Grown Ass Conversations

“I don’t want to talk about it. The whole thing feels stupid and ridiculous. That’s why I texted you. I wanted to tell you about it but I don’t want to talk about it.”

But I did want to talk about it. What I actually wanted was for him to simultaneously find a magical way to tell me I was right, I was wrong, I was super smart, I was super silly, and this was the miraculously simple way to fix the whole thing. That should be easy enough, right?

Instead he just loved me through it. And told he some soft truths about myself. Things I already knew. Things I was working on. Things he was proud of me for making progress in. The truths are actually pretty hard. They are things I hate to think about and just want to function in their dysfunction. But they don’t because they are, well, dysfunctional.


“Why do you feel ridiculous?”

“Because I am grown. Grown ass women aren’t supposed to get up in their feelings about this kind of thing.”

“It’s exactly because you are grown ass woman that you are capable of having the grown up conversations.”

“But what if I’m wrong?”

“Then that’s on you. I watch you do this thing pretty often where you feel a kind of way and should do something about it, but you go to your programming that says you are probably wrong and so you do nothing and nothing changes and you just take it. Now understand that I am not saying you are less than, I am saying that you are too hard on yourself.”

“I might do that a little.”

I might do that a lot.

I watch folks who are able to say anything. They are able to engage in confrontation in a way that makes my skin goose up. They are able to have the conversations – provoke them even – and keep moving forward. I am trying hard to be that person. To say the things I want to say fearlessly and openly. To be honest with people even it exposes a weakness or a wrong. To open loops that might close differently than I would like them to, or worse, not close themselves at all.

This season’s Big Brother is the Celebrity edition and it has been very interesting. I am watching these somewhat accomplished folks participate in varying degrees of empowerment. During many of the exchanges I find myself so frustrated that person A won’t just tell person B to go to hell, you are not the boss of me. They should say it. Person A deserves to say it and person B deserves to hear it, but they don’t. I would like to think I would. I probably wouldn’t.

But the real truth is that candidness is part of being a whole, real, honest, decent person. It isn’t fair to people I want relationship with to have to bear the judgement of my unspoken assumptions. It isn’t the way I would want to be treated. I would want them to have the courage to come to say what they needed to say. More than courage, I want to be seen as the kind of person with whom it is safe to have those kinds of conversations. I want to be a grown up and I want to be with grown up people. If I hope for that level of maturity from others, it is reasonable that I have to foster that type of maturity from myself.

It’s a funny little Catch 22 that I notice more in woman than I do in men. It’s the “if I have to ask for it, I don’t really want it” or its cousin, “if you loved me you would just know.” I don’t know where these tendencies come from, but I will be the first to admit that I have them. Further, they make sense to me in an inarticulable way. But it also makes sense that we should be able to ask for what we need, have adult conversations about wants and happys and hurts.

I’ve done much better the past year opening my mouth and exposing my inner thoughts. There’s something to be said for safety and confidence. There is also something to be said for the being able to see a real glimpse of unconditional love for oneself and others – not in the wild or in the pretend, but in your own life, involving your own heart. Like any other behavior, it is easier to understand and adopt once you see it modeled.

The neat thing is that motion creates momentum. The more I speak my thoughts, the more I think, the more I get comfortable with having all the thoughts, the more I feel okay to speak, the more connection I create, the more love I am able to give, the more love I am able to receive, the more positive my thoughts, the more I am able to converse, the more resilient I am when things are funky, the more whole I feel, the healthier I am, the more I speak my thoughts.

Take all the time you need to go through that spiderweb of interconnected healthy. Nothing happens in a vacuum. None of us are labels or defined by one singular thing. Sentient, dynamic, eclectic beings we are. That movement of all things in us and around us is a beautiful thing.

Unstuck, Unwasted, Unbroken

I snuggled into bed last night with the understanding that I was, quite possibly, the happiest woman on the planet. His arm heavy across my body, skin warm against my back, breath soft and slow on my shoulder. There is no place I feel safer or more loved. I click through the happy of the day. The kids – all six of them – are still thrilled with simple boxes of chocolate. We all made it to Dairy Queen Wednesday. My teenagers still like it when I play Xbox with them. My beloved wrote me a poem for Valentine’s Day. Even the residual hormonal yuck that is shark week and the hot flash that tried to take me out were a beautiful reminder that I am alive, balanced, and not pregnant. (Seriously, we have six children, I am holding out – in NO hurry – for grands at this point)

My writing for the day crossed my mind and I was satisfied with it. It feels good to work out some of that brain stuff in a way that feels both real and responsible enough to allow public consumption. It did occur to me, however, that maybe I give the wrong impression. I come back to the details of the work so often that maybe I don’t give play to the big picture in my writing. I know the big picture is well served in the other places I am. My happy is no secret. But in the pages, is it as documented as the other stuff? I don’t think so. I woke up this morning feeling a need to be more clear.

I live in a constant state of wonder. My brain is constantly creating open loops. Like, I wonder

  • is pink still my favorite color or has it finally become purple
  • am I being intellectually honest on my 2nd amendment position
  • should I go back to creamer in my coffee
  • could I learn more about plants
  • was Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam really that great
  • how do you discuss systematized racism in a way that allows for productive discussion
  • does he think my butt looks good in these jeans
  • how much time have I wasted
  • what’s for dinner
  • am I fucking up my kids
  • am I fucking up myself
  • did I put the clothes in the dryer
  • where are my keys

I could keep going. I just had to stop myself at the last one when I realized the next one was, “I wonder how many wonders I can wonder.” It’s a thing.

