Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another Song

Details in the Fabric
by Jason Mraz

Calm down
Deep breaths
And get yourself dressed instead
Of running around
And pulling on your threads and
Breaking yourself up

If it's a broken part, replace it
If it's a broken arm then brace it
If it's a broken heart then face it

And hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
And everything will be fine

Hang on
Help is on the way
Stay strong
I'm doing everything

Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
Hold your own
Know your name
And go your own way
And everything
Everything will be fine
Everything

Are the details in the fabric
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling
Are the things that make you blow
Hell, no reason, go on and scream
If you're shocked it's just the fault
Of faulty manufacturing

Everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Everything
Hold your own
And know your name
And go your own way

Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic
Are your thoughts results of static cling (Go your own way)
Are the details in the fabric (Hold your own, know your name)
Are the things that make you panic (Go your own way)
Is it Mother Nature's sewing machine

Are the things that make you blow (Hold your own, know your name)
Hell no reason go on and scream
If you’re shocked it's just the fault (Go your own way)
Of faulty manufacturing

Everything will be fine
Everything in no time at all
Hearts will hold

Monday, September 28, 2009

Song

"Falling Slowly"
-Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
you have a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly,
eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me
and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat
and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
you had a choice
You've made it now
Take this sinking boat
and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
you had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hey Loser

Hey Loser,
Just couldn't help yourself, could you? It all started with the peanut butter. Shouldn't have gone there. You know the grams of fat of every food as well as you know your own phone number. You know calories like you know your ABCs. Shouldn't have gone there. And three bowls of cereal? That's not even necessary. You are a ridiculous slob.
Why are you like this? Why are you so pathetic? It hurts to even watch you tormenting yourself, falling hard, again, but I will. I will watch you, then I'll laugh hard, like I'm laughing now. Ha.
You'd think after 3 years you'd be over this whole "eating disorder" thing. I mean, what is that anyway? You are just ridiculous when it comes to food. You are irrational and anxious. You think about it, you restrict it, you binge, you purge, you over-exercise. Everyone does that. You are not special. You are not different. This is life, suck it up and move on. This is life for you.
Yeah you'd better hit the reset button. You'd better wake up and go running on a Sunday. It's not the "running on a Sunday" it's that fact that you are doing so out of guilt and obligation. So run girl. You seem so convinced you don't want to throw up and you told Jeremy last night that you wouldn't. You don't have to keep making these dumb promises to people. No one would ever know if you weren't so dang public about your life. Think about it.
You deserve this. You slipped again. Notice a trend. This is life for you. Get comfortable. Recovery is myth people tell to give themselves hope. But there is no hope. You are hopeless.

Sincerely,
Lies

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vibrant Hope

For the last three years I've been accumulating information, papers, and pamphlets about eating disorders. All these papers sort of strewn about needed some organizing. I put together a handy little folder of all these papers in order from my first day of counseling to the most recent.

First I went to my dietician, Chris, who gently helped me see the harm I was doing my body from a physical standpoint. If I kept starving myself I learned I could stunt my growth, be slower in sports, have menstrual problems, have early onset osteoporosis, hair loss, sking flakiness, and loss of muscle. She gave me a meal plan that I was to follow and write down on meal plan worksheets. I can show you what I ate for every meal, every single day of the year 2007.

My first counselor in Lincoln, Teresa, taught me how to say, 'no,' how to set goals, how to seek balance, how to nurture myself, and how to talk to others about it. So much of eating disorder recovery involves finding out or remembering who I am. Part of my homework one day after counseling was to go to Starbucks, order a frappuchino, and drink it. I begged her not to make me do it. I cried, but I did it. We celebrated days when I didn't eat vegetables and didn't feel guilty about it. She would give me eating assignments or challenge me to go a day without exercise.

In Cambodia, Stella, a friend/counselor taught me how to tap into algorithms in my body to ease anxiety. Each time we met she would have me sit in front of a mirror and say, "I am a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful woman." Again, "I am a strong, confident, intelligent, beautiful, woman." Again...

