Crazy White Lady

I am a middle-aged white woman who has every advantage a person could have. I was born in America. I’m white. I’ve never hungered a day in my life. In fact, I was super morbidly obese for 10 years of my life. Just morbidly obese for the other 35.

I’ve never been so poor that I couldn’t buy food. Only one day did I wonder about dinner. No food. No paycheck. And the long weekend to make it to money. And even at that low point, my husband went to our local food pantry and got enough to fix dinner for a few days. A friendly, benevolent nun gave us pasta and sauce. Humiliating as that was, we ate dinner with our school-age daughter. And we were so very thankful. We were full on grace.

I’ve been struggling this week. Last Friday, I was accepted for a mission trip to Israel. I rejoiced at being chosen, but immediately became worried after the joy subsided. I would have to raise the money for my trip.

I’ve never been good about asking others for money. I struggled with paying my medical bills, but hesitated in asking others outside of my family for help. So crowdfunding made me squeamish, but missions are something that I’ve wanted to do since I was 16. Go to another part of the world and help those in need.

I know you might say, “Martha, we have need in this country.” And I would say yes. But we also have overweight poor people. The need in this country is real. But even our poor people live better than most in other parts of the world. Even our poor people are among the 1 percent. THAT’s the truth. Being poor in America doesn’t automatically mean death. Being poor in other countries can mean starvation. Being poor can mean a violent or untimely death.

I need to raise ~$3500. The supplies for this trip are already provided for, but I need to get myself there, to help. But first, by Monday, I need to raise $500 to reserve my spot. GAiN is supporting me and encouraging me to keep trying, they want and need me there. I can serve in so many ways on this trip. But I need that $500 to reserve my travel. If I don’t have it, this journey ends here.

At 4:10 am, Tuesday morning, just this past week, I woke up in a NyQuil/Benadryl-induced fog because I’ve been very sick. Trying to write, work and raise money for a trip has been tricky. At 4:10 am, I didn’t want to be awake, but my eyes popped open. And a realization washed over me. It was God’s voice because there’s no way that I would have this thought.

God, carefully pulling me close, grasping my attention and pajama collars, whispered softly into my stinging eyes, “Martha. You’ve been worried. Terrified. About money. You don’t know how you will provide for this trip halfway around the world. You’re scared. You feel alone. You feel forgotten. Forsaken. You’ve only experienced that for a few days. NOW, my dear child, you have some small understanding of what these people I want you to care about face every single day of their lives.”

And I fell back into my dreamy, warm covers. Broken and blown away.

I can’t tell you why this crazy white lady wants to go to the Holy Land. I can’t justify it. Other than to say, I’m following God’s heart. And that plane is going with or without me.

If this trip dies here, it dies here. I don’t want it to though.

God, if you want it to happen, you will provide. I know that. Thank you for opening my tired, sick American eyes, at the very least. I’m going to run after you, every chance I get.


Please consider giving. GAiN for Martha Maggio. There’s more info about my trip and who we’ll be serving. If every one of my followers gave even $1, I could meet my immediate goal. Thanks!

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Throwing it out there

In Grapes of Wrath, I have a scene where I sit around the fire in the first act. I’m getting rid of some things I don’t want to pack on the truck. There isn’t room for my washtub, so there isn’t room for sentimentality or mementos. I’m supposed to have a small box, probably an old cigar box or something, with papers inside and a pair of earrings.

I take the earrings, but I trash the rest. Throw it on the fire.

I made myself some papers to look at this morning. Stuff to burn. Stuff that has emotion in it. Stuff to stuff in that box. I can’t be sentimental about fake pictures, so I put my own pictures in a small box.

It’s hard for Ma to toss out the scraps of her life. This is the first time she’s confronted with leaving everything behind. I remember leaving everything behind 4 years ago.

Up until 4 years ago, I had to let go of very little. My mom stored some small stuff for me, but I had been carting around all my belongings, accumulating more and more stuff every place I went after I got married.

We took much, but we left much, 4 years ago.