My distaste for open loops is also a thing. I spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to close the loops before they get overly distracting  or tangled up with each other. And, at the risk of offending my loops, some of them are more fun, others are more interesting, a few are actually productive, and some are just unfortunate.

The productive ones are my love/hate loops. I really love the work that comes from learning more and going deeper. I really hate the effort and the realness it sometimes requires. I understood a long time ago I am wired to want to be the best version of myself. More accurately, I would really love it if I could figure out how to become a better version of the best version of myself.  There are a bunch of reasons for this I am sure – but the root is love. The better than best version of me gives love people can receive and is able to receive the love people give. And, sitting here in this chair on this morning, I think I may have inadvertently answered the question, “How would you define success?”

The biggest challenge and opportunity in this journey is chicken/egg. I have all the wonders about myself as a person and in relationship to other people. Those wonders allow me to understand myself and relationship better. They also open me up to influences, both positive and negative. They do not guard me against mental sabotage, either from others or myself. So while I am always getting better, the tangled pieces require a lot of attention and that’s where the nouns and verbs tend to be the most helpful.

So you’ll see the messy that is the byproduct of my wonders regularly. But let me be clear so that there is no mistake made – either by you or me. While the appearance may sometime suggest otherwise, I am unstuck, unwasted, and unbroken. I am not shackled by past transgressions or perceptions.

For a minute I thought I was stuck. I had the toxic on loop (or so it seemed). I talked about it a lot with my closest people. I journaled it regularly. I sat alone with the hum on many occasions. In honesty, I got to the point where I realized I was dangerously close to wallowing, “picking scabs” if you will. Pushing the bruises so they stayed at the surface instead of allowing the wounds to heal. But I was not stuck. I was healing. And healing takes the time it takes and the path that it will. That is the opposite of stuck. That is progress.

The trick is to be mindful of the time it takes. The balance there is delicate. You can’t rush it, you have to give it the room it needs to do what it does. I did not find myself in the place where I had no clue about myself overnight. I was not going to figure the pieces out overnight either. To drift took time. To come back will take time. But time is finite and limited. Worse, we don’t know what those limits are. We are all just guessing at the time we have. To allow time to pass unfettered is to resign your life to the whims of chance. I just can’t. I have already lost a huge amount of time and watched myself allow waste to consume. But waste is redeemable. I understand the process of upcycling.

And I was out for a while. I yolo’ed a bit (I really dislike that term but it so frustratingly fitting in this concept), I ran a while, I hid for a minute, I bloomed slightly, I tangoed mostly. I can see how an outsider would consider those thing indicative of a broken person. I myself had moments of feeling brokenness. But I have come to understand the bones are solid even when the cosmetics look to need a little work. Dislocated and strained maybe. But not broken. Strength in our bodies comes from hard work, moving more than you thought you could, enduring more than is comfortable. When that workout is done, you may be sweaty, sore, and tired – but not broken.

So I am going to continue writing my wonders. Some may seem more painful than others, but they are not wonders  independent of other wonders. All the wonders touch each other in some way. It’s like “Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon” for the thoughts of the many. I wouldn’t trade any of them. I just need to acknowledge that I often have more than I have the opportunity at times to address here.

Started 2/15/2018
Completed 2/18/2018

Brooks was Here

There are these really interesting things going on in my head right now. It looks a whole lot like freedom. Unfortunately, because I am currently unlearning and relearning that concept along with a host of other things about myself, what should be a somewhat easy and beautiful brain float has become super fucking overwhelming.

And what do I do when my brain becomes overwhelming? Well, when I am doing it right, I write. And this single act of nouns and verbs has become quite the interesting project in a way that it really never has before.

I have always put nouns and verbs on paper in a way that I hoped could be read by other people. I understand not everything has to be “in the world” to be valid. I also understand that some things should not be out in the world. But, by and large, the things that I put on paper have the expectation of being fit for public consumption.

But words stay the same over the course of time and change. People do not.

Being overwhelmed creates lack of structure in the thoughts. There are so many ideas trying to push their way to the front in an attempt to be sorted and accounted for. It makes the coherent assembly of nouns and verbs a struggle.

In all honesty, it isn’t just being overwhelmed. It’s the freedom to do it the way I want. I have been writing since I was 10 years old. I have the general gist of the activity down. But there have always been rules set down by someone else. Boxes I knew I had to fit into, boundaries I knew I couldn’t cross.

There is a comfort in the box. Sure, it sucks because you are forced into being someone you aren’t. But, there is order, understanding, and a general “way we do things around here” that, while stifling and damaging, is comfortable when it becomes what you know. When your confidence to trust in your own judgement is reduced to ruble, you second guess everything. When your desire to create something outside yourself is judged and mocked, you harshly judge your own motives. When your ability is marginalized, you start believing you are no good.

When your efforts are labeled too much, too loud, too open, too indulgent, you start to believe those things and you forget that you are a smart, capable, caring, basically decent person. You don’t need the box, you never did. But you functioned inside of it for so long that it is comfortable and you’re not really sure if you know how to do it without it. You worked really hard to rid yourself of the box, to have the courage to break free of it. You know the work that took. But, here you are anyway, trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again

Trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again.

Trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again.

Trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again.

