Friday, February 17, 2017

All I really wanted was a damn donut

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Until it wasn't. I was doing well until the last minutes of the work day when I discovered a crisis that I had to deal with before I left. Didn't matter that I had to be an hour out of town for something and needed to get on the road. This had to be dealt with.

Unfortunately, it also nearly drove me to tears. Without a huge rehash, suffice it to say that a mistake was made and I take my share of responsibility for that and hope that others will as well. The way that someone chose to deal with me in some text messages regarding this situation is what made me want to cry. But I didn't and we got things sorted out, if not exactly the way we'd want to, then at least in a way that covered the bases.  The goal now is to ensure this never happens again.

I hopped in my car and drove an hour to honor a commitment and the drive time, along with laughter at my destination, helped a great deal. Also the realization that if this mistake hadn't been discovered until today then the situation would have gone from bad to much, much worse reminded me that things that are painful or bad aren't always as bad as they seem at the time. I'd much rather have had to deal with yesterday than the potential of what today might have bene.

I know. I'm talking in circles. I'm good at that, you know.

As I drove the hour to get back home, I realized I'd never eaten dinner. I wasn't particularly hungry at the start of my drive, but as time went on, the munchies kicked in. More particularly, I began to crave donuts. Sugary, sweet; maybe filled with custard and covered in chocolate. All kinds of deliciousness in a circular form.

The miles passed by, but my mind kept thinking of donuts. It doesn't help that I live less than a mile from Krispy Kreme and it was, more or less, on my way home.

Back and forth, back and forth, I waged an internal war over the merits of stopping for donuts versus going straight home. I wasn't so upset anymore that I wanted to eat my feelings. I was truly craving a donut for the sake of eating a donut. But...should I? I haven't been the healthiest eater lately and while I haven't gained weight, I still haven't lost the 5 lbs. I gained last summer and doing so is important to me. If I stopped for a donut, I'd end up with at least a half dozen. I'd never take home only one and certainly wouldn't eat only one when I got there.

So I drove down the darkened highway for a solid 20 minutes going back and forth about donuts. What would it mean if I ate one? It's not like I don't eat sugary desserts or candy every day (did I mention I cant lose those 5 pounds?). Would a donut (or 3) be so bad? I wasn't doing it because I was upset or trying to fill a gap. It was what I wanted. So why not get it?

That was the devil on my shoulder talking and I was more than willing to listen. But then...the angel on the other shoulder chimed in, reminding me that having the donuts in my apartment would be a huge temptation. I'd have eaten them all by breakfast this morning and then how would I feel? Bloated and sick? Most likely. Would it be worth it? Cheap thrills are always just But that thrill...Dang it! How am I supposed to figure this out?!?!

Decision time came and I made the right turn - literally, I had to turn right - rather than heading straight, which would have taken me to the donuts. To console myself, I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast this morning, but it wasn't the same.

Now, this isn't just a silly story about donuts. While my brain volleyed the options back and forth last night, I realized that people who have a healthy relationship with food probably don't have to deal with things like this. They likely don't overthink situations and weigh all the pros and cons of doing something seemingly as simple as eating a donut.

But I don't have a healthy relationship with food. Never have. Growing up, I remember my mother making comments about the size of my thighs (even when I was smaller, my thighs have always been pretty thick) and then turning right around asking if I wanted some Doritos. I got the double shot of being told I was pretty and being asked if I was sure I wanted to wear shorts because, once again, my thighs were big. My mother loved me, but she didn't teach me how to have a healthy relationship with food or my body. If I had one, I can't imagine I'd have gone round and round for so long about eating a donut.

The final decision was easier than I thought it would be and I obviously satisfied my sweet tooth this morning with the pancakes. But the realization of how the debate in my mind was playing out kind of fascinated me. I overthink most everything in my life. Always have and probably always will. Some days I'll end up making the choice to stop for the donuts and maybe in the mean time, this is a lesson that will stick with me as I try to have that healthier relationship with food. I want that, I really do. I want to feel better about the food I use to fuel my body. I know how I feel when I eat a healthy meal and it satisfies my body's needs. I like that feeling. But as it is with so many things in my life, I wish it hadn't taken me this long to come to that realization. Better late than never, I suppose. Maybe that's my new motto.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Life is too short to wear boring dresses

