Tuesday, April 30, 2013

To the Victor Go the Spoils!

I'm queen of the non-scale victories this week!

I'm wearing smaller tops and finding my old jeans much easier to wear.  I'm really starting to make headway this week.

For starters I've gone down a bra size.  I haven't worn this bra in so long, I never thought it would fit again.  I've worn a few of my 4x sized shirts this past week, and they've been growing excessively large and frumpish...they are making their way to the box for donation.  I've finally hit the point, where I'm going to have to start pruning the things in my closet that are just too monstrous to keep wearing.  I'm a bit surprised it's already happening, and I'm slightly anxious about it.  That makes me confused of course, but the truth is, I'm happy to be feeling this conflicted about it.

I went shopping this weekend.  In fact, I spent waaay too much money, but most of it was house related, and birthday party related...I'm not done with birthday party expenses, but at least her gifts are gotten.  But the major victory was that in all that walking and shopping that I did, not once did I feel wasted and tired and weary.  4 months ago, it would have worn me out completely, and I would have wrapped it up about 4 hours earlier than I did, both days.

I've also had several restaurant meals in the last few days, and I've sustained a 33 lb loss throughout it.  I made good selections both times, and was very proud of myself for not having given in to old habits of ordering ridiculously high fat, high calorie and way too bad for you options.  And last night my head hurt so bad after a stressful day that I indulged in a big mac (I was waaay to done in to think about cooking), and I binged on 2 100 calorie packs of pringles.  I don't feel ashamed for having done it, but I didn't enjoy them the way you would think I would have.  In fact, I had a crummy sleep and I'm sure it was the effects of having eaten so poorly last night.  And I'm looking forward to my salad at lunch time.  Amazing how that happens.  When even the cravings for your old habitual comfort foods goes away.  Huge victory in that one.

So, it's been a hard slog of a week, but it's over now, and I won another one.  I only won it by one pound, but I did 6 days of working out, and I made time for myself.  I feel better.  I look better.  I last longer and am doing more ALREADY.  And things are starting to get too big.  Who could ask for more?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Bullying - It starts at Preschool

So, I'm sitting here in the wee hours of the morning on a Saturday, when I should be resting my weary head and catching up on all kinds of zzz's.  Instead, I've been tossing and turning, and my brain is whirring like a monstrously big Acme machine.  You see, I'm still plagued by a problem my daughter is facing at preschool, and its now escalated to where my only possible next option is to take it directly to the other child's mom.  I know it's already been taken to her mom by the teachers at the school, but my daughter's safety is in question, and all I can visualize is that she will be the one with a facebook page everyone in the country is going to check out after she's had a tragic accident at the tender age of 15....Just google suicide after bullying, and it's enough to make you ill how this is trending and you'll find your chin hitting your desk, shaking your head in dismay.

My God, suicide is the solution for a kid as young as 9 years old.  Bullying is not like it was when I grew up.  It almost seems like as hard as it was, it was so much simpler to deal with than it is now.  We need new ways to arm our kids against it, and we need new ways to impact it even happening in the first place.  And the major difference is technology.  Bullying starts with the same physical things it used to.  Name calling, shoving, hitting.  But then it escalates.  Kids get cell phones so that they can reach their parents at a moment's notice, but instead they get used to take incriminating photos or video.  They become an instrument of the abuse.  They become the access these kids use to polish off the evidence and extend their reach of infamy to broader audiences.  It's how they grow their entourage.  It's not like when the bullies I grew up with had to work hard to garner their respect.  They didn't need to acquire each follower one by one.  And they are no longer satisfied with a small posse.  They need massive followings,  Herds of sheep they can control.  The age in which my daughter is growing up requires new responses and a new education.  I for one can not even comprehend how this is starting so young.  But it is.  That is our reality, and this is when it starts, apparently.

At 4am this morning, I realized this is her future if I don't do something about it now.  My daughter isn't even 3 yet, and I'm tackling bullying as hard as I've ever tackled it in my life, so that I can prevent this from happening.  And as I write the letter out to the other girl's mother, I can visualize the mother's physical response.  Shoulders hunch over.  Her head sinks and begins to shake in disbelief as she reads it.  Her body involuntarily sighs, not from relief, but from being so overwhelmed and disappointed.  She takes a deep breath in and steels herself.  Her spine stiffens, she raises her shoulders and sits up straight.  Instead of accepting what's been written down and approaching it with calm openness, she is incensed and is now braced for combat.  Outraged.  How dare someone accuse her precious pocket of gold of being a bully?  That's for teenagers.  She's only in preschool dammit.

So knowing how this will be received my letter gets stronger.  It points out how it's affecting my child - cya as I've learned in business, is critical.  BUT, it's aim is to take down some of the brick wall defenses that have already gone up.  Why is a two year old plagued by nightmares?  Why is she talking about being hit every day, being called names, and dumping sand out of her boot as she recounts that it was sand that must have fallen in there when Amy threw it at her today?  The more I write, the angrier I get and the more I want to throw up.  It goes against every single instinct I have to leave my child in a situation where she is being bullied and is unsafe.

The letter continues to point out my next steps are to require a curriculum and a policy changeat the preschool to address bullying, and calls out that I'm teaching my daughter how to fight back.  I want her mother on notice in case her precious piece of turd comes home with a black eye or whining that my child hit her.  It goes on to say that if things don't get resolved, that I'll formally request her child be expelled.

