My Father’s Dream

My parents bought their farm in 1958. Last year, they held the farm auction that sold the dream.
My father worked hard. If farming was rewarded by the hard work put in, my father would have been rewarded with millions in riches, instead of calloused callouses and bent over bones crippled with arthritic joints
In the dreams of my father, one or both of his sons would follow him into the family business; farming is in his blood as deeply as his German heritage.
It was not to be.
The preferred alternative was that my father would never retire. He would rather, expire, just drop dead, as his father before him, of a massive heart attack while on a tractor; he would land face first in his beloved earth and become one with his land.
Alas, this also was not to be, his health was to have the last word. Now, my father had to sell everything.
It was mostly an exercise in clearing the yard. Many of the pieces were themselves acquired at auction, the auctioneer’s patter being “music to my parents’ ears”. My father made his money in farming by buying cheaper pieces of machinery and fixing them.
This auction was planned for months. The call went out to relatives, far and wide, relatives that had nothing to do with farming, relatives that hadn’t been to the farm in many years. Not one had any interest in anything that was for sale on this auction bill.
Everyone understood that this was about supporting my parents and especially my father as he unloaded his shop and his shed and his tool box and his garage and gently laid down his dreams.
The night before the auction, we greeted each other with cries and hugs as if we were long lost relatives. My mother had put on a gigantic spread, turkey, ham, and potato casserole, coleslaw, pickles and fresh vegetables, cookies, and cakes, enough food to drown out the conversation for a few minutes while we placed each other over the years and the miles and generations.
Evening brings darkness and a lively bonfire which brings laughter and stories and a bit of anonymity around the dark night, the fire crackling in its brightness
The next day, the day of the auction, threatens rain, which is not a good thing, as the auction will be held outside, in a giant theatre the size of the yard. The auctioneer truck will slowly traipse over the yard making its way past each item, the crowd shuffling slowly in its wake. If it rains, the crowd thins. The diehards stay, but there is less bidding.
Instead the day is hot, dry and windy and nobody leaves. The sky opens up and spits at us for a few minutes, but then shines brightly the rest of the day.
Most of the relatives have no idea, other than supporting my father, what we are supposed to do this day, the day of the auction.
But we find ourselves following along with the auction truck with the auctioneer’s patter; “one dollar bid, now two, now two, who will give me two, now two, now two”. There is a mawkish curiosity in our day as we, almost to a person, follow along in the wake of the truck, along with the tire kickers, the people who just want to see the yard and what’s in it, the people who genuinely wish to buy some item that was on the auction bill, and my father.
My father who is exhausted from the preparation for the auction; from ensuring in the weeks before, every item had to be in running condition, parts had to be purchased, new batteries installed, bits scrounged up, fields mowed, machinery moved. He felt he had to follow the auction from start to finish and had to start every item that had an engine in front of the audience, or he would tell the story of the transmission that had to be jiggled when it is in ‘drive’ gear and so on – he is scrupulously honest,
The day is thankfully over and everything is sold and the pieces are starting to move off the lot. We slowly move off the auction field back to the house as the buyers grab their new purchases and drive off.
Again, a feast awaits us, and we fall on it as if we haven’t eaten for days. We compare each other’s burned faces as a point of pride, taking the hot sun as some sort of penance for the purchases going on around us as we are powerless to stop this onslaught of my father’s decades of dreams.
Again we sit around the crackling fire. Nobody wants to be the first to leave, we all know the next morning we are going to scatter and we know we won’t see each other for another many years.
Finally, someone is tired enough to admit it and we get up. It is a hugging circle. A giant hugging circle where everyone hugs everyone else, even if they weren’t the ones leaving, even if they aren’t the ones they haven’t seen in decades. We hug people we haven’t hugged in years. When the circle gets around to the second cycle, people laugh, but keep hugging anyway. It feels very good. It feels very good and very sad.
Sometimes the dream ends.

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Growing up in my family, our last name was a point of pride – von Tettenborn. It is an old German name we can trace back to the thirteenth century and denotes the males of the family are Barons. There is a famous General who fought in the Napoleon war. There is a castle and an actual original coat of arms, not one generated on the internet. All of the legacy and nobility goes through the males of the family. It’s not exactly that females are non-persons; but rather the females are expected to receive their legacy, their history, their wealth through their husband’s line.

