Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Believe that Change is Possible.

I have had a hard time writing lately.   I think it’s because I have had so many thoughts going through my mind, and I haven’t been able to organize them into a coherent post on anything.   I’ve started and stopped several times, but end up walking away knowing that I have a lot to say, and frustrated by the block.

I’m hoping to break through that today.    So hang on….it's a personal story, and one I have wrestled with sharing, so read on at your own risk.   :)

Let me preface this by saying that I have a GREAT life.   I have a wonderful husband, great kids, and friends I can count on.   I laugh a lot, I have lots of love in my life, and a warm safe home to live in.   I grew up in a happy home with parents who loved me.   There was no abuse.   My parents are STILL married.   There wasn’t lots of crime where I grew up.   I have had, and continue to have….a GREAT LIFE.

But somewhere in this great life, I began to dislike myself so profoundly that I developed some pretty unhealthy ideas about what I had to be to be happy.   I somehow came to the belief that I had to be perfect in all I did, and if I couldn’t achieve that….I failed.   And when I inevitably failed, I began to be disappointed in myself, and when I became disappointed in myself, I began to hate those things about me that held me back, and when I began to hate those things that held me back, I began to try to find the reason I wasn’t perfect, and what I came up with was….I was fat.  

Easy enough.   There is a simple cure for being fat.   Don’t eat.   Exercise.   Hold on to control and you can do this.   Will power.  And in high school….I did.   I was thin.   I was successful, and I was TERRIFIED that people would find out how unhappy I was.

In college as a theatre major I worried about what I looked like on stage.   At this time, my weight dropped to its lowest point.   I existed on cigarettes, alcohol, and diet coke.  I got leads in plays.   I had boys interested in me.   I was, on the surface, successful.   But once again…TERRIFIED that people would learn the truth about me.    

This continued on through college, though grad school, and through my first marriage.   I would struggle with a few pounds here and there, and never dropped dangerously low in weight, but I was always either eating or not eating to deal with my fear of failing.    And when my marriage was falling apart, I ate.   I sought comfort IN food this time, and when my then husband told me he wasn’t attracted to me because I had put on a few pounds….I died inside.   I let my “fatness” get out of control…and for that I had lost my marriage.   Now…I know that there was  a LOT more going on at the time, but THIS is what I grabbed on to.   Failed marriage….weight gain…..I suck…..I’m undeserving, and ugly, and un-loveable, and fat.

Time moved on, and things regulated again.   I got married again, and this time…to the RIGHT person.   I had kids.   I was successful.   Life was good.   And then Andy got sick.   I held my child in my arms KNOWING something was wrong, and no one could find it….   I watched him struggle, and with that felt completely helpless…   That time was out of control.   I turned to food.   I ate for comfort to the point of making myself sick, I ate in the middle of the night at the hospital because I couldn’t sleep, and then to alleviate the feared gaining of weight, I eventually found a way to get rid of it by vomiting.  Hmmm…this was new.   And cathartic.    And POWERFUL.   It was also something I was terribly ashamed of…and something that became a dirty secret for me.  And sadly, at this time, the biggest frustration was that even with all of this was that I was gaining weight at a steady pace, not that I was endangering my health. 

I was 34, and for the first time I started to wonder if my thinking was out of whack when it came to my self image and food.  I sought out help, and they suggested I go to a hospital.   WHAT?   I didn’t have THAT kind of problem.   I didn’t have an eating disorder?   I just ate or didn’t eat because of what was going on in my life or to seek comfort….  I didn’t starve myself until my hair fell out.   I didn’t gorge myself on thousands of calories at a time….   I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t do drugs, I didn’t NEED to go to that hospital.  But I did go….

I went to that hospital.   Every day.   For a month.   And a few years later, I repeated this process again.  And guess what I found out.   That I am what an eating disorder looks like to a LOT of people.   Eating disorders aren’t always the very visably sick.   They root in your thinking and emotion, and sometimes the unseen is just as unhealthy.  Healthy is truly in the eye of the beholder. 

Why am I writing this now?   Unveiling my own skeleton in the closet?   I am not looking for sympathy, or hoping that people will send me accolades or support.   I am doing GREAT.   I am writing this because I have a daughter who is already talking weight, calories, and exercise.   She already feels the pressure at 10 years old to be perfect, and in my eyes she already is.   If we as a society don’t begin to embrace each other and our differences, both in mind, body, and spirit, we are going to create and entire generation that fights the battle I have fought, and have seen so MANY young girls fight…..and even lose.   It’s sad.  It breaks my heart, and I can tell you….it was a PAINFUL journey I would never wish upon another.

This world has proven itself to be painful enough a place to live sometimes, so let's try to find a way to live happy.   There's just not time for the pain we bring to ourselves because of expectations that are just not realistic.

