Beach Bodies

It’s been unusually warm early this year.  After spending around 30 minutes criticizing myself while trying on different beach wear, I spent a day on the water.  Body image was top of mind as I observed bodies around that afternoon.

There were guys present but I didn’t notice them as much as the fellow females.  Lots of bikinis.  I was able to criticize and compliment every single lady around.  Even the hot ones had stretch marks and/or cellulite dimples somewhere if I looked for them.  At the same time, everyone had some mark of beauty.  This exercise helped reinforce the fact that no one is without fault and body image is all about what thoughts about myself I choose to feed.

I have extra skin that likely isn’t going to shrink any further.  When I think about having surgery to address that, I ask myself “what are you hoping to accomplish?”.  The answer I come to is after a lot of physical pain and expense, I’ll end up with a slightly different set of “faults” (scares, etc) from the procedure(s).  What I ultimately want is to feel good about myself and I can do that right now just by focusing on the positive instead of the negative.

I’m not other women.  I am me.  I have the body I earned through years of abuse and more recently attention to self care.  Every stretch mark, every wrinkle, is a mark of where I’ve been to get me here.

The women I admire most are comfortable in their own skin.  Their love and grace radiates out of their pores and they are beautiful. That’s what I want.

Let’s all resolve to LOVE OURSELVES AS WE ARE and make the world a better place because of it!

From my heart to yours,

thanks for reading

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Stop Man Bashing

I have some great guy friends who are currently unattached.  I have some great gal pals who are currently unattached.  Both are sides are looking for life partners but they aren’t together.  Do you know why?

Man bashing…

Good men stay away from women who man bash.  Hence, man bashing women only get with jerks who give them more to bash about.

Society has done something very terrible to the male gender.  It’s told them than men shouldn’t express their feelings.  Because of this, they end up being unable to explain how they truly feel, unable to be vulnerable enough to truly connect with someone else.  If they are able to do so, they are often attacked for being “weak”.

The answer to female inequality is not man bashing.  Putting a man down isn’t going to raise any woman any higher.

I propose that each of us try unconditional love on for size.  Look beyond skin deep.  Respect yourself, respect others, and don’t settle for anyone who doesn’t respect you back.  Spend time listening to the little voice of desire inside and ask for what you want, without expectation that you’re always going to get it.

Do what you’re interested in, be yourself, and other people with the same interests will show up.  I promise.

 

Overcoming Relationship Conflict

It’s much easier to see a symptom of a problem then to identify the actual root cause.

When my husband and I got together, we both sat around, a lot.  About 3 years into our marriage, he supported me in getting a personal trainer, losing weight and getting in shape.  The symptom that popped up was I was working out regularly, he wasn’t, and we weren’t taking time to do anything else together.  In my mind, I thought the solution would be to get him to workout.  When he didn’t want to, it hurt my feelings.

I love my husband.  Very much.  More than words.  We fit together well and, honestly, he’s much more cuddly than boys with buff bods.  Although it might be nice if we had the same workout routines, it’s also wonderful to have a cheerleader, a captain, an admirer, who loves me no matter what.  There’s no pressure on me to continue or any competition between us.  Fitness is my hobby and he supports me in that.

It took a little bit of counseling and soul searching to realize what I really wanted was time with him.  I wanted him to invite me to do things that didn’t involve the couch.  It didn’t have to be what I was already doing (going to the gym) but I wanted it to be something.  A few walks and easy paced bike rides flip the bill. As does a few nights out listening to live music with friends.

I am grateful that instead of letting something eat away at me and resentments building indefinitely, we were able to work through this together.  I am glad that I didn’t just pretend I could let it go because it wasn’t going away.  I didn’t attack him but I let my feelings be known.  I’m glad that my husband works on himself as hard as I work on me.

From my heart to yours,

Thanks for listening

 

If I’m not my thoughts, what am I?

My husband and I recently started seeing a marriage counselor.  We don’t want just a marriage, we want a GREAT marriage.  There were some warning signs of trouble that surfaced and we decided to face them while they were small.

