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July 26, 2015 – 12:48 pm |

For my column Consolations of History: A Casual Glimpse Into Brattleboro’s Past.
New Post: “Stealing the Spirit of Life.”
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Growing Up in Time To Grow Old with Grace

Magnificent Obesity Cover

Welcome to Magnificent Obesity, a blog for people of all shapes and sizes who are familiar with at least one of the topics listed below: addiction, agnosticism, aging and anxiety. I’ve created a fifth category called All Else to accommodate any other issues that might serve as raw material for personal growth. Just click on the topic of your choice to see the latest post.

This blog is not about obesity. It’s about letting the light within you shine.

Whatever you consider to be your most vulnerable trait or least desirable feature, say it, spell it out. Name it, own it. Whether you choose to keep this trait and transform your attitude or let it go and transform your whole self, your choosing can be the moment when your journey begins: the sad and lonely, defiant, liberated, magnificent leap toward new life.

Following a mild heart attack at age 54, I quit tobacco cold turkey and started tackling my other addictive behaviors and the demons that fed them. Health, wellness and nutrition took center stage in my life, but not without a struggle. Because emotional eating remains my chief addiction, this category will lean toward the search for a healthy relationship with food. However, the struggle between addressing emotional cravings and achieving a fit and balanced lifestyle should resonate with anyone unhappily engaged in self-destructive behaviors. The hunger behind most addictions is the same; the machinery is the same. I’m hoping I can help.
When he was in his late fifties, my father often pointed to elderly people on the street as the very example of what he did not wish to be. In his youth he had been an outstanding athlete, captain of the Harvard football team and on the verge of signing with the Cleveland Browns when an injury on the field cut short his dream. He was also a brilliant man with a zest for news and knowledge. Maybe as he approached late middle age, he could not face the prospect of his athlete’s body turning feeble and frail or his bright brain growing dim. All I know is that he escaped dementia and physical decrepitude by dying of heart failure at age 65. I was with him when he died. I was almost 40 and only just beginning to understand what growing older might mean. Now I am nearly the age my father was when he escaped longevity. All I know is that I want to live to be 100. And beyond.
I don’t know. Do you? One day I’m a believer, ecstatic and awed, the next day I’m a barking mad atheist. I have lived my whole life in a holding pattern, caught between sublime insights and the void, between making joyful noises and whistling in the dark. I have waged all-out war with God over the trauma of non-being. I suffer from an obsessive fear and loathing of death. I despise God because death was his idea. If he exists. Which he probably does not. Which is what makes death intolerable. My priest once told me that he had never met anyone who wanted so much to believe.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 40 million Americans aged 18 and older are affected by anxiety disorders, which makes anxiety the reigning mental illness in the United States and Xanax one of its most commonly prescribed drugs. With no recognized single cause or cure, anxiety disorders appear to be an unhappy mix of genetic, biological and environmental factors involving different therapies for different people. It has been suggested that I can never eradicate the panic disorder that interferes with my life; I can only learn how to manage it. Anxiety is the granddaddy of all my fears, phobias, addictions and doubts. Or the result of them, I’m not sure which. Or an early warning system goading me to pay attention whenever I start off in the wrong direction. Apparently the prospect of cold sweat, the shakes and heart palpitations is not all bad. Toward the end of the last century psychologist Rollo May celebrated the fact that living in an age of anxiety forces us to be aware of ourselves.
This category catches any other topics that might appeal to those of us who are: • Rewriting our stories, reinventing ourselves or preparing for the second act of life; • Seeking personal transformation or the fulfillment of a dream; • Looking for a good story and a chance to share. It’s simple. I tell you my story. You tell me yours. Welcome to my website. Welcome to my world. Welcome to the world we make together.
All Else

Nightmare at the Museum

July 10, 2014 – 6:21 pm |

We all have our moments – although in this case, it should have been one moment because we are supposed to hit rock bottom only once – but let’s be merciful and remember that the …

Coming in Out of the Wind – My Morning Routine

July 7, 2014 – 9:15 pm |

I thought I’d try to be helpful and share my morning routine with you, despite the fact that when I went looking for other people who have shared their daily practices, Google in its impossible …

The Liberating Sprawl

June 28, 2014 – 6:17 pm |

If you live in a cold climate, you probably know the pleasure of diving under a jumble of blankets to warm yourself or to curl up with a loved one or simply experience your own …