What Has Brought Joy to Your Life?

Sunday, November 16, 2014 3 Permalink
Beautiful fall day on one of our canals in Amsterdam

Beautiful fall day on one of our canals in Amsterdam

My husband and I attended a concert a few weeks ago at the Concertgebouw — one of the world’s greatest concert halls. We go often, as we are lucky that our house is a 5-minute walk to this historic monument. We have seen amazing classical performances, piano soloists, some jazz and pops, and visiting conductors from all over the world. This particular night, we chose a concert that, in our humble opinion, was incredibly boring! So my mind started drifting, as it often does to keep me from falling asleep! I thought about the things that brought me joy in my life… and I came up with 8 items. My rules were simple: looking back on my 61 years, what could I truly say brought me the most happiness, joy, and love — and also might have brought me great sorrow with their loss. At the break, I asked my husband if he could figure out what they were. He guessed most of them but then added two I had forgotten about! Ten is a nice round number, so I came up with My Own Personal Top Ten List. The first two are in order of importance, but the rest are not necessarily in any particular order.

  1. My husband, best friend and life partner
  2. Our good health
  3. Our life in Amsterdam
  4. My three best friends
  5. My sister
  6. Our hanai daughter Amelia
  7. Our home
  8. Tantra
  9. My kitty Kolo, who is no longer with us
  10. The Beatles

After I did this I realized that, indeed, this was a very important exercise! It helps me set my priorities and brings clarity to how I have made and should make my daily decisions. I noticed that there was only one family member on the list; that made me a bit sad, but this is the road I have traveled. Probably most of you will have your children, or grandchildren, or parents on the list. My list includes my dearest friends and our hanai or “adopted” daughter (we didn’t raise her, but we have known her since she was born and she is now 31). These extraordinary women, along with my sister and my sweet Kolo, not only have brought me great joy, but also have loved me unconditionally. Travel, which is a huge desire for many people, was not on there; I am happy to travel for short periods of time, and I loved our one year of travel, but the strong desire to have adventures in foreign countries is not there for me. I didn’t list any hobbies although there are many things I enjoy — reading, music, entertaining, biking, movies, gardening, decorating — just not enough to say they have brought me my greatest joy. My career, which played a huge part in my life and was very gratifying, didn’t make the cut, although I will always have wonderful memories of the work I have done and the people I met along the way.

My husband is the most important person in my life

My husband is the most important person in my life

My list is simple and that made me happy. It allows me to put my energy into the things that matter the most to me. My husband is the most important person in the world to me, and the honest truth is that I never thought I would say that. All marriages go through ups and downs and ours has been no exception. We always loved each other and rarely (if ever) fought, but as faithful readers of this blog know, there were many things we did not talk about for years — the biggest one, of course, was how my weight bothered him. But the elephant in the room is no longer there and now there is nothing we cannot talk about. And we do talk a lot; after 28 years together, we have interesting, fascinating conversations every day.

Sex, Tantra, and Weight Loss Surgery

Friday, October 31, 2014 20 Permalink
Me and my new life

Me and my new life

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off! (Gloria Steinem)

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. Maybe because it hit home with me and altered my life in such drastic ways, ways I had never dreamed of in my wildest imagination. The quote refers to the time, three years ago, when my husband and I laid all our cards on the table. These cards came in the form of emotions, criticisms, tears, and negative reactions to something one of us would say or do. It was like we were on LSD; we were super-sensitive to everything around us, between us, and especially in our own heads.

But, after a few weeks of all this turmoil, we got down to the business of not just changing our life, but talking about what we really desired, what we wanted our life to look like, where we wanted to live, imagining and designing an amazing future as we headed into retirement and one of our last chapters of our lives. We all spend a lot of time creating other aspects of our lives — designing a house, planning a party, working out the details of a vacation — why wouldn’t we figure out what an interesting life would be like and make that happen?

It all sounded like a good idea to me, so I was convinced that this was a plan I could live with. Even though we had been through some difficult times in the past few weeks, it didn’t mean we didn’t love each other. And it all started with my husband talking about the elephant in the room: my weight. As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, my weight had bothered him for over 25 years, but he loved me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings — or worse, have me so upset that I would leave him. He knew I had tried to lose weight so he was starting to think it was impossible, too, but he got to the point where he had to say something. Once it was out there, we worked through it — and even though I was pissed, what could I say, he was right. How would I feel if he was 80 lbs overweight? I can tell you, I wouldn’t feel good.

So off I went and had weight loss surgery; I opted for the vertical sleeve surgery… in fact, I was released from the hospital in Frankfurt, Germany exactly 3 years ago today. Seems like a lot longer because so much has happened in those 3 years:

  • We continued to travel for another 4 months until we got back to Hawaii.
  • I lost 80+ lbs and reached my goal weight (in the first year).
  • In Hawaii, we downsized everything we owned by 50%, packed the rest up, and moved permanently to Amsterdam. Wow, we were now living in Europe!
  • We bought a house, we remodeled it, we made lots of new friends, we had lots of old friends come and visit, we have dinner parties, we go to concerts, we ride our bikes, we go on picnics — in short we have never looked back. We love our life.

And then in November 2012, a month after we moved to Amsterdam permanently and a year after my surgery, our life changed again.

I’m BAAAAACCCCKKKKK!!!! 3 years Post Op – Living a Dream Life…..

