I’m still here


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No real progress to report on the “don’t be such a slug and eat something green and leafy every once in a while, would you?” front.

I’m too tired to care, it hurts when I go for a walk, I don’t feel like eating well or exercising – pick your favorite and I’ve used them all, over and over, for the last, well, forever. Something must change, perhaps even something small, so that I can start to move the puzzle pieces around and try to get them in the proper configuration. What to do, what to do?

 

A post almost 45 years in the making


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I told myself I’d write something here every day for a week but I forgot to write yesterday, so I guess I’m a failure and I’ll just throw this whole blogging thing out. Or maybe I’ll just write twice today to make up for missing yesterday. Perfection, perfection, perfection: nothing but 100% perfect is OK.

Sounds crazy, right? But that’s precisely what I’ve been thinking since I remembered that I hadn’t blogged last night before bed. It’s such an ingrained part of me, the need to be perfect at all times, that the insanity of it all takes a while to filter through all of the dysfunctional parts of my brain. After a tea latte this morning and some time spent wandering aimlessly around FitBloggin – surrounded by excited, happy people jumping around and shrieking with joy while Zumba-ing, mind you! – I finally remembered how unhappy I become when I shoot for 100% perfection. I mean, really and truly, the chances of being 100% perfect for the rest of my life are slim and none so why do I do this to myself?

I think it might be part of a bigger craziness whereby I think that if I can make myself perfect in every way except this poor, abused body I wander around with, then I’ll be acceptable. I can’t even remember when it started, the desire to be perfect, to never do anything bad or wrong, but it’s so much a part of me now that I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s why I spend a fortune on my hair and clothes and shoes and purses and jewelry and everything else that I can make perfect: I can buy perfection for material things but my perfect body can’t be bought, it has to be earned.

Perfect newborn daisy

Perfect newborn daisy by Mukumbura, on Flickr

I don’t have the perfect plan for how to get from here to healthy but at least I know how I won’t make it happen. No more quest for diet and exercise perfection for this girl – this isn’t a race and there are no medals for finishing quickly but the rewards for treating my body with love and kindness again will be tremendous.

Self revelatory


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“I’ve had a revelation,” I leaned over to tell Shauna. “Go on then,” she said in her supportive way. “I don’t want to be overweight any more,” I said calmly. “Not in a crazy or self-hating sort of way, I just think I’m finished with the unhealthy food. And maybe I’ll move around a little bit, too.”

Find a better way – ANY way!

I have no delusions that it will be that easy and that the weight will magically fall off – although wouldn’t it be nice if it did? – it’s more of a quiet but determined feeling deep inside that the time of abusing my body with crappy food, burying my feelings with inappropriate eating, and just generally sitting on the sidelines of life while the world passes me by because my body is so stiff and sore from lack of use needs to be behind me.

I’m not banging the drum here, people, just hoping to live into my fifties.

Moving


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We spent this weekend first driving to Davis (about 500 miles north of us) on Friday, then packing her things into Timmy the Prius, then bringing everything home. She’s coming home for a year to work and go to school while saving some money so that she can go back to the University of California at Davis without having to worry about paying her rent. It was a tough weekend for her, I think, because it felt a little like a failure instead of just a temporary retreat; I understand that feeling all too well.

Road Trip! by -Snugg-, on Flickr

Anxiety and the obsession with perfection can lead us to think that anything less than the top spot on the podium – like the Olympic reference? I’m already starting on my withdrawals! – is failure. It’s all or nothing, literally. Those who have been reading my blog for a while will certainly recognize that theme since it’s been woven through nearly everything I’ve written since 2003. My treatment options since then, however, have been totally focused on my accompanying depression, which has certainly had a huge effect on my enjoyment of life, and it’s only been very recently that a new therapist started talking to me about the effect my anxiety and perfectionism on my life.

As it turns out, the perfectionism is just a coping mechanism or outlet for my extreme anxiety. Since learning this, I’ve been working at recognizing when I feel compelled to run around straightening my already-clean house up and then digging for what’s really going on; it’s been enlightening. Most of the time, it’s just me internalizing things that are totally unrelated to me or pinning motivations on other people’s actions – “they hate me” – that I have no justification for. Once I call myself out on that junk, the accompanying anxiety quickly dissipates.

