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Vacation Reality

Aussie Sign

We got back from Australia a few weeks ago. For three and a half weeks, we experienced genuine Aussie hospitality, met lifelong friends, and saw wonders that travel guides and big, beautiful coffee table books don’t do justice.

No, we didn’t see any sharks or pythons or funnel spiders. We did encounter some poisonous plants and a spider so big its legs cast a shadow on the wall.

Before we left the States, friends would say, you know the 20-something most deadliest creatures can be found in Australia.

The Aussies laughed when Lyle asked about places to avoid. No worries, mate. Sure, we have those things, but you’ll be fine as long as you don’t look for trouble.

I smiled and figured Americans watch way too much TV. I didn’t think about danger much until we ran across a precaution sign at a park that advised visitors of what to do should they see a kangaroo. Don’t approach. Back away slowly. If one charges, drop to ground. Curl up into a ball. Protect your head and throat. The kangaroo was not an any dangerous-animal list.

aussie kangaroo
Then, there was the warning sign about the poisonous plants to avoid during the 6 km walk down into the rainforest.

aussie poison tree

 

 

aussie poison fern

Blah, blah, blah I thought until I realized these particular trees hung over our heads in this vast green canopy, and the palm looked just like all the others and lined the paths where we walked.

But I made it out just fine.

During the trip, we walked along headlands that towered over the ocean below and then hiked down to the beautiful, deserted, white sandy beaches. We watched whales breach the surface of deep aquamarine waters (that never gets old). The day we trekked through the unbelievable rainforest, I found myself dwarfed by trees hundreds of years old.  Another morning we floated down a river on kayaks and spied long, bearded dragons as they skittered across fallen logs, and of course, we saw more kangaroos than I would have imagined existed.

But re-entry into the real world was tough, really tough. For the first week (okay two), I wanted to hop in my car and just drive, drive, drive. Surely, there was a place to escape. My husband was a pain in the ass, my work deadlines were impossible, and my house was a disaster. That was just the beginning.

My mind continued to get more slippery. I didn’t like anyone around me, and if I could have escaped from my sarcastic ass, I would have. Mostly, I tried to keep my mouth clamped tight because I knew venom would shoot out if I opened it just a wee bit.

Things are better this week, but why? Sure, I’ve caught up at work, and my body clock adjusted to the current time zone so I’m finally sleeping when I should, but the things that annoyed me last week are still there, and they’re still annoying. The only difference is I stopped looking for trouble.

aussie beach

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Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow?

Swallowtails shared garden with the bees.

Swallowtails shared garden with the bees.

Since I decided to return to this place, I started dicking with the back end of the blog. Erasing, adding, sighing.

When the blog sat dormant, occasionally, I would meet someone new who would say something like, hey, I found your blog and I really liked it. Hmmm, yeah. I would say. I haven’t logged on in so long.

I don’t think these comments were meant as sucker punches, but they still doubled me over. I wondered if the person sitting across from me saw the embarrassment rise in my cheeks.

I came up with a lot of excuses of why I let this virtual place slip off my to-do list. Most of the reasons had to do with time. But when I poked around the blog this week, I made myself look at About Me and Move It. Was I afraid of what I would find, or was I just too embarrassed and pissed off and disappointed at myself to confront what was there?

I’ve spent the last few months beating the shit out of myself. Why did you let yourself go? You know better. You had this licked. You’re stupid, fat, ugly.

Then I looked at the before photos, really looked at them. I’m not that girl. That girl might have been an extrovert (there are still some things we can’t change), but she was afraid and shy, she hid behind a lot of shit, she refused to take risks, and she blamed others for things that went wrong. And excuses? She had plenty. The invisibility cloak she created with all that extra weight kept her hidden from…well, life.

I may not be my “after” in the physical sense, but I’m closer to that woman than I will ever be to the other one. Could I return to that other strange girl? Maybe, but it occurred to me that a little slippage (okay a lot) doesn’t need to shoot me off on backward trajectory in which I might never return.

