Saturday, November 1, 2014

My Apostrophe

I think you mean epiphany.

That's one of my favorite lines/scenes from the movie Hook with Robin Williams. Captain Hook and Smee and it's funny.

So here's my epiphany. Every single Halloween since we've moved here we have been targeted by some kids my boys go to school with for teepeeing. Last year I was so sick of it that I staked out my front yard--so the little snots went around to the back yard where we have more, higher trees with many more branches, and went to town.

(This year, with Halloween falling on a Friday night football night, the city chose to have the trick or treating tonight instead. November 1st. And because the kids involved were at the game last night, I fully expect an attack tonight.) 

This issue has been the source of much thought and discussion in my house, and in the days and weeks leading up to Halloween this year I've had to make a game plan. My oldest son wants to plan a stakeout and watch our whole property all night long. And I had a breakthrough of sorts--I don't have time for that crap.

Seriously, I'm not going to ruin my whole evening and a night of sleep because some kids want to be annoying. I have a life, I have plans. I need my sleep.

That breakthrough led to my epiphany. Now I understand why this yearly ritual of theirs makes me so mad.

I feel targeted. I feel singled out. If this was a random thing that happened to us once a year at different times, or over the summer, I would probably care much MUCH less. But the kids who do this razz my kids at school in the week leading up to it about how much fun they're going to have teepeeing our house.

It's not the toilet paper in my trees that bugs me, or the time we've spent as a family cleaning it up. Because, and I'm being honest here, I've done this in my youth. I've found it incredibly fun and exciting to sneak up to someone's house and throw toilet paper over branches, all the while knowing at any moment someone could come out and discover me/us. It gets the adrenaline pumping.

It's not about the toilet paper. It's about how being singled out and targeted makes me feel. And that's not the fault of the kids doing the toilet papering. IT'S NOT THEIR FAULT. They are not in charge of how I choose to feel.

I'm sick of this No-fault society where personal accountability has no meaning anymore. And if I want people to take personal responsibility for their actions/feelings/reactions it would be hypocritical of me to refuse to do it myself. These teens are just out to have fun. I'm certain they don't mean anything by it. And that it makes me feel all territorial and that I must PROTECT MY OWN is not on them. That's me. That's all me. They are not in charge of my feelings.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still going to grumble about having to clean up the mess every year. And it will probably still irritate me that they keep targeting our house every. Single. Halloween. But I'm going to stop projecting my feelings at them. They're just kids out to have fun.

Although last night we had our first freeze warning of the year and as I curled into my nice warm bed I couldn't help but smile at how, if they teepee us this year, they're the ones who are going to be out in the cold and be uncomfortable while I'm inside toasty warm and, hopefully, asleep.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Laugh and the Wold Laughs with You...Right?

We're planning a big family vacation in January, probably the last one we are able to accomplish as a whole family before my kids are grown and gone. It's bittersweet. We're overdue--way overdue--for a fun vacation, and when we get to that point we feel the need to go big. So it's Disneyland, and we're flying. It will be the first plane ride for over half my kids. I'm as excited for that as I am to actually get to CA.

But, if you've been following my life at all you know a few years ago I gained a lot of weight. That was mostly from embracing the sedentary lifestyle of a writer and eating whatever the heck I wanted while trying to numb the overwhelming feelings of failure as a mother and writer and generally as a human being. Yeah, I tend to get pretty hard on myself. But last year I started turning that around and have lost over 80 lbs. Yes, that's like a whole human being I've misplaced. And don't intend to ever find again.

I spent a lot--time, money, energy--on losing the weight and I don't ever want to go back. Now that I'm down to a more rational size I've been working on the second part, the not being sedentary part. I'm not a rock. I'm human and I love food. I'm never going to completely conquer my cravings, and while I've learned tons about my personal food-related triggers I know that I'm going to have the occasional piece of cake, pie, cheesecake, ice cream, brownie, etc. I firmly believe that deprivation (cutting out your favorite things forever even though you know they're bad for you) leads to binging which leads to guilt which leads to more binging and it's an unhealthy pattern. Which is why we need to allow ourselves the freedom to have the things we love, on occasion, and in balanced portions. But calories in/calories out dictates that I need to prepare my body for that so that when it happens my body doesn't go "ooh, extra fat, let's store it!"

