Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Secret of Life


It is possible I have discovered the secret of life and I want to share it with you.

I decided to write this blog entry to tell you one thing: it is imperative to not accept trash in your life. You don't need it and you don't need other people talking down to you. You can do better and must strive to find people who get this.

I was inspired to write this because The 10th Anniversary issue of O magazine featured a column titled "10 Rules I've Unlearned" by Martha Beck. Number 6 was: It matters what people think of me.

She realized her anguish came from her hypothesis that other people's hypothetical hypotheses about her mattered. This insight paralleled a shift away from my own painful imagined fears that carried me through the years.

Happy Birthday, O!

I had this conversation with a woman who talked to me about control freaks.

I realized that we could stay in control when we recognize that it's our right and duty to brook no nonsense and not accept junk attitudes from people.

This has been easier for me to do all along as regards stigma.

Now I can hold this ethic dear with anyone I meet or come in contact with.

The amazing discovery was that I didn't have to forgive myself I had to pull no punches and decide not to co-opt other people's craziness. Their bull crap is not mine or yours to swallow.

It was crystal-clear to me all of a sudden that we cannot be passive recipients of stigma or violence or hate of any kind or rudeness or nonsense.

I understood this when the woman told me I was able to take on the schizophrenia as another thing to fight because I had survived bullying in middle school.

It's true: I fought the hardest battle of my life getting in the ring against the SZ. Anyone who doesn't give us credit for doing this I would strike out of my life.

So I dedicate this blog entry to all you scrappy little fighters out there.

The key to taking control is to get other people on board without their realizing they've done what you want them to. You seduce them instead of berating them and they will come around. I'm not talking about sex: I'm talking a different kind of union where others can't help but view you in a positive light because you've made yourself irresistible.

You don't need people telling you you're trash. God doesn't make junk. You're not that kind of pot or kettle: if they want to project their insecurities on you that's only a reflection of them not you.

This truly amazing discovery has carried me through the past couple of days as I walked about interacting with people.

The woman told me this process of changing would be a life-long one for me.

I have said it before that you should give yourself the gift of a lifetime in which to recover. Recovery is a journey not an endpoint although it is possible to consider yourself recovered from the schizophrenia.

So I urge you to strive to always keep growing as a person.

What can we do?

Give stigma the boot.

Give racism the boot.

Boot out of our lives any fear of what people think of us.

We can do this instead:

Decide to love.

Keep cool.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The oil spill from BP that has slicked wildlife and polluted water is unforgivable.

Long ago I decided I didn't want to own a car because I didn't want to be dependent on Middle Eastern oil or for that matter any oil source.

The economic hardship and mental health stress on the people like fishermen who depend on the water for their income are hazardous side effects as well.

You ought to read Terry Tempest Williams book Finding Beauty in a Broken World where she talks about the utter disregard of the natural world and the genocide in Rwanda. From out of human annihilation she worked on an art project to help the people in Africa heal.

Today I was reminded of the peril of steamrolling over the natural world.

The book The Long Emergency is the most dire account of the coming end of the world as we know it that started when farmland was paved over to create shopping malls and industrial parks.

One place in the natural world that still exists is Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton New Jersey where I and the other women in my writing workshop read our work at an outdoor poetry reading. I read the Italy scene that is linked to on my author web site via an audio file. So if you click on the link you can hear me reading what I read today at the Poets Invitational.

One of the poets read about nature and he came up to us in the Peacock Cafe after the reading to tell us he liked our writing. We also praised him and started talking about the need to be in nature.

The peacocks strutted freely outside in the park. So beautiful. I marveled at how their strutting reminded me of the Nelson Mandela quote about letting our own light shine and in turn giving other people permission to shine.

The sole role of a peacock is to strut and I felt that it is often hard for people diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses to strut their stuff in a world where their very existence is discounted. Long ago I rebelled the role of mental patient however traditionally that was the occupation prescribed to us.

We were told to silently pop pills and not make waves and collect a government disability check and exit the psychiatrist's office quickly so he could be done with us.

Ah: the proud peacock. We should all be so proud to strut our stuff without fear.

