Saturday, January 30, 2010

You Try Until You Can’t

The title is from a song that is one of this week’s favorites. It is by Regina Spektor called On The Radio. In it she says: This is how it works. You’re young until you’re not. You love until you don’t. You try until you can’t. You laugh until you cry. You cry until you laugh. And everyone must breathe until their dying breath.

These words ring extra true for me this week. Many of you know I live 55 miles from where I work. I used to take the bus to work every day which entailed waking every morning at 4:30am to catch my bus and not getting back home again till 7:30 or 8:00pm. All of this effort for an 8 hour work day. When my boss announced we were going to be having an early shift 6-2:30pm, I threw in my hat immediately.

With this new schedule I can’t ride the bus any longer. I drive an 11 mpg 94 F-150 with a V-8. So to curb the costs of gas and wear on tear on my older baby, I commute in on Monday’s and stay in Anchorage with my little brother’s on their couch several days of the week.

This week has been a trying one at work, and I have already been asking myself is it really worth it. The answer this week was beginning to feel like, “No, no it’s not worth it.” That is until Friday when one of the girls I helped train, brought me the Koala pictured below.

It isn’t that I’m a present whore, who’s easily won over by expressions of kindness that are tangible. It was the fact that she thought of me when she won it. She thought it would go perfectly with all my other animal’s that line my monitor stand.

You go through life trying to be who you are and do what you can. You hope you leave a mark, changing each place and person just a little, hopefully for the better, or at least not leaving them worse off for you having been there.

You don’t usually get to see the effects you have. Occasionally, though like in this case. You get to see that you have enough effect on someone that when they win a Koala in one of those machines, they think enough of you that they are reminded that you like cute little animals and bring it to you, making your entire week.

Before she gave me that little Koala I was at the point where I tried until I was the at the can’t part of that lyric. Her little gift gave me the juice to feel that I totally could keep trying.

So my plan this coming week is to be the person who helps someone else have the juice to keep trying. And I challenge all of you to look for a person who looks like they could use a little extra juice and do something unexpected and kind for them. It can be as simple as a smile as long as it brightens their day.

(I don’t expect anyone to report back. That kind of thing can be very personal but if you do feel like sharing your moment of sunshine, I’d love to hear about it.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weight Loss Experiment Update 1-23-10

I haven’t written an update because I haven’t had anything terribly good to report. And I still don’t. I have not been as gung ho as I would like. In fact I’ve kind of been anti gung ho. I’ve been failing miserably. No one ever wants to have to admit that to the world. But that is why I decided to do this. So I would have to report it, and be accountable. Eek.

Okay, so the first week I did almost nothing. In fact I drank soda almost every day which I normally don’t do so I went backwards, which I often do when I feel overwhelmed by something. I do the opposite of what I am supposed to be doing.

The second week though I did much better and I learned something, or maybe remembered something I already knew. Being prepared is the only way I’m going to succeed. I went to the store and bought fruit for all my normal snacks. I had ruby red grapefruit and banana’s for breakfast, oranges and apples for morning and afternoon snacks and Odwalla Superfood to help tide me over between everything. Also for protein I had either lunch meat or turkey jerky (which is very low in calories). Also I was prepared with pre-planned healthy lunches.

What I found with this is that I did not have cravings for my usual snacks. I did not over eat (at least during the day.) I failed at drinking as much water as I should have, but overall I did pretty decent. I didn’t work out though. So that is what I am tackling this coming week.

So the other thing I discovered, while sitting watching the Gilmore Girls on the SOAP network (which I never do, I rarely even watch TV and when I do it’s sci-fi or forensic type shows.) I discovered something sad and a bit disturbing. While watching an hour and a half of Gilmore Girls, every commercial was either a diet pill, or weight loss commercial other than the commercials for other Soaps that I would never watch.

I wasn’t even watching them, usually I ignored them in favor of updating Twitter or reading a blog, but they affected me none the less. At best they were a constant reminder that I’m dieting and not as happy as I would like to be with my body. At worst I could almost feel them chipping away at my self esteem bit by bit.

I was glad that when I actually do watch TV I usually watch channels that are geared more toward men. How sad is it that the channels for women are telling us we are fat and need to change ourselves? I wish there was something I could do to change that. Maybe if enough of us realize this and ask for change then something will change? Just a thought.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fade to Grey

Yesterday morning I was looking at a shirt that was previously white. Now it was whitish with hues a blue and grey from where my blue jeans rubbed off on it. It got me thinking about how that applied to life. People are a lot like that white shirt. As we go through the struggles of living and becoming something that we can be happy with, the things we are closest to often rub off on us, coloring who we are and what we become.

I could end the post here, because that is the small insight I had yesterday. But insight is no good if you don’t apply it.

With the above inspiration in mind, I thought about how to apply this to my current situation. Since I am working on becoming a “real” writer that is of course where my thoughts naturally went, well second only to how it affects my nephews.