As I leaf through this huge binder of ED information, I'm somewhat perplexed at how far I've come. This information sounds so simple to me now.

When asked to write about my biggest fears, I wrote:
"I am so tried. I can't stop crying. I'm not necessarily crying because of what I ate. I'm crying because I struggle and hurt. I have the same conversations over and over again with friends and family. I'm afraid they will give up on me because I don't seem to be getting any better. I am still struggling. I am existing in my own life. I have so much to offer the world, or at least, I used to. I can't seem to live in my own life and fight anorexia at the same time. I feel like a failure. I am not strong enough to beat this."

Things change. Thank God.

Jill D. Jank MS, RD, offers,"How You Can Prevent an Eating Disorder" in this handout I received from my dietician.

"1. Learn about and educate others about the dangers of prolonged, excessive dieting.
2. Learn about and educate others about the advertising designed to make people feel inferior. It promises magic results if only a certain "look" is achieved.
3. Develop a healthy sense of self-esteem/self-confidence. Accept and like yourself for who you are, not for what you look like. Encourage others to do the same.
4. Avoid pushing yourself or others to be "super-human." Be an encourager.
5. Be aware of stress and pain in your life and others. Talk with close friends about your pain. Learn healthy stress reducing techniques.
6. Avoid trying to "fix" someone else's problems. Listen to and love them instead.
7. Model and encourage good nutrition and healthy eating habits.
8. Avoid dieting and promotional diets. Those with naturally thin model-size bodies make up less than 5% of the population. Encourage health, not thinness. Express love regardless of how they look.
9. Women--Be a good role model; avoid criticizing your own body. Avoid dwelling on how you and others look.
10. Men--Avoid criticizing women who don't meet your standard of physical beauty. Women are people, not bodies. Avoid encouraging women to lose weight because YOU will feel better.
11. If someone you care about wants to lose weight, find out why. A different body size will not change feelings of being inadequate or unacceptable. Help them to deal with the real issues."

I can learn from the past and move forward with beautiful, vibrant hope.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dear Child 2

Dear Child,

We've been here before.
Remember 3 weeks ago, when the weight of the world was too much bear and you crumbled? Remember 2 months ago. Remember 3 months ago. Remember...remember?
This is not about crumbling, this is re-building.
This is not about failure, it's about standing back up.
This is not about keeping score, it's about learning from the past.
You like lists. Let's make a list of all the events of yesterday that are not failure:
-waking up tired and sleepy
-teaching a scattered Zumba class
-feeling sick and nauseus
-forgetfulness
-being unaware
-zoning out in class
-not being chipper and uber-friendly
-this week's newspaper articles being submitted 2 days late
-requiring food
-not having time for people I love
-loads of homework
-eating nachos
-skipping yoga class
-not being incredibly productive
-grumpiness
-_________________(other)

Yup, all of these things? Not failure. Not even close. Your black and white extremes are not helping anyone. In fact, they are mostly harming you my dear. Give it up. Surrender your lack of control of the universe and all it contains. Perfection kills. You've seen it once and you'll see it again. Perfection killed Jenny. You are not Jenny.
Anne Lamott says, "Not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the other person to die." Well, if you're not forgiving yourself, where does that put you?
Take deep breaths. Take ownership of your life, as it is, right now, with all it's dysfunction and idiosyncrasies Take a break. Take heart, child. You're doing okay.

Sincerely,
Truth

Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Girl

Tim Wise wrote an essay entitled, "Whites Swim in Racial Preference." The title pretty much says it all. The fish doesn't feel wet and as a white person I don't feel racial preference because it is all I know. I've never known discrimination or racism.

Dr. Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, has extensively studied race and privilege. She compiled a list of markers of racial privilege. I listed several of them here:

"If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.

I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

I can choose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"I Can" can

Two years ago, a small, brown package, a perfect cube, arrived in the mail. "Arrived" implies ease and eloquence. I wonder what that package went through before it got to me? In the animated movie, "The Prince of Egypt" Moses' mother sends him in a basket, set loose into the Nile River. Along the way cranes beat their wings, alligators get into a tussle, and hippos send waves crashing to the shore. The life of a piece of mail must be similar.