My first instinct is to remove my own child.  But that doesn't send the right message to anyone, and for God's sake, my child is not the problem.

I'm sure something is "off" at home.  No child comes into this world so corrupted that their instinct is to target a smaller, younger person and make a punching bag out of them.  They learn it at home first.  When I was young, I was the one who fought for the under dogs.  I protected my baby brother fiercely, just as I'd protect others who were picked on.  What I want to do is grab this kid by the scruff of her neck and put her in check.  But as we get older and have children of our own, this becomes impossible.  It's taboo.  That's someone else's child and disciplining them is someone else' responsibility and obligation.  I'd like to say that I wish there were thresholds where other people could intervene when it's not being done well enough, but I can't say who I'd want to make that decision, nor would I want that unilateral responsibility.

At the end of the day, the only thing that is wrong here is that one person, the smaller, weaker one with far less experience, is being attacked regularly without provoking it.  I'm at my wits end, and I have to protect numero uno.  And if it comes down to it, if my only feasible option is to move my child, I'll do it.  I have to hope it won't come to that, because I honestly don't like all the potential scenarios that unfold in that particular solution either.

And it all still feels like this is just so wrong to be cropping up in a preschool.  My God, why don't people parent their children?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My List of Dream Jobs

This is the list of things I wanted to do with my life in terms of work.  This is why I have angst.  This is why I wish I could retire right now.  My soul needs feeding.  Apparently it's quite the beast.  It's never fully satiated.  

High School Teacher
University Professor
Bar Girl
Truck Driver
Wedding and Event Planner
Interior Designer
Clothing Designer
Real Estate Agent

Everything on the list that I have struck through is everything I am today, or have done in my past or in the case of teaching highschool, loosely interpreted.  In that case, I spent many months as a Teacher's aid on a volunteer basis in the hopes that it would help open a door for me at Teacher's College.  It never did, I never got in to that post graduate work, and well, I shut the door on teaching for good.  Most of this, I've never been paid to do.  When I have been paid, it's been a pittance.

If you stretch the imagination and take the "career" element out of it, I've done all the highlighted things, only for myself or my family in my own home or when I was in school for extracurricular fun.  And some things like in the case of dancing and nursing, have in no way shape or form, resembled anything close to even looking professional.

This leaves me with owning my own restaurant, driving a big rig and becoming a University Professor somehow.  But more than this, it shows me just how satiated the beast of my soul should truly be.  The only thing it hasn't received is validation that I am all of these things and remuneration for the efforts in cash.

Cash in itself is the objective validation that drives the western economy, and which has translated itself into that fuel that feeds our collective growth desire to do more/be more.  It may not be how things SHOULD be, but it is how things are.  And I can tell you personally that the people whose approval means the most to me, are the ones who often provide it, balance it with a dose of reality, but who are equally invested in my outcomes.  So, the weight of that validation is always trumped by a stranger's.  Knowing that what I have to offer the world is recognized and coveted by complete strangers with nothing to gain from it, always means more.  Maybe this is why my beast of a soul is so hard to quiet down.

In addition to all this, I'm not even saying that either of us (the beast nor I) actually still want to do all of this.  But I can tell you that we always wonder "what if?"  Would things be better, happier, funnier, wealthier, more flexible, more interesting, more engaging, challenging...more anything than what I am doing today.

The work I do today leverages most of all the skills it requires to perform any of these particular jobs.  I write a fair bit and map projects out.  Research my evidence before making recommendations.  I exercise extreme patience and teach people as I go along.  I solicit buy in, and coordinate efforts.  I am a Program Manager.  In some circles they call me a cat herder.  In others, I'm just a project manager.  But I influence all levels of the organization without the added tumultuous responsibility of having to directly manage people.  At the same time, I'm not paid to be really creative.  I can't look at what I do every day and say ahhh - job well done, and the world will be able to look upon it and just plainly feel better about themselves, the world around them.  My creativity is stifled, and I lack the right validation for my work and the challenges are all wrong.  My biggest challenge in a given day is not saying the wrong thing to the wrong person, instead of coming up with a truly unique dish, or a signature cocktail, or better yet, without making my own art to add that finishing touch to a room.  It's never about watching the light turn on in a student's eyes when something you say sparks the creativity inside them.  My job is dark, dingy.  Black and white typeface behind the glare of a laptop screen.

So this blog acts as my validation by strangers.  It gives me that raison d'ĂȘtre despite the fact that it doesn't come with a paycheck.  Maybe one day it will evolve to something that does.  Who knows?  Perhaps when I finally retire and can devote the time it truly needs to develop into a career, there'll be an appetite for what I have to write, and a way to collect on the proceeds.  I'm not optimistic about that, but as long as it helps keep me off meds and the shrink's proverbial couch, I'll take it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Life is a Game of Jenga

OK...so it dawned on me today that my life is like a game of Jenga.  You take a block that's been wearing down from the bottom of the pile, and while hopefully you remember to polish it up a little on the sleeve of your shirt along the way, you slide it back into place on top of the pile so you can focus on your next move.

Yep.  My life is a game of Jenga.

