to begin…

I didn’t think it would be this difficult to write about the things that I value in myself.  I really didn’t.  Because I don’t HATE myself…  But, as it turns out, I haven’t spent much time or energy on liking myself, either.  So, without imposing any further judgement on myself,
here goes…

– I am full of love.  Love for people and places and animals and memories and ideas…  There is NO shortage of love here.

– I’m a really great mother.  No parent is perfect, but I give my daughter everything I have to give, and then some.  And I’m doing it alone.  I’m not just a single mother, but I’m also a caregiver:  her developmental and medical needs far outweigh what most parents experience in a lifetime, and I do it day in and day out, alone, without resentment.  Because I’m a damn good mom.

– I’ve become a really good listener over the past year or so.

– I haven’t given up.  I haven’t run away from my life at any point, and I haven’t tried to kill myself, and I haven’t dropped out of school, and I didn’t quit the dance/drill team in middle school even when I was really bad at it and never made the cut for the weekly dances (the next year, I made every single one–perseverance!)

– I’m kind.  I have a good heart, and I’m not a mean-spirited person.  I try to be kind always, and I succeed most of the time.

– I’m always getting better.  As a person, as a mom, as a partner, as a friend, as a student, as a professional, as a performer…

– I’m talented.  I should really stop telling myself that I’m not, or that it’s not okay to acknowledge when I do something well, because I *AM* talented, and I can put my talents to really good use in this world, if I’ll only acknowledge them more.

– I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong, to look for the causes of my shortcomings, and to work to improve.  I’m always trying to be better.

– I’m strong.  I rarely feel strong, but I do so much every day that is a testament to my strength and endurance, to my resilience, and to my courage.  I AM STRONGER THAN I FEEL.  (I need to drill that one in.)

– I’m intelligent.  I’m an excellent student, both in the classroom and in Life.  I am eager to learn, and I do it quickly, and there’s almost nothing that’s beyond my capabilities if I take the time to learn how to do it right.

– I believe.  This has been a source of some conflict periodically throughout my life, as I’ve been told, alternatively, that belief is a sign of strength and a sign of weakness.  I don’t know if I believe in any sort of deity or deities, but I believe in SOMETHING.  I believe that there’s power in this existence, and that the universe is full of goodness and love, and that anything and everything is possible.

– I’m loyal.  I don’t abandon the people in my life, and I will forgive and justify and defend people, deserving or not.  I never really turn on anyone, and I don’t know how to hate.

 

I feel like I could probably find some more if I dug a bit, but I really don’t want this to become a chore.  I didn’t number my list because I didn’t want to get caught up in any self-inflicted, obsessive-compulsive pressure to have a “nice, neat number” or anything of that nature.  I need this to be something I can take to heart, and not something stressful or that I’ll resent.  

I think this is a good start…  I don’t know if there will be more posts quite like this, but I kinda hope there are.  I hope I can really learn to love myself, to value myself, and to honor myself.  As a very intelligent man I know would say, “I deserve it.”

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the horrifically messy business of loving myself

I just had a really productive, two-hour conversation with my boyfriend.  He’s on the other side of the country right now, participating in a workshop that’s…  Well, all about him.  It’s been good for him, I think.  He seems to really be coming out of it with a sense of self-worth, a desire to pursue real happiness, and a powerful drive to love himself.  In talking, largely about the struggles I’ve been facing these past few days, I’ve really come to realize just how little I let myself love…  myself. 

I have no trouble loving other people–too much, in fact.  I give freely of myself, expecting little in return, and accepting nothing, as if that exchange is okay.  It isn’t.  Furthermore, I’ve let people teach me that feeling good about myself, being excited about my life, and really being passionate about who I am and what I have to offer…  Well, that it’s a symptom of a disease, necessitating medications to stop it in its tracks.  Clearly, it’s irrational and illogical and unhealthy.

WHAT??

I’ve had it all wrong for so very, very long.  I need to embrace those highs.  I need to love myself first so that I can love others in a more healthy and productive way.  I need to be kind to myself so that I can recognize and put an end to it when others are unkind to me.  I need to be okay with emotions and vulnerability and feelings that seem too much to handle…  Because shutting them off doesn’t do any good, and it hasn’t worked for me so far.

