Coffeegirl63's Blog

Keeping and Breaking Rules April 28, 2010

Filed under: Food,Healthy Living — coffeegirl63 @ 8:56 am
Tags: , ,

 There are certain clear and unbreakable rules regarding food… rules that must never be broken. Some people say that these rules are mine and mine alone, that no one else sees that food even needs to be governed by any standards at all. But they’re wrong; very wrong. Why, my friend Mary, were she not so averse to the spotlight, would stand right here beside me, defending every rule… and adding a few of her own. What are those rules, you ask? Those of you who have known me very long at all could recite several of them with me. Who the first person was to think my ways so entertaining, I don’t know; but it’s really caught on. Oh, wait… no, I’m pretty sure it was —you know who you are!  

What was that? Oh, yeah. The rules. Ok. I must begin with a disclaimer. If you ever watch me eat, you’ll know how I’m doing emotionally by seeing how my food looks on the plate(s) and the way in which I consume the food… in some cases, even the food itself. I’ll try to walk you through it, although I haven’t always been aware of many of these myself. At the height of my painful bipolar days, food was the only area of my life I felt I really had any control over. At that time, my ideal plate was very specific. Green vegetables at 6:00, then working clockwise around the plate: other bright-colored vegetables, potatoes or bread at 12:00, corn or other light vegetables at 2:00, and meat at 4:00. If there was anything sweet, it was right at the center… but only if there was no liquid involved. And none of this food ever, ever, ever, ever touched! I liked to have a variety of bright colors—“aesthetically pleasing” was a phrase often heard in my home. Everything was eaten in clockwise order, starting at 6:00, and NEVER going counter-clockwise. This is one I wasn’t aware of until eating out with friends one night. My friend Katie ate some food off my plate. Another friend commented that she was surprised it didn’t bother me. Katie said, “oh, no, it’s ok… when she eats something and moves onto the next thing, she never goes back.” I thought, “what? oh, my gosh, it’s true! I never DO go back!”

Other rules are not as complex. Never, ever, ever, ever fruit in chocolate. There is never any situation that allows for wet bread. Fruit is sweet. It is a dessert. It has no business hanging out with the meat or the salad or the vegetables or any part of the regular meal. Textures are there for a reason—there’s no cause to go mixing them all up and confusing the mouth. I’m sure there are more that I’m not remembering, so feel free to comment if you know of any I’ve missed (or have any of your own that I should incorporate?).

In the last few years, the specificity required in the actual plating of my food has diminished somewhat, only to be brought out again at times of great need. It’s true—from time to time, food on my plate sometimes touches other food on my plate and there are times I’ll even roam all over my plate grazing like I haven’t a care in the world. Some of the others, however, are hard and fast rules that are not to be trifled with. For example, there really is never a situation that calls for wet bread. Bread is supposed to be dry—that’s why you bake it in the oven instead of soaking it in the kitchen sink.

And now, well, the times, they are a’changin. It started when my friend Mary convinced me to try dark chocolate lava cakes with port. Alas… I loved it! Now I regularly enjoy dark chocolate with a good dark red wine. I’ve even introduced friends to the concept, including my friend Jenny—check out her fun food blog. And then, once, at a sports bar, I was offered hot wings with a mango-chipotle sauce. It was really good! I’m afraid it’s all gone downhill from there… and that brings us to today…

Ok, so you know that I’ve been eating better so that I can lose some weight and get healthy again. I’ve been eating a lot of salads, which I’ve really been enjoying. I’ve been making my own salad dressing with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), apple cider vinegar, and whatever herbs and spices appeal to me—the fresher, the better. Mostly, my salads are made of greens and a few crunchy vegetables. Today, a friend called to say he was in the neighborhood (of my office) and wondered if I wanted to have lunch. I told him I had enough to make salads for both of us and invited him to join me at my office, no need to pick up food on the way, I had plenty… really. Like a good little hostess, I went to the kitchen to prepare our lunch. Uh oh, I misjudged my resources. I used what I had—baby spring greens, spinach, jicama, red bell pepper, tomato, brined artichoke heart bottoms, canned hearts of palm—and then started to rummage. I always have a variety of food at the office so I don’t have to eat lunch out. I found some Greek olives, some marinated mushrooms, and some deli turkey and cheese. Here’s where things deviate from what I have always found to be right and true. I found a Granny Smith apple. Yes, you guessed it—I chopped it up and added it to my salad. At this point, if there had been ANY caution left, I’d have thrown it all to the wind. I added imitation crab and sliced almonds. By this time, there wasn’t enough of my salad dressing left… so… I stirred in a little red pepper hummus and a bit of orange-mango juice. By the time it was all together, it was so pretty I just had to take a picture.

