Transitions and Intentions

2013 can really be summed up as a year of transition. It’s felt like crisis management much of the time. Real or imaginary, I’ve managed to make it through the crises of 2013.

Transition

It’s moving away from this constant battle to be better, do better, have better. It’s leaving behind my own expectations for what life is suppose to look like. It’s getting out of my own way and allowing life to occur the way it should. It’s facing forward toward what is coming, ready to take it all straight on. It’s about only glancing into the rearview to check myself. It’s about stitching closed old wounds and stopping any lingering blood letting from them to allow myself to be healthy for what lies ahead. What is ahead is what matters.

Intention

2014 is going to be a year of intention for me. I am setting that out here and now. I will not live this year by responding to what is happening around me but instead by making things happen. I will accept responsibility for my actions, and I will learn to graciously accept praise as well. What happens from here out is because I intend for it to happen.

-To Infinity and Beyond

Art Journal

My college roommate, Alisha, is an amazing gal. I swear I don’t know when she sleeps, she does so much. Seriously. There’s a reason her blog is called Wearing Many Hats. A while back she did a lovely post on art journaling. Instantly I was in love. I am mesmerized by altered books, and I actually have seen art journals before, but never really thought about it as something so simple. Reading about her experiences with art journaling, something clicked. It doesn’t have to be super fancy art. It’s MY art journal. It’s about MY expression. Don’t over think it, just be creative.

There are always images I am drawn to for no explainable reason. This is the perfect use. Rip that bad boy out the magazine and slap it in there. Save that scrap of paper from the street fair and glue it on down. Inspired by the color on the back of a restaurant take out menu? Bam! That bad boy just became art. Damn, I am creative.

I want to share my little work in progress in hopes that it will inspire you too. If I can make art, anyone can.

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Supplies: magazine pictures, scrap book paper, sharpies to do the actual journal writing, glue, misc do dads (technical term)

I started with a spiral bound blank sketch book. Don’t google “art journal” unless you are prepared for an onslaught of beautiful, intense pieces of true art. That ain’t what you’re going to see here. I don’t need all that to be pleased with my little journal.

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Cover

I decided my art journal would be about positive and uplifting things. That’s it. Nothing special other than that. The pieces on the front reflect that. I found a really, really cool set of stickers at Michael’s that had affirmation type sayings on them. That’s one on the bottom right. What’s hard to read, but may be my favorite thing about the front is what’s in the green block. It reads, “Knowledge of what is possible is the beginning of happiness.” Deep.

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There is no right or wrong way to art journal.

The writing takes a variety of forms.

Sometimes it is prompted by an occurrence I want to explore.

Sometimes I read something motivating.

Sometimes I fill up the pages.

IMG_0499  And sometimes not so much.

I do like to use quotations to spring board writing. Sometimes that’s all I write on the entire page.

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It really is just about whatever floats my boat at the time. IMG_0500

And that’s just fine with me.

It has been very nice to explore this little corner of creativity. I find it soothing in my own little way to rip up the pictures, or to carefully cut around each intricate detail of something precise I want to preserve, and finding just the right arrangement. Of course it is always therapeutic to write, no matter the form.

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I love the intensity of these 2 pages covered with nothing but words.

My art journal is a work in progress and a tool for life progress. I encourage everyone to give it a go.

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Inside front cover

Life Without Qualifications

“8 months sober”
-today’s facebook status

I started to qualify that with something else. I started to say something like “8 months sober. I know that’s not much, but it’s a start” or “8 months sober. I know a lot of people will see this as condescending, but I really don’t care if you drink.” Then I realized something. I don’t have to qualify my life (or my facebook status updates) for anyone. If someone wants to judge me for today’s post, than that is their problem not mine. Sure, there are other people with worse problems. Sure, there are people who will think I am being holier-than-thou about alcohol. I don’t really care. Life is what it is, straight forward. There is nothing to read into that sentence, no inference to be made, no hidden agenda, no passive aggressive message, no code words. It means what it says. It has been 8 months since I had alcohol. Anyone who tries to read more into that than is there is the one with a problem, not me. This must be what it is like to stop denigrating myself. It’s my life and I don’t have to qualify it as anything else. What an interesting concept.

Physical Stress

I don’t deal well with stress. I never have. I was a high strung kid who became an even more high strung teenager. As an adult, I have learned to relax somewhat, but I will freely admit that I have unobtainably high standards for myself. That leads to some internal issues to say the least. I’m also highly competitive. I play to win at everything, and everything is a competition to me. I’m letting go of some of that. I really am. I am not nearly the perfectionist that I used to be, and my control issues are improving. Maybe one day I will learn to share even…maybe.