How fucking stupid is that?

Probably pretty damn. But you know what else, it is also completely normal. We fight to hold on to comfort, even when that comfort is toxic. Even when the alternative is healthy. Even when the healthy is more comfortable once you get the feel of it. Being coerced into the box didn’t happen overnight. It took skillful manipulation and time to put you there. It takes time to work all those things back out. It takes honesty in taking responsibility for the parts of it you are responsible for. It takes confidence to refuse ownership for the parts you aren’t. It takes trust in those who love you that they will still love you through the change, through the growth, through the fuck ups, through the wins. It takes faith in your own inner, real, raw, regular goodness.

Even as I go back through that last thought, I understand that it takes more than faith. It takes more than trust. Those things, when broken down into their honest forms, are easy. All that can happen in your brain, in the quiet privacy of solitude without interference from anyone else. What it really requires is testing, trying out, tasting – “an untested virtue isn’t a virtue” kind of workout.

That’s the part that is scary. That’s the part that will put you back in the box. The box sucks too but there is some comfort in dancing with the devil you already know versus the demon you haven’t vetted yet.

But Brooks was comfortable in jail, institutionalized for the box. They made him leave. He wanted to go back. He couldn’t.

I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway so they’d send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sort of like a bonus. I guess I’m too old for that sort of nonsense any more. I don’t like it here. I’m tired of being afraid all the time. I’ve decided not to stay. I doubt they’ll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me. ~ Brooks Hatlen, The Shawshank Redemption

He called prison home. Freedom made him afraid all the time. He hung himself, decided death was better than figuring out how to be his own person. Still scared I may be, but a Brooks I am not.

Information Sources – He Said / She Said (ep. 2)

My second question for the He Said / She Said was a tad harder than I though it would be. With all the wonders I have in my head on a regular basis, I just naturally assumed presenting topics would be easier. Turns out, it isn’t.

Come to find out, my wonders can get a bit overwhleming when I try to put them in a neat package idea with one concise and clear question. Becasue I am really attempting to be respectful of everyone’s time, I consider it to be a duty of sorts to present topics in that manner – clear and concise.

It doesn’t always work out that way. So I set out to find new ideas in my typical fashion – podcasts. And that got me to thinking, “How do other people get new information, expose themselves to new ideas, or stay informed?” The light bulb went off. I probably should ask the panel. Knowing where they get their information from is probably pretty insightful. It also lends itself pretty readily to asking you all how you stay informed and what that means to you in the first place.

Here are a few of the responses, and we would love to hear your thoughts as well.

How do you consider yourself “informed” or “exposed”?


I generally stay informed and available to new ideas by way of social media and the internet. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, are my Sunday paper everyday in real time. I don’t watch the news. It’s too negative. Someone is always getting kidnapped or shot. And I haven’t had cable in 5 years.

My general boredom and cruising of the different platforms (which I have tried to limit because it can be toxic, duh right?) side effect is reading different headlines as to what’s happening in the world. But unlike traditional news outlets like CNN, FOX news, and such that swing heavily to the right or left, and could allegedly be fake news, (HAHA), allow me to form my own opinion. You can find many different posts about any topic on all the platforms, and decide for yourself as to what you feel is going on.

That’s one of the things that makes net neutrality a very interesting and scary topic. Especially when you consider that the decision for 324 million people is decided by 5 unelected officials. Just regular ass people from the FCC who went against 83% of those 324 million people. But I digress.

The other way i get into new ideas is podcasts. I tend to be in my truck a lot on long drives. Nothing eats up time like listening to podcasts. I’d say conservatively I listen to 5-7 hours of podcasts per day. I’m constantly bombarded with different perspective, which I then take and formulate my own thoughts. Or at least I try too.

I’ll leave with this thought, I heard it from Denzel Washington. I’m not sure where he got it from and I didn’t do the time to research it further. “If you don’t listen to the mainstream news your uninformed, if you listen to the mainstream news, your misinformed” Quite the quandary we are in as Americans these days. And I thought propaganda was a NO NO!!

 

Andrew


Actually, the way I get information and the way I’m exposed to “new ideas,” hasn’t changed at all because the world, in particular the USA, hasn’t changed that much at all. There is a saying that goes, “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” and the same holds true for information. If you stay informed, you don’t have to get informed.

I was blessed to have parents who always made sure we understood history..all of it. The problem is, too many people don’t seem to understand or even care about history, so many of the things that are happening now seem foreign to them. Couple this with the fact that too many people believe that the words “commentator” (opinion) and “journalist” (unbiased) are synonymous, and you end up with people who don’t know what to believe or worse, what THEY believe because they are ignorant to our history. So, they only seek out and listen to those commentators who regurgitate the same “truths” that they already believe.

People aren’t open to receiving new ideas because it’s more comfortable to hold onto their old ones, and that has nothing to do with social media, the internet or anything else. To anyone who knows and understands history, and who has been paying attention, nothing that is happening now should be surprising because we’re just repeating old patterns. Or, as my late grandmother used to say, “The years may change, but the days stay the same.”

GR


This has been difficult for me to find the words to address, simply because the question implies that being informed or exposed is a priority.

I have to admit that I made the conscious decision to disconnect from mainstream news outlets in order to practice intellectual self-defense for my own well-being some time ago. In doing so, I’ve drastically devalued the concept of being informed or exposed to high amounts of information.

