So much to say, so little to say - and confusion about which is which!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

I haven't been on this site since I started my summer "break." Writing this blog has often moved me, motivated me, scared me, embarrassed me, and betrayed me. Because at first, I was under the "silly" impression that only Weight Watchers members could read it. I've looked at this blog as an online journal, or diary. But a diary (in my aged eyes) implied a book or place where I could explore my deepest self. Going online with it still FELT private, because as far as I knew only members were reading it, and beyond that, only people with whom I had shared it. If you go back a couple of years, you can find the post where I reported going on a "Match Date" only to be told my entire life story by my suitor, some of which he had learned by dogged persistence, and some further private thoughts by reading my blog! It took me a while to process that one, but I continued to write and share my deepest thoughts on here.

Last year, I found that people with whom I've been close had been following it, the operative word "been" ... would I share the same things in the same ways with people with whom I no longer have a relationship, people who had caused me great pain? Not so much. In fact, no, not at all. Isn't it strange that I have no trepidation about sharing deep and often painful truths with complete strangers? Isn't it almost ironic that I have no issue with discussing sexual abuse or an abusive partner or even my suicidal thoughts with people I don't know? There is a compelling freedom in the anonymity, I can tell you that.

But I've changed a lot in the past 16 months. Not just the big life changes like the job change or the house mates. But some very deep things INSIDE have changed. I've had the most remarkable summer of my life, honestly. Let me repeat, I've had the most remarkable summer of my life. But I'm grappling with how much and with whom I want to expose my inner self these days.

I know I WILL end up sharing lots of it with you, but I also know that this healthier me realizes the need to share some of the bits and pieces of my life more judiciously. Don't confuse this with fear or "protective mode." Guess what? More and more I FEAR NOTHING. So I'm not scared of sharing me, or what people will "think of me" when I do. The truth is, I love me JUST FINE these days. The scars are there, but they have made me a stronger, better, more complete woman. Nope, I'm no longer terrified!

Maybe this is just an extention of being a "deep thinker?" I'll think on that, too. In the meantime, it feels strange and good to be here. I'm looking forward to the start of school next week, and the return of my "new normal." I'm sure once I get my school groove back on, I'll figure out where and when and with whom to be a blogger again!


Categories: Love & life


Comments (see all 15 comments)

MARLOWE88 (Patricia)

11/22/2013 8:47 PM
Ro-- I haven't been on the blogs or success stories or bulletin boards in forever (until tonight) so I am just seeing this post. Everything you say here rings true. Most of all yes, worthy! You! I live in Pawtucket RI now so I'm no longer at Courtney's Sat. a.m. meeting.... but I will keep an eye out for your blog!

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Just when you thought the novelty had worn off ...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm so over:

* You can make "everything better" in a crock-pot (yeah, right!)
* Serial dating
* Being the proud owner of an in-ground swimming pool (shoot me in the head!)
* People who share cat photos on FB
* Angry and/or grouchy people (our minister has a sign in her office that reads         "Be nice. Or leave." I couldn't agree more!)

And if you need a laugh, look at the picture I took at BJs recently.  Thinking I'd snag a few bites of cheesecake or Doritos or some other BLT that doesn't deserve a place in my stomach, I was met by a woman touting the merits of the simple CARROT!  That's right, there was a table at BJs with samples of CARROTS!

One more thing.  It began to rain yesterday evening as I ran some errands.  Driving home the sky burst into incredible shades of heaven; clearing and misty and blue and red and everything all at once.  I rounded a curve and noticed a rainbow.  I pulled aside to take a picture, and there was another next to it.  I looked around and there were probably eight of them, a sky filled with rainbows!

I'm astounded by the possibilities and opportunities and richness of life!


Categories: Love & life


Comments (see all 15 comments)

SHOES15 (Diane)

6/22/2013 9:21 AM
I agree - Crock Pots stink!

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My fast food moment ...