Do you know what? (And I realize I may lose some readership here. Mary, please don’t give up on me; after all, you started it!) That salad tasted fantastic… all those different flavors? It was amazing! 🙂

In Him, Joni


Househunting and Introspection April 26, 2010

Filed under: House hunting — coffeegirl63 @ 7:04 am
Tags: ,

I want to buy a house. For some time now, I’ve wanted to have my own place. I’m almost out of debt and will soon be able to take care of myself financially—very exciting, I must say. It’s amazing what can be discovered about oneself when house hunting, don’t you think? For example, I absolutely KNOW that I do not want to listen to strangers live their lives. Here’s a true story (names withheld to protect those who probably don’t want to be publicized): two girls, one 15 and the other 11, walk up to their mother. 11 year old says, “Hey, Mom, someone in our apartment building won the lottery last night!” Mother replies, “Really? How do you know? Is it somebody you’ve met here?” Innocent little girl says, “I don’t know, but last night when we were going to bed, Sissie said, ‘hey, somebody’s getting lucky tonight!’” (scolding of older daughter to follow… uproarious laughter on mother’s part to follow even later when the girls aren’t around).

That lack of desire to share the daily lives of others eliminates apartments, especially, and townhomes, probably. People say I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I DO want to mow my own lawn. I want a yard so I grow my own garden—fruits, vegetables, herbs, and a few edible flowers. It’s important that the kitchen is big enough for Julia and me to cook and visit and enjoy time in. Something that may be very difficult to find unless I buy an older house is a front porch. My heart’s desire would be a wrap-around porch. Anyway, I like to sit on the front porch—drinking wine and watching a good Colorado rain storm in the evening just brings peace to my soul!

As you get to know me, you may come to understand, I have conflicting emotions in situations like this. There are certain things that are very important to me—I want my own bathroom, I want a big kitchen, I don’t want to live in an apartment—but I don’t want to be a pain to anybody. I don’t want to be the “problem client.” Really, I don’t NEED so many of the things I want. Am I selfish and/or shallow for hoping to have my dream someplace to live? Should I be content with something very simple instead? I want my home to be a sanctuary—a place I can come home to and know that I really am “home” at the end of the day. Because of my desire not to be a burden, it’s difficult for me even to make a wish list. All of these thoughts make me question why I want what I want. Some things I want because I like them and have never had them. Some I want because I have had them and know that I still want them. And what if my desires are born out of latent, unmet desires from my childhood? Is that so bad?

My realtor is very patient and willing to teach me everything I need to know about the house hunting process. He’s also kind enough to print out everything that fits my basic criteria so that I can circle, highlight, and mark up every page. This teaches me things about people’s differing taste. For example, did you know that evidently some people don’t mind that the master bathroom is also the only available bathroom for visitors to use? Or that some people feel it’s ok to build a bathroom in the kitchen? He may grow weary of my questioning ways before all is said and done, but for now at least he’s not complaining 😉

I’m hoping readers will get on and comment on what you know, what you love, what you hate, what you learned after you bought your house that you wish you’d known before, stuff like that. For example, I’ve learned that it’s important that you know you can work with your realtor before you sign an agreement to work exclusively with him. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some wonderful realtors, some inexperienced realtors, and (unfortunately) some unethical realtors. Did you know that you can actually interview several realtors and ask for references? You can, and indeed you should!

My next few weeks will be an adventure as I look for the perfect house for me. It’s an adventure I’m looking forward to. I’ll keep you posted.

