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I’ve got a confession.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been taking a Zumba class.

You don’t understand. I am not Zumba. I am not Latiny dance, I am not pop music, and I am not cute aerobics outfits.

But I needed something to help me get back on track and put myself at the top of the to-do list. A friend and I agreed to give it a shot after another friend who mainlines Zumba said, Oh you gotta come. It’s so fun. I looked at her ass and legs that she had whittled down to tiny, muscular rocks over the last year with Zumba.

A week before I went to Australia, my friend and I took the pinky swear. Well, it was actually a “cheers” during a glass of wine, but I’m pretty sure that is more binding.

I returned from Australia and dragged my uncoordinated self to class. So far, so good, I told myself. No 20-something perky bitches who look my way and say to themselves, I will NEVER let myself get like that.

Mostly, it was just a bunch of people in varying sizes and shapes and ages walking around in sweat pants or yoga tights before class. You can do this, Melissa.

The first three weeks, I moved and I watched. The old lady, two rows in front of me, gyrated through the hour of the peppy, Latin-inspired music. If she can do it, I can do it.

Move. Move. Move.

I could follow the warm up and the cool down just fine, but those 55 minutes in between were filled with grand mal seizures, sans the loss of consciousness.

But last night, for the first time, I followed the music (okay, some of it). I still feel like Elaine from Seinfeld in the dance scene, and I’m confident that won’t go away, but for now Zumba offers an hour of activity that goes by pretty fast. So, unlike Elaine, I give it two thumbs up knowing full well there is someone definitely laughing at my antics, but I don’t care.

 

 

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Trick or Treat

Last night’s plan included a Zumba class, and then I was gonna sneak into my dark house and avoid any trick or treaters. It’s not that I hate Halloween, I just didn’t want left over candy giving me the evil eye, and there’s nothing too fun about packing 45 fun-size Snickers to each thigh.

But then I remembered how much fun we used to have in our neighborhood. Either my husband or I would take our son house to house until he tuckered out, and the other one joined friends across the street at a ring of fire. The blaze kept the chilly October evening at bay, and the trick or treaters maximized their turnout reaching three or four houses at once. It didn’t hurt that as the evening wore on, the tipsy candy-hander-outers got more and more liberal with the stash. On occasion we’d offer a weary dad a beer, and his kids were bribed with candy so they didn’t mind a little longer stop. It worked, really well.

The friends moved, not far, but far enough I guess. The annual tradition stopped. I still really miss it. There were a few more years of trick or treating for us as a family, but of course our son grew too big to think it was cool. By then, I was trying to make better food choices and eating a bowl of candy wasn’t in any diet program I could find.

I had always tried to buy candy that I didn’t like. In theory that works, but I can man-up and force down any candy in a pinch. Well, maybe not Mike and Ike’s or Juju fruits, but I’m not gonna to be known as the lady who hands out that shit.

So, over the years it was just easier to not be home. But as I drove home from Zumba, I saw all the scampering superheroes and princesses, which made me think of the plastic pumpkin full of sweet-smelling chocolate, Twizzlers and Nerds our son brought home and spread out on the floor. Sorting. Categorizing. Eating. I stopped at the convenience and bought a bag full of Cowtails. They were fairly cheap, and I’m not super fond of the powdery caramel and gritty, white nougat stuff.

As I drove through my neighborhood, I wondered if we would even get any trick or treaters. Since there wasn’t going to be a ring of fire to lure them down my street, and I was going to make them actually walk to my front door, would it be worth it to come by my house? Well, I ended up with a bunch of leftover candy. I ate two Cowtails and called it a night.

As I sat looking at the rest of the cowtails, I thought about the slippery week I’d had. There was a lot of stress: looming deadlines, late nights, not enough exercise or sleep, and now I had two cowtails worth of sugar in my gut to further fog my reasoning.

I thought about running into the darkness again, but something tugged and said, don’t do it. It’s not worth it, or maybe you’re worth it.

Don’t let the goblins get you.

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

Where’s My Four-Leaf Clover?

I’m not fond of January. It began the year our twins died. I know it is an over generalization to say bad things happen at this time of year. I’ve also experienced enough distance from that death to understand that anniversaries, hell even impending anniversaries, are hard, fucking hard. But it still seems like bad crap crops up in January, and I’m always happy to flip the calendar page.

This month I had the distraction of going to Tucson to play nursemaid with my mom when she had her bunion surgery. That worked, and I thought I was going to be able to use that surgery to check off the obligatory bad shit of January.

Then my dad called.

He was scheduled for surgery today, and it didn’t go well. Now he’s headed for more; serious shit of the same variety that my grandpa ended up dying from. Life sucks sometimes. I want to be optimistic, really I do, but I also want to bury my head in a bag of Fritos and forget about it.

Instead of turning to food, I’m here trying to release what’s eating me before I gobble it up. I’m not sure it will work, but at least for the moment, I’ve pressed pause, and I guess for that I’m grateful.

I wish life wasn’t so hard.

My dad used to say to me when I was a kid, “Wish in one hand and shit in the other. See which one gets fullest the fastest.” That brings a smile.

I love my dad. I’m blessed that we have a really good relationship, and there is no unfinished business. While I hope that I have many more years with him, I’m lucky to know that he is forever in my corner.

And The Award Goes To…

Me. I’m proud of me today. I wanted to eat a house, multiple times actually. Had it been covered in chocolate I might have surrendered, but as of 8:30 p.m., my house is still standing as are my neighbors’.

It’s been tough, but I keep circling back to my goals of 2012 that I posted earlier in the week. I do believe that it is worth the effort to take care of my body and soul, and I am convinced that sugar will be my life-long enemy. I’m not always sure about the beauty or the strength things I jotted down, but I think those goals are at least worth working toward.

As I sat in my office today at 1:30 p.m. with absolutely fucking nothing crossed off my to-do list, I tried to convince myself that a sweet treat from down the street would alleviate stress and increase my productivity. Hell, the walk to buy this bit of yummiliciousness would actually be good for me, and if I got something with nuts or dark chocolate, those ingredients have been proven to contain things like omega 3s and flavonoids.

Stop.

I chewed some gum, munched on raw veggies and gave myself permission to go in an hour if I still wanted the sugar that in my world resembles crack. Tick. Tick. Tick.

I still wanted the fix, but I asked myself what I really needed? No stress. Was a brownie or biscotti or cookie going to rid me of stress? Damn. I stuck a fresh piece of gum in my mouth and later snacked on a boiled egg when I knew I was really hungry.

I revisited another a brief moment when I walked through the door this evening. The house was quiet and would be for hours since my guys went skiing. I’ve accomplished some of my best binge eating when I was alone. Woo hoo, let the party in my mouth begin. I passed the calendar on my way to the snack cabinet. I saw the stars lining each day of the New Year; little awards recognized my effort at taking better care of myself. I wanted another star…so, here I sit writing about my feelings instead of eating them.

May I have two stars, please?

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.

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