Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Learn to let it bend before it breaks.

I am a yoga elf. Seriously. Walking into a class full of long beautiful stretchy bodies that can contort and flow in ways that mine cannot is intimidating. I'm short and frumpy compared to these yoga gods and goddesses.

Tonight as I reluctantly made my way into a completely packed class (I say reluctantly because I have to talk myself into going every time), my self-consciousness was on high alert.

Sara, our instructor, is amazing. She is a guru, I swear. I think she has a mood-reading gift that allows her to personally connect with everyone in the class.

She began class by talking about being uninspired. Perfect. That was the name that I gave myself as I was driving to class, parking my car, and walking up the stairs hoping that my reservation had been cancelled or that I was one minute too late to walk in.

Because there were absolutely no other spots left, I unrolled my mat front and center and kissing the mirror. My least favorite spot. I like to be in the back where I can't see my reflection. I feel like if I can't see the mirror, no one can see me.

Uninspired and self-conscious.

Sara rocked because she tackled both of these issues before we ever got started. As we were sitting on our mats and I was being aware of my bad posture and inability to relax, she closed our eyes and eased us into our practice for the day. And our focus was being comfortable with yourself--being comfortable with feeling uninspired, comfortable with struggling, comfortable with being uncomfortable.

I try to keep my eyes closed most of the time so I can focus. If I open my eyes too much, I feel like I start thinking too much and can't experience the present moment. So, closed eyes and deep breathing.

Deep breathing, if you've never tried it, gives your brain and, subsequently, your body this feeling of altitude. It is a lot like a runners high. Except you are asking your body to do something completely different.

I love to run. I love to feel powerful and fast and to have an achievable, measurable goal. Yoga is completely out of this element.

Yoga doesn't allow me to feel any of these things. I don't know when we will go through our last progression or when I can finally lay my body down in a totally relaxed job-well-done state. I am completely clueless.

So, needless to say, my fumbling body falls out of poses often. This is the point in my post-yoga mind where I can explain why yoga has become a can't-miss happiness point in my life.

Somewhere between achieving flexibility for a pose that I lacked 3 weeks ago and falling out of a basic pose, I had a realization tonight.

My expectations of my body and the reality of my body are forever in a war.

Please don't judge me, but I honestly shed a little tear tonight in class over this realization.

Physical activity--of all kinds--has been a large part of who I am since I can remember. I played every sport offered growing up--soccer, basketball, swimming, softball, track, diving, etc. I never stopped moving. The challenge of teaching your body how to react to your mind's direction and the feeling of triumph when you master a skill is, to me, one of the most rewarding sensations.

In high school, I learned how to run. Rather, I learned how to breathe, which enabled me to run. I went from the kid who couldn't finish 2 miles, to the kid that ran every day. For the sole reason that I could do it.

I was the same way with softball. I studied it like I needed to pass a midterm. And in some ways, getting a spot on the field was more rewarding than anything I ever did in a classroom. I went early to practice, stayed late, watched video, worked every possible camp I could squirm my way into. Softball nerd.

Mastering those skills, enabling my body to be successful and efficient--that is what I love about being active.

If I could have it my way, I would probably be an active-junkie. Not an exercise addict, because the way I feel about it goes far beyond exercise. The simple fact is, my body will not let me.

My yoga revelation comes in here.

I feel such resentment toward my body. My body turned on me when I was 15 years old and I have never forgiven it. I have pushed it to the breaking point over and over and over again in the 10 years since its disloyalty.

I ran a marathon for only two reasons, I think. To cross it off of some imaginary bucket list, and to spite my body. To show it who's boss.

A disloyal body. It doesn't seem right to categorize it in this way.

My body lets me do plenty of things. I can eat whatever I want to within reason. I can work 12 hour days without sitting down. I can run. I can go to sleep at night and wake up the next morning.

I'm still quite disappointed in it.

At the risk of sounding like I'm whining, a few sore points are:
--constantly malnourished regardless of a healthy diet.
--extra effort goes into maintaining hydration and weight.
--vitamin b-12 shots self inflicted every two weeks because I can't absorb it.
--Imuran by mouth daily and Remicade via IV infusion every 7 weeks (both immuno-suppresant drugs)
--immuno-suppresant drugs make me more susceptible to illness/disease
--fairly consistent fatigue
--joint pain

Those are just the sore points. There are a plethora of issues that come with being a carrier of the Crohn's burden.

I am currently experiencing a flare-up. That's what they call it when all of your symptoms are active and it can be brought on by a multitude of things--stress, lack of sleep, change in environment, change in diet, etc. Sometimes there is no clear reason behind a flare. Symptoms include (ironically): lack of sleep, lack of appetite, pain and cramping, change in bowels (constipated to runny), exhaustion, etc.

Luckily, I can have active symptoms without having active disease.

I hate it. I'm pissed at it. And I'm constantly carrying it around, coping with it. Most of the coping is pretending like it doesn't exist.

With that said, tonight my revelation involved giving up some of this resentment that I hold toward my body. Realizing that I have to live with it and I have been living with it and that it would be a much better situation if I was a little more Brady Bunch about it.

So, in Brady fashion, I've got to be honest with myself. There are just some things that I shouldn't do. Not that I can't do them. I'm capable of doing all kinds of things. But if I'm going to come to terms with the body that has defied me, I've at least got to start by being nice to it.

Brandi Carlile has a song called "Bend Before it Breaks." I love this song, but I've never figured out how it applies to me. Its about a lover and that love being over--anyway, Matt and I are great, so it doesn't fit there. It does, however, fit here. And it was the song that was in my head as I was leaving class.


Its not the old guilt that I felt after my last surgery. The feeling has manifested into a total self-loathing that I was unaware of until this evening. I feel a little like I've been punched in the stomach.

Being comfortable with yourself--being comfortable with feeling uninspired, comfortable with struggling, comfortable with being uncomfortable. Searching for comfort or at least a happy place within the body I have been blessed with.

