Cataclysm!

The crack is always there. 9 steps up, on the left. Every time I look it is both bigger and smaller than it was yesterday. Every time, every day. I know it will always be there.

Every thing is always there. Nothing is here. I always want and don’t want a cheeseburger. And a nap. There always is an angry client to call back. It always is the same scene out my windows – forth and back and forth again. The desk and the couch and the car and the sound of my alarm clock are the same every day. The break from routine is as hard the millionth time as it is the first. It is always the same and leaves me feeling the same.

Come, cataclysm, come. Prove to me that I would be ok. Sparkle and shine and explode and radiate and fall from the sky in luminescent chunks. Show me that I will be ok. Don’t sneer and slowly crack and tease. Fucking explode. Prove to me.

I will trade you my fear and constant not-poverty and teeth-gnashing and checking the time again.  I will trade you those things for money, chaos, the ruin of new scenery. It is fair – a very fair trade. My anxiety is vintage.

Forget it. I know you are not coming. You are elsewhere creating and destroying the lives of other, more worthy people. People who lived on and for the brink. People who quit when it is time to quit, people who scream and rail and run. I stay – I churn and don’t create and don’t destroy. I punch in and never punch out. Cataclysm is not for me, even if I am for you.

So I will create my own cracks – it is all I can do, thank you very much. I will seep change slowly. I will patch the cracks and turn off the TV and shake things gently – waking up my possibility.

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Happy!

templerunSpring sprung here yesterday. It was warm and sunny – people were out, spirits lifted, blah blah blah. Spring zaps my energy. Not old-fashioned spring, the spring of my youth – cold, rainy days are fine. It is the brilliant burst of sun and joggers. I need to be eased into warmth and outside life. It may be as simple as I hate being hot – and it may be as complicated as I was set backwards.

Yesterday I felt miserable. I had taken a day off and let time evaporate in the spring heat. Other than lunch out with one of my favorite people, all of my great day-off plans were ignored. Instead I played video games and watched shows I had already watched. Blech.

In the moment, it is so hard to choose to do the things that I know will make me feel happy. I talk myself into just a few more minutes of things that I know will make me unhappy, or at least regretful. At almost 40, you would think I should know to pull out my sewing machine rather than sit in the chair and play an hour of Temple Run. Heck, I should even just find a real temple and run from it. But as I type this, I feel a strong pull to sink into a day of nothing again. I don’t feel depressed, but maybe this is depression? Or modern life where the endorphin kick of jumping over a crevasse in a video game is so quick it is addictive.

Regardless, I am an addict and am going to do other things today, this week. I have committed to on week per quarter where I don’t watch TV or play video games. And my first week starts today. I am going to do the things that I know make me happy in the long term, rather than things that make me unhappy when I am done.

I will keep you posted… after all, I have lots of time to write now.

Reason #54,687 to LOVE St…

Reason #54,687 to LOVE Stephen Fry

“I suppose the thing I most would have liked to have known or been reassured about is that in the world, what counts more than talent, what counts more than energy or concentration or commitment, or anything else – is kindness. And the more in the world that you encounter kindness and cheerfulness – which is its kind of amiable uncle or aunt – the better the world always is. And all the big words: virtue, justice, truth – are dwarfed by the greatness of kindness.” ~ Stephen Fry

Ballerina!

When I was a wee girl (before the “gift” of puberty), I was a ballerina.  I LOVED ballet – my dad installed a barre in our house for me to practice, and I had the pale pink leotard and tights – I think there even was a tutu.

When I went into whatever level of ballet where you get a mean German male teacher who yells at you for not knowing your left from right, I didn’t last long.  I still have to take a beat to remember my left from right – it is just a thing with me.  My dad does a great impersonation of the poor befuddled teacher saying “I do not mean to make ze little girlz cry!”

Shortly after that my mom enrolled me in acting classes, and I enjoyed that for the next 12+ years, so I am ok.  But a part of me always missed ballet.  I didn’t understand why lithe, talented girls would shake their butts to crap music when they could be pointeing and tutuing instead.

When SD was wee, I made a futile attempt to get her interested in ballet (see round peg, square hole) and was unjustifiably sad when she wasn’t interested.