So, I've taken this block out of the bottom of my pile called weight loss, and I'm polishing it off on the way to placing it on the bottom, when suddenly I realize that the blocks labelled my growing daughter and my fragile in laws are starting to come loose.

I'm placing that weight block firmly on top here, and now it's time to figure out which block to polish next.

My in laws are in dire straits.  It's sad.  It hurts my heart, mostly for what it must feel like for my husband, but I'm honestly more than perplexed at his reaction, and the lack of reaction in his siblings.  Here's the deal.  Mother in law is diagnosed with an extremely bad case of gall bladder stones a year ago, during preop tests, they discover she has lung cancer.  Gall stone work gets placed firmly on the back burner while they deal with the 7cm mass in her lung.  They can't operate so they treat her as a stage worse than she apparently is.  End results are, there is shrinkage and the cancer is better, but not gone.  She's gone through hell with her treatments and on the other side of this has discovered that not being able to work, and driving two hours each way for treatments 4 or 5 days a week has left them broke, over extended, and unable to feed themselves.  She is depressed and vocally suicidal.  Her gall bladder continues to give her extreme pain and discomfort, and it's unlikely that she'll survive any surgery, but at this point she's willing to risk it.

 Her daughter and youngest son are awol and barely appear to have a peripheral interest.  My family has made the 3 hour journey twice in the past month to take loads of groceries.  It appears also that their church has found out about their hardship and they are providing some charitable provisions as well.  They are now using a food bank for staples and griping that they can't get animal food and butter.  My father in law has quit smoking (I hope it sticks this time) only because they can't afford to buy them.  But if cash were no issue, I no he'd start up again in a heart beat.  My cancer riddled mother in law, who is a senior and living on a pension, is back to work on the only job they have left between them to make sure they keep that extra $400 a month coming in.

I'm the one prodding my husband to call his parents, to go up with provisions, and talking about bringing in the siblings to help cover off some of the bills.  I'm the one trying to spark ideas about perhaps selling their property and buying closer to my family so that I can at least help physically with things that need to be done, and so that she is closer to cancer treatments when she inevitably has to start them back up.  This is all for people who I can barely tolerate.  Why?  Because they are my daughter's grandparents, and because it seemed at one time they were very important to my husband.  Why is it, I seem to be the only one who's concerned?

And the other block is my daughter's block.  She has many in my Jenga tower.  Believe me.  But yesterday, she started to do that thing where she's beginning to branch out.  We moved to this community so that we could be more relaxed about her safety, and so that we'd have more trustworthy neighbours.  We moved to a safer community in general.  On Sunday, while outside playing with my husband, she met some of the kids on our street, and the two of them got familiar with some of our neighbours.  Yesterday afternoon, my daughter chose to hang back and play with a few of her new friends while I walked down to retrieve the mail.  Never out of site, and always supervised by an adult, my nearly 3 year old child started branching out. She had fun, and I was outside of my own body the whole trek to the mailbox and back again, because I wasn't hanging on to a little hand.  I realized, I'm not sure I'm ready to take a side seat in her life.  In fact, I'm not ready at all.  And I have to be.  It's incredible to me how quickly the time passes from dependent on someone else for every single breath to fully raring to go and charge ahead knowing few limits and pushing oneself to the brink of independence the way a 3, 4 and 5 year old child does.

On one hand, I'm proud of the person she is becoming, and I'm overwhelmed by how close the two of us are.  I pray every single day that we keep this bond.  And I know I'm doing things right, because I've already heard on more than one occasion that she "doesn't like me".  That can only mean I've established at least some of the right boundaries.

On the other hand, I'm scared to death of what awaits her, and how her independence can be reckless and haphazard.  I'm so scared of letting go of her hand it paralyzes me, and gives me out of body experiences.

So which block to move and polish then?  I'm not sure either one will leave my tower standing.  I know that moving them will make my tower more fragile - at least in the short term.  I'm leaning on polishing off my child's block a bit, and standing by in observation on the in laws block.  For the life of me, I can't understand why an outsider like myself, is the most concerned part of that whole mess.  It's enough to make me pause and look for other cross impacting factors at the very least.

Monday, April 22, 2013

progress...or lack thereof

Much like the US's war on terror, drugs or healtcare for all, my progress with my diet is well, lacking a forward momentum.

You would think, as would I have, that the weight loss surgery would have at least lightened the work load on the diet front even just a little...but it hasn't.  It's not the tool's fault, it's totally the user's.  But still.  You'd think a gal could catch some kind of break.

I'm pissed off at myself, and as determined as I have ever been to make this happen, but 5 minutes after I decry my conviction not to waste this freaking insane amount of money, it seems I'm not much further ahead.

And I try not to beat myself up.  The truth is that I always knew I'd have to do the work...and the band is really working.  Spring is always a killer time for me diet wise, because that's when all our family celebrations occur.  There's really never a good time if you think about it.

April 4th kicks off birthday season, and by the time we hit July 2nd, we've literally had 11 celebrations and then vacation season begins - it's time to do something that gets your head out of your computer monitor for a solid run of at least 5 days...which means more fun, more food, and lots of lazing around.

yeah...and then once summer vacations are finished, it's time to think about thanksgiving and Christmas.  At least those have 6-8 weeks between them.  So now with at least 3 of our celebrations under our belt (one of which was even my 40th milestone), I can say I've lost what I gained for my party, and I'm maintaining this weight.  I'm keeping a food diary, and I'm not really going hog wild even when the temptation is otherwise there...and I'm not terribly tempted either.  When I've strayed, it really hasn't been out of desperation or desire.  It's been out of a) obligation, b) access.  If I can manage access, and nod my head to obligation without going overboard, I consider that a huge success.