I'm alright, don't I always seem to be?
Aren't I swinging on the stars? Don't I wear them on my sleeves?
Went looking for a crossroads, it happens every day
And which ever way you turn, I'm going to turn the other way.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Change is the essence of life. It is being willing to surrender who you are for what you could become.

"We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy change if we, changing, continue to love a changed person." William Somerset Maugham

The quality I most appreciate in a good friend is understanding. Understanding that who we are, as friends, as people, is an ever evolving process of our lives and of our friendship. I've always felt that, as I've grown older, the friends that made it easiest were the ones who wouldn't chastise me for going months without a phone call. The ones who understand that I am as busy as they are. That friendship works both ways.

I really love my friends. Without them, a vital part of my happiness would be lost. As I've said before, there are many different levels of friendship. What I haven't said is this: of all of the different levels of friendship, there is one thing I always expect. It is very basic to a functional friendship. I will rejoice in your successes as you rejoice in mine. And judgment has no place.

I have made many friends in my adventures through life. I met my best friend when we were 3, and regardless of how much we have changed (and lord, have we changed), I know she will be with me forever. I still have friends from elementary school. I see my friends from high school every chance I get. And I go visit my college friends when I get a weekend of non-crazy (which has been slim, lately). I have friends post-college.

My wedding invite list is out of this world.

But to all of these friends, I am a different person now than I was when I met them. If I wasn't, we'd all be a little worried.

When I was 3, I wasn't a real person--so, I've grown up with Emily and experienced every change with her. I'm sure that I am not the same as I was in elementary school, singing Phantom of the Opera on the playground or trading POGS. And I know for certain that I changed immensely through high school and college. I learned how to put on makeup and pick out clothes that didn't make me look like a little boy. I learned how to handle responsibility and how to make smart decisions about every area of my life. I learned who I was. And I've changed since then.

All of my friends have changed. And their changes are entertaining and mature and beautiful. Its when my friends stop changing that it worries me. If you're not changing, don't you feel like you have nothing to bring to the table?

Some friends change and then quietly make an exit out of your life. This is not to say that they are not your "friend," but that they've moved into another category of your life. And this, as in all stages of life, is fine.

I've never understood, however, an abrupt realization that a friend has changed--they've changed and you just don't know them anymore and the friendship is forever altered. This abruptness, to me, is ignorance. You haven't been paying attention to the process. In reality, you have probably changed just as much.

Change is necessary. At least, in my opinion. If we weren't constantly changing, we would be stuck. We would stop learning about ourselves and about our world. We would stop thinking, rationalizing, considering. Stagnant.

I understand that people want stability in their lives. Stability does not have to mean stuck. You can acquire financial stability, stability within your home, stability within your state of mind. Stability can be a soothing, necessary element of life. But there are so many things outside of stability that necessitate happiness.

We all make fun of the old ladies who dress the same way they did in their great decade. Don't deny it. We all do it. Or the old men who are stuck in a trend intended for the cool guys 30 years ago. It's funny. But it's also sad. Because these people made up their mind years ago who they were going to be, what they were going to eat, who they were going to socialize with, and what they were going to wear. And they haven't looked beyond that.

If I still dressed the way I did in elementary school or high school, you'd think I didn't care about my appearance. I'd wear a Starter jacket and a Hornet's t-shirt with shorts too big. And if I dressed the way I dressed in college, you'd think I was cheap. Because I was. I wore whatever the softball team supplied--sweats, t-shirts, a warmup, shorts. And now I can dress however I want to.

I agree that clothing is a weak example. Dress in whatever makes you feel comfortable. But, if I'm your friend, and you're still wearing the same sweater from high school, I'm going to encourage you to let go. Move on. Try something new.

Think differently.

A major component of change is how we think. If we stop considering things from different point of views, how will we ever move on? How can you hate or love something for an entire lifetime?

My parents always baffle me. They met in high school and began dating when they were sophomores. They got married at 22, had me at 23, and didn't stop having kids for 12 years. For a long time, their relationship was in survival mode. Don't screw any of the kids up, remember to pay the bills, work to pay the bills, and get everyone where they need to go. Five kids later, their relationship has evolved. And it keeps changing. When I was in college, I got to experience this rekindling of a relationship I never knew growing up. They became friends again after they got rid of most of us. They had to get to know each other again. They go on bike rides together.

New is hard. Change can be hard. But change is also fun and refreshing.

In the past, change has caused me much anxiety. I cried every day in 1st and 2nd grade when my parents switched me to a new school. And before my first try out for middle school softball, I called my mom crying and she picked me up and drove me down to the softball field (on campus) and pushed me out of the car. Somehow, change began to grow on me.

I didn't go to college with any of my high school friends. Most of my friends went with at least one other person that they knew. I did not. I still can't explain why or how I did this. Or how I never even thought about the fact that I would be a new kid on campus with no friends. But I did it, and I made friends, and I allowed myself to accept the changes in my life. As uncomfortable as they were.

I went to a new school to play my last year of softball eligibility. The only person I knew on campus was my sister, who was a freshman. She was doing all these new-college things that I had already done. I was in grad school. And I lived alone. That's the biggest accomplishment to me. That I did that. That I stepped outside of my comfort zone and allowed EVERYTHING about my life to change. And it was rewarding in ways that I can't explain.

And Matt. I always have to include Matt. You can ask him if you want, but the changes he's experienced with me are hilarious. I went from this little girl with a huge shield around my emotions to a person who asks to be hugged and kissed. Matt has been an amazing catalyst of change.

So, I like change. I've said it before in different words. Evolve. Keep growing. Keep finding new things that make you happy and be willing to move away from the things that don't. Even if it is uncomfortable.

I know I'm different now than when you first met me. I listen to different music, I eat differently, I dress differently, I may talk about different things. But aren't you glad? It's like getting to meet me all over again.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Every time I say, "I'm in over my head," it just doesn't sound right. Because, quite honestly, I'm not.