So, with that, I have decided it’s time to speak out, and share what I know.  It’s time we begin to lift one another up instead of seeking out imperfections, and help each other AS HUMAN BEINGS to embrace what makes us unique and beautiful, instead of seeking out this elusive perfection that is never attainable.   So I am going to do this.   I am going to consciously look for the beauty in all that I meet, and do my best to treat everyone with kindness.   No judgement.   No expectations.   No need for perfections.  

I think about what a great world it will be for my children (and yours) if I can get more people on board.   And maybe understanding the intensity of the sickness can help us find the cure.

Share it.   Do it.   CHANGE IT!   Let's go!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Let's all Play Nice.

I know a lot of people in this month of November are doing the “gratitude project” where every day you say something you are grateful for in your life.   I love this.   I love seeing what everyone says.   However, I have decided on my own project for November, and it all stems from some thoughts that I have been thinking for a while.  Here’s the back story…

My daughter is 10.    She is in 5th grade.   And she came home last week in tears, because the boys on the bus told her she was fat.   My son is 8.  He’s in 3rd grade, and he came home a few weeks ago asking if his calf had baby fat on it, because someone in his class told him that he was carrying baby fat.  Having been a round child myself, I know the pain that comes with words like this.   I know I have written before about the words I remember as child from kids I went to school with.   I am 42 years old, and I still remember.   I can’t help but have my heart broken a little when I think of these things being said to my own children.

And here’s the kicker.   My kids are in GREAT SHAPE!   Neither one of them are overweight.   They aren’t built stick thin….but none of their family members are, so why WOULD they be?   My daughter can swim 1600 yards in one swim practice, and then come home and play outside for hours.   My son can go roller skating for 3 hours, and come home to jump on the neighbor’s trampoline.   They don’t eat poorly, they are active, great kids.   And what I am most proud of with them, is that they are compassionate, kind children who genuinely care about other people. 

I understand that this is a competitive world.   I understand that we all want what is best for our kids.   We want them to be tough, successful, to win.   I get it.   I do.   But what about teaching them that kindness can be more powerful than hatred?  Compassion is something we all talk about, but is it something we truly practice?   I see so much less of it with kids today, and it breaks my heart.  What happened to “if you don’t have anything nice to say….”   You know the rest.  When did we make it okay to use words as weapons, and make it okay if "it is said as a joke."   Those jokes aren't funny.

So…I am trying something this month.   I am grateful for much in my life.   That’s a given.   I don’t need to write that down.   Instead what I am doing is trying each day to share a quote about kindness and compassion with my kids.  I want to show them that there is great power in being kind to others.   And although there will continue to be those in this world that use words to hurt, they can rise above that by being caring and compassionate.   I believe to a certain extent that we allow our kids to speak to each other this way, by passing it off as “kids being kids.”   Well, in our home, we are going to try to change that.   

I would love for them to be greatly successful and I believe they will be, because they are smart kids.   It would be nice for them to always succeed, but I would also like people to look at them and say, hey, there are caring and good natured.   So we are working on compassion and kindness at our house.  

I want them to understand that there will always be people you don’t mesh with.   There will always be people who are mean.   But if you keep kindness in your heart, there will be MORE people who want to be around you than to break you down.  I want them to understand that “fat” isn’t anything other than an insult.   It's a word.  It isn’t who you are.   And people who use that word as an insult aren’t worth the time of day to them.   I guarantee that if they just look the other way, they will see a face of someone who cares and supports them. 

I can’t protect them from ugly words, but I can teach them the core values that will make others want to stand with them, rather than against them.    

So….I challenge you to do the same.   Whenever it works for you, take five minutes a day to focus on kindness and compassion instead of competitiveness and winning.   I have a theory that it might make a difference in how you view the world and perhaps how our children see it too. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Ice Cream Truck Can't Make Me Cry Anymore.

Claire was born on May 19th.   In Wisconsin, this ALMOST counts as spring, but the night she was born we had a hard freeze.   Anyway...once we got home with her, every night around 5:30 was her fussy time.    For those of you who have kids, you know this can be the most stressful time of the day as you anticipate what is coming.   A crying, uncontrollable baby that you can do nothing with, but listen to her cry.

Well, since it was "spring" it was ice cream truck time.   Every night at about 5:15 the truck would come by our house playing it's music that to me sounds like it belongs in a scary movie.   Every night...5:15....and soon, Like Pavlov's dogs, that sound signaled to me that fussy time was almost upon us......and I would cry.   Not because I hate Ice cream, but because that sound made me know that soon the chaos would be upon me.

Now....in the 10 years that have passed since then, I can once again hear that creepy song of summer without dread, but as I was feeling a little overwhelmed with parenthood today, I was suddenly reminded of that time when Claire was small.

I wish with all my heart that my kids could go through this world without feeling hurt or disappointment.   I wish that they could get through life without having a broken heart, or friend be mean to them.  I wish that school would always come easy and that they would always see the amazing things I see in them.   I wish that I had the mommy super powers that would let them come through this life unscathed.  But alas.....that can't happen.