I had another non-scale victory though.  So, I threw out my massive track pants a few weeks ago, but I pruned my pajama drawer last night.  I looove my pajamas.  If I could live in my pajamas I certainly would...and for quite a long time, I actually did.  I'd only get dressed in street clothes long enough to be seen in public, but the second I'd walk back through the door, my pajamas went straight back on.  Even now, when I'm cold, I'm wearing 2 pairs of pajamas to bed...it's my thing.  SO, when it comes time to retire your most beloved pieces of clothing, when they are still wearable might I add...it's a pretty big deal.  I even caught myself looking up at my bin of skinny clothes lying in wait on the top shelf of my closet...the ones I was wearing when I got pregnant, and thought, "hmmmm.  I wonder how long it will be before I can crack that open again?"  I can see my favourite blouse in through the transparent bin, and it's beckoning.  I want to wear it again so badly I can feel it.

We had a memorial to attend this week for a friend's mother.  I struggled to pick an outfit.  And when I finally landed on something, the blouse was humungous.  It was a wrap around blouse, and where the tie had been knotted, would have fit just comfortably presurgery...now, it hung loosely, and I'd tightened that bow almost as close as you could get it without affecting the look.  So 2 major victories in one weekend, and with additional birthday celebrations, I managed to keep myself in check - sort of.  Who could ask for anything more?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

There are words enough...

...to tackle the subject of the vicious attacks in the US of late.  But it seems that none of my favourite bloggers are taking up the subject.  I suspect they've been hit too emotionally by it, and without the singular person to blame in custody, the heinous attacks haven't got the face that would help us all to target our emotions.

But sitting on the outside (sort of), I can tell you that with all the postulating in the world, the issues facing the US today (and elsewhere likely), are of their own making.  The knee jerk reaction to that bombing was misguided and unfounded news (I use this term so loosely it's a shame to even call it news) that a "Saudi" was responsible and in custody - and when confirmed that this was a lie, it was reported again (BY THE SAME NEWS AGENCY) that a suspect was in custody, and confirmed again that this was a lie...has ANYONE taken the step to shut that company down for it's flagrant irresponsibility?  No.  And it's even likelier that people are still flocking to watch that news channel along with several others in spite of it's blatant disregard for fact and truth.

Has anyone taken time to think about the possible motives for this "senseless" crime?  Not with any calm and rational thought that I've seen.  There is a flurry of aid flocking to the state of Boston.  And there's even more outcry than what was shown for the mass shooting in Newtown where it pertains to trying to amass funds to support the victims and send in aid.  Why do the victims of a bomb deserve more than the truly innocent victims of Newtown and their parents?

The reality is, when your government looks at an issue like gun control with 90% support for tighter restrictions, and it still doesn't pass, and your military loses 20,000 M16's and it goes largely unreported, AND, your most prized national news source lies to the public TWICE after being raked over the coals for irresponsible commentary on a nationally scrutinized rape case...you have to be asking yourself (if you're even half way intelligent), if you're not your own worst enemy...N'est pas?

The acts of violence rocking the United States since Columbine are ghastly.  On broader scales, there is a civil war happening on home turf, and NOBODY is actually working to combat it's effects an protect the innocent or organizing a response to the rebels.  Emergency responders are not much more than clean up crews in hazmat suits and by God that's just disrespectful, if not deplorable.

And still the only thing every single citizen who isn't in the 1% is concerning themselves with is, figuring out how to keep the lights on, and their childrens' tummy's fed, while finding money in their rainy day cookie jars to send as donations to relieve the direct victims of these awful acts of violence.  While the wealthy 1% sit back and talk about how many tax breaks they want to avoid the fiscal cliff they themselves created, and how banning assault weapons and implementing background checks is an attack on their liberty, thank you very much.  They want these things to continue being wielded without control, because they make more money.  Through insurance premiums they never have to pay out, through hospital and medical treatments they win big from, and through new weapons or ammunition sales they profit on.  I realize that I'm not the first to criticize the establishments with these generalities, but I swear to God that they need no further detail.  They are as true as the sun shines.  And they are as paralyzing and detrimental to the real liberty of the country's people, as the guns that are being held to their heads.

The Boston tragedy had as much to do with runners as 9/11 had to do with wall street.  They both had this in common.  The greatest number of casualties to send the biggest possible message.  The fact that there has been no proud claims of accountability by a terrorist organization shows that it was probably a homegrown American.  I'd put my money on the fact that it was an idiot who wanted to prove you could kill people with out a gun, but who lives on welfare and uses medicare.  He prayed on innocent people to send a twisted message, so he could himself stay twisted in his belief that owning a gun makes his penis seem larger.

I long to see a day where countries aren't managed by penis carriers, and where men who are driven by their own ineptitude finally take a back seat.