The "post office" in Cambodia reflects and ancient and forgotten past. The yellow paint of the dilapidated French building peels in the heat and humidity of southeast Asia. My moto driver delivered me somewhat safely to my destination and waited while I walked inside past lingering eyes of men and curious children. I handed my mail slip to the woman who smiled cautiously at me. She walked away, paper in hand to retrieve what I had been told waited for me at the post office. At least 30 minutes later, she returned as if I had not been waiting 30 minutes, plopped the box hard on the counter and said, "30,000 riel" which I had learned was roughly $7.

I could never wait to open mail until I got home and today was no different. I sat on the marble steps out front in full view of onlookers and began tearing apart the packaging tape. Inside a black can with white lettering, "I Can' Can."

A note inside read, "This can has been sitting on my desk for several years. After reading your blogs, I'm pretty sure you need it more than I do." A friend from church sent the can that contained about 200 cards, each with a different, "I can..." statement.

Two years later, that can made it home and sits on my bookshelf in Nebraska.

I remember leafing through the "I can" cards and feeling, fuller, wiser, more content. The words were not magic, but they were true and after several months in Cambodia I couldn't tell fact from fiction anymore. My mind was confusing me, testing me. Truth seemed too far away and the lies dominated slowly, carefully, and strategically.

"I can."

Those are powerful words.

"I can" does not speak timidly.
"I can" means buisness.
"I can" doesn't accept less.
"I can" says, "Watch out."
"I can" speaks of optim and confidence.

One day after receiving the "I Can" can, I sat on my bed in my room. The humidity and dust from the street poured casually into my window and the neighbors screeched Khmer back and forth to eachother as it echoed off the tile floors. I remember reading the following message on one of the cards: "Eskimos leave sharp knives smeared with meat at the perimeter of their camp. Wolves will repeatedly lick the sharp knives until they cut their tongues and bleed to death. I am not a wolf. I can eliminate destructive behaviors before they eliminate me."

Destructive behaviors= bulimia, self-hatred, guilt, etcetera, etcetera.

I knew it. I heard it. Something clicked. That wasn't healing, batta-bing, batta-boom, it was another step.

More steps.

I can eat cereal for dinner.
I can accept the zits on my face.
I can pass A&P class.
I can be patient with myself.
I can forgive.
I can ask forgiveness.
I can make mistakes.
I can love a little more.
I can respond to text messages 3 days later.
I can answer an email a month later.
I can forget things.
I can be alone.
I can rest.
I can play piano just because it makes me feel so good.
I can smile if I want to.
I can wear my new, freaking cool boots.
I can be in a bad mood.
I can let things go.
I can hand over control
I can pray.
I can take deep breaths.

Today, my situation is a little different than it was in Cambodia, but I remind myself often who I am and where I've been, because, well...I can.

Reminiscing

A couple sits on a couch, reminiscing and joking of their past 2ish years of knowing each other and 9 months of dating.

She said, "When I first met you, I was not a fan."

He said, "Oh yeah, why?"

She said, "I don't know, you were obnoxious and cocky."

He said, "Well, you were snooty and stuck-up."

She said, "What?"

He said, "You didn't care about me and wouldn't give me the time of day."

She said, "You didn't care about me either. It's a two-way street my friend."

He said, "I remember one of the first times I saw you, you were wearing this ridiculous-looking outfit. You had a jean skirt and leggings and those brown boots."

