Category Archives: thoughts

Not Alone

As I read through posts of friends and acquaintances and people in twitter I’m astounded by the number of people who talk about letting go of anxiety and stress and embracing self-acceptance.

Wow.

So often through the struggles of the last year I felt alone, and quite frankly stupid for my feelings because I’m 49 and I kept telling myself it was nuts to be going through this now.

Today makes me feel so much better.

There’s no right or wrong time for how I feel. I feel how I do when I do. The end.

But I also see that fighting the feelings and letting them get in my head and lead to negative self-talk is something I can work on fixing.

As they said in the Daily Calm today: “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

Here’s to new endings and accepting me for me in whatever state I’m in.

Happy New Year!

What I’m reading: Atomic Habits (Audible)

What I’m loving: Daily Calm ❤️❤️❤️ and DoTERRA On Guard mouthwash and #LCHF

What I’m writing: So Much for Happily Ever After

Goodbye 2018

…You weren’t all bad, but man oh man did you stink.

Fortunately the sucky parts of life lead to big lessons. For me the lessons were mighty.

1. The outside chaos becomes inside chaos if I let it. I’m addicted to news and have been my entire adult life. The outside chaos of the Trump administration led to a lot of real emotional damage in my heart and mind. The hate and human rights atrocities compound day after day.

At the state level the Texas government is set to destroy public education. Texas is not alone, but Texas is where I live so Texas is my constant and it just floors me to see educators who insist on voting for these awful people because they’ve been bamboozled by culture war spewing hate mongerers.

Solution: limit the news input and work on changing things instead of letting things simmer. Give to candidates and causes, block walk, talk to people and help where I can.

2. Grief needs time and space and rushing through it to get back to “normal” will reach out and smack me in the face.

Solution: own my emotions, embrace them, walk in them and trust that God will get me through. Don’t “fake it till I make it” because that just leads to a breakdown.

3. Goals aren’t key. Goals end when I reach them and I switch back to what came before. (See NaNoWriMo, weight, starting over…the list is never ending).

4. Embrace the good: I have a new granddaughter 😍, Brian and I get to see each other more over break, my students rock, I enjoy my job, the list here is also never ending and I need to give thanks daily.

5. Meditation matters: This is new for me. I mean I’ve meditated before but not consistently. The Calm app is making this easy and it makes an incredible difference.

6. Affirmations make a difference and negative self-talk destroys. It’s easy to fall into negative self-talk, at least it is for me. I have to make a conscious effort to change that and I am doing so.

7. Be happy with me where I am even though I want to be better. This one is huge and something I am working on daily. I like me. I like my life. I like what I have to give to the world.

I’m glad to let 2018 go and I’m looking forward to 2019.

Currently reading: Atomic Habits

Currently Writing: (working title) So Much For Happily Ever After

Currently loving: DoTERRA On Guard mouthwash, cauliflower pizza crust, Dark Shadows TV show on Amazon Prime and Within Temptation’s Resist.

Low Carb Helps

I’m a week and half in to my LCHF eating, back on track after months of not worrying about my diet.

10 days.

My acid reflux is gone.

My mood is significantly better.

My menopause symptoms are gone.

I’m thankful for all of that. But the biggest change is in my ankle.

It could just be time after cortisone a month ago, but I think it’s more than that.

My ankle was impinged. Doc said he couldn’t say exactly why, but we were going to try cortisone and if that didn’t work we’d move to exploratory surgery. My ankle is filled with hardware so MRIs can’t tell us anything.

The cortisone made a HUGE difference, but I still had to wear compression socks and boots.

Last Saturday I noticed the pain was gone. Yesterday I had full ankle mobility for the first time in months.

I’m not a doctor, but it’s pretty great that I feel better across the board AND the inflammation in my ankle is gone.

I have an ugly relationship with food. Low Carb helps with that. Hopefully this helps even more!

My Name is Mary Beth Lee, and I’m a Sugar Addict

Weight.

Weight.

Weight.

Weight.

“I don’t care. I’m eating creme brûlée.”

That’s how it started last December.

Who am I kidding? It started when I was four. I still remember seeing my picture and thinking man, I’m fat.

But this iteration of my addiction started last December 17.

Two and half years into a low carb lifestyle, solid size 10 and holding I went to Vegas with hubby for our anniversary.