I'm in up to my nostrils, but I can still breathe and I can still see. I can still react. I can still reflect. I can't, however, talk. I've lost this ability temporarily. My apologies to anyone who has called in the past 3 weeks that I have ignored. Or anyone (Matt) who I've shut out. Talking is always the first to go.

Every time I think I'm busier than I've ever been, I know that I've been busier. Or, rather, I've been more overwhelmed. I feel like I'm doing it right this time.

My list of priorities has grown shorter, as has my "to do" list. While one obligation is new, the others I am seasoned in.

Seasoned. Sounds so mature and official, doesn't it? But, by golly, its true. I'm 25 and I've been coaching for 6 years. Do you remember who you were at 19 and who you were at 25 and how different those two people are? At 19 I didn't have a voice. I feel like I've recently woken up with this woman strength that I've never possessed before.

To juggle one job, one fiance, many friends, my large family, social obligations---seems like enough. But to have 3 jobs (one of which is full time--but, still) is a little masochistic, right? Well, that's who I am right now. And 3 jobs have brought out the woman in me.

Over the summer, I was hired on as the full time PE/Health & Wellness teacher at St. Peter's Episcopal School as well as the athletic director for all sports. I still give lessons and coach at FURY and I'm also coaching at GPS with the middle school softball team. All of these things rock. All of these things at the same time = a headache.

I am in beast mode right now. I'm at the top of my game. And I'm not making millions of dollars. I love what I'm doing.

I go to school every day and I get to faux-parent kids. This might sound a little harsh and maybe even a little sad, but let me explain. I am aware of how grandparentish this is going to sound, but I have no other way to say it: parents these days are doing a poor job of being parents. I teach children of well-educated, successful men and women. And their children do not know how to communicate. Do not know how to behave. Do not know how to be respectful. So, while I am teaching PE (scoff all you want), I spend the majority of my time teaching kids how to talk through their issues with their classmates, how to respect everyone. PE brings out the worst in a child, I have decided. Not only do most children fail to understand competition, but they take everything personally. So-and-so ran into me, so-and-so called me a poptart (yes, this was an actual complaint on Thursday), so-and-so took too long at the water fountain, so-and-so ran when you told us to walk. And my only impression is this: If parents would take the time to discipline their children when they back-talk, when they pitch a fit, when they refuse to obey a basic request---if parents would stop letting their little loved princes and princesses run their houses, these kids would know how to fix their own problems.

I know that there could be serious repercussions for statements such as these. I have no children. I have, however, been working with kids for a long time. I'm the oldest of 5. I know that my parents didn't do everything the right way, but they did a damn good job. And I know that in 5th grade I wasn't still running to tattle on my friend for calling me a poptart (because I work with my 5th grade teacher--she told me).

So, I have taken it upon myself to help these kids out. And it is exhausting. By the end of one day last week, I almost relented control of a class--almost let them do whatever they wanted to do. But, I won. And I'm winning. They are starting to get it; they are starting to understand how they have to act to participate in my class.

You may think I'm being unjust by demanding so much from my kids. But chaos is not an answer. And disrespect breeds more disrespect. I just don't want to be surrounded by it day after day.

I'm starting to wonder. If I teach the children of the well-educated, successful folks, what is a day like in the life of an inner city teacher?

So, I love my job. Well, all of them.

Coaching middle school has been an experience of a nature I haven't encountered. The first day of practice, it hit me in the face. I have to tell them every step of every thing I want them to do. I have to line them up to run before practice. I have to walk them through the warm up. I have to walk them through practice. I have to walk them through every pitch of every game. And I love it.

This is coaching at its max. This is what I've been learning how to do for 6 years. And at the end of the day, I get to work with my kids who know what's going on. Someone taught them, but it wasn't me.

My lessons have taken on a life of their own. The kids that I get to work with are working hard and experiencing success on the field that I revel in. Not because I "taught them everything they know," but because I was able to provide tools for game situations and, this is the kicker, their parents are thanking me.

More than anything, as a coach, thanks is the biggest gift. I don't want credit or praise, but "thank you." Hearing, "she loves you" is a pretty close second. But "thank you" rocks.

Because "thank you" means all of those things--she loves you, you are doing a great job teaching her, we really appreciate all of the time you sacrifice to be there. "Thank you," to a coach, might be the highest praise. It takes all kinds of gumption from a parent to utter those small words. And really it just means that you don't suck and you haven't slighted their kid.

All of my jobs, from coaching, to teaching, to instruction, require that parents trust me to hold their child at a high priority. That is a lot of pressure. And "thank you" acknowledges that pressure. It acknowledges that I took the time to learn your child's name and that I know them on a somewhat personal level. That I have invested myself in their success--in the classroom, on the ballfield, in life.

Enjoy the journey.

My, oh, my has it taken me a while to get here. Or, it seems that way.

I keep thinking, "I'm so happy." I'm almost too busy to enjoy it, though. I'm almost too busy to enjoy it with the people that I love. And when I can enjoy it with the people that I love, that's when I'm most enjoying the journey.

So, while 3 jobs has been an experience, I think I'm going to downsize soon. Two weeks left of middle school ball, and then I proudly announce my self-removal from all things school softball related. (I laugh as I type this because I can't say for certain that if the right opportunity arose, I wouldn't take it)

I have been looking so forward to having a routine in my life. For the past 3 years, I've been all over the place working different hours during different seasons. It's really messed with my sleep habits--as well as other ares of my life. And now that I'm in a routine, it is a lot of time spent away from my happiness priorities. So, my routine will change, yet again.

In a way, I almost hope that my routine will be ever-changing. As stated in a previous post, happiness is revolving and I tend to follow it. And I hope to keep enjoying my journey. Even if I can't talk sometimes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


*Author's note: I am a slow blogger because it takes a long time for me to fully develop a thought.

"Be not afraid of growing slowly, Be afraid only of standing still."
Chinese proverb

Well, standing still is not something I am familiar with. Life is a whirlwind. Only if you enable it, I guess. My mom always says that I will be the daughter who won't want to stay at home with my kids. She doesn't mean this in a negative way (she stayed home with all 5 of us). She just knows that I am a mover. I like to be busy. And sometimes I overtax myself.