I was flipping through the January issue of Elle magazine this morning and was surprised to find an article that really hit home for me. I say “surprised” because, while I currently seem to be subscribing to a lot of fashion magazines, I am not a person who is particularly interested in fashion. I am, however, a person who is interested in freebies and free magazine subscriptions make me happy. High fashion, however, mostly makes me laugh. I am always fascinated that there might actually be someone out there who would wear some of those things.
I suppose that’s not really the point though, as I do enjoy clothes and my own sense of style…whatever that may be. Honestly, I have said many times before that I’m an advocate of Garanimals for grownups. It would make my life easier if I didn’t have to figure out how to pair up various article of clothing, but could let the little animal tags tell me to put the sheep with the sheep or the giraffe with the giraffe. And maybe sometimes the wildebeest with the butterfly, just for fun.
So I flip through these magazines mostly rolling my eyes at some pretentious, ridiculously expensive item of clothing that is simply “this season’s must have” thing. Yeah. Sure. Whatever. My “must have” is more like clean socks and underwear and bras that hold everything up that should stay up and in. I’ll never be high fashion…I’m more likely the best dressed person at the local Kmart.
This story, however, really struck a strong chord in me because, for a change, I could relate. “This Dress Will Change Everything” was written by April Long who is, well, I don’t know who she is, but she gets me. Her story is about when she was studying abroad in London years ago, and found a dress that caused her to imagine her life taking an amazing and joyous turn. Her roommate spotted it first and bought it, but ultimately gave it to her.
Long says she only wore the dress one time, but “It was exactly what I’d imagined when I first saw the dress; I became, in that moment, a version of myself that I’d always wanted to be.”
Oh April. Girl, I get you. I really do. Because in my life not only have I had a dress that would change everything, but I think maybe I’ve had two.
The first dress was the one I wore to the junior prom in 1988. Now, don’t get ahead of me here and assume that an 80s dress couldn’t be gorgeous because this one was. And still is…I just can’t fit a leg into it anymore, let alone my whole body. Over the years this dress seems to have taken on a life of its own.
It’s not merely my prom dress, it’s The Prom Dress. It always felt like it deserved capitalization. An elevated level of importance. The reason being, at least partially, is that after wearing the dress, people kept coming up to me talking about it. A girl I went to school with, but whom I did not know, came up to me the following week after prom and complimented me on the dress. Another girl even went out and bought the same dress at the boutique where I got mine to wear in a pageant. And, in fact, it was a pageant dress. Nothing wrong with that…just adding an extra detail to the story here.
Even years later, people were still talking about that dress. It was fascinating. Still is, for that matter. I mean, sure, I might talk about it, but other people? That was weird.
Maybe it’s because the dress was black – that was my only requirement in finding a dress for prom – and the 80s tended to lend themselves to thoughts of Scarlett O’Hara pastel hoop-skirted nightmares (apologies if anyone reading this had one of those, but they were never, ever my thing) or something in delightful neon colors (which I did wear more than my fair share of and will again one day when they inevitably come back into style), but this dress was one that I guess no one saw coming.
These days The Prom Dress resides at my father’s house in a closet since I don’t have room in my apartment for it. I realize that nearly 30 years down the road I should get rid of it, but I have a hard time with that. I would hate for it to go to someone that didn’t appreciate it or that would do something foolish like cut it up and turn it into something else. But I suppose that is part of moving on and moving forward – you have to let things go and allow them to belong to someone else. I’m going to give that some thought this year and maybe I’ll be able to find the right person to be the dress’s new owner. I’d love to see it getting out and about rather than sitting in the closet for another 30 years. Goodness knows I’m never going to be able to fit into it again. Maybe someone else out there can.
Jumping forward nearly those 30 years, this morning I realized that I had had a very similar experience to the author of this magazine article.
Just over year ago, I was out shopping one evening after work. I don’t go out clothes shopping willy nilly, but when I lost weight I needed to buy some clothes that fit me better. I’d spent decades wearing loose, billowy clothes to try to hide the fat. To try and hide myself. Now I get giddy that I can wear a size Large and am happy to wear anything form-fitting.
This particular evening I was wandering around the store, not sure just what I was looking for, when I wandered into what I call the “Much Too Young for You” department at Belk. I think it’s called Young Contemporary. Either way, probably not where a 40-something female should be shopping, but who says I can’t make my own rules.
Checking out the sale rack I found a super cute LBD – Little Black Dress. It had an open back. It had fringe. It was just happiness on a hanger. And, it was size large.
Looking at it, I wasn’t sure the dress would fit, but decided what would the harm be to try it on anyway. Just in case.
Well, it fit. It fit and it made me SO happy. So happy, in fact, that I took some selfies in the dressing room mirror and posted them on Facebook, which is very unlike me. I hate having my picture taken.
Once I got home, I added some fishnet stockings I happened to have (still haven’t figured out how I had those) and some heels and once again was so ridiculously happy that I sat around my apartment for at least a full hour all dressed up, just loving that dress so much and how it made me feel.
To quote April Long again, “in that moment, a version of myself that I’d always wanted to be.” The author also wonders “was that because of the way the dress made me look, or because of the way it made me feel?” For me, I’d say it was both. I loved how I looked and from there, I loved how it made me feel.
Since that evening I’ve only had one occasion to wear the dress, a mere few weeks later to a party. It’s not that I wouldn’t wear it again, but the opportunity simply hasn’t arisen and I’m not sure that it should. I had so much fun that evening, I loved wearing the dress, and it definitely caught the attention of various people that night. I felt good. I felt pretty. I felt…worthy. I hate using that word because it makes it sound like I walk around feeling unworthy all the time, but that’s the best word I can think of. I felt worthy. Of the attention, of the good feelings I had, or all the happiness bubbling up inside me. I love that dress because it made me feel so good and that good feeling carried over and still does today. I won’t let it go and I likely won’t let that dress go any time soon. Or maybe I will. Maybe it’s time to take a good look at both dresses and see if they can be used to spread happiness to someone else because I’m pretty sure they are both made of magic.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Vaginismus Monologues: Slip Sliding Away, a humorous tale of personal lub...

