Another One Bites the Dust…Or, I Have Hope for Myself, After All

That’s right. I’m back. Back and better than ever! I recently lost about two hundred pounds. Yep. I’ve re-entered the kingdom of Singledom. As it turns out, the one that I thought was “the one” was in fact most certainly not the one for me. I chalk it all up to another bump in the road with the apropos phrase “another one bites the dust”.

The season of renewal and growth is upon us and thus I find this latest occurrence in my personal life rather fitting. I’ve decided it’s time to really focus on investing time in myself and exploring who I am (again. But this time to do it more than a couple/few months). At thirty-one, I figure it’s time to get that figured out…or rather to continue the journey. With my time not invested in someone else, I now have the opportunity to delve deeper into myself; what makes me tick? What makes me happy? And the better question: Why am I not doing what makes me happy? Where do I actually want to live?

I’ve found that when I am in a relationship, a lot of my personal goals go by the wayside; for some reason, I can’t seem to juggle focus very well. Does everyone struggle with this or am I on my own here? I’ve decided to hit the reset button on my priorities and to reassess my goals now that life’s circumstances have changed:

#1 Get back to writing on a regular basis.

#2 Start playing music again. And possibly *gasp* start writing music again. The prospect of which scares the ever-loving shit out of me. Possibly start taking mandolin lessons.

#3 Make a concentrated effort to expand my culinary abilities.

#4 Continue hiking and *trying* to form myself into a shape that is a little less round.

#5 Start thinking seriously about moving. No really. I mean it this time.

#6 Start saving. No really. I mean it this time.

#7 Do not get distracted from any of the above goals.

After I pulled myself together, I realized that I was going to find myself with time that I hadn’t had in several months. After all, I wasn’t going to be commuting to anyone anymore. I was going to have weekends back to myself. I wasn’t going to need to be tied to my phone at night anymore. At first, the thought of breaking all of the above habits was going to be overwhelming. But then something beautiful happened. My mind opened up and I had a moment of clarity; I remembered that there are no rules and I can do what I want with my time. In fact, I can do whatever I want in regard to *all* of my life. There is no rule in stone saying I have to stay in one place or that I must do anything in particular. Those thoughts are liberating in what can be a very scary time of transition. I have hope for myself after all.

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Going Blonde and Hating It …or When You Look Good, You Feel Good

After years of thinking about making the huge leap from my natural very dark brown hair to blonde, finally did it last weekend. I made the leap across the chasm and ended up none too thrilled. I did it on a whim. I made an appointment to get a haircut and walked out of the salon four hours later… Yes. Four hours. Three bleachings and four hours later, I left with a buttery yellow shade of hair. I remember looking in the mirror after it was done and thought, “huh. So this is it?” And then I started talking myself into liking the hair experiment.

This wasn’t exactly my first foray into jumping the chasm of scary shades between super dark brown and blonde. I tried going blonde during my early twenties, but it wasn’t a completely successful attempt. I ended up walking around with strawberry blonde hair that I walked around with for ages. No one in my family liked the color and looking back, I can attest that that shade did not look spectacular on my olive toned complexion. But, at the time I liked it. I think I was in such a haze of pot smoke at the time that I was so relaxed all the time I simply didn’t care.

This time around though? I cared. As I said, I upon first glance into the mirror when it was finally finished looked in the mirror and felt like I was obligated to like it. After all, I was spending over one hundred dollars on this and I’d just invested four hours. So, I decided that I liked it. And, I think I kind of did. Maybe. Until I got home and happened to be in the room when two of my sisters were face timing. Is that how you make Face Time a verb? My sister flashed the phone at me and my third sister says to me, “At first glance, you look like Slim Shady.” And then? She laughed. After that, all I could see was Eminem when I looked into the mirror. That’s how yellow my hair was. Butter yellow.

And then Monday rolled around and I had to go to work. My drastic change drew several gasps from my coworkers. And the second Eminem reference from my boss. That’s when I decided. It was official. I hated this yellow mop on top of my head. After several phone calls, I finally had an appointment with a hair dresser who I was confident could rectify this hair disaster. Two hours after I walked into the salon, I walked out with hair that is my natural color. I was elated. I felt like me again.

mid-fix

mid-fix

It amazes me how good I feel about myself now that I’m back to my brunette self. My eyes look brighter, my skin looks better and my hair most definitely looks better. I don’t think men really get how our silly beautification practices make us feel better about ourselves. When you look good, you feel good. Am I right ladies?