So, in an effort to start loving myself, I decided to challenge myself to explore all the reasons I SHOULD love myself.  First, I thought I’d make a list of ten things I love about myself, which seemed too simple.  Next, I considered writing a post every day or every other day about something I love and value about myself, but…  When do I know I’ve accomplished it?  What if I start repeating myself?  Is that a bad thing?  Should it be trying to find something new that I love every post, or should I just focus on whatever I love about me in that moment?  What if the first few posts stretch on for pages upon pages, recounting every trivial thing I love about myself, and I burn out on it?  All of this became far too stressful for me, so I decided I’d just sit down and start writing things that I love about myself, in any format that feels right, for as long as I feel like it, and whenever I feel like it.

This page may start to read as a Tribute To the Glories of Me for a while…  And that’s okay. 

I think we could all stand to celebrate ourselves a little more.

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stumble

I’ve been lost.

Not for long.  I don’t think it’s been long, anyway.

For a long time, I did really well on my new path.  I taught myself to view the world more positively, to see the silver lining, to look toward the future, and to let the past go.  It became automatic.  Life’s little frustrations fell away, and I was happier–happier than I’d ever been.

I don’t know what happened, what went wrong, where I lost my way.

My marriage disintegrated.  That wasn’t the tragedy it may seem, because neither of us was happy for a very long time, but it was sad, nonetheless.  I mourned.  Letting the past seven years of my life go in one conversation…  It was difficult.  It was a passing, and I grieved for the death of the dreams we’d held when we entered into that marriage.  I grieved to think of what our divorce might mean for my beloved daughter, if she’s ever able to comprehend it.  If she ever even notices that the man who used to be around every day disappeared from her life…  (There are times when so-called disabilities really are more of a blessing, aren’t there?  It’s been half a year, and she doesn’t know any difference.  Her world, as she sees it, remains unchanged.  It’s absolutely heartbreaking to realize that she and he never managed to establish any sort of connection strong enough that she would notice his absence, but it’s also of great comfort to know that she isn’t hurting for lack of him.)

Still, the dissolution of an unhappy marriage shouldn’t shake one from their path of positivity.  I was shattered for a few days, and then, one morning, I wasn’t.  I was okay.  Perhaps, I was even better for it.  Then someone truly remarkable entered my world…

I don’t know how to describe this relationship in any way that isn’t cheesy or juvenile or so cliche that it seems unbelievable.  It’s GOOD.  It’s healthy, and it’s uplifting, and it’s strong.  It’s joyful.

So, why, then, if I’ve found my way out of an unhappy marriage and into a happy relationship, am I somehow unhappy again?

I don’t understand.  Not in the slightest.  I could blame it on chemical imbalances, and I could list off the diagnoses that have been thrust upon me over the last ten years…  But I spent the last year proving to myself that those were misplaced.  I haven’t been on medications for eleven months, and I’ve been more stable and emotionally aware than ever before in my life.  So why, in the course of a few days, did I go from secure and happy to chaotic and miserable?

I only want to know why so I can prevent it from happening again.  Beyond that, I really don’t care.  It isn’t important.  WHY I felt this is inconsequential when you look at the big picture, and wracking my brain over the WHY only serves to prolong the experience, to give it power, to let it affect me longer than it needs to.

I caved.  I lost ground.  I forgot how to see the sun, how to spot the light on the horizon while stumbling through the darkness.  I was so lost in my turmoil and despair, my brain began replacing reality with visible and audible manifestations of my fear.  That’s the only explanation I can fathom, because the alternative is simply too terrible to be true.  Not now, not after so long of being so healthy.  Not after I gave myself over to this new way of thinking, this new approach to life and to the universe…  It can’t all be for nothing now.

So I fell.  That’s okay.  I’ve stood back up now, and I’m brushing myself off, and I’m going to lift my head and start moving forward again.  I don’t need to stare at the ground to see where I landed; I need to look toward the sunrise to see where I am going.  I don’t need to mourn the days of unhappiness when there are years of joy ahead of me to celebrate!

And I don’t need to keep pushing him away out of fear that I’m not good for him.  I’m wonderful, and I’m amazing, and I have so much to give to him–to anyone–that far outweighs my falls.

I can do this.  I can be strong and positive and happy.  I can be HEALTHY.  I can love him the way he deserves to be loved, and the way I deserve to love.  I can even be the extraordinary mother that my darling daughter deserves.

Maybe I can even learn to start loving myself and valuing myself and caring for myself the way he is learning to care for himself, and the way he wants me to care for myself–for my sake.  I will try.  It’s within my power.

Everything is within my power.

Now, I start walking away from this desert of despair, and I find my way back home.

