Thursday, October 31, 2013

A 'Tree' Loving Halloween

For Halloween 2013, I went as a BadAss. (Photos thanks to Trainer Guy.)  

One of the greatest perils of working at home is that you tend to become a little disconnected from the world. Especially when you've lived alone for any length of time.
Holidays tend to turn into, "Eh, it's just Fill-In-The-Feast-Or-Consumer-Laden-Day. No big deal."
I've always celebrated those that were important to me, and Halloween, while fun, was never really that high on my hit list - despite being a theater junkie.
Sure, I love to get dressed up if I have a party or something to go do. But just for me? Nah.
Ironically enough, I accidently got dressed up this Halloween. I was half way through my lifting routine when I realized my shirt was on inside out. Not that it matters- it's a plain purple shirt anyway.  It's a 'back up' peice of clothing (you know, the ones that actually mean 'I need to do laundry').
I've come to prefer nothing on my arms and shoulders when I work out and capris to long pants as well. I know I'm going to sweat and get hot/overheated anyway. I don't need to make it worse by throwing more cloth on top of it.
What's crazy is the effect I can see on my body from all the lifestyle adjustments. I wish I would have taken sideways before and after photos, because I can see a massive difference in body shape. Sure, I'm still curvy. I suspect I always will be no matter my size. It's just the way I'm shaped - which is certainly just fine by me! I'm enjoying being strong.
Which leads me into the next topic...
I've been quitely studying body dysmorphy . It's that phenomonon where people (usually women) see themselves as VASTLY different than they are. You know, when you talk to an attractive woman and you come to learn she thinks she's fat because she's not built like a Victoria Secret model. Or maybe she is built like a Victoria Secret model, but she sees her self as 50+lbs overweight. Maybe you recognize these things in yourself. I certainly did! Looking back on high school photos now, I see a normal teenager. But then?! No way! I felt like I WAS the elephant in the room.
Eventually my mind changed (with time, acceptance, maturity, and with the help of a great therapist). I think I have a fairly level headed view of myself now - or at least I recognize where I've come from. In fact, while I was really tired during the mile run that capped off today's work out, I kept thinking "Ya know, 6 months ago, you couldn't have done this.... 10 months ago you definately couldn't have done this." My body is changing shape as I put the work in. The whole shape changing thing has become a by-product of doing what I know is healthy for me. It's a nice (though admittedly strange) mindset to be in. I've watched a few films on the topic and highly recommend "America The Beautiful." This is one excerpt that stayed with me. In fact, I listen to it almost daily and still smile.
Finally, I love my Tree.
So there is no candy in my house - we don't need the left overs and we'll probably eat them. Setting my tree up for success.

If your someone who struggles with body image (or know someone who does), check out the documentary. It's the right price - FREE - on

Friday, October 25, 2013

IMPOSSIBLE Should Be A 4 Letter Word.

Earlier this year, I set a few goals in my mind while working out. I remember a few of them were:

GOAL: Back Squat over 200lbs, Hit the 100's in all other lifts.
I'm not yet over 100lbs in every lift I know how to do, but I'm there in the major ones. But this week marked a new max in the Bench Press - 100 lbs! I had to do it a few times to get it to be a good solid rep, but it's DONE! I'm sitting here, two days later, and still sore. I forsee LOTS of stretching and rolling out on my foam roller before I head into training today.

We have some more good news! We were able to refi My Sailor's car, knocking off 10% interest, and we were able to refi the house as well, knocking off about .6% interest! (Hey, when you're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, .6% is serious dough. That's like a Disney Cruise by the end of the year.)

But that's where the good news ends right now. While we're saving money (which is always awesome), VA loans don't enable you to take our more than the house's value, which means that we won't be able to expand the house. This cuts down our adoption options considerably.

While our original plan was a sibling group of max 3 kids, girls and boys, this leaves us with only 1 bedroom. So we're debating siblings (must be same gender according to the government, which makes sense - I wouldn't have wanted to share a room with my stinky wonderful brother when I was a kid too), or an only child. While obviously 1 child 'might' be easier for us to transition too, being able to keep siblings together is doing a good thing - and it often helps kids transition since they have someone immediately on hand who is in the same situation with them.