I was talking with a friend recently (and you know who you are...) about how I feel almost as if I have failed as a parent somehow.   Like that the troubles my kids have had, should somehow have been avoidable if only I had been more diligent a parent.   Their struggles are so hard for me to witness, and I wish with all my heart that they could be avoided completely.

Well, this friend of mine, sent me a note today reminding me that I am a good and present parent to my kids, and that I am completely "invested" in my kids, which is a really good thing.   I needed to hear that just then, because I felt like the ice cream truck was rounding the bend.   And guess what, instead of sitting here like a ball of nerves waiting for the chaos to come....I loaded up my pretend grenade launcher and FIRED!   Blew that damned truck completely out of my memory.  We've had some stuff going on here the past week or so, and I had a choice to make.   Roll over and wait for the chaos like I had no control, or take a stand and see that the things that my kids go through make them the amazing little people that they are, and will make them the amazing adults that I want them to be.  I make the best choices I know to make, and that is all I can do.

There are always bumps.   There will always be challenges, and no matter how much I want to control every moment, there will always be "fussy times" that I can't change.   I can however make the best choices I for them that I see fit, and always be their soft place to land, while I hope for the best.   My time hasn't been wasted, it has been an integral part of making these two humans into the caring, loving, compassionate creatures they are.

So....I'm not going to let that ice cream truck make me cry anymore.   It had better be careful rounding my street, because I might just be waiting for it again....Fully Loaded.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I Don't Think Algebra Applies Here...

Do you remember in algebra class when you were adding up letters to get number answers?   That crap never really made sense to me.   Letters and numbers are like apples and oranges....totally different, and totally NOT the same.  For all you mathematics peeps out there, I know...it's necessary....it DOES make sense (sort of) but I still can't comprehend the need to mix two completely different things all for the sake of finding the answers.  I'm a theatre major....I flunked algebra three times in college and had to settle for "Concepts of Math Thought."

Now....where am I going with this?   Well.....I realized something this week, and that is that I was trying to use the properties of algebra when calculating my weight and it's direct relationship to my own self esteem.  

Somehow I have been living a long time with the equation for success being....

Ideal Body weight = Happiness

It's a simple property.   Easy to understand.   SUPER easy to understand.   SUPER SUPER easy to understand.   Simple property actually, when my weight is high, I am not as happy with myself, my life, my surroundings, my body, my children, my home, etc. etc. etc.   When my body weight is "ideal" (and you can figure your own ideal, but let's face it....it may not be realistic) my life will be all happiness and light, health, strength and purpose.   Easy peasy.   Right?

Problem is.....Body weight is a number.    Happiness is a feeling.   They are two completely unrelated things, and they have no business sharing an equation together.   Weight is one thing....Happiness another.

I have been struggling to break this equation in my life for MANY years, and with the help of professionals, family, and friends....I am starting to see it's flaws, but I had a glaring example of how I have to move back to simple math to simplify my thinking.  

We have been on vacation for a lot of the summer.   Not going nuts with food, but let's be honest, I take it a lot easier when I am sitting on a beach, or in a great city than I would when I am cooking for myself.   I have seen friends I haven't seen for years, and yes, we had drinks....AND DESSERT!   I dare say, I also didn't get up early to go to the hotel gym before I went out for the day with my family.  I let myself have some indulgence...and told myself that the experience was what was important, and that I needed to relax and enjoy the memories I was making.   Scale be damned.....I had fun.  

I came home and was determined not to step onto the scale for a week.   Travel and dietary changes make me retain water, and generally causes huge fluctuations in my weight.   I knew the number would be up, and I didn't want to sully the fun I had with that nasty equation.  

Well...for a seemingly innocent reason....yesterday I stepped on.   And guess what.....I IMMEDIATELY felt myself get fatter/uglier/stupider.   Suddenly the clothes I was wearing were tight, and I was aware of how they felt against my skin.   My hair was no longer shiny, but dull when I was doing it, and I was certain my face was puffy and blotchy.  I started negative talk in my head, and trust me....I can be MEAN!  It was IMMEDIATE people.   My entire feeling about myself changed, I became cranky and short tempered, and felt like a failure.   IMMEDIATELY.

This time however, after a short time passed....I was able to look at things with some clarity.   (I don't know why, and honestly this doesn't happen for me very often....but man am I glad it happened this time!)  I was able to see how that I have programmed my brain to BELIEVE that equation of weight = happy.  My weight was up slightly....and my self worth suffered, and all that negative thinking became what was in the forefront of my mind.    It was amazing to me how quickly it happened..... I mean, I am literally talking seconds.  

So....where am I going with this?   Well....all day today I have been thinking about a new equation.   I haven't completely figured it out, but these two are what I am thinking....