4 years ago, I had a house. 4 years ago, I had medical debt. 4 years ago, I had cancer and didn’t know it. 4 years ago, I had hope that by leaving everything I had built, by walking away from crippling debt, I would know peace. At the very least.

I was right.

4 years ago, we had a small house in Kansas City. We were trying to make payments on the house, trying to fix ‘er up, trying to remodel and repair an aging older home. Gas was $4 a gallon. I was so sick, I couldn’t hold down a job. I was mentally and physically ill.

I had heart failure, undiagnosed thyroid cancer, failing gallbladder and out-of-control obesity. Of course I couldn’t work. I also had undiagnosed complex PTSD. Some days, I remember, it’s a miracle I’m still here. That I didn’t kill myself with food or by some other means.

I’m here.

When we realized that we would never pay off my medical debt, that we were sinking in a hole of a house, we quit paying on the house and filed bankruptcy. It was the hardest thing to walk away from debt and our house. I felt like a failure. A worthless piece of shit who deserved to go to jail for failing at adulthood.

I just thank God that our country offers a second chance. That you don’t go to prison for being irresponsible financially. (If that were true, our president would be in jail. LOL) Even Walt Disney claimed bankruptcy. KC represent! (He’s a KC boy, originally.)

There was so much pain. Guilt. Shame. But, at the end, relief. I could sleep again at night.

Bankruptcy is one of those things you never want to go through twice. For me anyway. I never want to go through the hassle or terror again. Stay out of debt. If you can. If your organs don’t fail. Also, keep insurance! (America’s medical safety net should not be bankruptcy.)

When we filed bankruptcy, we planned to move before they made us move. We started furiously working toward the goal of downsizing our entire house. I had a basement and a garage full of shit. Hand-me-downs. Arts and crafts. Tables. Chairs. Bookcases. Books. Thrift store finds. Theatre costumes. Bullshit. I had to start letting go of all those projects I told myself I’d do. I even had a friggin’ old, dusty upright piano. What was I thinking?

What I really wanted to do was start a house fire. Burn it to the ground. Emerge from the smoking hull. Start completely over. But I’m not a law breaker. So, we worked. For hours. With one vision in mind. Think of how nice it will be when this is all over. We will be free of these things. We won’t be slaves to objects. And we wanted to move to an apartment with a pool! Having a pool goal is a good motivator.

Plus, we had a huge garage sale. Sold a bunch on Craigslist. Made some fat stacks of cash. That was also a good motivator. I became quite a Craigslist savant. Never murdered! Woot!

One of the last days at our house, we had a bonfire. We had some folks over and had some food. We sat in our backyard to use it for the last time with friends. Something we rarely did and said we always wanted to do. It was a fun day. We bought hay bales for seats. We made burgers and dogs. We made a huge fire pit out of a decorative well. We cut the top of the well off (the roof and bucket) and used the brick oval base to make a fire pit. Done.

Threw old lumber, sticks and as many pieces of wood we could find (we had alot of scrap wood for some reason, we were hoarders, I guess) on the fire and lit the whole thing at once. Whoosh! It was a fireball. It was pretty cool.

We had just mowed the day before for company and the yard was full of dried grass clippings. We had an acre of land and plenty of dried grass. The kids at the party went around picking up the dried grass and throwing it on the fire. They had a blast. And the yard looked pretty nice, too. New party game. LOL

It was nice to use the yard finally. To enjoy the day. But it was far too late. Made me want to stay. But we would have never had the party if we weren’t going away. Such is life. Things are the sweetest, love is fiercest, when the end is near. Just enjoy it. Just do it before it’s too late.

When I do the scene as Ma, I’ve been around that fire before. I’ve left behind some precious things to come to where I am. But they are just things. I saved the best or most important parts from the fire. OR

Everything gets burnt. But the best things come out of the fire still intact. Refined. Like me.

pathways

from 2013:

Okay, so here’s an interesting breakthrough. My brain, the well-worn pathways in my brain, tell me I’m stupid if I don’t get food. I was sitting here after denying myself junk food and feeling like I hated myself.