Fastforward to this summer when I watched a reality show about ballet dancers.  The reality show of it made me cringe, but the ballet was amazing – and I yearned to be spending 10 hours a day perfecting my ballet craft.  I decided then and there that I would watch ballet in KC as much as I could.  Which led me to the Kansas City Ballet website… where I discovered their Studio Classes.

I had my first ballet class and absolutely loved it – and here are all the reasons why.

1. My worst fear – that I would be twice the weight of everybody else in the class – came true, and I survived.  Most of the thin girls probably didn’t even notice me.  Some of the tiny dancers were probably judgy of my excess – but who gives a fuck if they were?

2. The teacher is a *real* ballerina.  She is very pretty and friendly and welcoming.

3. Ballet has rules.  And even though we are beginners and not 8, the teacher makes us follow the rules – I love that.

4. Thin people are fallible.  I made mistakes – so did some of the thin women – and the teacher corrected both of us.  If you have ever been a fat person in an exercise class full of thin people and been treated as if you were special needs, you will know why this means so much to me.

5. I love my ballet shoes.

6. I only confused my right and left once – and nobody yelled at me in German.

7. I am pretty good for being 38 and not taking a dance class in a bazillion years.

8. The class is at the lovely Todd Bolender Center for Dance – with exposed brick walls and big windows that look into KC.

9. I got a good workout – one downside is that in Ballet class, it seems there are no water breaks.

10. We did running leaps!!  So fun and wonderful – just like we did when I was in ballet many years ago.

Finally!

Like most people in my neck of the woods, I am thrilled the weather broke.  Summers bum me out.  Normal summers bum me out – the last summer was downright heartbreaking.  When Memorial Day hits, I try to remain positive that this summer will be OK – that I won’t feel uncomfortable and out of sorts.  But inevitably I do – the hot weather, unappealing clothes, and general hang loose attitude of summer is not my bag.  I prefer corduroy and sharpened pencils and focus.  And so when the weather turns cooler, I finally relax.

And I start believing in plans again.  That life is not just about making it through another day of heat, but that I can get organized and make a difference at work and do fun and interesting things in my life.  So, finally, fall is here.  I feel no longer like a round person trying to fit into a square hole.  Yay!  Look for many more posts about how I am making up for lost time.  Starting with sitting on my porch in the cool morning, watching the squirrels skitter, and planning for a great fall-ish day.

20 Minutes!

I have fought the urge this year to declare all of my resolutions on this blog.  Last year I ended up scrapping them totally – making all the planning and the tracking pointless.  But it is one week in, I am doing pretty well, and I am feeling cocky.

My resolutions for this year:

1. Organize my house – every year I get a little bit closer.
2. Make my bedroom awesome fun funky.  We did the kids’ bedrooms in 2011, I want to make ours kickin’ in 2012.  I have lots of ideas – just need the energy.
3. Vegan 365 days – I have gotten so far afield of this part of who I am – but after a lot of searching, I am back.  And it is going so well.  So far 7 days and I am feeling great.
4. Run 3 miles in 30 minutes – I get goosebumps thinking about how awesome it would be to be able to do that.
5. Read 24 books.

I am focusing on behavior rather than weight loss – which is supposed to be a good thing.  And last week and the weeks preceeding as I was practicing my goals, I have been exercising way more than I ever was before.  I am not quite at the feeling great phase – exercise still feels like work – but I am getting better at getting started.  Last week I exercised 5 times – which is way better than I have been doing.  The last time I exercised I tripped on nothing and badly skinned my knee and sprained my finger.  But I am *not* taking that as a sign and tonight am going to get back to it by doing something aerobic that doesn’t require me to use my hurt finger. 🙂

The thing that has worked for me ‘lo these three weeks is the 20-minute rule – If I can just get through no more than 20 minutes of prepping for exercise (changing clothes, moving the coffee table, driving 5 minutes to the gym), I will be in motion and can feel awesome and start reaping the benefits.  And the good news is it usually takes way less than 20 minutes, but never ever more.

Happy 2012!

2011 Year in Review – Unintended Achievements

My accomplishments in 2011 are paltry.  At least on paper (or on screen).  I am more in debt and weigh more than I did 365 days ago.  I only read 17 books.  And it appears I still beat myself up.  Or do I?

