Tag Archives: health

28 Day Jumpstart ( Day 8)

fit girls

About a week and a half ago, I was messing around on Instagram (Sometimes I find myself scrounging around there when all the good stuff on Facebook has been exhausted) and somehow or another, I stumbled upon an entry about the Fitgirlsguide plan. Maybe I had seen it before, I don’t know. But on this particular day, I must have been especially bored, because I started searching all the tags for this program, and it must have been early in the morning, because after very little thought, I purchased the “starter kit” plan, the 28 day jumpstart. I generally only impulse buy very early in the morning, or, on rare occasions, late at night. Anyway, if you are curious about it, you can check it out here:

fitgirlsguide 28 day jumpstart

I downloaded the e-book, read through it, and thought “Hmm…I might actually be able to do this.” The more I read, the more I was convinced that this was something that would really help me- and trust me, my own best efforts were falling a little bit short- lose some of the weight I was so bummed out about carrying around. So, last Sunday, I went to the grocery store with my little grocery list (included with the plan) and I bought all the suggested items. I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of cheap “tupperware” (it’s early, I can’t think of another description except “plastic food container thingies”), and that night, I actually prepped my food.

Now, here I sit, a week later, and I want to tell you a little not-really-a-secret secret: It was actually pretty easy. And I lost a little over four pounds. In a week. Did I mention it was easy? I’m not sure how much about the plan I can actually reveal, as it IS a pay for the info kind of thing, but here is what it consists of- a healthy, yummy, easy to prepare, weekly menu. The aforementioned grocery lists. Daily home (no gym required) exercises. And lots of sound advice about attitude, drinking water, loving yourself, and having fun while changing your lifestyle, rather than viewing it as a horrible consequence of enjoying food.

Here is what I have learned in the past week:

  • I eat a LOT more often than I am hungry, just because there is food available. I snatch bites from my kids plates because it looks yummy, or finish their food because it’s there. I sample whatever is on the counter in the kitchen at work brought in to share. I eat when I am bored. I eat when people I am visiting with are eating. I eat because food tastes good and it is there. I was eating WAY more than I realized before.
  • It doesn’t take as long as I thought to prepare healthy meals for myself. As a matter of fact, if you have all of the ingredients on hand, it’s cheaper, faster, and leaves you feeling MUCH better than running to McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger.
  • I DO feel like an idiot working out on my living room floor, but much less so on day seven than I did on day one. And there is something very gratifying about knowing you are doing something about your weight, no matter how stupid you feel.
  • Not only was I eating much more than I realized, but my eating choices- even when I thought they were good- were much worse than I realized. I wasn’t eating the correct portions, and was allowing myself WAY too many extras. Hence, the reason I wasn’t losing weight the way I thought I should be.

Having said all of that, I will tell you a couple of other things that happened last week. One of them is that I didn’t follow the meal plan exactly- the first three days I was perfect with the food, but on day three, I was supposed to meal prep again, and I just didn’t want to. So, instead, I prepared either the exact meal, or a variation of that meal each day.  I made the shocking discovery that a sandwich can be absolutely fantastic without mayo! Who knew that? Not me. A little whole wheat pita with mashed avocado and turkey, onion and tomato? On POINT. So delicious.

I stayed with the basic ingredients I had purchased, I stayed within the basic portions recommended, I continued to track my calories on Myfitnesspal, and I did the exercises, every single day. Most days, I even did extra. And the results have been fantastic!

The only thing I found I could not, would not, did not want to do was this: I am not giving up the cream and sugar in my coffee. I tried it for one day, and all I can say is- Fuck that. No. So I compromised by drastically cutting back on coffee, adding only two tablespoons of fat free half and half per cup, and one tiny teaspoon of brown sugar. Because, lets be real here- I’m trying to be healthy, happy, and lose weight. Giving up my yummy coffee would not make me a happy girl.

So, that’s the scoop! The plan costs only about 25 bucks, and the groceries (for one person) have cost me about 70 dollars a week. This is a GREAT program for anyone who needs a little structure, and who is just learning about eating healthy, correct, portions and proper exercise circuits. I have learned more for this 25 bucks than I have learned in six months (and way, way more money) from my personal trainer at InShape. He and I are going to have a few words tonight!

Check it out, kids! I will post again about this next Monday. Have a great week!

Beautiful Human Machines

IMG_4083

I had intended to title this post “Stupid Human Bodies”, to be honest with you. I woke up this morning with only half of one nostril cooperating in my breathing effort. I have the kind of congestion that can be neither blown out, nor, uh…breathed in? I suppose the proper description would be “hocked up”, but that sounds so yucky, doesn’t it? Either way, if you are reading this, then you probably are saddled with one of these disease prone, periodically snot-addled, human contraptions we call “bodies” yourself, so I am sure you understand. The throbbing headache caused by sinuses that are malfunctioning- or is it hyperfunctioning? I am really unsure. The achy skin inflicted with fever. The goopy eyes, runny noses, dry, cracked lips. And this is only when we are dealing with the common fucking cold!