Monday, June 03, 2013

I once saw a picture of Kirstie Alley on the front of "The Enquirer" or one of those awful magazines I won't allow myself to ever buy as I wait at the checkout line at the supermarket. Caught totally off-guard, she was practically shoveling a burger into her face. Now in truth, the paparazzi who snapped that shot just happened to capture what surely seemed to be one of her worst food moments.

I did each of my graduate degrees while working full-time, so I had years running from one side of my state to another: I put 35k on my car the year I received my Sixth Year Certificate! I'd go to work, run home, let the dogs out and feed them, and head to New Haven to school for night classes four nights a week. Rinse and repeat. It "seemed" there was no way to get a meal in without resorting to either McDonalds or Subway or Dunkin Donuts or some other fast food garbage. Is it a wonder I also put on 35 pounds that year!?

By the time I returned to Weight Watchers for the millionth time, I had no idea what my body actually looked like, that's how long I had been dodging mirrors and photos. I had lost tons of weight on the program before, honestly, not exactly a ton, but certainly 500 pounds off (and then back) over the years. And true to form, in the beginning, the weight came off rather effortlessly. In the first four months the only hard part was learning what "hungry" actually felt like!

But losing the weight is just one part of the process; the next is living with the loss (and keeping it off). To be successful I would have to come up with some new strategies. All it took was one return to the drive-through to realize that was a food strategy that had to go!!

I made a simple rule: I eat sitting down. Not in my car, not at the counter, worse, not while driving. And I had the picture in my head of Kirstie stuffing the burger, and the snob in me thought "I'd sooner DIE than have someone see me bingeing!" And with the help of the rule and the image, 99% of the time I just don't eat at that kind of food, and DON'T DO DRIVE-THROUGH.

I even go inside to get my Starbucks every morning! It takes me an extra five or ten minutes, but it's so worth it. It's part of a little "care for me" routine that affirms my intentions and desires: somehow the drive-through is like BLTs (bites, licks and tastes that we "think" don't count!).

Rule #1 - I eat sitting down.


* and thank you for the incredible illustrated coffee every day, Chelsey!

Categories: Eating out


Comments (see all 9 comments)


6/3/2013 12:42 PM
Love your advice! I've also stopped eating fast food and eating while I drive. It's so easy to shovel way more food in your mouth when you're concentrating on something other than eating.

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Learning to play chess!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

During the last interaction (if you could call it that) I had with Bleep he screamed at me for 23 minutes straight. The gist of his tirade was the following, "ROSEMARY STAROPOLI, DO YOU THINK YOU'RE SMARTER THAN ME?" He yelled the same phrase more times than I could count, while at the same time throwing digs in about how I was a horrible child, a terrible teacher, weight-watcher, and mother. You name it, if it could be slung, it was slung my way. After crying for a couple of days, I found a new-born inner strength when it dawned on me that only a true monster would treat anyone that way, and that his attacks were so inanely untrue - most of his barbs were about things of which he knew nothing, conversations and experiences with people he had never met, and were made up from his paranoid/insecure imagination and projections. For some reason, after only a few days that last time, it hit me like a ton of bricks - his version of "the truth" is the least reliable of all. He's mentally unstable, period. And I'm not.

I've rehashed childhood trauma, young adult trauma, and just about every wound I could recall in search of answers. And challenged myself to live passionately, intentionally, compassionately, and in community with friends and family.

In the past few weeks I've opened up this deep well within, and even had a few good strong cries while processing. And in looking, it's not just those "traumas" that made me susceptible to attacks on my smarts, but a lifelong feeling of being just a "little less smart" than the rest of my family.

Don't get me wrong; I've always had this great desire to be loved by them. But at the same time, always had the strong feeling I'm not. We were raised by folks with incredible culture and genius - but there was something lacking in the "relationship with others" department. On top of that, there was a whole lot of competition for our parents' attention and affection - and the only way to get either was to be better (at everything). I quit, and chose a far different path.