She said, "I still wear that."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dear Child

Dear Child,
It's okay to be tired. It's okay to be weary. Rainy days bring damp hair and damp spirits. Who are you trying to impress anyway? Nourish your body. Chocolate chip cookies don't count. Eat some broccoli first. Release your mind to wander and wonder.
Dare to think about something other than oocytes and cell mitosis. Dare to think about something other than your list of to-do's that will never really be done, you just keep adding to it anyway. That's hardly fair. Who does that? When you finally catch that carrot, at death, will you be truly satisfied anyway?
Dare to worry less about what she wants or what she thinks about you. Dare to love deeper. Dare to be kind to yourself, even when it feels like you are the last person on planet earth who deserves it. Dare to sleep well. Dare to skip a work-out. I dare you.
It's going to be all right. It always is. Every time you've hit THUD on the pavement burdened by responsibility, homework, and everything you "should" be, life goes on with or without you. You've never been incapable of standing up again, it takes less and less time in fact. Life flows in cycles and swirls that are unpredictable, yet educational. Take the hint babe: You've been here before. You've done this before. What worked last time? What didn't work? Paralyzation didn't work, but deep breaths did.
Take some deep breaths. Every other mountain you said you'd never conquer, you have. Every single change you thought you'd never get through, you did. Every other stage of life you felt would last forever, didn't.
Yeah, I have faith in you. You should too.

Sincerely,
Truth

Monday, September 14, 2009

Foolish Mind

I am a person of extremes. Sometimes it's "all or nothing" and "black and white." The line of middle ground is often hard to walk.

If it's not right, it's wrong.
If they're not nice, they're mean.
If the glass is not full, it's half-empty.
You get the idea.

My senior year of high school, I decided I needed to drink more water. Water is good for you. The more the better. During a basketball game against or rival team, I nearly collapsed and was left confused as to where all my energy went. I was drowning my body in so much water I became anemic. Blood results proved an iron deficiency.

Fat is bad. Skinny is good. Eating healthy can't be a sin. "I'm just taking care of my health," I said. They're just jealous. I don't want to be obese, so therefore, I will just eat less and exercise more. All the diet experts say, "Eat less, move more," so I did. We know where that landed me, anorexia, bulimia, counseling, and so on and so forth.

Finding center is rough.

A friend tells me she can't do moderation, she just has to cut out whatever food group she deems "bad." Hearing her makes me cringe. I can't imagine living that way, but I will admit, seeking balance isn't necessarily a walk in the park.

I stepped on the scale last week. I thought, "Uh oh, I do not want to do this. I blogged about it. I'm just going to have to admit that I got on if I do this. But...I'm curious. I mean, just once...couldn't hurt. Normal people can get on a scale, why can't I? The number isn't important to me, so I'll just..." Dangit. I didn't beat myself up too badly, maybe that was just because I had lost weight, I'm not sure. Either way, I knew I didn't want to be ruled by a number, but I did it anyway. To prove to myself that the number didn't matter, I binged, wanted to purge, and was basically set-off by the simple act of stepping on the scale.

"Normal people do step on the scale," my dietician told me later. "But you my dear are not normal. A check in every 6 months or so is fine, but every day is completely unneccessary. You are not a number."

I knew that. I needed to hear it though.

If a person says something even mildly rude to me, I deserved it.
If I get a 76% on my Anatomy and Physiology test, I am stupid.
If I cannot possibly keep up with the demands of work, school, and friendships, I am a failure.

This voice, this "reality," where is it coming from?

Back to square one. My dietician talks about my "wise mind" the part of me that knows my heart and soul and seeks to nourish and heal. She's never given a name to its opposite though. If the good is the "wise mind" the opposite must be my "foolish mind" I suppose.

My foolish mind says I am unable to find center. I don't work hard enough. Balance is not for me. There is comfort in black and white, strict standards, I know exactly what to do and what not to do. It's safe there. My foolish mind tears apart, accuses, blames, and guilts. My foolish mind makes me into a hopeless attempt at a human being, something I thought was enough.

Exactly, the wise mind kicks in. Humanity is enough.

The wise mind is stronger on some days more than others. Sometimes I sense the ridiculousness, the cruelty, and the lies of my foolish mind. It hasn't been a new revelation, like, "Ah ha! Now I get it," but more of a journey, along the way of lessons learned through time.

Dangit.

The same truths keep coming up.