Don’t even get me started on the rest of the insulting things we must suffer through- the flaw in our design that put so many nerve endings in the places where we are most likely to ram them into things (think little pinky toes, my friend), the acne as teenagers (and adults), the metabolism that runs like a dream for so many years, only to leave us high and dry when our terrible eating habits are firmly ingrained in us…leaving us looking, bewildered, at the cellulite on our thighs and the rolls of blubber encircling our middles. Uncomfortably warm, permanent (seems like), hugs from the fat fairy. Yeah, life inside these bone and skin tents can be trying.

I was feeling all kinds of sorry for myself this morning, hobbling around with my achy, common-cold bones, hindered by my fat hug and the insurmountable mucus battle raging in my head…I was feeling whiny and bitchy and all kinds of pathetic. And then my daughter woke up. As you can see from the picture above, whatever is wrong with me is WAY less important than whatever the hell is going on with her. Yesterday, I thought she had a bug bite near her eye causing that swelling. Today, I am leaning more towards some type of cellulitis, perhaps conjunctivitis with a little something extra…I don’t know.

But it’s amazing, isn’t it, how quickly ones perspective can change? First of all, when I got out of “poor me” mode, and jumped into the impenetrable armor I call “Mommy Deluxe” (motto: don’t fuck with my kids, you hear?), my cold symptoms seemed to just float away. But, more importantly, I became acutely grateful for this wonderful machine that house our souls from day one through day…whatever you make it to. Because if this fancy contraption was not SO smart that it could send up distress signals you would need to blind to miss (ie: this eye is swollen even WORSE today, lady, so the Benadryl ain’t working! Help! Help!), how would I have known that something was seriously up with my kid? Answer: I wouldn’t have. I would not have known.

Our bodies are such precise and miraculous little systems. They are so complex, there are things even the most highly trained doctors, the most insanely educated scientists, are still mystified by. They protect us, they wage wars we often know nothing about, they suffer such abuses at our hands, and they still do their job, to the best of their ability, every single second of our lives. How cool is that? They find ways to communicate with us that we can understand, each body learning the language we will hear so that it can tell us how to help. And what do we do? We complain and whine, and get upset when things go wrong…Yet, how often are we grateful for all the many, many things that go right?

Today, I am going to stop whining, and appreciate this marvelous (if a little chubbier and snottier than I feel is totally necessary) temple that has been with me since the moment…no, since BEFORE the moment, even…I was born. Also, I am going to call the doctor for Cammy. That eye does not look good.

Have a beautiful day!

Back To Earth

back to earth

There are signs that I am improving; My internal clock is working again- I go to bed before most of the world, but I wake up before most of the world, too. I am crawling out of bed, pulling myself out of the tangle of sheets, blankets, children, dogs- before the sun has even thought about peeking its glowing face around my corner of the world. I am back to my routine of soaking in lavender scented baths every morning, thinking about nothing. Then, I like to wrap myself up in my robe and sit on my front porch with my coffee, listening and watching as the rest of the world wakes up. The lavender scented water that has gotten in my hair is freezing cold by now, and when it drips down the back of my neck, it feels really good- this robe does not breathe. I need a new one. Anyway, in between the sounds of early morning traffic, way down the hill, I can still hear the pounding of the surf, and the little birds that have made their home in my neighbors attic.

Another sign that I am improving? Yesterday, I bought a book. A real, paper and ink book, which I read this morning in the tub. I don’t read in my other state. And then, there is this, of course. That I am sitting here, writing this, is another sign. Yesterday, I went for a walk with my dogs, one of my children, and a good friend. I wasn’t trying to find anything, I didn’t bring home a pile of garbage and call it treasure. I just walked. Well, I did try to get a library card in a neighboring town…but they were on to me. Jeeze! You don’t return a few measly books thirteen years ago, and you are branded for life. I may never check out books on this peninsula again.

There are other signs (I just accidentally spelled signs “sighns”, how very ironic. Or is that ironic? well, whatever, how funny.) that I still have a ways to go…I don’t really feel like shaving my legs. I haven’t washed my face before bed in well over a week. I cry- like, a lot- about everything. Yesterday, I saw this harassed looking man, walking two dogs while shouting into his cell phone. Trailing behind him was the most sad faced little red headed boy, about four. I wanted to pull over and scream “Hang up your phone, and pay attention to your kid, asshole!” But I didn’t. I just cried the rest of my drive. I don’t enjoy this overly-tender state I am in. It makes wearing mascara treacherous. But this is what happens when I stuff all my feelings for…what, five months, this time? Yep.