So I'm muddling through this strong need I have for the approval of my parents (how weird is that?) and wrestling with the idea that I'm "expert enough" ... and maybe even really good at a whole lot of things. And trying to fix it. Challenging myself to bond anew with my dear friends, and build strong friendships in my new job. Challenging myself to face my fears, all of them, and to see past not just one monster Oompa Loompa's false image of me, but my own distorted self-image - the one that allowed a screaming Lilliputian to make me beg and cower.

So I've shared about all my brave Meet-Up experiences. How I finally joined the book club I've always wanted to be in, by CREATING A BOOK CLUB! And now we are 23 members strong!!

Today I did something that has actually astounded even me! I joined a Chess Club. Now, you'd have to understand my family to know why I've never played chess. In the same vein as being intimidated by my older sister's musical gifts, I decided years ago never to play chess. Now I'm not saying I didn't always know there were things I was good at, or even great at, but somehow also knew that since these things came easily to me they had no "merit."

Chess. I really always wanted to play chess. But when my father asked, or my nephew asked, or even Scott asked, I had excuses. No thanks. Chess is not for me.

Today I went to my first "Chess Club" meeting. Um, I can knit, I can cook, I can write, I can sing, I can teach, I can figure out the deepest things with ease ... I CAN PLAY CHESS!! I cheered for myself today just because I showed up!! It may sound dumb, but I think chess may be the secret! I think that's why I was was so elated to have finally started! So easy, so symbolic! Deep thoughts!


( and yeah, little bully, I AM A LOT SMARTER THAN YOU ARE!)

Categories: Love & life


Comments (see all 9 comments)


6/3/2013 9:30 AM
I love that you called him a screaming Lilliputian. I cannot imagine that you are any less smart than anyone (let alone BLEEP). Your path is a preference, not an indication of your brainpower. Your blogs are some of the most intelligent I've ever read. Clearly you are a smart woman! Now, go play, and may you say "check mate" more often than not :)

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When to shut your mouth!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One of my dear darling students just came in to ask advice from me. Now the funny thing is, I was just texting back and forth with a friend from Great Britain about the exact same subject when the student came into my room and asked, "Mrs. Staropoli, how can I control the things that come out of my mouth?" (He got a detention for mouthing off to a fellow teacher.)

Britain had just texted, "You can do no wrong, Rosemary, sweet Rosemary." Gulp. "OF COURSE I CAN - and DO. I think bad thoughts all the time, and sometimes even do bad things." Our continued discussion reminded me of a quote from Margaret Thatcher:

"Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they
become actions. Watch your actions for they become... habits. Watch your
habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for
it becomes your destiny! What we think we become."

Now towards that end, I've been practicing a new strategy. I pay someone a compliment at least once an hour. I'm in a school all day, so it's not that hard to find happy recipients for my praise. The trick is to say it to someone whose day it will really, really make!! The best are the kids with few friends, the quiet kids who get lost in school. I tell them I love the way they straightened their hair today! Or I love their shoes, "Where did you get them!? I want a pair, too!" I told this one boy (who isn't known for his brilliance!) how I am so impressed with his thoughts on the book we're reading. He beamed!

I was in NYC with Scott this weekend, and I told him about my compliment mission, and we had so much fun with it! It may be spreading!!

I can't imagine that practicing good thoughts, good words, and good deeds ... essentially controlling what comes OUT of my mouth, won't have a gradual impact one what goes INTO my mouth!! Seems like a reasonable connect, right?

I tend to do the mindless eating thing when I'm being mindless - duh!! But in the most recent incarnation of my life, I am so far from mindless!! I am living intentionally, living passionately, and living authentically. I'm CERTAIN that eventually mouth INPUT and mouth OUTPUT will be in synch!

Every part of our journey is connected to every other part.