Maybe, with time, I'll learn them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Autobiography in Five Chapters

by Portia Nelson

I

I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost...I am helpless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.


II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in the same place
but, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.


III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in...it's a habit
my eyes are open.
I know where I am
it is my fault.
I get out immediately.


IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.


V

I walk down another street.



Saturday, September 5, 2009

Standing Head to Knee

Standing head to knee pose was just not happening this morning. It just wasn't. As I peeked into the mirror in front of me I could see cute-skinny-bendy-blond behind me perfectly posing with her right leg firmly planted and her nose touching her extended left knee. The more frustrated I became with my lack of focus and inability to perform, the more I wobbled.

At the first sign, oh wait no, it was definitely like the 8th or 9th sign of comparison to the women around me in yoga class this morning, I noticed the emotion, I observed it, and I spoke my truth: I am not cute-skinny-bendy-blond and that is okay. Once I had determined what I was not, I had to consider what I was.

This morning I was tired. I had a lot on mind. I was having a difficult time focusing on the postures, particularly the eagle pose. Who invented this anyway? I'm guessing it was not for their own enjoyment as much as watching silly people attempt it.

Liz often says, "Do not come to class expecting to make steady improvement. Some days you will stretch to the full length of your body. You will stand tall and confident. But other days, you will slouch and crumble, you will feel weak and inadequate. Yoga is about letting yourself be wherever you are, not where you think you should be."

If I had to pick only one lesson that yoga continues to teach me, it would be contentment.

When I'm arching my back and kicking my leg up into standing bow, Liz has the nerve to say, "Relax and breathe. As your heart starts pumping harder, your breath becomes shallow, your leg starts to quiver, and your arms want to let go...take a deep breath. As your body is shouting, "NO!"...take a deep breath. Continue breathing and tell your body, "It's going to be all right." Because really it is. You're not about to die, you're just training your body to stay calm in stressful situations when other people might scream."

Contentment.

When I'm comparing myself to cute-skinny-bendy-blond, I remember that every day is different. I will not be able to stretch with the same strength as yesterday. Heck, I may never be able to stretch how cute-skinny-bendy-blond does anyway. I am who I am.

Contentment.

Sometimes I will notice that I'm comparing my stomach to her stomach. I'll become aware of my own self-hatred. Sometimes my mind is elsewhere and my breath becomes heavy. I'll attempt a tree pose, and end up more like a fallen shrub. All I want to do is surrender to the darkness of my mind, walk out of the room, and never go back. But that is contradictory to what yoga is about. I am learning forgiveness. I am learning to accept myself for who I am and where I'm at.

Contentment.

Contentment has been a continued lesson in other areas of my life as well. Since I've been home for the last year, I've been pouring antibiotics, probiotics, ginger tea, and a few other natural remedies in my intestines hoping, praying that someday my digestion would return to normal. Every time I ate I felt sick, bloated, and nauseas.

Tests began coming back with less and less germs. Apparently the drugs had been working and the bugs are lessening. But still, I felt like crap. I continued becoming sick whenever I ate, whether it was half a sandwhich or a 6-course meal.

As you might imagine, I have enough issues with food, I would've much rather come home from Cambodia with a skin disease or some weird growth on my arm, anything to avoid messing with my already warped sense of body image. But no, it was parasites, amoebas, and all their friends. I never woke up hungry, I never wanted to eat, and after I did, I felt so crummy, I dreaded eating again. So I kept piddling with my food choices, less or more, organic or vegetarian, vegan or otherwise, it always felt like I was overeating no matter what I ate. This was only fueling my eating disorder.

My wise mind had to focus on contentment, because otherwise every other part of my body was saying, "You are a pig. You eat too much." I didn't know what was going on, but more often the eating disorder won when after every time I ate, I felt sick and couldn't figure out why.

For the last month or so, my mind has been more clear than it has been in a long time. I have less clutter in my head and I don't hate eating as much. I don't feel the insatiable urge to run or exercise because of my poor food choices. The voice of the eating disorder has had less fuel because I've been feeling healthier than I have in 2 years.

