Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

I’ve been in a big transition lately.  A whole lotta things have been changing my perspective.  Nothing eventful.  Nothing dynamic.  Just small, meaningful movements in my heart have given me a whole new look at what I want in my life.

What’s funny about that shift is that when you know what you want, you’re immediately aware of what you don’t want.  What’s better, you’re also aware of what you won’t tolerate.

One of these things is friendship.  I’m crystal clear about what I want in a relationship with a friend.  I want honesty.  I want support. I want time.  Those are the 3 legs of the tripod of friendship that must exist for the relationship to stay balanced.  And there’s a reason for those.

Honesty: I must know that you are honest with me.  I don’t want you to be abrasive, but I do want you to be honest.  I’ll ask your opinion.  I’ll ask for help.  I’ll ask for perspective.  If I can trust you to be honest, then I know that when I ask for your opinion, you’re not telling me what I want to hear.  If I wanted a lemming as a friend, the choices are abundant.  But I want truth and trust.  And as BFF#1 says, “You can say anything where trust is present.”

Support: I can be a little bit of a risk taker (file that under “Obvious statements of the year).  So I get excited about new opportunities and things that inspire me.  I can overwhelm myself with possibility and work myself to death on things that don’t matter.  Once you’re honest with me by telling me what you really think about the 18th project I’ve taken up this month, I want you to tell me that you believe in me.  I want you to say, “You got this.”  Even better would be, “Can I help you with it?”

Time:  This one is a biggie.  I need you to actively engage me in discussion and spend time with me.  And not only when you need something.  But when you want to say hi.  When you want to know what is going on in my world.  When you want to share something good that happened.  Something bad that happened.  I want you to want to see me for lunch or dinner or coffee or shopping or pedicures or a movie or just to run errands together.

Understand that I don’t need this all the time.  I don’t need you to reach out every single day.  I don’t want a friendship that feels like a checklist or a chore.  But if you treat people you work with or people you just met better than you treat me, well then there is a big problem.  If you make excuses to not spend time with me, or “forget” to update me on a situation that you needed me to help you through when you were in crisis… then there is a problem.  If you’re not saying, “How are you?”  Or “What’s happening in your world?” or “I haven’t heard from you.  Are you okay?”, then we ‘ve gone off the rails a little.

As I continue to grow and learn more about me, I find that I’m actively communicating these changes with my loved ones.  I want them to grow with me.  I want them to be in my corner.  Because they matter to me.

Sadly, there are some that aren’t ready to make the jump.  They’re content to be where they are, and that’s okay.  I was resentful for a while.  I felt like their desire to stay where they were was a rejection of our friendship.  I realize now, though, that just as I’m ready to grow, they may not be ready to.  And that’s okay.  My journey is my journey.  And theirs is theirs.

I’ve made the choice to allow that separation to happen.  I don’t want to go through the veritable “break up”, which no one walks away from unscathed.  But more simply, I want to allow them their own space on their journey.  I want to wish them well.  I want to remain thankful for their influence in what’s gotten me here.  I don’t want them to look at me as someone who pushed them into something they didn’t want.

I want their happiness as much as I want my own. 

And I wish them love and light on their journey.  Perhaps our paths will cross in another intricate fashion, once more.  Until then, I’m happy to have loved them.  And to have had their love.

We’ve all dealt with friendships ending at some point.  How have you handled it? How has it been handled with you?  Do you look back with regret, resentment or respect?

Quit waiting. Now’s the time.

I’m fired up today.  Why?  Because I just read the interview with The Biggest Loser winner.  Rachel Frederickson went from a size 22 to a size 0.  Her weight dropped from 260lbs to 105lbs.  Which is absolutely incredible.  Amazing.  Inspiring.

But I took issue with one quote posted on USmagazine.com.  This one.

“I can’t wait to do everything,” she gushed. “To go out and make friends and take people up on offers to go for coffee or to the movies and just really embrace every moment of life and not hide anymore!”

Well, that’s awesome, isn’t it?

Wait…. What?  Let me read that again… she wasn’t making friends or having coffee or going to the movies or embracing every moment of life because she was heavy?

I call bullshit.  I do.  See, I believe that she was hiding.  But not because of the weight.  I think she was hiding behind the weight.  And I feel like the article was misleading.  Pointing the finger at weight instead of self-esteem is what feeds the stigma that you can’t be happy unless you’re a size 2 or a size 6 or a size whatever.

I’m not going pick on Ms. Frederickson, because I believe that her reasons are hers and I can’t be prouder of anyone who finally finds themselves again after being in the darkness of their own soul.