Tina's Life equation #1:
Living my life in a healthy manner while making the best choices I can with whatever situation I am in and experiencing things as they come = happiness and peace

Tina's Life equation #2:
The number on the scale = how much I weigh.   That's it.

It's like letters and numbers.   Apples and Oranges.   Weight and happiness.   Two completely unrelated things.   I am going to strive to keep weight and happiness completely separate.   It's okay to want to be a healthy weight, and it's okay to work towards that.   But it's also okay to have beer and cheese once in a while, even though it may cause a fluctuation in your numbers.

'Nuff said.   I never got algebra.....but I think I might be starting to "get" this.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lessons Learned from and 8 Year Old.

Eight years ago, on July 8, my son was born.   He is an amazing, handsome, funny, smart, and loving little man, and I have learned so much from him.   Things he probably doesn't even know or understand, but things that I have carried with me and will continue to do so forever.

And why you might ask, have I chosen this time to write about him?  Because for the past week or so I have been really emotional, and sometimes close to tears.   (In fact today at the gym, I was almost in tears on the elliptical trainer for no apparent reason..and for a second I thought I was losing it!!  ha!)  I was wondering if I was having a break, when I realized that it was July...the anniversary of his birth, and in many ways, this month will always be a reminder of what we went through with him, and what a wonderful place of peace we have found.  And I need to take it as a reminder of what I have tried to take away from our experiences.....and hopefully share with others.

He was born with laryngo and trachealmalacia, mitochondrial disease, a tethered spinal cord, and an Arnold Chiari brain malformation.   He was floppy, and couldn't hold his head.   He cried all the time.   He made horrible, scary noises when he took a breath, and he choked when he ate.   I was scared of him, and loved him all at the same time.  

By the time he reaches this, his eighth birthday in a few days, he will have undergone something like eight major surgeries, has been hospitalized more times than I can count, and has been under general anesthesia at lease a few times each year he's been alive.   He has seen specialist doctors in four different states, at four major hospitals.  He's been poked, prodded, tubed, cut, and listened to. 

And I tell you this, not because I am sad, or looking for sympathy for myself or for him, but because I want to share what this little boy has taught me about being strong. 

When he was little, we were told that his future was uncertain.   He may not thrive.   He may not walk or run.   He may not speak.    There were lots of scary words being thrown around in his early life.    

But this guy....he is amazing.   He runs.   He plays.   He dances.   He loves music, and he plays computer.   He talks....A LOT sometimes.   He can run the remote for the tv better than I can.   Sure...he has some problems.   He's not the most graceful, he doesn't tolerate heat or cold, he learns differently than lots of others....and he's probably not going to grow up to play football or baseball.   

We never gave him the expectation of anything other than greatness.   We didn't care how FAST he could do something or how SKILLED he would be.   We only cared that he lived his life with joy and happiness, that he worked hard to achieve HIS best, and that he TRY things that might seem hard.   (Even if I WAS standing in the back crying with a knot of worry in my belly. ha!)  And because of this....he continues to move forward even with some small obstacles in his way.   Sometimes he stumbles, sometimes he wants to quit....but that spark in him that saved him as a baby keeps him going....always.  And because of this...he thrives. 
(You see the correlation to our lives here, right??) 

His health is stable and good, although we are on alert always.   He is beginning to understand how his conditions make him different, but he has never let them give him a reason to stop.   

And so....this is how I want to be.   I want to realize that even if my path isn't the same as anyone else, that it can still lead me where I want to go.   I may have to work harder sometimes, but in the end...it will be worth it.  I may stumble, or falter, but as long as I stay the course I am exhibiting strength of mighty proportion.   Being strong isn't always being biggest, fastest, or boldest....

And finally and probably more so , he has taught me that life is a gift, and wasting it just cannot be an option.  To be able to see what is truly worth worrying about, has changed my life forever.   When I start to get caught up in the small things, all I have to do is look at him....and remember those early days, and suddenly the dishes in the sink don't seem quite so important.

So, I thank you Andy, from the bottom of my heart.   Your tenacity and courage have taught me that strength often has more to do with forging ahead and taking life as it comes than barreling through and breaking down barriers.  Being your mom has made me a stronger (and better) person. 

Be healthy everyone.   Be happy everyone.   And don't sweat the small stuff.  

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dabbling in Mediocrity

What does it mean to be the best?   I've had this conversation with so many people that it's a little mind numbing.   I am a perfectionist.   You wouldn't necessarily know this about me when you walk into my life.   My house isn't immaculate,  I have piles of stuff to go through, and my bed isn't always made.   When it comes to my personal goals and desires though....the bar is pretty high.  I often set expectations for myself that I would never hold anyone else to.

