Hey, sugar sugar.

It’s been far too long since I’ve written here.  Back in February, a friend mentioned that she missed reading my posts.  That touched me and stayed with me.

Life and my brain have blocked me…until now.   The last two years have been a wild ride.  I’ve gone far afield of much of my bucket list but there’s still been tremendous growth, change, and happiness.

There’s also been some incredibly (though thankfully temporarily) soul-crushing pain, more moving than I wanted to do in the span of two years (the count is up to 5!  Whooooo…..), and a lot of confusion and fear.

Through most of it, with a few months of notable exceptions, I turned to sugar.  It’s not good that I did that, I know.  It should be a giant fucking red flag that a) one’s immediate response to stress is CUPCAKE and b) upon eating that cupcake a palpable, physical feeling of release.  Like, whole body relaxing, unclenching, winding down.  I rarely get a sugar high like I used to when I was a kid.  I get a sugar calm.

Yes.

I know.  This is bad.

(Side story that will totally be in context in a moment.)

I can’t eat Reese’s peanut butter cups (or anything Reese’s).  Not only can I not eat Reese’s ANYTHING, I can not eat chocolate and peanut butter together.  You’re probably all, ¨WHA???¨  And I’m all, ¨INORITE?¨   Here’s what happened, in all the embarrassing glory.

My big sister was selling candy for choir when she was in high school.  I ADORED Reese’s peanut cups.  And suddenly, there were BOXES of them, cases of the best, most magical candy god and man even teamed up to make.  I swear, at that point in my life, I thought unicorns had something to do with their production because there was no way such a delectable candy could only be made by god and man.  All attempts to tell me that these were solely for my sister’s choir to raise money for them to go sing somewhere far away and it was very important that I stay away from the box and if I ate any mom and dad would have to pay for it so ask them first turned quickly into blahblahblahblah because seriously?  THERE WERE CASES OF REESE’S IN MY HOUSE.

Not only would I be the most popular kid in the world, throwing parties like a rap star, eating Reese’s on the deck of the pool while ladies dances around me and fed them to me, but I WOULD BE EATING REESE’S OMGALLTHETIME.

So stupid, stupid seven-year-old me stole a box.  Not only did stupid, stupid seven-year-old me steal a box, but she ate it.  All of it.  In the course of a weekend.

Remember that time a few paragraphs ago when I told you I can’t have chocolate and peanut butter together?  That shit’s been going on for THIRTY FUCKING YEARS now, ever since that wild weekend in the crawl space under my front porch when I was mainlining Reese’s.  And it set something up in me, and here’s where we dovetail back into the original post.

Sometimes, if I want to give up a type of food, I overdose on it and then won’t eat it anymore.  Perfectly healthy, right?

(Please don’t all hit me at once.  I may be a masochist, but I also don’t want to be knocked unconscious.)

Well, over the course of the last two years, I’ve gone in cycles of knowing I need to eat healthier and trying various ways to periods of eating sugar because fuck it, I can’t keep going on this stressed and unhappy and right now is All The Stress.

And sometimes when I try to get over the sugar addiction, I eat a LOT of it and then magically, for a few days or so, I won’t want any. Which is enough momentum to ride through the initial cravings and helped me give up sugar for a little about two months last year.  Go me!

However, it didn’t last.

But it’s entirely possible, and scary if so, that my body has come to a lifelong point of my having eaten far more sugar than I should’ve. Because now?  Now I haven’t binged on anything and I still have to think, HARD, about where to get my sugar fix when things are stressful.  Cupcakes are tasting too sweet.  Candy just makes me nauseous. Ice cream leaves me feeling cold. (HA!  No, but really…) I bought unsweetened yogurt the other day because my body wanted it more than all the other flavors.  So this is just a weird place to be.  Who knows if it’ll last, but I think I’m being told that enough is enough.  It’s time to figure out how to cope with life without sugar. This oughtta be interesting…

Advertisements

“There’s a light in the darkness of everybody’s life.”

When I allow myself to see it, feel it, experience it…I can see that light. It’s just not always easy. Or apparent. Or easy.

On September 15th, just over a month ago, I started streamlining out overt processed sugar from my diet. Within the first two weeks, I had two mixed drinks after a burlesque show packed an unexpected from-left-field emotional whallop, a slice of pie, and a chocolate chip cookie sandwich glitter bomb. (Side note: what the FUCK is up with dousing baked goods in glitter? Why would that make you want to eat it? It makes it look like a prom dress, a burlesquers backside, or five year old’s craft party. Not appetizing. The cookie sandwich, however, tasted amazing. Of course, I was vibrating for about six hours after I ate it…but it’s all good.)