Yesterday I was driving all over the place trying to get things done. I have learned many things from my mom, but one of the most important is this: if you have a lot of things to do, make sure you don't ever backtrack.

I've lived in Chattanooga almost all of my life (minus 5 years of college--undergrad and grad school). It still surprises me when I find a new route around this city. Dupont Parkway is my latest find. It cuts the city in half. And apparently, no one else knows about it, either. No traffic. So, I can go to my doctors appointment at Memorial and then cut across to Hixson to fill a prescription and go to Target. And I never have to go back the way I came. This is amazing to me.

And this is why: In life, we have roads that we travel every day (physically and metaphysically). And then one day, a new road is presented to us. And this road will not pull us off track, but provide a new path to our goals. Dupont Parkway is this for me.
I think my new job is also going to provide this new road as well. I love softball and I never want it to feel like a job. It is my job. I coach and I give instruction which = pay. And now I have a job (a full time job, thank you very much) that is going to challenge me and inspire me and allow everything that I do with softball feel like my hobby, my passion. For this, I feel like I will be grateful for a long time.

I had a conversation during an 11 hour car ride on Sunday that really made me think about why I am doing what I'm doing. Every time I talk to a successful business person, they ask me, "What do you want to do?" I feel a little stupid and a little put off because I always say, "I don't know." And that is the honest truth. I want to be happy. I want to feel like I have the freedom to be happy. I don't want to go to work every day and dread it. I don't want to have wrinkles from stress before I should. And I don't feel like I have to be a quota successful desk sitter to have all of these things. In my mind, I can have all of the things that these successful business people claim to love about their lives because of their jobs without having their jobs. It might take a little more planning and saving, but I will be fulfilled. I will get to see my family. I will get to enjoy every day. I will get to work hard and be challenged (though some of it may be self-challenge, challenge all the same). And I will get to value every little extravagance I can afford.

Have you ever been in a conversation that involved you? And you weren't really even allowed to participate in the conversation? I'm not talking about my parents--to my memory, this has never been how our relationship worked. Earlier in the summer, I was having a beer with some people, about my parents age, who had a large opinion about a big life choice Matt and I are still considering. Kind of made me rethink why I had let them in at all. I could only sit and look at them, thinking who are you to tell me what to do? I get that as we get older, we all think we might do something differently if we had the knowledge at the time. But aren't you glad that you got to explore and realize that on your own? Advice is great. But please, please, don't let on that you think I'm an idiot while you are dishing this advice. It kind of turns me off.

I apologize, but the baby boomers are really chapping me lately. Your parents survived the depression. You adopted their need for money and success. And most of you fell short of happiness. Most of you are divorced. Most of you raised foolish children. And I know that most of you have regrets for the time spent away from what you love. I ate off of your successes, was educated because of them. I'm not unappreciative. But I do recognize that there are ways to be successful without ultimate sacrifice. And my idea of success may be different than yours. I grew up a country club kid, but I do not expect my children to. I will send my kids to a great private school if I can afford it, and if not, I will provide a strong, supportive home life to come home to after a public school day.

I'm not driven by money and I don't think I ever have been. Money means something different to everyone. And money isn't necessarily a bad thing. My brother is going to be a successful lawyer and I am very proud of him. But that isn't what will make me happy when all is said.

In college, I started out as a secondary education major in History. And then I changed to a secondary education major in English. And it took me a while, but I finally realized that I didn't want to be certified in anything. I didn't ever want to feel stuck in something. In ten years, I didn't want to wake up and know that I had chosen the wrong path.

For my graduation, a friend gave me a necklace, that I still wear today, that reads: Traveller there is no path. Paths are made by walking. And that is truly how I feel. I may not know "what I want to do," but I do know that being happy is a priority.

And for me, part of being happy is being busy. Finding a balance between being busy and being crazy is a rough road. I want to have roads forever. I want to feel like I can move along to another venture anytime I feel like its necessary for my happiness. This is not to say that I want to be a bum working at Walmart (for example) if I feel like it, but I don't want to spend my entire life trying to move up in one company. I want to feel in control of my happiness. So while I'm making my way, know that I am working hard in whatever I do to advance myself.

It took my parents a few years to trust this. My mom especially. When I came home, I felt like she was constantly on me about what I was doing. As soon as they figured out that I really am motivated and that I really do want to work and be happy, they got it. If only the world understood us as our parents do.

This is part of the reason that I love Matt so much. He is brave enough to do what he loves to do. He wants to be successful in this, but it is what he loves. But the bravery it takes to walk away from social norms of success is admirable. Its heroic, even. Come to think of it, those are the people I chose to surround myself with. And I think that as we progress as a generation, this is what you are going to see. Sorry if you don't like it, Boomers, but we are going to take care of you as you become incapable without losing our sanity, our happiness.

If you read the June issue of Chattanooga's City Scope Magazine, there is an article about 30 successful people under 30. Most of these people are entrepreneurs, thinking outside of the Boomer box. Successful in their own right. And making their own way. Some of them don't even make that much money doing what they are doing. But they are successful because they are making a difference and they are happy doing what they've chosen to do.

They are busy. And in my mind, if you aren't standing still, make sure you're moving forward. Even if its slower than everyone else thinks it should be. Even if its faster. You make your own path.

"When we are fearlessly who we are, we don't need external validation, just an opportunity to express ourselves, live fully, and serve the world." -Ariana Huffington

Monday, July 19, 2010


The substitute for sex is chocolate. I don't like chocolate. The substitute for running is walking. I'd rather run. The substitute for a night out is a night in. And isn't it more fun to go out, when presented with the two options? The substitute for a good friend is a good book. And friends can listen. The substitute for a win is a moral victory, which is still a loss. The substitute for new shoes is your favorite pair of old shoes. But nothing compares to new shoes. The substitute for a vacation is a staycation, and we all know that's a bad substitute. The substitute for a nap is caffeine. The substitute for a family is a career (for a lot of people). The substitute for a good personality is good looks. The substitute for your favorite TV show is a rerun.

