Category Archives: in my head

love affair with food

I tried and tried to lose the weight I had gained with the birth of my little guy for close to 4 years by eating less and moving more. It wasn’t working. I kept feeling defeated, didn’t like my body, didn’t like myself and just wanted to hide in big clothes. I would drop my son off at school and pass by the Weight Watchers center on the way to the gym. I would think about going in but I was ashamed of asking for and paying a large corporation to tell me how to eat and lose weight and at the same time, I knew that whatever I was doing wasn’t doing what I wanted. So one day I walked into the place and signed up. That was in 2009. Before walking in, I promises myself 2 things: I was going to do what they told me without trying to find loopholes or ways to cheat the systems, and I was going to stick to it until after I lost weight and learned to maintain my weight. I needed to do this.

The whole thing with WW is to eat a certain number of points per day determined by the company based on criteria specific to the individual. The members role is to consume foods they choose based on that number and to track what they eat. So basically I had to write down whatever I ate every day and all of a sudden, seeing what I consumed became important. I was to limit how much I ate but what I ate was all my doing. Seeing what you are eating and becoming aware of how your body is responding to the food became very important to me. When you are confronted with limiting yourself, you realize how important it is to give yourself the best that you can to nourish and satisfy you.

Here we are three years later and I’ve lost the weight and maintained it. Mind you I’m a bit obsessed with my weight but I can live with that since I can fit into a size 6 pair of jeans and that’s what I wanted. I walked into WW to be able to fit into a pair of skinny jeans if I chose and the consequence of it has become my love for eating healthy delicious food.

I spend time making a weekly menu. I base my menu on the box of vegetable that arrives to my house on Fridays from SLO Veg. By having a box of different vegetables come to me taught me to step out of my comfort food zone. I stay away from meat that are factory farmed. My eggs are fertile and free range. If I want more vegetables, I go to my local farmers market and pick/choose from what they offer. My sister and I were talking about this change in me and I told her that for the first time in my life, I’ve actually started to love food. Making the connection with food on my terms, I’ve become both very controlling of what I put in my body and learning to let myself to just have fun with it. I’m still learning how to balance my uses of food, how to enjoy it, not to obsess about it, and sometimes just let myself go and just be.

The more I learn about the food on my plate, the more I realize that what my sister has lived by for decades is becoming more and more true. The personal is political. Without intention, how I choose to feed myself and my family has become both a personal need for nutrition and a political stand. Here’s the kicker, at the same time I’m conflicted because I feel like an absolute snob and elitist when I do these things because I know that a large part of the world is suffering with hunger/starvation and there are places on this planet where clean drinking water is unavailable. I think about this while I walk around with my handmade bag massaging kale to determine which one will go well with my dinner. It’s gross and I am conflicted about it.

The point of this blog? Nothing, Everything. Food.


Posted by on June 24, 2012 in in my head


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a letter from me to me

On Saturday, I was having a conversation with three other women whose ages range from their 30s to 70s. We were talking about life’s strange journeys. One of the women told us about an article she read regarding women who wrote letters to their young selves as they see the world now and the conversation wove itself into what kinds of things we would write to tell our young selves about life as we see it now based on the paths we took to get to this point. Well, let’s be honest. They talked about it and I sat quietly and listened. I didn’t know what to say because whatever I would have said would have been a lie. I thought about this on my way home and I’ve been thinking about it since. Each time I try to make a letter to the young me and I can’t because I don’t know her. I have no real frame of reference to her because I don’t have any memories of her as me when I was her as a young girl. I don’t know what she liked, what she thought, who she looked to, what she saw, what she feared, loved, hated, wanted or cared about. I don’t know anything about her except for what my parents tell me and even then, she isn’t real. She is a person I have no connection to but really want to know because she sounds like she was a nice person to share time with when she wasn’t sad or angry.

As I entered my adulthood, I knew that my lack of memory was my brain compartmentalizing traumatic events to keep me safe. At least that was my reasoning for not wanting to open the door into why I couldn’t remember. It boggled my mind to hear people talking about going to hypnotists and therapists to bring up childhood traumas to come to terms with them. I remember having a conversation with my roommate who was going to therapy to remember the loss of her sister who she only had recollections of in dreams. She was mad at her parents for not talking about it and how she wanted answers. I was so mad at her for wanting to do this because it meant having to relive something that could never be changed. I was mad at her for wanting to bring up memories for her parents and didn’t understand why she was so insistent on wanting cause herself so much sadness. As I was arguing my point, I was thinking about me. I was thinking about the recurring dream that haunts me still. I wanted her to stop so I wouldn’t have to think about the fact that my lack of memory was because I was afraid to know what happened around me until I was safe. I didn’t want to ask my parents to relive a time they didn’t want to remember and have to tell their daughter who feels lost in the world because she has no foundation to stand on. I was mad at her for doing what I knew I had to but wouldn’t. I kept going without wanting to open the doors to my past.