Identity: Maintenance and Change

As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I haven’t written anything since mid-June. I blame this partially on the fact that other than work, going to the gym and sweating profusely in the garden in God-awful Virginia summer heat, not much else has been going on in life. I firmly believe that the other reason I haven’t written much in the past few weeks is due to the fact that I’ve entangled myself again with someone I used to date.  I find myself in a tangled struggle of identity: am I the fiercely independent, albeit somewhat selfish (focusing only on what makes me happy), cultivator of the earth, writing machine? Or, am I the far too giving, adoring, somewhat obsessive (and thus, stuck in my head constantly analyzing) girl who throws herself face first into another person and, in the process loses who she is?

I realize now that I have always had an identity war of sorts when it comes to time vested with another person.  I think part of it comes from my need to please others; and for whatever reason, it has never occurred to me that I could please a partner just by being who I am: my true self. I stumble upon that epiphany as I write this and it blows my mind that I’ve never had that thought before.  I don’t believe that I morph into this neurotic woman on purpose; I think it just…happens. For whatever reason, I seem to lose a bit of myself if another person is in my life. I think I pour so much of the caring side of me that the selfish side loses out.

I am trying desperately to continue to do the things that make me happy and to strike a balance between the self-pleasing independent part of me with the people pleaser who lives in me. I’m not sure how people achieve this balance and maintain healthy relationships. But, I am an all-or-nothing type of girl.  And, come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure that I’ve ever maintained what would be considered a healthy relationship.

I’m making a promise to myself here and now (in writing with witnesses) to make an effort to continue to make myself happy. To do the things that bring a smile to my face: cook, garden, write, workout. And anything else that would please me: cut my hair the way I want it even if I second (and third and fourth and fifth) guess it, color it if it pleases me, acquire a new tattoo, step outside of the box and challenge myself, especially on days when I’m feeling bored, stuck or lost. To make a conscious effort not to over-analyze, to listen to my gut, to call out bullshit when I see it. The first step is realizing your faults and calling yourself out on them; now that I’m conscious of my pitfalls, I’m hopefully that I can maintain me and possibly let someone else in at the same time.

Confessions of a Chubby Chick (or Working with a Personal Trainer)

So, I finally did it. A few nights ago, I set up a time to meet with a girl who is a trainer at my current (of which I will only be a patron through the end of June because they’ve effed up billing one too many times for my liking) gym.  So yesterday, after I busted it for thirty minutes on this nifty elliptical-esque machine and then hit “the beast”, a machine that I both love and loath in the same gasping breath – a stair climber from the very pit of Hell, I sat down at a table panting heavily and dripping with sweat to discuss my fitness goals with Jen. Let me insert here that I adore Jen; she’s upbeat and reassuring all while remaining within the realms of acceptable-I do not want to punch because you’re too chipper-positivity. And, best of all, she’s fit, but not obnoxiously so, i.e. sauntering around in lycra booty shorts and a sports bra.

So, I sat down with Jen and told her that I’ve been trying to hit the gym two to three days a week; then I promptly asked how much cardio I should be doing and told her what I’d like to accomplish and see transformation-wise. I told her I’d like my arms to maybe not wave back at me quite so much when I wave at someone else. I’d like to increase my cardiac endurance so I have a chance at surviving my upcoming hiking trip to Colorado. And, of course, I’d like to shrink. My middle could fo’ sho’ stand to be widdled. Then, my lovely trainer said something to me that made me smile a great big doofy smile and adore her even more, “I want you to stay away from scales if at all possible.” Right on, Jen; check, I can do that. Not only can I do that, I will happily do that. Because you see, whenever I step on a scale I get discouraged. Yes, the number may have dropped down two or three notches from four days ago, but it hasn’t sufficiently dropped to my liking. Or, maybe I weigh myself on a day when I feel like a very round, very wide Oopma Loompa. That number never makes me happy. I know the facts; I know that if I’m working out hard and eating reasonably that I’m probably creating muscle which weighs more than fat. The all the same, a number is a number is a number…and that number can throw me off course and has in the past. Not this time. The evil scale will not prevail.

When I told her that I wasn’t sure where I’d be continuing my fitness journey after June 30th, she just said that was no problem. She’d create a routine for me that would require space and some dumbbells and I’d be good to go.  I’m super excited to actually “train” with someone who can show me what I should be doing and the correct form for the really scary stuff like lifting weights. Oh, and that won’t yell at me like a drill sergeant.