Because I *could* look at this year differently.  Instead of recounting the failures that are my constant companion, I can look at the things I did well.  Well, wouldn’t that be cool?   The last six months in therapy have taught me many things – and started a journey that will lead me not to “success” but to happiness.

In the spirit of choosing to recognize all that I am, rather than a handful of failures, here is what I did accomplish this year:  (If you abhor bragging, do not read on.)

1. Kicked butt at work – continuing my 13-year streak.
2. Completed three graduate courses and got As in each one – 7 hours closer to an M.S. in Bioinformatics.
3. Became closer to my stepkids.  One of the saddest parts of being a stepmom early on was the fact that my coming home was minimally acknowledged.  Now it is de rigeur for the kids to come clammering down the stairs, literally cheering that I am home.  And I am often rewarded with the title “Best Stepmom in the World”.  I’ll take it.  Those kids feel like my blood now.  It was one of the biggest challenges in my life.  But we found our ways to each other.
4. Became closer to my husband.  This year had highs and lows, for sure.  Just when we got good at the every day marriage challenges – not enough money, crazy mismatched work schedules, things randomly breaking in the house, and kids who require food and attention and to be driven back and forth 45 minutes 2-3 times a week – the universe handed us some crappy health issues and all the detritus that gets churned up when one (me) starts therapy.  After the big and little bumps, I end this year even more in love with DH.  We have been there for each other in ways that I didn’t imagine on the day we got married. I know the challenges aren’t over – my guess is they aren’t ever.  But I do know when I am terrified and crying in the middle of the night, I just have to reach over and DH will be there.  And I know that being happy is even greater when one’s companion is holding your hand.  Every year, every day I understand more how precious this marriage thing is – because it is a lifetime shared always.
5. Took the big step of getting into therapy so that I can take care of myself because I love myself.

That is a pretty darn good list – and not any of them were on my “resolutions” for the year.

Mission!

I worry a lot about where I am headed.  I make poor decisions about my health and I spend a lot of my life doing things that are in the opposite direction of my goals.  I break promises to myself every day.  I remember in 2006 waiting to board a plane to Italy feeling healthy, in love, and knowing my life kicked ass.

And now, no, not so much. Now life is kicking my ass.

Being in therapy I am learning about self care.  That creepy phrase means taking care of myself so that I am not so stressed and miserable that the only way I can get out of it is to overeat.  My therapist told me I had to wake up every day and think of 2-3 things I needed to do to take care of myself.  Well, she actually didn’t specify a number, but then I asked her for a number, she didn’t throttle me and we (I) landed on 2-3.  (Hey, at least it is a RANGE… I’m being flexible here, people.)

And then I created a spreadsheet to make sure I recorded the 2-3 things that I did for myself and that I was hitting my goal.  No, I am not kidding.  I really did that.  I am superdiddly crazy.

<NONSEQUITOR – I’ll bring it all together, I promise.) My friend Mandy had this awesome post last week on her blog.  I went back to that picture many times last week because it was so cool – the picture was a perfect synopsis of who Mandy is and who she will be.  And that the best is yet to come.  I still can’t put into words why it spoke to me so much – except that is going to be Mandy *exactly* when she is 70 – because everybody who knows her sees her living her life to get there, and that I am lucky to know someone so wonderful who just gets better every day.

So today I decided I wanted to find some inspiration… rather than logging “knitted for 30 minutes” in a spreadsheet to hit my I AM TAKING CARE OF MYSELF metrics, I wanted a picture and a mission that inspire me to start being the person I want to be.

7 Everyday Tenets.

I like things in seven – and these are things I am going to do every day.  The unspoken 8th tenet is that I am not going to put these in a spreadsheet.  I promise.

Every day I am going to:

  • Listen to a great song.
  • Move a lot.
  • Do something original.
  • Reflect before I eat.
  • Find 15 minutes of quiet.
  • Respect the plans I made for myself.
  • Keep enough for myself.

Those are awesome, right?  I f’ing know.

Image Mission.

I knew I wanted a picture like Mandy’s, and I had a vague idea of an older woman rocking her buttocks off with big headphones on or laughing really hard.  Google images and a lot of time resulted in this:

This picture tells a story of where I want to go – a woman who still is ornery and hilarious and loves awesome music.  I also like that most of her is unwritten – I don’t know what my healthy body will look like yet – it may be 10 lbs or 100 lbs away – but it is unwritten.