I'm not one for substitutes. I would rather have my first option or nothing, in most cases. Call me a spoiled brat, but I'm not talking the choice between Jimmy Choos or Payless (and I'll punch you in the face if you suggest that). I'm just talking about life's little pleasures. I don't want rain, I want sun. I don't want to lose, I want to win. I don't want to walk, I want to run.

There are a lot of people in this world, in my opinion, who are just fine with settling for second best. And if they are happy, more power to them. I, however, am not this kind of person.

The substitute for saying something is saying nothing. And this is where I fall into the substitutions list. Don't ask me why, but if I am unprepared for a conversation, I'm usually not very good at it. I'm not talking about the "Hey, lady, how do you get to..." questions, but ask me anything about how I'm feeling about anything, and I'll clam up. If I stuck my fist in my mouth, I would probably say more. But I cannot talk about it. Absolutely cannot. Unless you give me time to figure out how I want to approach the subject, I'll simply reply, "I don't know." Even if I know you aren't going to judge me for anything I say or feel. Some part of me feels unjustified to feel the way I feel. Or at least to communicate these feelings.

So, if you know how I'm feeling, consider yourself a bit privileged. It probably took me a long time to get there.

My lady (whom I have amicably divorced) spent many minutes diagnosing this issue as one of my "coping" skills. And the funny thing is, I had no problem spilling all of my emotional secrets to her. It is the people I care about that I guard myself from. That's so backwards.

I've spent the months since my lady intervention really trying to communicate. To let myself feel weak and to tell my "you's" how I feel. And that's the base behind it all. I do not like feeling weak. I also do not like feeling selfish. So when I feel like I am clogging time with my worries or feelings, I feel both weak and selfish. Which is all in my head.

Do you have to constantly argue with yourself? It's exhausting. I need a divorce from my brain on some days. To truly analyze a situation, I try to attack it from all angles, including what the other person is thinking. But there is no way to know that. There's no way to know what they are going to walk away from a conversation thinking.

And here is what I have dissolved from this conundrum: Everyone thinks about themselves. First. There is not one situation that we will face in life that we don't automatically think about how it will effect the "I" argument. In sympathy or empathy: What would I do in this situation? In anger: What if someone did that to me? In sadness: I would be upset, too. As a second thought, we will consider the other parties. But it is always the I that we will side with first.

We can call this self-absorbed or we can call this self-aware. Either way we are all self-focused. I find that having a balance is the biggest challenge. Because to be aware of myself and what I'm feeling, I have to give in to being a bit absorbed in my own self. I have to ignore the selfish feeling and allow myself to be just that. Selfish. And somewhere in the thought process appears the selfless side. Allowing me to be both selfish and selfless in the same wave of thought.

But does anyone else actually think like this? Constantly analyzing and comparing and justthinking? You can see now why it is hard to make a decision with this head.

Part of what I'm finding out is that it is relieving to know that most people don't walk away thinking of me after a conversation. They are thinking of themselves. Picture it like this: You walk into a gathering of friends feeling completely unattractive and wearing normal attire. Nobody is judging you like you are judging yourself. Isn't that nice? When you finally realize that you are only the center of your own attention.

No one is going to care about you as much as you care about yourself. Even the people who love you. They are incapable. I cannot enter your brain and feel what you are feeling just as you cannot enter mine. And so we are back to communication.

Communication is flawed. Not the language of communication, but the grey area between understanding and feeling. It does not matter what kind of support team you have behind you, most of the trials of your life will be fought and won within your own head.

The process is trying, exhausting. But the substitute for thinking is not thinking. I think I'll think my way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Little B

"Do those scars cover the whole of you? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived." Chris Cleave, Little Bee

This is not going to be a book review, but please allow for a few comments. Little Bee has been laying in wait on one of my bookshelves for about two months. I got completely wrapped up in a 3-book series (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Who Played with Fire, and Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest), all of which were fabulous and enthralling, none of which provided me the pleasure I found in Little Bee. I can't tell you with certainty why I initially bought Bee or why it went straight to the shelf, but I grabbed it on my way out of the door before my 10-day hiatus from home.

I am a fast reader. But I'm not supersonic and I enjoy really immersing myself in a book. So I started it about 2pm yesterday and finished at about 11:30 tonight. With a lot of play time in between.

My parents won't buy me books for Christmas anymore because I used to come down the stairs on Christmas morning, grab the book, and spend the rest of the day with my nose glued to the spine. Its almost out of my control. If a book hooks me, I can't seem to walk away. Or I can put it down, but the characters keep talking to me and the plot dictates how I interpret every day motions. I suppose that is what makes a book great, worthwhile, an impact.

Bee was not what I was expecting. Or, rather, I didn't expect anything, but I really did not expect greatness. I've done (more than) my fair share of book reading, and I am still surprised when a book finds me and provides everything I need. Great literary style, intriguing voice, and full, beautiful characters. And a message that is imparted upon the reader without force or overbearing inflection. I love a book that can mean something different to anyone who reads it. A book that gives the reader room to think for themselves. An author who doesn't think his audience is stupid. I would think that once you trust a reader with the story, the writing would be really fun to do. The trust definitely makes it more fun to read.

If you like to read, read this book. I'm sad that I've finished it. I'm a little lonely without my new friends.

I finished the book and became suddenly aware of how quiet it was in my room. The movie reel in my head clicked off and there was white noise. There's a moment after you stop reading where your brain takes a break because it knows it is about to be overloaded with the impending analysis.

At some point in my life, I need to join a book club. But I want some serious members. Not too serious, mind you, because I like to cook and I enjoy wine and all that, but if we're going to talk about books, lets at least be intelligent. I think I will need to create my own so I can make all the rules. If you want to sign up to be in my book club, you can email me your applications. There will be a test. But it won't be too hard.