Anyway, I’ve been keeping at it. A few weeks ago, I went to my favorite bakery because they just so happen to have the best quiche I’ve ever had in my life. I got some delicious cajun quiche for lunch and walked out without a single craving for a cupcake, cookie, or baked anything. The one time I did get a morning glory muffin (when I went back the following week for my once a week treat-quiche) someone in my house ate it before I could. 😦 Sad. It was sweetened with honey, and had no gluten. I think whomever ate probably didn’t get what they were expecting. The treat-quiches have stopped. Didn’t go this week or last week because I can’t afford it now that I have my own place. Which I am slowly getting more excited about and used to. My landlord/roommate keeps to himself mostly, goes out of town every other weekend, and has been fairly nice lending me a mini fridge, a/c (which, yes, I’m still using knee deep into Oct-fucking-tober…), and tiny TV. Sometime this week, he’s gonna put a loveseat up here so I have somewhere besides my bed to sit.

Part of me is now wishing I hadn’t left so much behind with my divorce from my husband and wife. Things like a toaster oven or microwave (that my family bought for us as wedding presents, I might add) would be nice right now. It’s stupid, but I really miss the balloon wine glasses we got as an engagement present. They were so round. The Kitchen Aid Mixer. That I REALLY miss. The food processor. The crock pot. It’s funny what a difference those things would make to me now. And how, last week, I found myself in Walmart, walking by the housewares section going, “I used to have that and man I wish I still did…and that, and that…” It was a sad time. Having my period a week early also threw me into an emotional tizzy. Now that that’s past and my hormones are more orderly, part of me still misses those things but recognizes the ability and opportunity to start over. It’ll take some time. Especially on my current salary. Working three part time jobs still only makes just enough to pay rent and have $40 a week for food and $40 a week for gas. Not a lot of wiggle room to get things like crockpots or microwaves. But! My sister has a microwave she got that she’s going to give me. And not having a lot of money means I can’t buy a lot of food which means I can’t -eat- a lot of food. The upside to that? I’m down 15 pounds since July 2013 and a grand total of 24 pounds since November 2012. (And I’ll admit it..technically, it’s close to 30 pounds since April 2013…between March and April of 2013, I put on a bit in a short time.) The part I’m happiest is that it’s been consistently going down. Sure I have spurts here and there where it bounces a few pounds up. But then it evens out and drops again. It helps that I work out at least 4 hours a week. And I’m drinking more water.

This is going all over the place but mostly I just want to record the fact that I’m gradually losing weight, feeling better, and am finding the light in my life. And that I’m lucky to have some incredible people on the journey with me to point me towards the light when I’ve lost my way in the darkness.

“I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)”

So, what do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about where you’ll be sleeping in a month, concerned that you don’t make enough money to move out on your own, plagued with conflicting thoughts about your marriage and what to do about it, reeling from family opinions telling you you’re not mature enough, berating yourself for not doing more than you are even though you’ve pretty much packed your schedule tighter than a duck’s ass, still mourning the loss of people you love and thought would be in your life forever, head swimming from the sermon your minister gave today about how fragmented we’ve become, wondering if you’ll ever find a place where you felt like you fit in as much as you did when you first found Rocky Horror or started a burlesque troupe, missing the Northeast yet feeling a slow, spreading love for the South, questioning your ever-evolving ideas about polyamory vs. monogamy vs. open relationships vs. dear-god-please-just-hold-me? Wait…you don’t eat half a bag of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips? But…

It’s not a habit, it’s cool; I feel alive.
If you don’t have it you’re on the other side.
I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)

It’s over now, I’m cold, alone.
I’m just a person on my own.
-“Not An Addict” by K’s Choice

Yeah. I’m totally an addict. A sugar addict. I fought the label for years. Justified it. Hid it. Beat myself up over it. Lied about it. Spent money I didn’t have to get a “fix”. However, comparatively speaking, it is cheaper (in the short run) than antidepressants.

Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m addicted because there used to be such a steady stream of sugar into my system that I didn’t pay much attention to it. That’s just the way it was. Grab a doughnut (or two, if you order the special at Dunkin’…plus coffee, light and sweet) for breakfast (because eating something is better than eating nothing, right? Justification much? Anyway.). Have a soda with lunch. Pile on the salad dressing. Eat some cookies as a snack. Dip (and dip and dip and dippity dip) the chicken in BBQ sauce for dinner. Nom upon a cupcake for dessert. Enjoy girly “adult beverages” while late night TV-bonding with your sister. There was a time this was a pretty accurate snapshot of my daily sugar intake.