Here is what I came up with:

1.) Read the books you want to write. Style, genre, content, whatever it is you want to become as a writer. Read it.

2.) Surround yourself with supportive people who will encourage you to achieve your dreams. If you want to stay excited, find people who are just as excited as you. Whether they are excited about you or writing in general, they will rub off on you. (A nice balance of both is awesome!)

3.) Find author’s you admire and read their blogs, follow them on twitter, facebook, myspace or whatever social media site you use.

4.) Having supportive people is wonderful, but you also need to find those people and the things that challenge you. Maybe it’s sharing your work with others, (it can be scary at first) or a critique group or partner, or trying something new like submitting your work to see if you stack up.

Hopefully in doing these things, you’ll find that the right shades have rubbed off on you a little, helping to make you into something that you can be happy with. For me finding the wonderful writing community on twitter has been invaluable. I do not think I would have remained as excited about writing without my cheerleaders, or believed I could actually, hopefully someday be published.

Good luck, and keep me posted!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weight Loss Experiment

A friend kindly offered me his old entertainment center. It is a hand crafted beautiful piece that breaks apart into three pieces. Two of which I plan to use as book shelves. I also plan to put them in my room since space is at a premium in the rest of my house with a friend’s house packed up and moved in.

In order to get these new pieces moved in I needed to do some rearranging, which requires reorganizing. (My least favorite thing to do.) In doing this I re-discovered something I already knew. I have A LOT of clothes. Most of which I do not wear anymore. So I carted in so bags and starting sorting through the clothes, making piles to give away. I am a pack rat by nature or nurture, not sure which since both parents suffer this debilitating problem.

As I was sorting I found there was some stuff I still wanted but has grown a little too tight to be worn. This is where the idea spawned for this blog post. I already decided I need to lose some weight. Now with the clothes sorted into separate piles. Clothes that fit, and clothes I’d like to fit again. I decided that I would make myself accountable to the world. (Or at least the 8 followers I have.) Accountability always helps me to stay on task.

So starting today, my goal is to lose 20 pounds by March 31st. I know that is three months and I could probably could shoot for 20 pounds in 2 months, but I’m being honest with myself and giving a little wiggle room. (I need wiggle room or I’ll be overwhelmed and shut down.)

I will not post how much I currently weigh, and probably won’t post my final successful goal weight when I reach it. But I do intend to keep you up to date on my progress and anything I learn along the way.

GOAL: 20 pounds by March 31, 2010.

*Help keep me going! Lend support via comments or email, post any successful tips and tricks. Join in with your own goal and fill me/us in on your progress. A joint effort always helps me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bald is Beautiful: Lessons from a Shaved Head

New Years day I looked in the mirror and was surprised to see that I had hair. Not just any hair but girly hair that brushed against my shoulders and turned up because it is now long enough that it should drape just below my shoulders.

You might be wondering why that would be an odd thing, since I am a girl. I used to have long beautiful hair that came all the way to my butt. It had a life of it’s own. On more occasions than is normal, people who have no claim to my life would tell me I better never cut it. When I changed shampoo brands, a guy told me that he only ever came into my place of work to catch a whiff of my previously scented shampoo. (I worked in a remote site, where there were very few women. It seems a little less odd with that knowledge.)

What I am trying to say is that my hair was a huge part of my identity and how others saw me and how I saw myself.

Well almost 2 years ago now, I shaved my head bald. Yes completely, to the skin, bald. It was for a good cause and I donated it all to Locks of Love, a wonderful charity that makes wigs for cancer patients. I would do it again if the circumstances were right.

Doing this though had many expected and unexpected side effects. I had a few days before I did it to mourn the loss of my hair. I knew it would change how people saw me, but I was unprepared for how it would change the way I saw people.

At first people tried not to look at me. I did not wear wigs and only wore hats when I was outside. I couldn’t really hide it, so I bore it with pride. Quickly though my hair grew into stubble and then short boy hair. It was amazing the way people treated me, even those who knew why I’d done it.

For a while people stopped looking at me at all. Then when my hair was long enough to try and style, the looks returned. Only they were not what I expected. People stared openly, especially when my best friend and I, who also shaved her head, were hanging out together.

It was quite an eye opener to go through the stages of re-growing my hair. I learned a lot about the world and how many people see others around them. More importantly though, I learned how much the way other people see and react to us, effects how we see and feel about ourselves.

It is this lesson that I am most grateful for and why I would recommend trying it to any woman who asks if they should. It is both frightening and liberating to learn you are more than your hair, or your looks. You find inner strength you didn’t know you had, but more importantly you find strength through the unexpected support of those around you.

Doing something unexpected will always bring both criticism and praise. This experience was no different. But it gave me so much more than I could have imagined. So going into the New Year I am going to try to remember how amazing doing something frightening can be.


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