So, the crying. The fact that, even after getting a no vote from friends on Facebook last night, I still went to pick up Camryn’s medicine from Rite Aid in my pajamas. I could have at least put on yoga pants. The worst part? They aren’t even cute pajamas- they are super old, faded, purple flannel with big coffee cups all over the legs. You can’t even pretend they are anything other than pajamas. I didn’t care. Well, until after I got there and realized they had screwed up the meds, and I would have to sit and wait for another fifteen minutes. Then I cared. Lesson learned, Universe.

I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like this. I’m tired of feeling like that. I just want to be okay. But I know I am getting there. Or hope that’s where this road leads. I suppose we shall see.

Only You Know The Truth

As you know, a while back, I began the messy process of falling apart. Now, I consider myself somewhat of an expert at this particular activity…only, this time, it was different. Usually, it takes some type of EVENT to start my little disaster a-rollin’, but in this case, nothing had outwardly changed. I still had beautiful, healthy children. I still had my home and my awesome job. I still had a roller-coaster of a relationship with the same guy I’d been riding along with for the past four years.

And yet…day by day, my misery mounted. My moods, at first, were mercurial and alarming, but eventually settled down into “horrible”. For a good while, I soldiered on, putting on my Stepford Wives face for work, then discarding it the minute I got home, locking myself in my room, snarling at anyone who interfered with whatever nonsense I was doing. I withdrew from EVERYONE who loved me, either because I didn’t feel like hearing whatever they had to say, or because I didn’t want to bring them down. I desperately wanted to get better, but I wouldn’t do any of the things I knew I needed to do to get there. I was tired of asking for help, and too stubborn to help myself. In short, it sucked. Bad.

One day, I woke up, and I just could not, under any circumstances, do it for one second more. I could not get up, get dressed, go to work, and pretend I was fine, while in my head I was terrified that, at any moment, I was literally going to run screaming from the hospital. I could not pretend I was fine, period. It was killing me.

So I hit my pause button- stopped everything dead in it’s tracks- and I went out on FMLA for mental health reasons. At the time, I felt like I was a full of shit liar, but HELLO! Why is it so hard to see our own dysfunction while we are in the midst of it? I was off my freaking rocker, and anyone who knows me can vouch for that.

I knew it was pretty bad when I told my mom that I had taken leave from work, and, rather than the scornful scolding I expected, she said “Oh, Thank God!” or something like that. I mean, she lives ten hours away, and she could see how ill I had become.

The first three weeks were not so good. I slept a lot, I ate a lot, I gave in to my depression. I spent a lot of time crying, and the rest of the time trying to figure out what I was going to do. Should I check myself in somewhere? Should I get the hell out of dodge? Should I just go back to bed? I thought I was just spinning my wheels, but I see now that I was doing something incredibly important. I was giving myself some time- a LOT of time- to breathe, to think, to grieve, to fall apart- with no pressure. I mean, what an incredible gift I gave myself…a long chain of days to just feel what I was feeling instead of fighting it and masking it and pretending I was fine.

In the midst of all this, my mom, who is the queen of practical gifts for your crisis (she once, when I was in my early thirties, sent me this package that I excitedly opened, only to find a case of laxative TEA. No shit. Pun intended.) sent me a book called “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. I had my doubts, but cracked it open anyway. Have you ever been completely lost in the middle of your own life and suddenly found the exact set of directions you needed to find your way home again? Well, this book was that thing for me. Or the first part of that thing, anyway. It described to me exactly where I was, exactly what was happening, and precisely how to deal with it. I am still reading it, weeks later, bit by bit, but every time I open it up, it assures me, yes, yes, what is happening now is what is supposed to be happening.

You see, apparently, the way I was living was so out of sync with who I truly am, that I was losing my mind. When you are doing what you think you are supposed to be doing ( in other words, what your mom and your boss and “society” thinks is correct) and it is in direct odds with what the REAL you, the one that wants to be a cross dressing ballroom dancer, lets say, NEEDS to do- it can make you do exactly what I did. You can bet your ass you are going to wake up one day and, though that good and obedient, people pleasing you will want to get up and go, go, go, happy to perpetuate the facade of happiness, the REAL you is going to refuse.

So, here I am. Doing what I am meant to do, which is write. I don’t care if I am writing MY truth, as I am in this blog, or writing the make believe story of a make believe person in a novel (which I have done, and will be doing again for nanowrimo, yay!). When I am doing THIS, I feel alive and excited. I feel like what I am saying is important and worthwhile, and I feel engaged and full of that fire that I cannot access any other way. For me, this is LIVING.  There is more to it, as well, but this post is getting REALLY long, so I will leave it at that.