Currently, I don’t do nearly as much of these things on a daily basis. I’ve weaned myself off soda and sweet tea, and rarely do coffee drinks anymore. I try to steer away from doughnuts for breakfast even though my niece is a terrible, horrible person for telling me about the local place that makes them just like Krispy Kreme. I have an “adult beverage” 1-2 nights per week. I tend to enjoy my salads with far less dressing these days, and most times will do the “dip the fork in the dressing then spear pieces of veggies” rather than slather.

Modifications are good. That and the 4-5 paid hours of exercise a week I get these days have helped save me from ballooning to an even unhealthier weight. But let’s face it. I’m already at an unhealthy weight. Sure, some of the things I’ve told people over the years are perfectly true. When I was younger, I was in tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, musical theatre, and modern dance. Not to mention the fact that I rode my bike or roller skated everywhere and if I wasn’t doing that, I could usually be found at the park running around or in my or a friend’s pool. I was hella active and as such, I’m much more limber and strong than I look. I still dance and love to teach water aerobics and can kick ass when taking an aqua zumba class. On the rare occasion that someone wants to know my weight (and I tell them), they are generally surprised. They knew, of course, that I am overweight. They just didn’t think it was that much. Someone once told me that I carried myself so well that no one would ever know I had self esteem issues about my body, nor what I really weighed.

It’s great to know glamour spells still work sometimes.

Underneath it? Fairly toned, fairly strong (and getting stronger every time I work out), fairly obese, fairly addicted to sugar to even me out. Fairly scared to show my naked body to anyone. In the past, people I thought were supposed to love me and accept me said some fairly hurtful things about my body. That’s hard to get past. Even as I know there are people who’ve expressed appreciation for my body, ranging from my husband to the date I had who wanted to know my thoughts on going to a nude beach (My answer: not favorable, thanks. I mean, I don’t have a problem with other people being nude, I just don’t have enough self confidence in my own body to do it. Also? I hate beaches in general. Now skinny dipping in a pool with the right people…I might could get my head around that some day. But I digress.)

As I’ve said above, I’ve tried to gradually decrease my sugar intake, especially as I’ve been doing more research and reading lately (including starting to read the book called Deep Nutrition: Why Our Genes Need Traditional Food by Catharine Shanaham, M.D. and Luke Shanahan that a dear friend bought me a few months ago) about sugar and healthier diets.

Speaking of, how’s this for mind-blowing? As a woman, I’m supposed to only have up to 25g of sugar a day. That’s 6 teaspoons. The bag of chocolate chips I’m all-too-quickly making my bitch? 220g of sugar per bag. If I’ve eaten half of it (Fine. More than half by now. Shut the fuck up.), that’s at least 110g of sugar just for that one snack. FOUR TIMES the amount I should have. And that’s not counting the mostly healthy fruit smoothie I had (because natural sugars count, too), the salad dressing I had on my chef’s salad for dinner, or the cherry lemonade I had with lunch.

Seriously, my name is Genevieve and I’m a sugar addict.

One of my favorite authors said in her book Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer:

“To whom the fat rolls…I’m tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can’t possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don’t find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don’t matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn’t simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I’ve learned I have to make changes so I don’t, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?” -Jen Lancaster (last sentence emphasis is mine.)

I closer to 40 than 30 these days, and while I can barely afford to keep myself afloat without living on my own so I definitely can’t afford a pedicure (although I never thought I’d like them as much as it turns out I do!), I still need to worry about losing limbs to adult onset diabetus. (Which, btw, I used to think was just a comical way of saying it but living in the South I’ve learned that people really pronounce it that way.)

Because really…I’m addicted. I get shakey when I haven’t had sugar in a few hours. I physically and emotionally relax when I eat chocolately goodness. Within the first bite. It doesn’t matter how much I love vegetables and fruit if I eat more sugar than I do fruits and veggies. If I eschew an apple in favor of a brownie sandwich at Taco Bell. If I almost finish an entire fucking bag of chocolate chips in a 12 hour period.