But I will pick on the men and women out there who buy into that bullshit. I’ll say this, quite plainly, so there is no confusion about the message of this post.

You don’t need to be a size anything to be happy. 

Weight doesn’t matter.  Status doesn’t matter.  Money doesn’t matter.  Being in a relationship doesn’t matter. Number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers doesn’t matter.  Your job doesn’t matter.  The car you drive doesn’t matter. Do you feel what I’m saying here?  NOTHING outside you matters.  Not a single thing.  What matters is how you love yourself.

But I can hear what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “But I’m not happy with my weight.  I think I’m ugly.  I feel fat.  I hate how I look.  I don’t like how my clothes fit.”  Yup…. I got that.  I know how that feels. Understand, though, that being happy and loving yourself are quite different from knowing that you can be a better version of you.

If you don’t like how you feel in your clothes, do something about it.  Use the discomfort to your benefit.  As humans, we run to pleasure and run from pain.  What you need to determine is whether or not the pleasure of feeling comfortable in your skin outweighs the pain of continuing what you’re doing now.  And if it does, do something about it.  Begin it today.

But if you find yourself saying awful things to yourself, if you find that there is a tape that plays in the back of your head that tells you that you’re not good enough or you’ll never succeed or worse (believe me… I know that you tell yourself worse), then it isn’t weight you need to drop.  It’s that nonsense.

I’m not hating on weight loss.  I’m speaking from a very knowledgeable place.  10 years ago, I started my weight loss journey.  At 25 years old, I was a size 22.  And in 10 months, I lost 70 lbs and went down to a size 8.  I quit the program I was on and in the blink of an eye, I put 50 lbs on.  I went back on Weight Watchers and started losing weight again.  But it was harder this time.  Maybe because I spent a whole lot of time hating myself for putting the weight back on to begin with.  Or maybe because I was a little older.  Or maybe because it gets harder the second time?

All I know is that I wanted that size “whatever” badly.  Size 10 came and went.  Then size 8.  Then size 6.  But that wasn’t enough.  I was already well within a healthy weight range and my BMI was great!  That wasn’t enough, either.  There was a magic number that I wanted.  It became an obsession.  I took up running.  I watched my calorie intake like a hawk.  I punished myself for transgressions.  At first, it was with more exercise.  Then it was with lowered calorie intake.  And then, with pills.  And then with purging.

Yup.  I was a size 4, 135lbs, and purging every day.  I took water pills 3x a week.  Laxatives 2x a week.  I was living off less than 600 calories a day, BEFORE I purged.  Who knows how many calories were actually getting absorbed?

Outwardly, I looked healthy.  I didn’t have the sunken eyes and sallow skin of the anorexics on TV and in magazines.  I looked like a normal girl.  Normal…

I was far from normal.  My throat burned at night.  I spent a lot of time crying when I was alone.  And the voice that spoke to me in the quiet darkness was ruthless.  I told myself every awful thing that I’d never utter to another human being.

“You’re not good enough.”

“You’re embarrassing yourself.”

“You’ll never be good enough.”

“No one likes you.”

“You’re worthless.”

“You’ll never amount to anything.”

“Why are you still trying?”

“You’re ugly.”

“No one wants you.”

“Everyone knows you’re a fake.”

“You’re fucked up.”

“You’re useless.”

“I hate you.”

That last one.  I said it a lot.  And you know what?  I was very convincing because the voice that spoke to me in the dark was my own.  I had no defense against that. How do I tell myself that I’m wrong?  I should be the ultimate truth in my own head.

But that’s just it – I was the ultimate truth in my head.  That is actually what I thought.  And no amount of weight loss changed that.  It seemed that the more I lost, the worse I felt.

So why the rant?  Why hate on poor Rachel for her weight loss because *I* was screwed up?

The reason I’m ranting is because I know too many women who are just like I used to be.  They lose weight and think that once they get to goal, they’ll think differently about themselves.  And once they arrive, they don’t.  They might be proud of their accomplishment.  And they might enjoy the new clothes and the new attention they get and the compliments from loved ones.  After talking to a number of them, though, I found that there is this fear inside them.  “What happens if I gain the weight back?  How much can I gain back before I’m considered a failure?”

So that is why I’m ranting.  I know it’s taken me a long time to get here, but this is why I’m fired up: No matter what, you’re not a failure.  No matter what that scale says, you’re amazing.  No matter what size the tag on your clothes reads, you’re beautiful.  No matter what you used to look like, you’re perfect now.