Interestingly, both of my father’s daughters have retained the last name von Tettenborn. One, although married kept the name; the other (myself) reverted back to the name when divorced.

Now my two adult sons are interested in attaining German passports. I never really thought about it. It was drilled into our heads since birth that everything pertaining to the name and heritage was only through the males. It’s just the way it is. There are heirlooms, dishes, rings and things that will only go to the sons and their sons. And so on.

Still, my younger son, persisted and got in touch with his grandpa himself and arranged the day for us to meet at the German Consulate in Edmonton. My father had called ahead to determine what documents were needed.

We all took the day off and met up at my parent’s farm the night before and visited a bit before we drove in to the Consulate the next day. One of the documents that I needed to procure was a marriage certificate to indicate why these two young men that are interested in German citizenship but that do not have their grandfather’s name should be entitled to it.

We weren’t even sure they had such a claim, and I hadn’t realized how much it had meant to them until I saw them wait while the lady at the consulate worked out the relationships on paper. She wrote down my grandfather – born in Germany, came over to Canada, never did become a Canadian. My father was a dual Canadian/German citizen when I was born, therefore I was a dual citizen when my sons were born…she looks up and says “oh, it should be no problem, you are entitled to German citizenship.”

I thought I heard an audible sigh from both of them.

The legacy I have to share with my sons is so much more than just my name. There is a history, and a shared pride of family, love of each other. I am so proud of the strong, loving men they have grown up to be. It hadn’t occurred to me, but now I am happy to share my heritage with them.

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Healing Progress

Over two months on my healing journey of better food (well, low carb is better for me, no judgements there, just a fact for metabolic syndrome) and more movement, more involvement in healing energy.

It’s the oddest thing, as if all my work up to this point was making me “ready” to be launched.  I have had an extremely easy two months.  I’ve had 1 cookie (homemade oatmeal, rhubarb, and chocolate chip!) and about 3 glasses of wine.  That’s the only things that have taken me off my path, even momentarily.

I’m losing weight and inches and feeling better and stronger and more positive than ever.  I don’t have a feeling of “why did I waste so much time?”.  Rather my feeling is one of strength and joy and even rebirth.

Right now, I am sweating and tired, but that is because I spent the morning hilling potatoes, weeding the rest of the vegetable garden and pruning the front rose and petunia garden.  Everything looks good and my fingernails are filthy!

I don’t even have a feeling of “how much longer will this take?”  Mostly I think because it has not been unpleasant eating my omelettes, chicken breast and broccoli.  But also, because once I made the decision, I really have to accept that this is how I need to eat in the long term.  I have to convince myself that I am allergic to bread, pasta, potatoes, etc.  I definitely am insulin compromised so this is definitely for the best for my health.

I am not entirely sure how I feel about the American Medical Association labelling obesity as a disease.  There are certainly many more factors than the usual admonition to “just” eat less and move more.  There are hormonal and other physiological factors involved.  And certainly the complications such as heart disease and diabetes rank as diseases, but at any rate whatever works to get people healthier is for the best.

So I go on, each day getting more and more used to the “cleaner” feeling, and the increased strength.  I’ve read that it takes 21 days to make a habit, but I do believe it’s longer.  Maybe six months, I’m not sure.  I know that it is easier to see the rest of my family eat rice or potatoes than it has been.  I’m not home free, but I sure am sliding gracefully to home.

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Where is my energy?

I’m tired.  I am taking Reflexology classes every weekend day for 8 hours a day in June.  The weekend was long and exhausting, but fun and I learned a lot.  I still have no idea where these classes are taking me, that is, 3 levels of Reiki, Qigong and now Reflexology.  I am just going where I feel compelled to go.

I don’t know why but I gained 3 pounds over the two days of reflexology.  I ate well,  and brought water.  But I was fatigued, different routine, releasing toxins?  Who knows?  I did expect the 3 pounds to just drop off as I told myself it had to be water; I only had salad for lunch, and no snacks, regular chicken, broccoli dinner.  But the pounds are sticking around.

I can’t afford to gain 3 pounds for 3 weekends!