Sunday, October 19, 2014 13 Permalink
Happy to be living a healthy life

Happy to be living a healthy life

Hello everyone! Three years ago this month, I was staying in Amsterdam and woke up one morning to find my husband having an emotional meltdown. As a result of that situation, I made the decision to have WLS (without knowing much about it) and a few weeks later my life changed forever.

I am an American from San Francisco and I lived in Hawaii for 10 years. In 2011 when I was 57, my husband and I sold our home, sold our business, and traveled for one year to figure out the next chapter in our lives. Our life-changing events all happened during this year of travel.

One month before surgery

One month before surgery

I was also 205 lbs (223 at my highest weight). At 5’3″ that wasn’t attractive or healthy, but I had no idea what a huge toll it was taking on my husband and my marriage. I had always been heavy but I had only gained about 2 lbs a year during our time together. Doesn’t seem like much, does it! Well, we had been together over 25 years… that’s 50 lbs! And I was 170 lbs when we met. During all those years, he had worked hard watching what he ate and exercising regularly to maintain his weight; he is tall and weighed around 155-160 lbs during our entire time together.

So here we were in the land of tall, gorgeous, healthy, fit people, all riding bicycles, and I felt like I was the only fat person in the entire country. Plus my knees, feet and hip hurt… so at 57 I was hobbling around like an old lady. And I felt like an old lady! I had never been thin, so I just thought this was who I was meant to be.

Back to the meltdown. My husband was SO frustrated. He loved me more than anything, but he is a very visual and sexual person. (Listen up ladies… most men are!!!! Don’t kid yourself!) He was not attracted to the person he loved most… and now he was surrounded by gorgeous women in a city with lots of sexual energy. So after years of not saying anything about my weight and all the crap that goes along with being heavy, he basically let it all come streaming out in one huge dump. It took me completely by surprise and the next few weeks were like a weird nightmare or dream… a bit of both I suppose.

19 Months Post Op – Amsterdam – 60 kilos (134 lbs) – May 2013

Monday, May 13, 2013 14 Permalink

Queen in flowersHallo everyone! I’m baaaaaccccck! I said I would post when I had something really juicy to write about after my first year of weekly posts was up. And now I do have something I think would be of interest so I’m here to share!

Just to recap quickly since it’s been several months since I stopped writing weekly. At 58 years old I had the vertical sleeve surgery; this was the end of October 2011 and I wrote each Sunday until the end of 2012. My highest weight was 223 lbs when we lived in Hawaii; when we retired in 2011 and started traveling for a year, I managed to lose almost 20 lbs but at 5’3″ I was still seriously overweight and my knees, feet and hip were all going haywire on me. If you want to know more, take a look at my ABOUT ME page.

The first year after my surgery was truly an adventure of the mind, the soul, the body and many countries! How many people have this surgery in a foreign country (for me it was Germany) then travel for the next six months? As the weight came off, I logged many miles through many different countries and states in the US as we made our way back to Hawaii to get organized for our move to Amsterdam!

In front of our new home in Amsterdam... yes, that is my bike!

In front of our new home in Amsterdam… yes, that is my bike!

Most of you who have followed my posts from the beginning know that my weight loss journey (as well as my traveling journey) was a positive one and that I told very few people about my surgery. The summary of that first year was that I lost over 85 lbs, reaching my goal weight of the mid-130s at about one year after surgery, and I have maintained that weight for the last nine months. Right about that time, we moved from Hawaii to Europe, bought a house in Amsterdam, and spent the winter moving in and getting settled in our new home. The best parts, though, were that not only did I drop the weight, my health issues went away and my husband and I became closer than we had ever been. Life indeed has been great and we love living here and enjoying our retirement and each other!

15 months Post-Op – Amsterdam – 61 kilos – January 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013 5 Permalink
Beautiful Vondelpark in the snow.

Beautiful Vondelpark in the snow.

HELLO EVERYONE! I wrote my last weekly post at the end of 2012 and then was amazed at how many new readers signed up for my blog when I announced I was no longer going to write weekly. So I thought I would pop in at the end of each month with an update on post-op sleeve life, which is a lot different than life the first year after surgery. I’ve really enjoyed the first real winter here in Amsterdam (and first real winter in all my 59 years!)… the snow has been beautiful and I’ve managed to learn how to dress to stay warm.

But as I start the new year in a new country and a new climate, this is how I’m affected by my post-surgery life:

  • My ‘New’ Normal
  • Breast lift is on the horizon
  • Looking for interesting stories
Our lunch every day is a salad...this is lunch in our new house with no furniture yet...note the cut out on the floor where the baby grand piano will go!

Our lunch every day is a salad… this is lunch in our new house with very little furniture yet!

MY NEW NORMAL: I have to say that, for me anyway, it really took a year, maybe even 14 months, to feel fully healed from the surgery. I can’t say that I truly enjoyed eating much for the first year, but it didn’t bother me, either, because the trade-off was so huge. Now, 15 months post-op, I have a pretty good routine down. There isn’t anything I can’t eat; even pasta and rice are fine. When I do have either, it’s just a few bites and I’m satisfied. I never thought I would ‘crave’ protein, but I can tell when I need it. I eat an egg for breakfast 2-3 times a week, often with a piece of toast and a couple pieces of bacon. Other days, I just have some yogurt with a little granola on top or some cheese and a cracker. I always eat a half an apple on my way home from the gym. But of course every morning starts off with coffee and cream!