On the flight there I told him I was eating creme brûlée. By the time we landed I’d decided to put my eating plan on hold.

Again.

Even though low carb loving me has a ton more energy, can maintain my weight, has the best blood work, has no arthritis pain, breathes better and rarely gets sick.

But, I told myself, it’s no big deal. It’s four days in Vegas. I can handle it.

And, I sort of did.

The thing is, after that, those “breaks” happened a little more often. A piece of chocolate here, mashed potatoes there, chips and hot sauce and queso. Tamales. Margaritas.

You know. Little celebrations where food became my go-to instead of my fuel.

And I mostly maintained. I gained 10 pounds over six months, but I could drop that in a month with dedication and exercise.

That’s what I told myself as I took out the size 13s and 14s.

And then my father-in-law’s terminal cancer turned into a dark, dreaded awfulness. The every two week trips became weekly back and forth from Ft. Worth to Lawton. DH stayed there mostly. Life was a waiting game and fast food and family and stories and shared desserts and visiting and mourning and trying to stay positive and knowing the inevitable end was here.

When my father-in-law passed away,) I vowed to get it together, get back on plan, take care of myself.

The 10 pounds had become 20. The 14s, 16s.

I banned sugar from my existence. I got my flu shot.

My voice disappeared for three weeks. The first week was a weird laryngitis. The next two weeks were filled with the kind of sickness where chicken noodle soup seems like the perfect answer. Adding a piece of carrot cake to that McCallister’s order was just medicine.

The 20 pounds became 30.

And of course, that weight destroyed my body. Arthritis reared its ugly head. My ankle impinged. I had to use a scooter to get around.

You’d think THAT would be my wake up call. It took about three weeks more for me to get my head straight.

My relationship with food is all kinds of messed up. It has been my entire life. I know that. My body chemistry is different from the norm. As my doctor says, I need to steer clear of white foods. 😊

It’s not “fair,” it’s a pain in the neck to eat with friends, it’s life without ice cream–and don’t even get me started on devil’s spawn Halo Top, that slippery slope to sugar hell.

I can wish all day that working out was the answer. It’s not enough for me. Neither is simple calorie reduction.

One thing works in a way that is healthy for me. No short cuts. No “time off.” No sushi.

I started this blog a bajillion years ago with the plan to focus on weight loss, writing and family. I have no idea how many pounds I’ve lost and gained, but let me tell you, I am expert level at both.

That’s got to stop.

I know it.

So here’s to me losing weight while getting healthy, again. If we’re friends in real life, I hope you won’t be offended when I turn down the M&Ms or your homemade cupcakes or those Christmas tamales. My body needs me to say no.

Limits and Boundaries

I want to reclaim my joy. I want to reclaim my peace. I want to reclaim the feeling that all is right in my own little world.

I’m not sure how to do that.

I could take a social media break and turn off all the news. But burying my head in the sand isn’t a real answer.

I give to ACLU. I donate to candidates who support public education.

And still I turn on the news and see the border situation (We tear gassed children today. That’s nice.) and just want to cry.

Setting limits and building boundaries might work.

We’ll see.

It’s been 2 years. It feels like the whole world has changed.

I remember when all this started a political activist I follow said choose your thing, your focus, or the next four years will make you crazy. I chose public education. It’s an issue that crosses party lines. Most people are impacted by the war on public schools.

But focusing in this environment is so hard.

Still, I need to try.

I need to make finding things to be joyful for a habit again. I need to surround myself in positivity. I’m listening to Michelle Obama’s new book. That’s a start. 😊

The next four weeks are Yearbook Yearbook. That’s always fun.

My new granddaughter is such a miracle. My older granddaughter is a doll. My daughter is a strong woman. Those are things to be thankful for.

I got to spend nine days with DH. That’s always nice, especially after the last two and a half years.

I love Fort Worth.

Tarrant County voted blue.

I hit 30k on my NaNo novel, and I’ve done it without killing anyone or blowing stuff up. That’s a different kind of book for me.

I’m planning my next CLE trip.

I’m planning the beach trip.

My job is fun.

We took a microwave to my classroom today.

Creative Writing Club is still hilarious.

I’m back on low carb (day 2, yes!).

Young and the Restless is still fun to watch.

I saw an ad for a new Bridgerton book.

I got an air fryer on The Macy’s Black Friday sale.