Did I nail this with my philosophy recorded here awhile ago: "here's the playing field. please join in."

It is why as I continue to add scenes to my memoir and revise the scenes I"m writing that I realize what I did was ultimately not about me: it was about shining my light so that others could feel they had the right to shine a light on themselves.

Hope is a competency. Hope can also be a kind of therapy that sustains us on the long road to recovery. By bringing my story to light I wanted to give others the hope that they too could have a life worth living.

So this is how my book differs: I don't have a Yale law degree. I'm just an ordinary person who did something she's convinced a lot of people diagnosed with schizophrenia could do too:

We can live a life of our own choosing. We can live life on our own terms.

That is how I defined the kind of recovery I wanted to have: to be able to do the things I want to do and to afford to live in my own apartment by working at a job or jobs I loved. Hey: to be able to buy a new Sade CD without going broke.

As soon as you start out on this road I suggest you define what your ideal recovery would be like and take steps to reach it knowing that in the future your definition will most likely change the farther along you reach.

I wrote in a recent Bruni in the City column for New York City Voices that the reason I succeeded in getting what I wanted is that I always had higher expectations for myself. Did I tell you in here to shoot for the stars because you could settle for the moon?

Set modest and realistic goals just starting out and as you achieve these goals begin to set goals that are just slightly beyond your reach.

I have been criticized by a peer who told me I was just a yuppie who got fumbled out by a waiter in a restaurant so popped into a program because it was the trendy thing to do. His self-stigma was something I could not forget and his comment stayed with me all these years.

Another guy who was a peer sent me an e-mail on a dating website when he had no intention of dating me. He wrote: I see your profile and wonder if you're all that. Who do you think you are? This was because I wrote that I liked yoga, walking, dinner parties, interior decorating and browsing museums. In my honesty I wrote that I was looking for a guy who was healthy and committed to his recovery.

Do you think I felt threatened or intimidated by these insecure guys? Heck no. I'm not going to date someone who continually screws up by not taking his medication or doing things counterproductive to his own recovery.

Apparently that was too much to ask.

I can pretty much shine a light on other people because that is my ethic. I see how it is in that when you or I let our own light shine we open ourselves to criticism.

Ah: the peacock.

He's going to strut his stuff and give everyone a glorious show.

We should all take a page from his book.

Enough said.

Good night.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Diamond Life

The Sade CD Diamond Life has the song "Smooth Operator" on it. The Patti Smith CD features all covers including "Smells Like Teen Spirit." The Pearl Jam CD Backspacer has the song "Just Breathe" that is so beautiful.

Now I have new music to listen to while I work at the computer on my second job. This will carry me through the day.

Always: music and light and going out. I would urge anyone in recovery to go to the edge of their comfort zone to grow as a person. Standing still is not an option. Move to the beat of life. Take one risk every day.

Life is good. I always hold out the hope that there can be joy. We have the right to feel good and to enjoy life.

You don't recover by lying on the couch watching TV all day. I recommend a person do volunteer work if she can't work at paid employment. One summer I volunteered my time at the Forget-Me-Not thrift shop for the Alzheimer's Association. I had gotten involved with them because my Grandma had this illness. I would sort the new arrivals, arrange the clothes on the racks and ring up the orders. I felt it was something I had to do that summer.

It was the in-between time when I was living in limbo drifting through time. I would tell anyone that this happens: a plateau or a wandering not knowing where you'll be next. Like a nomad I traveled from place to place.

You will not want to hear that it can take a long time to reach the goals you have for yourself. Yet that is how recovery is: it is not quick and it is not easy and I have said this before. It took me three years from the time I was diagnosed to the time I obtained my first job and a year later I moved into my own apartment.

Here's the deal: I don't measure success by outward signs that a person has arrived in the world. I keep time in my recovery to subtle signals: a day that I can go to the poetry reading or a day that is free. Paula Cole wrote about this in her song "The Road to Me" about how the car and the house are not who she is they are only steps along the way.

Everyone living in recovery has the capacity to live a good life. My definition of recovery is the ability to live life on my own terms. To not settle for less.