So, for today, I’m going to do what I know will help me…the basics. Good food, exercise and a little meditation. I’ll worry about tomorrow… well, tomorrow.

Epiphany Find Me

241

Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or common place occurrence or experience.

It’s been a long time since I showed my virtual face. During the two year and eight months hiatus, I told myself I no longer had the time to blog. Other things simply demanded too much of my time. Work. Community Service. Workaholic husband. Teenage son.

In that amount of time, 40 pounds (of the 105 I lost) found me, my teenage son gave me more grief than I can even begin to sort through, family and friends got sick (some died), and some just continue to piss me off. Oh, and I dipped into early menopause. I can’t say that I miss menstruation, but I have a new understanding of hot flashes (more on that later, I’m sure).

I really have no more answers than I had when I left my little blog-o-sphere. The same truths seem to hold. If I want to stay centered, I must eat well, exercise, sleep seven or so hours a night, and practice some sort of meditation. Big fucking epiphany. I guess the real question needs to be why I continue to make life so damn difficult?

My hope is that by returning here, even just a few days a week, some other good habits may surface. But it was a little scary to return because occasionally, I meet people who say, Oh, I read your blog. Isn’t that the point? I’m not sure of that anymore either. What I do know is that returning to these virtual pages felt a little foreign and uncomfortable and squirmy, which is often where I find answers.

Agree for Change

I’ve been wrestling with 2012 goals. I hate to call them resolutions, which are meant to be broken like diets and bad habits.

Instead I choose to think what I want to improve upon. This year I want to focus on the positive and re-write negative self-talk and behavior that have been weighing me down in more ways than one.

For at least six months a copy of The Four Agreements has laid atop the end table next to where I scribble in my journal. I’ve read the book multiple times, even writing about it here, but lately it seems to call me. So, every morning, I pull out the book and read a few pages trying to absorb some of the message: be impeccable with your word; don’t take things personally; don’t make assumptions and always do your best.

Recently, I picked up The Fifth Agreement. Be skeptical, but learn to listen. It’s taking me a while to finish the book because it seems appropriate to savor the words like a hot cup of tea with just the right amount of honey and lemon. What is beginning to crystalize is the need to really shift my paradigm of me. I’m tired of being my biggest critic.

As I thought about this and what I hoped to achieve in 2012, invariably my thoughts meandered to the time I wasted in 2011 with my yo-yo diet mentality. Instead of trying to push the negative thoughts into the shadows, I shone a light brightly, feverishly writing every nasty thought about my weight escapades I could muster. It was quite a list – embarrassing and maddening and disappointing.

Then for every negative thought, I created a positive statement to be rewritten repeatedly until it lodges into my brain. Whether rudimentary or revolutionary, the idea is not mine. The exercise came from The Artist’s Way. I’ll spare you the ranting portion, but here are the resulting positive statements:

I am beautiful inside and out.
I will limit exposure to sugar.
Taking care of my being is worth the effort.
I am strong and will achieve weight loss goals of one pound per week.

The first one really makes me squirm. I even hesitated a moment before I typed it here, but the exercise made me realize how negative I’ve become toward myself, illuminating how I’ve struggled over the last year.

In The Fifth Agreement, I’m discovering how to question the “truth” I’ve told myself, and I think I might be ready to rewrite these destructive messages in change for something more affirmative. I’m sure there will be detours, life is full of them, but acknowledging the negative and making a choice to focus on the positive has to impact the journey. Doesn’t it?

Treats Gone Bad


I detoxed yesterday. Ate a healthy breakfast; packed healthy lunch; munched on healthy snacks.

I left work early because I had gone in early originally planning to take Russell to a doctor’s appointment, but Lyle called to tell me he had it covered. I felt pretty good until I walked into the house and kicked off my shoes in the quiet space. Cue the music.

There on the counter was a Christmas tin of yummilicous.