The last year has been stressful for me. My brain has really done a lot of work to deal with the emotions of all of the change I’ve been going through. I’ve come a long way. But my body, that’s another story. My body has not handled the stress well at all. I’ve had stress related health issue after stress related health issue this year. A resolved back issue has flared up more than once, migraines have come back with vengeance, insomnia, I’ve even had adult acne get worse. And than there is the GI issues: heartburn, indigestion, inability to eat without pain sometimes. I feel like I’m 100 years old. No, make that I feel like a 100 year old hypochondriac. I really don’t go to the doctor much. It’s not as if I am there for every little twinge or burp. And I do not use the internet to self-diagnose.  Everyone of the issues I’ve had is as real as the dirt on the ground and documented, except the GI (ruled that out this week. I love being poked for nothing). That’s likely psychosomatic. I accept that, but for right now it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t suck.

I try not to whine or complain. I say “I’m fine” a hell of a lot more than I mean it. But what am I suppose to do? Sure, there are plenty of days that I’m nauseous off and on or that my hands tingle from the side effects of the medications, and I seem to forget more things everyday (I’m convinced that’s a drug side effect; I can’t be that old yet!) That’s just life to me right now. I deal with it and move on. Get it together and go on. I’m not one to sit at home and feel sorry for myself either, and that’s not what this post is about either. However, it is my blog, and at the moment this is what needs to be said. I really don’t need sympathy from a lot of people. When you go through major life changes, you can tell very quickly who truly cares and who doesn’t.

Maybe what I want you to take away from this is a little perspective. Everyone is going through something. Some folks something is bigger than other folks. Some wear their pain and trials on their sleeves for everyone to see, while others tuck it inside. No matter how well you know someone, you can never know all of their something they’re going through. There are people in my life who probably think they’ve got me figured out real well and they know me pretty good. Maybe I’ve shared some of my life. But, the reality is, these people are probably very dangerous to me even though they think they are trying to help at times. So, I’m asking that you also take away a little request. Please don’t be that know-it-all friend to someone who is going though something. Maybe you know someone who had something similar or maybe it was even you. It doesn’t mean you know that person’s core. Be there for them, hold their hand, offer the occasional (read rare and well timed) advice. But don’t think you’ve been in their shoes. Compassion doesn’t include judgement. 

My physical ailments will eventually catch up to the healing that my spiritual and emotional side is doing. I’m sure of it. I’m doing my best to take care of my body. Now that I have all that off my chest, I’m off to the gym to sweat out any more negative feelings. Exercise is the best way to release whatever is bothering you. I’ll be back to optimistic shortly.

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Disclaimer: I’m not sure what exactly my reasoning is behind this post. Part of me is really ashamed of what you are about to see. Part of me feels like it is way too much bragging. Part of me feels like it is really cathartic. I’m not sure. But it is all part of my journey and something I’ve been sort of mulling on for a while. So, somewhat against my better judgement, here goes nothing.

I keep seeing this motivational image on Pinterest. I’m mildly ashamed to admit that it’s from Koutney Kardashin’s website (but hey, at least I had to use Google Image to determine that).

Source: Kourtney Kardashian (don’t judge)

I feel like I’ve gone in the reverse order. Yes, I’ve lost weight. Yes, I’ve gotten stronger and gained muscles. But, as I’ve said before, I’ve always seen myself as a big girl.  You have to understand that for most of my life, I was a big girl. 

Age 18 maybe (note the irony of the subject matter of my reading material)

 

Then there’s this. This picture is actually in my kitchen right now. It use to hang in my pantry, but for now it’s just sitting on the inside of a cabinet. I have no idea what I weigh in this picture, but it’s probably over 200 pounds. It’s likely the only picture of me close to that heavy. Do you want to know what I notice about myself? My eyes. My face is so bloated that my eyes even look fat.

Age 20

By the time I was preparing to get married in 2004, I was actually starting to look seriously at my weight. I’ve yo-yoed several times between somewhere close to 200 and closer to 140. It didn’t take long for me to go from a decent sized bride (sorry, no wedding pictures, I hope you can understand) to this 2 years later:

Age 23

 

You can see by later pictures that I did get better, but was still always a “bigger” person.

Age 25

Age 26

Fast forward to the current. People keep telling me how different I look. My clothes don’t fit. But when I look in the mirror, I see the girl standing next to Cinderella: above average but not huge and can look ok in appropriately fitting clothes. Like millions of American woman, I have a highly distorted image of my body.