The brain is a funny thing. It’s my belief that the brain protects the person from itself. I know that things were safely stored from me in my brain because I wasn’t safe and ready to know. But those days are now coming to an end. In the last few years, maybe since I turned 40, little bits and pieces of images are popping out of my brain of a little girl in the strangest and most unhappy places. I am starting to hear and see moments that I know are real but I don’t know how much of it is real and how much is cushioned from years of telling myself not to think about it. After having a very disturbing dream a few months ago I did the thing I never wanted to do. I asked my parents what happened before we move to the US. I knew this would bring up concern in my mother who wants to constantly protect us even now. I knew that it would bring things up that no one has thought about for 30 years. I knew that when I asked, it would also mean that I would have to find a way to bring it out from inside me and work toward finding some peace in what happened and maybe become familiar with the little girl I don’t know who became me.

I few weeks later, I got an email from my dad. I printed out the 4 pages of my life which he titled “Houry’s timeline through Semerdjian saga”. I read and reread it. I could hear him telling it like a story with his sense of humor, his accent, his accuracy. I could also hear my mother telling him to remember little details only my mother would remember. There it was in ink. All that was hidden in my brain was out, as told to me by the two people who did everything they could to protect me from the insane world we lived in. Their courage in the middle of madness to find a safe place for us, going from one country to another with three kids (one still an infant) in tow. I asked my dad what kept him going in taking risks instead of settling for what he had. I remember his face getting very serious for a second and responding with “I knew there had to be a civilized place to raise a family”.

The email talks of a happy childhood with lots of love and wonderful people around us. It goes from that to wars and being uprooted from country to country. It talks about times of hope and despair. It talks of risks with no guarantees and it talks about me as a little girl. It’s hard to read it but I do every so often, trying to find the link that is going to bring me a connection to her so I can tell her that eventually she is going to find peace in her world, with a wonderful little family, friends who she will love and enjoy, and a little son who is probably just like her who is me.

So if I were to write the letter I would probably say..


I am you when you are older. I don’t speak your language but you will learn to speak mine when you turn 8 years old. It’s going to be a strange and scary time when you finally get here because you will have to learn to speak, behave, think and be like people you have never been around but don’t worry, you will play the part and no one will ever know that you don’t really feel like you fit in. You will be good at keeping what you really think inside strong enough to even trick yourself into a comfortable place. You will make a lot of mistakes, some so ridiculous, you will be laughing about it while sitting by yourself at a coffee shop when you are 40 years old. Some mistakes will hurt you for years and years but you will not have any physical scars from them. You will never fit in but that’s okay because I have come to learn that most people you will know will never feel like they fit in because everyone has something broken.

There is going to be a time in your life when you are going to be asked to take a real risk. You are going to be asked to let go of everything you know to be real and move your life from your comfort zone. This request is going to come from a specific man who is going to be the only person who will make you know that you belong. When he enters your life, you will KNOW it’s real and you are not alone. Take the risk. When you do, you will finally be safe and you and I will be me now.


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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in in my head


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It’s been a week now and my body is readjusting to normal and my brain is getting off its high from my first half-marathon. The whole thing was an experience I never thought I would go through because it wasn’t ever an interest to me and I figured I can’t do it. Now I am working on my next one. This time with the intention of run/walking to set a baseline for my time. Yes, I said it. I want to set a time to work from.

It started months and months ago. One of the women I work with, Sheryl, kept telling me I should run a marathon. The thought of her really thinking that I could do it was really nice but to actually run anything was just not going to happen. I don’t know how to run properly, and I don’t like how it feels when I do run, which isn’t often. The only thing I found appealing about it was that the training would get me fit so I agreed to do it. After a bit of time though, as with most things I do, I lost interest and figured if she ever asked me, I would tell her I forgot. But she persisted and I finally went ahead and signed up for the SLO marathon/half-marathon. With two months ahead of me, I started following a training program half seriously but since I registered, I figured I should do something. I walked, walked, walked and walked some more, but it never went past 8 miles. I figured at some point I just need to accept that on race day, I’ll have to let momentum take over because I ran out of places to walk in town.

On the day before the race, I drove into the Madonna Expo to pick up my packet. My heart started racing and I got overwhelmed with multiple emotions and it finally hit me, I’m going to do a 13.1 mile race the next morning starting at 6:30am. Oh I forgot to mention that a couple weeks prior, I walked most of the route just to make sure I knew what was coming-no stone unturned in my life because I’m not a fan of surprise in anything.

