorian
I was the quarter back in the back of classes
She was the whiz kid in horned rim glasses

It's been a long time since I've been around
Since I stepped foot on my old stomping ground
I ended up by the old school yard
When this red head pulled up in a blue sports car
She said, "I bet you don't remember, I guess it's been forever."
It took a second to put it all together and I said.

Ooh la la la la la
Looking good Carlene
Woh my my my my my
Times been good to you
If you know what I mean
Girl you glitter like hollywood
Good god carlene
You sure are lookin good

She said hop in let's go for a spin
Tell me whatcha been doing boy and where you been
I said I write songs, you probably didn't know, but I
finally got a couple out on country radio
She said, "What a switch, ain't life funny, I've got a PHD,
now I'm modeling for money."
Imagine little miss 4.0 just smiling for the camera on the cover of Vogue
I said you've come a long way since graduation
Let me say without hesitation
You've surpassed everyone's expectations

Ooh la la la la la
Looking good Carlene
Woh my my my my my
Times been good to you
If you know what I mean
Girl you glitter like hollywood
Good god carlene
You sure are lookin good

I said I hope to see you again someday
She said another ten years is too long to wait
Pick me up at my Momma's at eight!

And I said.

Ooh la la la la la
Looking good Carlene
Woh my my my my my
Times been good to you
If you know what I mean
Ooh la la la la la
Looking good Carlene
Woh my my my my my
Times been good to you
If you know what I mean
Ooh la la la la la
Looking good Carlene
Woh my my my my my
Times been good to you
If you know what I mean

I feel better getting honest with myself and with everyone else.  It is what it is.  You can't fix what you pretend doesn't exist.  This prep work leading up to My Year is time well spent, I think.

Anyone else want to gear up with me?  :-)

Care Credit. Financing Dental / Medical / Cosmetic work

Someone asked how I could afford all the mega dental work.  So far it's about $5,000.  On top of that I had a little cosmetic work done (will blog about that separately later) for another $2,000.

I'm not independently wealthy and I'm a single mom who owns a house.  So I had to explore ways to finance the dental work.  Dr. Stoker (my dentist) accepted "Care Credit."  I looked into it and this is what I found out:

They are found at:

You can apply right online, tell them how much you want extended and they can approve you immediately, OR, you can go through your medical provider and get approved that way.

It is handled by GE Capital or GE finance (something like that.)

Depending on your provider, you can get 6 months, 12 months or 18 months same as cash (meaning NO interest as long as you make your payments on time.)  If you do not pay on time the interest is god awful like 29%, retroactive to the day you started!

It works for dentists, doctors, cosmetic surgeons, laser treatments, etc. so long as your provider accepts Care Credit.

For me, it's the only way I could get this work done and I am so thankful it exists.

Once the dental is paid off I might start nipping and tucking and zapping and rejuvenating and maybe even lifting a pair of things (lol).  Who knows....if the goal is to remake myself into a cougar, well, it's gonna take a lotta work and time and money!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dental Work Part One

One of the things I did as I began this makeover was to quit smoking.  That seems like such a simple sentence, but quitting smoking was not simple and smoking was an integrated part of my identity since age 11.  I have a lot I will share about quitting smoking...what that looked like, what I felt, how I did it, etc.

But right now I want to focus on one aspect that is ongoing and will take all of 2011 to make over.  And that is my teeth.

You can't smoke for 32 years, every day, sometimes a pack, sometimes up to two packs, without doing some seriously major damage to your body.  My teeth reflect some of this damage.  I never knew that smoking causes periodontal disease or that it is incurable (though it can be managed.)  I never knew that smoking could weaken your bone in your jaw causing your teeth to come out!  I never knew just how bad smoking was for your teeth.

What I did know, however, was that being a smoker made me feel unworthy of going to the dentist.  I knew smoking was bad.  I knew it was yellowing my teeth and when I was 29 I went to a dentist who looked at the discoloration and said, (this is an exact quote), "there is no excuse for a woman your age to have teeth like this."

