Merry Christmas 2014!

Monday, December 15, 2014 2 Permalink
An unconventional Christmas tree for an unconventional life!

An unconventional Christmas tree for an unconventional life!

How do you like our Christmas tree? We live such an unconventional life that I decided to have an unconventional tree! In honor of beautiful women everywhere (including the readers of this blog!) we have a beautiful woman Christmas tree with a little slinky dress that actually fits me! Never in my life did I ever think I would wear something this clingy or sexy, but I have! (Although the honest truth is that it really looks better on the mannequin!) Why not have a little fun in life?

This will be my fourth Christmas after being sleeved, and even though I have to watch what I eat so I don’t gain weight, I now feel like a “normal weight” person. The sleeve has allowed me to figure out how to do that, even during the holidays. I say “normal weight” because according to the powers that be, I am not morbidly obese, obese, or even overweight any more, but I’m not thin either. I’m just a normal-weight person trying to stay healthy every day without obsessing about calories or carbs, or exercising like a crazy person, or worse, letting it dominate my thoughts and energy. I do consider calories and carbs, and I exercise regularly, but it’s not controlling my life anymore. I don’t feel guilty when I don’t eat perfectly and that works for me.

Having said that, my hip hurts, dammit! I don’t know exactly what the problem is but it has bothered me for years — pre-sleeve in fact. I probably did so much damage to it when I was 200+ lbs that I’m still suffering from it. It’s hard to diagnose and I really don’t know what brings on the pain, but at the moment I am not able to exercise and it is really painful when I go to bed. So for those of you who are young and considering this surgery, do it now before you screw up your joints. How I wish weight loss surgery had been available when I was younger, but then I probably would have lived a much different life, and as I said, at this time in my life I have no complaints. OK, my hip is a complaint, but I’ll get that figured out.

I don't ice skate, but this rink is right around the corner from our house. Very festive!

I don’t ice skate, but this rink is right around the corner from our house. Very festive!

Three years after being sleeved I finally cleaned out my closet completely the other day and disposed of the last few big clothes I had — there were a few really nice pieces and I had a hard time getting rid of them. But after seeing them taking up space and realizing that I would never wear them, I decided it was time. Living here in Europe, I have no fat friends to give them to, so off they went to the Netherlands version of the Salvation Army! I now know I am not going back to those large sizes no matter what.

The Magic of Touch

Tuesday, December 2, 2014 4 Permalink

New paths can take you to many interesting places… physically and emotionally.

I love life, I love living in this day and age, I like being surprised at where the twists and turns of life may take you. And then, when a path leads you to a new place and that place lights up your life, I love the fact that it can re-energize your soul and spirit because you didn’t even know what was down that road before!

Becoming open to the possibilities of what might be down a brand new road is exactly what happened to me a year after my vertical sleeve surgery, and I was 59 years old! I am now 61 and never dreamed my life would be an explosion of new experiences: living in a new country, traveling to all sorts of interesting places, getting around by bikes instead of cars, meeting lots of fascinating new people from many different cultures, and exploring the new world and people we have met through Tantra.

My husband and I have always been sexual with each other. Like many couples we have gone through our own ups and downs in that complicated area; after all, we have been together over 25 years. But also like many couples (whether or not they would openly admit it) we were curious, and occasionally we wondered what it might be like to be with someone else, or at least to have the excitement of another person’s touch that can only happen at the beginning of a flirtation or relationship. Neither one of us had any interest or desire to have an affair — too much drama, too much secrecy — and we loved each other, we didn’t want to fall in love with someone else! Plus, personally, I could never get away with anything; I am a terrible liar and he would know something was up in less than 24 hours. Or maybe 2 minutes. So forget that idea!

Even though we have a very healthy attitude towards sex and sensuality, we had two big barriers in our way: my weight and living in the United States. In the U.S., it seems to us anyway, most people think that if you are interested in intimacy outside of your marriage then you are surely going to HELL! And even if you can get beyond that, so many options related to sex in the U.S. are either pretty sleazy or downright illegal. So my weight and the U.S. culture kept us from going down that road untilTADA!!! — I had weight loss surgery and we moved to Europe. Add to those key changes our discovery of Tantra, and it was full speed ahead! Little did we know what amazing adventures awaited us!

I wrote about the Tantra massage that I had in Berlin in my November 2012 blog. That evening changed our life! We immediately signed up for a 4-day seminar called Magic of Touch offered by Spiritual Tantra Lounge in Berlin, the same place that offered the massage. Turns out, the name of this seminar would become a mantra for our lives. We rediscovered just how important touch is to our hearts, our souls, our health, and our over all well-being. Now over two years later, we have learned that what we were looking for was not sex with other people, we have learned a new way to touch each other as well as other people with our bodies, our minds, and our emotions.

A beautiful place to explore the senses.

A beautiful place to explore the senses.

We started learning all of this in spring 2013. The interior of Spiritual Tantra Lounge is beautiful — tastefully decorated, lots of wood, soft lighting, Balinese décor, intoxicating scents — everything offers a natural sense of order, love, and sensual pleasures to be discovered. The moment we walked through the door all of our senses were in high gear.

Now, imagine spending four days with 24 other people you have never met, and although you don’t know exactly what will happen, you do know there will be many intimate moments in the time you are together. It was all a bit scary but we congratulated ourselves for being adventurous enough to try something new, different, and hopefully exciting.

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 22 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.