What is it that you feel passionately about? What path does your heart long to follow? I want to hear your answers, even if you feel stupid and have never told another living soul. Please don’t wait until it goes to hell in a handbasket before you set yourself free. Can’t wait to hear from you!

5 Little Things

Well, hello.

You’ve probably all forgotten me, and I don’t blame you- it’s been a long time since I’ve sat down here with something to say. I need to apologize, I suppose, for my absence. There is this thing that people do when they are feeling incredibly bad, and sad, and miserable, and overwhelmed…it’s called isolating. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Anyway, I sort of had a  little nervous breakdown, took some time off work, and I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself. Work that did not include writing this blog, unfortunately.

The good news is, I am better. The great news is, every time I go through something like this, I learn more about myself and what I really need to do to keep myself well. I am lucky that I have lived a life that has afforded me the luxury of safely taking care of myself- a job that allowed me to take a couple of months off to get better- I know that is not the case for all the people I know ( some of whom could DESPERATELY use a little self help…or ANY help, for that matter.). The point is, I realize how blessed I am to be where I am and have a great employer who really does give a shit about their employees ( they were probably like “PLEASE, PLEASE GOD, let that girl request a LOA before we have to fire her!)

So, back to my point…what was it, again? Oh yeah! What I have learned this time about me, and about my happiness and mental well being is so simple that I have whittled it down to five little things, henceforth called :

The Five Commandments of Courtney:

  1. Thou shalt not imbibe ANY illegal narcotics, ever, for any reason, other than major surgery.
  2. Thou shalt go to bed when tired and get eight hours of sleep, or more, whenever possible. And it is usually possible, so thou shalt not make it into something harder than it is.
  3. Thou shalt eat good, healthy food.
  4. Thou shalt get off your lazy little butt and MOVE. Exercise is good for your mind, body and spirit.
  5. Thou shalt have a spiritual program of some sort.

That’s it. That right there is the recipe for happiness for me, and since I have been making sure to live by these rules, guess what? My life is completely okay. Alright, I feel a little embarrassed about it, but in all honesty, my life feels WONDERFUL again. I forgot that when I feel great, my life is automatically going to seem more manageable to me, and by default, will become a pleasure again. I forgot that when I feel like a giant ball of shit, everything in front of me is going to look like shit, too.

Life is really not supposed to suck all the time. If you find that yours does, you may need to do what I did, and take a look at what the problem is. Chances are it is going to be you, but don’t despair! That is GREAT news- because YOU are the only one YOU can change. So there’s hope.

If anyone even still subscribes to my blog, I’d love to hear what your “commandments” are. How do you live your life to stay happy? Was there ever a time in your life when it was so bad you had to make some serious inner (or outer) changes?  I can’t wait to hear- so I’ll obsessively be checking my stats all day again!

As Promised, Part 2

Hello again…So, this morning I was sharing the first part of something I wrote a few years ago about the end of my drug addiction (hahaha, some of us know that there is REALLY no end to drug addiction, but what I mean is, the end of that very loooong and grueling phase. I call it my twenties.), what it was like and how I felt. I think a lot of times we picture (and I include myself in this as well) drug addicts as unloved junkies and street people, low-life’s and thieves, “bad” people. A lot of times, they are those things. I certainly was. I knew how to behave myself when necessary, but it was hard to pull off a lot of the time. And anyone close to me at all could tell you that I was selfish, mean, manipulative and out for myself, period. I didn’t start out that way, and neither do most of the people that end up in the places addicts end up. We are somebody’s children. We have brothers, sisters, mom’s & dad’s. Friends who miss us, people who worry themselves sick over us, people we haven’t talked to in weeks, months, years. We have children who we lost or ruined or we can’t face. We are people who, in our sickness, walk around with a terrible loathing of ourselves because the only thing wrong with us is a thing we do to ourselves, a thing that is killing us, and we STILL can’t stop. We gave up our dreams, our lives, our health, our futures and we can feel our own lives slipping away, and we can’t just put it down. That’s all that I needed to do-just stop. But I couldn’t seem to do it. Here is the rest.

10/10

You cry for two months solid before you finally give up the fight, before you know with every cell in your body that you just cannot bear one more second of this perverse existence. You no longer even care what is on the other side of where you’re jumping, because it has to be better. Nothing could be worse than this. And so, you jump.

You expect to be bored, and to be boring. You expect to lose your edge, to feel uncool, to never have fun again. You expect to meet nerdy, boring men, get fat and live a mundane and unmentionable life. You believe you have had your fun. But you are so broken that you think that might be okay,  and so you go.