Thankfully, I know what I need to do. I’ve done it before. Quite simply, stop. Cease eating processed sugar in the obvious snack/drink/dessert forms. Then start cutting out the hidden sugars like sauces/dressings/prepared foods/white starches and carbs. It’s going to be hard. Especially living where I do. I love my sister’s house, but there are at least 4 different kinds of white bread in the house at all times, not to mention the adult beverages, ready supply of chocolate, clearance baked goods, pasta, and impressive array of delicious sauces. Yes, I recognize these things as the excuses they are. No one is force feeding me any of these things. However, it is a slightly easier to begin a new dietary regime when the people around you do as well to limit temptation. But again, that doesn’t make the poor choices I’ve been making anyone’s fault but my own. There was part of me that was waiting until I moved out to really attack my addiction head on. I had dreams of leafy greens and bowls of fruit, nary a processed granule of sugar anywhere in the vicinity of my enlightened abode. Which basically boils down to buying into the “Arrival Syndrome” of “I’ll be able to do this once all the conditions are right. I’ll be happier and healthier when things are exactly as I want them, some time in the nebulous future.” Bullshit. If I’m going to make it happen, I need to just fucking make it happen. I’ve got to learn how to handle myself when it seems like everyone in a ten foot radius of me is mainlining sugar. How to make healthier choices regularly, instinctively and not just after a binge. How to put on my healthy girl panties and stop letting “well, my family made pasta for dinner so I just have to eat that” be an excuse and cook my own damn food if I need to. (And suck it up and deal with the fact that yes, I’m creating more dishes for myself. Bright side: whooo, more standing and movement is better than sitting on my ass!)

So it’s going to come down to picking a day and just doing it. Like I said, I’ve done it before. On October 1st, 2010 I threw myself into paleo. Gave up sugar (except for a once a week “treat”) and cut wheat from my diet. I did it successfully for many months and lost a little bit of weight. Not nearly as much as I thought I would’ve, though. I have to keep in mind that I’m also fighting with my thyroid and PCOS. But those can’t be used as excuses for why I can’t get healthier. They need to be further incentives.

I know it’s coming soon. It has to. Because there are things I want to do that I can’t right now: jump into the arms of someone I love and wrap my legs around his/her waist, be fucked up against a wall, shop in “normal” stores where clothes are less expensive, and be a good role model for the kids I still distantly hope to have one day. Also, at some point, I will be able to afford (or be treated to) pedicures regularly, and goddamnit, I want to have both my feet so I can get both of ’em painted up pretty.

Okay. Fine. Saying it’s coming soon isn’t changing anything. Saying I have to isn’t doing it. So. September 15th, 2013. That is the day. I will change my life, my eating habits, and make consistently healthier choices. It’s about fucking time to, once again, Go For It, Genevieve.

Being a better person, lobster love, and connecting more dots

Lobster-love-print-newdayprints

Nifty image from newdayprints on Etsy. Check them out. They’ve got hundreds of cool, affordable, unique prints. This lobster, however, is sold out.  I was sad, too.

Cracked.com is known for its incisive, edgy, and trademark snarkiness. Right now, this particular article detailing “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person” has knocked me for a loop.

Because they are kinda harsh.  And they are true.  (And really funny once your ego understands that it’s about to get a kick in the ass.)  Here are the aforementioned 6 Harsh Truths, though you really need to read the article to fully understand the awesome that is Cracked.com.

  • #6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You
  • #5. The Hippies Were Wrong
  • #4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People
  • #3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything
  • #2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do
  • #1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement

It’s about action.  Connecting dots in life.  And what impedes action.  And how you need to find a way to connect the damn dots anyway.

A few days ago, I reviewed the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  In it, there’s a precept/theme that one should always be a little kinder than is necessary.

Because kindness is something you do.  Sitting down and eating lunch with someone who’s eating alone.  Calling a friend when you know they’re going through a rough spot. Giving leftovers to a homeless person. Contributing to a food bank.

Love is also something you do.  And I’m not talking about sex.  I’m talking about the activities, day in and day out, that make a relationship work.  While it’s nice and necessary to have dreams and ideals in a relationship, they only happen if you work towards them every day.  As a friend astutely observed, “we march towards dreams in the day to day. ”

Or, to put it in a less poetic way, I was chatting with another friend recently about how much my impending divorce hurt, because I love my husband.  My friend replied with, “I love lobster.  It doesn’t put a lobster dinner on the table.”

That packed a punch.  I had been shelling out the old adage “sometimes love isn’t enough” but not fully comprehending why.  Because of lobster, that’s why.  Because you can love something, but love alone doesn’t make a relationship.