In Him, Joni


Diet and Exercise April 24, 2010

Filed under: Exercise,Healthy Living — coffeegirl63 @ 8:42 pm
Tags: , , ,

Well, it’s time. And it’s been some time coming, too. I’m not sure what happened, really. It kinda snuck up on me. Oh, that’s not true. I’ve watched it approach, wished it away, denied it’s existed, pretended it didn’t bother me… But I procrastinate. What elephant-in-the-room am I so desperately hoping would shrink to a manageable size? It’s funny you should put it that way. In the last year, I have slowly but steadily increased in size so that I currently weigh more than I have in my life… at least, in my non-pregnant life. A couple of years ago, I was thin—skinny, truth be told. With the help of a friend, I put on weight until I was a very healthy size—mostly through healthy eating and exercise. He had this great boxing exercise that was fun and intense. I was strong and I felt great. I stayed that way for most of a year. Then we got busy and couldn’t exercise as often or for as long. Because I kept eating the same amount of food without burning anywhere near the number of calories, I gained weight. Logical, yes, but who wants to deal with reality when denial can seem to be such a lovely place. Then I got sick and couldn’t exercise at all for a few months. That’s all it took for my body to decide it was on a new path, one it seemed to embrace. (I hate when my body has a mind of its own. Well, technically, it *does* have a… ah, but I digress…) So, here I am now, forced back to reality by the fact that my clothes don’t fit, and I have neither the desire nor the finances to replace them with larger ones. Options? Let’s see…

My first successful weight loss was in high school. After a particularly traumatic event in my life, I coped by eating my emotions. Never a good idea, by the way. Then, someone very close to me made a comment about my appearance. Something along the lines of: Two-ton Tillie walking ‘cross the floor, couldn’t get through the kitchen door. Shocked and humiliated, I embraced the only route that made sense to me at the time: I quit eating. Anorexia—she seemed like such a good friend to me. She helped me lose the weight quickly. She helped me learn how to not feel the pain of life. Unfortunately, she was a liar and really cared nothing for me at all. Where Bulimia tends to hide her head in shame at her desire for beauty but her lack of self-control to achieve it, Anorexia stands proud in her complete sense of control and ability to be controlled by nothing—not even hunger or the taste of food. She lies. It’s not control; it’s fear… fear of how others will think or feel of me. Because I wasn’t completely suicidal, I eventually had to eat to survive. She is a precarious wall to hide behind. Besides, after about a year of living with her, I had a wonderful experience—just after my 18th birthday, I became a Christian. Living on the brink of life was no way to honor the One who had given me life. So, anorexia is no longer an option for me.

The way I lost weight after each of my babies was born was to go on a missions trip, eat mostly healthy, walk for 10 – 12 hours a day for a month. I’m not saying I recommend it as a diet plan, but that is how I got back into shape a year after each of my children was born… just in time for me to get pregnant again! Hmmm… coincidence? I argue that it is not! Those were wonderful, life-changing trips that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But after a season, it become too difficult, logistically and financially to take 4 children overseas every year or two. Counting on going into a controlled environment for one month whenever I became too heavy was unrealistic. Ok, so going on a missions trip in order to lose weight in not an option.

Another way I successfully lost weight was through Weight Watchers. It worked very well for me. I was able to follow the plan and I enjoyed the group of people I met there. I think one of the reasons WW works so well is the accountability and fellowship one can have with others who are walking the same path. It’s amazing how a group of people can join hands and laugh about what they’ve been so shamed for, and walk together toward health and wholeness, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying, but never alone and ashamed… and learning to take that confidence and success into other areas of their lives. The problem I had with WW was that once I reached my goal weight, I didn’t stop. I went on the maintenance plan, but I just kept losing. The other women in my class would rejoice when I had a weight loss every week, whether I was supposed to have one or not. I think part of what happens is we see someone doing what we do, and we have a choice to be more ashamed of ourselves because we’re too weak to accomplish what looks so easy for someone else or to take hope and courage that we can do the same thing. So, as I continued to waste away, I remained a beacon of hope to a group of women who aspired to the same for themselves. Somehow this didn’t seem to be a healthy role model for me to assume.  I also really don’t want to go back to eating fake sugar just so I can eat more!