The night of the race, I set two alarm clocks, asked small paul to put himself to bed and went to bed at 7:30pm knowing if I got an hour or two through the night it would be more than I’d had in the last three nights. I woke up every 30 minutes or so to make sure time was progressing like it’s supposed to, having short dreams of missing the race all together, opening my eyes to make sure I don’t miss the alarm. It was an OCD night. While this is happening, my brain keeps wondering if I’m going to be able to go to the bathroom before I leave the house at 5:30 because I don’t know if I could go in a porta potty. Seriously! This was a major concern.

I got up before the alarm at 4:30am. Got ready in a very surreal state of mind and walked up to the high school to the start location. It was completely dark out and my only guide was the distant voice of the announcer up the hill. The place was packed with some 2000 people. Some in groups, some alone, some dancing in place, others huddled to keep themselves warm, some cheering others on, others praying in groups. It was a wide array of people and I was alone. I wanted to do this alone to make it mine for me to take the experience without external motivators or detractors. But standing in the dark surrounded by people was very lonely. For some reason, someone else must have felt it too because out of the blue, I had a walking partner who entered alone as well. Her name was Sue and she lives up north. We helped each other keep going when it was hard, and cheered each other on when it wasn’t so hard.

It was an amazing journey because all of me was somehow changing as the race progressed. My first thought when the race started was immediate fear and excitement. There was no way to turn back at that point and the only way to go was forward. Being with Sue kept me in check. I had planned on running part of the race but knew that having not trained for it at all would be a bad idea and having her there not wanting to run made it safe for me not to. As we were going, a woman I know came riding by on her bike telling me she came to find me to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone. TRIP. I only know her from a couple of weeks ago but she was insistent on being a cheerleader for me. This made me want to do it more. As we hit the 2 mile mark, we were passing by my house. I thought about how cool it would be if the little guy was outside to watch me but I knew he was still sleeping, which made me think about how cool that is. Mom is out racing while son is dreaming about Star Wars legos I’m sure.

It went on and one. The sky changed from dark to light. The day started but 2000 people were already going. At around the 6 mile mark, I was rubbing my leg. It was starting to talk to me, telling me to stop doing this but I knew that at this point, I would merely feel the pain when I was done. Not too longer after that, something inside me shot me with power that I had never felt. It was so exhilarating and amazing. I wanted to run as fast as I could. This surge of energy was all I needed to stop any doubt or fatigue I had. It was amazing. As the road kept going I started having some serious questions about me. I questioned why it has taken me so long to start taking care of me, thinking about the things in my life that I shouldn’t have done and how those memories affect how I look at the world. I started to feel regret about those things that shouldn’t have been but then kept coming back to the moment and remembering that all of that shit brought me here today to do this. It’s my only to move forward and not dwell on the past. My brain went to the future and how much I could do from this point. I’ve made a wish list this year of things I want to do. They are no longer wishes but things that I need to do for me

I got to a point when I had to go pee. I saw a porta-potty. I had to do it but my hands where swollen. I’d been walking over 8 miles without stopping and I  knew if I stopped it would hurt me worse than not stopping. I told myself I was going to listen to my body and she is telling me it’s time to relieve myself. I did. Giggling about how silly I must look trying to do something I do several times a day. When I got back on the road, Sue was waiting for me. At that point, I wanted to confirm how important she was to me. I just let the words come out and told her that no matter what happens, she is going to be part of my journey because I don’t know what would have happened if she wasn’t with me. She told me her thoughts and without anything more to say we knew after we got to the finish line, we would say good bye and move on. It was one of the purest moments in my life ever.

At the 10 mile mark, I hit the wall. I could see the end. I know the route. It’s close to my house. My body just tensed up and it HURT. Sue gave me Gu and told me to slowly suck on it. It was gross. It was disgusting. It was crack in gel form and it was what I must have needed because as we were making it to the last mile, I was giggling and taking pictures of people and just not caring because I was going to be done and it was going to be NOW.

I did it. I know people have done it before me and they will do it after me. I know that our experiences will feel unique to us but we have all felt the same thing. I know that at the point that I crossed the finish line, I became a different person. I don’t know how to put words to it but I feel different. At this point, I won’t let me stop me from doing things I want to do. I can’t. I did something I was never going to do because it seemed too hard. Now I have no excuses

**I want to thank Sheryl Collmer for being the person who told me I needed to do this. Without her words and constant reminder of what I could do, I would never have done it.



Posted by on April 30, 2012 in in my head


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Is this what they call Mid-life Crisis?