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Protected: late-night thoughts

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unorganized thoughts

1. I find it interesting that my great-aunt “likes” and comments with positive things on pictures of my cousins drinking, but posts negative comments if I post a pro-choice meme or about wanting another tattoo.  Really? My tattoos are more destructive and don’t “honor God,” but getting drunk does?  Hmm…  (Issue #3597.3 with religions)

2. I’m down 17lbs, 4.4 of which were shed in the last 9 calendar days.

3. Writing (a play) has been incredibly therapeutic for me.  I’ve been able to explore some of my own issues, while also paying tribute to others’ (not necessarily those of anyone I personally know), and it’s cathartic.  Liberating is the word that comes to mind…

4. As I reduce my gluten consumption, I’m beginning to notice clear signs of a possible gluten intolerance.  An accidental ingestion leaves me in pain.  Perhaps cutting back on it is playing a larger role in my weight loss than I’d realized…

5. I’m LOVING dancing again.  A new friend has invited me to join her for some evening dance classes this fall, and I’m very hopeful that I’ll find a sitter who can make that possible for me.  Great exercise, artistic expression, and the joy of letting yourself just move to music…  I can’t think of much better.  Except maybe singing.

5. I’m looking into the financial obligations associated with resuming formal vocal training.  I’m interested in expanding my range, improving my technique, and delving into operatic techniques and styles for the first time.  I don’t want to be limited by my lack of exposure or range any longer.

6. I want to write a novel.  I may write a novel.  First, however, I’ll have to think of a character and a starting point for a novel…

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just keep rollin’ along

Life continues at a leisurely sort of pace.

I’m down 15lbs now in just over 30 days, due entirely to dietary changes.  I’m feeling really good about that.  I think the most important lesson I’ve learned so far–and this applies to so much more than weight issues–is that AN IMPERFECT DAY DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A FAILURE.

Which is to say, if I eat something that throws off my calorie count for the day, I don’t have to give up entirely on the day–just because it may not be a weight loss day doesn’t mean it has to be a weight gain day.  And a bad lunch doesn’t mean I’m doomed.  If I can pull it back together and make good decisions on dinner, the next day is a new start, and I won’t have failed myself.  In life: just because something didn’t go as well as you had hoped, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Or the end of that dream. Brush it off, learn from your mistakes, and try again–from a better place–tomorrow.

My child is going to be having surgery in the coming weeks/months.  We are waiting for the surgical clinic office to call and schedule her pre-op and surgical appointments.  It’s scary, of course, but this surgery will improve her health and quality of life tremendously.

I’ve noticed a trend lately:  the people I most enjoy being around, the ones who have a calming effect on me and make me feel most stable and secure, all follow Buddhism.  I’m intrigued.  I’ve got some friends sending me links and book titles to check out, and I’m going to try to attend some classes at the local Buddhist Center.  Losing my religious faith was tough for me, and I’m not looking to replace it, but I do miss the sense of community that came with belonging to a local church.  I think the Buddhist philosophy and lifestyle may bring me the support and encouragement I need to maintain my new fargazing lifestyle, as well as a new social circle of like-minded people who will positively affect my life and reinforce the ideals I’m striving to uphold.

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speedbumps

Sometimes, things are flying along smoothly and beautifully, and then…  BUMP.

Today is just one of those days, I suppose.  Nothing specific.  Nothing happened, no one did anything or said anything, nothing didn’t happen…  I’m just having an off-kilter sort of day.

Maybe it’s because my husband is moving Monday.  Today was his last day of work.  On Monday, he drives halfway across the country to be with his parents in their final weeks/months/years, leaving me here.  Alone.

I have been really okay with it all.  Really!  I feel like it’s an opportunity for some individual growth, to establish some independence and show that I can take care of myself.

…Ahh, now I remember:  something DID happen today.  This morning, my child’s pediatrician very strongly recommended a surgery we were already going to look into having.  A surgery that will do wonderful, amazing things for my child’s health and potential…  But a major surgery, nonetheless.  One of those things no mother can ever REALLY be okay with.  And I may have to brave it alone, as the husband will most likely not be able to fly back for the surgery if it’s not scheduled WAY in advance–and it’s something that should really happen sooner rather than later.  Perhaps that’s part of this funk.

In any event, I’m okay.  We’re all gonna be okay.  Some good things are happening, fun stuff starts tomorrow and lasts for a couple of months, my husband is going to get to be where he needs to be right now, and my kiddo will be much better off after this surgery…  Which will happen at some point, although I don’t know when.