Through the use of social media, where I like to interact with friends and family, I can see many topics that are on the forefront of discussion and debate from a sociological and political standpoint, so I am never too far from knowing what is in the latest headlines or what many popular topics are. However, I tend to seek information in areas of interest rather than open myself to whatever is chosen to be broadcast.

I am a firm believer in the importance of societies learning history in order to keep from repeating past mistakes (there’s a clever phrase for this that I can never remember with accuracy, but I’m sure you’re thinking of it), so I enjoy podcasts and documentaries that highlight historical events that are relevant to today’s political and sociological climate. I also like to connect with other people and families that I meet and discuss big, heavy, controversial topics in a personal, face-to-face setting when the time is appropriate. Through these discussions, I am opened up to different ways that people see the world, interpret what they see, and apply what they see and know to their own lives. I have found that personal relationships with others is a much more rewarding and fulfilling way to be “informed” with the outside world.

Barry


There was a time I was a news junkie. That coincided with my “eat politics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner” phase. That can to a screeching halt after I had the opportunity to be a state delegate at the Georgia State Republican Convention in 2008. There’s something about watching the process up close and personal that forces you to come to terms with the way things do and don’t work. But that is a topic for another day.

The important thing is that it was then I realized the way I gathered and processed information had to change if I was going to create a real life with real ideas and real impact. I stopped watching the news. I instead began to look for different ways to gather new ideas. The truth is I was so burnt out that I buried myself in novels for a while and absorbed the world of make believe that was fiction, but at least didn’t pretend to be real life.

Now, most of what I do is chase rabbits. I’ll find a particular meme or shared article on social media interesting, either for it’s content or lack thereof, and hunt it down to it’s origin. It is astounding how often the original post is so far off from the actual truth or intent. It emphasizes to me how lazy we have become in believing what other folks put in front of us as fact.

Podcasts have become invaluable. The wide variety of topics is seemingly endless. Moreover, the diversity of perspective is one I simply can’t get in everyday life. Different belief systems, background, socioeconomic demographics, cultures, ideologies, etc. are all represented and available with a touch of a button. In truth, these ideas vary in truth and reliability as the internet has become the wild west of information. However, Hearing the idea and listening to the dialogue has been invaluable at broadening the wonders I had and creating a forest of new ones.

 

April

Intro Via Cereal – He Said She Said ep.1

A few weeks ago I encountered an article on a topic that isn’t typically discussed openly or in mixed company. The article invited about two dozen men to share their views on the topic. I found the whole article fascinating. I was able to look into the candid thoughts of a variety of men on a topic I would never discuss directly.

That gave me the idea for He Said / She Said.

I sent an email out to 7 people – 3 women 4 men. I asked them if they would care to participate, at their own discretion and in their own way, in discussing different topics. The topics will be all over the place:

  • who pays on a date
  • when does the Christmas tree go up
  • how many sexual partners is too many
  • Which candy bar is superior
  • is football too dangerous
  • gun control
  • favorite cereal
  • current events
  • If the title of the He Said / She Said is sexist because “He” is first

What follows is the first question and the reply. We hope you enjoy it and participate.

I know this question sounds ridiculous. But I promise it isn’t. If you answer it thoughtfully, it will be a great, non traditional, introduction of a little bit about who you are as a person before we tackle something a bit heavier.

What was your favorite cereal as a child? Is it the same now? Why or why not?

I was a weird kid. My favorite cereal when I was growing up was Life with Cheerios running a close second. I never really cared much for the sugary cereals as a kid. Occasionally a bowl of Cap’n Crunch’s Crunch Berries maybe but, for the most part, I was a Life and Cheerios kid.

As an adult I’d have to say Lucky Charms, hands-down. Then again, as an adult, cereal isn’t a breakfast food anymore. It’s more of an evening snack kind of food. I can’t remember the last time I ate cereal for breakfast.

Thom


In the pitch blackness of the early morning hours, I’d wake to sounds of Daddy getting ready for haul. Laying in bed, tucked under flannel sheets and handmade quilts and grannie squared afghans, I’d muster up the courage to slip out onto the cold floor. The hiss of the cast iron radiator would let me know the heat had been turned up. Quickly donning my pink terry robe and slippers from the Sears Roebuck catalog, I cracked open the door and scurried down to the kitchen.

Momma would be flying around, making coffee, packing his lunchbox, filling his thermoses with hot cocoa and soup. Two leftover meatloaf sandwiches and a whoopie pie would be neatly wrapped in waxed paper and tucked into the steel gray hinge topped box.

Daddy, larger than life…layered for the long day on the water in waffle weave long johns, wool socks, flannel shirt, a hideous hand knit gold and seafoam green sweater vest, and a pair of corduroys, would be prepping his cereal.

“Susie Q…what you doing up?”

I’d shrug.

Taking down a bowl from the cupboard, I’d retrieve the lone biscuit from the white paper which previously held three. Daddy would be ripping and tearing his two into his bowl. Daintily, I’d break mine into neat little uniform pieces.

“Honey, it’s all going to the same place.”

Sugar bowl in hand, he’d sprinkle some on mine, and tip the hand a little too heavy on his.

The milk poured, we sat together at the kitchen table, waiting for it to get just the right amount of soggy. With each sip, steam from his coffee would repeatedly fog up his glasses.

“Think we’ve got time for a quick game of cribbage?”

Beaming…”yes Daddy.”