You see, one of my sisters is a fitness buff extraordinaire. She went to school for and graduated with a degree in exercise science (yes, that’s a real thing), and has spent the last few years personal training and teaching group classes at various gyms first in Virginia and now in Texas. She’s a whole lotta lean packed into a 5’ tall frame. She’s nutritionally strict and regimented and is no slacker when it comes to her fitness routine. She teaches 14 classes a week on top of training individuals; when she’s not teaching (i.e. exercising), she’s at the gym, you guessed it, exercising.

She is an incredible fitness instructor (I took one of her classes during my last visit to Houston and almost died) and a motivational personal trainer to her clients, but they aren’t related to her. It’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax when you’re training with someone who is not only related to you, but who is younger than you, whom you bossed around as a child and treated like your personal servant for years (before she got wise and learned that she could say no when I told her to do something).  It’s fair; it’s only payback to have your younger sister (by three years) say, “JUST DO IT, YOU BIG BABY! QUIT WHINING AND DO IT!” when you say, “…you can do that because you’re little. If I try to do that, not only do I know if I can physically put myself in that position, but if I do, I don’t know if I can get out of that position without the aid of machinery.”  So, when I tell friends that I’m training with someone and they respond, “couldn’t you just have your sister tell you what to do?” the answer is a resounding yes. But I’m in Virginia and she’s in Texas…and she yells at me when we train together.

I’m looking at weeks of profuse sweating, sore leg muscles, intense ab workouts and a very strong urge to cry when she says, “time for lunges.” I loathe lunges. But I’ll do ‘em.  I’m excited about this journey; I’m excited about being excited about this step that I’ve taken. Yea, I’ve been eating healthier, drinking less and exercising more, it’s another game when you have someone invested in helping you attain your goals.

Now my friends: look forward to weeks of posts riddled with bitching and griping about exercise.

Three Years of Metamorphosis

Three years ago today, I married someone who I believed to be my soul mate. We seemed to be perfect for one another even though we were total opposites and had nothing in common other than the love we shared for one another; we disagreed on music, movies, humor, politics, tv shows, genre of books, what food tasted good, appropriate etiquette for public places, appropriate the list goes on and on.

He and I were together for about two and a half years before we walked down the aisle. I thought that I knew the guy that I’d been living with, inside and out. I knew his bad habits, I knew how he could infuriate me and thirty minutes later, make me smile. I knew that when he would walk through the door from work, he’d look at me smile and say “hello, dear” and give me a quick peck and scurry off to his man cave before dinner.  What I failed to realize that he was hiding a lot of issues; these issues were Lifetime type problems that for your sake and his, I won’t delve into.  These unresolved personal problems caused his such horrible internal conflict that I realized his only means for making it through each day was self-flagellation which only became more and more pronounced the closer that our wedding day approached.

The couple of weeks leading up to May 9th, 2009 wasn’t joyous. In fact, it was incredibly tumultuous filled with fighting and crying.  I just attributed the rollercoaster ride of emotion to both of us being under stress. He thought I was nuts to be so sure of our big step; I thought he was nuts for being as concerned as he was.  Time ticked on, and the closer the date approached the more concerned I became. The morning of, I was worried that he wasn’t going to show up. That’s how confident I was by that point.  By that point, I’d seen the man who I loved more than I’d ever loved anyone deteriorate to a shell of what he had been. But, he did show up: bloodshot eyes, (according to my grandmother) brown aura and all.

There are few people who’ve had a shorter lived marriage that me.  Britney Spears has me beat with her 72 hour marriage, but other than that, I think I take the prize. I moved out the first time a week after our honeymoon; I moved for good on June 6th. I called my parents, packed up stuff, put Buddy in the car and away we went.

The next few months were horrible. I was pissed, I was sad, I was confused. I cried, I yelled, I slept (a lot), I cursed (a whole lot). I took Body Combat and learned how to throw punches. I started therapy to untangle the knotted mess in my head. And then, one day, I realized around lunch time that I hadn’t thought of my ex at all that day.  It only got better from there. It wasn’t smooth sailing by any stretch of the imagination, but I realized that I was alright. I was really going to be alright.

I learned that I had interests that I hadn’t yet tapped. I expanded my horizons, spent more time with my friends and it dawned on me that I needed to rethink my wants (of life and relationships). I slowly began changing, evolving into a strong, way less weepy individual; I felt stronger and more independent than ever. I didn’t feel nearly as broken. It only got better as time passed.