I’m focusing on the good.  My kid’s gonna benefit so very much from this surgery.  My husband is going to spend invaluable time with his parents while he still can.  I’m gonna prove to the world that I’m a total badass and can go it alone just fine.  AND get my house clean, to boot!

Still, some days are just a little bumpy.

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the loss we all dream of

Okay, not ALL of us.  My husband, for example, would be in real danger if he were to lose any, and, in fact, spends much of his time trying to gain…

Weight, of course. Because, you see, I’m fat.

Aww, I know, that’s a bad word, right?  Unkind?  In my case, true.  I’m very overweight, probably obese…  And it’s all been gained in the past eight or nine months.  Before that, I was quite slender and fit, because I spent 10 months dieting and working out to lose all this weight a few years back.  Then I took a medication that was toxic to my system, and then I got depressed because I was packing on all this unexpected weight, and I started eating horrible things in unbelievable quantities because why not? I already looked awful…

But, in rearranging my thoughts and attitudes toward things, I realized that my weight was hurting me, endangering me, and could have negative impacts on my daughter.  More than that, it was making me feel bad on a daily basis when I looked in the mirror or discovered yet another favorite article of clothing that no longer fit.  So, instead of getting discouraged, I reminded myself that I lost over 60lbs and got down to a size SMALLER than high school in 2010, and I could easily repeat that feat in 2013!

I’m 3 weeks into my “diet,” and I’ve lost 9.2lbs.  I’m not doing anything extraordinary or drastic, and I haven’t been working out these past 3 weeks.  It’s all dietary.  People keep asking me what I’ve done, and it’s hard to explain because…  Well, there’s no magic to it.  It’s everything that’s obvious and that we all know, but that is still somehow very difficult to do most of the time…

In short, I’m drinking water (no soft drinks, juices, flavored waters, energy drinks, etc–the only exception is the occasional 120-calorie “skinny” drink from Starbucks as a dessert or snack), I’m not eating anything high-sugar/fried/boxed/premade/frozen/fast food/greasy, and I’m using an app that helps me track water and caloric intake (as well as all the other major nutrients to be considered in a balanced diet).  I’m aiming for 1350 calories a day and not stressing over anything under 1600 for those days when I just didn’t do quite as well as I thought I had.  When I get back into a regular exercise routine, I expect the pounds to melt off!

It didn’t cost me any money.  Free app, no gym membership involved, no supplements or gadgets or anything…  And it’s actually turning out to be a LOT cheaper than eating the boxed stuff and fast food was.  I’m very pleased with the results I’m seeing.  There has already been a significant change in the waistband of my pants, and the numbers on the scale only serve to reinforce the success.

I’m feeling very proud of myself.  I’d heard that eliminating sweets from your diet would end the cravings, and it somehow did, against all my expectations.  In fact, things like sodas and cakes are downright unappealing to me now…  Although I splurge on occasion.

I think the major change in me, the real reason this is working so well, is that I’ve adjusted my attitude towards food.  I am no longer viewing food as a treat, a reward, or a comfort.  Food is something I eat to survive, that I can enjoy without excess, and everything has a value.  I may want that cake pop from Starbucks, but at 150 calories–the amount allotted to one of my two daily snacks and with absolutely no filling feeling–is it worth it?  Not so much…

But things like fruits and salads with zero-cal balsamic…  Those are delightful, they make me feel good and energized, and I can eat them in huge quantities if I’m feeling famished…  Without negative effects.  I never thought I’d choose a salad over a cake pop…

Anyway, that’s where I am.  Had a delicious and completely satisfying Fourth of July dinner of chicken, potato salad, croissant, and salad…  For under 450 calories.  And no thoughts of desserts.  Not because I’m awesome or superhuman or have any sort of willpower (the gods know I don’t!), but because I’m retraining my brain and shifting my perspectives to something more positive and beneficial to me.

Fargazing can be about more than moods.  It can be about positive self-image, improved health, and life changes!

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returning home

I have been silent here because I have been traveling.  In fact, I am still far from home…  And yet, I’m home.  It’s beautiful.

I took a trip to visit my parents.  It was greatly needed, and I was overjoyed for the opportunity.  I had the luxury of taking a rather lengthy trip, so I included a few side trips in my itinerary, including two visits to my brother’s family and, right now, a trip to a neighboring state to visit old friends and familiar places.  My daughter is having a fantastic time, I’m feeling revitalized, and it’s really just been amazing.  It seems that, no matter which of these places I visit, they all feel like home.  Then, when I return at the end of these trips, there’s the unmistakable feeling of homecoming yet again.  While having four homes could make me feel always away, I find myself much more impacted by the feeling of COMING HOME in each location than by the feeling of leaving.  There is so much love in all of these cities, and it’s an incredible thing to have.  I am very grateful for it.