In the last session my husband and I had with our counselor, I remembered how hard it used to be to identify what I want.  I remember the first counselor I ever saw asking me “How are you?” and all I could do was tell him about my friend’s problems, my husband, my son, my parents, my cat, my job… While describing how impossible my family’s belief system was, he asked me “What kind of Jehovah Witness do you want to be?”.  I had nothing to say.  My mind, usually quick with responses, was utterly blank.  This was a forgein concept.  I hadn’t given myself permission to be anything just because it’s who I wanted to be.  The people I was drawn to were artists, musicians, writers, philosophical thinkers…  All things I had denied myself because they weren’t appreciated by those closest to me at the time.  It blew my mind this fellow was suggesting I could do anything “my way”.

I felt messed up, defective, and wanted a set of steps, tasks, to check off a list to get an “A” in recovery.  He suggested turning my life over to God.  He said, if I did, I would be in for a wild ride.  As he nodded and smiled at me, I saw peace.  What I was doing wasn’t working, I was completely miserable to my core and I couldn’t even answer the simplest questions of “How are you?” and “What do you want?”.  So, I opened my heart and I gave some new concepts a spin around the block.

Fast forward 7 years… I stopped overeating June 4, 2009.  At that time, I’d had around 3 years practicing “letting go and letting God” seeking “progress not perfection” and attempting to just “be”.  My cat had gone from being dangerously overweight to a healthy weight just by me measuring his food and not feeding him every time he meowed.  My vet told me it was like a person going from 200lbs down to 150lbs (I was around 200lbs at the time).  There was an upscale gym with lots of beautiful people working out on the skywalk level near work.  I had often walked by and wished I could be “good enough” to be one of those people.

July 10, 2009, I walked in that fancy gym and asked for a tour.  The manager gave me one and made an appointment to meet with my husband and me the following day.  During our appointment, the manager asked me a set of questions about eating, exercise and family history.  To my horror, he showed me that on my current path, I was biologically 10 YEARS older than my chronological age.  A decade. Double digits.  He showed me I could lose 30lbs and go from high risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes to low risk or… I could die approximately 10 years earlier, my choice.

I surrendered right then and there.  I asked for help and I did what my trainer said to do.  I went from one small meal to the next, one day at a time, sticking to the plan (With some initial resistance as my first trainer, now friend, can tell you!).  As results came and I talked through roadblocks with the trainer, good habits got easier.  I was honest with myself, shared my struggles, and worked to develop plans to succeed in situations I knew were going to be difficult.  As I approached my goal weight, I refused to beat myself up about my choices.  I learned I am more than my thoughts.

Fast forward to this week.  The marriage counselor shared another client had said to him “if I’m not my thoughts, what I am I?” and he confessed he didn’t have a good answer.  I knew the answer but I didn’t have words.  I had only a picture in my mind which I drew right then and there in the office.  It was powerful enough, I couldn’t keep from letting it out right away.

I see myself as a semi-transparent cylinder with forms reaching above and below.  There are thoughts, temptations, desires, that flutter about but that isn’t really me.  I am centered. I am whole.  I am connected.  Nothing nor anyone can ever take that from me because it is “me”.  Thoughts are just thoughts, feelings are just feelings, my center can decide what to do about them.

Growing is not comfortable.  I believe there’s always an answer, usually several to choose from, and have peace in my heart that what I need will present itself if I remain open to it.  I’m not perfect. I’m practicing being okay knowing that.

Overcoming the Devil

Today, with a group of friends better than I could ever ask for, I completed my first sprint triathlon:  8 laps in the pool, 9.55 mile bike and 3.1 mile run.  I placed 9th in women overall.  I made good time, injury free.  Happy day!

While I’m basking in the joy of completing the event, the devil comes in and he says:

  • Look at those fat rolls.
  • Your hair looks awfully thin in those photos.
  • You aren’t as pretty as her.
  • Your teeth are crooked.
  • Your face looks chubby.

Get behind me Satan!

I will not listen to you!  The truth is:

  • That fat gave me energy and endurance to do this.
  • I just finished a race, who the #$%* cares?  And if they do, they are very shallow.  My hair is on my head just how it’s supposed to be.
  • She’s pretty and I am enjoying looking at her.
  • My teeth work just fine and I’m very glad they are still in my mouth!
  • My face is mine, just how it’s supposed to be.

Beyond that, I did it!  My friends did it!  My husband and soul sister were cheering me on!  I showed up and I did well!