A. Lynn


Favorite cereal:  Cheerios at first, and then Cap’N Crunch, who’s not even a real Captain, or Cap’N cause he doesn’t have enough stripes.  I think I read somewhere that he’s actually a commander. Hmm, Commander Crunch? Nah, not feeling it.  The fact that someone took the time to research a character on a cereal box is both funny and disturbing, as is the fact that I not only remembered that fact, but also shared it..with no shame.  Anyway, I don’t eat cereal now, and I haven’t eaten Cheerios or Cap’N Crunch since I was about 13. #TheThrillisGone.

GR


My favorite cereal as a child was Fruity Pebbles. After pouring the milk, I would patiently wait a couple of minutes for the cereal to become a blissfully wonderful mix of crunchy and soggy pebbles as I proceeded to devour them one heaping spoonful at a time. I enjoyed both the texture and the taste as I ate each bite. Also, after I had chased every last stray pebble down with my spoon and consumed every one of them, I was left with a sweet, fruity flavored milk that I would drink from the bowl.

At age 41, Fruity Pebbles remains my favorite cereal for all the same reasons. I guess, when it comes to food anyway, I don’t grow tired of the same flavors and textures. I still indulge, on occasion, in a box of Fruity Pebbles that I will share with my two sons (9 and 6 yo). They have their own favorites, but they also enjoy my favorite when I go rogue and stray from the healthier choices that I typically try to consume on a more regular basis.

Barry


You can refer to me as “Cornflake Girl”. In addition to being my answer to your first question, it’s also a great Fiona Apple song, so instead of obsessing over what pseudonym I should use, I’m Just gonna go with Cornflake Girl.

Favorite cereal as a child was probably cornflakes. Or maybe Chex or Crispix, whatever my mom had bought at the time that was even relatively “normal”. My mom was older, and had fed into the whole organic gardening hippie health food movement of the ‘70s, so most of what she bought more resembled yard rakings than anything that would have a cartoon mascot trying to sell it to children. She refused to buy anything that had a sugar glaze, or frosting, or marshmallows, or toys, etc. “You don’t need all that sugar!”  Little did she know that we went to the sugar cannister on the countertop, the one she used when she was baking, and spooned no less than 1/4 cup of sugar directly onto her “healthy” cereal. So her strategy backfired in that respect. I only got to illicitly taste the other cereals, what I considered the GOOD stuff, when I was at friends’ houses on sleepovers. Hopefully none of *their* parents were having a crisis of health conscience and only eating Raisin Bran or something.

I really don’t eat cereal at all now. Trying to do low carb was the initial motivation with that. Whenever I do have a carb lapse it tends to be later in the day. I’m all about eggs for breakfast now. Maybe oatmeal was my favorite before I switched away from carbs. Or the Chex. Chex is and always will be pretty damn awesome.

Cornflake Girl


Fruity Pebbles, hands down, has always been my favorite cereal. Lucky Charms is great, but it’s just too much damn work separating out the marshmallows. I think I saw somewhere that they made a box of just the marshmallows, but that feels gluttonous somehow and I just don’t think I can get past that to actual enjoy it. So it’s Fruity Pebbles.

We never got them much as a kid. Mom always bought the economical cereals. Every once in a while, that beautiful box would show up. It never lasted long. But I appreciated it. And though my little girl brain couldn’t have articulated it, I know that cereal became equated with appreciation for the special things.

I moved out of my parents home the summer before my senior year of high school. I always had Fruity Pebbles, even if I didn’t have much else. It was walking distance from my parents’ house. One more than one occasion I woke up to find one of my sisters, usually the youngest, in front of my TV with a bowl of her very own. I did a lot of the things that most 17 year old kids would do if they lived on their own. My sisters always kept my secrets and I never complained about them eating my cereal. Back then, bribery is what I would have associated that box with. Now, I am able to recall how great it felt seeing my kid sisters enjoying something I was able to do for them all on my own – and the bribery.

Today, I could eat Fruity Pebbles any time I want. I don’t. In fact, I rarely do. I am always afraid I’ll mess up the nostalgia of the thing. It sounds bizarre to have such a crux of conscience over cereal, but I am a woman of many wonders and this is one of them. I wonder if keeping the nostalgia is better than enjoying the cereal. I wonder if I will still think it tastes as good as the last time I ate it. I wonder if I am over wondering all of it. So, unless the kids pick it (which they rarely do), neither do I. But the box still makes me smile.

April

2012 Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

So I took the plunge and registered. (FYI Registration goes up after the 28th)

As you may know, I fractured my heel Labor Day weekend. For those of you who aren’t runners, that kind of thing wrecks a training schedule – especially when the event you are training for is only nine weeks out. The silver lining – I hadn’t paid for it yet. The elephant in the room – that was the perfect excuse not to try.

I have spent the last 6 1/2 weeks hemming and hawing about whether or not I was going to register for this race. Why? Because I was coming off of an injury?

No. The truth is I hadn’t committed because the dumb bitch in my brain still has some sway when she whispers “you can’t do it.”

Screw her.

One of the best things about running longish distances is the time you get to spend alone with yourself. It seriously clears out the cobwebs. It is for sure cheaper than therapy. Today, I decided it was time to work through why I wouldn’t sign up for the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

1. I couldn’t finish due to my jacked up training schedule. Truth – I could walk the damn thing and still finish under the 7 hour course time limit. That is a 16 minute/mile pace. I currently average about 9. I can finish.