I might be sensitive to wheat.

Ha.

It seems too freaking easy. I've been substituting barley, oats, corn, quinoa, and millet for my regular wheat fix and, whatdayaknow? I feel...um...awesome.

My mind is less polluted with, "Ugh, my stomach hurts," and more with, "Huh, okay that was lunch. Now what do I do?"

It just seems too easy all of the sudden. I'm still kinda surprised and a little wary, but I'm going with it for now because I've been feeling so much better.

Contentment.

What have I lost over the course of the last year hating myself and forcing ridiculous work-outs and rigid standards? How many times have I become stuck in my head as a result of irrational thoughts about food?

I'm learning how to eat again.

I'm learning how to forgive myself.

I'm learning how to accept the somewhat cute-healthy-often flexible-blond-ish girl who peers back at me in the mirror.

She's kind of a hoot and has a lot to teach me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Roommates





"I've had it! I am not going to work tomorrow. I refuse," Ashley rants, treading circles in the kitchen. She looks at me exhuastedly, "I can't go back to that place. I'm not going back tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day. They can't make me!"

She pounds her fist into the kitchen counter for emphasis as Ben and I look on.

Stillness looms in the room, until Ben says boldly, "Me neither."

Ashley peers at him as though he is the most gorgeous man she has ever laid eyes upon. "Really?"

"Yeah! I'm not going back to work either. I'm sick of work. Let's stay home!"

Picking up speed they are only feeding off of each other at this point. I call both of them tyrant rebels and walk away rolling my eyes. It's Friday and Monday is Labor Day. They really aren't the bad asses they like to think they are.

Meet my roommates, Ben and Ashley. I've known Ashley for about 22 years now and we've only been close friends for about the last 3. She might tell a different story, but don't let her fool you. She was an obnoxious and bossy older sister, "No, YOU be the veterinarian this time. I want to bring in the pretend puppy!" or "Get out of my room you brat." Yeah, she's been the punk in this sister-ship for as long as I can remember. Through 22 years of bad breath, bad makeovers, and bad attitudes, we've managed to rescue a relationship that I can only describe as perfect. Ashley is my best friend and well, I take Ben because he stole her and forced his last name on her.

I remember the first time Ashley brought Ben home to Colorado. I was not a fan. Sometimes I'm still not a fan, but for entirely different reasons, like when he takes too long in the bathroom or makes me fumble over my words when I contradict myself and hope no one notices. Ben walked into our house in Colorado and the first thought that came to mind was, "Who the heck is this goober Ashley brought home? What a dork." Yeah, I might've judged too quickly, but come on, have you met Ben? He picked up very quickly that I was not about to start a Ben fan club, and took to calling me Archy a.k.a. Arch-Enemy before the weekend was over. I thought I was hiding it well, apparently, I've always been too honest about my emotions.

Basically after several years of observation and harsh criticism, I've decided he is perfect for Ashley in every way. And I'll call him family too. Ben is wise. He listens, amazingly well. Like, hard to believe he's a guy sometimes, "well." He cares about people. He cares about women. He doesn't project some annoying macho persona of perfection and dominance, instead, he's kind, he works hard, but he doesn't desperately seek affirmation from others, because I'm almost convinced, he's okay with who he is. He takes care of people. He communicates well. He loves Ashley and it shows.

Ben and Ashley have been married for 3 years. They just might be the cutest married couple I know. They talk to each other as if they love each other. They talk kind even when they're tired. She'll call from the kitchen to Ben in the living room, "Sweety?"

"Yes," I usually answer before Ben can respond. She's a doll like that.

They laugh. They make fun of each other. They're silly. They pray together. They watch Lost episodes. They do Sudoku. They just fit together.

Why they let me move into their home and raid their space, I may never know. It's like their doing parenting backwards letting this college aged ball of emotions into their home, to which they've replied, when their kids reach college, that's when I'll take over the parenting, since they've already done it once afterall. That's fair. I am a hand full.