And while my heart hurts for the people of Boston, it has been hurting for the innocent children and the ill so much longer that this is now feeling numb.  The atrocities will have to grow bigger and bigger until the satient points of people have been exceeded.  Or messages will continue to dissolve amidst the relief efforts.  With so many atrocities, how could any singular government focus on the fixes to even one.  In no way is there any ability to stack rank these horrors without addressing the issues of medical help for all, jobs for all, and safety for all.  Then you have true liberty.

**Update** I'm pleased to stand corrected that the perpetrators of the Boston bombings were not US citizens.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Those Who Do

Get so much further ahead than those who wait.

Risk is a lot about timing and weighing the pros and cons, and determining what amount of chance a person is willing to take in the face of how much reward and potential loss could result.

When it comes to depression, the body and mind are perpetually telling us to sit.  To wait.  To comfort oneself.  But the best way to combat the effects of depression is to get out and do.  To try.  To find something that sparks our passion and feeds our creativity and/or gets us active.

When I was ill, I got certified as an event planner, and opened a wedding planning business.  It kept me functional, and it kept me from diving deeper into the bowels of a living hell.  I reached out to other professionals who had to leave the workforce to deal with their illness.  I found the standard support groups weren't exactly in the same ring of hell to which I belonged.  We all suffered from the same illnesses, and had many of the same symptoms, but we didn't live similar lives.  Some of these people were on welfare, were blue collar workers and they didn't necessarily understand or empathize with the level of political pressures that came with the work I performed every day.  It is the one and only time where the class system has been so obvious to me.  In every other situation, I considered myself to be as average as the next guy.  And in this situation, it wasn't that I didn't have a sympathetic approach.  Nor did I consider myself in any way better than the others in that support group.  But I was different.  As unique as they were.  We simply didn't speak the same language, weren't drawing on a lot of the common experiences that are integral to the success of any support infrastructure.  How is that supportive of either of us, when you can't even bridge the language gap?

So I did the next best thing.  I surrounded myself with things that kept my mind sharp, kept my focus, forced me to get out of bed every morning, and meant that I was spending my time devoted to things that made people happy, and that were a result of people's happiness.  It really boiled down to working in a happy environment, would be the only thing to yank me out of the darkness.  It forced me to fake it like I felt it.  No one hires a wedding planner who isn't happy.

And this thing with my weight loss is no different.  People who do things, take action and who don't sit idly by spending too much time weighing pros, cons and who are willing to take measured risks, are the people who advance.  That's to say go forward by any measure.  Be they baby steps or leaps and bounds.  He who waits is last.

I'm stuck in that 28-32 lb loss bucket.  I've plateaued.  This means I'm likely going to have to do 2 things.  First, I'm going to have to kick it into high gear and start moving.  I HAVE to devote time to exercising.  There's no two ways to avoid it.  And I'm likely going to have to schedule my first fill.  I find that while I'm eating just a fraction of what I used to eat, and generally picking healthy options, my weight is stuck, and I'm most definitely hungry every 2-3 hours.  The surgeon recommends not eating for 3 hours prior to bedtime, but I find that by 9pm I'm ravenous again, and if I go to bed that hungry, there's not going to be any sleep.  And well, that's a recipe for disaster where it concerns my mental health.

So, today I'm committing to myself to do a work out at lunch hour every day 5 days each week, and when the weather is nice, I'll be walking down the street to pick up my mail as opposed to picking it up on the drive by the mailbox.  I'm also committing to keep my food diary so that in 2 weeks time, when I haven't lost any more weight, I'll have all the things I need documented to request my first fill of the band.  I'll admit, I'm about as nervous to go through that process as I was to go through the actual surgery.  I had high hopes that I'd come out of surgery right at my sweet spot.  But nothing ventured, nothing gained.  And someone who takes action, gets a hell of a lot further ahead than the guy who didn't.

Onward and upward!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Strife Be Beckoning

My world without strife is what I constantly aim to achieve.  The trouble is, I don't think I could survive without some level of angst and strife.  Something must always be at odds, pressing me to work through it, find an answer and overcome an obstacle so I can perpetually move onward and upward to this elusive point in my life where it's all about reaping the rewards.

When my child gets old enough to start talking about what she wants to be when she grows up, I think I may encourage her to wait to figure it out.  Because as well as ambition has served me in my 40 years, it's also meant that I missed out on a lot of opportunities, didn't take all the risks that I could have, and am as stuck as any average Joe Schmoe without the payoff of really getting soul shattering fulfillment out of what I do.

I hit one of these cross roads this week again.  Not just 1 week after telling a friend that I had every intention of living my 40's like I was already retired, do I find myself cursing and lamenting that I've been passed over not just for a promotion, BUT, for a lateral role expansion, AND the only opportunity I have to apply for anything else is really like shooting myself in the foot.  Yes, you heard me right.  I a long string of words that probably make no sense to anyone but me, I'm in the unique position of wanting more work, and wanting to feel retired all at the same freaking time.

I am sick.  There is something uniquely wrong with me, I'm certain of it.  And I don't think there's a medication in the world that could really address my issues.  Not a coping mechanism, not a single narcotic.  There is nothing...I mean nothing...in this existence that can appease the beast within me that strives for more, bigger, better, new.  And I am honestly dumbfounded.  Because it's not like I'm unhappy, or even dissatisfied with what I have.  I am very fulfilled.  I can't tell you why it's not enough, but it never feels finished.  There's never a sigh of relief at a job completed and respite to enjoy the fruits of that labour.  For me, it's one task conquered, next one on deck...and if there's not something else on deck, I am truly fearful of the void.