Or, if you prefer more a more poetic, musical rendition, check out Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra’s music video to “The Bed Song”:

The same goes for friendships…minus the bed.  (sometimes.) Lately I’ve been ruminating about friends I’ve drifted away from.  There are various reasons I could attribute it to: geography, differing interests, some are exes and that can get awkward, unresolved fights, trust issues, growing apart.  But really, it boils down to the fact that we’re not doing.  The friends I’ve drifted away from, when looked at it one on one between each friend and I…neither of us are actively being a friend.  Facebook likes don’t count as much as I thought they did.  Hell, Facebook comments don’t count as much as I thought they did.  They’re all just little offshoots of a bigger part of trying.  Actual contact.  Directly writing to, talking to, spending time with another person.  I’m going to try and change what I can and see if any of those friendships can be salvaged. Because these people I’ve lost touch with…they’ve connected many dots in my life.  We’ve shared incredible things that I still remember and cherish the memories of.  And perhaps all I’ll have left of those friendships is the memories, but I won’t know if new experiences and memories can be had if I don’t try.

In her amazing keynote address given at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace” conference (transcript and video can be found here on her blog), Amanda Palmer talks both about connecting dots and what makes someone a writer.

i asked my twitter feed last night if there were any writers out there, and, it being a friday night, there were thousands ready and waiting.

and i asked: WHAT makes you feel like an actual writer? was there a moment. answer however you want. and hundreds of responses flooded in, and i looked for themes. some people said”

“when i first got paid”
“when i first got published”
“when i got my first real review”

…but a LOT of people said:

“when somebody told me that my writing moved them. that was the moment.”

some of these people wrote blogs, some wrote books, all different styles…the format didn’t matter.

what mattered is that they’d moved another human being. nobody said they felt authenticated when they got their first negative blog comment, or bad review. (well there was one girl who said that her boyfriend insulted her for calling herself a writer because she never spent any time writing. so she quit her job and started writing. that was a happy ending, more or less….)

but mostly: we’re strengthened by those who nod at the dots that we connect.

And she sums it up nicely when she says, “if you’re putting down words to connect the dots, you’re a writer.”

So here I am trying to connect my own dots.  Trying to be a better person, writer, lover, friend.  I know the first time I wrote something where I had unsolicited, unknown to me people comment and say that I touched them with my writing, I felt amazing.  When a random audience member I’d never met before told me they were moved by my singing or dancing or acting or directing, I was on top of the world.  Not necessarily because of the praise, because a fire gets lit under me when someone criticizes me, too.  No, it’s the fact that when I created something and someone reacted, we connected.  Dots were connected, people were connected.  It was like a hug, but without the physical proximity.  It transcended miles, time, race.

Yes, there are times, like the Cracked articles says, everything inside me fights improvement.  And there are times I succumb to that vortex of sucktastic self pity.  And then there are other times, like today after reading the article, I went upstairs, did some dishes, threw in a load of laundry, ate a good meal, and then came back down here and started writing.

Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was a heart of stone?

Beneath the white fire of the moon
Love’s wings are broken all too soon.
We never learn.
Hurt together, hurt alone.
Don’t you sometimes wish your heart was a heart of stone?

“Heart of Stone” -Cher

Sometimes, yes. Most times, no. It’s been really fucking hard, lately. I know the problem isn’t love itself. The problem comes with what people do do with it, in the name of it, despite it.

Right now, all I can do is focus on setting my life back on a better path. I don’t know yet what all’s going to be on that path, but learning to surrender to that unknown is part of the endeavor. On Thursday, I told my husband I needed some time to myself and I came up with a week and a half. He said it seemed awfully specific and asked what was going on.

Nothing’s “going on”.

Everything’s going on.

I need to figure out my place in it all. A few people have told me to take some time to myself. Days, weeks, months. The time lines vary from person to person. My therapist was the one who simply suggested that perhaps some time (unspecific) without interacting with my husband might help my head and heart from spinning. So I can figure out what I need, want, feel. I chose a week and a half because I needed more time than a weekend, more than a week. Sometimes it’s hard not to talk to him, sometimes it’s easier. I have much to think through, and life keeps going on.

My sister and I went for a belated birthday present spa morning yesterday. There was this scalp massage with coconut oil and a facial. It was nice to be pampered. My neck is still in knots, as I tend to hold a lot of tension there, but my head, hair, and face looked and felt splendid. We finished it up with a trip to the bakery for a small treat and then out to lunch. After a nap, my brother-in-law proved once again how awesome he is and breathed new life into an old computer of his for me, so I have a computer in my room now! Joy and rapture! After getting that set up, the family and I went out for Mexican dinner wherein me and margarita got very well acquainted. Four times. My head protested when I walked from the truck to my room afterward, but I was still able to continue and carry on a conversation with a dear friend. Bringing him through some finer details of the last few months and years of my life that he wasn’t aware of. Sharing perspective. It was good and helpful to articulate some of it. Some of it hurt like hell. Made me feel like a goddamned fool.