It's why I'll take one good day over 50 not-so-good days as the barometer of success.

Do you see how it is?

I will always refer in here to the idea that we have only one day.

My goal is to chip away at the marble to reveal some kind of insight to offer hope to others and to inspire readers.

So that one day a light bulb will click and someone will say: "I want to recover and I'm going to take steps to make that happen."

The first step is to take the medication although popping pills is not the sole measure of our success. Going out the front door and entering life is the next step.

Now you see.

Enjoy your day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Long Road


3 CDs: Patti Smith Pearl Jam Sade. A silver ring with a purple stone that the street fair vendor claimed was .925. The poetry book The Brother Inside Me.


I read a short scene from Left of the Dial at the poetry reading. The women in the audience loved what I read. Even among the Italians I feel like an outsider.

Eddie and I ducked into the Spanish restaurant afterward for dinner. We gave each other the high five before parting ways.

What do I know? You live with this. You live through it. You reconcile your checkbook in your head so you'll be able to buy the CDs. You remember the leap you took 20 years ago that enabled you to buy CDs every so often. It is the Twentieth Anniversary of Your First Job so you have been employed two decades.

That is my life: the life I chose in August 1990 when I went down this lonely road. Now I'm a voyager traveling with kindred spirits. I don't go by age or race or ethnicity. One of my best friends was once a woman who collected a disability check and watched WWF every Saturday. A friend once told me I embrace other people's differences.

Would I go as far as to say that? I would not want to puff myself up that way. It comes down to this: I have no expectations that people be other than who they are. A person who likes herself will be able to accept people without trying to change them.

So the short of it is that life can be painful living with the SZ and you know that life isn't perfect and neither are you.

I wrote in my notebook that God is my lantern on this long road.

It comes down to fifty extra dollars to buy the CDs and a royal obscene tip that Eddie and I give the waiter in the restaurant.

Your sorrow is real and so is your joy.

Tomorrow I will listen to the Pearl Jam CD before I head out.

I cannot tell you that it gets easier although in most ways it does.

You cherish your friends and your loved ones because they have traveled with you down this road.

Life is good. I would tell you that life is always good.

Be brave and live your life with passion.

It is not that I don't suffer. It is that I see no reason in dwelling on the pain.

I would not judge someone else unless I had walked in their moccasins along this road.

Do not be fooled: we have the choice: to do what life demands of us or to live in fear.

I suggest we take action to live true and to accept that this is not something we asked for or deserved or wanted yet we can make of it something positive.

In the end:

You have one day in time like a snowflake to treasure and catch before it slips by.

A day unlike any other to rejoice in because God made this day just for you.

In some ways it gets easier. In some ways it is always a challenge.

Listen to the music. Dance as if no one is watching you. Live true.



This morning I listened to the Corinne Bailey Rae CD The Sea on my iPod dock. She has a gorgeous voice and I would like to buy her other album.

Today I realized the new salon has yellow walls which pleased me because it is a joyous color. My haircut is new: a riff on Isabella Rossellini's and I bought the pomade to style it. Sophie told me I don't need a hair dryer to recreate the cut every day.

Tomorrow I will wash and set the hair in the new cut and wear my contact lenses to meet O. Miraculously I woke at 7:30 am and so had time to listen to the CD.

Last night I went to a new support group for the first time. I recommend peer support as an option for living a good life. You might have to search around to find one that is to your liking however I recommend you make the effort.

Sometimes it is too much to hear other people's woe so that is why you must have other outlets that give you joy. Like a beauty salon. A manicure. Treating yourself to a new CD. Next up I buy Pearl Jam's Backspacer with the song "Just Breathe" that is so beautiful. Shortly before my second two-week hospital stay I saw Pearl Jam at the Limelight. This concert scene made its way into my memoir too.

The psychic I went to early this year told me she saw Left of the Dial being published. I take this on faith even though it's hard for me to believe in anything that doesn't carry scientific proof. The word I would rather use to describe my hard work in writing the memoir is devotion: my unwavering commitment to doing what it takes to sell tons of copies of my book.