“Why do I feel this way? Why do I feel overwhelmingly like I hate myself right now?”

My brain is feeling bad because I am choosing not to give it the food it wants. To make a new pathway is very difficult for the brain. If I give it the food it’s asking for (that I trained it to ask for) then it’s happy. If I deny it that food, it gets mad and sad.

When I was very young, when my parents would fight, I rewarded my pleasure centers with food and that made my chaotic world seem okay. I have worn a path to my pleasure center with food. You may do it with sex or drugs or alcohol. I am making new pathways and this is the most difficult thing I have ever done. And one day my brain will thank me for good food choices.

Your brain works the exact same way. Trust me.


A friend explained pathways to me after she went through an intense therapy group for eating disorders. Still thankful for that. It has been one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle in terms of changing eating habits and emotional eating.

Charity Begins at Home (and with Demi)

I asked a WordPress friend to speak about charity. Here are her thoughts and answers.


Demi, known as The Lupie Momma on WordPress, is turning 27 this year. She is not disappointed about getting older, she’s planning a huge 30th birthday celebration. (Get it, girl!) But she is a little sentimental about her daughter growing up so fast. Demi has a sweet, little girl who is almost 4. Demi is a wife and mother by day, working gal by night.

She’s dabbled at blogging for a few years on a few sites, but recently she decided to finish her novel. While struggling with Lupus (autoimmune disorder), she’s been working hard on this memoir. Demi is right and brave when she says “…life is too short not to go after everything.”
What do you do to volunteer or donate?
I’ve always given my clothes that are in good shape, that I’ve outgrown, to people I think can use them. Now that I have a fast growing toddler, I have started giving her old clothes and toys to other families. We have been fortunate enough to be able to afford these things, but we realize that some people aren’t as lucky.


Demi told me more about her personal giving.
They have a friend, Brandon (name changed for privacy). He’s a single dad of triplets. The mother is not involved on a regular basis. Brandon has to provide for 3 children. On his own. Demi knows how expensive one growing child can be. So. She started helping in any way she could. Brandon’s children are just 6 months younger than Demi’s girl. 2 of the triplets are girls. So Brandon is fixed for “hand-me-downs”. Brandon is truly grateful for the regular supply of girl’s clothing that Demi gives every change of the season.
Right before Christmas, Demi was preparing for the incoming onslaught of new toys for baby girl. They found an unused toddler bed and chair. She messaged Brandon right away. A few days later, Brandon posted about bills and presents; how hard it would be to provide this year. Demi had thought about buying a few small gifts, but after the post, Demi’s husband went full-on Santa. Gender-neutral toys that all the kids would enjoy. Delivered to Brandon’s house just in time for Christmas Eve. They didn’t say a word, leave a note or want any attention for doing so. They did unto others as they would want for themselves. Unfortunately, Amazon shipping included the husband’s email and Brandon figured it out. Needless to say, he was very thankful.


Why do you volunteer or donate?

We donate to help those in need because we would hope someone would help us if the shoe was on the other foot. Whether it’s to Brandon and his kids or hurricane relief somewhere else. (The state of Florida thanks you, Demi!!)
How do you feel when you give?
It’s a good feeling. Sometimes I feel guilty that I couldn’t do more, but my husband reminds me that its better I do a little than nothing at all. (I agree with your husband! If we all do some, we can do it all. <—Has someone already said that? If not, it’s so true!)

If we all do some, we can do it all!


Are you Christian or other religious affiliation? Do you give for a specific reason?