And there is no real hard and fast rule that says we can't try the expansion on a few years, when we have more equity in the home. Or move to a different home. Or decide that the one or two kids we have is family enough for us. If there is one thing the military lifestyle has taught me, it's that the future is never etched in stone. More like 'etched in sand'.
So, even though we've had another detour thrown our way, impossible is just a word.

We will have enough to build a patio, and probably throw in a jacuzzi - so life isn't bad... not by a long shot!

Like the saying goes, "Impossible is temporary."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Picking Up Boxers And The Fat Girl

No, I'm not talking about men's underwear.

It just dawned on me today that I can (literally) pick up this guy -
Heavy Weight Boxer Ralph Butler.

Now, I'm not into the boxing/fighting/MMA/wrestling scene, really. I wouldn't recognize this guy if he showed up at my door, but it's kinda fun to do a quick image search for things that are the same weight as my new 1 rep max for deadlifts.

Other things I can pick up include all of these -

And probably the most interesting thing I can Deadlift would be... well... me.
2001, Approx. 255lbs
Monday, I discovered I can lift 255lbs in a deadlift. But it wasn't until I sat down to write this blog that I realized, it also means I can lift myself at my heaviest recorded weight. I truly have a new appreciation for just how heavy that is. While it was over a decade ago that I hit that high, I don't think I'll ever forget the weight of the self loathing, the fear, and insecurity I felt every moment of every day. That weighed more on my heart than my feet did on the scale.

But it isn't the weight loss that 'freed' me from that person. That's just a tiny peice of the journey. I am happy to admit, learning I am capable of so much more than I believed has been incredibly helpful. A lot of that journey has happened in the gym, but a lot of it happened out in the world as well. Landing my first writing gig has helped. Then my second. Then the acting/singing in one of my favorite musicals of all time as my first stage performance in Washington. Then surviving the scare that comes with the word 'tumors' and 'cancer'. Learning to find happiness flying solo and learning to balance that with a healthy relationship with My Sailor. Growing new and different relationships with my friends and family. Transplanting from California to Washington... They've all been huge contributors in this journey that's lead to who I am, where I am, now.
A Recent Night on the Town with My Sailor
This past weekend, I ran into a fellow soccer player who was a little taller than me, but probably well over my heaviest weight. Having "been there done that" myself, I didn't judge her by her weight. As we talked, it quickly became appearant that no one needed to judge her. This girl had already taken the weight of the entire game on her shoulders. She wanted to play a forward because she felt she wasn't fast enough to stop an opposing forward if she were on defense. She felt that if someone got past her on defense, they'd score and it would be her fault.

I remember the position well. The truth is, we KNEW people were staring at us. We KNEW we stood out because of our abnormal size, but what we DIDN'T realize is that we were making the problem even worse by giving power to that microscope we were under.

When I was the 'fat girl' playing soccer, I felt that I should be on defense, because, hey, I'm a big girl! It's hard to get around me.

She didn't want to be the last line of defense, thinking everyone would blame the game on her, but from what I saw of her team mates, that wasn't the case at all. Everyone was very supportive.

I wished I could just have hugged this girl and passed on all of my journey through osmosis. I wish I could have convinced her that she was headed the right way. I wish I could have showed her that things like this...

Just Before a Recent Soccer Match Game Face

And things like this...
EAT! It's good for you!
Lead to feelings like this...

But we all have our own unique journey to travel. I know that, before I was ready, no one could have convinced me either. So I understand where she is. I just hope that someday she finds a similiar desintation.


Friday, October 18, 2013

205lbs of Perspective

Celebrating the step. Most prospective parents can't go out for a drink to celebrate building their family! Adoption has its perks!
Last week, we roared toward our future with screaming momentum. Most of the week was spent by working all day and attending PRIDE training (a state required class for everyone looking to adopt in Washington state) by night. We finally finished up the classes Monday night and headed out for a drink and a late dinner to celebrate.

Tuesday, I had coffee with a friend on my lunch break and checked into a local Crossfit gym, which might be the next step in my fitness journey, depending on how things shake out with the finances next year.

Which leads me to two other big things that happened this week.