I started a new blog specifically about my funny experiences with vaginismus. I don't believe anyone sees either of my blogs unless I post the links on social media, but I'm going to post links over here anyway. This is the most recent post.

The Vaginismus Monologues: Slip Sliding Away, a humorous tale of personal lub...: “All I remember is sitting up on the table thinking, ‘Oh my God! There’s lube everywhere !’” And thus we begin our heroine’s (um...that ...

Monday, December 26, 2016

"We should probably all be more like those turtles sometimes."

I was standing at the kitchen sink today, tidying up as one is want to do, when I saw a tiny little soap bubble floating over the sink.  It was small and perfect and clear and made me think of Glinda the Good Witch floating around in “The Wizard of Oz”. So, I stopped and watched it as it floated up and down, then out of the kitchen entirely (this was a very active soap bubble) before coming back in and then vanishing. Ok. So maybe I had too much time on my hands, but that was kind of the point. Sort of. Maybe. I realized looking at it made me smile, so I decided to keep watching until I couldn’t see it anymore. And I smiled the whole time. Totally worth it.
A few years ago, in another city, when I owned a home, I sat on my driveway one day after mowing the lawn and watched a bunch of balloons float up into the sky. I thought about where it had come from and where it was going and just watched. It gave me a nice sense of peace that I often find so lacking in my daily life these days. Oh, I’m mostly happy these days, but I can’t always say I’m peaceful. I don’t know how to simply pause and exist and soak up the moment I’m in, but I’m working on it.
I took a long walk along the riverfront last Thursday since the weather was so lovely. I enjoy walking when it’s crisp and cool, but it’s a struggle to get outside when the temps are higher. We lucked into sunny skies and highs in the 60s so close to Christmas and I’m definitely not going to complain.
When I walk with friends I will go further, but when I walk alone it’s a chance to get inside my head. To sort through whatever is going on in my life that’s not making sense or time to pray. Lately I’ve been praying for understanding about some things going on in my life, but no answers have been forthcoming. Since I am a champion at overthinking everything, I’ve struggled with not trying too hard to make sense of things life has thrown my way of late, but I thought a little time in nature would be a nice way to spend part of the day. And once again, the beautiful weather certainly didn’t hurt for motivation.
With clear, blue skies and bright sunshine, I had a lot of time to look around and enjoy the scenery. One of my favorite colors is the orange in an autumn leaf and they were plentiful. I passed the first one and thought I should stop to take a picture, but continued on as I knew I had 2 miles to go one way before I could turn around and head back. Didn’t seem to make sense to stop so early in the walk when I could surely stop on my way back.
I passed a few other things that made me want to stop and take a picture, but my mind kept telling me to keep on walking. Get to the end and turn around, then I could take pictures on the way back if I still wanted to.  The trouble with that, I realized, is that when I’m walking back the opposite direction, I’m not going to see the same things in the same way that I did before. And what about the leaf? What if it was gone when I came back? What if I couldn’t find the things I’d seen on my way?
Mulling over it all in my old noodle, I tried to divert myself once again into prayer, asking God to please provide some clarity and understanding about some things going on in my life. Then I heard a clear voice in my head saying, “Just be in the moment.” Perhaps I was so busy looking for answers that I was failing to really see what was around me. Oh sure, it’s all kind of hokey and not the first time something like this has been said, but it made me pause and realize I was pushing once again. I push when I don’t get the answers or responses I think I should. I don’t let things happen – I try to force them to happen. Because that always works out so very well, right? 
After that, I stopped to take some pictures. Of silly things, I suppose.
Spanish moss hanging so lovely from the trees.
The way the two bridges come together over part of the river.
Turtles sunning themselves on logs.
Debris from last year’s floods and this year’s hurricane.
Whatever I saw that made me happy, I stopped and took a picture. I even stood still a few times and turned my face to the sky to enjoy the sun and the breeze that was blowing. I think the turtles really had the right idea. We should probably all be more like those turtles sometimes.
It may have taken me a little longer to walk those 4 miles, but it suddenly made more sense to stop. Because I was right…I couldn’t find the leaf again that I liked so much. I had to look much harder for the things I’d seen on my way because my perspective was different. I found most everything again, but it wasn’t the same as the initial moment of discovery.
I’m still trying to sort out some things in my life (and aren’t we all really doing that, all the time?), but will keep that subtle nudge and reminder with me (I hope) as much as I can to stop and be in the moment. Enjoy what is happening ,while it is happening, and stop putting so much thought into the past or the future. Easier said than done, but a worthwhile pursuit nonetheless.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hush up! I don’t talk too much. I’m just a storyteller.