We’re Christians, but not the “we think we’re holier than others” type. We aren’t going to spit out scriptures at you or chaste you for not going to church.
No specific reason we do–except for the Lupus Foundation as that is a close charity that I personally benefit from.
I don’t know if I was necessarily taught to donate or volunteer, I just think my mother instilled in us from a young age to help others when we can. I remember being out to eat as a kid and my mom giving me a few dollars to give to the homeless man sitting a few tables away. Since then, I’ve just always kind of done it. Giving money to a random homeless man, or buying them a meal, giving my clothes to someone who could benefit from them. And now that I’m a mother myself, I want to instill that in my daughter. That not everyone is as fortunate as we are, and that it’s good to help others when you can.
How do your kids feel about your helping?
I’m not really sure she fully grasps the concept yet. She’s only three. Occasionally when we’re packing up stuff she hasn’t played with for months, we get the “That’s my toy!” but we explain that you know you haven’t played with it in a while, and there is someone else who would enjoy it. After a few pouts, she usually just drops the subject, goes and plays with something else. Explaining the Santa to Seniors, and why we were getting gifts for “old people who weren’t grandma or grandpa” was a bit tricky. But she picked out the names of the women we got, ‘all E’s because her name starts with E’ and picked out the bags to put their stuff in, she even threw in some hot chocolate packets for them. I hope that as she gets older, she’ll admire us for it. And continue to do it as she grows up.


While Demi regularly donates old clothes and toys, she was moved to go above and beyond this holiday season. She said, “…it felt nice buying gifts for other people that probably actually deserve the gifts.” Every year, people feel burdened in buying gifts for extended family members as an act of obligation. Holiday gift exchange can feel like a pressure cooker of negativity and resentment, boiling over by Christmas. And at the end of it all you may, like Demi, wish you had helped someone who actually needed (not wanted) something.
Demi left me with this thought from John Bunyan:

You have not lived today
until you have done something for someone
who can never repay you.


Let us know how the book is coming, Demi. I can post a link in an update. Thanks for sharing!

Please consider donating to the Lupus Foundation or to Demi’s personal fundraising goal.

Anything is Possible

I often have to remind myself:
It’s not entirely your fault you were fat.

This may sound like a huge justification or rationalization, but it’s not. It’s a rejection of a lifetime of shame. Of being called lazy.

It’s funny, someone who blamed me and my weight problem on the simple fact that I ate too much, is now, or was, severely overweight with heart trouble. Hm. Ain’t that easy, is it?

Karma’s a bitch. But I won’t be. You shall remain anonymous. You’re welcome. I hope you can get some help. For your heart and mind.

December 12th, 2016–I had gastric bypass.

At my heaviest, I weighed 513 lbs. I’m currently at 280.4 lbs. Lowest weight to date since August 2012. That’s ~233 lbs lost for those without a calculator, superior math skills or too busy for subtraction of the hundreds column. 😀

233 lbs. Major.

When I met with my weight loss surgeon for the first time in August of 2016, he told me something significant.

“You have a genetic disorder that requires surgical intervention.”

He believed that. And I believe it now, too. Thank you, Doctor. You gave me my life back. In so many ways.

No one gets to be 513 on their own. No one. A series of events have to happen for a person to gain 300+ lbs over their ideal range.

Genetic predisposition to obesity. Bad eating habits established by the age of 5. Lack of nutrition or access to a quality food source. Misinformation about dieting. Emotional chaos at home and at school. Thyroid. Gallbladder. Disease. Surgery. Sickness. Pregnancy. Teasing. Shaming. Cruel humor from your own family. Being misunderstood. Culture.

I can tell you one thing. Stop shaming fat people. It doesn’t help. Sympathetic, empathetic, emotional support for obese people is the only way to help them. If they want it! Demanding better food from food suppliers and the government; supporting a system of a better food source for the general population, for everyone, is a start. Being educated helps. Actual involvement in an overweight person’s life is essential. Compassion and understanding are needed. Listening is key. Stop judging fat people. Chances are you know someone who is overweight. They aren’t lazy. They have a medical problem. What’s your reason for being a self-righteous asshole?

And exercise isn’t the only answer. I haven’t exercised regularly through my whole weight loss journey, especially since I had gastric bypass. I haven’t always been able to. I’ve simply reduced my calorie intake. I am more active, but only when I choose to be. I bike, but not with a rigid, unchanging schedule. I bike and walk when I enjoy it.