I can’t even use the excuse that I wasn’t expecting it when I arrived home because it had been taunting me for two days with only minimal collateral damage. But now there were no witnesses, and I would actually be doing everyone a favor by eating the items with nuts. (Lyle and Russell like nuts, but not in their cookies). I told myself I would eat just one. Poof. Gone were the two small brownies, some kind of cracker cookie, a chocolate rolled thingy, a chocolate version of a wedding cake and a macaroon (no nuts, but I really like coconut macaroons).

Thankfully, there wasn’t a huge platter of treats to mistreat.

I had to get out of the house. I remembered an errand. Good thinking except I almost stopped at the bakery for a fondant dipped cookie. Oops, close call, but it was just the thought I needed to acknowledge. Instead of turning on the internal garbage disposal and devouring everything around me, I pushed pause. Wooo Hooo.

As poor of a choice as I made, I didn’t beat myself up (or make it worse), but I also realized I didn’t want to keep mistreating myself, and that was a better treat than the one I had devoured just a few hours earlier.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Today instead of looking at things as stupid or marvelous, I searched for beauty in simplicity.

At lunch, I trekked off to Pilates. It’s always a good workout, but also centers me in ways that a spin class can’t touch.

As I thought about stupid vs. marvelous and twisted into one of the seated moves, I caught my reflection in the mirror that stretched the length of the wall. I saw a beautiful woman – not fat, garish or any of the other negative terms I often attach to my body, but someone sitting up tall taking care of her body and soul.

I have to admit there was a moment when I wondered if the Y had placed mirrors along this wall that were meant to flatter. I glanced at the woman next to me, but her reflection looked no different than what I saw in the flesh. Instead of chastising myself for thinking the likeness was not the real me, I thought about what that woman brought to my world as if we were two separate beings.

For just a moment, I looked at her in the mirror and saw me – strong, independent and yes, beautiful. I wondered why I didn’t let myself cohabitate with this woman more often, and yet wondered what might happen if I talked to her on occasion.

It’s been a long time since I looked at my reflection and saw the real person. After first losing 100 pounds, the mirror image looked strange, foreign, unreal. From time to time reality and reflection converged, but quickly splintered leaving me squirming for answers.

When I was at my heaviest, I knew I was overweight, but I never thought I was THAT big, and when I was at my thinnest, I always compared myself with large farm animals. How can I find some peace in all of this?

As I talked to my counselor last week, she asked if I had been overweight all my life. I quickly said yes, but then realized it might not be an accurate statement. I can look at old photos, and remember thinking I was fat, really fat, but the faded Polaroids don’t reflect that either. There were certainly times when my weight fluctuated as a kid, but now I wonder how much of this mindset centered on reality.

I do need to take charge of my recent fluctuation. It scares the hell out of me, and I never want to go back to the woman hiding beneath an invisibility cloak, but today I saw something else, something worthwhile, something simply beautiful.

How closely does your reflection in the mirror match the image in your mind?

Stupid or Marvelous

I wonder at times if other people find life as challenging as I seem to make it for myself. Everything operates relatively smooth and peaceful for a while and then KABOOM. The whole thing shatters leaving me to pick up the little shards scattered across what used to be a well-defined path.

Does life need to be difficult? I know it can be hard, really hard, but I’m not talking about life-altering detours that I’ve encountered, just day-to-day stupid shit. I feel too old to be struggling with crap.

I felt particularly stressed this week, under deadlines that seemed too big with unexpected transitions that mocked me as I tried to create a new Plan B on the fly.

Well-established habits like exercise vanished, replaced with taunting brownies. I succumbed convinced that sugar, cocoa and butter would calm and help me regroup. Nope.

Thankfully, my mental mechanic intervened before the sugar took me down a swirling funnel toward a vat of chocolate quicksand. She stopped me when I tried to talk about my “stupid” actions, thoughts, fears. Instead she pointed out strength, resolve, capabilities, and told me I needed to practice positive self-talk.

I know she’s probably right, and suppose it’s worth a shot given the brownie didn’t work worth shit. This week instead of turning to the brownie, I’ve committed to tell myself how marvelous I am while I channel a little Billy Crystal.

I’ll let you know how it goes. What are some of the positive things you tell yourself?

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