We’re all adjusting to the new normal around here – the 20 year old trying to make all of her worldly possessions fit into her tiny bedroom, Mick & I breathing deeply and remembering that it’s going to take time for her to unpack everything – and it’s a great opportunity to flex my new (mental health) muscles. This, too, shall pass, and none of it is specifically directed at me. Sometimes, life is just complicated because it’s complicated, and we just need to breathe our way through it.

The times they are a-changin’


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There is so much going on and yet I’m never here writing about it.

It’s tough to be as open and raw as I’ve been in the past because I’m trying to broaden the audience for this site but that, ironically, seems to be sapping me of any interest in coming here to write. (Can’t really welcome new visitors when my last post is over two weeks old.) I’m working on overcoming the resistance and we’ll see what transpires.

In the meantime, I’ve made some breakthroughs in dealing with my control and anxiety issues. A therapist gave me some cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to use when I’m triggered so that I can challenge the disordered thinking before I go off the deep end. It helps a lot for the low level anxiety/control/panic incidents and at least brings me back to myself faster in case of a major attack. It’s tough to describe how debilitating these episodes are and how destructive to my relationships with family – particularly the husband and daughter – so any relief is very welcome.

Something that certainly wasn’t helping the anxiety level around here was my constant fear that I was going to receive a poor performance review and possibly be laid off from work. Ironically, a week before my performance review was scheduled, my division laid off over 130 employees and I wasn’t one of them. All of that worry – months of it, to be honest – and they not only kept me but I received a good, solid review.

After I dealt with my grief at losing so many colleagues – I knew most of them very, very well – and then the guilt about why I was kept while other talented folks weren’t, I realized that my anxiety-fueled (and misplaced) paranoia was sapping the joy out of every part of my life, not just my personal/home life but also work. I resolved to make changes and I have done so.

It’s important that I be in better shape financially in case the day does come when my name is on that list. To that end, I’ve sold some stock and will use most of my annual bonus, too, to pay down my credit card debt. If I can get it down to 30% or less of my maximum credit limit then the payments will be really small and I can make some major headway toward becoming debt free. I’ve also started transferring $50 per paycheck directly into my savings account so that I can begin building a six month safety net, just in case.

In addition to paying down debt and building my savings, I’m also investigating ways to make a little more money. To that end, I’ve begun investigating the possibility of becoming a stylist with Stella & Dot. I love their jewelry, I have a lot of friends – both online and off – who love jewelry, too, and the start up costs are really pretty reasonable. I would do most of my sales online just because setting up parties seems sort of out of date with the times but I would certainly be open to that possibility, too. Best of all, I’d have to wear gorgeous jewelry all the time in order to generate interest from friends, co-workers, and total strangers at the coffee shop (don’t laugh, it happens to me all the time with my jewelry and accessories!) so my samples would also be my personal jewelry stash – how cool is that?

Finally, I’ve signed on with Passionfruit Ads to offer paid sponsorships on the sidebar of this site. The rates are crazy low because this isn’t a “big time blog”, but it’s a way to make income while still maintaining control of the content (I have to approve each site or company that submits an ad request so nothing will appear on the site that is out of line with my beliefs and the “vibe” for the site). If you want to check it out, go to my Sponsor Me page where I’ve got everything laid out already.

I’d love feedback on the changes both here and offline. Do you know anyone who is a stylist for Stella & Dot or Thirty One or Avon or some other part-time sales gig? How about ad sales: anyone making any money from them? Tips and tricks for boosting your savings and paying down credit cards? I await your wisdom!

Who do you think I am?


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I have a picture in my head of who I am, what I stand for, and what my writing voice sounds like. (I don’t have a very good picture of what I actually look like, though, because I picture myself being a normal size, not 100 pounds overweight.) In my head, I’m passionate, a dreamer, and ambitious. I want to write well about topics that are important to me and to others like me. I have an active imagination – you may have noticed that it sometimes gets me in trouble. And I want what I do, what I say, and who I am to make a difference in the world.

Blissdom helped me see myself as I am and
as I want to be

In his wonderful e-book (which I am reading at the moment), You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins talks about the need to define your brand as a writer. He suggests that you come up with three adjectives to describe yourself and then ask readers to do the same for you. By doing this, you get a sense of whether you are making the impression that you want or if what you are presenting through your blog is not aligned properly with your own perceptions.