We talked with the contractor and got a quote for the house additions. It's a bit steeper than we expected, honestly. While it's not our of the relm of possibility, it would pretty much make us financial slaves to our living space. While we'd love our living space more, that simply isn't the lifestyle we want, so we're finding something in the middle. Since the government shut down ended this week, we'll be heading to the bank to see what kind of a refi we qualify for and go from there. Hopefully we'll be able to get the extra bedroom we need. (I'd settle for making the space a little more comfortable and finishing the yard, but if we want more than 1 gender child, we have to have a second bedroom. No ifs, ands or buts about it! Something's gotta change!)

The other big thing that happened is that I confidently stepped over the 200lb threshold! Usually, when it comes to weight, I'm not excited about much over 200... at least on the scale. But on Wednesday, all of my squat training paid off and I increased my 1 rep max from 165lbs as of August 26th, to 205lbs as of October 16th! Now, I was wiped out the next day that I could have sworn I was coming down with a cold, but it's been a great acheivement that I needed. Sorry - no photos of that mammoth squat. Trainer Guy was too busy making sure I didn't kill myself.

Now for the not so good news...

The last 2 nights I indulged a little too much in pity party land when I was disappointed that I probably won't get the higher paying, better benefit job I was testing for. In fact, even the act of taking the tests for it left me feeling a kinda dead inside. Not with dread, but with, "Here I am... pushing to excel at Plan B while Plan A waits yet again..."

While coding is interesting, it was always supposed to be "Plan B". I was always reluctant to even have a "Plan B", but, let's be honest, being a starving artist is over-rated. Having this job has allowed me to do a lot of things I wouldn't have been able to do, but it's never fun to realize that I'm pretty much at a dead end with what I can do with coding.

So I'm working on restructing my schedule - still looking for a job that has, ya know, retirement benefits - and going back to focusing on writing. I'm really looking forward to hitting my deadline this weekend and putting more time and effort into the various start-up magazines that I've been freelancing ('free' being a key word there) for. I'm also going to be making some time to work on the book I honestly haven't touched in over a month.

I'm also definately going to keep my eyes and ears open for a shift in careers too, so I have a paying day job that doesn't feel like banging my head against a wall. ;)

Hopefully, Sunday, in addition to the soccer game, I can talk My Sailor into visiting a farm to get some pumpkins and have some fun! :)


Monday, October 14, 2013

Earning a Licence to Parent

The last class for our state required adoption license is tonight. I can't wait to get our certificate. We're still a fair way away from the ultimate goal. LOTS of paperwork, a few interviews, a physical, some cpr, first aid, and blood borne pathogen training.
We're going to be starting a scrap book for the future kiddos. Starting with a photo of our certificate. But for now, here's our training materials. Yeah, that book is about 3 inches thick...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Green People or Not Everything Needs To Be Fixed

When I was a child, I was often told I was "too sensitive". It was a beautiful thing, but a thing my peers didn't value that often resulted in tearful homecomings from school on an all-too-often basis. I was a "wear your heart on your sleeve" kind of kid. Being constantly reminded that I wasn't 'enough' of whatever a regular kid should be made me search desperately for a fix for me. After all, I must be broken or deeply defective in order to not fit in, right? I found theater to be my outlet early on. First I identified with little orphan Annie. I eat a good bit of carbs as an effort to self-medicate all the issues that I was dealing with and, of course, put on weight as a symptom. My hormonal disorder just compounded the self esteem problem.

 By the time I was 16, I had over 300 poems to my name, had recieved a standing ovation for my rendation of the then-popular "Nothing's Broken But My Heart" by Celine Dion, and I was deeply involved in my local high school theater. Still, as with many teens, I had the self-esteem of a dust mite. I was just 'not enough'.

I got married just before I turned 21 to someone who finally convinced me that, for him, I was 'enough' just the way I was. Turns out, he convinced several other women of the same thing and we went our seperate ways. But I had successfully co-written and recorded an album as a singer/songwriter. I was already fairly well versed in opera as well, but didn't see that as a viable career path. Afterall, who becomes an opera singer? (Well... opera singers do....obviously...)

Oddly enough, while divorce wasn't something I ever thought I'd experience, it happened at the same time as a long-awaited musical came out. While nearly everyone I knew in theater dreamed of playing Galinda (the blond, cute, soprano, comic relief - the 'pretty one'), I immediately connected with my first peice of green inspiration - Elphaba (The Wicked Witch of the West).

