Sunday, February 26, 2012

Purging Titles

Over the last year or so, I realized that, prepare yourself for the shock bibliophiles, I have too many books in my house.  The paperbacks are double stacked on my floor to ceiling bookshelves.  My master bedroom was overrun with bags of books.  The office that could qualify me as a hoarder had boxes teetering on other boxes of books until I couldn't find the room to even walk into the room. 

I knew I had to do something about the situation before the floors caved or the stacks grew to such height that one day the boxes would tumble and bury me and the dogs.  Going through the boxes and bags was a task I set for myself every weekend.  Every weekend because one Sat-Sun set would arrive and I'd find many other things to do other than sort through the books.  When you love books and reading as much as I do, books are not just paper pages between covers.  They matter.  The stories don't just entertain, they transport us to fabulous adventures and introduce us to people for whom we grow to care.

One of the reasons that I bought a Kindle a few years ago was so that I could continue to supply my voracious reading habit without overwhelming my already jam-packed space.

When I scheduled my surgery, I asked a good friend if she would come down and stay with me while I recovered.  I knew the doctors would put some restrictions on my activities and I also knew that I would get bored recuperating at home without company.  My brother and sister-in-law stayed with me for the first week, then Marilyn arrived.  Mar has a lot of energy and was eager to help.  She readily agreed to help me with the book sorting endeavor.

I wasn't allowed to lift any boxes or bags so Mar dragged them out of my office to my recliner.  It took me forever to go through each container.  I lifted each book out and studied it.  Some were no-brainers.  Heather Graham, Jenny Crusie, Lani Diane Rich, Anne Stuart, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts - automatic keepers forever.  Books by other close friends -- also keepers.

Books that were freebies in gift bags from conferences or contests -- into the "donate" box.  Even if I liked the book, I had to be ruthless.  If it wasn't a book that I was likely to read again, it had to go.  Some of them were books that I'd greatly enjoyed.  Take the J.D. Robb (also Nora Roberts) In Death series.  As much as I love Eve and Roark and the mysteries, I knew that I was unlikely to re-read the entire series.  I'll buy the new releases on my Kindle. 

The project took me a couple of hours and a lot of tough self-talk, particularly when I dithered over some of the titles.  I literally sighed over some of the books before I gently added them to a box.  When finally finished I had five boxes ready to donate and one half-full box of books to keep.  Before I could change my mind or second-guess my decisions, Marilyn loaded them into my car. 

I took them to our local library where a very nice man unloaded the boxes and all of the librarians profusely thanked me for remembering them.  Public libraries by and large suffer from cuts in funding.  Ours sells used books to supplement their income.

It comforts me to know my books will find good new homes where they will be read, appreciated and, hopefully, shared with still other readers.  I also believe that the ones I donated will help gain new fans and dedicated readers for their authors which will spur additional sales.

It's all good.  Really.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


It's been a long time since I posted here with any regularity.  For that, I apologize.  I've had a lot going on.  Last summer, I decided to have weight loss surgery -- a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy in which 70% of my stomach was removed.  Once I made the decision and set myself on the path, my life then got consumed with doctor's appointments, medical tests, evaluations, consults and follow-ups.  The sleep test experience that I blogged about a few posts ago was part of that process.

The good news is that, with the exception of being obese with some high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type II diabetes (non-insulin dependent), I don't have other major issues and was a good candidate for the operation. 

I had the operation on January 25th and am now on the post-op recovery and transition process.  Believe me, it's a process.  I started on a liquid diet two weeks before the surgery.  For the first ten days post-op I was limited to clear liquids.  Now I'm on "full liquids" until I see the doctor again on February 24th.  It's boring, but my remaining stomach is still healing and my digestive system is adjusting.  Boring, but effective.  I've lost 36 pounds as of this morning.

I've started a separate blog, devoted to the surgical process, the changes in my life and health, my past history with weight, food and body image issues, and the promise of an amazing transformation ahead.  If you're interested in joining the discussion of that part of my life, please visit me over at Weighty Matters.

A lot of people have asked why I made this decision now.  I think it's a fair question and one that's sort of universal for anyone who makes a big change.  Why do two people who have lived together in a relationship decide to get married?  Why does someone leave a long time relationship?  Make a drastic career change? Cut off their long blonde hair and dye the remainder red? 

For me, I'd hit the point where I realized that after struggling with diets and my weight for most of my life, I needed to do something serious, some say drastic, and irrevocable.  I'm 54 and my body demonstrated to me on a daily basis that if I continued without change, I would be disabled by the time I reached 60, or I'd die before getting to that age.  This is my line in the sand.

Ten years ago, I made another big change.  I left my home in New Jersey, moved to the Florida Keys, and started a new career that has been the most amazingly wonderful thing for me. 

Two major changes with different motivations:  One motivated by desperation and the realization that it was time to put up or shut up and die; One motivated by the bright promise of being part of a terrific mission and involved in something greater than myself.  

Different motivations but both changes improve the quality of my life.

So, I ask you, readers, what changes have you made in your life?  What changes would you like to make?  Do you know why?  What keeps you from making the steps?