This is where the magic happens.

P – Planting all of the things

It’s mid-April and, as usual, I’m antsy as all get-out.

A beautiful bounty from a good year.


But it’s cold – a bit colder than usual, but not outside of normal. We had flurries the day before yesterday. Gross.

It’s time for planting cold weather vegetables, but several weeks away yet for the summer time favorites of tomatoes, peppers, and corn.

All I ever want to do this time of the year is play in the dirt. One of my favorite meditations is to pull weeds. Another is to dig into soil and really concentrate on everything I’m finding – roots, different bugs, decaying organic matter. It’s never just dirt. There are villages upon cities upon worlds in every shovel of dirt.

Working in the yard, particularly planting things, is very calming to me. It’s thrilling and it makes me happy. It is by far my favorite solo past-time. So, when the weather starts to creep in the right direction, then hits us with a wallop of late winter, my mind and body just want to run away to the warmest place I can find, where I can PLANT.

Gardening is a therapy and a creative pursuit for me. Whether it’s crafting the perfect grouping of pots and growing a mix of vegetables and flowers in them for a sweet little porch garden, or drawing ways to rip up my entire yard and convert it into an edible landscape, I find much joy in the process.

My results aren’t fantastic. Some years, I manage to get bumper crops of tomatoes or hot peppers, while other years everything else fails miserably – sometimes through overzealousness, sometimes through neglect. That’s when I start popping things in the porch pots and arranging them to fill the gaps. I can always count on the porch pots.

While the results are important to me, the process is what thrills me. There is such joy in ordering seeds in the depths of winter, sketching ideas while I wait for the snow to melt, then attacking the lawn with gusto as soon as the ground thaws. Dreaming of results is even better than the results themselves.

Let’s hope that a warm-up is just around the corner. I’m not sure my fingertips can handle another weekend of working dirt in the sleet.

O – One life is mine alone

I can remember days when I used to get very wrapped up in other people’s drama. Like last month. Ok, just a little bit last month, but truthfully, in years gone by, I would get very involved in the misfortunes of friends and family. Born of love and caring, it would keep me up at night, steal attention from my work, and distract me from my life. That last one, of course, was the point: to escape my problems by “helping” others with theirs.

It wasn’t that I relished their distress – it was that I took it on as my own burden to bear. Rather than empathize, support and encourage, I would agonize, solve and push them to my solutions. I bet I was annoying. No one has told me that before, but they are all very nice people.

Two people called me out on this behavior and gave me a push to change. One – no surprise – was my therapist. The second, though, was a distant friend who, upon hearing my long litany of stressors said, “everything you just mentioned happened to other people.” I was stunned, then embarrassed, then spent a considerable amount of time in introspection into why the stress of others was so deeply impacting my life.

The answer, as I said, was that I was distracting myself from my own problems. Much like turning on a murder show or basket case documentary, I could get wrapped up in solving something, when my personal problems seemed unsolvable. I identified with their problems in some ways, but also was outside of them, allowing me to see options more clearly. However, the “work” (in quotes because it wasn’t my work to do) of addressing the problems did add real stress to my life.

I had to do my own hard work and figure out where my life was so wrong that I need to use others for distraction. I needed to accept my struggles and work on living with and solving them.

This whole process led me, too, to understand that I couldn’t control others. I couldn’t make decisions for others or make them see how brilliant it would be to do xyz. This was a core to the stress being added to my life – that no one would do what I said. (Or rarely.) Believe me, it was a LOOOOONG journey to accepting that.

Mine are the only actions to control. My life is the only life for which I get to make all of the decisions. (And, yes, no matter how I’m feeling in the moment, only I get to make those decisions for my life.) Even your own children. You may be responsible for them and their decisions for the first 20 years of their lives, but they start making those decisions from day one.

Grasping these concepts and practicing guiding my own life continues to be fundamental to my happiness. My superior problem-solving skills, however, didn’t get completely removed from other people’s lives. ha! However, I have it under control and will often ask the “sympathy or solve” question (thanks, Christine, for that one). “Do you want me to just sympathize or do you want solutions to this?” This helps me stay in the role of supportive friend, instead of friend who wants to ignore her own issues.

