Lessons in Reverse

I’m extremely tired but I made the commitment, to myself more than anything else, to write on this blog every day for the entire year I am 40 and if I don’t write the very first day it doesn’t give me much of a head start. So here I am…3:34 am, having just finished the movie Red State while munching on an enormous bag of Swedish Fish and tolerated the 100 degree heat seeping in through the walls of our house. I’m 40…and a day.

Turning 40 wasn’t nearly as strange as yesterday. Yesterday was the last day of my 30’s and I realized this about half way through my work day. I was sitting at my desk, talking to a prospective client on the phone and I thought, “holy shit…this is the last day you’ll ever be in your 30’s!”. Blindsided.

But I’m over that now. Funny how things we find so profound or important quickly pass. Now my only real concern is finding my way up the stairs to the cool of the sheets and the wind from the fan. Today has been a mundane day. I was supposed to be in Vegas for my birthday but we decided to cancel the trip and take it later in the year when we had more spending money. If you’ve kept up with my reading you already know that I was pretty undecided about what to do for my birthday, so let me fill you in on what happened.

I woke up at about 11 and rolled around in bed reading all of my Facebook birthday wishes from friends and strangers. Then, while Alex went shopping for my birthday presents, I went to get coffee. I came home, made my daily YouTube video that will accompany these posts and waited for Alex. Minutes later he came home and we opened my presents. After a brief fight, which had nothing to do with the presents, we went to the pool, only to be met by several small children and an unbelievable, summer storm. I thought I might like to do a little shopping but instead we napped…for several hours. This was no ordinary nap, but instead the kind of sleep you wake from several times and try to fall asleep quickly to return to your dream because it is so good. When we woke up it was almost 8:30. We dressed quickly and went to Cheesecake Factory. After devouring a cheeseburger we walked outside to be met another couple who are quite good friends. We sat in front of Starbucks for hours shooting the shit and by the time it was midnight, I was exhausted and ready to go home…only to get my second wind. Alex was more than willing to watch a movie since it was my birthday. I chose Red State over Play Misty for Me and enjoyed every minute of it. I took the dogs out and they are now asleep next to Alex which is exactly where I’ll be the moment after I post this post, which by now probably seems to have absolutely no point.

It has a very, very important point…and lesson.

I was bored today. Like I was really, really bored. I was really happy to be able to spend an entire day with my husband, something we rarely get to do anymore, but still…I was bored. Not sad bored…happy bored. But bored nonetheless. And do you know who’s fault that is? Mine. That’s right. I didn’t plan a damn thing for my birthday because I wanted to play it simple and not plan anything…and that’s exactly what I got…simple and unplanned. I imagine if I had gone to Vegas or planned a big party or dinner, then that is exactly what I would have done.

The point I learned, as I was constantly reminded by Alex that this was how I wanted to spend my birthday, was that we dictate the outcome of our own lives…most of the time. If we want to sit around and be lonely and bored, we can make that happen. If we want to be happy and entertained, we can make that happen too! Its all up to us. If we want to be actors, we can audition for a play, or even direct and star in our own plan and show it in a public park or our own living rooms. If we want to write a book we just need to sit down at the computer or open a pad and start writing. I really don’t care what anyone has to say because the naysayers will challenge this but it really is that easy.

Period.

And you better get this quick before you spend the rest of your life bored, lonely and bitter. Trust me…it sucks…and we’re on borrowed time as it is.

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Men Too Gentle To Live Among Wolves…

Some men live lives of quiet desperation. Some men just live. I like to think my Uncle Dave is the latter.

Every Christmas for years my Aunt Kathy would buy me the James Kavanaugh poetry book There Are Men Too Gentle To Live Among Wolves. One year she inscribed in the inside cover “this poem always makes me think of your Uncle Dave.”

