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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Duck… But Don’t Run

A touching essay written by a woman whose husband announced he wanted a divorce, and how she won him back… By not trying to win him back.

A good read, if you’re into relationship issues or want to see how sometimes enduring some pain gracefully can lead to the brightest outcomes.

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anger isn’t bad

Fargazing isn’t about never getting angry.  It’s not about getting walked all over in the name of pacifism or new-agey, peace-n-loveness…  It’s about making choices for what’s best for you.  It’s not about other people or outward acts of kindness or changing the world–it’s about changing YOUR life.  Of course, if changing your life inspires you to go out and change the world, more power to you!  I, for one, would love to make some sort of lasting positive changes…  But that’s something else.  Fargazing is finding peace within yourself so you can stop focusing on today’s negativity and start focusing on tomorrow’s endless possibilities.

That being said, fargazing is not anti-anger.

Anger is often construed as a wholly negative emotion.  It’s very true that anger can be destructive, and that’s what I’d call Toxic Anger.  Toxic Anger is learned, habitual, and utterly self-damaging.  Toxic Anger is mean-spirited and painful and holds you back when you want to be moving forward.  Toxic Anger is a choice, and it’s not a helpful one.

If someone hurts you, it’s natural to be angry.  If they wrong your child, it’s natural to be LIVID.  Anger is a completely reasonable response to a lot of bad situations, and it can be very productive.  Anger can lead to action and positive change, or it can provide the impetus to remove yourself from a hazardous relationship or environment.  

Anger is like a fire:  it can cleanse, or it can devour.  You have to control the flames and be prepared to extinguish them when the time is right.

So push aside Toxic Anger.  Learn to let it go before it can poison your mind and heart.  But don’t be afraid to feel anger altogether!  Experience anger, let it serve its purpose and purge the negative feelings and pain from your “soul” (in quotations because it’s meant figuratively and not as a religious or spiritual term).  Just extinguish it before it rages beyond your control.  And never let it smolder overnight, or it might burn the house down while you’re sleeping.

…What?  I love extended metaphors.  😉

Things have happened to me that will always haunt me.  I may not ever stop looking over my shoulder or cringing at an unexpected touch, but I refuse to let those past experiences negatively color my future.  I was angry when they happened, and for a very, very, VERY long time after…  And I just can’t allow myself to be angry anymore.

Have I forgiven the men who caused me this pain?  Not at all.  Not in the slightest.  I will NEVER forgive them…  But I’m not holding onto the anger.  Forgiving would mean learning to love them again, and I can’t do that.  I just… no longer hate them.  Because hatred is toxic, you see, and it weighs me down, and I’ve got so many great things left to accomplish! I can’t keep holding on to this worthless baggage.

It was good that I was angry in the beginning, and even good that I was angry for a long time, because I needed that in order to seek out help, to overcome, and to want to help others who have experienced this.  I needed that anger to help me recognize that it’s an epidemic and that specific action needs to be taken.  We can’t continue to be silent victims if it means prolonging the risk to others…  So the anger was productive in a lot of ways.  I just think that productive phase ended a long while back, and I’m not quite finished being angry…  And what’s it getting me?  At this point, absolutely nothing.  It’s just negativity that I’ve been choosing to accept, and now, I’m choosing to let it go.

Anger isn’t a bad thing, and you don’t have to deny angry responses in order to have a healthy inner self.  In fact, denying anger altogether is probably not very healthy…  But Toxic Anger is DEFINITELY unhealthy.  

Do yourself a favor, and begin to let it go–right now.  Every moment spent in anger is a moment lost.

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On a Side Note:

I had another triumph tonight, which blew my mind.  An event occurred (details aren’t important) that, two weeks ago, would have had me angry, sobbing, feeling hopeless and miserable…  And I wasn’t happy, of course, but I didn’t even have a flash of anger.  No self-pity, just some unhappiness that it happened that was almost instantly replaced by productive thoughts on how to remedy the situation.  I am not crippled with self-pity or doubt, and, for that, I am so very grateful.  Keeping this blog is helping give me the reminders and motivation I need to keep up this process, and it’s so gratifying to see my life genuinely changing for the better as a result.

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a triumph

I’m very surprised.  I was so upset about that job, and I really didn’t think that forcing myself to change perspectives or focus on positives would make me any less upset…  But it really, truly did!  

I told myself that not getting this job meant I could keep looking for something better, that I didn’t have to worry about how my work schedule might complicate my summer class schedule, that I didn’t have to stress over finding the seemingly impossible solution to child care right away…  

What I DIDN’T allow myself to think:  I wasn’t good enough, I’ll never get a job, I’ll never find another job as perfect for me, I need the money, they didn’t like me, my degree is worthless, etc…  

All of these thoughts occurred to me, but I immediately made the decision to think about something positive instead…

“I wasn’t good enough–Of course I was good enough, I just don’t have the specific work history they’re seeking, and maybe I should start looking for opportunities to get that experience.  Wouldn’t that be fun?”  

“I need the money–but I need to finish my graduate degree first, and I just can’t work full-time and complete my summer internship at the same time, so the job can wait.  Getting a job and not finishing school would mean having to pay off student loans right away, and I wouldn’t have the degree that I invested all of this money into.  Financial aid will come soon, and that will help carry me through.”

“My degree is worthless–not at all.  My degree has gotten me into graduate school, it’s found me work in the past, and it’s not what removed me from this hiring process.  My degree was perfect, my work history just wasn’t ideal.”