I’m 43 years old. The last three years in my 40s were pretty much like any other year in my 30s except for 35 (weird year). I didn’t understand when some of my friends who were a bit older than me, when they asked me if I felt “it”. Unable to explain exactly what “it” was, I figured it passed me. I am not sure when “it” came to me but I don’t see “it” as a crisis because I’m not panicking or having an identity issue. I’m still me and I’m doing pretty good. However, there is something in me that wants to make more of what I have. I want to grasp things I’ve never tried to. I want. I can’t explain it. It’s more about wanting to challenge myself and accomplished more of the things that I’ve found interesting, fun or just down right scary but intriguing. Is that what the mid-life crisis is about? Crisis isn’t the word. I think we need to remove that from our language. How unfortunate for the generations before us that they had to label wanting to better themselves as a crisis. I am now officially it calling the Mid-life Balance. That’s what it is. I’m balancing what I know as my normal with new things I’m bringing into my life to make things funner, better and just a bit different.

December 2011 was a strange month for me. My mind kept playing around with the idea of creating a list of things to do for the new year. I never do resolutions because they are empty promises one makes to herself and then feels like a failure. Why do that to myself? I didn’t like the idea of a list-of-things either. Since I became a mother 6 years ago, I feel like there isn’t anything I do that doesn’t come from some list that I have either on paper or in my head. I wanted something that I can create that would be reasonable, interesting, challenging, and easily modified depending on my mood. I have been wanting to do a lot of things that I never get around to doing. I’m not one to challenge myself so to set something up like this was/is a big deal.

After going back and forth with what kinds of things I’ve wanted to do, I started writing down the things I want to complete or remove from my life. The older I get the more I want to live with the minimal of things. I didn’t think I could get rid of more but apparently I can. I gave myself projects to finish what I had started and to get stuff that’s been lingering in the corners of the house out of my space. If it hasn’t been used in the last 6 months, then there is someone else in this world who can and wants to use them, I’m sure.

The hard part came after I made my obvious list of clean ups. I started writing up all the things I wanted to do and then had to cut it down so that it wasn’t so overwhelming. Then I thought a bit deeper about it. I gave myself 12 things I want to do and I want to attempt them one per month. If I am able to complete at least five of the things on the list, I feel that I’ve done more than what I’ve done in previous years.

I wasn’t going to put the list out there but hey we are in the world. Nothing is private and in some ways that’s not so bad. So here is my life of things I want to do…

Things I want to do this year

  1. Standup Paddle Boarding (Jan)
  2. Vegan Cooking Class (Feb)
  3. Go on dates with Paul once a month. Try different things on dates.
  4. Relearn to take pictures with film camera
  5. Send hand written letters and cards to people in my life at least twice a month
  6. Half Marathon (April)
  7. Learn to shoot gun (March)
  8. Belly dancing
  9. Learn Archery
  10. Give Paul a gift a month
  11. New exercise
  12. Go to a city I haven’t been to by myself.
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Posted by on March 4, 2012 in in my head


bored housewife

I am now a seriously bored housewife and not just by total alone.

I’ve called myself “bored housewife” just because it makes people stop in their tracks trying to figure out what I do since my son is in school full time. You can only be a ‘stay-at-home-mom’ with a real purpose if your child is in school 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. So anyway, that’s where I am now. I’ve been feeling this boredom for a while but this week it just hit me hard. My little world has become so routine that I can set my clock to it.

I wake up around 6-ish, make coffee and oatmeal for myself, prepare my son’s lunch (except on Tuesday because it’s Hot Lunch, which he doesn’t really eat), make a quick breakfast for him, wake him up and get dressed.

My general day: We get on the road for school at 8:05, drop him off and head for a hike or an appointment or two, sometimes work for a couple of hours which is something I’m questioning already. Then it’s time to pick him up from school.

We get home, he does homework, I prepare dinner based on a menu I’ve already planned on Saturday morning. We have dinner, he goes to bed.

If Tall Paul is home, we hang out in the living room, reading or talking. Then I go to bed. He sits in bed and caresses my hair until I fall asleep, which is nice. And there you have it. Oh and then there is the time I waste on Facebook but that’s just part of the routine.

If this is the norm for women who decided to stay home with their kids, then what the hell do you do when the child is no longer home? How do you not feel like you are merely existing, how do you pretend that you matter in the grand scheme of things?

Paul and I talked about me getting a real job, which brought up more questions like how do you go back into the work force at a time when everyone is looking for work and you haven’t worked in over 6 years? What if what you have on paper isn’t conducive of what is available in the area? How do you sell yourself to potential employers if you don’t feel worthy of those who are already working? Do you just take what you can or do you save yourself? Are you no longer employable and how do you know if you are?

I also think about what my son sees. I don’t want him to think that women/mothers are supposed to stay home and wait for them to come home to continue their care giving. I want him to know that women can have both the family and the professional careers that they work toward. I don’t believe in the 1950s version of the wife/mother who finds confidence and fulfillment in taking care of the family and the household.

I don’t know what to do. I just know that I need to do something soon because this can’t continue.


Posted by on October 26, 2011 in in my head