I don’t think I actually ever read the poem before today. This morning I found myself looking for the book to see what my Aunt had actually inscribed, remembering it from years before. Scurrying though my mother’s junk I hope to one day sell on Ebay I found three copies of the book. All inscribed by my Aunt Kathy. I chuckled to myself as I found that two had the exact same inscribed quote listed above. Although I had previously received several copies of the beautiful, poetry book…I had never actually read the poem. I stood in the basement knee high with all of my mom’s old crap and read it for the very first time.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who prey upon them with IBM eyes
And sell their hearts and guts for martinis at noon.
There are men too gentle for a savage world
Who dream instead of snow and children and Halloween
And wonder if the leaves will change their color soon.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who anoint them for burial with greedy claws
And murder them for a merchant’s profit and gain.
There are men too gentle for a corporate world
Who dream instead of candied apples and ferris wheels
And pause to hear the distant whistle of a train.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who devour them with eager appetite and search
For other men to prey upon and suck their childhood dry.
There are men too gentle for an accountant’s world
Who dream instead of Easter eggs and fragrant grass
And search for beauty in the mystery of the sky.

There are men too gentle to live among wolves
Who toss them like a lost and wounded dove.
Such gentle men are lonely in a merchant’s world,
Unless they have a gentle one to love.

Hmmmm…while I immediately loved the poem I wasn’t as immediately reminded of my Uncle Dave. In fact, I think the poem is written about a much weaker man than that and I like my men gentle…but also somewhat masculine. I like a little bit of wolf in my husband, father and uncle.

I decided instead I would write what I think of when I think of my Uncle Dave.

These are the lessons I’ve learned from my Uncle Dave:

Nap everyday.
Only stay as long as you want, its your life after all.
Never compromise but never be difficult either.
Laugh often.
Don’t ever get in serious conversations just stand up and walk away.
Only eat what looks good to you.
Cherish friends and family.
But cherish yourself more.
Watch movies often.
Read books often.
Because fictional life is better than reality.
Enjoy people’s best moments.
But be willing to tolerate their worst moments too.
Don’t over think anything.
Ever.
Change your career mid life.
When its time to go its time to go.
Do what makes you happy.
Send meaningful emails.
Never Age…(Seriously, I think my Uncle Dave has looked the same for 40 years!)
And above all else.
The most important lesson of all…
Always Always…
Keep a clean car!

James Kavanaugh is correct. There are men to gentle to live among wolves. And my Aunt Kathy is correct also in comparing my Uncle to him because he’s a good guy. One of the best. But she wouldn’t really like him if was a wimp like Mr. Kavanaugh’s guy. No, she likes a little bit of wolf…don’t we all?

My Uncle Dave has a little howl in his step…you just have to look for it.

He’s always reads everything I write and might just be my biggest cheerleader. For that reason I thought this would be my Christmas present to let him know exactly how much he’s impacted my life. After all…we’re on borrowed time as it is!

I Have Gotten So Fat!

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First of all…I don’t care how offensive my reader’s may feel the picture is, it represents how I feel tonight. All of my life I have struggled with my weight. The summer before my senior year in high school, I began eating carrots and celery every day and shed pounds quickly. In my twenties I began running, up to five miles a day while lifting weights several days a week. After one relationship ended, a friend commented to me that he worried I had transferred my substance addiction for eating correctly and working out…to the extreme. In my last relationship, much of our social life centered around eating out, eating in, eating, eating, eating. We loved to eat. In fact, on our last day together, he commented to me that maybe we were just two food addicts that fell in love with each other and with eating. There may be some truth to that, but I think it was so much more. Even though at the time that relationship ended, I was topping 240-250 and fitting into size 42 jeans.