I used to believe that being the best meant being in front and leading the pack.   If I was finding myself anywhere behind that point...I felt that I had failed.  When I was running, I was always pushing to try to better my time and move closer to the front of the pack, even though my body wasn't built for what I was putting it through.   When I was watching what I ate....I gave up everything that was "bad" and only had safe and nutritious foods in my pantry.  I would eat only organic.   I would grow my own food.   Be the best.   You can do it.   When I was being the best exerciser, I was at the gym 5 days a week, whether I wanted to, whether I had other things to do, and if I didn't make it...I would beat myself up for my perceived failure to do my "best."   Being the "best" became what was important....not making positive and healthy changes to my life.   Not finding balance and living a complete life.   I was choosing to focus on minute parts of my life that I thought were important and ended up missing out on a lot of things that really mattered more.

We live in a world where everyone is trying to be better than the next person.   Being the better athlete, parent, eater, wife, friend, employee....the list goes on and on.  I even had a conversation with a great gal pal about being vegetarian, and how she feels so often that she is judged by other vegetarians because "I'm completely lacto-ovo-blah-blah-blah."    Like somehow that not eating eggs puts them in a class above her.  It's really silly when you stop and think about it.  Like the next step to be the best then becomes not eating meat, eggs, dairy, plants, or anything that might have once been eaten, and only drinking predigested protein from space.  It's CRAZY!   Who makes the mold for what is "BEST" and who is to say that mold will work for me?

So, I have been spending the past month or so, trying to live in the middle.  Yes folks....I have been striving for MEDIOCRITY!     And guess what.....I am REALLY happy!  I've had all these people in my life (and you will know who you are when you read this) who have spent a great deal of time and energy trying to get me to see that moderation is good.   After many years of avoiding this concept, I decided I had nothing to lose, and stepped into the abyss.   And guess what....it feels really good.

I wish I could bring you all along for this ride.   Now...let's be realistic.   I still have goals.   I still have desires.   I still want to be REALLY GOOD at things.....and honestly.....I have to remind myself regularly that the "BEST" isn't really best.   But oh my goodness....when I made a potato for lunch yesterday (yes...a starchy vegetable that I haven't eaten forever because diets say you can't have it if you want to lose weight) it was AWESOME!   I am trying to allow myself those things that I want from time to time, even though they don't fit on the list of perfectionism.

Oh, and guess what....living in the middle also means that you can eat on days when you don't exercise, just as if you did.   Exercise in this magical middle world, doesn't earn you food.   It's just something you do because you like it, and it makes you feel better.  It means you can leave the laundry in the basket for a day until you have time to get to it instead of staying up until midnight to fold it all, and it means you can sit down to read or watch a tv show when there is a little dust on the coffee table.   It is a place where a little relaxation is just as valuable as being the best.   Hmmm........

It's okay to strive for greatness.   It's impressive to win.   And I get that I can't completely throw caution to the wind.  But sometimes....being in the middle is where you need to be.   I am great at a lot of things, but I can't be the best at it all.   So as I slow my pace , and take a look at things from the middle of the race, I am seeing that I am a lot more relaxed.....and a lot more inspired to keep going.  I feel like it has leveled the playing field for me a little.   The pressure has lifted a little, and at least for now....I'm feeling content.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I'm Trying to Avoid the Apples.

Do you remember the part in "The Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy and her friends are entering the haunted forest and all the trees are scary and it's dark and creepy?   For the last week or so, I feel like I am journeying through my own haunted forest, and I am waiting to get apples thrown at my head.

Back story...here goes.   About a week ago, this new fad called the K E Diet came to my attention.   Haven't heard of it?   That's because it is FREAKING RIDICULOUS!   Well, one of the network morning shows did a schpeel on it and it is basically putting a feeding tube in your nose, and letting yourself be fed by a continuous liquid drip diet for 2 weeks  so you can drop weight quickly for such monuments events as weddings, parties, and vacations!   SERIOUSLY!   Doctors are promoting this!    Well, at first I was COMPLETELY disgusted by the idea that we have come to this.   Women would rather walk around with a feeding tube stuck to their face and risk ruining their health, than accept themselves for who and what they are.   It broke my heart.   I have known women who used laxatives to lose weight.   They have eating disorders.   I have known women who have starved themselves.   Eating disordered.   Chewed and spit?   E.D.  Purged food.  E.D.   HOW IS THIS ANY DIFFERENT???   There is nothing normal about it.

I got all up on my soapbox and harped about it.   But really what set me off?   For a SPLIT SECOND I had the thought....."I wonder if I could do this."   I feel like I have come so far in my life and journey to accept myself, and for a second, I too found myself wondering....what if?    I felt sad.   Right there.....apples at my head.    Crap.

I have been on this journey for a while now.   Some of you have been with me in person.   Some in spirit. But it's been ongoing.   The road to self acceptance isn't an easy one.   And from this one little news story, I think I realize to a small extent, that I may have been taking the wrong road the entire time.