What you don’t expect is for your heart to break open like a flower that has finally found the sun. You have no way to prepare yourself for all the feelings that rush over you like friends who were desperately afraid you would never arrive. You feel full to the brim with hope and ripped in half by guilt, in turns, but you don’t use. It doesn’t even occur to you, for some miraculous reason. You have gotten a taste of something new, something heady, and mysterious, & beautiful, something that lets you rest for the first time in a million years. And you want more. Of course you want MORE!  You are you, after all, but still- this is something altogether different than anything you could have conceived.

The taste of food is like magic all of the sudden. The sun on your skin is to be relished, not escaped from. Your cheeks ache from laughing, your skin becomes rosy, your eyes are blue, and they sparkle. At night, you wrap your child as close as your arms will allow, and you are there with her through the night. You can’t believe how much you love sleeping, and you can’t believe how you fought against it for years, as if it were the enemy. When you wake up in the morning, you are excited about what the day will bring, and when this occurs to you, you press your face into your pillow and you cry. You cry because you forgot what it was like to feel excited about your life, to be glad to be alive, to have hope.  You forgot what it was like to be free, except that all along you had tricked yourself into thinking you were doing what you wanted, partying it up. Funny, not one memory from the past eleven years could match, could even come close, to this eager, happy, hopeful, brand-new feeling you had now. And all you did today so far was open your eyes.

Without realizing it, you have resumed your conversation with God, one that you had put on hold many years ago. It seems reasonable to you that God has been around the whole time, keeping his eye on you, and that it was your shame that kept you from facing Him. You knew what God had blessed you with, how much you were given, the ease with which you could have moved through life if you had chosen too. You had never really believed in sin, but if you did, then throwing away the gifts that God had bestowed on you at birth, that would be one.

God is cool, though. He understands more than he is given credit for, and he certainly has a better perspective. Maybe you were supposed to go through this, maybe it was a lesson. Maybe it was just a choice. Either way, it’s good to have God around again. So good, actually, that you make it a habit to talk to him daily.

Oh, but there’s more. You meet a guy, and he’s not really nerdy or boring, but he does treat you with respect and consideration. You do something totally out of character, and like him despite all of that.

He helps you navigate this new life, and he is exactly the right person at exactly the right time. There seems to be a lot of that going on lately. You get a real job, and keep it, and keep on keeping it, and you never once call in sick because you can’t bear the thought of facing another human being. You open a bank account- this simple act, nothing at all to most people, has you bursting with pride for days. You are surprised to find that people LIKE you, the REAL you,  almost everywhere you go. What’s more, you find yourself understanding why they do. You laugh easily and often, you are engaging and funny and confident. Why wouldn’t you be confident?If you could overcome THAT, well…the rest is just cake, right?

Hmm…so that is all I am going to share for now.  There is more, but that feels like a really good place to stop. I will decide later if I want to put the rest of it out there or not. Anyway, I hope you got something out of reading this, or at the very least, enjoyed it. I’ll be back soon!

Memory Lane in a BAD Neighborhood

Well, hello, strangers. I haven’t had a lot of time (or the inclination) to write much lately- life has been busy, and filled with a lot of stuff I don’t feel qualified to handle. Unfortunately, there IS no one else, so I don’t have a lot of choice. Work has been insanely busy and I’ve been trying to put in as much overtime as I can (as it turns out, that’s not a whole lot in my case), the little daughter has made it her mission in life to see how many times per day she can come perilously close to killing herself via a multitude of dangerous activities. The big daughter is also trying to get herself killed, only she, it is obvious, wants the old “suicide-by-mom” thing. She is the winner, this week, of the crazy making award. And also, my car is in the shop for a repair that is exorbitantly expensive for a thing that isn’t even freaking broken (timing belt). So I have been reliant on others to taxi me about since Tuesday. In other words, I’ve left my house ONCE.  So, because I’ve been sticking close to home and trying not to kill my children, I’ve had time to dive into the piles of crap I have squirreled away in boxes and bags in every nook and cranny of my home. I went through a small crate and large drawer that were crammed full of notebooks-everything I had written from 1993 forward.  I put my notebooks in chronological order, reading through each one, something I had never done before. What emerged, when taken altogether like that, was a really sad, really clear life story of a troubled, unhappy, desperate girl who has TERRIBLE taste in men. But there was some really great, hopeful stuff in there, too. That’s where I found what I’m posting today, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I stumbled across it the other day. It’s the story of how I felt when I finally got clean and got my life back. (written three years later around the time I relapsed…again…I must have been trying to remind myself of the truth). I am transcribing it word for word, so bear with the structure and the jumping of tenses-I never dreamed it would ever be seen by anyone but me.