Devotion I can understand because it involves free will. With true faith you have to suspend your doubt and it's hard for me to do that. I prefer to see things in black-and-white and signed and sealed and written in stone and delivered on a tablet.

You've got to have faith even if it is as irrational as hope sometimes. I have faith that my memoir will be published because the woman who gave me the reading said it would be. So the next step is doing the hard work to revise and add scenes to the manuscript.

Did I have faith just starting out in my recovery that I would recover? In some ways my denial about the truth of having schizophrenia propelled me to take those early risks to live independently and get my first job. It was a coping mechanism because surely if I believed there was no hope for someone who had schizophrenia I would've been defeated.

The element of living in hiding was one I turned inside-out in order to succeed. Interesting: I don't consciously recognize that I keep the faith or have the hope that I can do other things in the future. Stepping out and doing those things is like drinking a glass of water. You drink a glass of water without realizing that water=life. It's just something you do to be healthy.

One thing I recommend you do is keep a grateful journal to record your tiny victories every day. I have recently begun writing them down in my Life's Little Reminders journal I bought in Starbuck's last year.

That is how you keep the faith: you boost your spirits by re-reading the things that cheer you about yourself and your life. It can be a beautiful life if you see the positive around you.

How you keep positive is to seek other people who willingly reinforce that you are a good person and can recover. A woman had this conversation with me: how I believed I would publish Left of the Dial because the psychic told me I would.

This is why an oncologist should not tell a patient she only has six months to live: it becomes a self-fulfilling outcome. Plenty of cancer patients live 12 years or more when given the option that this is possible.

So as I've said before I consider it unethical to tell someone diagnosed with schizophrenia that she can't recover and her prospects are limited because she will be bleached of hope.

It comes down to the Nelson Mandela quote I quote often in here:
"As we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

The way to do this is to lead by example.

My own quote is equally as inclusive:
"Here's the playing field. Please join in."

Today I hope you are having a good day. I hope this blog entry cheers you. I will go sign off now as I want to listen to some music.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hello Sunshine

June is in swing now: things are moving along.

How does a person go from feeling the world is so super sunny to crying for five nights straight? Then she sees the silver light shining through the window.

I prefer this kind of silver light that is peaceful to the glare of a day that is so super sunny. Susanna Kaysen in the ending of Girl, Interrupted spoke about a different kind of light. It was a beautiful ending. When you reach the end of your rope you hold on to the light. The silver light shining through your window is enough to get you through.

All is well: June is here. It's summer in two weeks.

The idea struck me that I will send out my clothes to the laundry center and pick them up later. I will also send my clothes out for a dry press at the dry cleaner instead of steaming them on my own. This week after the fall I was able to steam some pants and shirts only to continue is an effort. I will do what it takes to function well and that could involve having the laundry center do my laundry and having the dry cleaner press my clothes.

Otherwise . . . the energy and time it takes I don't have right now.

Life is to be enjoyed not spent on the Hestia chores of the hearth is how I see it. Once in a journal writing workshop the instructor read about four goddesses and told us Hestia doesn't have a persona because she's relegated to the hearth. I chose this goddess to write about because I was entranced with the myth of such a woman.

Like with all things-the bread and butter jobs of my life-I find myself needing to streamline or else the duties and responsibilities pile up mercilessly eating into my time. I would rather watch Property Virgins or House Hunters on HGTV.

This the goal for those of us in recovery: to have the kind of life where we can choose to send our clothes out and hire a housecleaner or do it ourselves if we are so inclined.

Trust me: I was always averse to domestic chores from a young age and resisted my mother's pleas that I help her with these kinds of things. Of course it is within her right to have told me to pitch in.

Yet I was not a Traditional woman that way and would rather go off to the library to check out books to read or curl up on the bed listening to the FM radio and writing in my diary.

So I'm interested in how other people in recovery from schizophrenia attend to the activities of daily living: cooking cleaning shopping doing laundry managing appointments. We could learn a thing or two from each other for sure so feel free to drop me a comment here. This will also be the Question of the Month for July at the Connection so surf on over there on July 1st and join the dialogue.

It comes down to experimenting to see what works for you and going with that routine and changing course when the routine no longer is useful.