Categories: Love & life


Comments (see all 17 comments)

ZARAHA (Zarah)

6/3/2013 10:57 AM
I love this! I like your strategies!

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You ARE the expert - or at least EXPERT ENOUGH!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Readers know I'm currently a high school English teacher, so it seems rather expected that I would be an avid reader, and I am. As with practically all of my other deep passions, my affinity for diverse reading was entombed during my year in bondage; I can't TELL YOU the enormous satisfaction I've gotten from my return to reading! My book club is already a grand success with 19 members!

I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called "Outliers: The Story of Success" a while ago, and as I sit here listening to Glenn Gould play Bach (THE expert) Gladwell's theory resonates. He postulates that it takes 10,000 hours to become an "expert" in any area of study or practice.

Gladwell discusses how many cultural and environmental factors combine to create the "perfect storm" for expertise - Yo Yo Ma is not an expert simply because he was a child prodigy. No, he practiced longer and harder to separate himself from the other 99% of the world!

Now, I've been likened to a "Renaissance Woman" in that I have an innate curiousity to learn about basically anything (I can thank my parents, the most cultured and intelligent non-college educated people I've ever known), but I wonder, am I really an "expert" on anything? I have three advanced graduate degrees, but according to Gladwell, although I may be seriously knowledgeable, I'm not an "expert." Am I the "Jill of all Trades - and master of none?"

I thought about topics I know in the extreme: Special Education, Reading Instruction, Music, Psychology, Cooking. Am I an "expert" in any of these? Technically, no, because although I've studied perhaps as many as 5,000 hours, I've certainly not given ANYTHING 10,000 hours!

I thought about my 32 years as a Weight Watcher. Funny, I had never really given myself credit for the vast amount of skill and experience I have in my tool kit from the many, many books I've read over the years on diet and nutrition (and addiction to food, and emotional eating, and eating disorders!), and the practice, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. But again, I'm only as close to "expert" in this arena as any other of my passions.

I came upon a fascinating website called Expert Enough:

Now THIS really appeals to me. Maybe I don't have to be Yo Yo Ma, maybe being a Jill-of-all-Trades is good enough!? I LOVE THIS SITE! Check it out!

One of the adages I love from the "Expert Enough" Manifesto states "You don't have to wait for permission, and you don't need anyone else to grant you status." WHOA!! So I'm expert enough already!! Maybe 32 years as a Weight Watcher grants me the right to consider myself EXPERT ENOUGH!

Think about all the experience we have with weight loss. I'm not talking about pounds lost and gained, or success on the scale ... I'm talking about EXPERTISE in the area of weight loss. Now pat yourself on the back and remind yourself, YOU ARE EXPERT ENOUGH to handle this!!


Categories: Health


Comments (see all 10 comments)


5/16/2013 12:30 PM
As an English-nerd, avid reader, Jill of all trades, I really love the concept of "Expert Enough!"

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Work that supports your spirit and soul

Friday, May 10, 2013

... it does a body good!

I've had such a busy week! Book It! (my new Meetup book club) met for the second time Wednesday and I am happy to report we now have 19 members!! Our first book made for a great discussion, we got to know one another better, and picked what should be an awesome book next month (Life After Life by Kate Atkinson).  Last night I went to hear a lifelong musical love of mine, Bela Fleck - he played with a remarkable jazz quartet (the Marcus Roberts Trio) - AMAZING!! Went to school a bit of a zombie today, but what the heck! Life is about LIVING IT!

And as if to celebrate Spring, and the rebirth of the self, and in the spirit of my "Good Things Jar" I present two of the remarkable non-scale victories that seeded the feeling of joy I share with you Friday afternoon:

The first note was left on my desk by a student, Cassie (yes, I still get dewy-eyed looking at it after the 30th time!). 