I often think about how everyone has a story. Every person you meet on the street or pass in the grocery store has a story. Something is happening to them – good or bad – and if you talk to them long enough, the story may come pouring out.

Recently a friend asked me what was going on with me. A pretty simple question or so it seems, but clueless here replied with something like, “Eh. Nothing much. My life is pretty boring.”

Um…excuse me? Did I just say that my life is boring?? Have I been living my life the past year? I thought I had been, but if I said my life was boring or that I don’t do much of anything then I’m terribly mistaken. My life is so UN-boring sometimes that I crave dull moments. And if my life was so boring, why do I talk about it so, so, SO very much?

I like to talk. Anyone who knows me for even 20 minutes (or less, really) realizes that. I can take the simplest communication and somehow make it infinitely more complicated than it has to be. One sentence becomes a paragraph because you have to have all the details, right? That’s the only thing that makes sense to me.

I’m fortunate enough in my volunteer work that the gentleman I spend most of my Saturday afternoons with, Jack, is quite a loquacious fellow. Usually if either of us are telling a story, we have to tell you two or three backstories before we get to the main event. I mean, otherwise how will you truly understand what is happening? Makes total sense. To us. Not necessarily to other folks.

Mostly I figure I ramble and I appreciate of the friends who allow me to do so. Yesterday, however, I realized that maybe I don’t just ramble. Maybe I’m a storyteller.

I was out walking with my friend Shelley this weekend on a glorious autumn Saturday afternoon and we were playing catch-up on our lives. It had been a while since we’d chatted so we had a lot of ground to cover and as anyone who has talked at length with me in, say, the past 6 or 8 months knows, I tend to have a lot to talk about (and sometimes that’s why I pay a professional to sit and let me talk to them). I was relaying some details in a story and kept going, “Oh, but there’s another layer…” There always seems to be another layer.

Thankfully, Shelley seemed to appreciate and be entertained by my crazy life and I am grateful for that. Although maybe she’s just really, really glad the crazy is in my life and not hers!! Cause y’all, the truth is stranger than fiction and don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. You can’t make this stuff up.

Chatting yesterday with my friend DD, I believe she’s the one who said, after I talked about all those layers to the story I told Shelley, “Well, of course [you had so many layers]. You’re a storyteller.” 

Huh. Me? A storyteller? And not, y’know, just a blabbering loudmouth? Hmmmm…interesting. 

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “storyteller” as:

a teller of stories: as

1.      a relater of anecdotes

2.      a reciter of tales

3.      liar, fibber

4.      a writer of stories

Hmmmm…well, ok. I guess maybe I qualify. Except the liar and the fibber part. I’d never tell a fib. Maybe a fliblet, but never a fib.

