Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bikini Babe?


I've just come inside from trimming the rosemary bush next to my front door. I also tried to use the same hedge trimmer to trim the weeds around my fence - you know, the wrong tool for the job.

And I did this yard trimming... in my bikini top and shorts.

And my biggest concern was the short battery life on my little trimmer and how I don't have a rake to rake up the rosemary.

My neighbor came home on his bike - his name is Gary. He's a university professor who teaches early middle eastern literature. I enjoy our chats. We talked for a while about how I need a REAL weed trimmer and not some hedge trimmer that isn't designed for what I tried to force it to do. Gary and his wife have the most beautiful yard. They never say anything to me about how mine is, um, lacking in tidiness. We get along really well and it is one of the reasons I like where I live.

I do have pink flamingos in the front yard though, so there's that.

Yet, there I stood in my front yard in a bikini and not once did I think - OMG I'm in a bikini, he can't see me in a bikini I'm sooooo fat. Honestly, I'm a size 18 on a good day.

I didn't care. I've been wearing my bikini on the back porch to sunbathe and mow my back yard, but haven't ventured out into the front yard yet. I mean CARS drove by while I worked in the front yard. And I was in a bikini. And you know... I didn't really think about it. I just worked on my lawn.

I've come a long way from the fat girl ashamed of herself and her body. I know there are some larger women who are so angry and think things like,  "Screw you all if you don't like how I look." But that's not me. I'm not an angry person by nature. There are no demands on anyone - you don't have to like how I look in a bikini or you can like how I look in a bikini. That isn't really my issue anymore. Would I wear this to a public pool? I don't know, maybe. I don't particularly want to attract attention, nor do I want to avoid it. I kind of just want to weed my front yard and get some sun.

Here is a pic. Not a great pic because I have been working in my yard. But an unedited pic none-the-less.

I'm still a long way from being happy with how much I weigh - but no longer because I hate my body. More because there are so many things I want to do and my weight prevents me from doing them. So I keep on the journey. I've been stuck at the same weight for four months now. At least I haven't put more weight on and even though my weight hasn't changed my body has. So I don't get upset, I keep taking care of myself and eating well (or trying to) and exercising (more of that this summer for sure). 

I am done with having people in my life who spend their time telling me all my faults and how if I would just do 'this': lose weight, talk more, talk less, be more friendly, be less friendly, be more spiritual, be less spiritual, write more, write less, sing more, sing less, don't think so much, tell better stories, be more grateful, be more kind, be nice, be less messy, be more respectful, be less demanding, be less serious, be less self-absorbed and solipsistic (I actually had to look that word up when my ex called me that - thus the 'ex')... the list goes on and on. But always with the idea that if I would just follow these helpful suggestions, I would be more desirable. I'm done letting criticism push me down - it makes the work of being happy in my own skin so much harder. 

Criticism is the wrong tool for the job. Criticism, void of compassion, is empty and destructive. 

I don't need anyone to tell me how to be. I'm not perfect, however,  I'm desirable just the way I am.

I'm done having people in my life that reflect back to me my own critical nature. Lately, I'm spending time with people who are kind to me and at the same time honest when I ask for input. I have some events going on in my life that have made me nervous and anxious. And these people around me that appreciate and respect me say things to build my spirit, not tear it down. These people have changed me. They've helped me realize it's time for me to be kinder to myself. If that means wearing a bikini even though I am NOT the typical size of a woman that wears a bikini simply because I want to, so be it - they love me and cheer me on, because that's what people that care and respect you do.

I love who I am and how I am in this world. I love that I see the world as a beautiful place, even when the people here do some ugly things. I love how I treasure every moment I have here.

I love how I see the best in people - even when they don't see the best in themselves; it's high time I do the same for myself.

peace and love,


Saturday, June 13, 2015

ISO: Passion


I woke up this morning after an... odd evening and even weirder night of dreaming. I laid in bed with this vague 'something isn't right' feeling.

I got up, made myself some huevos rancheros, some yerba mate tea with milk and came back to bed. I couldn't sleep, but also couldn't figure out what was pushing against my mind.

I closed my eyes for a few moments and entered this half awake/half asleep arena. In this shamanic state, I heard the word 'passion'. Without controlling the images that flashed through my mind - I saw people I know and have known and I saw their passions - dancing, acting, singing, writing, biking, journeywork, camping, drawing, disney, painting... Lots of people, and lots of activities that spoke to their hearts. I sat up in bed with this clarity about what it is that has my life feeling skewed.

I've lost my passion.

In my twenties, my passion was spirituality. I wanted to know everything about everything spiritual. Why did people believe the way they did? What brought joy to people's hearts? What purpose does faith serve in someone's life? What do different religions say and why do people follow them? What is the beauty in divinity? I spent fifteen years searching out those questions - from prayer meetings, to sweat lodges to shaman retreats in Hawaii.  I'm not sure how or why, but the inner desire to seek that information just shifted. I was still curious, but didn't feel that passion to continue to seek.

In my thirties, I think my passion became mythology. I loved reading it, couldn't get enough of it. I wanted to understand the connection of humanity to universal mythic ideas. It was a natural extension of my curiosity about religion. It was during this time I lost almost all of my faith. I chose to spend time with people of no faith, who openly mocked faith. I delved into mythology deeply and passionately.

