Friday, February 6, 2009

Gratitude. And Friday food

I am thinking today about gratitude. This is not something I am remotely comfortable thinking about. Not at all. The last few years... well, the last decade... have been so difficult for me that it is the hardest thing in the world some days to be grateful rather than resentful. And it is the bad thing about me, that I can be filled with resentment and anger for all the ways in which my expectations about people, about life, have not been met. And I forget to be grateful for the good things that have come rather than mourning that things that have not come or have been different than expected and desired.

It is hard.

I'm trying to think grateful things without the caveat on the end. You know what I mean... "I am so grateful to have this excellent job that I love and that is secure.... BUT wow, I've done a really good job of screwing up my academic career because my head was far more involved with the rest of my life than with work." I am so grateful to have people in my life who care about me... BUT why don't they see how much I need help? Why was no one there during the ten years when my first marriage was falling apart, and I was alone and desperate?" The trouble is that, whatever the truth is, putting those caveats in takes positive things and makes them negative. It takes things that are good and makes them bitter. It makes it impossible to rebuild things because they are so weighed down by the past. And the past doesn't matter... well, it does, in a way, but more because it's how we got here than anything else.

So, maybe for today, I could practice leaving off the "BUT" on the end.

And, now, the food part...

So we had the usual protein shake and quiche slice, the latter quite late in the morning because it is quiche-making day.

And then I went off to Rochester with my adorable son, partly to order doors and such for the renovation project we're working on, partly to buy him something respectable to wear when we go to New York City at the end of the month (happyhappyhappy looking forward to this), and partly to go to the Better Grocery Store. All of this took pretty much all day, and when we got done at 5, I had this...

which is a summer roll that is mostly lettuce and a little smoked salmon. I have no idea how one eats these things slowly and gracefully because I always seem to be stuffing them in my mouth before they fall apart. And, yes, I stole a little dumpling and a bit of squid from the Chinese food he'd gotten.

Didn't get home until 6, and then had to run out to get some wine for the fish stock I wanted to make... I bought fish bones at the store, and they needed to be made into stock now, because in this part of the world, fish is never as fresh as you'd like it, and I want to make chowder later, so I'll make this tonight and freeze it. This put me in the mood for a glass of white wine, something I almost never have, and so I had a glass and a half and felt very happy. These days I drink so rarely that I'm a very cheap date.

For dinner, we had skate, a bit of cauliflower purée leftover from yesterday, and fresh green and yellow beans. Ate really late, though, which is not such a good thing. Haven't had skate since I was last in the UK, so really a great treat.

This photo food diary has been a very interesting thing for me, so far. First of all, I have to say that feeling like you need to take a picture AND that you're going to post it somewhere public is a big deterrent to picking up small things to nibble on, and this is my big downfall in general. I have lost a little weight every day that I've done this, except Friday (writing this bit first thing Saturday morning), and that day may be because we ate so late in the evening. It's also making me see think harder about portion size, which is one of the things that I have the hardest time getting a handle on. So we continue on, for the moment. It's interesting, for me anyway (I have no idea at all whether it's interesting for anyone else!).


Anonymous said...

Hi Nina,

It's very interesting to me! I haven't commented at all to you in many months, although I have recently started reading your blog again more frequently. (I spent the better part of last year using my limited time reading political blogs rather than any of the low carb ones...couldn't get enough!)

I made a New Year's resolution to go back to paying more attention to eating again...and to start testing my blood sugar again at least a couple times a day (my doctor prefers 4 times a day). I am a Type 2 diabetic, controlled by diet with no meds. The interesting thing is that, somehow when I wasn't paying attention to the diet so much and not testing regularly -- although I did eat pretty much what I know I need to eat for the most part through the holidays -- my overall blood sugar readings came DOWN...and I lost about 7 lbs! That happened when I wasn't particularly counting any carbs or calories and also not exercising, just being a bit blase' (sp?)about the whole thing. Strange...what a surprise! I keep thinking there must be a lesson there for me.