I am enjoying this time in my life. It is unlike any other happy times that I've ever had, I think. Because I'm old enough to expect the difficult things and young enough to ignore many of them. I'm excited about exploring what these next few months and years will bring. I am loving and appreciating all the dimensions of my many relationships. The hope that I feel right now is refreshing compared to how I felt in September after my surgery.

Little Bee helped me realize a few of these things. If you've read the book, you might call me crazy. Pieces of the story seem hopeless, but the story in its entirety is triumphant.

About a week ago, I wrote a blog that got erased. If you write, you know how hard it is to rewrite. Pretty sure it got erased for a reason. An advice column about learning, basically. Learning from everything. But it wasn't written from the right voice. Thinking about it now, it may have come off as chastising. A holier-than-thou monologue criticizing self-help books with an attitude of GET OVER IT. And in hindsight, I think I was talking to myself.

In my mind, everything doesn't just "happen for a reason," everything is a challenge. A challenge to face the situation and a challenge to learn from it. We are constantly building off of the challenges that have been set before us so that we can become more aware of ourselves and the life that surrounds us. It is when we have stopped stepping up to the challenge that we have lost ourselves. Some of us will be defeated. Some of us will give up. And the warriors will simply regard each challenge as action, result, reaction--believing that no one moment can define an entire lifetime of learning. One moment is just another moment to learn from.

I believe that if everyone thought their story was worth telling, we would all be authors. Everyone has a story. They aren't all dramatic or large. Some of them are happy, a lot of them are sad. You may even say that many of them are boring. It depends on how you look at the story that defines its interest. How you tell the story. It also takes courage to tell it.

One day, when I find the right way to tell it and have the gumption to overlook the haters, I think I would like to write my story. The unfinished story, of course. Because no story is ever finished. I could write an entire book solely on my scars, how they made me feel dead for a long time and how "a scar means, I survived."

Monday, May 31, 2010

The people you love in life don't deserve a "ya," they deserve a "you." And if you aren't comfortable saying "you," then you haven't experienced enough in life to grasp the meaning of the term.

People die. People get sick, and they die. People have tragic accidents, and they die. People disappear forever. People die.

Death is solely the most profound act of life that dictates how we live. Everyone knows someone who has died, but not everyone has experienced a death of a close friend or relative. I believe this is the turning point.

If you are scared of death, you probably haven't had anyone close to you die. Because death is a beautiful letting go, no matter the circumstances. The last deep breath of air, a total state of relaxation, and a final release. The battle leading up to death is the hard part, the easy part is letting go.

So, knowing that people die, regardless of how you feel about death, should dictate how you feel about and treat people. And no one that you truly love deserves a "ya."

I am not afraid of death. I don't ever remember a point in my life where the thought of one day perishing frightened me. This is not a statement of faith about the greatness of heaven or an afterlife, but an honest belief that everyone I love will get on just fine without me. And I do believe that. I've experienced death on a number of levels, and after the cloud of grief dissipates, there are beautiful memories that dance around inside of you daily. The people in your life that deserve a "you" will come to realize that you have effected them in ways they never recognized before.

Some people live their whole lives searching for a legacy. STOP! You are leaving one whether you are aware of it or not. You don't have to write 50 best selling novels. You don't have to win a Nobel Peace Prize. You don't have to write your name in history by joining a governmental office. And you don't even have to smile all of the time. All of those things will become worthless. Regardless of your station in life, be genuine with those you care about. Be concerned with matters of their heart and expect them to be concerned with yours. Respect everyone without hesitation. Trust everyone and know that they may not deserve your trust. Work hard for what you believe in, because talk means nothing. Remember how to play. Life is just a game, and it starts getting nasty when the competition outweighs the lesson. Tell people, truly tell people, how you feel.

Think of one person who died and it made you happy. That is a really difficult task. For example, the world hated Michael Jackson because he was different and because he was accused of molesting young boys. When he died, the majority of those people were saddened by his death. They didn't forget about the allegations, but they did set aside those feelings of betrayal and mourned for a man who influenced their lives.

The biggest influences are from the people who are unaware of their influence. My third grade teacher, Mrs. Cahill, taught me how to master the times table. I still think about her when I have to calculate a tip at a restaurant. My softball coach at BSC, Coach Perry, was brutal to me to get what she needed out of me. I think about her and those experiences every time I am faced with a difficult situation. A dad of one of my players my first season at ND got in my face and questioned a decision I made. I think about him any time I have to engage in a hard conversation. Influence.

Your influence in someone's life is all that you need to imprint yourself upon someone forever. And above all, it must be genuine. If I tried to make an influence on you, you would recognize that I am trying; trying is not genuine. Just be. And be happy.

I have a friend who, at this current moment, is struggling with finding someone who he can share his life with. We have had several conversations regarding the matter. All I can keep telling him and all I can think of is stop trying so hard. In my experience, in life and love, if you cannot be satisfied in the here-and-now, how can you expect to be satisfied after your search ends? How can you be so certain that the one thing you want most in life is going to satisfy that yearning? And that the one thing you are searching for has something to do with another person and their feelings. To me, this leaves happiness too much at chance. Happiness can't depend on an uncontrollable. If Matt walked away today or if something happened to him, I would be devastated, but my overall happiness in life would remain intact. I cannot control Matt and his decisions or what happens to him. I enjoyed life before him and I will enjoy life after him. And I don't feel like that takes away from our relationship. I honestly think part of that is what makes our relationship, and most successful relationships, work. Matt would be fine without me. I would be fine without Matt. But we have chosen to be happy together.

Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." And while his voice is creepy, those words are true. Whatever station you have reached in your life, you have learned something from past experiences to prepare you for that moment. So there is no trying necessary. There is action, reaction, and result. The result could be good or bad, but you move on. You move on.