In my forties, I found my faith again. It looks pretty odd to an outsider, I suppose. A full on mishmash of different ideas from different cultures and times. It has no real form, but I found I was terribly unhappy without it. Terribly lonely. And I guess, I believe in magic and I missed finding the magic in my life on a daily basis. I found reconnecting to divinity was essential to me not losing myself when in my mid forties I became a sudden parent. My belief in something more than myself has helped me be a better parent and a better person. I cherish my love for mythology and it is an important part of my faith, but I can't say either of those things are my passion anymore.

So what am I left with? I think I am left with a desire find desire. And I don't know where it is going to come from. However, my past passions have been mental and spiritual. This time, I want to pursue something active- hiking maybe. But on my own terms. In my own way. I don't want to over-push myself and injure myself again. Running was filling that passion void in my life for a while, but when I hurt myself I had to give it up. There was a time when biking was a passion of mine, I don't know if biking will hurt my knee or not, but I might try it again. I know that part of the struggle I am having in my life right now has to do with a lack of my own passion - and replacing passion with distraction or someone else's passion.

And that is what is comes down to for me: passion versus distraction. Distraction is easy - and I have done too much of that lately. Distracting myself instead of listening to myself. Addiction can also be a very easy trap to fall into - but while distraction and addiction tear you down, I think a true passion for something you love builds you up. It reinforces your own strength. It clears your head and helps you find your center.

I think I am missing my center. I am at my best when I am connected to myself. When I listen to my heart. When I choose good people to have around me. People who send me notes like this and remind me of my value, my beauty and that I am, at my very core, a passionate woman:

It is time to find the passion in me again. I'm not sure it is something I will do with someone else. Not to say that my passion for whatever is next won't lead me to meet new, wonderful people or find ways to relate to people I already know.  I have this feeling, it is time to listen when Marc Cohn says, "Dig down deep" and explore what it is that pushes me to grow, heal, center and continue to get healthy - as my weight goes down, my body can do more. And I want to find out just what that means.

With love,

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Dancing past perfection


Perfectionism shows up at the oddest moments in my life. In the past, it crippled my ability to be present in the moment and enjoy my life. Friday night, I realized how far I have come in my effort to move past perfectionism.

Psychology Today defines perfectionism this way:

"For perfectionists, life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn't a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance."

In my life, I have struggled with perfectionism. I can't even measure the hours I have spent trying to avoid failure and 'predict' what someone else wanted so I could appear 'together' and on top of my game. When I was in the throes of perfection? I was never on top of my life. I was too busy trying to prepare for the next problem before the next problem ever showed up. 

Dancing Friday night brought back some of those past struggles with perfection. As a birthday wish of someone I care about, I agreed to go dancing - contra dancing, actually. In the past, I would have politely deferred; I would have been terrified to look stupid or incompetent.

Friday, I took a deep breath and realized I have come a long way from earlier struggles with perfection. I knew I would be dancing with someone who enjoyed deancing, who would help me if I needed it, and I knew I could let go and just have a good experience. 

I grew up terrified to make mistakes. Mistakes often meant screaming and yelling, so learning to move past that fear and just relax and enjoy the moment has been a goal of mine the last few years. I've worked hard to move past the mindset that liking myself depended on earning approval of others by being perfect. That view of the world led to a lot of unhappy relationships, friendships and experiences. 

Friday, when I got the invitation to go and dance, I didn't even hesitate. I realized I have grown past a great deal of my anxiety and I decided to just enjoy my evening and let the night unfold as it would unfold. We got to the hall and the first half hour we learned some of the basic dance moves. My partner smiled at me, and I leaned into that and had fun A couple of times I stumbled trying to figure out what the moves were, but he was patient and the other people there were very kind and accommodating to any missteps. I had a wonderful time, even when things sort of fell apart during the last dance we stayed for of the evening.

The contra dancing took place in a small gym in Seattle. It was exceptionally hot , there were a lot of people, and not a lot of ventilation. The dances were pretty long, and after the second one, I took a break to get some water. My partner wasn't around (he'd gone outside to get some fresh air) and a very nice man asked me to dance. I agreed but told him I had no idea what I was doing. He laughed a little and said he did know and not to worry. I smiled and we moved onto the tremendously crowded dance floor. The dance moves baffled me! No one really knew what they were doing. I stuck with it for about ten minutes while the caller on the stage kept giving out instructions. I found myself so confused and maybe it was the heat, maybe it was so many people on the floor, maybe I was just tired, but I started to feel that old anxiety. The room started to feel really small and I knew I would not enjoy the dance. This was not an 'uncomfortable but just push past it' moment. I looked at the gentleman who asked me to dance and said, "I can't do this. I'm so sorry, but this is more than I can do tonight." He smiled at me and said that it likely would have been easier to understand if we had been in the middle of the line instead of the very end, but it was okay and he walked me over to the side of the dancing area. By the time I left, he sat talking to two other ladies and we smiled at each other as I walked out the door.

Perfectionism would have, at one point in my life, prevented me from ever even going dancing! My fear of making mistakes in life crippled me from moving forward. Friday night, being able to know what I could and could not do, being able to take care of myself and speak up for myself when I knew my limits, felt so liberating! I had so much fun just dancing and laughing and twirling and enjoying myself - and seriously it was awesome exercise. Not only did I accomplish something I would have avoided in the past, I got a great workout - win/win!

I suppose once I go to a karaoke night and actually sing.. I might really have mastered this whole perfectionism thing :). 

One 'step-to-the-center' at a time.