You figure this out quickly because you need this parachute when the days are not so super sunny. All I need is my apartment a computer and a radio. Those are the essentials to live a harmonious life. Next up would be clothes.

The key for me was to find easy recipes to use to create different meals that don't involve a major pots-and-pans production and endless clean-up. Monday night I followed the Real Simple recipe for a turkey and avocado salad. I grated parmesan cheese on top of the Boston lettuce and shaved the hard skin off the avocado and sliced it and folded the sliced-thin deli turkey and added heirloom cherry tomatoes too.

So in under 20 minutes I had dinner: che bella!

I see where the summer is headed: to KISS or keep it simple sweetheart.

To have a guy clean the pots and pans I would always cook dinner no problem.

One way to save money is to buy salad fixings instead of paying$5 a pop at a fast food joint. It might be cheap to have a burger and fries every day only you risk your health doing so thus it's more expensive in the long run.

Other women tell me I always eat healthful foods and I would protest. My downfall is that I miss out on whole grains sometimes. It's why I like to cook the Kashi Mediterranean pizza to have for dinner once a week: it has 10 grams fiber and whole grains. Bob's Red Mill bulgur also has a significant amount of fiber and whole grains in one serving alone. Also wild rice is a whole grain and I stocked up on the Uncle Ben's wild rice mix so I will try to cook a package on the weekend.

You have to make things as convenient as possible for you to do. Give yourself enough time to prepare a good meal. Accentuate the positive: do only the things that reinforce your good humor in recovery and strive to halt involvement in acrimonious endeavors with other people.

The goal is to feel sunny even when it's raining.

Do you see what I'm talking about?

You can't do any of this when you keep resisting taking your medication or only sometimes take your pills. Though I'm preaching to the choir possibly in all of this.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the spring and have a good summer too.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Soldier of Love


The song "Party Like a Rock Star" blasted on the stereo system as the adults sat on the beige chairs at the table under the beige umbrella.

You're only 13 once. It was her party so she could listen to whatever music she wanted even if the lyrics were shouted over and over as if the band couldn't think of anything else to write: party like a rock star party like a rock star party like a rock star.

It's a different world: teens are connected at the hip to their iPods. I regret I bought my iPod shortly after it first arrived on the scene so I paid $250 and it can only hold 500 songs.

Now you can get an iPod for $250 that holds 10,000 songs or some other great amount. I listen to my iPod on the dock I bought that has an HD radio so I can listen out loud in my apartment instead of with ear buds.

Right now I listen to the Sade CD. "Soldier of Love" is the hypnotic song coming through the speakers as I type. I'm going to import vocalists to my iTunes library so I can have a long playing soundtrack for nights when rock-n-roll won't do.

The list:

Diana Krall

Corinne Bailey Rae


Norah Jones

kd Lang

Those are the ladies.

I have a Sting CD which is pretty good too: Sacred Love.

Would like to buy an early Sade CD with her classic songs on it. She hit the scene when I was a disc jockey in the 1980s and though I didn't play her on the radio I always loved her music. She was too mainstream to play on late night college radio.

A play list would look something like this:

The Chills

Naked Raygun

Das Damen

Sonic Youth

The Replacements

Dinosaur Jr

I will always remember my college years: they were the happiest time of my life and then I had the breakdown.

Can I say today is better? Yes.

You do not know when you are first diagnosed how your life will turn out. Your life could turn out to be better than it was before you got sick. That is the ideal to strive for: to live your best life.

I'd much rather listen to vocalists than noisy out-of-tune music. I will delete Soul Asylum and the others from my iTunes library and upload the vocalists instead. Will even nix u2's Achtung Baby because I've played that CD numerous times and it's gotten boring.

Gone will be the Everclear albums as well.

The music no longer appeals to me though the lyrics to "One-Hit Wonder" I will always remember: about how people can't hurt you unless you let them. That song is off So Much for the Afterglow a good CD. I used to like the early Everclear music too.

Goodbye, jumble!

All that loud music is gone.

As you move along in your recovery things change.

