Happy Monday Everyone! I hope each of you had the best of weeks and that this coming week is even better. I had a good week myself.  In anticipation of an upcoming vacation and the “weight gaining season”-that time of year between Halloween and Valentine’s Day, I decided to try to lose enough weight that I could comfortably eat my way through the holidays.  If I could lose 10 pounds imagine the fun I could have eating it back on.  I wouldn’t have to say no to fudge, pumpkin pie, cream cheese cookies, and I could even eat a couple rolls and put gravy on my normally butterless potatoes. This week I lost five pounds.

It takes a lot to lose five pounds in a week and I just wanted to bask in my triumph. I pictured myself on my cruise in December lying on the pool deck with the sun reflecting off my hot pink two piece bikini (remember that one?).  Now, it had been some time since I have let my imagination run that wild, but I couldn’t help it.  I was proud of my accomplishment.  Yes, I know that pride is a sin, please forgive me.  I would be covered in sun tan oil, drinking up the rays of the sun.  Dave would be looking at me with pride, as well (yup, he’d be committing that sin, too). I know my family and friends are laughing here because they have probably never seen me with a tan in my life, but hey—this is my daydream, not theirs.

Five more pounds and I could finally fit into those cute little sundresses I bought for my last cruise with the hopes of slimming into them. The ones that hang in the back of my closet with the tags still attached.  And I had just bought a new white purse at an end of season sale.  It was a deal. The original price was $120 (like I would ever pay that much).  But a 75% off and 30 % on top of that and the fact that I could use a coupon brought it down to under $20. It was meant to come home with me. You can carry a white purse on a cruise.  The fashion police don’t consider this a crime. Now, it was the five pounds I lost and the new purse that created a “situation”.

Those of you who know me know that I carry a LARGE purse. It is my lifeline.  Although I was never a boy scout I do adhere to their motto-Be Prepared!  In the past my purse has been known to come to the rescue of many people in various situations and emergencies.  I’ve always envied women (oops, envy-there’s another sin) who have been able to leave home with nothing more than a clutch or small purse.  To have that kind of confidence-well, it escapes me.  Knowing this about me will help you to understand the anxiety caused by a simple conversation I had with my daughter after I showed her my new white purse.  Actually, she did all the talking.  The only sound that came from my mouth was the audible gasps for air as I took in what she was saying.

A couple weeks before this she was reading an article that she decided to share with me during this weight loss/new purse celebration. She said-now brace yourselves-here it comes, “Mom, did you know that your purse isn’t supposed to weigh more than 10% of your body weight?”  As I glanced over at my purse, which would surely have outweighed all of the Suleman octuplets at birth, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.

You’ve heard the phrase “time stood still”, well I now understand what that means. I couldn’t even grasp what my daughter was saying, not immediately anyway.  As it began to seep in I realized one of three things had to happen.

One-I could forget that my daughter just shared this information with me, and commit a “crime of fashion.” That thought was fleeting.  The fashion police are everywhere.  I know this because I have several members of my family who belong to this “terrorist” group.

Two-I could eat anything I wanted; bread, ice-cream, pasta, all the things I tell myself that I really don’t care for anymore…but I DO! Okay, so I commit the sin of lying as well.  At least I’m only lying to myself.  At any rate, I don’t think it would take all that much time for my body to catch up to the weight requirement of a 30 pound purse.  Maybe, if I went at it really hard, six months.  A little delusional, but I was really desperate at this point.

I eliminated this idea out of financial necessity. In this economy it simply wasn’t a wise choice.  First, the cost of food to reach 300 pounds would strain my food budget.  Then, all that extra weight would mean more time in the shower and more energy to heat the water, not to mention the extra soap and wear and tear on my towels.  It takes more use to dry 300 pounds than it does my current size.  Second, the cost of new clothing to cover my expanded girth would be astronomical.

Three-I could downsize my purse. As soon as this thought popped into my head I began to perspire.  How can a woman pick and choose with accuracy which items she should eliminate from her purse?  Who knows what would or could happen if I chose wrongly?  I could be sitting in a restaurant one day and spill something, and it would have been the stain stick that I weeded out.  You get the picture!  I considered EVERYTHING I carried in my purse to be essential, but I would give it a try.