If you’re beginning any personal transformation, begin with the right frame of mind.  Love yourself.  First!  Quit hiding.  Quit waiting for that magic number on the scale or the right size pants to go out and live!  Go have coffee.  Watch movies.  Make friends.  I can guarantee that you are more than the number of that tag.  I can assure you that what you have to offer the world, someone is looking for RIGHT NOW!

So go out and live.  Work on yourself.  Do  that.  Lose weight.  But for the love of everything beautiful in the world, please…. love yourself first.  Don’t wait for what you think to be perfect before you go out and grab the world by the horns.  Spoiler alert: you’re already perfect.  Now’s the time.

I’m a crazy woman.

It’s been an interesting day for me.

Image

This is my Teddy. He’s a lab-shepherd-rottie mix. He’s 3 months old in this picture. And he’s absolutely the sweetest dog on the earth.

I woke up feeling great and decided to take my new-ish puppy (we’ve had Teddy for two months) on a walk at 6am.  2.5 miles later, I felt good, he felt good, and on to my day I went.  I ran a couple of errands, went home, got dressed, and got ready for work.

I headed out the door, got my Starbucks, and proceeded to the now-jam-packed highway to work.  It was backed up.  Like… very backed up.  I was in the right lane, since it seemed to be moving faster.  Slowly we crawled along, and I noticed that there was an accident ahead.  Dozens of people slowly passed the accident and as I approached, I saw why.  Two men were outside their cars BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF EACH OTHER!  Like, seriously going to blows.  What I found interesting, though, was the toddler in the back seat of the car, screaming like he was hurt!

I pulled ahead of the cars, threw my car in park, and ran to where the two idiots men were punching each other.  I grabbed one of the arms of the man doing most of the beating and was screaming at him to stop.  He was hulk strong, so I didn’t even phase him.  Punched the guy again.  So I grabbed him from behind and did my best to at least give a ton of resistance before he punched again.  Meanwhile, I’m screaming, “STOP!  STOP IT NOW!”  He seemed to momentarily realize what was happening and stepped back from the other guy (who was bloodied and a mess, by this point).  I stepped between them just as the man swung and I got slugged in the shoulder.  I felt every ounce of my blood boil and I yelled, “Hit me or him again and I will beat you to death with my bare hands!”  I meant business.

Once he realized that he just punched a woman, he really took a step back.  I had control of the situation.  I asked, “Who does that kid belong to?”  The man who punched me ackowledged my question.  “Mine,” he said.  I was furious.  “What the fuck are you doing out here with this guy when your kid is screaming like that?  What the fuck is wrong with you guys? Get your kid!”  He stepped around me to his son, just as the cops showed up.

Of course, they lectured me for getting involved, blah blah blah.  And I’ve gotten it from a few others, too.

To be honest, I didn’t even think about myself.  I saw the guys punching and the kid screaming and all I thought was that this poor kid was hurt from the wreck and no one was paying attention!  And all the people who drove by!  What the fuck is *that* all about?

I get it.  Those guys could have had a knife, or a gun, or just reckless senses and beaten me, too.  I get that.  But what kind of person turns a blind eye to that spectacle?  Don’t we owe our fellow man that sense of duty?  If I were getting beaten on the highway, who would stop for me?

So, dear readers, I ask you the same thing: If you were in this situation, would you do the same?  Why or why not?

I can sum up everything I know about life in 3 words…

But that would make a shitty blog entry so I am not going to just yet.  I might post it on Twitter or something, though.  That remains to be seen.

So in one of my last posts, I told you I got laid off at my last job… the last job that I loved (although I didn’t love the CEO boss who was a total douche and ultimately fired me).  But there is a happy ending to that story… sort of.

During my unemployment I stayed afloat with our finances, lost 20 lbs, and spent a TON of time in nature which totally refreshed me.  I found another job 4 weeks after losing my previous job, and then had two weeks of not worrying to really enjoy the forced sabbatical.

I started the new job almost three weeks ago.  I like it, well enough, I suppose.  I’m still not acclimated to the environment, and the new team hasn’t accepted me as one of their own, yet.  I am getting things done, though, and beginning to feel accomplished.

Karma took care to the douche I used to work for.  I found out that he got fired only *days* after I started the new job.  I don’t normally celebrate the misfortune of others, but I have to say that I delighted in karmic retribution.  Because fuck him.

What I didn’t expect is the disappointment and anger I feel, now.  I’ve heard through the grapevine that the other two owners didn’t want to fire me, but couldn’t put their foot down to prevent it because it would jeopardize the proceedings to eject him from the business.  And so now, I’m super pissed because I could still be making better money, working with better people, and kicking ass at the other company that is NOW becoming the environment they were when I was first hired with them.