I do enjoy having an audience and especially making people laugh. I walk into physical therapy each week, look at my PT and go, “Have I got a story for you!” Truly. Every single week. She actually seems disappointed if she thinks I don’t have one. 

Life is nuts and if there is a way to make a frustrating or sad or otherwise difficult situation better through humor then I am all in favor of it. Actually, I’m in favor of making any situation funny if I can. I do so like to laugh. But I’ve never thought of myself as a storyteller. Not in a positive way, at least. 

Now, however, I think I’ll embrace that idea. Yes, I do like to talk at length, but perhaps that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The challenge going forward, however, may be to learn to listen more to other people’s stories rather than focusing so much on telling my own. On the news program “CBS Sunday Morning”, Bill Geist used to do a segment where he’d pick a name at random out of the phone book (do they still make phone books?) and call the person and find out their story. I always thought that was pretty cool. Everyone had a story to tell when he talked to them and everyone I know has a story to tell, just like I do. If you ever want to tell me yours, I’d love to hear it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sometimes a broken bowl becomes a life lesson

I realized today that God has been testing my patience this week and I’ve been failing every time. I’ve been moody, cranky, mean, and downright ornery most of the time (as opposed to my usual sass and snark, that is). I’ve directed it at others, at myself, and possibly worst of all, at situations over which I have no control. Nothing says “big fun” more than stressing yourself out over a situation you can do nothing to control or change. That’s a big one with me. If I am not stressing over something, I’m not sure what to do with myself. I never pray for patience though because that’s how you end up in a body cast for 6 months. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Monday kicked off my anger and frustration when I walked into my office. Oh, going to work wasn’t causing me heart palpitations, but once I got there I noticed that a bowl on my desk had been broken. My favorite bowl. I was very attached and starting the day off like that wasn’t my idea of a good time.

A few years ago I took a pottery class. I wasn’t good at it and to be honest, after the first class I really wasn’t into it. I was content to make a couple of bowls, say I’d tried something new, and move on. In the end, I made about 5 or 6 pieces and was glad I’d tried, but also realized I wasn’t going to be one of the ladies in that class who kept coming back to each session and learning more and making more. They were so into it and I love that, but it wasn’t for me. I’m not a particularly artistic person, but I enjoy dabbling now and then.

The broken bowl on my desk was one I had made in that class. It was the best of the lot. My favorite piece and the one of which I was most proud and some nighttime cleaner has smashed it and left the rubble on my desk. They didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a note of apology or any acknowledgement of what had happened. 

To add insult to injury, this person also decided it was alright to throw the broken pieces into the trash so I couldn’t even try to repair it. I’m convinced that I could put it back together again. Maybe I could and maybe I couldn’t, but I’ll never know that for sure because I was never given the chance. I’d rather have had the cracked and damaged bowl that was glued back together than to think about those pieces being unceremoniously tossed into the trash. 

I was so angry that a co-worker commented on how she’d never seen me that mad in the 7+ years I’ve worked here. I just wanted to sit in my office and cry and to be honest, I did cry a little bit. That was MY bowl! I made it and I was so proud of it and someone else was careless with it (it sat on my desk in that same location for several years without a problem). I was heartbroken. Now, I realize full well that it is just a thing. An object. I didn’t lose a loved one or a vital body part or anything like that. But I still wanted to cry.

As the week has gone on, I’ve thought about that bowl every day. I can’t bear to throw out the remains of it. It would be a knife to my heart.

Yesterday, I held it in my hands and just looked at it. Ran my fingertips along the rim, careful of the broken pieces and sharp edges. I started trying to picture in my mind what the bowl could become, now that it couldn’t be a bowl anymore. I knew deep inside that I wasn’t willing or able to part with it.

I thought about how sometimes we have to take the wreckage and remains of whatever it is and turn it into something new. Look at it from every angle. Explore all the possibilities. Then create that new thing, whatever it is.

When there is no way for something to be what it once was, do we take the time to imagine what it can become? Or are we like that cleaner, who decided to throw away the pieces without a second thought?

I’m trying to focus on what the bowl can become. How it can be transformed with a little smoothing of the rough edges. Maybe a little paint to cover the broken places. I love that stupid bowl and I’m going to love whatever it morphs into. I’m grateful for the times God takes a few minutes to smooth my rough edges, pick up my broken pieces, and help me figure out what I can become when it’s clear I can no longer be what I once was.