I fight that feeling a lot lately. My aunt telling me not to waste time doesn’t help. Feeling pressured to make a decision doesn’t help. What helps is being gentle with myself, which is what my friend advised me from the beginning of this whole painful chapter of life. So I’m working on that. Reading. Writing. Reaching out to people as I’m able to. It’s yielded fairly good results, so far. I had an amazing conversation with a choir friend about life and relationships and stupid pink hazes that women get into relationships in. A student in one of my water fitness classes gave me info for a writing contest and some neat sites for odd jobs and freelancing stuff. My choir director has proven himself fan-friggin-tastic over and over, but the best thing yet was how he handled the way I completely fucked up my part in the trio at the Spring MusicFest.

Cause, man. I fucked it up. But part of the problem was that we weren’t given our starting pitches, which my choir director apologized for later. But from that bad beginning, I just couldn’t get it on track and wound up singing the tenor part, an octave higher. Not the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t the melody, which is what I was supposed to have. I felt like such an incompetent idiot afterward, and emailed my choir director that afternoon to apologize. It was my sister’s birthday, and she was kind enough to come to the concert, but afterward, I didn’t want to sulk through her day. Mentally, I was kicking the hell out of myself while also trying to keep perspective. Even professional singers fuck up, right? I finally let it go after much feeling, yet again, like a fool. A day or so later, my choir director sends a note to the choir praising us for the job we did. But he didn’t ignore mistakes. Here’s part of what he said:

Our performance Sunday was extraordinary. No, it wasn’t perfect. That’s not the goal. Music done right touches people. We created that connection on a very high level. The buzz we created was electric. Karen told me she went out to lunch after our performance and ran into a woman who regularly attends COR. Her enthusiasm and pride were effervescent. That church pride is important. We know we worked hard to reach this level and we earned that personal pride, but to be recognized as an asset worthy of our community pride is something that has meaning for me. Great job.

I’m so glad to be be part of this choir. 🙂

There’s a lot I’m grateful for, being here. The lake, the choir, the church, my family and friends (both the ones who’re here and the ones back in Jersey who love and support me), the Y, my therapist, books, this computer I’m typing on, opportunities to grow.

Now I just need to steer myself forward, continually. I’ve begun writing lists of things I need and want to do. Like sun salutations in the morning. Sleeping more regularly, which will come when I feel less stressed. Exercising more, which I’m doing pretty well at so far. Eating better, which I’m also doing better at. I have my occasional unwise choices, but who doesn’t? The thing to focus on is making better choices more consistently and not beating myself up when I make a poor choice. Developing a deeper connection to my spirituality. Streamlining and simplifying my life. Putting out positive energy through thought, action, and speech. Writing on a daily basis. There are some writing competitions that I feel I should enter, so I’m working on that. Getting a job or many regular freelance jobs so I can get out my sister’s by October.

Heal. That’s a big one.

Because my heart, no matter how much I wish it were sometimes, is not made of stone. And it’s wings have been mangled. It’s bruised and sad and sometimes hopeless that it will ever heal and be happy again. I try to reassure it, but then Amanda Palmer’s song “Astronaut” comes whirling into my head:

Is it enough to have some love?
Small enough to slip inside the cracks.
The pieces don’t fit together so good
with all the breaking and all the gluing back.

Even so, someone said or I read recently that the cracks in a broken heart are what allows the light to shine through. I wish I could remember where or who that came from, but at least the sentiment has stuck with me. Which means right now, I’m taking some time to be gentle with myself. I’m going to play some music, light a few candles in my soul, and create a beautiful new mosaic from the pieces of my heart.

A post of many things

Over the past few weeks, life has gone from fairly regular and mostly slow-paced to full of changes made at what feels like lightning speed.

There have been many times I’ve caught myself assessing and reviewing all these recent changes, my feelings about them, the concerns and excitement involved, the future implications, my ever-evolving opinions and thinking, “man, I need to write this shit down.”  However, because things have been going so damned fast, I haven’t had much time to sit and write.  Any down time I’ve had has been put to sleeping (which I’m not doing nearly enough of these days) or visiting with family or talking on the phone with loved ones.

But now, here I am, with some time…and every time so far today that I’ve tried to start writing…there’s just been this wall.  Of nothing.  I think I’m overwhelmed.  Probably still tired, even though I had a lovely nap.

