When I first started “eating retro” and lost weight over ten years ago I was leaving behind the tyranny of an insatiable appetite which seemingly stemmed from two issues: my relationship to food and eating junk. Underlying the usual analysis of overeating and weight loss was that I was feeling sorry for myself. Why? Because I couldn’t eat as much as I wanted when I wanted without consequences. I was also attached to the illusion that a lifestyle of eating too much, especially sugar and refined carbs was somehow good for my soul. I mistook edible artifice for nourishment. I was always “hungry” but was feeding the wrong appetite. I was focused on eating all the things instead of seeing all the gifts from a healthy relationship to and with food. Why would I, right? Shouldn’t I be entitled to unlimited access to what was mine? Did God put food on my table? No! I worked hard to put that food on the table, and why even talk about God when all I wanted was an Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
Every sunny day beginning mid-February I’ve been looking outside my kitchen window for a sure sign of spring: a chipmunk on the deck. Our three friends, Claude, Buster and Sunny had not been seen since a couple of days after our wedding in September. The neighborhood chipmunks went underground much earlier last fall than the year prior, when they were out and about until November and reemerged in February/early March. Even at the boatyard a few towns over Wayne reported the same: no more chipmunk sightings by late September and none to date. So instead of going into a burrow for three months, it’s been SIX!
The Episcopal church commemorates St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals, by offering a blessing to all creatures brought to a service by their caretakers, usually in October. Our summer church, St. Ann’s in Kennebunkport, offers the blessing in July. Luckily for us, the wife of the Rector of our “winter” church, Rev. Sara D’Angio White, is a visiting pastor at an Episcopal church just a mile away from our home. I asked her if she would like to come to our house and bless our new family members from the Kennebunk shelter after a Sunday service, and she readily agreed! For the week leading up to this morning I let the Degu Sisters know that the “Holy Lady” would soon be coming to honor and bless them. (Someone suggested that we have the Rev. bless only one of the sisters to see if there is a difference in behavior afterward, ha!)
Yesterday evening while flipping through the channels before “Keeping Up Appearances” came on I stopped at Alvin and the Chipmunks. Look at Alvin the Chipmunk in the 1960s versus today. Personally I think the modern day animations are mostly abominations. Alvin no longer even remotely resembles a chipmunk!
This was the first Christmas for Wayne and I as a married couple, so for the weeks leading up to it we talked about what we will do to create lasting traditions. Tradition is such a comforting word in an uncertain world, isn’t it? Yet things didn’t happen as we had hoped. The cold I had from last week continues to steal my voice and morphed into a nasty cough, the kind that leaves my ribs aching, so I’ve been consuming lots of cough syrup, lozenges and medicinal teas. Because of that we obviously needed to forgo a Christmas Eve service, something we really had been looking forward to doing, especially after missing church on Sunday. Yet things turned out in ways we couldn’t have anticipated.
A year ago this week a chipmunk I later named Wishy walked into our life. Although he is no longer on this earth he is still with us. One of the many things he showed me is that you never know when something or someone wonderful will show up out of the blue and bring you unexpected happiness. At that time there was no snow on the ground and temps were above normal. It felt like an extended October! Wishy didn’t go into his burrow for the winter until early December after our first gentle snowfall. That experience taught me to not dread November, so I went into it with a positive and accepting attitude this year. Sunset before 4:30? I can cope. Brown leaves and bare trees? Poetic. But to have our first snow not even be of the fluffy introductory variety and instead 6 inches of wet heavy crusty February-esque snow? That’s a clear and unexpected boundary violation. Right?! I’m so relieved that it didn’t happen last year, because we would have never met Wishy!
My experience from both sides of the “couch” has taught me that there’s nothing simple about PTSD nightmares. The things I tried in my teens and twenties–using food and alcohol to try and bury and drown them, sometimes to the point of blacking out, created new real-life nightmare scenarios. In my late twenties through my forties I was afraid to go to sleep; I averaged about five broken hours a night. When I did sleep, and the nightmares struck, I woke up extremely exhausted.
I wish I could say that I am now completely free of nightmares and experience restful sleep. The good news is that I have made incredible progress over the past couple of years. I have fewer nightmares, am not terrified of going to sleep and am making my peace with them.
I have extraordinary news! Buster is back!!! After a week’s disappearance he emerged from his burrow, came running to me when I called him and is acting like it’s just another day! Also, one of Chippie’s offspring, Sunny, returned…without a tail! But she is acting like it’s no big deal and she has made her home in our woods. I felt a release after I published yesterday’s post, and now I feel so much gratitude for the gifts in front of me, like our first WATERMELON!
Last week I noticed what appeared to be a large bird in my woods. I walked closer and saw that it was a hawk. Hawks eat chipmunks and are not welcome on my property, especially when they are dangerously close to Buster’s burrow at the edge of the woods. In animated NYC fashion I told it to get lost. Perched on a branch up high it watched my little performance, and when I was finished it flew away. There! I showed him!