I'm not the same person I was when I was 22. Life changed me. I don't hold the same values. I aspire to live with compassion and forgiveness for all human beings. Will I fall short? OK: we all fall short.

My goal is to stay out of the hospital long-term.

The day the music died was a heartbreaking time in my life. I was forced to decide: remain stuck in the past or roll with the change and move into the future.

It can be liberating to let go.

Tomorrow I will listen to the new iPod music.

What fell away was not meant to be. We look so longingly at the door that closed that we are unable to see the door opening before us.

Recovery is a door. Music was the key that unlocked it. My first therapist told me that it's possible I didn't get sick any sooner because I was a disc jockey involved in a career that gave me great joy.

So I urge you: listen to the song of life. Dance when you get the chance.

You will get older. The old music will no longer do.

Be brave and change your tune.


Saturday, June 5, 2010


A friend coined the term champagne and complain because I don't drink yet wanted to drown my sorrows in something.

You know you're on to something good when you haven't steamed the clothes free of wrinkles yet you have a new outfit to wear. Seriously. I might just bring the clothes to the dry cleaner for a dry press.

Your life changes after you're diagnosed. You're less inclined to get hung up over things that don't matter. So you take a wrinkle or two in good stride. You laugh when you find out you accidentally threw out the new gift card you bought for a birthday gift and will have to go back to the store to buy another one.

Imagine that: I accidentally threw out a new gift card.

I'm reminded of a woman I met who told me: "I didn't ask for the schizophrenia." She had done well for herself even after the diagnosis. I could understand how she felt.

So sometimes you walk around the clothes on the floor and tell yourself you'll steam them at night when it's cooler. Then the night comes and you tell yourself you'll do it in the morning when you have more energy.

The SZ doesn't take a holiday: the medication can only keep the symptoms at bay.

Tonight I will listen to the Sade CD Soldier of Love. It's not advised to drink when you take Geodon so I'll have one flute only.

As much to celebrate as anything: I've been out of the hospital 18 years. That's a good long time to be free. I would like to treat myself when I celebrate my 20-year anniversary. It would be quite an achievement.

As the years go by I barely count them any more.

You come to the time in your life when forgiveness matters above all else.

A woman told me that people with SZ tend to be self-critical and this is a symptom. Of course. It's one thing to objectively know that you must forgive yourself and it's another thing entirely to actually do the forgiving.

She told me that Bono helped engineer the Product(RED) success story. The energy of the color red is a life energy that perfectly captures this mission to save the lives of people diagnosed with AIDS in Africa.

She protested when I told her I do what I do because it is just something I do. It was getting late so she had to leave yet I wanted her to stay longer to cheer me.

Funny I wonder if I met Bono if he would be receptive to someone diagnosed with SZ. I've been reading my numerology print-outs and I have numbers that indicate I have a humanitarian impulse so I would be in heaven if I met Bono.

I bought years ago a Product(RED) tee shirt that is red and has inspi(RED) written in white letters across the front.

One thing is certain like the U2 song lyrics suggest we have to carry each other.

This is a cruel illness that nobody deserves to get and we don't deserve the stigma either.

So I hope you find some comfort here in this blog and some good cheer to power you through the day. Not every day will be a good day so the goal is to have more good days than not-so-good days.

One time my mother told me that from an early age I had a self-preservation ethic. Living with the SZ you learn quickly what you need to do to recover and early on your life is devoted to calming your brain.

It gets easier with time in certain ways and in other ways it's still a challenge. You will live with this for the rest of your life.

So you amass a small fortune in baubles. You celebrate your freedom with a flute of champagne. You realize that the first step is to acknowledge you need help and so you can seek help now instead of waiting.

The clothes are still on the floor waiting for the day you get enough energy to steam them free of the wrinkles. You can live with the wrinkles and a little dust yet not with a mess.

You wash the champagne glasses before you go to bed. They are your favorite ones you bought at a dollar store: a quartet of classic flutes.

You store the two unopened champagne bottles in your wine rack happy that you'll be ready to celebrate anything at a moment's notice.

At least:

The moment is now.

You're still trying to figure out how to forgive yourself.

You are inspired to nail forgiveness down.