I don't know how or if it's right to "fix" this.  Of course, maybe that could be the next thing on my deck of challenges.  But I'm not even sure about how to approach it if indeed it is.

I'm literally open to thoughts, and ideas.  In the meantime, every open second will be spent sewing, and growing, and likely groaning older.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The 9 Signs I Missed That I Was Depressed

Being depressed doesn't just happen fleetingly and pass you buy when it's finished wreaking it's havoc on your body.  It lingers, lies dormant and lets you function before it strikes again.  It's not the flu.  It's depression.  In cancer terms, it can go into remission, but you'll want to keep tabs on yourself and frequently check in with your head and your heart to see that you're still ok.

When I finally had the episode that kicked my ass out of work for 14 months, I had to get to a point where I could understand this had been brewing for a lot of years.  I mean A LOT of years.  I would say it was at least 17 years in the making.  And so there were a million signs I missed that would have told me to take pause, catch my breath and if I'd even had the right coping mechanisms, to yank them out and use them before things got too far out of hand.

  1. Your jokes aren't funny.  That's because they are laced with the anger in your face, and the hurt in your heart.  Even you don't think they're funny, but to claim so allows you to speak truth without getting into further trouble.  When you're trying to joke things off, and no one is on side with the humour of it, well, it's time to check in with your coping mechanisms.
  2. You focus on the negative stuff at work, or someone actually has the heart at work to take you aside and talk to you about your approach to certain situations.  Either you're annoying them, or upsetting them, and you're not even trying to do that.  You're just trying to get people to listen, to hear you, you're just trying to do your job.  Whatever the case is, when they pull you aside to have a gentle conversation with you about your approach to your colleagues and the work situation, then it's time to check in.
  3. You're unhappy most of the time.  At least there's something to complain about at least once a day, likely 20 or 30 even.  Someone who has complaints is not entirely happy.
  4. You're tired and you don't feel like doing anything.  If this is you, and you feel like this say 6 out of 7 days, then, well, it's really time to check in.  The human body and mind is pre-wired to enjoy life and live it.  We're really not meant to hibernate all the time.  And if you're body is telling you to hibernate, it's trying to flee the stress and that means - you're not well.
  5. Avoiding friends/family/events.  It is entirely possible to want to go out and do something reckless and fun, at the same time as avoiding it, and finding excuses not to partake.  It's too hard to find a sitter, it costs too much money, I'm tired, sore or just plain weary.  Again, avoidance is the body and mind's way of escaping more trauma.  No animal runs into the bear cave knowingly.
  6. Your body is in pain - sometimes localized and sometimes generally achy.  But there is pain or illness, and it's persistent and chronic.  Typical pain management treatments don't even touch it.  There's more to it than that.
  7. You're eating more or eating less.  You're not eating the right things because the right things aren't comforting you.  
  8. You explode over the small things and walk away from the big ones.
  9. Your spouse can see it and is begging for you to see the doctor about your moods.  

Everyone who experiences this has different triggers...but everyone who experiences this has a whole host of reasons why they would.  Some are obvious (like dealing with the grief at the sudden passing of my father at a young age).  And some are not.  Some reasons have even been covered up with a million excuses for why it shouldn't affect us and why it would be silly to hold angry or hurt feelings for them.  But they are always 100% valid and nevertheless contribute to our feeling happy, sad or simply unaffected.

A good friend once told me that "feelings are never right or wrong, they just are."  That quote carried me through a lot of days when I was at my darkest and ever since.  Feelings are an instinct.  They are our body's way of translating our experiences into something we can understand.  The head is affected by our feelings, as much as we often try to rationalize our feelings.  Feelings are how we interpret the world around us.  Acknowledging their presence and giving them credibility allowed me to let go of some of the regret that I was carrying for feeling them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

it's a new dawn, It's a new day, it's a new life

So birthday festivities are over and being forty is still no big deal.  Everyone who came this weekend knew about my surgery and was asking how I was feeling - I think they were all surprised to see me as chipper and energetic and lively as I was.  If I've said it once, I've said it 30 times now.  I feel better today, than I did this time last year.

When you make the decision to pursue weight loss surgery, the notion that it would be an easy out or an easy decision, is as ludicrous as red rain.  NO ONE approaches this quickly and without serious reservations.  It's not natural to admit defeat.  It's also not economically sound.  Any investment in one's self is a good one, but when diet alone is the end goal, it's not like people just have $16K just lying around.  And I think when other people look in at this, they expect to see desperation, deathly pale skin and sallow faces.  They expect to see someone near their ends, rather than someone on the mend.  That's probably because fat people never complain about being fat.

They complain about skinny people being idiots.  They complain about skinny people not understanding, and companies not being smart enough to accommodate their clients.  They complain things may not fit right, or that the world is not made for them, and they'll tell you straight up that fat is not a choice.  And they're 100% right.  Well, except for the idiot part.  But, no one understands the life of a fat person, til they are one.  It's a little like being black or gay I imagine.  Until you are what you're supposed to empathize with, well, then the empathy is wasted.