“They didn’t like me–because they’ve never met me.  If they had met me, they would have loved me, and they’d have had to make a difficult decision to hire me without the work history or to pass on someone they loved over that detail.  They didn’t reject ME because they don’t know a thing about ME–they rejected an electronic report of things I’ve done.”

Some of these counter-arguments were a little difficult to think of at first, because I really was very upset, and I’ve had three decades of conditioning to tell me to beat myself up and feel miserable.  I just had to take a step back, take a breath, and start making some analytic lists of what really happened and how I can fix it for the next application.  Instead of feeling defeated, I actually began to feel really inspired!  I realized that the things that prevented me from getting this job were things that I wanted to do but just hadn’t known to look for before.  Now I know where I want to start looking for jobs, for volunteer work, and for ways to get involved that will not only make me happy, but that will round out my resume the next time a position like this one pops up.

Additionally, this experience gave me the chance to practice my fargazing philosophy and develop new techniques that work for me, and it gave me the joyous feeling of knowing that I tried to do something difficult and alien to me, and I triumphed!  I feel so great on so many levels–how many times have people felt THIS GOOD about being turned down for a job they wanted??

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bumps in the road

As I’ve said before, this blog won’t always be happy feel-good stuff.  Because, well, it’s not a motivational blog–it’s a personal blog.  I’m human.  I’m new to this whole ‘fargazing’ philosophy.  I have rough days, too.

Today is–I’m struggling not to call it bad.  I feel like calling it a bad day might taint the entire day, and it’s not even 11am yet.  It’s a challenging day.

There was a job listing that someone directed me towards because they thought it would be perfect for me.  I was wary of applying initially because my self-esteem is weak and I didn’t think I was able to do it, but several people were so enthusiastic about just how perfect a fit I was, I got to work revising a resume, preparing the perfect cover letter, etc.  I spent two entire days working on this flawless job application, which I submitted Friday, and I tried not to obsess over it all weekend while awaiting the verification of my application as meeting the qualifications and being ready for review.  Despite my best efforts to put it out of my mind, I grew increasingly more excited about this new career prospect, realizing every few hours that Oh! I’ve done something like that, too, so yes, I CAN do this job!

I knew I’d meet the minimum qualifications easily, and I had one or two minor concerns about the additional qualifications they were seeking, but I felt I was close enough on those and so solid on all the others, I’d be shocked if I didn’t get an interview.  And boy, with every passing hour, I grew more and more confident in my ability to just ACE that interview!

When my email notification chimed on my phone this morning and I saw the subject line, my heart skipped a beat.  My application status had been updated–now I could officially see that it was being considered for the position!  I quickly opened the email, smiling in anticipation.

Denied: Did Not Meet Minimum Requirements.

WHAT?!?  I’m practically perfect for this position!  I have countless years of experience doing almost everything this job entails, and a solid familiarity of the two other aspects that will make picking it up a breeze!  I NAILED those minimum requirements, and then some!  How could they say I didn’t meet them?!?

I was crushed.  CRUSHED.  I hadn’t planned on getting the job, but I sure had wanted it.  I did expect an interview, because I know I have all the skills and experience to do this job well, and I really did only have two additional skills questions where I had to say, “I have done things very similar to this” instead of flat out, “Yeah, been there, done that, and I ROCK AT IT.”  I just absolutely cannot fathom how anyone could have looked at my application and seen ANY indication that the MINIMUM requirements weren’t more than adequately met.  I’m…  I’m floored.

I felt worthless.  I cried a little.  I felt like giving up, like if I couldn’t even get past the first step of the screening for this job that is SO perfect for me, how could I ever expect to get hired anywhere, doing anything, when nothing else out there is so perfectly tailored to my unique combination of training and experience.  I was utterly hopeless, and I nearly went back to bed and called it a day.  At 9:00am.

I did my best to shrug it off, to chalk it up to one of life’s little lessons about not getting everything we want and dusting ourselves off to go meet the next challenge head-on.  I told myself it was their misfortune that they won’t get to meet me, talk to me, see my passion for this field and my absolute perfection for this job.  I told myself that I couldn’t take it personally, because the person reviewing it has never met me or interacted with me in any capacity, so she couldn’t possibly be rejecting me–just an electronic file.  I’m doing my best to move past this, to think about all of the other opportunities that are out there for me that I’ll get to explore now that I know I won’t be tied to this one particular job.

It’s hard, and I’m struggling.  I’m not feeling very positive right now.  I could post about how unfair it is and how angry and sad I am, but what good would that do?  Would it help me?  Sure, everyone loves to vent a bit…  But, really, WOULD IT HELP ME?  Would my life be any better for complaining…  Or would it possibly be worse?

I’m not willing to take the chance that I could harm my outlook, my self-esteem, or my emotional well-being by focusing on the negative.  Nobody likes to be rejected, to be told no, or to miss out on their dream job…  But I have SO many dreams, and this was just one of them, and there are countless other ways to fulfill them.  There WILL be other jobs, and maybe others that seem somehow MORE perfect for me…  Down the road.

For now, I have to just push down those negative thoughts and try to drown them completely with a more positive spin.  That’s how I’m going to get through today, how I’m going to have a fantastic afternoon even after a tearful morning, and how I’m going to find the strength and courage to put myself out there the next time.  It’s not easy…  But it’s definitely worth it.

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