I exercised and dieted for over 2 years. Worked out for 3-5 nights a week at the local Y for at least an hour each time. Usually, I was there at the Y for 2 hours. I ate the right foods in the right amounts. I couldn’t get past ~60 lb loss until I had gastric bypass. And then it FELL off. I was killing myself doing what skinny people told me to do with my body. It didn’t work.

I used to think it was a matter of willpower because that’s what every skinny person ever told me. Until my surgeon.

LISTEN! It could mean the difference between life and death for someone. I would know.

Get surgery if you’ve tried everything. You may have some other condition preventing weight loss. At least see a physician who specializes in obese patients. It may just save your life.

Fight for yourself. Advocate for yourself. No one else will.


BTW! I can wear size 22 jeans! LOL What? I can zip them up after I pour all my floppy skin into the legs. WTF???! I haven’t worn size 22 jeans in a long time. 😀 That’s hawt! They are a pair of 22 jean capris that a weight loss surgery patient gave me after they were too big. Thank you, Friend! I’m in them now! Still losing. I will pass them on when I’m done!

Hello, Gorgeous! Here I come 270s!! Bye, bye, Shamers! I’m too busy for you.

December 11th, 1992

The day I lost my dad. 25 years ago, yesterday.


I am kneeling beside my father. He’s dead.

I look at him for a long time. I’ve never seen a dead body before.

I want to memorize his face and hands before he is in the ground.

His mouth is open. His eyes are fixed and wide. He is frozen with a look of surprise. I reach out to touch the back of his neck. My fingers barely land when I feel the prickle of shorn hair and cold, firm flesh.

I immediately withdraw my hand.

I am devastated that he’s gone. I never thought I would feel bad on this day.

My face is numb and tight from the departed tears that I didn’t bother to stop, catch or dry.

His hair is stiff and sharp. It’s cut so close and damaged from the radiation. It’s seems almost burnt.

His nose is pronounced and pointed. When he was healthy, it was round and red, but he’s lost so much weight. It’s chiseled bare.

His cheeks are waxy, melting mounds. Smooth and brown.

His hands are large; dangerous. They are still, yet frightening. The monster strength is gone, but they summon the fear of what was possible, what was done.

He is a mechanic. But he has the cleanest, longest nails I’ve ever seen on a man. The palms are soft and tender, amazingly so.

My hands are close to his. The backs of my hands are rough, pale and dry. White with flakes. My nails are short and torn. Red and sore like my eyes.

I can sense that whatever lights the eye and warms the blood is gone from him. There is no recognition, not even a grimace.

His spirit has sighed away and what is left is just a heap of tumors, bones and bile. He will never talk, kiss, threaten, smoke, curse, drink, hit, hate, love, work, sacrifice, shame or wrestle on this earth again. He can’t hurt any more, but he also can’t fix a thing.

I have lost him. I. Am. Lost.


I love you. I forgive you. I miss you. Still.

Gratitude

November has officially become a month-long thankful pack of sticky notes on Facebook. That’s great. Truly. But what about the other 11 months? 🙂

So I hesitate to join, but. I will.

I am thankful for so much. But this Thanksgiving, I am deep-down, toes-to-tassel thankful for my life.

Since 2012, and really before that, I have been sick. Heart failure. Twice. Thyroid cancer. Gastric bypass. Gallbladder failure.

And now, 226 lbs lighter, I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Even when I was young. Mainly because I also feel emotionally better. It feels like all the sickness is finally gone. I can just tell.

For years I struggled with a failing GB. Probably a decade, in hindsight. Also, I probably had a thyroid issue my entire life because I have been overweight from a young age.

Mom always said, “You were born hungry.” A mother knows. Just wish she could have told or shown the doctors where to look. Nonetheless, this was my destiny.

I am thankful for my trouble. It has taught me endurance.

James 1:2-4 NASB

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

(Perhaps missing/lacking a few organs, but otherwise, lacking in nothing. LOL)

It has also taught me humility. Patience. Joy. Peace. Understanding. Wisdom. Tolerance. So many things.