I am loved, people really love me.  That’s a lot to celebrate right there.  That is enough.  I will soak in the joy and excitement of this moment.  My own thoughts are certainly not going to stop me…

Big time victories today!  The race was one, kicking the devil to the curb was even greater.

Please do the same!

From my heart to yours, thank you for reading.

The Thing About Insanity

The thing about insanity is it’s insane.  You can’t make sense of it.  I’ve finally stopped trying to.

My son played trombone in the school’s spring concert tonight.  On a whim, I emailed the information about the event to my mom last week, figuring she’d ignore it but felt it was the right thing for me to do.  To my surprise, my parents came.  They didn’t really look me in the eye or exchange more than a few words with me but they were there.  They did the best they could.  They are victims of a completely insane belief system that they are in so deep, they can no longer clearly see which way is up.

As much as I wish my parents could be actively in my life, I realize that I am better off if they are not due to their current state.  I have to spend some serious energy psyching myself up, reminding myself they don’t have power over me, whenever there’s a chance I’ll interact with them.  They love me, I know they do.  I love them, I know I do.  My life rocks their world, shakes their belief system to the core, because I’m BETTER OFF out than in.  That’s uncomfortable for them and as my husband says “denial takes a lot of work”.

When you don’t want to see something, you have to push away people and stay away from situations that make you aware.  I can’t make them see.  I can’t make them free.  All I can do is live my life the best way I can and be loving no matter what.

Authentic love is the most powerful force in the world.  At times, it can make even extremely crazy people regular humans.

For those of you that heard my pleas for comfort via cyberspace tonight and responded with your loving support, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

 

 

Blessing of Autism

Once I’m on the other side of a struggle, it’s a lot easier to see it as a positive experience.  In the middle of it, it can feel completely and utterly hopeless.

Today I write thinking about mothers of newly diagnosed toddlers.  I remember going to an autism support group, crying through the whole meeting and getting several knowing “ooh, you’re newly diagnosed” comments.  At the time, I was like “what difference does that make?!”.  It does make a difference.

Now that my son is becoming successful in many areas and the challenges aren’t nearly so obvious, I’m thinking back to some good decisions I felt I made. When he was a toddler, all I thought about were the things I did wrong like: I didn’t read to him enough (never mind he wouldn’t sit still and “reading” sessions were more scream fests than pleasant interactions); I didn’t eat well enough when pregnant (never mind I was 19 and trying to adjust to a new marriage that was already rocky and getting through college); I didn’t spend enough time talking to him (never mind I was trying to be a stay at home mom with supplementary income to pay our bills); the list went on…

After the initial slap of having all my worst fears confirmed by professionals who seemed to know less about the disorder than I did, I stopped viewing my son as broken.  I started seeing him as a little person with needs, different needs than many other kids his age but no less worthy of having them met.  I was fearful he’d never pass for “normal” but learned to see that as a gift instead of a curse.  I prepped every educator and therapist on his ability to memorize the order of flash cards and test their boundaries.  If you let him get away with getting on top of the table and running around the room humming when doing therapy, he’d do it EVERY TIME.

I insisted that anyone working with him:

  1. not ask him a question unless he had a choice in the answer (don’t say “do you need a kleenex?”, say “you need a kleenex, wipe your nose”)
  2. if you asked him a question, insist on him giving an answer and respect whatever he said (see first request)
  3. if you wouldn’t accept a behavior in a “normal” kid, don’t accept it from him but give him the tools he needs to be successful
  4. model/teach him how to ask for what he needs (if he needs to have a “free to stim” break, LET HIM HAVE IT when he asks for a break).

Today, I see the blessing in our journey so far together.  In many ways, my son freed me from the bonds of social mores and performance based self-worth.  He made the life I have now possible and I am eternally grateful for that!

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.  My son, who’s almost 13 now, bought me a JCP gift card with his own money and talked me into buying flowers for myself (from him).  He’s 5’2″ these days and I remember holding him in my arms when he was first born, wondering how he ever fit inside me.

When he was a toddler, I shed many, many, many tears worried that my baby would never be able to have a meaningful conversation with me, let alone ever know what it feels like to get an A.  He wasn’t putting words together like other kids his age and spent all his free time running in circles or banging into the wall.  Thinking about his bleak future took me to a place so sad that I learned you can’t actually die from grief, but it sure feels like you can for a bit.