Beto didn’t win but he’s not going anywhere either and his message is amazing.

It’s Christmastime.

There’s a Christmas station on my radio.

I have FOUR Stars games coming up.

I snagged a bag of Thanksgiving blend coffee before it sold out.

Our Bass Hall season tickets were in the mailbox today!

Gas is cheaper.

I can’t eat romaine but spinach is safe.

My ankle is still fine. The shot worked!

We watched Hitchcock and it was GREAT!

I’ll see my writer’s group friends this week!

Yeah. That helped. ❤️

Thanksgiving Family Flight Drama

I thought they were going to fight. One row in front of me a woman sat with her SO not saying a word, phone out taking notes of the invectives as the woman in front of her hurled hateful words in her direction. Eff this, eff that, they’re my blood, love them, eff, eff, eff. The longer she ranted, the more slurred her speech became. After a few minutes, she passed out on her SO’s shoulder, and both men sighed and said “finally.”

The women were beautiful. I looked around to see if there were cameras because it played out like a Real Housewives scene.

Nope. Just Thanksgiving family flight drama.

At first when the screamer started, I thought she was just ranting about something going on in the airport, but after a minute it became apparent this was ugly and personal. The three others in the group didn’t respond much. They’d seen this before, I figure.

But WE hadn’t, and in those minutes while the scene played out, a million thoughts crossed my mind.

I had my noise canceling Bose. Should I put them on and try to ignore what was going on? Should I pass them forward to the woman being verbally skewered?

At first it wasn’t even obvious they were traveling together. I listened for a few seconds and wondered if we should intervene. Once it was obvious they were family, I wasn’t as worried.

But I did wonder what would I have done if they WEREN’T related? The news is filled with people going on awful rants while others look on in stunned silence. Every once in a while someone speaks up. I always thought I would be that person. The one who got involved. But being in the situation and living in that pause while we watched in stunned silence, I don’t know. That pause leads to questions, to should I-shouldn’t I-what should I do?

There’s not a one size fits all answer.

Fortunately, watching this situation, playing the part of stunned bystander worked out all right.

A Weird I’m Thankful

I’ve always had worst case scenario brain. I’ve turned the possible bad outcomes of a situation over and over in my brain, allowing those thoughts to paralyze me. My mistakes play over in my mind again and again while I try to think of should haves and could haves.

Once I was on my way to a wedding and stopped in the middle of the trip, turned around and went back home where I suffered through the guilt of not going. But I couldn’t. My brain took over and stopped me cold. I was shaking from the inside just thinking about walking into the celebration filled with people.

Most of the time I can fake it. Force myself forward. Power through. But when I can’t, I really can’t.

I thought all that was normal, just part of me. I’ve said I’m a shy extrovert to explain it, even though that didn’t feel quite right.

It wasn’t until my daughter started posting regularly about her battles with depression and anxiety that I learned nothing about that is normal.

I’m thankful today as I visit with my daughter and her family that she is so open about the challenges she’s faced. I know it’s helped me, and I bet it’s helped others as well.

Putting Me Together Again

I know I struggle when my space blows up and chaos reigns.

Chaos has been the norm for much of the last two and a half years, but I dealt with it until this summer.

Looking back I can see where I quit trying to keep order. I didn’t let go and let God. I just let go.

That song Jesus Take the Wheel? Without Jesus you’re just driving blind.

That’s where I’ve been.

I haven’t lived, I’ve existed.

Today, I’m changing that.

I know I still have to let go, but I’m going to remember AND practice Let God. (If you’ve followed my blog for more than a minute, you know I struggle with this.)

Chaos is still the order of the day, but I don’t have to let it reign.

Wish me luck.

We all knew them

If you are a sexual assault survivor and are suffering after the last week, please reach out to experts who can help. https://www.rainn.org

No, boys will not be boys.

No, this wasn’t just “the way things were in the 80s” (as if sexual assault was no big deal back then).

But yes, we all knew the rapey boys. the horn dogs. The predators. The ones who assaulted drunk people. Sometimes they gang raped, whole groups of “nice boys” raping a passed out person, one after another. Sometimes they held a person down on the bed and said you know you want it. Always after the victim was a slut. Almost always after people knew. Lots of people. Especially the young people. But a fair share of adults knew too.