Under any other circumstances, would I be the person I have finally come to love entirely? I don’t know. God didn’t do this to me. But he knew how far I could go. He knew the traps. He knew the joys. He knew how strong I could be with him.

I truly did not think it was possible. To see 287.6 lbs again. That’s what I was yesterday afternoon, on the scale. I did not think it was possible to live past the age of 50. I did not think it was possible to ever feel right again. Out of pain. Able to walk. Able to work.

One year ago, I was preparing for surgery. High-protein diet to shrink my liver. Thanksgiving was the last day I could eat. I savored it. Thinking it might be my last tasty morsel before a lifetime of bland, tiny meals. Or worse. My last meal before operation table disaster. Dying.

But I made it. I made it to the next Thanksgiving. How wonderful to be on the other side. Maybe that’s what it’s like to go to Heaven. Thankful to be done and home at last.

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

Maybe this is what I needed for this ultra-thick head. Maybe this was my come-to-Jesus moment. Maybe this was my “fall on my knees because I have nothing left.”

I’m by no means done. I am just beginning again. And I am so thankful just to be alive. And 287. 🙂


Only 87 lbs to goal!!! 😀

12 Days of Driving

I drive for a living. I love my job. It’s so easy and the pay is great. The hours are amazing. Plus, I have the best boss. THE best boss I’ve ever had. Such a nice guy. So easy-going.

I pick up labs (body fluids, of course contained) and take them to the main downtown hospital super lab. Easy-peasy, liquid squeezy.

The other day, I arrived at one of the clinics. The staff have a strange penchant for feeding stray cats (and by accident, raccoons and vultures) in the back-of-the-strip-mall parking lot just behind their clinic. It’s sort of like Grey Gardens without the elaborate outfits and dilapidated old house. This is where I park before I enter their facility.

There’s usually at least one cat in the lot. Waiting around for scraps. But the other day it was like Black Friday at Wal-mart or a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas:
3 trash pandas
2 mangy vultures
AAAAAND 1 gray and white alley caaaaaat!

I’d never seen so many scavengers in one place, even at Dr. Doolittle’s. They all sat waiting just outside a vast clump of bushes. Wonder what was in those bushes? I really don’t wanna find out.

Food? Dead animal? Dead body?? EEEK! I just grabbed my labs and split!

Happy Holidays! Try singing The Twelve Days of Trash Panda. 🙂 LOL

Mini Canvas Shell Art

So, on my medical courier route, I met this really nice young woman. She’s a lab tech/nurse. She has a family, husband, young daughter, possibly more than one child. I don’t know her that well, but she’s been one of the kindest people I’ve met in Florida. Her birthday was earlier this month, but I just found out. She mentioned it in passing on another topic.

So. I made this for her.

mini canvas shell art.jpg

Do you think she’ll like it?

The size is only like 2″ x 2″. So those are tiny little shells.

I bought the frame for under $5? Possibly even $1. I don’t remember. Had it forever. And I found the shells on our beach. Painted the picture black (because it was hideous little, weird cacti in orange and green and brown, and not the good kind, gag!), epoxy’d shells to the canvas/cardboard insert backing thingie, and made a button hanger for the top. So this project was $5 or less. Crafty Beaver on the loose!

I hope my new acquaintance likes this small gesture and I hope I make a new friend! 🙂

Even if she is just my nicest route client (and we are never friend-friends), it’s nice to be nice to nice people.

How could you not want me as a friend? When I make cool stuff and give it to you? LOL 😉

Hope everyone has a great day and a great weekend!! Love you, Friends!

299.4

Welcome to Loozers Lounge!! LOL I’m the biggest loser.

I broke 300.

I did not think this was possible! So excited. only 99 lbs until skin surgery. 😀 Better find a surgeon. Wish I had my weight loss surgeon. He’s the best. But I have to afford the surgery first. Flying back to KC would cost even more.

Who cares! I weigh 299!!! Woot!

Total loss=214 lbs!!!!!

This is good news.  This has been a tough week full of sadness and setbacks. Welcome, Good News! I needed you.