So with good intentions I spread a blanket down on the floor and sat down to meet this challenge. I started with making piles; Definitely Need, Might Need, Don’t Really Need!  Make-up bag, hair spray (I’ve already shared that my curly hair has a mind of its’ own), hand sanitizer and a little tube of lotion because everyone knows that hand sanitizer dries out your skin—you HAVE to have both.  Then there was a big tooth comb, Band-Aids, gum, inhaler (I haven’t had an asthma attack since I left the cold New York winters but you never know), throat lozenges, Tylenol, checkbook, wallet, wallet with just store credit cards (at least 40 but everyone knows that you get good discounts when you use your store credit cards-and you never know when you might end up at the mall). There was a small notepad with at least three pens (in case two stop working).  Then add tissues, a small bottle of perfume, a toothbrush and a mini tube of toothpaste, a couple of Q-tips in a tiny Ziploc bag (you may get something in your eye), a couple packs of crackers in case you get stuck somewhere and get hungry (plus fruit snacks for my granddaughter), a bottle of water (in case you need to wash the Tylenol or crackers down), and two pairs of reading glasses (in case the lens falls out of one).  I carry not one but two business card holders, but in all fairness to me they each contain different business cards.  And of course I carry aspirin in case someone is suffering a heart attack near me.  I also carry a few round mints for Dave.  He doesn’t chew gum, but sometimes he does like peppermints.  So, it wasn’t all my stuff.  There was more, but you get the picture.  They were all necessities.

I really did try to downsize, but it’s easier said than done. Every time I went to remove something from the “Definitely Need” pile I remembered how it came in handy at least once before.  I couldn’t part with things that I considered necessary, now could I?  There was NOTHING in my “Don’t Really Need” pile and only a couple of things in my “Might Need” pile.  Does that tell you how big my “Definitely Need” pile was?  I went through the things a second time with the same results.

Then I started getting desperate. I took my two pairs of glasses out of their cases and put them in the pocket of my purse.  After all, plastic cases weigh something.  I put my gum in a Ziploc snack bag and threw out the little plastic container it came in (and it was so cute).  Not only was I saving weight, I was saving bulk. Now things were starting to look up.  I combined the Tylenol with Pepto Bismal Tablets in one Ziploc.  Hey, this was getting fun!  I also got rid of a few store credit cards.  I don’t shop at Dick’s or Sears anymore (is there even a Sears store still out there?), and when I shop at Gap I put it on my daughter’s credit card and give her cash so she can earn her points.  Yeah, three cards have to weigh something.

I won’t go into more details, but let’s just say that I made it. When I was done my purse was 10% of my body weight.  I put it over my shoulder and looked in the mirror.  It was strange to see!  For so many years a big purse was a part of who I was.  But if this had to be, it had to be.

Now—fast forward to the next day. Dave and I were on our way out to run errands.  When I put my things in the car he said, “Honey, what’s that you put in the back seat?”  I said, “My Work Bag” and he said, “But, you’re not working today.”  Most men don’t notice things like this.  My husband notices EVERYTHING!  All right, so I couldn’t part with some of the things so I thought I could put them in my “work bag” just in case.  The article didn’t say anything about having a second bag to leave in the car in case of emergency.  I mean, what was the big deal?  I explained this to my husband, who reached around and lifted the bag.  His statement-“This bag has to weigh at least 20 pounds!”

No offense, but how would a man understand this? How many men do you see carrying purses?  Not many!  If you have a crisis in the park, on a bus, plane, anywhere, are you going to run to a man and ask for a Band-Aid or a washcloth (I always carry one of those compact ones that expand to full size when you dip it in water).  No, you are going to go to a woman with a 50 pound purse.  A man who can leave the house with his wallet and think that is all he needs would never understand this.  So I answered my husband in the most intelligent way I could.  I said, “That bag may weigh 20 pounds but my purse only weighs 13.”  Having been privy to my conversation with our daughter he just smiled, kissed the top of my head and said, “You did good, honey!”

And I had already worked out what I would do for my cruise. I could certainly put more items in the “Don’t Really Need” pile.  I didn’t need my checkbook, my store credit cards, my granddaughter’s fruit snacks, you get the picture.  On a “dry run” I was able to eliminate 3 pounds from my cache of needed items.  Yes, I would keep my purse at 13 pounds and divide the other 17 pounds between my beach bag and my snorkeling equipment backpack. I got this covered!

Just when I thought I had it all figured out I encountered another dilemma. I lost five pounds last week.  If I lose another five this week that will be equal to another pound from my purse, and quite frankly I just can’t do it. Thirteen pounds is my absolute limit!  With this in mind, I’m going to close now and get ready to take my husband to lunch.  There are at least 10 good buffets within driving distance of my house, and all of them have excellent dessert bars.

I hope you enjoyed this Monday Morning Perspective. Have a blessed week. See you next week!

Penny