Wicked the musical - defying gravity by chaosbleedsbtvs

More than the general "outcast" persona of Elphaba, this song shows her claiming her life as her own. It's a 'for better or for worse, whatever my flaws, this is my path and I own it' kind of song that echo'd the switch that had flipped in my brain.  A few of the lyrics that resonated with me:

Something has changed within me,
Something is not the same.
I'm through with playing by rules of someone elses' game.
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.

It's time to try defying gravity
I think I'll try defying gravity
And you can't pull me down.

As someone told me lately, Everyone deserves the chance to fly
And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free
To those who'd ground me, take a message back from me

Tell them how I am defying gravity
I'm flying high defying gravity

Now, I haven't done a theater show in about 2 years. While that makes me a little sad (and is getting me no closer to playing Elphaba on my Bucket List), it is not because my life hasn't been full. I've kicked the lying habit (a symptom of a chronic fear of conflict that followed me through my 'like me please!' stages of life), I look people in the eye on a regular basis (often without a concious effort anymore, the first few years I had to actually make an effort), and I value my health.

Yeah, it took until my mid 20's to embrace my journey with love, rather than fear. Now I'm in my mid 30's and I'm proud of every step of that journey. It helps me 'get' other people of any age that are going through something similiar.
Maybe it all happened later in life than it happens with some people, but that's my journey.  Everyone's journey is unique.
When I got into the dating scene, I struggled again with being 'too forward' or 'too quiet' depending on who's opinion you asked. No matter what it seemed like I was either "Too Much" or "Not Enough" for someone. But I didn't doubt that I'd find where I was supposed to be. I wasn't going to settle. Even if I never found that adventure companion, I knew I was going to be okay no matter what.

 Thankfully, I had a really good friend through all that. Well, a few really good friends, but let's just talk about one for now. My Sailor was in my corner reminding me all along that I was just right - if only I believed it.

It took me over 20 years to believe it. But I finally did.
 My point being...

I spent a LOT of time trying to 'fix' myself, when the truth is:

If there is 1 thing being in theater has taught me (through a LOT of rejection), it's that I'll always be 'too much' or 'not enough' for some roles/things/people.

But another thing I learned as well is that that's okay.
Sure, I went through sad times, hard times, troubled times, etc. Yes, I had a different start in life than most kids.  But I'm firmly convinced that everyone has had something happen to them resulting in pain, loss, trauma, etc. Sure, there were different paths I could have taken, but I didn't. My parents could have enrolled me in more counseling. There was even the suggestion of ADHD medication once (she wisely knew it wasn't right for me and turned it down). Instead, she enrolled me in soccer and softball to keep me a team player. I was sent to summer camp to interact with others and nature away from home. I was plugged into the arts. I was allowed my Disneyitis. In other words, as much as they were trying 'fix' what was wrong with me, my parents believed that I wasn't inherently broken just because of my start. They realized that that was just the start. Not the finish line.

My family weren't the 'green people'. They were the soil that helped me grow. I was the green part.

Now, as I sit through classes and podcasts all about adoption and family building and fostering, I find that 1 tiny element is often missing from the advice and horror stories.

It's that kids are, well, people. Every person is bumped, bruised, scarred, cut, and even mangled by something in their lives. And, yes, much of the healing process often include helpful things like teams of therapists, teachers, nutritionists, doctors, and other very highly educated people. I can't take away the power of good influences.

I refuse to discount the power of those who believe we can defy gravity, even when we don't think we can. For me, they just most often happen to be green.

Trainer Guy used to tell me early in our training, "This weight is within you." He wasn't talking about my weight. He was talking helping me gain confidence when I was trying to lift something heavy and my own beliefes of my limitations were holding me back. (Somewhere between the "Badassery" and "Awesomeness", he's a little bit of Yoda.)

Now, I haven't done a show in far too long, but I'm waiting on the right show.  My life is full, generally happy, and my time and emotional energy are at a premium. But they are at a premium because I value them. I don't believe I can ever truly "waste" them, because there is something to be learned from every experience, but I definately don't 'waste' it trying to 'fix' what isn't broken.