As it turns out, I’m quite happy with the turn that my life has taken, of course I’d prefer to have skipped a short-lived marriage filled with harsh lessons, but that was my path. I always thought by 29, I’d be married with two kids, working a fulltime job and buzzing home every evening to cook dinner for a domestically challenged man. Instead, I’m happily winding my way through myself, constantly learning new things about what I like, what I dislike, what I want, and what I absolutely under no circumstances will not allow in my life. I’m not tied to responsibility in the form of another person. I have only myself to answer to and that is exhilarating. Who knows where I’ll be physically and emotionally a week, a month, a year or more from now. But I’m really excited to find out.

Waiting For…Wait, What Am I Waiting For Again?

I’m one of those people who is constantly waiting for the next thing: the next event, the next obstacle, the next interest. I’ve found that when you suffer with the chronic affliction of Whatisnextitus, living in the moment is pushed to the back burner and you’re in a constant state of slight anxiety, always feeling a little “meh”.

sometimes you just feel “meh”.

When you’re eyes are looking ahead with your thoughts in the future, it’s difficult to live in the moment and enjoy that which you have been given. The very moment, day, week and month goes by without much recognition; experiences, while enjoyed aren’t totally savored, because I’m always looking forward. Planning. Wanting.

The good news is that as I knock on the door of thirty, I realize this and am trying my damnedest to amend my way of thinking.  The bad news is that I find changing my way of thinking next to impossible and to be a struggle of internal voice that says, “Is that what you should do? Yes, why not? You get one go ‘round…go for it. Yea, but what if…”

Growing up,  my best friend’s father had a saying that always baffled me, yet the older I get, the more I get what he was trying to say, “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. As a teenager, I remember his sage advice irritating the piss out of his daughter who lived in her own little world filled with big dreams; being polar opposites, when we’d discuss some of these ideas,  I’d respond with a young sense of jaded wisdom and an eye rolling “yea, but how practical is that?”

I was always the prepared one of the two of us: I studied in advance for tests, I did my homework the afternoon that it was assigned, I showed up to class fifteen minutes early. Now that I’m older, I have anxiety if I go somewhere unprepared: I like my phone to be fully charged before I get in the car. I carry a fully stocked first aid kit along with a rain jacket, knife and food in my backpack when I hike (I refuse to go on any trail without these things). I like to be at work fifteen minutes early (at the bare minimum). About a week ago, I was chatting with my friend T, who seems to live his life without schedule or planning.  I told him that I was envious of this kind of living and his response made me smile, “It’s simple. Just quit thinking. When you plan, you miss out on what’s happening right now.” How I wish I could turn off the what-ifs and planning instinct that naturally occurs within me.

The tables have turned a bit (not in my neurotic need to be prepared, but in other ways).  I find that the older I get, the more grandiose my dreams and wants become: they’re less and less practical and yet, I still want to follow through with them. For example, I want to travel (but I’m not really sure how to afford it), I want to rock climb (but I’m terrified of heights).    I find that I live with my feet off of the ground and my head floating in the clouds more now than ever before dreaming and planning and wanting to experience new and different.  Perhaps I’m aging in reverse; perhaps this is happening because I was such a serious and grounded child, who knows. The bottom line is that my friends T and Jess are both right: enjoy the present, don’t overthink it, today is a gift. If I look at life in this way, I can actually enjoy right now without yearning for the next thing to come along, without waiting for…whatever it is that I may be waiting for to happen. And when you stop looking forward, you hold pure happiness in your hands.

 

 

Fortuitous Meetings and Living Life

*I’d like to preface this by saying I’ve been working on this post for days with hesitancy of posting.  I don’t want to talk too much about someone who’d rather not be discussed, but the individual mentioned below did have a life-changing impact on me and I feel it important to expound on that fact. Life is about transformation and experimentation; because of T, I changed my viewpoint and started living.

If you’re really lucky, every so often you come into contact with someone who makes you question the way that you live your life; I don’t mean question in terms of if you’re living your life “right”.  It’s more along the lines of stepping back and reviewing how you perceive your existence and how you approach the new and different things: the ideas outside of the box that you live in.

I was lucky enough to stumble upon a person who had this effect on me a little over a year ago and I have tried to live my life differently ever since. This particular person, I firmly believe was put in my path for the very reason of self-analysis and transformation. He was a guy, about 30 years old who seemed to live his life with no fear of the unknown; he didn’t question the “what ifs” of any situation. He simply experienced each new venture with enthusiasm. We spoke for hours upon hours on the phone and the first thing I recall being blaringly evident was the fact that joy for living life emanated from him. He traveled because he wanted to and had a passion for experiencing and wandering. He chased tornadoes because he wanted to and he could. He sky dived because he wanted to and he enjoyed it (and, because I believe he was an adrenaline junky).