As I was putting this article together, I honestly googled these words "image fat people", and what resulted were pages and pages worth of links to sites where people are bullied and pasted up as jokes.  There is not a serious fat photo out there?  They are all "hilariously funny photos" of people who are easy targets and blatantly pointed out as jokes.  It makes me feel sad and appalled.  And for that very reason, there will be absolutely no photos in this post.

So, it was a huge non-scale victory for me this weekend, to tell people I was doing great, to show off my scars and to reassure the world that 40 felt awesome.  Especially as compared to how 39 felt.  Can you imagine that?

And the best gift I received was having my closest friends and family here to share it with me.  No part of this event in my life was about the tangible.  It was fully and completely about living it.  And for that reason, there's nary a photo of the party either.  Because this weekend's lesson to me was, you can be in pictures or you can live the moment.  I had too much fun living this weekend, and to run up the stairs to dig out the camera and ask someone to take the photos for me would have meant another lost moment.

And that means...I just succeeded in my mission.  My purpose in having this surgery was not about watching a number on the scale.  While that's a big measure, it's not my success indicator.  I want the chance to see my child grow up and have kids of her own.  I want the chance to live life to the max and enjoy all this stuff I worked so hard to get.  This weekend marked the very first step of that very awesome journey...It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life...and I'm stoked!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

On Turning 40

It's a strange and curious thing to consider that I'm turning 40, and technically entering my mid life, but it's absolutely as much my truth as anything else could be.  I had such angst (as you can well imagine if you've followed any of my posts for the past year) over turning 30.  This year, is very different.  I've had angst, but I think it's been targeted to specific events, things, people, rather than your average blanketed generic angst of say your teens and your twenties.

Let me tell you, those days of my teens and twenties don't feel so far away from this point in time than they actually are.  The rear view mirror really is distorted.

In any regard, my midlife crisis seems to be a factor of reclaiming my sense of self.  It's true what they say.  I know myself better than I ever have, and am unwilling to negotiate my sense of self away for any one else's needs....of course with the exception of all those little things we give up to maintain our mothering and wifely ways.  But when it comes to things like work, and extra-curricular commitments, and neglecting myself for the sake of keeping peace, well...I'm guessing the me that is 40, is probably a lot less inclined to concede.

What I know about me now that I didn't know, say 20 years ago:

I can succeed at anything I put my mind to - I just need free time and the desire to put a priority on it.  Just look what I've accomplished in the last year.  A major move, I kicked ass at my job and did a hell of a lot of kick ass parenting.  I've redecorated most of the house on a shoestring budget, and learned how to sew on the fly to make up for what we couldn't buy custom made.  I've nursed my child back to health for months and seen her through a challenging surgery.  I've seen myself through the challenges of surgery and am exactly where I promised myself I would be before turning 40 - as in, not the weight I started out last year weighing.

I am whole.  I have what I need, and while I recognize the struggle I have with never being satisfied will never go away, I am more at peace today with what I'm blessed to be and have, than I ever would have been 20 years ago.

When I grow up, I'm going to do what I want to do, and what I have a passion for.  I've spent the first 20 years of my adult life slogging away trying to get ahead so that I could afford a relatively comfortable life.  I'm going to spend the next 20 years transitioning from that phase of my life into pursuing my true passions...oh yeah, and I'm already well on my way.

My nephew, who is in university and thinks he's found all the answers to life's questions, posted a letter to himself from the future on his facebook the other day.  He talked a lot about uplifting himself, and reminded himself that he, just like Stuart Smalley, he ``is good enough, he is smart enough, and doggone it, people like him.``  I tried to take an opportunity to remind him that the letter one writes themselves at 40, sounds quite the same as he's written, but adds a lot more about humility and acceptance of the things we can not change and the lack of necessity there is in succeeding at everything.  I know humility has been a bit of a theme for me lately in life, but it's really ringing true this week.  He's 21 and has to argue about everything, because you know, he knows everything.  But one day, maybe he'll remember it.  Or maybe not.  The beauty of turning 40 is that I no longer give a shit if he really heard me.

I've spent the better part of my life striving, fighting and clawing my way to achieve the things I've done.  Nothing has come easy.  Graduating high school, hard.  Graduating University, hard.  Getting work, frigging hard.  Changing jobs has been impossible, so growing in place and developing my career and building a salary has been freaking monumental.  Finding a husband, collossally difficult.  Getting pregnant and becoming a mom, heart-breakingly painful, difficult, impossible and then miraculous.  Being a parent, ridiculously challenging every single moment of the day.  Moving, hard...growing up, Shyeah - Right.

"No one said life was fair.  No one said life is easy."  That's what they say.  I've proven them right time and again.  I've tried to learn my life lessons both through doing and living, but also by observing and watching others.  It's served me well, and will continue to be the way I move forward in my life.   BUT, it can be easier.  I firmly believe that.

And at 40, I'm going to guess that the answer is 50% optimism and 50% apathy at the outcomes of what we're trying to achieve.

So I`m spending my 40th birthday with the person who should really be celebrating it.  My mom.  As a mom, I have come to learn that this day, my birthday, is less about me, than about what she gave up to have me...the monumental, overwhelming joy of bringing a life into this world is hers to cherish.  It`s her day as much as it is mine, and since (aside from my husband) she is my best friend and confidante, we belong together on this day more than any other.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Good Stuff

So, I realized I'm keeping a score.  A record of my weight loss only in numbers.  I'm not recognizing the changes that are already demonstrating how much better my life is getting.

