These boots are made for Rockin’

CarolwowmugHoly cow, it’s been a long time.

A lot of things have changed. For the better, I might add.

For one thing, I’m down 75 pounds from that day last spring when I was seriously depressed about my cowboy boots not fitting anymore.

As you can see from the pictures, those babies fit again.

And I am one happy cowgirl.

It has been a really busy four months. Since having the gastric sleeve surgery Jan. 15, mealtime has been very different for me. I’ve learned to slow down and focus on enjoying what’s on the plate instead of trying to finish it in record time. I’ve gotten more in tune with that little voice in my head that says “I’m full,” especially since its backup singer, my highlighter-sized stomach, is sometimes louder, with the familiar chorus “STOP!”

We also had family visiting, numerous trips to The Park (you know, that Disney place) and I worked the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival as an emcee. Oh yeah, and my freelance work.

“Sorry, been busy” should be my new tattoo.

Don’t worry, it’s not all traumatic. It’s just been a big learning process. I never realized how much attention I would have to pay to what went into my mouth.

Some habits die hard. My fridge and freezer are still packed. Even though the kids are gone and our family of five has dwindled to one hungry husband who loves my cooking and two eager pitties waiting for what I can’t finish, my mindset is still “shop for a crowd.”

But to answer those wondering “what can you eat?,” let me offer this:

Gone forever: carbonated drinks. I don’t miss soda, but I do miss Perrier. Water or iced tea for me, thanks very much. And, of course, coffee. Without coffee, adulting is really hard.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 9.29.44 PMAlcohol is on vacation until November, when I’m going wine tasting with my girl gang – although I know that I’ll be stopping at one glass instead of the “several sips, then why not get a glass or two or three” of the past. I will learn to choose wisely.

Fried foods are verboten. They are so bad for you on so many levels and over my lifetime, I’ve already consumed enough of them to be content with the memory.

Bread, traditional pasta and rice (especially rice) are history. I haven’t had a sandwich since December. Tried once. When you have this procedure, one try is all you need to give you an unforgettable reminder that sandwiches are not your friend. I am discovering the joys of quinoa and farro, some more protein-friendly whole grains. I still need fiber in my diet and they are delicious.

ahi_tuna_pokeAhi tuna and poke have become my new addiction. Chicken breasts and a good steak (gristle makes me very cranky now) or some tender brisket are my go-to. Keep the sides.

If I’m a guest in your house, don’t hide the cookies or cake. Just be prepared to share. I’m seriously good with one bite, just to enjoy the flavors. That’s really all I want.

Two trash bags of clothing have already gone to the Assistance League’s thrift shop and I’m working on the third. I have to find a dress to wear to present scholarships this week and I’m hoping that one or two of those I kept aren’t too big. Isn’t that crazy? Maybe I should wear pants and the infamous boots.

notthereyetbutdown

I’m still walking near the Iron Horse Trailhead at least once a week. I move a LOT more around the house, getting out of my office chair at least once an hour. Walking around Disneyland is a daylong adventure that ends when I want it to (around the 10,000 step mark) instead of gasping and sweating and wondering if they would deliver a scooter to Frontierland so I could just make it to the parking lot. When it gets a little bit warmer, I’ll be back in the pool for water aerobics. I tried Pilates, and I don’t think that’s a good fit; the difference is that I’ve made a deal with myself that if I don’t do the Pilates, I must do the pool. That feeling is definitely new.

SadiekissOf course, my favorite exercise is “weight lifting” and dancing with my 18-pound granddaughter. On one of my support pages, a woman posted a picture of her grandchild, saying that she was the reason she had the surgery. I posted Sadie’s picture and wrote a similar sentiment. Other sleevers (yes, we have a name) did the same and I realized that I was in great company with grandparents willing to make changes for the better to keep company with these little ones for a long, long time.

When everybody was home for Christmas last year, we took family pictures. They were wonderful and captured our unique spirit. But when I saw the pictures, I saw how much more there was of me than there should have been. I vowed that after I lost a good chunk of the weight, I would have head shots done, justifying the effort because I can use them for my blog and other marketing purposes.