And then I tell myself to quit being such a puss because really?  Why am I crying in spilled milk?  It’s done and the only option I have is to suck it up and move on because I can’t change it.

Because in the end, life goes on.  And the sun will rise tomorrow.  And I need to remind myself that everything happens for a reason.  And that reason will reveal itself through patience and hard-work.

Sunrise in Denver, CO

Sunrise in Denver, CO – copyright Fusion PDC 2013

So, I leave you with this, one of the amazing images from my recent outings during the sunrise.  It’s amazing.

Let’s face it – when it sucks, it sucks

Since losing my job, I’ve spoken with a lot of people.  Friends checking up on me.  Family members making sure I’m okay.  Former co-workers keeping me in the loop with the latest gossip.

A few times, when they’ve been complaining, somewhere during the conversation they’ll say, “Wait… I shouldn’t be complaining.  I mean, look at what you’re going through.”  And then today, I saw a post on Facebook with someone well-meaning lampooning fellow Facebook connections for complaining too much, and not being grateful, enough.  “You just wasted a breath with a complaint while someone else took their last one.”

…..please.  Really?  THAT is the new standard for our lives?  Be happy and grateful 100% of the time because someone else has it worse?  By the same token, should we refrain from celebrating because someone else has it better?

That is possibly the dumbest possible way to set yourself up for failure I’ve ever heard.  Because here’s the thing, folks – we *need* time to process our feelings.  We need to experience them.  All of them.  We need to experience disappointment and anger and happiness and frustration and sadness and excitement and boredom.  We have been given the ability of cognitive thought.  And with that comes a range of emotion.  That emotion allows us to tie feelings to experiences, and thus, enlightenment.

Think about it: You spend a whole week at work putting off an important project.  On Friday, the project is due, and you don’t have it completed.  Your boss expresses his frustration, a little less than politely.  You go into the weekend feeling angry with yourself for not getting it done.  You feel embarrassed because your boss called you out.  And you’re sad because, instead of socializing with friends, you’ll be doing the project you should have done during business hours.

Without the emotional ties, we would struggle to learn from our experiences.

When my friends shame themselves for complaining, simply because I’m unemployed, I graciously respond, “Don’t do that to yourself.  Don’t feel like you can’t complain about a situation because of what I’m going through.  I’d rather you express your feelings to me because we’re friends, rather than censor them because I’m in a rough patch.”

Without emotion, nothing happens.  As I’m sitting here, I realize that my coffee cup is sitting precariously close to the edge of the table.  That makes me anxious; I don’t want my coffee to spill.  So I move it.  Conversely, I notice that my running shoes aren’t put away.  But right now, I’m not worried about it, so nothing will happen.

You feel how you need to feel.  From processing emotion comes insight.  From insight comes enlightenment.  From enlightenment comes next action steps.  From next action steps comes success or failure.  And the process begins again.  Getting stuck in any one part of that process is problematic.  But going through them?  Perfectly healthy.

So here’s my public service announcement for the day: Feel how you need to.  Bitch about life when it has you down.  Celebrate when something good happens.  Someone always has it worse.  And someone always has it better.  And don’t worry about me.  I can’t stop myself from expressing myself.  So I’ll be just fine.

Catching up

1.  I was working 55 hours a week, every week, for about 6 months.  Part of the reason is because my commute was at least 45 minutes each way.  But the other part of the reason is because I’m an overachiever and actually believe that I am required to get everything done, every day.
**This is an expectation I’ve put on myself.  Also, overachiever = workaholic.  Don’t let me try to fool you.

2.  I spent a good portion of this year trying to get my head on straight.  In January, I was taking a whole bunch of meds: Lyrica, Amitriptyline, Vicodin, Percocet, Xanax, Celexa, and occasionally muscle relaxers.  By May, I was off everything.  Every. Single. Thing.
**I quit all the pain meds cold turkey.  It sucked.  I hurt.  I wouldn’t recommend doing it the way I did, if you can avoid it.  I weaned off the anti-depressants over the course of 3 months.  And it sucked worse than the pain med withdrawal.  I had withdrawal symptoms for 4 weeks solid.  And even now, I still have an occasional brain-zap or two.  Absolutely, under no circumstances, should you ever quit any anti-depressant cold turkey.  Trust me on this.

3.  I lost my job about 3 weeks ago.  It was a surprise.  They liked me (so much that they gave me a promotion and 2 significant pay raises in a matter of 6 months).  But business is business.  And they eliminated my position.
**I also don’t recommend stopping a 55-hour-a-week job cold turkey.  It’s been an adjustment, to say the least.