See....I HAVE lost weight.   I have had great physical goals met.   I've done well.   And I think that I have thought all this time that if I continued down that path.....success would be mine.   Nevermind that I finished the half marathon and didn't find the pot of gold.   Nevermind that I broke my foot (TWICE) and blew out my knee.   Nevermind that I still struggle with eating on a daily basis.   I had convinced myself that this road was going to lead me to the Nirvana I was so hoping to find.

Then I sat and talked with amy therapist about this.   (Thanks Jaynie, btw!)  I sat and told her how horrified I was that this diet even existed and that I couldn't believe how people would go to such extremes, and yadda yadda yadda.   I then proceeded to tell her that I had a better plan.   I was going to keep lists of what I ate, and weigh myself, and count calories, and exercise at LEAST so many times, and I would show them.   I had a very specific checklist that if I followed to a "T", I would lose weight and be healthy and nothing would stop me.  

She just looked at me for a minute and said (a little exasperated I might add) "NO TINA!"  She asked me, "Why do you keep trying to get back on this same road that has lead you to injury and upset?"  That my friends, was an apple of EPIC proportions STRAIGHT to my head.  She said, "I am fairly certain there is a path that leads to self acceptance, but it DOESN'T have a weight limit, and it doesn't have so many rules to follow so strictly.  Maybe you should be looking for a kinder path."  

I sat in stunned silence for a bit.   A lightbulb came on and I thought for a while.  See, the old road, the one paved with rules and regulations, was safe.   It was hard, and defined, and easy to follow.   You either did what you had to do and got results, or you didn't.   This new road seemed a little more like a bike path lined with plants and trees that lead into an unknown place.  However, it might allow me to accept myself without all the crazy rules, and I am hoping with each step the path gets lighter, wider, and easier to see.   Hence....my journey into the forest.  

The thing is though, that I don't think the forest is haunted or scary.   I think it's just not what I am used to.   And when I follow the rule of Dr. Phil and ask myself "how's that been working for you?"   I have to say...not so well.   I have learned a LOT in the past few years.   I have made forward motion....but I have to wonder if there isn't some credence in what Jaynie suggested to me.   Perhaps if I approach this journey from a new path that isn't so black and white....perhaps I will find even more success.  Now...I am not telling you that I have thrown caution to the wind and that I am going to put on my hippie glasses and saunter into the enchanted forest with no worry.   That's not how this works.   It's a new thing to try, and I am hoping one that will allow for a little more humanity and a little less perfection.

I still think anyone willing to put a feeding tube in their bodies to drop weight for a "perfect" day needs to have their heads examined, and that doctors willing to do this need to have their licenses revoked.   However, I also think that the way I was doing things was leading me to live with some extreme behaviors as well.   Although my extremes weren't as drastic as the KE Diet, Black and white doesn't work no matter how hard you try, and no number on the scale should determine whether my day is magical or not.   I should try to be happy with myself as I am, and do things because I want to and it makes my body feel good, not because there is a rule saying I have to.   I hope it works, and if it does, I hope more women will join me on this journey.   We have to stop this obsession with being perfect, and thinking that happiness is tied to a number on a machine that I am beginning to think was designed to keep us dieting.   I wonder if we give up this way of thinking, if we all might find acceptance.

So...here I go....journeying on a slightly different path.   Definitely one less travelled for me....and I am taking one step at a time while trying to avoid the apples.

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's time to Stand Up!

When I started writing this blog, it was to document a journey.   I was turning 40, I set a goal to accomplish something, and frankly I just wanted to have some accountability, and maybe share something along the way.

When that journey was over, I realized that I had some things left to say, and certainly had a LOT of lessons yet to be learned, so I kept it going.   I have never written for anyone but myself, and if you have laughed or cried, or related in some way, that is great.   It's cathartic for me, and I have found it a truly valuable form of personal therapy.

So...with that being said.....I'm going to for the first time use this blog to try to start something.  I want to put out a challenge.   A challenge to everyone, but mostly to the strong, beautiful, talented women I know.   Let me tell you how this all started....

I have a daughter.   She is 9.   She is beautiful and kind and smart and compassionate.   And it has recently come to my attention that her self esteem is in the crapper.   She is JUST LIKE ME!   She already has body image issues, thinks people won't like her because of what she wears or what she watches on tv.   She beats herself up if she can't grasp a concept in school.  She wants so badly to fit the images that she sees on television, and if things don't go perfectly for her or fit into the mold she has in her head, she has a really hard time.   It breaks my heart that this little girl who I love with ALL my being is already tearing herself down inside.   I have spent a lot of time lately wondering HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  

And here comes my theory.

We all sit in judgement.   Every one of us has at one time or another, and frankly more than I like to admit, made a judgement on another woman based out of complete ignorance.   Maybe it's that one mom fancies herself up for school events with high heels and tight jeans and makeup, so I make the judgement that she is trying to impress.   Or maybe it's the parent at the bus stop who seems standoffish, so I assume she thinks she's too good for me, so I ignore her.   And of course, the working moms vs. the stay at homers....they MUST think we do nothing all day long, and they put their kids in daycare....  Overweight?   Must be lazy.      The list goes on and on...