After five minutes of sitting here for the third time today, trying to write and coming up with nothing, I decided to start writing about that.  Best advice, after all, that I’d ever gotten about getting through writer’s block was write something.  Anything.  Even if it’s goddammit i hate this this writer’s block sucks i had all these great ideas and now they’re gone.

By following this, there’s now four paragraphs more than I had before, which is nifty.  Ideas are starting to flow, which is even niftier.

A few things that’ve happened over the past few weeks:

  • I got certified in CPR for the Professional Rescuer.  Picked up some other certifications, too.
  • Many, many family members from my brother-in-law’s family came from many states to celebrate his 60th birthday.  LOTS of work for the resulting parties, but SO worth it.
  • Contacts and opportunities have presented themselves for various speaking/teaching gigs.
  • Watched someone I know play high stakes craps…and win.  Lots and lots of money.  It was very far outside my realm of experience and more than surreal.  As was the dinner he treated us to that cost more than what I used to make in a month.
  • I bought a plane ticket to go to NJ for two weeks.
  • Reached an agreement with my soon-to-be ex-husband and then signed and sent back the divorce papers.  Cried.  A lot.
  • Met new friends.
  • Received my first flu shot.
  • Cancelled plans (which I hate to do) because I caught myself in the process of overextending and wearing my ass out.
  • Have been thinking a lot about my boundaries, the kind of relationship I want and how poly or openness plays in to that
  • I’ve gained and lost the same damn three pounds.  I’m exercising a lot more now, but I have yet to get my eating habits fully under control.  Still working on it.
  • Thyroid still out of whack.
  • Realized I really want a fucking iPhone.  I’m a little shocked myself.
  • Got tested for STDs.  Passed.

Basically, I’m pushing past fears every chance I can get, reaching out to people more and more to meet new friends and also strengthen existing relationships, and generally operating out of my comfort zone.

One thing I’m so glad for, moving down here like I did, was how much closer my sister and I have gotten.  It’s so nice to be able to support each other in person, on a day to day basis.  We’re here for each other’s ups and downs, to act as sounding boards and proofreaders, back scratchers and pinch hitter massage therapists.  We’ve shared clothes, sat talking and crying, made food for each other, went shopping, cleaned, and relaxed.  I’m so grateful that she’s my sister and my friend, and having her in my court means the world to me.

I think that’s probably an overarching theme lately.  Gratitude.  With a bunch of wonder, anxiety, exhaustion, and enjoyment thrown in.  This isn’t the life I envisioned having at 35, but it’s still a damn good one.

Quotable guidance.

This started as a short post on my Spark People account, because a quote inspired me.  But it apparently opened Pandora’s box in my brain, which flowed out through my fingers.  I’m profoundly grateful for that.  Since it touched on so much of what I’m struggling with and finally beginning to see my way through, I thought it was good to repost with some minor changes here.

“What screws us up most is the picture in our head of how it was supposed to be.”

Well…if that don’t just sum up much of the pain I’m in right now, I don’t know what does.

My niece just shared that quote with me from a friend of hers and it just…settled somewhere in a still-broken, hard-healing place.

Most of the time, I put forth a great front of acceptance – with my body, with my relationships (ebbing as they mostly are right now), with where my life in general is, with my eating habits. “Don’t look back; you’re not going that way” is one of my favorite quotes that I recently came across. I try to live it. I try to keep on truckin’. But there’s still this part of my brain, my heart that’s all “but it wasn’t supposed to be this way…”

And then the quote from “Despereaux” comes back to me: “Nevertheless. It is.”

It is. This is what I have. This is what has happened. In some shape and form, this is what I’ve helped create my life to be. And by constantly, sometimes subconsciously, falling back on the “but…” I’m hampering my own damn efforts to move forward and live a fulfilling, happy life. This limiting line of thinking pushes the locus of control outside of me and onto some external flaw in fate. Really, it’s my own damn hamartia and I need to fix it.

On a related note, a friend recently posted another quote on FB that hit home:

“The difference between dreams and reality is discipline.”

Pinterest agrees, but with different, though still poignant words:

“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most.”

Personal discipline has long been a struggle for me. Ever since I was a child, I had trouble limiting myself and my parents didn’t set a good example, nor did they use any method of consistent discipline. Eventually, my babysitter realized I wasn’t washing my face or brushing my teeth at all so she taught me to do that. I was probably seven or so. I didn’t learn manners until I was in my teens and by then it was a battle. Food was such a weird thing. I had the quintessential grandparents who forced food in our mouths from the second we walked in the door to visit, no matter if we were hungry or not, but I also had family who was constantly worried about my “baby fat” becoming real fat. I was never shown what good eating and exercising habits were; I only knew I was doing something wrong when I was told I was doing it “too much/little.” However, I was never told where the line was between “too much/little” and “just right.”