2. Well, I CAN finish, but my time would be embarrassing. Truth – ego is a dream killer. Embarrassing? To who? People who will ridicule me for not finishing 26.2 miles(!) in a time they deem appropriate? Why on earth would I even care about those people? Nope, I mean embarrassing to me. And that my friends, is just stupid.

3. I will seriously re-injure myself and I won’t be able to run in Savannah’s first Ultra Marathon, the Rails to Trails 50k. The truth is, I could do that anyway. My last injury happened on a training run. I have a sweet friend who is recovering from an injury that happened via car wreck caused by a texting driver. Anything can happen. People have been telling me for 14 months that I am on the verge of killing my knees, hips, back, ankles, feet, baby unicorn – whatever. And the truth is my body will not be able to do these things forever. But it can do them now. It can do it on November 3rd.

So, I ran up the drive, fired up the computer, and I registered. For 2 seconds I considered the half (which, by the way, is an amazing respectable feat for all those brave enough to try it).

Then I remembered that I wrote this. And I sure as hell don’t want to write it again…

Diet ~ Reclaiming (or Deep-sixing) the word

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

Yeah, that will be at the beginning of all these posts. I am kinda serious about it. I realize I can be kinda snarky, this topic is kinda sensitive, and we all beat ourselves up enough. It is important to me that you know that is NOT happening here.

Definition of DIET

  • food and drink regularly provided or consumed
  • habitual nourishment
  • the kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
  • a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight 
  • something provided or experienced repeatedly

Origin of DIET

Middle English diete, from Anglo-French, from Latin diaeta, from Greek diaita, literally, manner of living, from diaitasthai to lead one’s life

The above edits and emphasis to the definition are mine. And while I do not purport to have the authority to just change the English language, I do think that taking into consideration the origin of the word justifies a reclaiming of the idea.

The word diet is not bad or good. It is amoral. It is just a word. Unless it pisses you off. Then it has to be dealt with.

It pissed me off and and so I am dealing with it.

Lesson – you gotta be ready for you. There is no outside force that will do this for you. There is no knowledge, no article, no lesson learned, nothing cerebral that will make this happen. If you have a habit you want to change, you have to want to change it.

Lesson – Just saying you “really need to do” something. Doesn’t mean you really need to. It means you really want to need to. I wanted to need. When I actually needed, I did. It is all about choices.

The truth is, I wanted things to work the way I wanted them to work. I wanted to do what I wanted to do AND get the results I wanted to get. I wanted to feel strong, look strong and be strong while eating all the things I used to eat. Essentially, I wanted to be a ferrari that ran at an optimal level off of whipped cream…is that really to much to ask?

Truth:

 

Notice the word “diet” needed the descriptive “bad.” And there is no time qualifier. “Diet” is not a program – it is a lifestyle. Diet is not a rigid set of unbreakable pass or fails. It is an evolving, daily practice of choices. These choices are not independent of each other. They are big picture choices, “if/then” choices. And they are widely personal. What works for one may not work for another. Food may not be an issue for you. This may be easier or harder. For me, it was, and continues to be, an amazing battle of the wills.

I LOVE FOOD. It was one of the biggest jokes when the Husband and I were dating. He couldn’t figure out where it all went! I am an amazing cook. I appreciate great meals. I eat for pleasure and not purpose. If I am hungry and the food is not great, I won’t eat. If it is wonderful, I will eat…and eat…and eat.

Simply put, I quit smoking before I changed my diet because it was easier.

I needed a full reset. Not a permanent change (I had tried Atkins years ago, and while it worked, it was not sustainable), but a serious “control-alt-delete” reset. I looked into a few things. I knew what I didn’t want

  • fad diets that require long term usage to maintain
  • shakes, powders, pills
  • artificial
  • expensive

I opted for The Daniel Fast. It is 21 days of over achieving veganism with some spiritual help. Why it appealed to me

  • I can do nearly anything for 21 days
  • it did not require me to buy anything but food
  • it was completely natural
  • it is super easy to follow

In a nutshell

DON’T

  • consume anything with or from a face (meat, cheese, seafood, dairy, butter – nada)
  • consume anything processed
  • no sweetners (no sugar, no honey, nada)
  • drink anything but water (no coffee, no tea, no booze, nada – water!)

DO

  • drink LOTS of water
  • eat anything from the ground (beans, nuts, whole grains, fruits, veggies)
  • start on a slow day – you may feel a bit tired/cranky the first day or so. Lots of water helps

Side note – I tried to limit grains, beans, etc. to breakfast and lunch. Almost full veggie dinners. Some folks have done this and go heavier on the the starches and grains. Their weight loss isn’t as great. I was really heavy produce (high bulk/low calorie). And I exercised throughout – the energy level bounces back quick.