No one is right here.   NO ONE!  

I know how I hate to feel like I am being judged.   It's a VERY big trigger for me, and yet I find myself doing it to others as almost second nature.  I didn't even REALIZE I was doing it.    

It's no wonder that my daughter at the age of 9 feels like she isn't good enough.   When we as women are constantly tearing each other apart, of course our children will eventually begin to feel the fallout.    We tell our children not to be bullies, but we do it to each other on a daily basis.

So here's my challenge, and I am going to try REALLY hard to do this myself.   What if instead of tearing other women down and being so stinking hard on them, we try instead to BUILD THEM UP and understand where they might have come from?   What if instead of thinking that the lady in line at Target who's kids are screaming and seeming out of control should "get control" of her kids, we try instead to give her a compassionate glance, offer to help, or simply say "don't worry....I've been there too."  Or maybe if we just don't huff and puff and act all irritated, that will be enough.   I don't know.

Not everyone is meant to be my friend.   I know that.   I am also not asking everyone to start living life like Little Miss Sunshine.   Not possible!   But I do think that if we start a movement of trying to curb the split decision judgements, perhaps we can begin to turn the tides and help our daughters and our sons grow up a little happier, a little healthier, and with a little understanding that simple respect for one another can make the world a better place.   We don't know where others have come from, and we shouldn't judge.

I feel like we've begun to lose our sense of understanding and compassion for one another, and in our own fear of being judged, we step to the podium ourselves.   So....here I go.....I am standing up and making a change, and I'm going to see how it manifests itself in my life.   I am going to try to look at people with clear eyes that aren't clouded by my own insecurities.   I encourage you to try this as well.   I didn't realize how often I did this to others, and have since found that some of my judgements were sometimes WAY off base.  

Just make note in one day how many times you might look upon another with judgement, and the next day try seeing them with compassion.   It can't hurt....right?   And maybe in the long run, we will begin to show our children that you can't judge a book by the cover, that appearances don't mean anything, and that everyone deserves a fair chance.

Share this idea.   Share this blog.   Pass it on.  See if we can change things even just a little.   I have to try.   I love my daughter that much.    

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The bells are dinging....

I am not an auto mechanic.   I don't know much about engines or cars.   But one thing I do know is that people have spent years engineering cars so that we are warned when every little thing goes wrong.   A bell sounds and a light comes up on the dashboard, and we stop what we are doing as soon as possible to check the problem, because this automobile costs a lot of money and we wouldn't want it to stop working.

So today when I was driving my car and the light came on to tell me that I needed to stop for gas, why did I decide to go ahead and drive out to Zona Rosa and do all my shopping and then start my drive home before finally deciding I should stop since my odometer thingy says in approximately 4 miles I will be completely out of gas?   Why did I feel like I couldn't take the time to do one small thing I needed to do before moving on with my day?  Maybe I thought other things were too important?   Maybe I thought I could outsmart the engine?   Maybe I get a charge out of the game of chicken I was playing.   I don't know.   

I filled up my tank with 4 miles to empty, and then sat in my car a minute and the thought literally came into my head.....


It's warning me that I need to stop and take care of something, and yet it's something I completely ignore.   I ignore it until I am almost at a point of crisis, and then I slide in by the skin of my teeth and take care of it.  Not smart...and not something I would encourage others to do.   And frankly something I would yell at my husband about.... it's ridiculously simple!   When the bell dings, you have a short amount of time to refuel or your car will STOP WORKING!

You can probably see where I am going here.   My bells are CONSTANTLY dinging it seems lately, and I have been completely ignoring them.   I haven't been eating regularly, I haven't been listening to my body, I haven't been sleeping well....and all through the day my dashboard lights are dinging and flashing......and I simply keep driving and try to muddle through.  And guess what.....I don't feel good physically, emotionally, or otherwise.   It's a simple thought really......when the bell dings......STOP!  Assess the situation and take it from there.   Sometimes it might necessitate  a snack, or a nap, and sometimes it might require a talk with a friend or someone who can lend you a little advice.   But the bottom line is....when the bell dings, there is a potential problem, and whether or not your run out of gas at that point is completely up to you.   You've been warned.  

So...I am going to try to choose to listen to my built in warning system a little more efficiently, cuz frankly, the well oiled machine that I am (ha!) can't take much more of this abuse.   Time for a little overhaul.  :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Diary of a Chubby Kid

Warning....the disclaimer on this post is that it's a little emotionally charged....so read on at your own risk.

All my life I have been obsessed with weight.   Sometimes I have been overweight, sometimes I have been underweight.   There have been times when I have used food to medicate myself, times where I just ate too much because the food was SO good and it made me happy.   There have been times where I have eaten too little, if at all, and times where I have been harmful to myself all in the name of weight.

