The Year of Magical Thinking…

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan DidionWith apologies to Joan Didion* for stealing her title, I am doing that thing. You know the thing I mean? Where you do the “year ago today” thing and look back and think about what you were doing a year ago and sort of relive last year while living this year and feel like you are in two places at once.

It screws with my head.

Magical thinking.

See, magical thinking is based in patterns. We think we see patterns where there aren’t patterns or create patterns where we want them to be. So, if I really want to believe something, I will start looking for proof and–as if by magic–I find it!

It might be my thinking if I wait to have children until my mother did (at least 24 years old) then it isn’t an “accident” and my children will be welcome and approved.

It might be my thinking that if I have always fallen in love in the fall and it is now fall that–wha la!–I should be running into Mr Right (Now) at any moment.

It might even be that if I could turn back the clock to those moments before the events that sent me reeling toward right now occurred that I could, somehow, avert them.

It doesn’t matter that my mom was divorced within 4 years of giving birth. (I didn’t follow the logic past the “approval” to see if the pattern held, I would be a single mom shortly.)

It doesn’t matter that the reason I have always fallen in love in the fall is because that is when you go back to school and hook up with a new guy. (Yeah, I am back in school–but all of the guys are either married or gay which makes them somewhat unsuitable for my love interest.)

It doesn’t even matter that I can’t turn the clock back and even if I could that I couldn’t change anything except–perhaps–the day it all finally blew apart. (The wasband’s temper was hardly within my control.)

I am still doing it. Magical thinking. Looking for the pattern. Trying to find control when, frankly, I have none.

There is a time for looking back. It helps to understand what got you where you are. But at some point, you have to point forward. I am working toward the balance between reflection and action.

Driving home tonight I was absolutely terrified for about 20 seconds. Why? I realized that I was on the road with my little kids and no one expected me at the other end. I could vanish from the earth and it would be at least 12 hours before anyone noticed. I felt completely disconnected. It was an acute attack of the larger unease I have been feeling the last few days. Generally, I am a pretty upbeat, expecting-the-best kinda girl. The last few days have found me worried about everything–money, health, death, school, friends, love, car, and so on–and unable to accomplish much of anything.

I think it is the Magical Thinking pushing me in this direction. As scary things happen to the people around me, I can’t help but wonder if I am on a bad-luck stretch of the highway. I am looking for the clues that my turn to get sideswiped is comin’. Enough already.

I need a good night’s sleep. I need to make a list of the stuff that I need to accomplish. I need to pat myself on the back for successfully navigating one of the hardest years of my life–while managing to graduate from school, homeschool two children, and stay at goal weight.

I can do this–whatever this might be. And I don’t have to resort to magic.

*OMG if you haven’t read this book, go now and find it! It seems trite to use words like “breathtaking” and “perfect” but The Year of Magical Thinking is both. I read it in two sittings and am going back to read it again. It is one of those books that sets you to making lists of people who need copies. I feel like I should write Joan Didion a thank you note for opening up her soul. But that seems even more trite than saying her book is “perfect.”

That Whole “Life” Thing…

I seem to recall a post about a month ago that expressed the hope that Life would calm down so that I could keep my gym commitment. Well, hmmm, it seems that I may not have control over that. Ahem.

My sister is in the hospital with complications from her C-section which birthed my niece (also the subject of a previous blog.) I am not counting the all-day lugging of a carseat filled with nearly 12 pounds of baby, and all of her requisite accessories as an official “workout” but I am feeling my efforts today!

In scale news: I am down to 172. It is an all-time low, even if it did take about a month to lose that 1/2 of a pound. I’ll take it! (And more, please!)

Tuesdays Are Free Days…

I can’t work out every day. Well, I can. But I won’t. Tuesday is my day to visit my shrinky dink (You didn’t think I got this insightful all on my own, did ya??) and go to my college class (more on that later). I get all crabby and overwhelmed at the thought of adding even one tiny thing to Tuesdays. Call me names, if you like, but I am taking Tuesdays off from the whole workout thing.

Why am I going on and on about this? Well, because after that college class (see, I told you it would come back up) we go out and get a bite to eat. Well, a bite may be a little bit of an underestimation. It is closer to a week’s worth of bites. I do really well in my quest to eat appropriate amounts of food all week, and then after class on Tuesdays I eat my weight in chips and salsa and follow it with a mega-entree chaser. It is like social drinking – only it’s eating – and even though I am *not* hungry and it is 9 o’clock at night, I keep putting food into my mouth until I want to puke from feelings of stuffation!

Now, if I spent the rest of the evening thinking thoughts like, “Wow! Dinner was yummy! I am so glad I ate it, ” it wouldn’t be a problem. But I am thinking, “Damn it! I feel like I am going to burst! And I bet those chips had 1000 calories in them, and let’s not even discuss the “nutritional value” of what I ate. It will take me two weeks to undo that meal…”

Stop it. Enough, already.

So, I recognize that I am eating food for a reason other than nourishment. Luckily it is in a very specific situation in which I have some control. It is time that I rethink how I approach after class eating. My action steps are:

  1. I will go to the restaurant’s website and see what options are on the menu that make better sense.
  2. I will pick out two or three options to keep in mind for future weeks’ outings.
  3. I will eat only when I am actually hungry, and not just because there is a pile of food sitting in front of me.
  4. I will remember that there is nothing wrong with ordering a dish of broccoli. I happen to really like broccoli.

Oh, I did see a 174.5 on ye ole scale this morning. As you are already aware, I did not work out today, but I did complete a 50 minute run to nowhere on the elliptical trainer yesterday. So, workout 27/200 is in the bag. All-in-all things are actually going very well in the fitness department.

Soap Box of the Day: I was hanging out at Brenna’s site this evening and she turned me on to a little study done on W*lmart’s impact on all of us. I knew I hated shopping there: I literally get lost and can’t find my way back out, and have sworn for years that they use mind control to prevent me leaving before I spend $300 on plastic crap. But this seals it. They officially suck*, and I can say that without fear of retaliation because there is a study to prove it. See, I am in college, (I warned you that you would hear more about this!) and in college you learn all about the importance of having a study to prove things before they can be asserted as fact.

*Suck is a technical term. For those unfamiliar with the jargon, please see

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