N – Negativity allowed for a limited time

“You can be sad today! You just have to pick it up tomorrow” – my wise-almost-21-year-old-daughter

I am totally opposed to positivity culture.

When faced with things like, oh, I don’t know, cancer, divorce, loss of a loved one, a very sick child, or pick your life trauma, the last thing you want and need is for people to tell you to “think positive!” Or “It’s all about mindset!” Or “you have to stay positive!”

They are talking to themselves 100% of the time. They don’t want the bad luck you are having, so they are trying to convince themselves that it can’t possibly happen to them because they just aren’t going to think that way. They also have no idea what else to say. Many people haven’t figured out that, “Oh, I’m so sorry. That sucks,” is a perfectly acceptable response in most cases.

So, when I tell you that you can be negative about something only for a limited time, I’m not talking about “just put a smile on your face.”

If you are faced with something that sucks, you may need to allow yourself to be negative about it, but then shake that shit off. The time limit is going to vary based on your needs and the situation. However, it’s going to be shorter than you want it to be.

I see shaking off bad stuff in a cycle that works like this: 1) shock, 2) tears, 3) deep sadness possibly impacting your eating and interactions with others, 4) gradually resurfacing to a functional level, 5) eventually processing what has happened and finding joy in life again.

It’s mostly part 3 that needs some limits placed on it, lest you fall too deep into the abyss. And I think it’s here that my kid wisely said you get the time to be negative, to grieve, to wallow, to have those sad emotions, but you have to know that you eventually must shake it.

I know for myself that I have to give myself time to grieve events that others might shake off in a second. I am particularly sensitive to certain types of things – negative interactions at work, for example, often will send me into a spiral of negative emotions. I know that nothing at all that happens at work is worth stealing my personal time. So, when this happens, I will give myself anywhere from an hour to a day to wallow in self-pity and anxiety, but then I must do something else. That might be anything from a funny movie, a walk, or spending time with friends. Anything at all to break that rumination cycle.

This isn’t a perfect process. It works for grief over death, but it has not always worked well for me. That’s because, of course, grieving the death of a loved one is a process that can take years, but absolutely no one has years to drop everything to grieve. You go through the deep grief, then you get back to life, but you keep grieving when you can or your body and brain force it for as long as you need. It’s just not something where a time limit works well.

But a breakup? A missed opportunity? A great disappointment? I think it’s important to let yourself wallow a bit and get it out of your system. If things are looking severe, then tell yourself you have until x time and date to get yourself moving again. You don’t have to be good, just fine enough to start putting one foot in front of the other again.

M – Maintaining the moment

When I wake up every morning, some of my first thoughts are, “what do I have to do today?”

I would like to train myself to give that up. I would like my first thoughts when my eyes start to open to be fully in the present. “Hey! I’m awake! I can hear the dogs snoring and the husband making coffee. The bed feels so soft and comfy. My body feels good (or achy or whatever). The air is cool. The neighbor is mowing the lawn.”

Can you imagine how much less stressful it would be to just center myself in the moment of waking, rather than initially thinking, “Oh, shit. I have so much to do today,” then picking up my phone to mindlessly scroll to numb my stress?

It’s a goal. Waking is one of the hardest times for me to get grounded because my brain wants to rev up. But I know it would be better for me to take a pause and stay in the moment. Then, to take each moment as they come.

I do try to go through my days like this and it is a great way to deal with anxiety. When my anxiety rears up, I try to remind myself that I’m “borrowing trouble from the future.” Staying present and dealing with the now is a lot easier than trying to think through all of the future problems.

It’s not easy and I have to reset myself constantly back to the moment. (On a related note, in a few days, I’m going to share how I do mindfulness based stress reduction.) But it’s worth it.

One time in my life that I remember staying very present was when my daughter was an infant. For the first two years of her life, I had to rock her to sleep, sometimes for an hour or longer. I was breastfeeding and this was the time for her last snack of the day, so it was my job to rock and rock and rock. She was sensitive to being put down in the crib – always the little party animal who wanted to stay awake all night – so I’d have to rock until she was solidly asleep, then cautiously tiptoe to the bed and place her gently on the mattress.

