My life has been in a constant state of transition since my transplant. I am trying to do better and be better and not merely ‘exist’ any longer. The thing is, ‘existing’ is easy. It requires very little effort. Before my transplant, a typical day consisted of going through the motions, eating, sleeping, ‘waste’ management, and whatever else I wanted to do that required minimal effort. Watching the ‘boob tube’ (my stepdad’s word for television) probably came in second to sleep. I could lose hours, even days, lounging in front of the TV and binge-watching movies or television shows. A ‘triple feature’ night was not uncommon in my household, although I was the only one that seemed to get excited about watching three movies back-to-back. I have seen so many movies that I have lost track. In recent months, I have found myself reverting back to my old ‘viewing’ habits. I am pretty sure it all started around Thanksgiving, the holiday that reminds me that Christmas is just around the corner.
Christmas. My least favorite holiday. I know, it’s supposed to be joyful and festive and many people look forward to it each year; however, in my house, it might as well be doomsday. I get into such a deep depression that I lose hope that I’ll ever pull out of it. I always do, but when I’m in the ‘thick of it’, I am plagued by doubt that things will ever get better and have little hope. What’s my ‘go to’ when I get depressed? Why, television, of course! Television makes me happy! It helps me forget about my troubles and focus on other things, like other people’s troubles. I avoid the nightly news at all costs, but if there’s a good comedy or mystery/thriller or documentary or drama, I’m all in. And, apparently, I’ve been ‘all in’ since Christmas. That might explain my recent weight gain. This isn’t good! TV is like my kryptonite. I become weak and unmotivated in its presence. I don’t want to paint, I don’t want to write and I definitely don’t want to do chores (including cooking) when I get sucked in.
As hard as it is to resist the temptation of binge-watching the entire second season of ‘Community’ which I REALLY want to do, after watching two episodes today, I made myself get up and do something productive. Dinner wasn’t a huge deal because I made one of my no muss, no fuss meals. Yesterday, I cooked one of those pork tenderloins that you can pick up on certain $5 Fridays at Safeway and it was super easy! One of my kids gave me an Instant Pot a couple of years ago and it’s one of my favorite gifts. Want to make effortless pulled pork? Take one of those tenderloins, coat it in salt and pepper and ‘rub’, and then sauté it in the Instant Pot until all sides are browned. Once browned, add in chicken stock and apple juice, slather some BBQ sauce on the tenderloin, secure the lid, and set it to manually cook for 75 minutes. I love it! It’s cheap, simple and delicious. When you’re ready to serve it up, once you’ve shredded the pork, place a serving’s worth on a toasted hamburger bun, add some BBQ sauce, and enjoy!
Pulled pork goes great with so many side dishes, I love to pair it with beans and coleslaw, potato salad or macaroni salad. Tonight, I paired it with homemade coleslaw and beans. Once dinner was out of the way, rather than returning to the couch and watching several more episodes of ‘Community’ and/or a full-length feature movie (which is how I’ve been spending my evenings as of late), I remembered my promise to start dedicating more time to making art. Oh my gosh! Why did I make that promise? Change is so incredibly hard!! Ugh. As challenging as it was, I coaxed myself into the studio and made an effort. I wish returning to making art was ‘just like riding a bike’ but it doesn’t work that way for me, at least not right away. When my hand doesn’t touch a paintbrush for months on end, I feel like I’m starting from scratch. It’s as if I have to claw my way back to get back into ‘the flow’.
‘The flow’ is that magical period when time and space disappear. It’s when I get caught up in the moment or the ‘experience’. I can ‘shut off the noise’ and somehow, some way, everything seems to fall into place. I don’t achieve this every time I paint. Occasionally, it never comes. That’s when I take a razor blade to the canvas, remove it from the wooden backing, and throw it in the garbage. I don’t do that on a regular basis but it happens from time to time. When I have to ‘fight’ a painting, it takes the joy out of the process. There’s a specific ‘thing’ or ‘subject’ I no longer paint because it always turns into a ‘fight’, landscapes. What is it about the damn things? I have friends that can paint beautiful landscapes and they love the process, but whenever I attempt to, I get really stressed out and feel like hurting somebody afterward. For the health and safety of those around me, I stick to ‘close ups’.
Tackling the painting that I’ve had on ‘drydock’ for at least 9 months has been interesting. It features two buskers (a girl and a guy) dancing in Chinatown. I’m not sure what it is about the guy’s backside but I cannot seem to get it right. Some of it is in light and some of it is in shadow and I have become so discouraged that I’m ready to take a razor blade to the painting. I kept going over it again and again and all I managed to do was make it worse. Prior to that, I tried to work on his face and it (literally) went sideways, too. I know if I keep dedicating time each day to painting, ‘the flow’ will eventually kick in (hopefully) and it’ll all come together, I just have to be patient. I also have to be careful about not letting the paint build up too much on the surface. I don’t want it to look like a topographic map. Anyway, because my attempt at painting tonight didn’t go so well, I didn’t spend as much time as I’d planned BUT I did actually work on it so I do get at least two gold stars for effort.
Enough about painting! Let’s get back to ‘change is hard’! My friends, I don’t know about you but all of these holidays are killing me! Before my transplant, whenever a holiday was officially over, I would load up on all of the clearance candy. When I went to the grocery store yesterday, in order to make room for the Easter candy, the store associates had removed all of the Valentine’s candy from the shelves and transferred it to shopping carts with clearance stickers attached. Ack! Do you know how hard it was not to load up my basket with all of those chocolate hearts and kisses? Oh my gosh, I miss chocolate! I miss cookies and brownies and ice cream and candy bars and chocolate dipped strawberries. I miss See’s and Godiva and Lindt and Hershey’s and Reese’s and Nestle and Cadbury. I even miss Russell Stover! As much as I miss it and I want it, I’m terrified that if I take a bite I am going to go back to binge-eating again. I just don’t trust myself.
The last time I lost a significant amount of weight nearly 13 years ago, I ‘undid’ it all in just over a year by travelling down that slippery slope. It started out innocently enough and then I went ‘all in’, just like I tend to do with television. One harmless chocolate chip cookie turned into 4 cookies, a bowl of chocolate chip mint ice cream covered with hot fudge and cut up York peppermint patties (generously sprinkled over the top), a theater-sized box of Junior Mints and Hot Tamales or Jujubes and Raisinets, buttery popcorn, and a large soda. After my husband went to bed, I would then ‘sneak’ another 3 bowls of sugary cereal from the kitchen pantry. I don’t want to do that again! I felt like garbage and it just became a vicious cycle. I want to ‘do better’ and ‘be better’. Wah! Why must change be so hard? Maybe that’s why Theodore Roosevelt came up with the quote, “Nothing worth having comes easy”? I guess I just have to remind myself of that quote when I feel ‘weak’.
When I’m standing in the freezer section of the grocery store and the Blue Bunny Triple-Chocolate-Explosion Bunny Snacks beckon to me with their adorable paws and suggest that I try them ‘just this once’, or when I’m staring at the computer monitor and wracking my brain for something to write about on my daily blog and I begin to despair because nothing immediately comes to mind or when I’m sitting in my art studio and feeling discouraged because I can’t get the guy dancer’s face or butt right and I just want to give up, I have to remind myself of the famous and sage quote by our 26th president, “Nothing worth having comes easy”. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading my blog. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do, and I hope I was able to make you smile. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.