So I started walking. In part because a Disneyland vacation entails a LOT of walking, and in part because I've been still for a long time and walking is my second favorite form of exercise. At first walking a mile was the best I could do. Then I upped it to a mile and a half. Then 2 miles. Then 2 and a half. In a little more than 2 months I've gone from not walking at all to walking 3 miles almost every day. It's still Wed morning and I've already walked 6 miles this week. A week or so ago I also added some pilates and a little Wii Fit plus play to my workout. So some days I'm actually exercising for a total of 2 hrs. It's not high impact and it's more a focus on toning and prepping for lots of walking than it is on losing weight. I'm congratulating myself because not only do I like to do the workouts--they make me feel better and that motivates me to continue them--but they aren't too terribly difficult while still challenging me. By the time these workouts become easy I hope to be able to be swimming again, since it is my single favorite workout out there. And in the mean time I can always up my walking game.

But then it hit me today, and here's where the laughing comes in. I've essentially put myself "in training." Not for a marathon, or a breast cancer walk (though that is in my future) but for a VACATION. I've been a computer potato (not a couch potato since I spend more time at the computer) for so long that I've felt it necessary to condition myself for a vacation.

And I don't care who you are, that's funny right there. ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Piling On

I often take advantage of the fact that this blog doesn't see a lot of traffic. This is why I haven't posted any of the most recent family issues on Facebook. Because I want to vent--so, so badly--but I don't want to worry my casual friends and writer friends.

I don't actually want to worry anyone. Seriously. Because I know that this storm will pass. I just want to vent. I want to express frustration. So I'm here.

Did you know the week before our trip to AZ the washing machine broke? Did you know I had to use the money we'd saved for the trip to pay for my sons to take drivers ed, had to make some last minute wedding attire changes, and had to do some vehicle work? Money sucks, it's always an issue, and there never seems to be enough of it.

Bryan changed jobs in April because he was working for a great guy who always had issues keeping his truck running. Problem, when you're the driver, because if the truck doesn't work  then the driver doesn't make money. So in an effort to improve our financial situation he took a job driving in south Texas. There was a miscommunication about how he got paid, so we were under the misapprehension that he'd get paid in the first half of May. So that was the money we planned to use on our trip.

It worked, sorta. But it wasn't until the end of May that we found out we'd misunderstood the pay situation. By that time, mostly due to the fact that Bryan likes to shower regularly and that he really hates being away from his family, he'd applied for and received a new job. Doing the same basic thing but closer to home. Now he's home every night. He's gone 14 hrs a day, but he's home every night. And he has Sundays off.

Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that we screwed up majorly in the understanding of how we'd get paid, took a big trip (how do you not tell your daughter you won't be at her wedding? You don't)  and even though we pinched every possible penny--including having to get a new tire--we had no money left to live on by the end of May. I didn't even get my mom her Mothers Day gift because I was afraid we were spending too much money.

It's June 3rd. The washer is still broken. We've got less than $200 in the bank. Bryan won't see a paycheck from his new job until July. I know it will pass. I'm doing better than I was last week. Last week I was a mess. My poor father in law came over the day I found out Bryan won't get paid till July. I think I scared him a little. ;) I wasn't much better the next day when we went up to the church. It was a process.

Here's the thing. I've reached my limit. I'm sick of relying on other people (meaning a job and wages) to support the family. This is my line in the sand. We've hit this financial brick wall over and over again and I'm done. I had to put off my son's braces. Again. My oldest can't get his drivers license right now because I can't afford it. He also won't get braces until college. And the birthday trips two of my kids were going to take later this summer can't happen. I was going to go car shopping this August, but now we'll have to pray our cars hold together for a few more months.

There are some things I have to pay for this month, things I can't put off. We've gotten some help and if we're careful I'm pretty sure we can pull through. 

In short, you're going to see some changes. I'm going to be a much quieter online presence in June as I work out some issues and make some adjustments in my life. And you're only going to know about it because you came here to read my personal blog. You, the select few.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Being the Fat Girl

 I've been all over the scale, really, but something has been on my mind for a while that I feel like I need to express. So, here goes.

I hit 125 lbs at age 13. I was probably about 5'4", so it definitely wasn't my thinnest but it was hardly overweight. This picture is of me at age 16. I'd hit 5'8" and was pretty sure that was how tall I'd be for good. The scale didn't move from 125, unless it went up to 129--which is pretty much where I hovered, between those two weights. I walked and swam whenever possible and I had a pretty good arm (and muscle definition) from throwing newspapers (paper route) for four years. That was basically my fitness plan. But, hey, I was 16 and knew I was benefiting from a great metabolism. One that I also knew would change, so why not enjoy it why I could?
This picture was taken of me shortly after my wedding. I'd hit 5'9" but had no idea. Still 125. That didn't change until November of that year when I got pregnant. My first trimester was a killer. I could hardly eat anything and by December I had gotten sick with the flu and and ear infection. I lost 10 lbs between my first and second OB appointments. 119 was my weight in December 1996. In January we moved to Oklahoma and I can remember Bryan taking me to the shores of Waurika Lake only to have the wind off the water blow me back. I couldn't stand in one place and had to use him as my wind buffer.