I never worried about hurrying this along. I didn’t care if I had work to do, guests in the other room, or was just dog-ass tired. I would sit and rock, enjoying holding her in my arms, looking at her precious face, and listening to her breathing.

Although I hoped and planned to have more children, I couldn’t shake the thought that this may be my only chance to have a baby. I wanted to cherish every precious moment I could with this little creature who grew right before my eyes. So, I did. When my arms would grow tired and my butt would lose all sensation, I would keep rocking and holding her. Even when the fatigue of motherhood would get to me and all I wanted to do was sleep, I looked forward to rocking her.

I do not regret one second of the time I spent nurturing her. It made me feel peaceful when my life didn’t always bring peace. It helped calm me and center me on my chosen purpose. And, a bonus, it made my daughter and I very close.

I continue to try to capture that focus on the moment in other areas of my life. I was not wrong in feeling raising her could be my only chance at mothering – it was. Had I hurried and scurried, worried about work, chores, or whatever else was going on, I wouldn’t have had those absolutely mesmerizing years of holding my little child. I wouldn’t have noticed some of the changes that I saw in her as my eyes adjusted to the darkness of her room. I wouldn’t have felt sickness coming on or growth spurts starting. I would have missed tiny, key moments.

When I am able to maintain a moment the way I did in those short, precious years, I also find myself noticing important things I would have missed. The look that passes in a colleague’s face alerting you to a problem. The imperceptible limp in the dog that leads to the discovery of a torn toenail. The slightest furrow of a brow that says your spouse is worried.

Maintaining the moment also leads to so much more joy. Instead of wasting time on the past or future, you can indulge in the positive emotions of now. Whether it’s savoring a bite of birthday cake, or watching the awe on a child’s face when they first notice what has become mundane to us, it’s worth it to live fully in the moment.

L – Letting go

Photo credit: Stewart Nimmo / Development West Coast

Hanging on to stuff has to be one of the biggest drags on our brains.

And when I say “stuff,” I mean in all of the forms: holding on to the past, holding on to emotions, holding on to physical things, holding on to people.

It all clutters our minds and our time. It drags us down and holds us back. It makes forward progress hard.

Key for me in letting go of something is to acknowledge that it’s usefulness has run its course and that it is holding me back in some way, large or small.

The crap taking up space in my closet? It holds me back from easily accessing my every day clothes. Sometimes that even makes me late for work, as I deal with the frustration of not being able to find the thing I wanted to wear. Or any of the things I wanted to wear.

The ruminations about something from the past? That takes up so much of my energy and makes me sad. It impacts my thoughts and sometimes harms today’s self-esteem.

The situation earlier today that put me in a really bad mood? Well, that mood impacted decisions I made for the rest of the day. What might I have done differently or better if I had let go of that mood as soon as possible?

The person who once brought so much joy to my life, but now only heartache and stress? Might I regain a sense of self if I let them go? Or perhaps energy that they drain from me?

I have learned in every situation that I need to stop, acknowledge what the thing has done for me, and that it’s time is over, and let it go. Letting go of the past is hardest for me, so I do this process over and over. When something hard from my past surfaces, I will actually say in my head, “Yes, that was hard, but it is done.” Acknowledging the finality of it and that I no longer have to be in that moment helps me release it faster.

Clutter is probably the easiest for me to let go, although I do need a particular focus to deal with it. But my process is similar. “That did the job I needed it to do. Now it’s done.” If it’s a sentimental item, I remind myself that the memory is never lost and that the experiences I had which led to the sentimental feeling is what was truly important.

Letting go can be a bit addictive. The space that releasing frees up in your life can be transformative. When you let go of something that has run its course for you, you open up room for better things to come along.

K – Keenly experiencing the pain

I think it’s a normal experience to want to hurry through painful emotions. At least in the U.S., there seem to be time limits to experiencing sadness. We even only allow a few days off work for the death of a loved one with the message being that you can only be dysfunctional about it for a couple of days. After that, it’s time to get back to work.

Breakups have even less time afforded to them. You can come to work looking like a hot mess for a day or take a sick day, but, girl, shake that off and get back to business. Bitch about him on your lunch break.

