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Shedding junk and weight — it’s a change of mind

Having Sunday lunch at a local restaurant with our family and friends, Al and I were picking through the salad discussing what we could eat and couldn’t. We needed to drop extra pounds, which we thoroughly enjoyed accumulating over the holidays with family.

How do we shed ugly weight and other things like unwanted junk and unnecessary things that consume us? It’s going to take a change of mind.

Al and I began a journey shedding extra pounds. This so called diet is taking over our minds and controlling our lives. Our conversations go like this: “Can I eat my fruit yet? No, not until 10:00! Can I eat yet? No, not until 12:00! Did you drink your gallon of water? Did you get three ounces of chicken? I got up 5 times in the night, what about you? It’s time to weigh.”

At the table I noticed Al’s plate was empty. I scolded him and pointed at his plate, “Al, you just ate your tortilla bowl, you can’t do that.”

Al looked at me with puppy dog eyes as if he had been whipped and said, “It was there.”

This diet is for a designated time. Can we maintain it? Yes we can! The question is have we changed our minds about eating healthy? At this moment we are working on it.

At the table my daughter said to our friends, “Daddy is a recovering junkaholic.” Everyone laughed.

I dropped my fork, choked on the lettuce and my mouth flew open.“Did I miss something?” I asked her,

“Who are you talking about?” Laughingly she repeated it again, “You know, Daddy.”

It was too much to wrap my mind around. Al! A recovering junkaholic? I don’t think so. I don’t mean junk food; we are talking junk, lots of junk. One of his favorite past times is sorting through a 55-gallon bucket of screws. He is getting organized. Is he getting rid of them? No, not on your life! After all we live in the country and who knows what we might need. It’s sort of like storing up fat; we might need it in case we get stranded.

The conversation continued at the table but my mind was delving into this new found thought,’“Daddy is a recovering junkaholic.”

Several years ago I bought a plane ticket for Al to go to Virginia for a six-week stay. It was his birthday present, I couldn’t get away and I knew he loved to be with the children and go to the Nascar races with our son-in-law on the weekends.

It was a perfect plan. I wanted Al off the property so I could clean his seven garages. I was fed up with all his junk. He would go crazy if he knew and would be on the first plane home, race or no race.

I hired a helper and we began. We opened the first bay, we couldn’t get in. The helper gasped. Junk was stacked to the roof. I told him,

“Everything comes out. Then we will go back one piece at a time and then we will start on the next bay and the next.” Two trips to the landfill in a sixteen foot trailer with six foot sides filled to the top, we succeeded to get rid of Al’s junk.

Then we moved to the yard and began again. It was going to take all six weeks but I was a woman with purpose and I was on target. All the junk had to be gone and cleaned up before Al came home or it would go back in to his garages. His seven Karmann Ghias were pulled out so we could get the junk out behind them.

A week before Al was scheduled home, cars and junk were still in the yard and his brother came by. He called Al immediately in Virginia and said, “You better get the hell home, I don’t know what your wife is doing. She’s getting rid of all your stuff.”

No longer did he hang up, breathing heavily, Al called in a stew. “What’s going on? What have you done?”

“Oh nothing, I am just cleaning up around the yard.”

“I’m coming home right now. Have you thrown my stuff away?”

“Honey, I don’t want you to miss your race. You should stay. I’ll see you in a week. Love you.”

Caught in the act, I began to pray. “Lord, save me. Al is on a warpath.”

Al got off the plane in Albuquerque and drove home like a bat out of hell. Gone six weeks, no hello kiss, no I missed you, but it was out to his garages. He opened the first door. He was amazed. Everything was neat and tidy. Old oil cans, batteries, three legged chairs and old broken lawn mowers were gone.

“What did you throw away?” Al pressed me for an answer.

“I honestly don’t know. It was just junk.”

He told his friend later, Betty cleaned my garages and threw away all my things. His friend took Al’s side and his anger began to boil too and said, “I would kill my wife if she did that.” He didn’t know how close to the truth that statement was.

All is forgiven but there is only one thing after ten years he can remember I threw away and he still reminds me. “You threw away my brand new lawn mower.” He is still not happy about it. But other than that Al was proud of his clean garages. He felt free. He could find things, anyway what was left. He couldn’t have done it himself, he was too attached. I did him a favor, I thought.

Yes, Al’s garages are full again. Did he change? No! So are we recovering junkaholics if we hold onto our junk? I don’t think we have recovered. I believe we can play with diets and sort things, but it is our way of life until we change our minds about excess food and things.

Al says the next time he goes to the Nascar races he’s taking me with him. And today I say, “I can’t believe I did that. Would I do it again? It would be very tempting.”

My mind came back to the table conversation and I joined them again. The conversation had moved on to something else. Al is still a collector and my mind is now wondering aimlessly and I am looking at the dessert menu.

Final brushstroke: I’m looking forward to spring when I get into my thin jeans and Al can get into his garages. We both need work!

Reader’s comments

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Dear Betty:

Fading Glory — one of your best. Completely agree with your thoughts. Dave, Florida

Dearest Betty, Fading Glory - This is right on the money.  May we all see the truth about ourselves and be free “to be me” as an old song said. Felt very encouraged to relax as I read this article.  You are great!



Grass Valley, Calif.

Artist’s quote

“Fear less, hope more. Eat less, chew more. Whine less, breathe more. Talk less, say more. Love more and all good things will be yours.” — Swedish proverb.