There are other methods I could use to lose weight, but somehow they all seem to require various levels of self-starvation, stress, self-abuse in the form of mental flagellation, stuff like that. Unfortunately, I  renting a room from someone who keeps an eye on that and won’t allow any of it. Ok, fine, it’s not *really* unfortunate. But sometimes it *feels* unfortunate because I can’t just use my own warped tools to fix myself quickly.

And, thus, my dilemma… how to lose the weight, lose the inches, in a healthy and permanent way? If only I had a boyfriend I could be healthy and cute and skinny for, then I’d be happy! Oh, wait, no… that’s not it. Don’t get me wrong… I really do want a boyfriend, and eventually to marry again, but that’s not the solution… but maybe it’s a subject for a future post—my life in the dating world. So, ok, back to reality. I know that the safest, best, healthiest way to lose weight is to eat well and to burn the calories at a sufficient rate. It seems lately that I can’t find or make the time to get in a regular workout at the gym.  I haven’t been able to run lately because I got a cold last fall that never completely left my lungs, and because I’ve put on so much weight that it hurts my knees. I have a friend who owns a couple QuickGym locations here in the Springs. He introduced me to the workout about a year ago, but I wasn’t consistent. He’s been encouraging me lately to get back into it. As crazy as my schedule is, it’s completely do-able. The workouts only take 5 – 10 minutes to complete. Here’s a link to his website. I have a friend who has offered to train me at the gym, but our schedules never seem to coincide. I think I’ll take the gym workouts when I can get them, but these quick workouts will be the exercise piece of the puzzle for now. (I don’t know if that analogy works. That means it’s really only a two-piece puzzle—so simple most people wouldn’t even look at it… uh, oh… I think I just found the point!)

This week, I started paying attention to what I’m eating. I’m working on eating mostly produce and whole grains for a little while, probably a week or two, to kind of stifle my sweet tooth a bit. I haven’t missed sugar-treats or been hungry, so that helps a lot. When I add in the exercise again, I should start feeling better very quickly. I am hereby giving you permission to ask me from time to time how I’m doing in these areas.

In Him, Joni


Los Angeles and Sisters April 17, 2010

Filed under: California,Times with My Family — coffeegirl63 @ 11:46 pm
Tags: , , ,

I flew to LA on Thursday afternoon for a class on Friday. The class was good. It was on the payroll module for the accounting software I use at work. The teacher was one I’d had before for other modules, and I enjoy his teaching style. And, yes, on the evaluation at the end of class, I said that Charles is a rock star… but then I went on to explain because, as Sir Richard Steele says, “Whenever you commend, add your reasons for doing so; it is this which distinguishes the approbation of a man of sense from the flattery of sycophants and admiration of fools.” On the other hand, the waiter I had at the Crown Plaza next door to the training center was NOT a rock star. I should have known when his response to my question, “which do you think is better, the Ahi tuna sandwich or the Angus burger?” was “I can’t tell you that.” Evidently, he really wasn’t allowed to tell me. When I let him know that my Ahi tuna was so cold there were ice crystals, he had to ask the manager b/c he wasn’t allowed to make his own decisions. If he’d stuck around for a moment, I’d have explained to him that I gave him full permission to make his own decision–which should have been to let the kitchen know. I wasn’t asking for a free meal, b/c I ate most of the sandwich, but I thought the chef would just like to know. By the time the manager came out to see about the problem customer, I was ready to just be done with it. He was pretty unpleasant, but he finally said to the waiter, “oh just give her 40% off her tab!” like he was deigning to do me a favor. Lovely!

I’ve spent most of today hanging out with my sister. We’ve been mostly lazy–watching TV, talking, planning, solving the world for each other. My sisters are completely opposite in personality. I mean literally completely opposite! But somehow I manage to get along really well with each of them. That makes me either a chameleon or just very flexible. I’m not sure, but somehow I’m ok with that. I enjoy time with my sisters, and I’m grateful to have them. Unfortunately, I only had a short time with my older sister… usually, we have a week or so, but between tax season, and my busyness at work, I was happy to get what I could: one day.