Consent wasn’t an issue we talked about back then. The buddy system was. Go to a party without a buddy, you were asking for it. Stay at a party without a buddy, what did you think would happen?

No, it didn’t always happen.

But it happened enough that if it didn’t happen to you, you personally knew someone it had happened to.

My freshman year at university a police officer met with us before we went dancing at college night at a local club.

“If a person is too drunk to say no, it’s not yes. If a person changes their mind it’s not yes.

Use the buddy system.

Watch out for each other.”

Some people in the room thought the warnings were weird, but most of us knew the truth.

We’d watched people destroyed because there were men in our lives who viewed people as sexual objects, the end. We’d watched people harassed and bullied non-stop after getting caught alone at a party. Or for daring to speak up about their abuse.

A couple years later most of us in that room knew at least one someone who’d committed suicide after her rape at a party. All of us knew people who chose to keep the trauma quiet and move on with life because it was easier that way or because they felt they were to blame for their own assault.

I don’t know why I thought we’d changed as a society after those years.

I thought we’d learned, grown up. We’d read Speak. Consent was a normal part of conversation now. Wasn’t it?

But then this week happened.

We haven’t grown at all.

It’s still her fault or alcohol’s fault or boys being boys, as if rape were the norm. As if alcohol was a green light to sexually assault people.

But one thing has changed. People are DONE letting rape culture perpetuate without fighting back.

No one has to reveal their trauma. No one has to write their #metoo moment for the world to see and share and rage over.

But we can.

We can also make sure our children understand consent completely.

I heard a story on NPR about a middle school girl who led the charge to make consent part of sex education in her state.

She had to fight to make it happen because some legislators in her state said “consent” implied it was okay to have sex. Those legislators are the problem, and their days in government are numbered.

Whatever else happens after this week I hope it leads to constant conversations about consent, and I never want to hear boys will be boys again. Because no, most men don’t automatically decide rape or attempted rape is fine when they’re drunk. Not even if they’re teenagers.

*This week has left so many people hurting. Whether they choose to share their #metoo or not, those impacted by sexual assault have had the trauma constantly brought to the surface this week. Hugs to all.

If you’re hurting and can handle levity right now, my daughter shared this with me.

Language alert, but it made me feel better.

Big Chef In The Sky

Big Chef was the place. An old fashioned diner complete with a counter, a customer base of retirees composed of aging vets and the requisite crew of wait staff who could dish out the sass as quickly or even quicker than they took it.

When my father-in-law walked in, a chorus of “Lee” sounded around the place and he would say hello to all as he led us to the counter for a burger and fries or tater tots and hot chocolate or coffee and coffee and coffee. We weren’t there often, but Johnny was, and he wasn’t alone.

Big Chef is gone now, replaced this week by a new diner. The other patrons are almost all gone too. Cancer, old age, heart problems. Time does that.

I never understood the real magic of Big Chef until visitation for my father-in-law.

Everyone there loved Johnny. Many of them had met at Big Chef, and over the years he’d had them over for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Sunday dinners he cooked.

One of his Big Chef friends drove hours from Port Arthur for the visitation. Johnny served as an honorary pall bearer for that friend’s wife back in 2010. The man was a truck driver who stopped in at Big Chef regularly and ended up as much family as friend.

Another Big Chef friend lived across the street from Johnny. The World War 2 vet enjoyed being known as a grumpy old man even more than Johnny did. When he got sick, Johnny and a few other Big Chef friends checked in on him all the time and made sure he ate, took him up to Big Chef, went out to visit him at the Veteran’s Center when he couldn’t continue to stay at home. That friend’s daughter took Johnny to the hospital years ago when he had a blood clot and probably save his life. She was with Brian and Johnny when Johnny took his last breath last Friday at the Veteran’s Center.

Other Big Chef friends checked in on Johnny often over the last two and a half years as Johnny battled metastasized lung cancer. They were there for the car auctions and the time out in the shop working on the classic car collection, something the doctor said gave Johnny quality of life and would help him live longer. It did too. Until the last few weeks of his life, Johnny worked on those cars with his friends. Friends made at a diner first years and years ago.

Big Chef was a place.

But it was a whole lot more than that.

Johnny at the Big Chef diner counter

Eugene Johnny Lee

March 13, 1936 – Sept. 14, 2018

He was a good father-in-law. He will be missed.

Obituary

Memorial slideshow