But here's the thing: I never felt thin. My stomach was never flat and my thighs were always bigger than I liked. From the moment I started caring about that stuff those were my problem areas. That's what I didn't like about myself. And nothing anybody else said could change it.
This picture was taken in my second trimester. The whole picture is really cute. It's me, Sissy, and Bryan all lined up showing off our bellies. I had to pull the shirt in so you could even see the baby bump. I was maybe 135 lbs in this picture. Not that I didn't regain the weight I'd lost and then some on my almost-nothing-but-ice-cream diet, but at this time I really wasn't very big. As you can see. Cute, but not very big. ;) This is our glorious Disneyland Vacation. I put this in here because it's a decent picture of me having fun, and it's also a picture taken after I've had all my kids. At the time this was taken I'd had some stress related health issues and lost some weight, so I was probably around 160 lbs. Not bad for 5'9". In fact, it's within the range of healthy for my height.

This picture is closer to 169 lbs. We were in Manhattan and it's one of my favorite pictures of me. As you can see there's more definition to my curves but I still look pretty healthy, right?

This pic on the right (blue shirt) is the first indication that things were starting to go downhill. See, I've never blamed having my kids for my weight gain. Sure, after having kids I was bigger than I wanted to be, but I was still (barely) in the healthy weight ranges for my height. But this is when life took a turn.

This was when we lost our house. I was a mess. In the same month I signed a contract with a publisher for my first book and got a letter in the mail saying we were in foreclosure. There wasn't anything we could do, but we tried. Finally we just had to bow out, pack up our stuff, and move our 5 kids to a 3 bedroom upstairs duplex.

The duplex of Hell. No, my sis Jen is not the duplex of Hell. This is another shot and I remember seeing it and instead of going "Oh, how sweet" I went "my arms are horrible!" The happiest day of her life and I'm all feeling fat and slobbish about my arms. Yes, I know I still looked okay. And everyone is going to look at this picture differently, but this was the start of my fat girl journey.

In that duplex I struggled with horrible feelings of guilt for letting my kids down and having to move them out of their home and making them suffer in that horrible tiny space. So I ate. I ate to mask the hurt. I've always been an emotional eater. This wasn't a discovery I had to make. Only this time I just let go. I stopped worrying about the results. I stopped caring how I'd work those calories off later. I stopped caring about a lot of things.
Except, I also hit my mid 30's. And as we all know, this is about the time that a person's metabolism slows down. So while I was eating, my body was storing. And storing. And storing some more.
 This is me at my heaviest. 235.6 lbs. I can tell you that a lot of things change when you gain weight but I think you know this.

But this is what I experienced. I actually used to get fairly regular complements on my outfit, my shirt, my hair, whatever, by friends and random kind people at church. That well dried up pretty fast the bigger I got. The only person who complemented me was my husband, and even that had changed.

I was so tired. I had no energy to do anything. It was ridiculous. And I was so down about it all. I looked awful and I knew it. I felt awful about it. I knew I had to do something about it. So I tried. Weight Watchers, but the meetings were over an hour away and I didn't feel like I could keep up with the plan. I tried self control, but I'd lose a little and then regain it and then a bit more.

Six months ago I finally just said that was it. I'd had enough. I contacted a friend who had been sharing her and friends' weight loss success stories with me via email (with my permission of course). I knew it was a huge financial commitment but I figured that was part of my penance for losing so much control of myself for so long. I needed to feel the price, feel the sacrifice. I needed for it to hurt a little.

I needed it to have significance.

So far I've lost 67 lbs. I feel so good. My insomnia, something that has plagued me since that first picture of me at 16, has almost completely vanished. Instead of it being a regular nightly issue I actually have to be incredibly stressed out to have trouble sleeping. Like last night, but I digress. And once people started noticing the pounds come off, the complements have started rolling in. Again. And while I don't doubt their sincerity they still make me uncomfortable.
Was I really not pretty at 235 lbs? Or are we just so constrained by societal prejudices that a person can't look "nice" if they're overweight? I can tell you I felt ugly. I felt hideous. I felt unworthy.
And probably that heavy person you pass in the street feels some or all of what I felt. But does that mean they don't look nice? It's hard enough to have a decent view of your own self worth without people around you ignoring you because you're fat and they don't have anything nice to say. Or why-ever they ignore you. Because they do. They ignored me.