Do we even talk about the loss of a pet? If you take a sick day for that, you had better lie about the reason. Only your best friends and pet-loving social network will truly understand your loss.

That’s the message we get from society. Then, there is what we tell ourselves: It’s not normal to cry this much. It’s not normal to stay in bed a week after the dog died. It’s not normal to avoid getting back in the dating pool. We aren’t normal. This must be depression. Maybe we are forever broken? I guess I need a glass of wine, pint of ice cream, cuddle with the dog (oh shit, he’s dead sob), or online shopping spree.

And what happens when we smash down these feeling and try to distract ourselves from them? Eating disorders. Drug and alcohol issues. True depressive episodes. Dysfunctional relationships. The list goes on.

I’m not sure I really have a clear view on how dysfunctional I became when I lived my life avoiding or hurrying away bad feelings. I know, for example, it took me years of mindful living to learn to identify actual, physical pain in my body because I was so used to ignoring it. I know I was blindsided multiple times in relationships and friendships by people who were dishonest because I refused to let their smaller slights get to me. I know I cried giant painful sobs over a loss that seemed insignificant and went days without eating after a year of ignoring a significant trauma.

Ignored pain finds a way to surface when it’s neither expected nor convenient. As hard as it may be, it’s important to face the pain as much as you are able when it happens. Sometimes emotional pain comes at you not in one, complete instance, but repeatedly, perhaps slowly, over a period of time. That pain, in my experience, is the hardest to face. The extended period chips away at your ability to process and moving on isn’t possible.

I find sitting with pain – trauma, sadness, discomfort, or whatever you call it – is important even if for just a short time. It’s what truly allows me to heal and, usually, to heal more quickly. It’s a delicate balance, though, of sitting with pain and allowing yourself to process it, versus wallowing and ruminating. It takes practice. The goal is to feel the pain, just as much as you might feel joy or another happy feeling. Allow it to move through you. Give your body, mind, and spirit the time to understand.

J – Just pause

I ran out of conditioner. My lips are chapped. My 50-year-old post-menopausal self is breaking out. I forgot face cream. I can’t be bothered with makeup. I’m tired AF. It’s the best I can do right now.

I’ve been having a string of rotten days. I’m in a funk and can’t seem to shake it. My self-esteem is low. My energy is low. My passion for all good things is low.

I can tick off all of the reasons why this is happening. I’m very aware that work is bringing me down. Caring for my elderly dad is hard. I’m still recuperating from a major surgery. The weather has been a series of gray skies. It has been one blah day after another.

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a week simply because I couldn’t get myself motivated to write anything at all. I have brainstormed many potential topics, but every time I sat down to write all I could hear was the nasty voice of imposter syndrome: “You don’t really have anything worthwhile to say. You can’t even fix yourself right now. Who do you think you are? Your life is a mess.”

How did this happen? My life hasn’t discernably changed since last week, but yet it feels like it is in shambles. And my brain just feels shut off.

I believe my brain did go into a sort of shut down. I have been under a lot of stress, although I’ve been using all of my stress reduction skills to address it. I’ve been reaching out to friends, grabbing sunshine when it’s available, being proactive on problems I can control, and trying to accept what is not in my control. Yet, even with all of this self-care and coping skills in high gear, some of the issues I’m facing right now are all-consuming. My siblings and I are caring for my 96-year-old father who became bedridden in January. I am on the night shift – sleeping at his house every night, commuting to work, and only seeing my husband and dogs about 1 day a week. And the last time I saw him, we discovered that raccoons had dug giant holes in our previously perfectly intact roof!

It’s no wonder that I just ran out of steam. It took me a few days to realize, though, that’s what is happening. I’m not fighting depression or anxiety. I’m fighting exhaustion: mentally, physically, spiritually.

When I’m this exhausted, I can be prone to a too-tired toddler meltdown with all of the incoherent babbling and tears. The refrain in my head of “what are you doing? You have no business doing this,” are just the nonsense words of a sleepy child.