10/2008

Today, it dawned on me that this mental beating I give myself every time I make this choice, it is exactly how I felt almost constantly for the 11 solid years I sacrificed to my addiction. Now, I say “almost constantly” because I do clearly recall having SOME fun, albeit bizarre, times in there. But I knew, I knew, I KNEW, as surely as I knew my own face, that I was doing myself a terrible disservice. The way that I kept on and kept on and kept on living that way, until finally it had been YEARS- I knew I was cheating myself, my mom, and my daughter. Just about every one who loved me, or who got sucked into the abyss that was my life, got the short end of the stick.

At some point, you realize you are using now JUST to stay two steps ahead of your own terrible reality sinking in. When you are already so weakened, so compromised, so ghostly, it is terrifying to entertain the thought of actually turning around & seeing the path of destruction you left in your wake. It’s just too, too much.

What I didn’t know then that I do know now, is that continuing to claw your way blindly and frantically ahead is not the answer. It is familiar, and how you do it, and strangely comfortable despite how it looks from the outside. When you are in the middle of  addiction, and it is YOUR horrible, bleak life, you are totally in your element. You know many other creatures just like you, in varying degrees, you have a language, a culture, a kind of code all your own, and you have lived in the shadows for so long that venturing outside of your tiny world causes you extreme discomfort. You no longer know how to interact properly with normal folks, you are too loud or too silent, too nervous, too shifty, too angry, too flippant, too self-involved to even notice how out of sync you are half the time. You get irrationally angry and immediately defensive when the slightest threat is even perceived. This is how you keep folks at bay, being short fused. People don’t press when they are afraid of what might set you off. You are moody and unhappy and you hate every single thing that there is, especially yourself. Except for your daughter. When you look at her, you hate yourself more than you even thought possible, but you love her in the deepest, most tender way. That love is like a weight on your back, only you can’t tell if it is making everything even harder, or if it is the sole thing keeping you planted on earth, or both. Maybe it’s both. But you look at that girl and your throat closes, and your eyes burn, and you can no longer escape the cloak of your despair.

Oh, I am so sorry, but I have to start work right now! There is more, and I will just make it a separate post later today. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this so far…it truly is that way when you are strung out for so long. It’s a nightmare, and you can’t even figure out what is wrong with you while it is happening to you. In case you ever wondered why “those people” are the way they are and do what they do. It’ s very sad. But it CAN get better, and if you check me out later, you can read the rest.

A Burdensome Personality

I feel sorry for my daughter, I really do. The older one, not so much the baby, yet- I’m hoping by the time she grows up a little bit, so will I have. I’m not holding my breath. You see, for some odd reason, I am genetically predisposed to foolishness…I only want to make people laugh, to be entertaining. What better audience than a few fourteen year old girls who have nothing better to do? I’m not going to go into specifics here, most of it is just too awful to write down, but the thing is, I can’t help it. Sometimes my daughter laughs, her friends ALWAYS do, but at some point she gets that desperate, pleading look in her eyes that says “MOM…please, stop.” Oh, if only I could. Like last night when I performed the entire song “Give it Away Now.” by the Chili Peppers for her and her best friend Matty in our very own kitchen. Yeah, cringe worthy, I know- but it happened so organically, and the baby LOVED it, and quite frankly, I couldn’t believe I could still remember all the words. Anyway, you try starting that song and stopping in the middle. It’s nearly impossible.

Anyway, this is a recurring theme in my life, this silly, uncalled for behavior. As a matter of fact, the only time I can think of when I haven’t been this way are the times when I was using, still. That crap just sucked the funny right out of me and replaced it with a whopping side of bitch. I couldn’t laugh if I wanted to, unless it was evilly, right in your face, after I had just broken your heart or stomped on your dreams…well, maybe I wasn’t that bad. Ok, I was, but it pains me to think of it. I think it’s much better to be funny.

As far back as I remember, I have wanted people to like me- not just like me, even, but adore me. It KILLS me when someone just happens not to, for no particular reason. Even if I can’t stand them, I really want them to like me. I have no idea if other people are like this or if I am just the only one who is uncool enough to admit it, but there it is. When I was a little girl growing up, there was a lot of tension and fighting and anger and always the threat of violence to come in our house (sorry mom), and because of that, I found it very important that people outside our home loved me. I found other kids to be too shifty and unpredictable, so I forged friendships with teachers and store clerks and neighbors and any other grown up I could get my self in front of. I’m lucky I wasn’t molested a billion times, now that I think about it. Anyway, I learned that if I was smart and if I had good manners, and if I engaged in conversation, I was accepted. This has served me well throughout my life.