I did that photo shoot a couple of weeks ago (with the amazingly talented Sarah Kreig, who also did our family shots) and I cannot tell you how much seeing those pictures gave me confidence and boosted my self-esteem. Even after all the doubt and self-examination and “could I have done this without the surgery?”  – I knew I did the right thing and I was so glad I would be able to share that with the world. Sarah did more than just headshots, she shot from top to toe, making sure to capture the slimmer middle, the fewer chins and included my Eight Second Angels with the hearts and scrollwork.

The boots fit. Now it’s up to me to take them in the right direction.

morning collage

 

Carol Rock is a writer based in the Los Angeles area. She is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years experience covering all areas of news and features. She works as a freelance public relations and media consultant, with writing remaining her strong suit. Her tattoo, if it were real, would read “Don’t Die Wondering.”

No formula for creativity in these boxes

This is how I feel when faced with an excel sheet
This is how I feel when faced with an excel sheet

I don’t do boxes.

There’s a running joke in our family that I do words and my husband does pictures.

I write stories and columns and press releases and articles for nonprofits and clients. He paints pictures and helps find the money that pays the bills.

I do our bills and try desperately to keep us afloat. Being a freelance writer makes that a daunting task, but I make it work.

My desk is covered in scraps of paper with old-fashioned addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. I am putting my grandchildren-to-be on notice right now that NanaRock does not do New Math.

I did have to learn Excel to pass a Statistics class during my recent return to college. God bless the handful of friends who came out of the woodwork from all over the country (no exaggeration here, help came from Virginia, New York, Newhall and Sacramento) to teach me just enough to be dangerous and earn a C in the class.

I knew a little about Excel from some temp jobs in my distant past and have had to use it a bit doing some lists and data management for public relations work.

I even have a copy of Excel 2010 for Dummies on my desk. I swear it has been cracked open, but that program that “everybody loves” is still the six-foot wall I never got over in the police academy.

Recently I was asked to put information that I’ve always put in lists into a spreadsheet.

The mere word gives me the creeps.

AAAAAUGH!!!
AAAAAUGH!!!

Spreadsheet. Numbers. Data. Little boxes in which there is never enough room.

I know, I know, you can make the boxes as big as you need to. What happens then is that you have a spreadsheet (there’s that ugly word again) the size of a set of blueprints. I run out of tape putting them together.

Another task on my plate was to take a sprea- uh, boxy document – that someone had filled out and find missing or additional information.

I marveled at the paper’s variety of colors. I initially appreciated the neat organization of the columns and sections, but was soon overwhelmed by the repetition and brevity.

I had so many questions, but the potential answers hid under earmarks and notes that I couldn’t open.

There are people who have tried to teach me about Excel, but I think I found the problem.

I am wired very differently than those people who zoom through spreadsheets (ick). Like an allergy to peanuts, a gut-slam from gluten, an anaphylactic reaction to stings; I am physically unable to work in the world of boxes.

I have been a writer for too many years to compartmentalize. I practice penmanship and write thank you notes. Why do I want to put names, addresses and zip codes in boxes if I’m going to handwrite – or at least type – a personal letter? There is no warmth in merging columns, but there is in a well-written sentiment.

I am at the age where I want to spend the rest of my time playing in my word garden. Learning them, using them, introducing new ones to the world. Taunting, teasing, tempting readers with promises of interesting verbiage and honest emotion.

I’m too warm and fuzzy for a (choke) spreadsheet.

Seriously, my eyes start to glaze over and my brain, which is usually rational, despite random musical numbers and grand ponderances wandering through, hurts. Physically hurts.

I got through college because I endeavored to persevere, not because I was good at boxes. If I was anything, I was creative. Outside of people like Bernie Madoff, I don’t think anyone is really creative when they work with numbers in boxes, let alone words in them.

One of my mantras is accepting everyone for their own personal strengths. Those people who whip around a spreadsheet at the speed of light I hold in high esteem. Most of them can’t write their way out of a paper bag. That’s my superpower.

So don’t be surprised when the call goes out to assemble, this avenger will show up with a notebook and a pen.

regular or decaf