I love seeing your pictures of food. You pay attention to "presentation" more like a restaurant does...I just plop it on a plate! I enjoy when you talk about food and cooking,'s obvious that you enjoy cooking and making new things, even gourmet cooking. You seem to like to do the little extras that make a meal more of a culinary experience, rather than just fuel for the body. (I used to.) I also enjoy the little "extra" pics of your cat, Michael's dinosaur, etc.

I hope you don't mind me sharing some thoughts...I do also enjoy when your share your inner thoughts. However, one thing I have noticed about your talk sometimes is how much you second guess yourself and give yourself so many "shoulds." I've wondered if this is either how you grew up or how you were treated in your past marriage, so that you never feel quite "good enough," or whether it is your own personality from birth. I have 5 grown kids and numerous grandkids and I see how much they are individuals from birth, even though raised in the same homes, so know that personalities are often set early....but there is also the influence of parenting, and other people and environmental issues can alter personalities somewhat.

You seem to me like such a lovely and loving, caring, person. It sounds like you have a very interesting job (teaching what would probably seem like "greek" to me!). You have a wonderful son. You were able to let go enough of the pain from your first marriage to get married again. I think you must have a beautiful "soul" and outlook on life to marry a man as physically large as Michael and with so many health issues. Very few women would do that. I might have when I was younger, but wouldn't marry (or even date) a man now who might be not very healthy. (I'm 68 and all the men my age that I know have some kind of major health issue!) In other words, YOU have a lot going for you as a wonderful and beautiful human being.

I hope you can find a way to give yourself a bit more leeway and let up on yourself a bit...not expect so much perfection and then beat yourself up if you're not as perfect as you think you "should" be.

One of the major things I was taught some 30 years ago is that there are no "shoulds" in life! There are preferences for the way we want to live our life, but if we allow ourselves to let go of the idea that we "should" BE a certain way or "should" ACT a certain way or that life "should" GO a certain way, it eases some of the stress of things being a bit different than wanted or anticipated.

This philosophy has helped me much in my own life. It has helped me be less critical not only of myself but of others in my life. For me, it has kind of lowered my expectations, but also increased my enjoyment of my life and accomplishments, as well as the accomplishments of others.

I hope I don't sound preachy here. That's not my intent. I was hoping to share something that might help you with your stress levels and give you a bit of peace of mind.

Keep writing...I enjoy what you say!

Carol in Tucson

Nina said...

Hi, Carol! I'm so glad to hear from you; I've been wondering how you were. And what's happened with your daughter.

I probably said before that Michael's a T2 as well... it's been a huge thing to get him to test, but he's finally doing it and getting interested in really controlling his blood sugar. And understanding why it does what it does, which would help a lot. And he seems to be getting into the low carb thing a lot more enthusiastically, too, as he sees what exactly the effect is on his numbers.

My youngest sister is a chef, so I'm sort of a chef wannabe in a lot of ways, plus everyone here is happier with variety... and I cook just all the time, so trying to find some way to make it interesting is a good thing.

On the "good enough" thing... the really short version is that I grew up with an alcoholic father and a hypercritical mother, in an atmosphere that was just one crisis after another. So of course I went seeking stability, and found it by marrying, fairly young, a guy who was very stable, in a way... but also so emotionally closed off that he was pretty much incapable of having an adult relationship. And when our son was born, it became clear that he was capable of sustaining about one relationship at a time, and that having a child left him with no emotional need for anyone else. It took me a decade to leave, mostly because he was/is a good father, and so I thought that it was my obligation to stay. But it slowly ate away at whatever sense of self I really had then.

So... I don't know. I don't know if it's the way I would have been anyway, or the way I grew up, or the long years being increasingly alone in a situation I didn't know how to get out of. I think that you're right when you say that I never feel good enough, though. I suppose that I think that if I were good enough, I'd be happier. That everything wouldn't be so much effort, all the time. And probably that neither follows nor makes a lot of sense.

I tell Michael all the time that there are no shoulds. But I suppose that I don't quite believe it for myself.