I’ve had to learn to take time to rest, even if there doesn’t seem to be any time. What I know from years of ignoring it is that if I don’t make the time, my body will make it for me. Yesterday, I had a stomachache that just wouldn’t quit and when I checked out of work sick, it was all I could do to drive to my dad’s and get myself down for a nap. After that nap and an early night of sleep, I woke up a little refreshed, stomachache gone. Not completely refreshed; it wasn’t a miracle cure. I still have all of the same problems I had yesterday, but I at least paused to let myself rest.

Today, I was more productive and my brain seemed more in motion. I know I’m not totally myself, but that will come with time. Some of my problems just need to work themselves out – it’s a season of life, as my friend Christine will say. It’s a season and seasons don’t last forever. (At least not in the Midwest. I can’t speak for southern California.)

So, while this season lasts, I’m going to make sure I pause now and then. I’m going to give myself the rest I need with or without my eyes closed. I need to acknowledge that I may not be at my very best even with moments of pause. I’ll be the best I can be under the circumstances — and that’s better than a total shutdown.

I – Imparting stories

I’ve always been a social butterfly. I was the kid whose kindergarten report card had the teacher’s note that I “talks too much to neighbors.” I like hanging out with friends. I don’t mind small talk with strangers. My idea of a fun evening with friends is to sit around talking. My day job is based around relationship-building.

Prior to my early-30s, though, I unintentionally avoided sharing some of my deepest thoughts with my inner circle. Whether it was a youthful need to fit in or just not knowing how to express those thoughts, I was keeping things to myself that needed to be shared with others.

For nearly two years after the birth of my daughter and her subsequent emergency heart surgery at three weeks old, I was in a deep depression. It’s nothing that I can describe in the course of a few short paragraphs, but it was a debilitating postpartum depression aggravated by external conditions. Only, I didn’t have the words for what was happening to me. My baseline personality is upbeat and happy. I always have had my moments of stress and anger, but I recuperated from bad feelings and returned to my joyful self quickly.

It was with this personality (one I especially can turn on in front of friends) that allowed me to hide the symptoms of depression. My lack of experience with depression hindered my ability to identify it. And I spoke nothing of the weird and frightening symptoms I was having. I certainly didn’t want anyone to think I was “crazy.”

After I was diagnosed, when my symptoms became so severe I feared for my life and just knew I was failing at motherhood, I sought help. First, I saw a primary care doctor who didn’t adequately explain that I had depression, just threw a script at me without much explanation. I didn’t take it. But a week or so later still with the nagging feeling that my life was in danger, I visited the nurse practitioner who ran my mom’s group and told her what I was feeling. She whipped out a diagnostic tool, ran me through a series of questions, then clearly and kindly explained what was happening. I was shook to my core. I had to take a month off work just to deal with the impact of the diagnosis, medication, and self-care.

I had to start talking about these problems – first with a special postpartum depression mom’s group, then with a therapist, and finally with friends. I shared with one or two people close to me, but it took another year before I was confident to bring family and friends into what I was experiencing.

The results were startling. As soon as I mentioned postpartum depression or depression to people, their first response was shock, because I never outwardly showed signs. Their second response was to share their experiences. Even my mother, who I considered the source of my non-information about depression, shared how she “wasn’t herself” for three years following the birth of my younger sister.

It was eye-opening to be surrounded by so many people who’d experienced many of the same things as me. No one’s story was identical, but much good advice and support came my way after I started sharing.

That experience opened me up to being very forthcoming when I was diagnosed a few years later – at age 34 – with breast cancer. I hid nothing about that diagnosis or my thoughts and fears. I openly shared with people and blogged the entire experience. It was instrumental to my recovery. The support I received was overwhelming.

Over time, I learned, too, that listening was even more important than sharing. Deeply listening to the stories of others – whether I had their experiences or not – strengthened my friendships and myself. Even 15 years later, I can recall multiple stories I’ve heard from friends of experiences I’ve never had, yet their tales of sorrow and recovery have helped me in some of my darker times.

Listening and sharing have been significant growth points on the path to changing my life. Through doing so, I have developed a strong and loving support network. I can be authentic in my actions, no longer hiding my struggles or successes. I am a much better friend to my friends and can support them in times of need. People open up to me and I can be a source of strength for them when they are not feeling strong.