I also learned about reading people- you can get a sense of what type of person you are dealing with by simply observing them for a moment. Trust me, there have been plenty of times when I didn’t do this and wished later that I had! I also have a habit of jumping straight into an interaction without pausing at all, and I have definitely embarrassed myself. Anyway, I don’t think there is anything wrong with sort of adjusting your personality settings to harmonize with someone else’s- I think everyone does this when they are able, until they can get to know someone a little more and reveal more of themselves. My point is that some of the habits I learned very early in life have continued to be a benefit to me even now, and I’m grateful- without them, I think I would be very hard to take sometimes.

At work, it’s an uphill battle some days…me, fighting with myself to stop talking, to focus, to   at least turn around and face my computer and make it look like I’m accomplishing something. In my office, I have sort of established myself as the “class clown”, and sometimes, (not all of the time, but it really does happen) I am honestly baited into conversations because of that. Sometimes, it’s even my boss who does it. I always tell them, when I’m being quiet, you should leave me alone, but no one listens…it’s incredibly hard for me to focus on the task at hand. Yeah, yeah, I know- sounds a lot like ADHD, right? Well, surprise, surprise- I was diagnosed with that years ago, now. Unfortunately, the only drugs that seem to work for me are the very drugs with which I seem to have a particular rapport. Even more unfortunately, I can’t get past the idea that the dosage instructions are just sort of loose, theoretical instructions, open for my interpretation. Which is why my doctor won’t let me have them anymore. Anyway, I have good days and bad days, and I make my boss laugh (even when she is trying very hard to be stern with me) so I guess that is good.

It weighs on me sometimes, though. I struggle in certain situations where I wish I could be more adult. I have had lots of times when I should have spoken up, corrected someone’s misunderstanding or let a person know the way they were talking to me was not okay. Now that I am really reflecting on it, most of those times were far in the past, so maybe that is just something that changes as you get older, but it has affected me, changed the way I think about myself. I am not always taken seriously, because I am funny. This does sort of make sense, but the thing is, I am not an idiot…just because I have a sense of humor doesn’t mean I have no brain. On the contrary, you would think it meant the opposite, if you  really mulled it over. I get flustered and frustrated pretty easily, too, and I have a really hard time not just controlling my emotions, but not allowing them to take over. I am an open book, my heart is on my sleeve, I am who I am.

Sometimes I really would like to be different. I keep waiting to feel like a grown up, but I never really do. Sometimes I think it would be great if I were more subtle or mysterious, able to keep my composure, play hard to get,…just be quiet every now and again. But I am none of those things. If I am being mysterious, I am up to no good. If I appear to be calm and composed, I would look out- I am probably experiencing the calm before the storm and I am about to totally lose my shit. If I am playing hard to get, I’m just not interested. And   if I am quiet, I am reading a book (and my mind is anything but quiet) or I am unconscious. This is just who I am.

Last time my mom was here visiting, I told her how I felt- that sometimes I wished I were more appropriate, less…me. She told me she often wished the same thing about herself, (which I found surprising as my mom always gives the impression that she is quite pleased with herself… 🙂 ) and that a good friend of hers once told her, “all that stuff you’d like to change about yourself is the very same stuff that makes people love YOU. You are different and funny and real, and that’s what sets you apart.” And I get that. I really do. Some days I exhaust myself and everyone around me with my gigantic, burdensome personality. It’s not always a blessing. But it does make my life more interesting, and it does help me meet a lot of people, and it certainly does start a lot of great conversations. Most of the time I would rather be me than anyone else in the world. Which is a good thing, because I suck at being anyone else. Now will someone please try to sell my daughter on this? And I promise, no more Chili Peppers.

Next time, it’s gonna be “Suck my Kiss.” I’m kidding, I’m kidding…geeze.

Routine Maintenance

Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of being sent for my first mammogram…although I am only 36, I had been having some increasing pain in my left breast- so much so that I finally went to the doctor to have it checked out. Mind you- living, as we do, in this wonderful age of Google and WebMD, I was already a complete basket case by the time I got there. I found myself waiting in my doctors exam room, in that thin, blue, paper “robe” they give you, fighting back tears, sure I was lugging around a boob full of stage IV cancer. I lay there on the exam table, fondling myself like a sixteen year old boy (only I was looking for lumps, thank you.)while salsa music played through the speakers in the ceiling, making me feel like I was in some bizarre indie movie. Right before my doctor came into the room, I found them- two small lumps I hadn’t been able to feel before.

She found them right away, too. Very cheerfully, I might add- “Oh, yep. There they are. Two lumps, here, and here!”  Gulp. “They feel cysty to me.” (I swear she said “cysty”).

“They don’t feel cancery?” Was my intelligent, well thought-out question to her.

“Nah. But let’s send you down for a mammo and get it checked out.”