I can be moody. I can be quiet. I can be angry. I can be who I am and it seems to be okay with them. Whether I'm fed up with religion, my classes, humanity, or myself, they listen, they care, they love.

I've never met two individuals with so much love and understanding. If you're thinking to yourself, I need a Ben and Ashley. Where can I get one? Maybe she' share. Well, that's where you'd be wrong, because I don't like to share. They're mind. Get your own.

Unfortunately, they are equally loving and caring to everyone they meet, so I guess I can't actually stop them from befriending people, just know that they come home to me at night.

Muah ha ha.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Circumstance

I learned something about myself today. I'm not sure yet how to put it to words. I'll write and see what comes.

This morning at 8:30 am marked the beginning of my fitness instructor career. This might be a bit prideful considering it is only a humble beginning, but either way, I made my way to the gym where I applied to teach Zumba classes. If you don't know what Zumba is, you can indeed google it, but I fear that in doing so you will get the wrong impression. The website makes Zumba look like a hip-hop party with sexy people doing sexy things. Let me clarify, Zumba is a Latin twist on cardio, Latin-Jazzercise if you will. So while the website may portray rock hard abs, spotlights, and 1,000s of exercisers, let's remember I live in Nebraska.

I've been putting off using the teaching accreditation I earned and feeling nervous about my first class for several reasons. Reason #1: I doubt that I am good enough. Reason #2: I'd much rather take the class than lead it. Reason #3: I'm not fun.

Let me correct myself, I am not that fun. I am not the life of any party and wonder if I can keep anyone motivated and having fun which is basically what a fitness class should do.

It felt like my first day of school, I'd say, 5th grade; where you're new and while you like school, suddenly the weight of the world is on your shoulders in regard to, Oh my gosh! What am I going to wear? Wardrobe wasn't such an issue this morning, but nerves were. What if they don't like me? What if I say something stupid? What if I mess everything up?

As I paced back and forth between the locker room and the fitness room, locker room, fitness room, no one was arriving. This was a regularly scheduled class, I was just taking over. By 8:36 am, no one had come. Part of me was relieved and part of me wished someone had shown up, just so I could get my first class over with. As I headed for the locker room, a 30ish woman came running in out of breath, "Am I too late?"

"Umm...no, I guess not. It's just the two of us though. Do you still want to?" I asked, somewhat hoping she'd say: Nah. But she didn't.

"Oh yeah. I'd like to."

Dang.

While I appreciated her excitement, a cardio class just isn't the same with one person, in fact, if you've ever done so, it's downright awkward. I doubt I can fully give the experience justice, but in a regular class with several other people, the focus is less on you. I found that I was explaining myself, trying to make it less awkward and smiling and fake-laughing way too much. I remembered most of the steps, worked up a sweat, and she was appreciative and easy to work with. Still, I just felt, ick.

That was NOT fun.
That was NOT something I want to do EVER again.
UGGGH.

Yeah see how quickly my rational mind kicks in? I'm a person of extremes.

So I showered. I went to my my classes at school. Most of the day was spent thinking, I hate Zumba. This was a bad idea. I don't want to be an instructor. Is it too late to back out?

The class director at the gym called in the afternoon asking if I'd fill in for the hip-hop teacher who was sick.

Umm, hell no! was my first thought. But somehow, "Sure" slipped out.

As I was wallowing in my disappointment with myself, my inadequate skills as an instructor, and all-around blah, I realized I didn't want to feel this way all week until I taught my next Zumba class. So if there was ever a chance to try again, this was it.

I was not looking forward to going back. All I wanted to do was go home, be grumpy, and eat peanut butter and jelly. I didn't want to repeat the morning's bad taste in my mouth, but I did.

I did and it was marvelous! I shook my booty, rolled my hips, jumped up and down, and had a grand ol' time. Four women showed up for class. They were easy going, relaxed, and seemed to have a lot of fun dancing their stress away.