The way T lived his life was awe-inspiring to me. It made me reflect on the way I approached life and realize that my fears had kept me from trying and experiencing new and different things. In short, this realization bummed me out. So, in typical Lex fashion, I began to think and figure out why I approached new and different with such trepidation and steered clear of attempting anything new.

It’s my opinion (and it could very well be wrong) that my “uptightness” started when I was a kid. I’ve been told I was a rather serious child.  I’m the oldest of four kids and have been told repeatedly that I took over as “little mommy” to my younger sisters when I was very young. I don’t know why I did this; I just did.  I guess I felt an intense sense of responsibility at a very early age.  While feeling a sense of responsibility is a good thing (after all, it was my serious nature and sense of responsibility that kept me out of trouble for the most part as a teenager), taking yourself and life too seriously can only prohibit you from a range of experiences.

I’ll now tell a short anecdote that very well illustrates how I used to be:

I went hiking with a friend (Amber) and her three young children about a year ago. We got to a point in the trail where we had to cross a river; the kids bounded rock to rock and hit the dirt on the water’s opposite bank. Amber stepped, hopped and jumped to the other side.  I looked at her from the other side of the river and said, “How do I do this?” She laughed, pleading with me to just step from rock to fallen tree to rock and onto the bank. “I’ll fall, I know I’ll fall….are you sure this is safe? That sounds dangerous,” I remember saying.  My new catch phrase became “That’s Dangerous” that very day.

Upon further analysis, I have found that I lived life so safely, to avoid being hurt or to avoid the unknown that subconsciously, I viewed living life as “dangerous”. Anything that I didn’t know how to do or perhaps wasn’t comfortable doing, I considered “dangerous” or off-limits. Up until a year ago, I never did anything outside of my comfort zone. Once I realized that I was probably missing out on really fun things that I was either A) too afraid to do or 2) had unjustifiably decided I wouldn’t enjoy. (Hiking fell into category 2). I decided my view simply had to change. I didn’t want to be the girl on the other side of the river, afraid to leap and see what happens. Even if I were to fall, so what? Would that be the end of the world? Would I break? No. Hell no.

I tried expressing some gratitude to T at one point; I wanted to convey that because of his completely different attitude and outlook, I realized a flaw and was working on fixing it.  He brushed it off, saying something along the lines of “get out of here.” He didn’t believe that he’d have in impact like that (but again, I am adamant that he did).

T and I are no longer in touch as we used to be, but he has forever left a definitive imprint.  Once I realized the things that I was probably missing out on due to my fear of the unknown, I started seeking out new adventures and interests. I no longer freeze at the prospect of new things.  The spring and summer that I was acquainted with him, I started actively seeking out new and different things that I hadn’t done. I started hiking and hiking and me began a fast and furious love affair. I went river tubing and despite almost drowning, I really enjoyed it. I went to my first beer festival where I was introduced to the joys of hard apple and pear cider. I went camping for the first time and found that I really, really hate peeing outside.  I was so proud of myself for doing and trying new things that for some reason in my mind, I’d decided I didn’t want to try or do.  I felt more free and happier than I had felt in a long time.

Now, I firmly believe that I will never jump out of a plane or chase a tornado, or even get on a roller coaster (I can’t explain my fear of this but it includes two things that I am deathly afraid of: height and speed. Pair height and speed with moving mechanical parts and all I see is disaster. Some people say this is irrational. My response to this is: I’ll throw up on you if you make me do it.) For the most part, I actively try not to box myself in;  I actively try not to knock something until I’ve tried it.

Since my fortuitous happenstance meeting, I’ve started to create a list of things that I want to do before I can’t (meaning before I get too old to fully enjoy them, or before I die). I’d like to learn how to mountain climb.  I want to travel, specifically out west. I want to hike in Sedona. I want to hike Pike’s Peake. I want to go to a rodeo in Texas. I’d like to try white water rafting and kayaking.  I’d like to attend SXSW. I’d like to see the  Amalfi Coast with my own eyes, not just in photos.  I’d like to walk through and around 13th century Scottish castle. The list goes on and on. I intend to check off at least the majority of the list.

I have found that once you start doing things that are a little foreign to you, you open up to the prospect of more new and different.  This then snowballs into a whole list of new and different you’d like to experience.  The prospect of something new doesn’t scare me any more.  I want to conquer (or at least try to conquer) the things that I never thought I’d be able to do, and actually enjoy the things I didn’t think I’d like. That is after all what life is about, isn’t it? Trying new things and figuring out who you are.