Tomorrow I head back to Colorado. I’m going to start looking for a house. Well, I hope I get a house… anyway, a place to live. I’ve never lived on my own, and I’m looking forward to it.

It’s late now, and I’ll have some time at LAX tomorrow. Since they don’t have free wi-fi at the airport (seriously? who even does that??), I’ll write about my thoughts regarding a new home.

In Him, Joni


Lysander April 13, 2010

Filed under: Pets — coffeegirl63 @ 6:56 am
Tags: , , ,

Yes, it’s been a few days since I’ve written. My last two days in CA were packed. I started a post in the airport on my way back, intending to finish and post it when I got home. Unfortunately, on my way home, I got some very sad news. My Brazilian Rainbow Boa Lysander died at the pet-sitter’s while I was in CA. They have no idea why, and it’s a place I generally trust, but it breaks my heart. He was very gentle, and he loved to be held. He knew the different people in his life, as evidenced by his “snuggle” position with each of us. With me, his mama, he always snuggled on my chest, usually left side near my collarbone. I understand that many of you will not think of affection, snuggling, and sweetness in the same sentence as snake of any breed, but maybe sympathy will come if you think of your own pets, no matter what species they may be. (In other words, please don’t leave comments on this post about how disgusting you think this is… it’s not funny or helpful.)

I have been fascinated by spiders and snakes since I was young. About a year and a half ago, I discovered a local reptile store Scales & Tails, but only as a less-expensive way to get crickets for my tarantula, Charlie. The people who work there are friendly and very knowledgeable (for example, they explained that Charlotte, who I’d bought from a chain pet store before I knew better, was actually Charlie). I often went into Scales & Tails just to see, and hold, the snakes. Last year on my birthday, they set me up. The offered to let me hold a Brazilian Rainbow Boa–the most beautiful snake I’d ever seen. An hour later, I had a birthday present for myself. We quickly bonded, and I had a little more than a year of a sweet relationship. 🙂

My favorite picture of Lysander and me

Lysander hanging out with one of the other “roommates”

While today I grieve, I also hang onto the precious memories I have of our year together.

And tomorrow my post will be more upbeat. 😀

In Him, Joni


Validations and Affirmations April 8, 2010

Filed under: Life Questions,Love — coffeegirl63 @ 6:46 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

A good friend of mine, Kevin Knebl, really encouraged me to start writing for public viewing. He began some time ago… pretty much as soon as I told him that I wanted to. That’s the thing about Kevin—he’ll always encourage you to do the thing that you believe will bring you fulfillment. Funny, huh? Kevin inspires me in a number of ways, but the inspiration that I would like to address here is a 16-minute YouTube video called Validation. If you take the 16 minutes to watch the video before reading further, the following will probably make more sense.

Validation. What makes you feel validated? Is it someone, anyone, telling you that you are great? Does it need to be a specific someone for the validation to seem real, to really feed your soul? Watching the Validation video created many questions in my mind, most of which are currently unanswered. I feel, however, that part of this journey called life is to seek the answers and learn how those questions are answered for us. Those answers sometimes seem to only lead to more questions, requiring us to examine ourselves, our journeys, and our purpose to answer the newly-formed questions.

Something else I’ve been learning from this week: I’m reading the book In the Meantime by Rob Brendle. The tagline for this book is “the practice of proactive waiting.” I’ve never been good at waiting, but I’m realizing that this journey is not only necessary but is unavoidable. For most of my life, I thought this necessity to be an unfortunate one. However, as my wise friend Art has told me more than once, I need to learn to embrace the process. I always thought the goal was to “arrive” and then to live the rest of my life in ease as an “arrived” one. Alas, it seems we never fully arrive until we arrive at the Pearly Gates. “In the Meantime,” there can and will be joy in the process as we live out our purpose in life. So, below are the thoughts I regularly think about all this.

Back to validation… Have you thought about what validates you, what feeds your soul? For me, it feeds my soul when I know that I’m appreciated, when I know that I’m making a positive difference in people’s lives. Physical touch also feed my soul. To those of you who recognize these aspects, you will know that physical touch and closeness and words of encouragement are two of my top love languages.