Great! Which is how I found myself, a few days later, at the breast care center, in another room, in another robe, standing awkwardly in front of another overly-cheerful doctor type woman. I knew she was a different woman, however, as she had a German accent. And she was white, while my doctor is not. Why all the cheerfulness, I could not tell you, but I suppose it is to lighten the mood of what could become a very, very bad day.

Lucky for me, the worst part of the day ended up being the part where I had to stick my left breast into a machine that would then proceed to be turned on and used to squash that breast until it was approximately a foot and a half long. I am not shitting you, read this sentence back to yourself, replacing my breast with your own, and tell me it doesn’t sound ridiculous. It sounds more like a medieval torture device than cutting edge technology. Which must be why, looking down at my long, flat, left breast, I got the worse case of giggles I’ve had in a long time. So much so that the radiology technician also started laughing.

“What’s wrong?” She asked me, catching her breath.

“This is fucking hilarious!” I gasped, falling apart all over again. I really did say that. I have a problem maintaining my composure in frightening medical situations that are also, oddly, funny. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who has been around while I have had my babies.

So anyway, it turned out fine- whatever the “cysty” lumps were, they vanished  in the minutes just prior to my mammogram, making me look like a lunatic- which I was okay with, considering. But it did make me think about the stuff girls go through as part of the routine maintenance of being female. I’m not just talking about the medical stuff, although you would think that would be enough- the yearly subjecting of one’s vagina to a speculum, need I say more? While the men among us suffer through, what? The occasional fondling of balls by a hot nurse who asks them to turn their head and cough? Oh, brother. Must be tough. I’d like to see how well they’d fare with a glorified shoe horn in one of their orifices, being cranked open like an old garage door whose contents are about to be handled and examined. I bet there would be a shortage of gynecologists if men had our genitals- it would probably be a much riskier profession.

Having lived with a man for the past several years, and believing him to be fairly representative of your average, works-with-his-hands, every day guy, I gotta say- this is some bullshit. His grooming routine requires less than ten minutes of his entire day (not including showering or baths, which take so much time as to be a little suspicious. I don’t really want to know what he is doing in there.) He brushes his teeth, he combs his hair. If he can’t find a comb, he puts on a beanie. He puts on clean clothes. If there are no clean clothes, he sniffs the ones he thinks may be cleanest. He puts them on. That’s it. If he’s really trying to look snazzy, he may shave or put some gel in his hair and wear a button down shirt that he dead refuses to iron, so it looks like it has ruffles down the middle of his chest. No amount of pleading from me seems to make a difference, so I stopped trying. Let him wear ruffles, then. Whatever. Apparently, he’s secure in his manhood, right?

The stuff I need to do to my skin alone, before I even start putting on my make-up, takes me longer than his entire regimen in the morning. I bet you women spend a quarter of their lives devoted to their appearance- thinking about clothes, make-up, acne, fat, toenails, fingernails, eye brows, teeth whitening, underwear, hair cuts, beauty products, other women’s clothes, jackets, purses, make-up…it never really ends, does it? And that is just the thinking part. Don’t even get me started on the activities we actively engage in pursuing, maintaining, recapturing, correcting and still, never really achieving more than an evening at a time of feeling ENOUGH.

You know, I started this blog with the idea that I would do a bunch of different stuff (above and beyond all the crap I already do) to my face and my body in the hope of achieving a feeling of prettiness again, which I feel has been fading from my life lately. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, though, I have so enjoyed writing about other stuff, it has made me so happy, that I have started to FEEL really great again. Because I have felt so great, I am going out into the world with this light inside of me that people respond to like you wouldn’t believe. I am happy. And wouldn’t you know it, I had it all wrong- sure it’s nice to be beautiful, and every single woman in the world deserves to feel that way, to be that way, in the eyes of the people who matter most. But physical beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, anyway, and when it is me beholding myself in a mirror, I am always going to fall short, every single time- no matter how much time, money and effort I put into it. But should I catch sight of myself in the middle of what I am doing right now- sitting in my kitchen, in my jammies, with no make-up on and my hair in a pony-tail, I bet you I would think-“Whoa!” When I see the face of a woman passionately involved and enraptured by the thing before her. Or if I look at a picture I have of myself immediately after giving birth to my oldest daughter- the look on my face, that smile…

You know that saying, “beauty is only skin deep.”? I get what it means, but it leaves a lot unsaid. True beauty comes from a much deeper place, a place that may not exist for some of us until we are older. Which is why God makes young people so gorgeous, so that they have at least aesthetic beauty until they grow up a little and have actual value. Otherwise we would kill them. So if I have to age and get wrinkly and whatnot, at least I have this- the consolation that my true worth was never my appearance at all. Even if it means I have to stick my breasts into machines every once in a while.