Then I went to the beach this weekend. I snapped a couple of quick pics with my phone thinking maybe I would stick them on facebook. When I looked at them, I almost didn’t recognize myself. The picture on the right is from 2010 (I think) and the picture on the left is from this past week.

2010 (Age 27)/ 2012 (age 29) Yes, its a different (but similar) swim suit

 

Now, it’s not the most flattering picture of me, but the difference is obvious even to me at this point. I have to accept my size. Now I get it. I’m seeing what everyone else saw weeks ago. For the 2nd time in as many weeks someone has commented on my abs. I have abs? Holy crap! I have abs!  

Very old size 14s on underneath brand new size 4s

Size 14 to a size 4. I’ve held on to those shorts “just in case” for several years. I think I might can finally let them go.

No Excuses, But Maybe a Little Forgiveness

I am a total list maker. I mean, a queen of list makers. I make lists of things to make lists of. This was my “To Do” list for this weekend:

See anything that stands out? I got a lot done! But what I didn’t get to was the work out. I’m getting ready to go out of town soon, so I had a lot I needed to get done in preparation for that, and I had household chores that needed done too. (And the haircut involved a 45 minute drive each way.) This was one jam packed weekend. I was really feeling guilty about not getting the work out done though. I told my best buddy (and work out accountability partner) that I didn’t make it this weekend. He asked me when the last time I missed a Saturday workout was. I can’t remember. He also asked me what I did instead of working out. I had good excuses, but they were all excuses. My friend then told me what I needed to hear most, it’s ok to miss one sometimes because Life Happens. He reminded me that I said this to him when he started a new job that was running him 60 hours a week for a while. BUT! You have to keep going.

This is not an opportunity to fall off the workout wagon. The old me would have skipped this weekend and then skipped this whole week doing the rest of the stuff on this list (you see I didn’t get any of the cooking done either but managed to shop ok!), then skipped the week I’m on vacation, then who knows when or if I would be back to exercise. I will not allow old habits to creep back in. I have noticed that they do that sometimes on the sly when I don’t realize it. As for this weekend, I will not make excuses for missing my workout, but I will forgive myself and not worry about it because I know I will be back at the gym tomorrow. I even bought a pair of weight lifting gloves on my little shopping trip 😉

To Infinity and Beyond

“We can never judge where we will be tomorrow by where we are today.”

This last year has been a year of massive personal change for me. In fact, that last sentence might be is an understatement. I’ve been through a separation and am preparing to finalize my divorce in the coming month. I have sold the home my husband and I bought together and said goodbye to the dreams that went with it as well. I have moved 30 some odd miles up the road to a new city and into a much smaller apartment closer to work. I have said goodbye to processed foods, artificial coloring, flavoring, and sweeteners, chemical additives, and most white flour and sugar. I have pretty much written off alcohol and have cut way back on the amount of caffeine in my life. Exercise has gone from being something I do because I should, do something I do because I want to. My body has let go of close to 40 pounds of dead weight. My outlook on life has switched from a glass is half empty to glass is overflowing full of good because I choose to make it that way. I have become an active participant in my own destiny rather than watching life float by me. I can’t begin to describe how much I have changed mentally.

We are truly only limited by our own boundaries, as I have come to realize.  What I can do today is not an indication of what I can do tomorrow. Tomorrow has its own possibilities. Stop and think about that for a minute. On your worst day, the day you think you have f-ed up the worst of the worst, everything that could go wrong has, you still have the chance to start all over again in the morning. Just like the phoenix, you can rise from the burnt ashes of who you are today to become something new and amazing tomorrow. And if today has already been amazing, that’s not the upper limit. You can continue to advance higher than today’s aspirations by grabbing tomorrow by the horns. To quote an awesome superhero, you really can go “to infinity and beyond” as long as you don’t limit yourself. 

If I judged my tomorrow by today I would still be 200 pounds and a size 18. I would still be sullen about how I was unhappy and there was nothing I could do about it. I would still be drowning my sorrows in a bottle and getting my wings with Red Bull.  Instead, I listened when that little voice inside me spoke up and said, “NOW, change your life NOW or never.” And now my tomorrows all look awesome. They look awesome because I choose to see them as awesome.

I’m looking at another set of personal crossroads in my windshield right now. It’s a ways off in the distance, but I know it’s approaching. Normally something so big would be a major source of apprehension for me…or I would shove it off as a “no way Josè” kind of situation. But with this outlook in mind, I am really trying not to judge the chance to change my tomorrow based on my today. I know that If can look at all the possibilities with an open mind, there is a chance for real change for me. I just have to be open to seeing it.