(sidebar – why o why o why must google image searches always include a picture of a warty foot no matter what I search for – is there someone out there tagging warty foot pictures with every word in the English language??)

Mission Statement.

O yea, I did one of these too – this is a draft:

My mission is to live a life of gorgeous awesomeness by laughing too much, learning smartypants stuff, loving myself, my friends, and my family even more than we deserve, and creating always.  Oh, eschewing conventional thinking, jealousy, and fear.

Frazzled!

I have a breaking point, and it doesn’t take too much to get to it.

I LOVE school.  I love class, I love the opportunity to learn what I am learning, I love pushing myself to learn something new.  Tonight I got to listen to a lecture on regression modeling, and I liked it… I really did.  (And regression modeling is not a lanky woman who is sucking her thumb by the time she gets to the end of the catwalk.  Although that would be awesome.)

But, with the last week I am at my breaking point.  I had to work both weekend days and spend my nights catching up on missed work and I have not had time to sleep.  Or exercise.  Or pick my dirty clothes up off the floor.  And I have reached that state where I feel like I am going to short out.  I am one task-being-added-to-my-todo-list from ugly crying.  I wish I had a tolerance for more stuff being piled on and less sleep, but I don’t.  Because with school I have work and then even more work at the end of the day.

When I get like this, despite all my good therapy to find other ways to cope, I use food as a shortcut to stress reduction.  It is not healthy, but it works, at least short term.  I don’t have the capacity to pick something else from my toolbox – walking, sewing, listening to music.  I eat.  And I feel less stressed.  Until I think about everything I have eaten.

So after class today I was facing a huge pile of school work and work work.  AND I AM SOOOO TIRED.  I just want to sleep and cry and sleep and cry.  And then sleep.  But I can’t.  I have to work…  Sometimes the output sucks, but it is still being outputted.

It wasn’t dinner time, but I was hungry so I stopped and got a fairly nutritious dinner.  I got home and got out a plate.  Samich and soup.  I unwrapped the samich and then poured the soup onto the plate.  Yep, that’s what I did. Right before licking soup up off the kitchen floor, my dog looked at me as if to say “Srsly, bitch, just go to bed.”

So the new standard of frazzled:  forgetting what type of dish soup goes into.

But hell is shortlived… on Sunday I have no plans.  I can get caught up on my school work and work, and I am going to use the other things from my stress reduction toolkit – I may even do them all in one day.  We’ll see.

Professionals!

Long live professionals!  This thought became my mantra recently while my boobs were hanging out in a Nordstrom’s fitting room.

As you all know, I have fabulous boobs, obvs.  But I haven’t always worn the best bra for them.  When buying a bra I hold my breath, stick my hand in, and pick whatever looks right.  And if they aren’t right, I wear them anyway because I can’t stand bra shopping.  Sure, I have heard how a proper-fitting bra has turned peoples’ lives around, but I couldn’t possibly work with somebody to have a bra fitted because that would require me to be half-nekked in bright lights in front of somebody else.  And the long-lasting psychological damage for that other person made me feel preemptively guilty.

And then I realized that I am trying to like myself.  And seeing me half-nekked really isn’t as bad as, say, fighting a jungle war. See, liking myself.  So I made an appointment to have a bra fitting. 

And there were moments when I thought I was going to vomit as this adorable, sweet, teeny tiny girl shoehorned me into several different sizes of bras and then assessed the result.  But she was great – very kind, supportive (haha – pun!), and professional.

One of the luxuries I am allowing myself lately is relying on professionals – my doctor, my trainer, my therapist, and now my bra-fitter, to give me good advice, direction, and support.  It still is hard for me at times to keep going back to professionals because I don’t want them to be dissapointed in me for lack of progress.  But I keep going back – because we can’t do everything ourselves.

AND a proper-fitting bra has been transformative.  At times I regret getting rid of my Lady’s Maid a few years ago, because getting my bra on can be a daunting two-person task.  (My husband is contractually obligated to seeing me half-nekked, thankfully.)  But my clothes fit so much better, including clothes I have never worn before because they didn’t fit right.  And at the end of the day I am not fixated on taking my bra off.  I think having the proper support relieves the pain that an ill-fighting bra caused.