We went for a 20 mile bike ride together with my husband and his parents today.  It was a perfect day:  breezy but not too windy, around 70 degrees, sunny.  We rode past freshly planted soybeans, through the woods, along a creek.  Due to our group trip, I was going slower than my normal training pace.  I just felt the breeze and reflected on what motherhood means to me.

My son is growing up fast.  It’s so easy to get caught up in: wash your hands, brush your teeth, remember to flush, eat your breakfast, get dressed, let’s go, repeat… that I forget to soak in who he is.  It’s easy to get so worried about what everyone else thinks, I forget to notice what my son thinks.  Heck, a lot of times, I don’t even know what I think, I’m just trying to get through the next obligation.

Today, I had dear friends text me well wishes for Mother’s Day.  A couple of them almost made me cry tears of joy.  My son is going to be okay.  I don’t know exactly what he’s going to be or what his answers are going to look like but I have faith he’ll get it all figured out in his time.  I’m blessed to be a part of it.  I’m grateful for those early days of struggle, they made me stronger.

I’m looking forward to watching it all unfold and aim to keep my eyes open through it all.

I hope you had a splendid Mother’s Day!

 

If it looks like a goose…

I’m fascinated by bird imprinting.  The concept that within the first few hours of life, birds attach themselves to whatever moving object/being they see and are loyal to that being no matter what.  Naturally, it’s usually the mother they bond with but geese don’t recognize themselves as geese if imprinted to a human.

While having a lot of downtime at the baseball park today, I opened my email to find a message (a heartfelt comment about this blog and I opted not to make it public) from the first man who ever loved me and realized I’m a goose.  I always thought of myself as more of a dog person (responds well to praise and positive reinforcement/conditioning exercises) but, in fact, I am more like a goose.

I have love in my life now; I have great friends.  However, no one ever will replace the first man or first woman I ever loved who, for some unknown reason, were not my father and mother as they are for most people.  It doesn’t matter that I have very little in common on the surface with either of those individuals today nor does it matter I wish not to have any romantic involvement with either of them.  They are in my heart forever and no matter how much time passes between our talks, I never love them any less.  It pains me in the center of my chest to think that either of them are in some kind of trouble.  I recognize I am powerless to change it if they are.

One of my favorite poems of all time came to mind today, I’d like to share it with you now:

The Oak and the Rose

“An oak tree and a rosebush grew,
Young and green together,
Talking the talk of growing things-
Wind and water and weather.
And while the rosebush sweetly bloomed
The oak tree grew so high
That now it spoke of newer things-
Eagles, mountain peaks and sky.
“I guess you think you’re pretty great,”
The rose was heard to cry,
Screaming as loud as it possibly could
To the treetop in the sky.
“And now you have no time for flower talk,
Now that you’ve grown so tall.”
“It’s not so much that I’ve grown,” said the tree,
“It’s just that you’ve stayed so small.”
― Shel Silverstein

The Power of “I can by…”

When I was a kid, my mom would often say “can’t never did nothin'”.

She’s right.

Whenever I catch myself falling prey to the “I can’ts”, I challenge myself to counter with “I can by…”.  Sometimes what it takes isn’t the choice I want to make so I still may end up not doing it, but it’s not because I “can’t”.

You can do anything you put your heart and mind to!  Believe that.  Own that. Visualize what you want, even if you don’t have a clear picture of it at first or any idea how it could be possible.

The life I have now is BETTER than the life I yearned for growing up.  People and experiences are coming my way that I never thought possible.  I wake up in the morning and think “I love my life!”.  I hope you feel the same way!

If not, know that it’s possible for you too!  All you have to do is clear the clutter of your mind and put your heart’s desire out into the world, open to whatever opportunities come your way.  Embrace the process.  When you recognize negative thoughts come in (e.g. judging what little progress you’ve made or where you’re not…), bat them away, clear them out, immediately, and replace them with something positive (e.g. I’m making progress, I’m grateful for…, FAIL=First Attempt At Learning).

Be grateful for where you are at every moment because it’s the stage for the next great thing to come your way!