That's probably because I'm so focused on the scale to avoid the stuff that scares the bejeebers out of me.  You know, the stuff I'm afraid will come back...either watching the number on the scale creep back up, OR, having to face whatever demons my weight has been shielding me from all this time.

So let's start with awesome stuff.  After all, this is a blog titled Making Lemonade, is it not?

It's stuff that hits you out of the blue, but it seems so ridiculously small, you forget how huge it is.

I crossed both my legs the other day to put my socks on.  Seems ludicrous to call out here, but if I told you I hadn't been able to do that in 3 years, you would see just how big a life change that actually is.  Crazy isn't it?  My right knee has been so inflamed and arthritic that in order to put my socks on every single day, I had to put my knee up on the bed and bend the leg so that I could reach my foot.  The other day, I crossed them without even thinking...It wasn't until I had finished putting on the sock that I realized I wasn't even moving my body the same way and caught on to the change.

I walked downstairs this morning without the assistance of the handrail or leaning against the wall.  Again, it might seem like this is silly to be mentioning, but when you hurt as much as I have for the last three years, walking down a flight of stairs first thing in the morning without assistance was unheard of.  Every muscle in my body ached from the strain of carrying around the extra padding.  My body was swollen so much that I feared the smallest prick of my skin might result in a flood.  Walking down the stairs without wincing at every step and holding onto the railing for dear life is HUGE.

I picked up my 27 lb child and carried her from her bed, down the hall and to the bathroom, without even breathing heavy...this is because I've finally lost more than she weighs, and that means I'm not carrying twice her weight.  Let me tell you how monumental this is.  For two years after she was born I dealt with crippling, debilitating back pain that was a side effect of the spinal block I got to have my c-section.  Combined with my weight issues, there were days when I could barely walk, stand up, sit up...and it took the power of Christ to move my body in the ways I needed to move to look after my toddler.  Stifling back the tears was a daily challenge and forced me to use whatever I could to skirt by the easiest ways possible.  I used an ottoman in front of the sofa to change her diapers rather than get on a floor or take her up to her change table.  We put a double bed in her room so that I could stop rocking her to sleep and instead snuggle her in bed because lifting her up out of the rocking chair and transferring her to her toddler bed was too painful for me.  I think this is the first time I have lifted her and carried her any distance without feeling pain, in her entire life.  This is the hugest possible improvement I could have imagined.

My family has been generally healthy (not hit with plague after plague) for 4 weeks.  This is a first in over a year.

In total (though a few of these are still due to the flu), I've lost 32 lbs.

So here's what I'm deathly afraid of.  I don't really know why I'm so fat in the first place.  I know I'm an emotional eater, but the only traumatic situations I can link any of it to, is the loss of my father at 21, and random pressures and comments people made while I was growing up that they thought would help me manage a healthy weight, but which actually created new stressors.  And I'm afraid that when I lose this extra shield I've been building, that I will discover there was something more to it.  I eat when I am stressed or fearful of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time to the wrong person.  I eat when I'm happy and want to celebrate.  I use food to reward myself, and I can already feel the pangs of wanting to reward my 32 lb loss with some Easter chocolate.  I worry that I won't know how to cope without food or cigarettes (used to be part of the coping mechanism before I quit in 2007).  I worry that my brain has blocked out something from my memory that would cause me to use weight as my protector.  I worry that when I find out who lies beneath all this padding that I'll want something different out of my life, that I won't be simply satisfied with what I have.  I worry.  Full stop.

Of course there's no point in worrying until there's reason too.  Right now, I'm really quite happy that clothes are fitting me better and starting to feel big.  I'm overjoyed that I'm able to do the things I wrote about first in this post.  I'll take these wins and keep moving forward for now.  Will continue to wait for that other shoe to drop, and will work through it when it does...whatever it takes.

The freak show fat lady will never be me again.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Flu Diet Phenomenon

No matter your choice of method for losing weight, nothing helps break the plateaus and weight barriers quite like a good bout of the flu.

Since I started on solids again last week, it's been a struggle to break the 30 lb barrier.  I bounced up and down, and well, getting around some of the junk in the house has been a bit challenging, particularly with Easter on it's way, and birthday's fast approaching.  Yeah - to say sticking to a good diet was hard would be an understatement.  I honestly could have knocked it out of the park if I hadn't been dealing with Aunt Flo and a husband who can't seem to indulge in my favourite snack foods you know - after I've left the room.

But fast forward to Easter Sunday when I'm woken up twice in the wee hours of the morning by a 2 year old who has decided she misses the times when she wouldn't sleep through the night, and then alarmingly, I'm woken up a third time by you guessed it, the flu.  Yeppers - so much for the big family dinner at mom's.  I ate 1 slice of toast all day long.  yep...when I finally felt good enough to be vertical, I got on the scale to confirm that I was now 5 lbs less than the previous day.  This makes the total weight loss since I started my preop diet to 31 lbs.  Yay me!

So this is the key - you can lose plenty of weight if you limit yourself to water and one slice of bread each day.  You'll die doing it, and it feels dreadful...but it works!

If only I could figure out how to bottle that and sell it!!!