AFTER

  • Be super careful what you reintroduce and how. I had a steak on day 22. I was sick for four days after.
  • Be mindful what what you reintroduce and why. I had successfully cut out processed, artificial foods with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. Could not think of one good reason to go back to that. Except for Jalapeno Cheetos…I miss those things…
  • Figure out what works and keep it simple. I basically figure if it comes out of the dirt or the ocean, it is fair game. Everything else has to be considered on the “if/then” scale.
  • Pay attention to your body during and after. I have found that my skin is one of the first things to gauge the quality of my choices.
  • Be kind to yourself. You are doing this to be a healthier you. Guilt, stress, self-beratement does not equal good health

Me now

  • I almost never eat red meat. It makes me feel physically bad. Occasionally I will. So far in the last 7 months I think I have had red meat 3 times.
  • I LOVE pork. Bacon is the main reason I reject vegetarianism. I limit my pork to very rarely. Maybe once a month. It is a treat – not a staple.
  • I have eliminated most dairy for the same reason as red meat. I can tell a difference when I eat too much of it. I use an almond creamer for my coffee as that is the only major adjustment that I needed to make for daily use. I still love cheese on my sandwich – but it too is a treat.
  • I eat some fowl. Not often. Once or twice a week.
  • I love whole grains, beans, legumes, etc. This has replaced the meat products and provides the calorie count I need for long run days. I tend to stay away from them late in the evening, but they make a great breakfast!
  • I love my juicer. I use it for those veggies I probably would normally eat. I hardly ever put fruit in it as I would just assume eat that. I have found that I can throw nearly anything into it. As long as I top it off with apples, it tastes good.
  • I won’t eat out just anywhere. And I won’t eat just anything. And I am not tacky about either. Staying focused AND positive are important.

In all this, please remember, I am not stuck up about any of it. I treat myself to frozen yogurt. I have had a burger with cheese off the grill. But I did opt to NOT have cake on my birthday. I have indulged and I enjoy it. But it has its limits and consequences. I don’t do it like everyone else and I don’t expect folks to do it like me. But I am appreciative of what I have learned, and continue to learn from others. And I hope I have been helpful here.

Enjoy your lunch!

 

…But I am not stuck up about it

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

Yeah, that will be at the beginning of all these posts. I am kinda serious about it. I realize I can be kinda snarky, this topic is kinda sensitive, and we all beat ourselves up enough. It is important to me that you know that is NOT happening here.

If you missed my First Steps
…or Some Excuses

This is not supposed to be the next step…this revelation actually didn’t hit me until my Daniel Fast. But, with it being the Nation’s Birthday tomorrow, I figured we should talk about cake.

This is a beautiful, nearly ready to give birth, 210 pound April Groves. And 210 may not be so bad…except I started at 130. 80 pounds ladies and gentleman (look at that neck!)  And while my Savannah was a respectable 8lbs 15ozs, that is still little better than 10% of my total weight gained.

Since I was in the Navy, I had to go back to work 6 weeks after her birth. While you can wear your maternity uniform for a while after that, who in world does that? In my 11 years in the Navy, I NEVER saw one woman come back from maternity leave in their maternity uniform. We maybe should have, but we did not.

The Cliff Note’s version is I got down to 160 before I had to go back to work. Yeah, that uniform was a sight. I had a job conducive to regular and extended gym time and a great workout buddy (not as great as you, Mel!) Next thing you know, my post pregnancy body was doing some crazy stuff. So I egged it on. Atkins was king and the gym was my friend. I got down to a lean 120 pounds with muscles to boot.

I learned a lot on that journey. I learned that ~

  • water was the absolute best thing I could put in my body – ever.
  • Weight training is the key to all shape issues.
  • Weights can be heavy, and that is good.
  • Food matters.
  • You can get your body back.

But, what I didn’t learn was the importance of sustainable change. My health and wellness was not in a GNC store or a diet book or a fitness magazine. I thought that it was and I loved them all. But, as we all know, over the course of the years to come, I would put back on 40 of those pounds – and I ain’t knocked up.

I say ALL of that for a few reasons

  • If you have taken off and put on, you are not alone
  • If you have started, quit, started again, you are not alone
  • If you have tried stuff that worked and then didn’t, you are not alone
  • If you have huge goals to make, you are not alone

Basically, you are not alone.

I chose to do a hard reset with my eating at the beginning of the year. I will get into the hows and the whys later, but for now I will just say that the Daniel Fast was one of the best choices I ever made. I read most of the book. In it was my “Damn it!” moment. Face palm included.

Susan Gregory said something that should be obvious. Obviously, it wasn’t. She discussed a situation that occurred during one of her fast times. Her daughter in law had prepared a special meal. In that meal were foods not appropriate for the fast. Do you know what Susan did? She enjoyed the meal with her family.

She cheated. She gave her self some breathing room. She enjoyed her life. She practiced moderation. She was not stuck up about it!

And that’s what I had been. Totally stuck up. Either all or nothing. Militant or complacent. That isn’t a lifestyle – it is a life sentence. And that mentality only leaves you looking for parole!

I came to understand that there are times when strict discipline is necessary, especially during the beginning stages of a particularly difficult habit change. But, while many of us believe that grace and forgiveness are wonderful gifts to give to others, we rarely find it appropriate to gift it to ourselves.

Now, I gauge myself.

  • Have I been allowing too much “moderation?” It is easy to tell – I feel bad. I call them food hangovers or endorphin withdraws.
  • Am I about to partake in something for which I know I have very little control? I try very hard not to eat donuts. I love them. I will eat the whole box. Moderation be damned. Yeah, I need a 12 step. I probably won’t eat even one because I just can’t.
  • Am I going to enjoy this or feel guilty about it? If it is just going to make you sad, leave it alone.

So tomorrow I will probably not have any cake (it is kinda like the donut thing). But I will most likely eat a burger. I may even put cheese on it! Of course, I will probably log some miles before the festivities too.

Because it isn’t about quick fixes – it is about living my best life.

Enjoy the holiday!