And you can be happy. Nowhere in our DNA is there an imprint for optimist or pessimist, happy or unhappy. These are choices that we make, whether conscious or subconscious. Depression, to some degree, is a choice. I cannot deny scientific evidence, but I believe that depression stems from a point of ignoring good. Things get bad in life. I get it. Really, I promise, I do. But being able to recognize that place between depression and sadness only means finding something good and hanging on to it. Finding something good, and not overanalyzing it. Letting it be good, and letting it make us happy.

I have some very special friends that make me very happy. One reason is that they find ways to "celebrate" over the most minute details. Celebration, at its core, is a foreign idea in our culture. We are taught to celebrate major market events: Memorial Day, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. And sometimes, given the right situation, these marketed celebrations do not feel like a celebration. To me, and because of these friends, a real celebration means nothing but the simple fact that there is something to be happy about. Someone was really nice to me today at work: Let's Celebrate! Your new haircut looks really good: Let's Celebrate! There's college softball on TV: Let's Celebrate!

Happiness does not have to derive from the big moments. There is such a thing as unadulterated happiness. The initial moment of pure bliss before the rational mind takes over. No situation is perfect. It must be deciphered and picked apart and analyzed and decided upon. But the moment before all of that happens should sometimes allow for the happiness. People are not perfect. They must be lived with and talked to and seen and judged. But you can still love them.

If someone handed you a piece of paper and made you write down everything you thought about every one of your friends and it was going to be burned as soon as you finished writing, you'd realize that your friends aren't perfect. They have hurt you in ways that they are not aware of. They do things that you judge them for. They abandon you when you need them most. But you still love them. You still give them access to your heart.

I had a conversation in high school with a person who I still consider a "you." She, like me, had a very small group of people that were her "friends." And we came to the conclusion that we had a tiny gathering of people that we considered our "all the time friends" as well as a larger group of "weekend friends" and then an even larger group of "classroom friends." I think about this all the time. Because I have a lot of people that I would call my "friends," but there are different levels of friendship-dom that I don't know if we are able or willing to recognize. To me, no one is stuck in any particular class of friendship, because friendships ebb and flow. Its the willingness to recognize what someone is to you right now and what their potential is in the future. You still give them access to your heart, knowing that there is a great chance that they will fall through. That they can hurt you. But all relationships hang on this trust. All, relationships, not just relationships based on love in the romantic sense, take work.

People die. People come in and out of your life. And there is no shame or risk in saying "you," if you are content with "you" meaning something different to whom you are saying it and changing over time. If you feel it, say it. "Ya" is the scared, self-conscious "you." I love you. I do not "love ya."

Saturday, May 8, 2010


All of this wedding business stresses me out. I have 483 days to plan this thing, and I would like to plan all of it right now so I don't have to do anything else.

So far, I've:
-reserved the church
-picked out bridesmaids dresses (ish)
-decided what I'm going to wear
-decided what the boys are going to wear
-picked out a cake that I like (though I have not found anyone to make it)
-picked out what kind of flowers I like (though I have not talked to anyone about making that happen)

And considering I have 483 days until all of this has to come together, that's pretty good. But if I go by theknot.com's checklist, I have completed 7 out of 182 things on the to-do list. Being the procrastinator that I am, I know I'm going to need all 483 days to make this happen.

I've been to two dress stores. One was just for fun (and turned out to be not fun) and the other was just to ask a question. This is where I've decided that I do not like planning a wedding. Just the act of being in the store makes me sweat. And then the questions make me want to run away. Because, like I've said before, I have no idea. I was not the little girl that always dreamed of her wedding day. I did not collect clippings of wedding details that I would die without. Heck, I barely paid attention to any of the details in all of the weddings I've been a part of for the past 5 years. All I can see in my head is that the weddings were pretty and sweet, but I don't know what kind of flowers we carried or what kind of food was served at the reception.

I know that weddings don't just happen, but I really wish that I could say I like these colors and I want everyone to have a fabulous time at the reception. Because all I really care about is the walking down the aisle to Matt part. After that, you guys can throw your own party and we'll just come to it. Wouldn't that be nice?

I own one bridal magazine, have a "pocket" binder that was given to me for wedding stuff, and the internet. These are my only anti-bride tools. And the magazine came in handy; I saw a cake that jumped out at me and voila! I have my wedding colors.

What I need is a wedding planner. Which makes me feel like a spoiled brat. But I'm totally willing to take a cut elsewhere so that we can fit a planner into the budget. If I could sit down with someone and tell them exactly, and in no detail, what I'm thinking and they could just make it happen. It would be magical.

Luckily for me, Matt has absolutely no opinion on anything wedding. I asked him about a tux yesterday and he said pretty much whatever. Which, I guess, is a lot better than having him involved in every detail, but dude, I'm as clueless as he is.

Now, I'm going to tell you about my two dress shop experiences. If you do not want to read about my complaining of one, just stop here. Because I'm about to go bridezilla on this store.

David's Bridal is a great option for a tight budget. They've got dresses that feel like paper but look great in pictures. You can get a dress for as little as $99, but buy a veil that costs more than the dress. Its pretty much the Walmart of dress shops. But my point is not about the quality of their merchandise, but the quality of their staff.

Emily and I went to David's about a month ago. It was totally for fun, definitely not for serious, but I pretty much had to sign my life away as well as my first child's just to look at any dresses. I had to register before I could walk 10 feet into the store. And by register, I mean: email address, home phone, cell phone, home address, wedding date, wedding budget, matt's email, phone, address, where we worked, how long we'd been together. Were they planning on doing a background check? Your dress costs less than our cell phone bill. And I'm not giving you my email address.

So after filling out all of the required paper work, we were finally released to the dresses. Of which, there were about 3 styles to pick from in my size. All of the doctor's office paperwork for this?

We had a sales rep follow us around the store in case we tried to stuff any crinolin gowns into our purses. The woman was nutzo. She shooed me to a fitting room and then proceeded to throw dresses over the door with so much sparkle and flare that I thought I might get sick on the dresses. And this was after I told her that I'm a very simple, no mess dress kind of girl. Stood outside of the door and made me come out in every dress. I wanted to cry. Finally, after about 30min of fashion show, I told her that before I could do anything, I really needed my mom. And at that point, I really needed my mom in the five-year-old spending the night at a friends house for the first time kind of way. Mommy, please help me escape this wedding hell bliss.