So I come to you today with a request: will you tell me which three adjectives you would choose to describe the way you see me through this blog? Consider the topics I choose, my word choice, whether or not I appear credible to you, and even the design and title of this blog. Also, if you’ve met me in real life, do I seem to be the same online as off?

I want to write well and I want to be authentic, so please be as brutally honest as possible. I thank you in advance for your help

Buying more, doing less


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It occurred to me, as I was stuffing laundry into my state-of-the-art washing machine earlier this week, that I do almost nothing around the house. When I think about my grandmothers – both of them, really, but particularly my mother’s mother who lived in England – and what they had to do to take care of their homes and their families, I am a complete slacker in comparison. This is not in and of itself a bad or good thing, but I believe that it has had a negative effect on my level of connection and commitment to the rest of my life.

Examples:

1. I do not clean my house, I have a cleaning service that comes in every other week and dusts, vacuums, changes sheets, mops floors, cleans bathrooms, takes all of the trash to the garbage can in the garage, and puts new bin liners in all of the trash cans throughout the house. If I forget to put one of our dirty dishes in the dishwasher – another example of a chore I do not do! – then the cleaning people wash that item, too.

2. I do not iron my or my husband’s clothes, everything that needs ironing goes to the cleaners to be laundered and ironed.

3. I do not cook. Every single meal that my husband I eat is cooked by a restaurant, picked up at a fast food establishment, or a microwaveable dinner picked up at a store. Every single meal. I never, ever use my kitchen for anything except storing prepackaged dinners in the refrigerator, microwaving said dinners, making coffee (with a single cup, drop in cup coffee maker), and feeding the Pug. Oh, and it also serves as a horizontal surface for my husband’s clutter collection, unfortunately.

4. I do not change my own sheets (see #1 above).

5. I do not grow my own vegetables. My grandmothers both had huge gardens that provided all of the vegetables they used for feeding their families.

It is my belief that my decision to outsource all of these homemaking activities has created a fundamental disconnection between me and my home. This disconnect does not help with my desire to lead a healthy life, either. If I can check out of my home then it’s just that much easier to check out of my body and my responsibility for taking proper care of both of these important pieces of living a happy, healthy, harmonious life.

Poppies in Community Garden

And what’s possibly worse is the fact that I have replaced taking care of myself and my home with shopping and acquiring more things; this is not something that either of my grandmothers ever did. The amount of clothes in my closet is insane. Really, seriously, and deeply insane. Clothes, shoes, handbags – more than any one person should ever need. My grandmothers were both beautifully turned out at all times but they had about a week’s worth of clothes whereas I could go 3-4 weeks without repeating an outfit. Why?

I don’t have answers at this point but I wanted to come here to start a conversation while I ruminate a little longer. If you have thoughts or just want to share your own deep, dark secret, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Aftermath


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It’s been a crazy few months. Travel. (Fun.) Holidays. (Mostly fun.) New volunteer opportunities. (Exhilarating, exhausting, and fun.) Making changes around here. (Fun. Scary, but fun.)

In the midst of all of that fun, it was also our busy season at work, which is not always fun but it’s required and I work with amazingly talented, dedicated people, so it’s not so bad. For better or worse, that part of our work year ended Tuesday night and now we’re all sort of hungover and want to find a dark, quiet place to nap. Once upon a time, a very LOOONG time ago, we would take at least a month off from doing anything significant, to recover from the insanity, but that practice is long gone and instead we’re jumping into next year’s development efforts with vigor. It’s a good thing because it’s how we stay on top of our games, but a day or two of rest wouldn’t go amiss.

I bring this up because I got a bit sidetracked – OK, it was more like a complete derailment – from Project HealthFirst, the healthy eating initiative intended to improve my diabetes outcomes. The backsliding must stop now and renewed focus and energy will be applied in the coming days to ensure I’m back on track as quickly with my health as I am with my work commitment. I wouldn’t slack off there and I can’t slack off when it comes to avoiding a heart attack or stroke due to high blood sugar!

With Mummy and Daddy

I share this picture of me with my mum and dad earlier this month because it’s a reminder for me of what’s really important: friends, family, love, life. None of those things will be possible without my health, so it’s simply got to be a commitment for me  there are no other good options.