I booked Monday morning off to sleep in, recover and deliberately move slowly after the weekend.  I needed it.  I am still a bit in slow motion mode.  I think the toughest part was my posture.  My lower back hurt, so obviously I need to sit differently or I would only be able to have one client a day!

Tomorrow is Qigong class and I am looking forward to it, but then I realize it will be Friday and Saturday is a few minutes later and I’ll be back in the 8 hour a day class.  Hmm, this is going to be even tougher than I thought.

When I got home on Saturday evening, Ross had done the laundry, cleaned the house, grocery shopped and started dinner.  That was certainly welcome!

I don’t know where all these energy classes are going, but you would think I would be increasing my energy as I am learning to manipulate and energize my “chi”!  I will let you know when I wake up in July.

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I was expecting to hit a weight loss plateau but not this quickly.  I have seriously not lost one ounce since May 17th.

Every day I get on the scale and it is the exact same weight as the day before, and I smile (okay, first I swear!).  I smile because I feel so much healthier eating low carb.  More energy, less bloat.

I am surprised, I’ll admit, because I am eating low carb, low calorie.  I didn’t think it was physiologically possible to eat like this and not lose weight.

But I feel so amazingly in control of the food, and my appetite and even the scale.  I don’t think bad things about myself when the scale doesn’t budge.  I am not tempted to stop eating this way as I have already determined it is not a temporary diet, but rather the new way of eating.

I know I am still improving the health of my pancreas and liver and heart eating this way.

And cheeseburgers definitely weren’t working!

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The Spark that Ignited my Health and Wellness Journey

It seems like I have spent years getting ready for this moment.  I’ve read literally hundreds of books, from straight diet books like “The Rice Diet” to books citing scientific research like “Good Calories, Bad Calories”.  I’ve read weight loss memoirs, dozens of them.  I’ve even read books on how to keep the weight off even before I lost an ounce.

I read books on self- help and how to value yourself.  I did know that I needed to love myself enough to improve my health.  Hating myself and my body sure wasn’t working.

I journalled.  Hundreds of pages of angst and fear and hope and loathing and purging painful memories.

I attended group therapy for a year.  It was, honestly, not as helpful as I had hoped.  It never evolved beyond what I perceived as complaining.  Nobody lost weight.  I do believe that some useful seeds were planted at this time, however.

One of the pieces I took from “the group” was that a person needs to follow their passion if they want to be whole and healed.  And most of us get it backward.  We are broken.  We think losing weight will heal us.  Instead, it’s more like:  We are broken.  We need to heal ourselves by attending to ourselves and honoring our passions.  Then we lose weight.

I started the blog, registered with twitter and Facebook.  I am enjoying all of it even more than I thought I would.

Then I started taking Energy Healing courses (a whole other blog entry!) Reiki, Reflexology, Qigong.

But all of this preparation needed a tipping point, a spark if you will.

The day my 20 year old son said with genuine anguish in his voice, “Mom.  Please!  Take care of yourself.  I love you.  I still need my mom.  I’m going to need you for a long time.  I want you to be there for me my whole life, meet my kids.  Please, mom, do you love me enough to take care of yourself?”

The answer is obvious.

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Progress May 2013

It’s been a month since I began my weightloss/healthgain journey.  I did so much research and soul searching and praying and Reiki and reading that once I actually started, I found I have so much confidence, it’s like a quiet feeling of success permeates my being, as I go along the journey.

Which is a complicated way of saying this has been stress free so far.  Really, it’s actually been easy.  That’s not to say that I am over confident.  I remain vigilant each day and continue to make good choices.

After one month, I have lost 15 pounds.  I know the first bit is always fast and particularly on a low carb regime is water.  That’s because I am ridding my body of the glycogen, stored carbs.  Each molecule of carb holds about 3 molecules of water, or so my research tells me, so the first “rush” of weight release is water.

It’s a good feeling boost, but of course, I want to lose fat weight, not water weight.  That’s where the high protein comes in.  And increased exercise.

I have already started to research how to keep weight off as apparently that is harder than losing it in the first place.  It doesn’t seem that complicated – basically you have to continue to eat and move and think the way you did when you were losing the weight.  That makes sense.  I mean if you go back to the way you ate and moved (or didn’t move as the case may be) and thought while you were overweight – guess what?  You will be overweight again.

So, the first month is over.  Now I just have to do that 360 more times.

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