I'm tired of it.

See, I was a chubby kid.   Not huge and roly poly, but big enough that I stood out.   I wasn't the skinny girl with blonde hair that everyone wanted to be like, I was the tall, chubby girl with glasses and not so great brown hair.   I was smart.   I was nice.   I had a lot of friends, but I was still the chubby girl.

I remember the first time someone made fun of me for that.   I was in Mrs. Madden's first grade class and on the playground someone told me I was fat.   I can tell you exactly who said it.   I can tell you where I was standing.   I can tell you what I was wearing.   And now....some 35 years later....I can still tell you what it felt like.

At the age of seven I learned a valuable lesson that would shape much of my life.   How much you weigh determines how much you are worth.   Don't be different or someone might make you feel bad.  Nice thing for a kid to learn, right?

Grade school went on and although I was happy, generally liked,  and smart.....my weight didn't change.  I was still the chubby kid.   And gradually I began to see that I had to do whatever I could to fit in.   To be a part of the group.   Because if I didn't do what everyone wanted of me....I would be on the outs.   Because who could possibly like the chubby girl?   If this part of me, my weight, could be such a thing that hurt me so much, then I had to surround myself with enough people that I would never be alone, so no one could ever be mean to me like that again.    But guess what.....

Time passes.   Junior high.   Pep busses to away football games.   I remember where I was sitting, who said it, and how it made me feel.   We were joking around...having fun....and someone thought it was okay to joke with me about my weight.  Call me fat.   Humiliate me on a bus.    It was said "in fun" and "as a joke."   People laughed.   I laughed.   No big deal.   Bullshit.

Lesson learned at seven....reinforced again.  

Then, it happened for me.   I grew, I got contacts.   I was SKINNY!   Suddenly This one part of my life that I had already grown to hate changed.   I still had friends.   I still got good grades and did well in school.   I was well liked.   But now.....I WAS SKINNY!   And see....here is where it really gets complicated.   I saw (through a ninth graders eyes) for real that life really was better and the grass really was greener on the other side of that fence.   Boys liked me.   I got attention for how I looked.   People don't make fun of you for being skinny.   And instead of building my confidence.....I just became really afraid that I would go back to the way I was..... the loser on the playground.  So I became a pleaser.   Doing what everyone wanted me to.   Taking care of everyone , and making sure that the chubby girl who I knew I was on the inside was never seen again.

At the age of 14....the lesson learned 7 years earlier was reinforced with even more evidence.   How much you weigh and how you look determines your worth.   Now as a skinny girl....I couldn't let go of the memory of the chubby one.....I feared her.

And the stories go on.   I have had similar stories happen to me as an adult...overweight, underweight, it doesn't matter.

See, I have had a realization as of late.   I think I may have been living for the last 35 years by the lessons I learned as a 7 year old chubby kid.  I am so afraid of  people not accepting me that I will do WHATEVER I have to sometimes to make sure that I don't get ostracized like that little girl on the playground.  I have lived all these years with the fear that being who I am....fat, skinny, blonde, brunette, happy, or sad, just isn't good enough.    And I feel that I can say with great confidence that I now see that as complete and utter BULLSHIT!

The number on the scale or the size in my clothing is important only as it relates to me being healthy.   I have put such emphasis on it in the past that it became almost impossible for me to have peace with it.   If it was low, I was always afraid of gaining and being punished for my weight by others, and if it was high I would punish myself for letting myself be that chubby girl again.  It's a lose - lose situation.

So I am trying something new this year.   I'm going to try to put this little chubby girl to rest.   See I have  gained a LOT of really great things from her.    From her I have learned compassion.   I have learned not to pass judgement or hold a grudge.   I have learned that the needs of others ARE indeed important, and that there are times where others DO need to come first.   I have developed a good sense of humor about the world I live in and truly about myself.   I am able to look at myself and laugh.   I have learned not to judge others by how they look, their size, or their appearance.     I have learned that words can hurt...a LOT, so I need to use them carefully.  These things, I would like to keep.   But there are things from her I need to let go.

I would like to stop being so afraid of what others think.   See, if they negative or bringing me down...instead of fearing them leaving me...I want to cut them loose.   I need to put to rest my love affair with the scale.   My value as a human being has NOTHING to do with how much I weigh.   I need to put my own needs in front of others sometimes.   And I need to trust that the people I surround myself with now as an adult, love me for who I am, and not what I look like or what I can do for them.  I need to again see the value in taking care of myself.

I would like to stop defining my adult self by the standards of a chubby kid.     I would like the decisions I make for myself to come from my own needs and desires rather than out of fear.

I am not sure she will go so quietly into the night (she's a tough cookie), but I would like to think that if the adult me holds her hand for a while, she will begin to trust that I can be okay without her.   I finally get it.  A little anyway......  :)