I thought I was home free. Emily was laughing at my agony (and you can't blame her, it was humorous) while I was scurrying to disassemble the iron maiden bra they had me in and put on some semblance of real fabric. I broke out of the fitting room and tried to make a mad dash for the door while our sales rep was tending to the dresses, but she caught me. Before I could even leave the store, they made me schedule a return appointment with her so I could bring my mom back. Like I said, signed my life away. So, I scheduled the appointment knowing that I would never return, and sprinted for the door. Such a bad first wedding planning experience.

Obviously, the sales tactic works with people, or David's Bridal would be out of business, fast. If the whole world were like me, though, the sales tactic would be you're either going to buy a dress or not, and nothing I do or say or bring you is going to change that. I'm the kind of person that likes walking in a store all sweaty and nasty, knowing that the sales reps are going to look away and pretend I'm not there. That's my shopping tactic. Don't talk to me, I'll find it myself, and I am very much okay with making my own decisions without your opinion.

Needless to say, the David's Bridal experience definitely altered my view of wedding planning. Now, every time I need to get something done or talk to someone regarding the wedding, I immediately imagine myself caged up in a fitting room desperately trying to get out.

Besides the fact that I'd like a wedding planner so I don't have to deal with it, I'd also like to plan everything and tell no one what the plans are. I don't want anyone to know what I want because I really like it, so I don't want any negative feedback or subliminal I-don't-like-that-suggestions. On the wedding day, it can just be like surprise! and everyone will be having too much fun to care about the colors or the flowers or the cake or the music or the dresses or the tuxes.

My second dress shop experience was truly wedding magical. Like I said earlier, I just went in to ask a question and check out bridesmaids options. I did not expect my hardened anti-bride heart to swoon. But I'm going to save that story for a later date.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I bought a bra the other day that actually fit. Usually, I'm a sports-bra-all-the-time kind of girl, but sometimes I bring out the real, fully lined, underwire bra. It doesn't make me feel more feminine or pretty. In fact, they are rather uncomfortable and, in my opinion, unflattering. I do sometimes feel, however, that I'm doing my boobs a disservice by always binding them down.

I became a "woman" at the tender age of 14, but my "woman parts" didn't develop until I was probably 18 or 19. So this whole wrangling the girls into position thing is still uncharted territory. The theory is this: because I was diagnosed with Crohn's at 15, my doctors think that I was probably deprived of a lot of nutrient absorption through my colon and it stunted my growth. To think, I could have been a 6' DD kind of woman. And I thank God every day that I'm not. I wish I could put a slide show on here of my progression through high school and college. Then you could really see what I'm talking about. But since I don't have those pictures handy to timeline, I'll just have to show by telling.

Age 14: Looked pretty much like a mouse with horse teeth. While I am thankful for my smile now, it was entirely too large for my face from about 12-16. Weighed less than 100lb. Stood at probably 5'1" or 5'2". My favorite outfit was a pair of washed out Gap jeans that had a nice little fray starting in the knee and a horrendous pink sweater that my Gigi bought me (that I still have).

At 15: Not a whole lot of change. Until...dun dun dun...steroids. Not anabolic, performance enhancing steroids, but prednisone. The kind of steroids that make you want to eat ALL of the time, make your cheeks swell like you're storing food for the winter months, and give you the jitters. Steroids made me a fat kid for the first time in my life, and sometimes I still kind of live there. My clothes stopped fitting, I couldn't stop eating, but I was "healthy" by all medical standards.

16-17: Stringy hair, braces, still no boobs (and at this point in my life, like any teenager, I longed for them), stick legs.

18-19: College. Which means weight gain of roughly 10lb, then loss of about 15 (when softball started). And then magically, one day, I woke up and had these foreign objects attached to my chest. Gone were the days of built-in-bra tanktops.

I was, quite literally, a late bloomer. Now, I'm not going to try to say here that my boobs were the only body part effected by Crohn's. I might have grown a few more inches, or I might not have. Maybe I would have been able to build muscle more efficiently, maybe not. But the instant boobage definitely stuck out. And they still surprise me today.

Imagine it like this: Hypothetically, you wear a size 0 jean. So no butt, hips, or thighs. And hypothetically, you wear a size 34 C bra. There's disproportion there.

I really can't imagine what people like Heidi (from that MTV show...you know? the one that's had like 117 plastic surgeries) are thinking when they get breast implants that make them lean a little when they walk. Here I am walking around trying to hide them, and people are putting plastic under their pectoral muscles and filling the plastic with foreign substances to make them stick out more. That is as crazy to me as someone walking into a doctor's office and saying, "I want bigger eyes. Here, just take mine out and use these marbles. Yep, that will do it."

My aha! moment came the other day while I was bra shopping. I have a few ol' trusty bras, but I just felt compelled to check out my options (plus I had a coupon for $15 off). Normally, I will buy the size down in a bra because it makes me feel a little more secure. I've been fitted for bras probably 3 times and they've all given me the same measurements. But I never use them. So, as an experiment, I took to the dressing room the size that I normally buy and the size that I've been fitted as. I tried on the size I normally buy first. Not bad. And then the size I'm measured for. Are you kidding me? A bra can look this good?

I'm not saying its good enough to wear without a shirt over it, but its definitely okay to wear under one. And its given me a new rationale.

Lets say that I want to drop a jean size. The next time I go jean shopping, I might buy the size down in jeans hoping that at some point they will fit right. Well, a bra size is not like a jean size. Unless I dropped or put on an ungodly amount of weight, boobs are going to stay the same size. Kind of like feet. Once you've got your shoe size, you're pretty much good for life. So, its funny to me that at 24, I have just now given into my bra size.

Its just one more thing that I'd like to add to my list of things learned after college.