 

 

A few more excuses…

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

Yeah, that will be at the beginning of all these posts. I am kinda serious about it. I realize I can be kinda snarky, this topic is kinda sensitive, and we all beat ourselves up enough. It is important to me that you know that is NOT happening here.

If you missed my First Steps

Just a few more things to get in place, then I will be ready. Tomorrow, Monday, the beginning of the month, the beginning of the quarter, after this season, at the New Year…whatever. If you are anything like me. That time will just keep pushing itself backwards to a new milestone. I have heard of this phenomenon somewhere. I think it has a name…oh yeah, procrastination. (Don’t you like how I pretend I don’t know this cat amazingly well?)

First, I am not a fan of the word “excuse.” I think, by definition, it conveys the appropriate idea. By connotation, it sucks. When we say “excuse”, we assume lazy, non committed, unable, failure, lack of discipline, untruthfulness, and general full of shitness.

We are not any of those things. I am not any of those things.

What I am is a married mother of four children with a demanding profession. I am active with my family, friends, parish, and community. What I am is what you probably are – challenged to do one more thing in your non-forgiving 24 hour day.

I prefer “challenges” to “excuses”. And if you are one who thinks that is little more than a cop-out or feel good semantics, just keep going with what ever works for you. But most people I know already have more than enough self hate speech going on in their heads. If that kind of motivation works for you, go with it. Seriously, I am for whatever helps you achieve your goals. But for me, it is paralyzing and defeating. Then, not only do I have real challenges to contend with, but I have to move past the mental sewage that just stink piled in my brain. No thanks.

Second, I found no point in morally sorting my challenges. Do I lack time because I watch too much TV or because I have four kids that need homework help? Do I eat fast food because it was the only option or because I just really wanted that cheeseburger? Did I make this choice because I am a good, upright super citizen of the world, or a big, fat piece of crap? See, how it doesn’t matter? Just more brain sewage.

But, I DO have challenges. The most pressing one is time. And there are a ton of reasons this is a challenge. Some could be classified as legitimate and some not. Not the point. The point was not beating myself up over choices I had made with my past time, but making this new thing a priority…making new choices in spite of, and without carrying the baggage of, the previous choices.

I am always thinking about how to answer your question. “April, how did you do it?”

The answer is I haven’t done it. I am doing it. And it is a process of waking up every morning, identifying the specific challenges to my priorities for this specific day and making it my mission in the next 24 hours to successfully navigate those challenges. Not yesterday’s challenges. Not maybe unforeseen challenges of tomorrow. Not cranked up brain sewage shitness. But honest to goodness logistics of Friday, June 29, 2012 “To Do” list.

There is no better day 🙂

I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first

So a really cool thing happened on my Facebook page a few days ago. I posted this

After 5 pregnancies, 4 deliveries, nearly 36 birthdays, I NEVER thought I would look this way again. Stronger than I have been since I was in my early 20’s and my washboard is back (although with some new tiger stripes). Melissa, Tanisha, Marc, Victoria, Dan, Shannon, Tony & Allison, Lisa, Sabine ~ and a host of others I can’t tag because of facebook’s stupid tag limit ~ Thanks…the hard work, attention to food and body, focus and spirit connection, is not only paying off now, but is proving to be a shift in lifestyle and not another tangle with fad diets and sporadic exercise activity. I really appreciate y’all. My future grandchildren thank you as well!!

And my friends showed out to the tune of 117 notifications!

**Are most of the comments made by folks that liked thus not actually resulting in 117 individual people? Yes. Did that change the number of notifications that came through and actual instances of encouraging moments to me? Not on your life.

Almost immediately my friends came to my side, encouraging and congratulating. The amount of happy conveyed was immeasurable. I hoped one day to return the favor. I quickly discovered how.

There are a bunch of folks out there just like me who want to make different choices. They want the results I am getting. They want me to tell my story. And I will. In a minute. This conversation has to happen first.

I hit a ton of roadblocks in my journey. I am still hitting them. I do not do everything “right”. Quite frankly, I don’t even know what that means. In all honesty, if I did, I probably still wouldn’t do it.

While researching, talking, and listening, I encountered quite a few folks who obviously did know “right.” And if it didn’t feel right to me, conflicted with a different piece of research I found, or just didn’t factor high onto my personal priority list, well, I was obviously the uneducated dolt who just didn’t care enough about my well being to hear what they had to say.

I can’t function that way. Good on folks who can. That ain’t me.

I am going to go back to last year and tell you my story thus far. Please know that I made no decisions haphazardly and my choices may or may not fit for you. That’s okay. We are all different. We all have different perspectives, resources, priorities, desires, and lives.

Here is what I can tell you.

  1. We aren’t talking real estate, so I am not trying to sell you anything 😉
  2. Every word of that Facebook post is true.
  3. I am happier than I have been in years.
  4. Your choices are not my choices and vice versa. So there is no judgement here. You do you, I do me, and maybe we can help support and encourage each other in the process.
  5. I am not a professional dietitian, nutritionist, sport medicine, whatever ~ I know some, but I ain’t one. All the information I give you will be solely anecdotal with references that stand on their own.
  6. Thanks for everything. I can use all the help I can get.
  7. In appreciation for that help, I offer all the help that I can.

So, that being said, I will post about my health choices. But you have to know, you are probably already mostly awesome 🙂 Your path may have different things in store for you. I can’t wait to hear what they are!