My quest for fargazing seems to be going really well.  I had a hiccup while visiting my parents, but I was able to rebound.  In short, I realized that both of my parents live with a tremendous amount of anxiety and frustration.  I hadn’t noticed it before, because it’s been there my entire life.  I was raised in that atmosphere of tangible tension, and I embraced it.  I contributed, and I perpetuated it…  Up until very recently.  Whatever the catalyst was that tripped in my mind the realization that I can opt for a more positive outlook and a more harmonious life, it helped me step away from the way I had lived my entire life, a product of that household, and find some peace.  I realized, watching my parents, that I hadn’t taken a single anti-anxiety medication or supplement in months–something unfathomable a mere year ago, when I required a minimum of two per day just to function.  Clearly, things have changed for me, and for the better.

So, when I recognized this tremendous tension building in my parents’ house, I just walked away.  I retreated to the sanctuary of my old room, and I began reading a book in bed.  I fell asleep early that night, without an alarm set, and got a fantastic night’s sleep.  I chose not to participate in the anxiety, not to contribute to it, and not to let it affect me.  I removed myself quietly and without a scene, and I did what I needed to do to protect myself and preserve my positive perspective.

My parents?  They’ve been this way for at least twenty-five years.  Probably longer.  Possibly since childhood.  Constant anxiety and anger seems not only commonplace in our society, but expected.  Almost celebrated at times.  If you look at a dozen twitter feeds or facebook feeds or blogs and read  back ten days, you’ll likely find a great deal of complaint.  People feel entitled–to entertainment, to being appeased, to not being inconvenienced.  If someone cuts you off on the freeway or gives slow service at lunch or doesn’t respond to a text message in a timely manner…  If you didn’t sleep well or weighed in at more than you’d like or overcooked dinner or were late for an appointment…  If someone didn’t want to go out with you.  If someone didn’t buy you a drink at the bar.  If the store was out of your size in the dress you liked.  If you had a bad hair day.  If the mail was all bills and no checks….  People seem to be actively seeking out things to gripe about.

Stuff happens.  Bad stuff.  Annoying stuff.  Hurtful stuff.  And people don’t always do exactly what we wish they would do.  As I said in a past post…  That’s okay.  And it’s okay to be unhappy, even mad, when things don’t go the way you’d like.  But holding on to it?  Remembering it all day so you can post about it when you get home?  Reliving it while thinking back on your week for your blog update?  None of that is good for you.  It doesn’t inconvenience  me if you choose negative emotions.  I’m doing well enough now that I can filter that stuff out and not let it bring me down with you.  I can be sympathetic and understanding of your crappy day or heartache without having to feel badly along with you…  But what is it doing FOR YOU??  What GOOD do you get out of giving the negative stuff enough attention to post on it?  Why immortalize it on the internet, where it will never be erased, where it just festers and lives on forever in the universe…

I’m sorry, that’s bordering on all spiritual, and that’s not what this blog is.  But it kinda makes sense…  When you post it, you put it out there forever.  There’s no taking it back.  And the bad stuff gains a sort of power over us by living on out there in the world.  In a week or two, you may look back at old posts and see it again, long since forgotten, but you see how upset you were at the time, and all those bad feelings start up all over again…  Or a friend will see it, and it will trigger a chain reaction of negative feelings in them as they relate it to things going on in their own life, and then they’ll come to you in a lousy mood and complain, which will bring you right back down to where you were…  It’s a cycle.  It’s not healthy.  Not for me, at least.

So I’m not clinging to the bad stuff.  I’m letting it go just as soon as I’ve had my healthy reaction to it.  I’m not spreading it out in the world like a toxin that will infect those I love and, quite possibly, come back to reinfect me…  And I’m hoping that the people who are giving me positive feedback about my funny or happy posts on social media sites are taking my example to heart and incorporating similarly positive steps in their own lives.  I’m not suggesting everyone be like me, or that I have something figured out that others don’t, or that my approach will work for everyone else..  But if you see me happy, and I tell you it’s because I’m choosing to do things that make me happy and to not choose to be unhappy…  Well, maybe you’ll start to choose happiness for you, whatever that may look like in your life.  And if you’re happier, I’m happy.

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the little things

the little things

Because a little reminder never hurts!

This is what I do when I find myself bored or unsatisfied without reason–I remind myself of what I already know.

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