4.  I have a lot of free time now.  Like… loads. 
**Hence the let’s-catch-up post.

5.  Since I actually have time now, I’ve been able to do all the things I haven’t been able to do in a long time.  Like workout.  Hike.  Write my novel (more on that later).  Organize. Clean.  Relax.  Spend time with my family (this is somewhat of a new thing for me, again).
**I am currently 13lbs down since I lost my job, and I’m feeling more normal than I have in a very very long time.

6.  Job hunting sucks.  Not just a little, either.  A lottle.  Like.. a supersize amount.
**Quick thought: are people really asking for a Bachelor’s Degree to answer the phone?!  Also, since when does being an inside sales person = being in marketing.  If I could tell the business owners of America *one* thing: Sales IS NOT marketing.  They are two very separate efforts. 
****Oh, and on that note: you will not have marketing success with someone who makes $10/hour.  You’ve got to pay to play, people. 

7.  My novel: it’s been an “in-the-works-but-very-much-on-the-back-burner” thing for about 15 years.  I’ve dabbled.  But only in the last three weeks have I gotten serious about it. 
**It’s amazing how a full time job in creativity can prevent you from being creative any other time.

8.  I’m okay.  Finally.  Still don’t have a job.  Still looking.  But at peace with the path I have before me.  My brain is clear.  My body feels good.  I am in control, again.

I’ll write more, very soon, about my adventures.  I have many more to share.

From the mind of The Flame

BFF #1 and I are generally connected every day on Facebook Messenger. Every day. All day. Lunch breaks and meetings aside, we chat.  Sometimes it’s random.  Sometimes it’s not.  But it’s nice to know that, no matter the distance, I get to work with my best friend every day.

Everyone should be this lucky.

My first message to her, today, went like this:

ME: I kept seeing something out of the corner of my nose.  Then I was like, “Oh…. It’s my nose.” 
ME: Fail.  The corner of my *eye*!  My nose can’t see out of anywhere.

After this one-way exchange, I began to think of all the random things we talk about all day.  For your reading pleasure, I have included it here.  Hope it makes you smile the way it makes me smile.

ME: BFF #3 just posted on FB today, “Does anyone else clean when they are stressed?”
I was like, “I clean when I’m angry. I got that from BFF #1.”  Then it occurs to me that I didn’t get angry-cleaning from you. I got “redirecting” from you.
Her: I’m not angry as much as everything there was so clean (and it was so refreshing).
ME: Lol. Exactly why I didn’t get angry-cleaning from you.  You’re a cleaner. I’m a go-to-sleeper.

Her: What time?
Candle time
ME: What time?  Ice Cream Shake time.  (#thingsfatgirlssay)
Her: Actually the first one was totally separate. What time did dude come in? (Pause) It is an hour necessary for a candle to be burning, for relaxation time.

ME: Grammatically speaking, which is correct:
“Are you *a* Jehovah’s Witness?”
or
“Are you Jehovah’s Witness?”
Her: Yes on the first, the second would apply as a “we are Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
ME: Ahhhh… okay. I’m on board. Not that it matters, in any capacity with regard to anything. It’s just something that crossed my mind.
The world can resume its revolution around the sun, now.
Her: That’s funny. I’m like, weird question.  “Those Jehovahs” is my favorite.
ME: “Those Jehovahs” might actually sound like a racial slur. Like, “those people”. “Those N-words” (I am being kind to your gentle mind by not using the *actual* n-word.)

Her: Go home.
ME: Almost. Just finishing one thing.  HEY! You go home, too.
Her: In the car already.
ME: Bragger.

ME: Memes are my hobby.
Her: We should get you a non-digital hobby. It’s better for your soul.

ME: I’m so mentally frazzled that I’m using periods unnecessarily on bullet points. *face palm*

Her: Payroll is due by 10. I sent a note that said I’m leaving town please do payroll at 8. Here it is 3 fricken 24 and there is one person not done. I’m about to curse.
ME: I like your emphasis on three fricken 24.

ME: I like the word burgled.

Her: I’m looking at weeds I put round up on last night. They are green as ever and smiling at me.  ….Jackasses.
Me: Yell at them and express your disappointment. Then threaten to drown them in bleach or fire.
“YOU DISAPPOINT ME WEEDS!!”

Her: I’m eating spoonfuls of peanut butter.
And celery…
ME: I’m chewing gum.

 

So that’s basically it.  Between these random musings is the very best friendship I could ever hope to have.  She’s my rubberband, and keeps me together when I’m falling apart.  And when there isn’t drama, she allows me to be who I am.  And she loves me anyway.  I love her.

My cup runneth over.