Well, the shame of that, combined with my own shame for being a smoker, combined with an already low self worth in general, ensured I wouldn't go to dentist again unless I had an absess and needed a tooth pulled. (I really never knew what a root canal was until recently.  How could I know? I didn't go to dentists!)

Part of the inner transformation included an awakening that I am worth the effort and expense to get things right again.  Or at least, as right as I can.  I found an amazing dentist (if you are in Maryland I cannot recomment Patricia Stoker in Columbia, MD highly enough) who has now worked out a plan for me.  My teeth need a series of procedures in order to save them, including:

1. Scraping and Planing to remove periodontal plaque and get the periodontal disease under control

2. A mouth guard to get my jaw back into alignment (compensating for lost and shifted teeth has caused my entire jaw to move off center and I grind my teeth terribly.)

3. Invisalign braces to straighten my teeth.

4. Implants drilled into my jaw in order to give bridges something to attach to.

5. Two bridges to keep my teeth from shifting back again

6. Whitening and ongoing care.


No, literally, ouch...both in the mouth and the pocketbook.  I found a company called "" to handle the financing of the dental work and have done step 1.  They divided my mouth into quadrants and used a laser, a high powered water torture device, and manual scraping tools to dig down to the roots (literally) and remove the yuck.  Each visit was one quadrant only and took up to 5 hours with my mouth open and them working in there.  But it's done.  They are going to monitor it for 3 months, making sure everything is healthy, before moving onto part 2, the mouth guard.  That will also give me a chance to pay some of this off.  I'm at around $5,000.00 so far.  Smoking is more expensive than you think.

Here are a couple of before and after pics.  Even though it's still got a long way to go, I have to admit, for the first time in 20 years, I smile now without covering my mouth.  I'm pretty happy about it.  I wish I was born into a family and lifestyle where regular dental care was the norm and I felt worthy of maintaining my teeth despite my smoking, but I can't go back.  It is what it is...onward and upward!

Before and Afters

 They are by no means perfect and it will take a lot more scraping and cleaning to get them pearly white, but wow.  I think they did an amazing job!

Recommendation?  Don't wait for some perfect day when you are ready for the dentist, or when you reach your milestone (like quitting smoking).  GO NOW.  Get those check ups.  Get regular dental cleanings.  They told me that smokers should go every 3 months and that can prevent the issues I have.  GO!

And if you have bad teeth?  Love yourself enough to work on it now.  It feels good and you are worth it!

(Added a very recent picture with the new smile at the request of Deanne below)
October 30, 2010 Nashville, TN Avett Brothers Concert

*huge hugs*

The Year of Me - 2011 - Extreme Makeover Edition

Hi!  My name is Carly and I am a 44 year old divorced single mom of one terrific son (age 11.)  I have a long life history that is colorful, from child sexual abuse to branching out on my own at age 18, marrying and divorcing a man who became physically and sexually abusive (more on him in later posts), getting into some therapy, marrying and divorcing an emotional and financial abuser (more on him later, too) and finally realizing, at the age of 39, that I am worth more, worth fighting for, worth figuring out this whole life thing before it's too late.

So at age 39, on tax day, April 15, 2005, I left my ex and started on this new leg of my journey.  It's now December 2010 and I have done a lot of emotional work that has begun a major life transformation.  In fact, there's been a pretty extreme makeover already done on the inside.

Now I'm ready to have all those internal changes reflected on the outside.


I'm going to journal throughout 2011 (kind of like Julie and Julia) what this process is like for me, in the hopes that it may give others ideas, or strength, or hope that no matter what your past, you get to write your future and find your happy ending.

I've already started a little of the process and will start sharing about it (getting a little head start on my year!)

I hope you enjoy this blog and if you like it, follow it and share it with your friends!

Huge hugs,
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