And my role models were less than stellar: my father still exists on a diet of (per day, 10-20 cups of) tea, 3-4 Entenmenn’s donuts, a burger or friend chicken, and peppermint hard candies. After work, he used to add LOTS of liquid bread.

My mother was gone by the time I have most of my formative memories, and by the time I moved back in with her in my mid-teens, the damage was already done. And the term “comfort food” became a staple in our house to heal the pain we were both trying to heal from, thus adding to the damage.

Truly, I’m not trying to blame all this on my parents. But as I watch my great nieces on a regular basis and am actively involved in teaching them manners, healthy eating habits, exercising, hydration, pronunciation, the pitfalls of consumerism…I realize how involved and important parenting is, and right from the start. I’ve also read a few articles lately talking about how addictions are learned very early on, as is self-esteem, self-respect, and so many important traits that we NEED to grow up well adjusted and above all healthy.

So, instead of saying that it was my parent’s fault that I’m fat or that I lack discipline, I acknowledge that I wasn’t given good foundation to build a healthy, stable home in myself. That doesn’t mean all is lost. But it does mean I’ve got to stop whining that the foundation is cracked beyond repair and how unfair that is.  It’s time to tear the fucker down and start over.

In my brain, in pretty much all of our brains and hearts, I think, there’s a voice that says: I was supposed to have the perfect, loving, helpful parents. My marriage was supposed to be amazing, stable, sexy, loving, and last forever. I’m not supposed to be this fat. I should’ve “made something” out of myself. Add your own; I’m almost certain we all fight this voice at one time or another.

The work begins now where I have to erase that tape that keeps playing in my head and deal with the reality of Here and Now.

Reality tells me many negative things:
I’m overweight. Yes, I have medical issues at work, but in reality, it’s also the fact that I think somehow eating a slice of cake AND a cupcake bigger than my head is a good life choice. Because I’m depressed. This is not disciplined.

I’m out of shape. Prior to joining the Y and starting to work my ass off, I hadn’t seriously danced or been active on a regular basis in 15 years. Yes, I danced with my burlesque troupe fairly a few times a month, but that so does not make a disciplined and healthy exercise routine. The past two weeks or so, I fell off the wagon HARD.

I’m getting divorced. The divorce papers came and all the momentum and positive self worth I’d been building up crashed to hell around me. My marriage wasn’t “supposed to” end like this. It wasn’t supposed to end at all. And it was made clear to me that my personality was no longer liked, nor was my body. So what did it matter? Clearly I’m not to be cared about so why not just go for quick, easy fixes to the pain. Because the pain? It hurts a whole lot more than I was ready for.

I’m unemployed. Social worth is very often derived from your value and accomplishments as a worker. Why else would my sister be literally working herself to possible death at a job that is making her very sick? Why else would we choose to spend so much time away from our families at jobs that keep demanding more and more and giving us less and less? Why is what we make and what we do the mark of who we are? Why is being a workaholic touted as not only acceptable, but a goal worth reaching for?

I don’t have children yet. Even though I really, really want them and thought I was going to start having them this year.

What’s happening now is my brain and my heart are mourning what was “supposed to” have been. The “dream I dreamed in time gone by” that life killed. That is a pretty depressing thought to get stuck on. Which means I have to work my ass off to not stop there. As John Lennon and other people said (attribution is muddy) “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.”

It’s time to work for some new dreams. Which is scary…both to let go of the old and also to try and figure out what to do next. But I’m supremely fortunate and I really MUST continue to remember that.

I live in a beautiful house on a freakin’ lake. I’m surrounded by family that loves and supports me. Though I’m further from them now, I still have a bevvy of friends who also love and support me. I may not have children, but I get to exercise my maternal muscles taking care of my nieces on a fairly regular basis. I’m making new friends and connections and will find a new job and purpose in life. Getting divorced has opened me up to bring healthier, happier love into my life.  I’m a member of a wonderful church and YMCA to exercise both my spirit and body. My sister helped make it possible for both of us to partake in the new Loser Takes It All challenge at the Y. 8 weeks of exercising, personal training, and seminars on how to make your life healthier. With prizes!

Now I need to go forth and tackle some things that I’ve been avoiding because they didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. It’s gonna suck a bit, but it’s going to be worth it. Feel free to quote me.