NOW, my fiance is a 25 year old, Venezuelan with a great dancer’s body who comments daily about how he feels he has gotten fat.(Which incidentally has taught me that body dysmorphic disorder is alive and well, because he looks amazing to me, but I know deep down, he truly struggles with his weight.) So maybe, people fall in love with me and deal with my craziness through eating. I don’t know, but it needs to stop. I refuse to ever again feel comfortable only in a pair of 42 jeans. In the last year and a half, I have gained 25 pounds. 25 POUNDS!!! I can hardly believe I’m admitting to it, but the pictures of me recently tell the truth. I suffer from epilepsy and years ago my doctor wanted to change my medication because he was concerned about my rapid weight gain and possibility for diabetes. I was completely resistant to changing medications because I felt good on the medication I was taking and, well, because I had been at my lowest weight ever when I was on the medication. The reality is, I have never looked better than I did a year ago, so I have no excuse. My goal weight is not extraordinary or unreachable. I know what to do. An old friend I used to work with often told me, “eat less, move more”. Of course she was right, but also, the perfect weight. It’s always frustrating to hear someone who has never struggled with eating disorders tell you how to maintain or lose weight. Of course it’s simple. Some of the most difficult things I have ever done were the most simple.

It’s all about a lifestyle change. But you see…that’s hard. Because I’m an emotional and memory eater. I eat things which remind me of my childhood. Pumpkin pie and candy apples around Halloween. Ahhh…and of course those little snickers, thick chili and apple cider. In the summer, cheeseburgers, slushies and late night drive through food. I eat food that reminds me of my mom. Hell, even on Griffin’s last day, I bought him Frosty Paws and chicken from Long John Silver’s because it reminded me of when he was a little pup! I’m sick! HELP!!! The food train must stop here.

Two nights ago, I had my moment of clarity. Alex and I were on our way to the movies. I stopped and got three bags of candy. He, of course, wanted nothing. We then went and ate dinner at Applebees. (Cheapest meal with had in a long time, by the way, and they have weight watchers meals on their menu). Afterwards I asked if he was going to get popcorn at the movie, to which he replied, “No, I’ll probably just get a large bottle of water.” Hmmm…”Well, I’m getting popcorn.” I said, “Because tomorrow…”And he cut me off…

“The real diet begins?” And I walked in silence behind him into the movie theater. In that second, I realized how many times I had said those same words. To Alex. To all of my past boyfriends. To my mom, my dad, my cousin, to friends, to everyone I knew. “Tomorrow, the real diet begins!” What crap! And then tonight, two days after the real diet didn’t begin, I was standing in line at the grocery store, two combination Totino’s pizza’s, a bag of ruffled potato chips and sour cream and onion dip in my cart, when I saw this amazing couple in front of me. As my hand dropped to conceal my belly, I watched as they joked and laughed, unloading their cart of juices, raw vegetables, protein bars and chicken. They looked tan and fit. They looked healthy. They looked happy. And I realized. I want that!

So…My destination is to be those fools in the grocery store, only better. And I realized how right Alex was and that sometimes you just need to hear the right thing at the right time. I want Alex to find me sexy, hot, youthful and happy. I want him to be that way too! I want to be that! Don’t we all? It’s not only about appearance, trust me. It’s about standing in the closet with nothing comfortable to wear and almost wanting to skip a night out, or a business meeting, because nothing feels comfortable or looks right. It’s about feeling like a failure because you can’t lose those last five pounds, or those first 60. It’s about, as Oprah said, having accomplished everything you wanted in your life and being successful, and not being able to enjoy it in the body you have. I don’t want to look like the woman in the picture. But that’s how I feel. Full! Still stuffing crap in my mouth.

As a therapist it would be easy to diagnose, rip apart and analyze my deep rooted issues which push me to eat or feel insecure with my body image, and trust me, I will be doing that as well, because that is a vital part of the two-stemmed problem. If I don’t stop what has helped continue this growing urge, it will happen again and again as it has before. And healing is part of me feeling better as well. And I know, for me, food is comfort eating!

So, there is no time like the present. In all honesty, now that this post is completed, I wrote this because I wanted some accountability and I knew writing it on here would bring me some attention, wanted or otherwise, it is needed. I will be back to where I want to be, only better, after my voyage…what will your voyage be? Start desiring and living the best life you possibly can because, as you know…we’re on borrowed time as it is!