The second, was a note my new boss left for me today.  Remember, I was dragged all but kicking and screaming from my former job at the middle school to my new position at the high school.  My former principal was less than "supportive" (and trust me, if I say that, you have no IDEA what others thought about his administrative style!).  I am again filled with both humility and gratitude that what I thought was a death sentence has turned out to be the root from which my emotional healing sprouted. 



I don't need to look in the mirror to see the changes in me, in fact, I can't see them from the outside.  They're within!

Have a delightful weekend.  Eat well.  Love well. Move and grow and listen. YOU ARE ALL AMAZING!!

Categories: Work


Comments (see all 9 comments)


5/13/2013 5:33 PM
Wish I were in your book club :) can there ever be too much positive afirmation? I don't think so. Very cool to receive notes from such different sources and yet they both see the true you, very cool. Carry on girl, you're doing awesome!

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Who needs another critic?!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Online friend Fitseal often inspires me with her lists; if you haven't checked out her blog, I would encourage you to do so!

"Don't be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people EVER GET is when they take a BITE out of you."

That was number eight today! Whoa, it's got me thinking! Why are some people sooooo critical? I personally CAN'T STAND that glass-half-empty kind of person, and can't imagine HOW I ever got so addicted to the abusive sour grapes attitude of a moody, narcissistic and critical bully - but I did! Why is it that I/we pay any attention at all when people try to build themselves up by tearing US DOWN?

Clearly, there's a whole pyschology lesson here, and a host of cliche sayings as evidence that life is a mixed bag of half-full(s) and half-empty(ies). The good news is: WE GET TO CHOOSE!

So we get to choose which side of the fence we sit on - easy! We choose to be a glass half-full, or a glass half-empty. But we also GET TO CHOOSE what to do about those haters! Hard as it is to accept, we all know at least one person who "takes a bite" out of our success!

These are the caustic people who:
* criticize and belittle you
* find fault in even the good things you do
* have something negative to say about just about everything (and they do it in such an obvious way - who are they kidding?)

Then there are the more subtle, the ones who:
* say you've "lost enough weight"
* encourage you to go off your plan "It's just this ONE TIME" they say
* benignly ignore the times you ask for the things you need as support

I don't think we need to change them! I don't think we need to do much about what THEY say at all - JUST IGNORE IT! I think the biggest lesson I've re-learned in the past year is this: THE ONLY PERSON WHO DEFINES ME IS ME.

But we all need to do more, to physically separate ourselves from the haters, those who put us down, don't have our best interests at heart, and suck the life out of us! Yeah, sometimes that means the end of a relationship (love OR friendship). And sometimes it just means taking the other hallway at work, avoiding the faculty lounge (in my case), or keeping the phone call with the caustic family member short and sweet! Because I know this much is true, given the choice between facing even ONE MORE CRITIC, or creating my own world, I'm going to GET OUT OF DODGE before I ever allow anyone to steal my song again! And I suggest you do the same!!

From Ani Defranco:

God help you if you are a phoenix
and you dare to rise up from the ash.
A thousand eyes will smolder with jealousy
while you are just flying past.


Categories: Love & life


Comments (see all 22 comments)


5/10/2013 4:55 AM
Often my biggest critic is me! A lifelong bad habit I need to figure out how to change that inner voice. Family is difficult as well, after all they were all there and "helped" me gain the weight and "guide" me to being me. This blog and the list have really got me thinking and planning my next move. I've been thinking I need a big change in my life......

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I dare ya!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Another blockbuster week, a week with an abundance of things to put in my "Good Things Jar." This Wednesday my book club meets for the second time, and I am happy to report we currently have SEVENTEEN MEMBERS!! I chose what turned out to be a predicable book for our first read, it's called "A Tapestry of Fortunes," by Elizabeth Berg. I thought it best to go easy on the first read, who knows the caliber or taste choices of these new book club friends? That was my thinking in any case. Nice enough book, but after reading it I was struck with the following: If Berg was paid to write this sweet, predictable book, what am I doing in the classroom? I need to write a book!