As I compared the two Zumba classes, I tried to sort out, what exactly made this morning's first class so miserable for me? Well, obviously trying to create the energy of a good class with only one person was tough and exhausting. Having more people this evening was a huge difference. The pressure wasn't as much on me. I just got to relax, dance, and enjoy myself. I didn't master every step. I left 'em hanging in places and stumbled over words in another. Still, it was great.

I think I learned another one of those lessons I'll be learning for the rest of my life: I am who I am. I cannot give circumstance the power to decide who I am or how I should feel.

Today, my friend Sierra reminded me, in the words of Anne Lamott, "Perfection is the voice of the oppressor."

Whoever that "oppressor" is on a given day, me or some one else, they will scream the need for perfection until I either give in or boldly proclaim, "I am who I am." Even if it's a whisper, even if it's a cry: I am who I am.

I may show up for Zumba class to find only one woman next week, and the next week, and the next week. I may only get by with a C in anatomy and physiology by the end of the semester. I may hurt someone's feelings. I may only come to rolling stops at stop signs. I may give an entire speech in class with broccoli between my teeth, my skirt tucked into my underwear, and enough fumblings to anger even a football coach. I may offend someone by accident. I may stay in on Saturday nights. I may play in the rain when it storms. Whatever it may be, I am who I am.

My situation has not power nor debilitating influence on me, unless I hand it over. I can choose to react positively to my environment. I can take deep breaths.

I can choose to be who I am and shake my hips with equal gusto...
regardless of who shows up to class.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

76 years-old

I strongly dislike Anatomy & Physiology.
I don't like feeling like the stupidest person in the room.
I spent 5 hours today studying for a quiz, filling out lab reports, and studying the chromosomes in cells of a fish.
I don't care about that fish.
I don't care about that fish's DNA.
I don't care that much about my own DNA.
I haven't set up observation hours for my Educational Diversity class.
I haven't pursued that job offer.
I don't feel prepared to teach that fitness class tomorrow.
I am not making money, only making more bills.
I miss my boyfriend.
I don't know what I believe about God and Jesus, because even though I'd like to learn more, because spirituality is important to me, it sure doesn't look like it when I have not found the time to read the Bible, because, let's be honest, I don't get a grade for "spirituality" at the end of the semester.
I want to talk to her. I know she needs help. I can't seem to find the time.
I have not been eating well. For breakfast I ate peanut butter and honey, on a spoon.
I miss reading books I enjoy.
I miss writing: journal, blog, or otherwise.
I haven't woken up rested and ready for the day in...in...oy.
I haven't regularly emailed my kids in Cambodia since May.
I wish my parents didn't sound so surprised when I call them, but I understand why they do.
I wish my confidence didn't depend on the number of zits on my skin, the size on my clothes, or how much I didn't eat for lunch.
I wish I had time for people.
I wish I didn't get overwhelmed so easily.
I wish felt balanced...but I don't.

That's what this is: lack of balance. Again.

Why do the same obnoxious life lessons keep smacking me in the face?

I can't seem to escape from the same lessons that every wise person in my life must be getting tired of reminding me:
-Do your balanced best.
-Take it a day at a time.
-Just let things happen.
-Do your best with where you're at.
-Forgive yourself.
-Breathe deeply.

All good things. But why is that every time I hit the same place feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and tired, the same lessons are there waiting for me? You'd think I'd learn and respond graciously to them each time, but no, it just makes me more angry with myself.

I don't want to be waiting to be happy, until I can be with Jeremy, until the semester is over, until I graduate from college, until I have a career, until I have God figured out, until I retire.

When will I be happy if I'm only living for the next stage in life? Because I'm going to reach them, then I'll just be hungry for the next. Will I be 76 years-old before I realize: Huh, I wish I would've been more content then, because I'll never get those days back.

Is that the sad tragedy of life, we only see with clarity from our death bed?

Waiting for fulfillment, for love, to be beautiful, to be 10 pounds thinner, to be content, to be at peace, to be swimming in the Greek isles, to feel like I am exactly who I need to be.

Waiting.

















Man, what did I miss in elementary school?