H – Holding boundaries

“Your no makes the way for your yes. Boundaries create the container within which your yes is authentic. Being able to say no makes yes a choice.” — Adrienne Maree Brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

I’m terrible at maintaining boundaries. I’m speaking of the emotional sort, but I could just as easily be speaking about physical ones. There is a story I could tell of myself, my childhood friend, and younger sister being asked to hold a boundary against a herd of cattle, and our failure to do so resulting in keeping the neighborhood awake all night, but that’s a story for another day.

Failing to keep boundaries in relationships, though, was a fault line that led to multiple devastating earthquakes in my life. Allow people to nudge, push, and topple the clearly defined and thoughtfully placed boundaries of my life caused me far more trouble than if I had carefully maintained my lines.

I can see now that those heartbreaking situations were due to not sticking to my plan and ignoring my needs. Often fearful of what would happen if I stood my ground, I allowed myself to shrink into someone unrecognizable to me today.

If I had held my boundaries, I certainly might have seen undesirable outcomes. Fights might have ensued. I or the other person might have decided early on the relationship wasn’t working. I might have experienced loss.

The reality, though, was all of those things happened, except in bigger and more traumatic ways. We did argue as I struggled to keep myself whole. We did ultimately end the relationships and I struggled to regain my self-esteem each time. The losses were heartbreaking because I was left wondering who I was and what had happened.

I have a very good idea now what it’s like to hold boundaries. I’m not perfect at it and need more work in some areas of my life, but I think I’m getting there. I spent many years working with a therapist on what it meant to say no and to put my needs first for me.

I was able to start practicing my relationship boundaries even before having a serious relationship. It started with dating and being clear to myself what I was seeking and what I was not. After a few tries where I gave some dates more benefit of the doubt than I should, I started to see that cutting it off at the first sign of trouble was very healthy for me. In fact, I had never done it before and it felt good to be able to say, “you are a nice person, but this isn’t going to work for me.”

While my relationship with my husband has clear boundaries for both of us, it’s easy for any human to tread on the smaller ones. When we do, generally by accident, we talk it through and try to figure out solutions so it won’t happen again. Not to brag or throw shade, but I think I’m a little better at this than him. Often if I inadvertently irritate him, I may get a sort of silent treatment while he figures out how to express the problem. But simmering anger in a man is definitely crossing a line for me, so I will insist on at least a short explanation until he cares to talk about it more. “I’m tired of picking up dirty cups around the house,” is way better to hear than what happens in my head when I can feel tension in the air.

What has happened is that my marriage is one of the strongest, most forthcoming, and honest relationships I’ve ever had, all because I’m clear on my boundaries and needs. I rarely allow old fears of losing this relationship to plague me. We both are living authentically, with care and support for each other. If this should happen to fail (nothing is ever guaranteed, thanks a lot Pema), it won’t be because of betrayal or losing ourselves. We do plan to go the distance and I feel like we have a great shot of doing it happily.

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G – Gastric sleeve surgery

I have struggled with this post, but I would be remiss if I did a month of blogging in 2022 about changing my life and overlooked the biggest change I’ve made this year. On March 3, 2022, I had gastric sleeve surgery. It was a long-considered change, but one that was pushed to a final decision rather quickly. Let’s back up.

Gastric sleeve surgery removes about 80% of your stomach, leaving a banana-sized portion behind.

I’ve struggled with my weight my entire adult life, although I moved from just overweight to fully obese (based on BMI) in my mid-20s. I had the typical roller-coaster of diet and weight loss and in my mid-30s, I first explored bariatric surgery. I decided then to do it, but the idea was quickly set aside when I learned insurance wouldn’t cover it.

Although I was committed to a healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, and exercise, major weight loss wasn’t achievable for me. Blame it on doomed genetics, a crappy metabolism, or a cancer history that left me with some physical limitations, I couldn’t make it happen. I tried again in my early-40s, hoping a new insurance provider would see things differently. They did not. And I tried again about a year ago with TWO new insurance providers. Still, it was a no-go.