Beyond that, I'm having Mac issues; the newest operating system doesn't work with Java (that's my limited understanding!) so I can't post pictures to my blog. This is a bummer on a couple of levels. Posting pictures of myself keeps me in check. And often the best illustration of whatever point I want to make is in picture form. So until I figure this one out, I'm holding on to a couple of blog ideas until I can show you the picture.

Church this morning was an extension of the "26 acts of kindness" we embarked on a couple of weeks ago on behalf of the lives lost in the Newtown tragedy. It got me to thinking about challenges I've faced this year, and how these challenges have impacted the quality of my life.

And so, without any further adeiu, I dare ya to try on some of my challenges, and let me know what you think. I DARE YA ...

* to pay someone a compliment once an hour (just think how much a compliment can change YOUR day! ... pay it forward!)
* to count to 25 before putting anything in your mouth that isn't a planned meal or a planned snack.
* to walk or run or move for half an hour every day. Every day. Chances are, this half hour will be more than you've done on those hectic or lazy days, AND the movement that turns into an hour on those less hectic days!
* to eat all your meals sitting down (means no drive-through anything!)
* to do something that you're passionate about EVERY DAY! Whether it's reading a book, listening to your favorite music, hugging your grand-children, or taking a bubble bath (one of my all-time FAVORITES!!)

One that last note, after church this morning I stopped by John and Heather's house (my much-loved nephew and his much-loved wife) to meet my wonderful new niece, Opal. I had prepared a meal for them last night and dropped it off before I went to the opera, and today had a chance for a real visit!! The baby is a delight! Funny thing is, I remember back when I was 14, and my older brother asked me to babysit his little baby (now Daddy John), and now this baby-turned-man is a father. Yes, I wrote this on a note for my Good Things Jar the minute I got home!

I dare ya to give some of my dares a try!!


(and when I forget for a minute, I say them again!)

Categories: My weight loss


Comments (see all 16 comments)


5/8/2013 5:39 PM
So are you going to write something for publication?

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A huge change!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

I heard a discussion on NPR on the drive home from work this afternoon. Faith Middleton (local host) spoke with a couple of guests about being an extravert or an introvert. The scientific and workplace bottom line is that you have to be a little of each to be successful.

A superficial look from someone who doesn't really know me would label me as extravert. I can keep 100 people laughing, or tell a story and hold that same crowd spellbound. But those who really know me, know that I'm terribly uncomfortable around adults I don't know, and find it especially hard to make small-talk and get to know strangers.

It took me 8 years to get to know the teachers I worked with at the Middle School. It's taken me even longer to get to know the friends I love from my Weight Watcher meeting.

This year has been a journey of true self-discovery (and rediscovery). I have tapped into all the things I am passionate about: music and art and literature and exercise and community and politics. But more than that, I've focused on changing certain behaviors of mine that don't suit someone who also needs friendship and community. I've outstretched my hand to countless strangers!

A friend from school approached me the other day to tell me "you always do the most incredible things." I thanked her ... then patted myself on the back symbolically 1000 times! If she only knew how hard it was, she'd be patting me on the back, too!!

These are huge changes for me. Um, it's ABOUT TIME!! As much as I hate "lazy" in others (and in myself even more), I really hate cowardice! Understand it? Sure. But like it? Ummmm, no. It's a really really really bad shortcoming.

Today I can report, at least on this front, that I AM NO COWARD!! And on that note, I am off to meet Marielle to go for another hike with strangers!!

** Is anyone else having trouble uploading pictures? For some reason, Java and my macbook are not playing well together for the past couple of weeks!


Categories: Love & life


Comments (see all 18 comments)


5/4/2013 5:56 PM
Well, I have to battle cowardice daily. I don't live in the safest neighborhood, so that COULD be an excuse to not take a walk. But I just take a weapon with me and go. Your post hit close to home because when I'm not at work, I am more comfy to myself.

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