Here's to the next 20 years.

The toast you give yourself:

To prevail!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Food Rules


I absconded with the February 2010 issue of Lucky magazine.

In it the beauty closet editor Jean Godfrey-June writes: "I am one of those lunatics who use only natural deodorant." Is that supposed to be amusing? She claims natural deodorant doesn't work so knows people will question her sanity in using it.

The list of uses of that word could go on and on. It screams at you. The word should be retired pronto. Were you to be gripped with schizophrenia there would be nothing funny about it. Equating the poor judgment of using natural deodorant with losing your mind is a mistake.

I would expect better journalism from such a magazine.

Then again I would question an advertisement for 100 calorie snacks. There's nothing healthy about consuming 100 calories of empty calorie food either. If you need a 100-calorie snack you can buy a banana for under a dollar or a pint of skim milk. You can go in Starbucks and get a KindBar with slightly more calories that will undoubtedly fill you up unlike the 100 calorie packages of nonsense food.

This is not a swipe at any particular manufacturer. It's a gripe against any food marketer who would ply women with unhealthful snacks in the guise of not gaining weight.

I so rarely eat junk food now. When you start losing weight it's a disincentive to continue eating chips. I used to buy Sun Chips because they're the lesser of many evils and most likely in a pinch I would buy them again.

What is a good option: buy Triscuits and bag them in zipper bags so you can control the portions and take them with you on the go. Yes that sounds like a good idea: I will buy Triscuits tomorrow night to snack on during the weekend.

You can make your own healthier 100 calorie treats this way by buying zipper bags to take with you and thus the cost will be cheaper too. Bag almonds. Buy cherries and wash them and bag them too. Buy Luna bars or Clif bars.

I sometimes have a Clif bar for lunch with a banana or a glass of milk.

You have to draw the line somewhere when you dine out and order the banana cheesecake for dessert. Though I must say I left a quarter of the cake on the plate. You see if I'm going to splurge I'm not going to snack every day on mini pretzels. I'm going to wait two weeks and dive into the cheesecake.

A woman wrote a letter to the editor in O criticizing the magazine for using the expression: "Nothing tastes as good as thin feels." She felt it would encourage anorexia.

I have gone around in circles on this when my point was that the word lunatic should be taken out of circulation not only in casual use but in any use. Then my SZ mind drifted to another page.

Nuts really are a good choice for a snack: especially almonds or walnuts. Walnuts have Omega 3 fatty acid if I remember this right. String cheese is another occasional lower-calorie snack that is also good for you because it has calcium and protein.

I'm not saying to have cheese all the time mind you.

The key is to eat what you eat in moderation. SZ magazine now has a food page that I'm going to read over the weekend. I printed up a Real Simple recipe that I'm going to try out next week too. I also photocopied some other recipes to try.

File this blog entry under strange. Don't get me started on the category of organic soda.

The take away from all this is that if we plan and prepare our snacks in advance we won't be tempted to chow down on junk food. This certainly benefits anybody on a weight-gaining drug. I have this theory that certain foods cause weight gain more than other foods. So I'm convinced if a banana has the same amount of calories as a bag of chips you should have the banana. It is not a scientific theory that pretzels cause a greater weight gain than a banana so don't quote me on this. Though I venture it's why you need to eat more pretzels to satiate your hunger than you do with healthful foods.

To me the goal is sustenance: food that is good for you can taste good. Everyone needs vitamins and nutrients to fuel her body. High fiber foods make you feel fuller than empty snacks do so you don't have to eat as much to get a big payoff.

I recommend the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan that is short and to-the-point. You can read it in under an hour if you're so inclined. I'm not the first person to rail against agribusinesses that would convince us high fructose corn syrup is really OK. I likely won't be the last person to lament that unhealthful food is so cheap and nutritious food is beyond the reach of many Americans.

What's the solution? Take back your power by voting with your pocketbook. Paying more for nutritious food is okay because when you eat less food to begin with you save money in the long term. This point was not lost on me when I read it in a review of Food Rules in a newspaper.

Now. I'm going to quit while I'm ahead. It's late and I must be going.

Enjoy your night.