It fascinates me how people’s souls are fed. What happens when a person’s soul is fed for the first time, or for the first time in so long it’s been forgotten? How does it affect the life of the one who’s doing the feeding? Does it feed the soul of the feeder? What about when the feeding stops—either direction? Or if someone doesn’t feel the soul-hunger? What if there’s so much hurt that we have turned off our natural hunger mechanism? Can we feed our own souls? How much does it feed our souls to feed others? What does it do to our souls if others won’t be fed?

What if you’re in a situation where the physical touch or the affirmations are not readily available? If I thrive in a situation that involves hugs and hand-holding and “you’re amazings” and “thank you for all you dos” but those situations are not where I currently live, how do I create a thriving environment? I firmly believe that God does not create me to thrive and grow in certain environments, and then expect me to live with the lack. I also don’t believe He wants me to live in a holding pattern. So what is the answer? I’ve had some tell me that I need to let God fill those needs for me. I’m not saying God can’t or won’t meet my needs. I’m just saying that I don’t understand what it means to be satisfied by the hugs of God. I’ve been told that the most satisfying dance or physical touch is the one I get from God. Maybe I’m just too carnal, too shallow, but I just don’t understand that. How do I live as a single woman when what I really thrive in is mutual affirmation through touch, service, and words?

I understand that a lot of this expresses my lack of satisfaction with my current situation. While this is partially true, I also see that I am where I am in life for a reason. There’s a definite purpose in my life, where I am, right now. It’s a paradox.

I know that I don’t currently have a large following, but do any of you have thoughts on this? I’m not just looking for answers to “my problems,” but I would like to hear your feedback. Any thoughts, anyone? Anyone?


Lazy Days, Birthdays, and Contests April 7, 2010

Filed under: Relaxing,Times with My Family — coffeegirl63 @ 10:25 pm
Tags: , , ,

Today was a very lazy day. I stayed inside and watched old episodes of Bones. I didn’t walk today, which I wanted to, so I sorta wasted a pretty nice day. But I’m catching up on sleep—important as I head into a very busy time at work.

I went to my grand-niece’s birthday party tonight—she turned 5 today. It’s an interesting thing to go to a child’s birthday party when one’s own children are past the little-kid-party stage. There’s a completely different perspective regarding what’s adorable. The kids were running around, but not like doped-up-on-sugar maniacs. These kids tonight were pretty well-behaved, which was nice. Jeanice is a kid magnet. They love her and follow her and talk to her… I think because she listens to them and has conversations with them like they’re real people.  I’m not sure who first decided that piñatas should be indestructible, but it was a bad idea. These poor kids are hitting and hitting and hitting (they each got three tries), all to no avail. In the end, they brought one of the dads in because otherwise the festivities would go on forever. The final ritual at any kid party is to pass out cake and ice cream. It has to be the final ritual because the kids are too loopy or cranky to be reasonable after that much sugar.

Speaking of not making kids crazy with artificial foods… (nice segue, huh?) I’d like to mention my friend, Julie, and her blog. If any of you are into really healthy eating, she’s to go-to girl for that. She and her family have committed to a raw vegan lifestyle. Any time I need to know anything about healing the body through natural means or just feeling better or any of that, I ask her. She usually has an answer back for me within a day—what she doesn’t know, she can find out through her amazing network. For example, I have a very good friend who is deathly allergic to peanuts and all tree nuts. I love quinoa, but every package I’ve ever seen has a warning label: processed in a factory that also processes tree nuts. So she’s never been able to taste quinoa. I asked Julie, and that day she had the name of a manufacturer that would be safe for my friend, Allyson.

Julie’s daughter, Misha, is a wonderful photographer; so any food they blog about will have a beautifully photographed presentation for the readers. She regularly has contests offering free goodies—some of the products that she has tested and found to be wonderful. If you would like to check out the blog and/or enter the current giveaway (the most amazing glass straws, seriously, you’ll be hooked forever!), visit her blogsite.

Tomorrow we’ll plant flowers and do some more baking.

On a final note… why does everyone laugh when you mention the planet Uranus by name? No one laughs when you talk about any other planet…

Blessings, Joni