In November, I had symptoms that led to a biopsy, which was thankfully all clear. However, at that appointment, the oncologist very sweetly told me that with a clear biopsy, the only reason for the troubling symptom was my weight. Fat cells produce estrogen and estrogen was causing the problem. Without ovaries, fat was about the only place my body creates estrogen. This was very troubling. With my estrogen-positive two-times breast cancer history, the thought of my extra 150 pounds producing enough estrogen to make my uterus bleed was frightening. She asked me to consider bariatric weight loss.

A week or so later, on a follow up visit to my PCP about my failed thyroid, I brought up everything I had been doing to lose weight for 6 months, only to actually gain a few pounds. He had tried some medication on me, but that had failed. My thyroid levels were stable with medicine now, but the weight still wasn’t moving. He said, “you are in a tough spot. I really think your only option is bariatric weight loss.”

With yet another doctor’s appointment in November, I saw my knee doctor for cortisone shots. He had been harping at me for months about weight loss. As a result, I’d tried medication and had worked with a coach for 6 months, but nothing was working. We discussed what I’d been doing and he said, “I really think you need to consider bariatric weight loss.”

In each case, the doctor’s spoke of the effectiveness of it and why it worked – through restriction and some serious metabolic changes. I was on board. Insurance was the problem.

As I mulled the financial issues, I reflected with my husband what I could do. I didn’t want to take out a loan for $25,000-30,000, but after three doctors telling me to do it within a matter of weeks, I had to consider it. This was serious.

I happened to mention to my husband that I’d often come across ads or mentions of bariatric surgery in Mexico, but when I would research it, I couldn’t make heads or tails of whether it was safe. And I didn’t know how to find highly recommended doctors. He then gave me an idea that changed everything: search on Facebook for people’s posts. He said, “whenever I have trouble finding quality info, I go find what people are saying about it and follow their information, like in groups.”

So that’s what I did.

In a matter of days, I had more information than I needed, had appointments with the top two surgeons I could find, chose one, and put down a down payment for a surgery that ultimately cost less than $6,000 (hotel included) plus airfare.

On March 3, in Tijuana, Mexico, I had about 80% of my stomach removed. With it went a huge portion of the secretions of hunger hormone.

It’s early in the process – just over a month – but I feel really good. I’ve healed nicely and I actually love the diet. It has completely taken away the need for me to make any serious decisions about food – I just follow the plan.

And the best part is, I’m working hard and doing all of the things I’m supposed to – as I usually do – but now it’s working. It feels amazing just to know my hard work is paying off. That. Never. Happens. for me with weight loss plans. Ever. I’ve lost around 40 pounds. My BMI has gone from 55 – which is a deadly level of morbid obesity – to 49 in a matter of weeks.

Even if I do “average” for weight loss with a gastric sleeve, I’ll be able to get down to under 200 pounds, which will be a first for me since I was about 23. But I don’t like to be average. I fully plan to get to a weight that is within a healthy BMI for me.

I haven’t shared this news with everyone. I have a group of close friends and family members who got the advance plan and have been supporting me along the way. I shared with just a few co-workers who I knew would be supportive. In the weeks since, I’ve shared it with a few people I happened to be eating with, so my food choices wouldn’t cause any alarm. So far, everyone has been very receptive. My plan going forward is to freely offer the information if anyone asks what I’m doing to lose weight. I don’t want another overweight person to ever feel like they just have to do better at a diet to do what I’m doing. I want them to know the truth.

I’m thrilled at having been able to do this surgery. Thrilled. I feel like I’ve reclaimed the next 30 years of my life (at least, maybe 40 or 50 – my dad is still kicking at 96). In the months prior to surgery, I really felt so sick that I didn’t think I’d be living much longer. That feeling is gone and I feel more in control of my health, which has had more than its share of time being out of control.

It’s also made me feel more in control of my professional future. I know that sounds utterly unrelated, but the time off for surgery and knowing I’d be feeling better and more energetic soon, made me realize I am ready for changes. I need better ownership of my work and I intend to get there.

If you should happen to comment, please be kind. I’m not looking to change anyone’s mind on how to lose weight, nor am I advising anyone to do what I’ve done. I’m on my own journey and, for now, it’s working.