Then and Now

“Julie, you don’t even look like the picture on our wall anymore!” Kim would tell me every so often.

“Yeah, yeah. Sure, sure.”  I would think to myself.

I couldn’t see a difference between then and now.

She is a photographer (http://kimfreemanphotography.com/)  so I recently relented and let her update my photos.

There are 5 years between these photo shoots.

As I was prepping for this blog, I saw it for the first time.

My size has changed. But in many ways, I have not.

then and now 1

I was happy then. I am happy Now.then and now 2

I felt beautiful then. I feel beautiful Now.

 

Julie 2016-26

I was loved then. I am loved Now.

Julie 2016-27.jpg

These are the things I need to remember when my focus on this journey switches to anything other than health and healing.

 

Olly, olly, oxen free.

I was writing about this is my notebook. Two days later my fairy GodFather, Seth Godin, posted this piercing piece.

WIN_20160111_141525

I like to hide, and… I’m pretty good at it.

I still remember my hiding spots on Delaware Drive, at Camp Ledgewood, at The Ranch and at almost every place I have worked.

I would hide close enough to hear what was going on, and stay away just far enough and long enough so that no one would find me.

Most times I had a book, or journal in hand. Reading and writing was is was is a great safe escape.

Sometimes it was just to get away and recharge. Sometimes it was for emotional and physical self-preservation.

Instead of going to recess in Elementary school, I volunteered in the Special Ed classes. I was hiding from the bullies, and helping someone else. Win-win, right?

Instead of going to lunch during my high school years, I had special permission to take extra classes during those time slots.

Instead of taking gym class during the regular school year, I took it during summer school.

Instead of playing the role I auditioned for, and got, in the musical. I dropped out and joined the crew instead.

Instead of taking opportunities in my career, I took the safer route.

I could go on and on.

Those moments have, for better and worse, made me who I am today.

So, still I try to disappear. I deactivate Facebook. I stop writing. (Well, I stop publishing my writing.)

The same childish behavior continues. I must say though, my reading has matured from Beverly Cleary to Brené Brown.

But, I have found a tribe, or you have found me, and hiding is no longer tolerated, even by my conscience.

For the first time I am realizing that the voices of my tribe are louder and more loving than the voices in my memories.

Over and over and over again the resounding message is now:

“Olly, olly, oxen free. Come out, Come out, where ever you are.”

I am close enough that I can hear it even when it is a gentle whisper. I am strong enough that I can handle it when it is said sternly and lovingly.

I’m peeking out from behind the walls I’ve built.

I’m scared. (No, I don’t know exactly what I am scared of.)

I need you. (No, I don’t know exactly what I need.)

But I do know that I am finally pressing in, and refusing to hide out.

With my tribe, I cry:

“Olly, olly, oxen free. Come out, Come out, where ever you are.”

Acceptance

“Your levels on all of your tests are great, you are strong and muscular…..I’m sure you don’t want to hear this from me.”

My nutritionist said, “Me, weighing all of 128 pounds.”

She continued.

“You are happy, you are healthy, and there are worse things in life than weighing 230 pounds. ”

The look on my face must have said it all.

“Your only stress right now is this number on a scale. Your body can’t differentiate stress be it financial, relational, or physical. Your adrenals can not heal when it is under stress, and you can not lose weight when your adrenals are blown. This is going to be a long and slow process, months if not years. You need to work on acceptance – you have done everything in your control to “fix this” – but you need to stop seeing it as broken. You are happy – you are healthy. That’s more than I can say about most of our patients.”

I curtly replied with an insincere smile – and an “Okay!”.

I didn’t want a pep talk  (and still don’t). It’s not that she wasn’t right, or that I disagree with what she was saying. I wanted to know what I was missing. What I was doing wrong so I could fix it. So I could be thinner and smaller and under 200 pounds for the first time since middle school.

Acceptance.

No eggs, or wheat, or dairy, or grains, or beans, or coffee, or spin class, or boxing or or or…… and no normal jeans or lower numbers on the scale!?!?!

Acceptance.

Danne was not amused. “So you had to pay someone to tell you what I have been saying for 10 years? I should get a copay!”

My dad was amused and, actually found it humorous {which infuriated me}.  He also has been speaking truth about Acceptance into my life. We have had many conversations about this, especially over the last 3 years.

“Page 417 {The AA Big Book} Honey! Acceptance!” he said laughing.

Acceptance is the answer to ALL of my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation- some fact of my life- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept my life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

I read this several times a day.

I still have temper tantrums and pity parties.

I am learning to love the journey – but then I am learning to acknowledge that the journey is not to a destination of a certain number on the labels or a scale.

I’m letting go of the idea that I am entitled to what I want because of everything I am doing to deserve it.

I have kept up with all of the diet recommendations and exercise not because it will make me smaller, but because it is the best thing for me.

Because I am happy, and healthy, and want to stay that way.

Acceptance.

Emotional Whiplash

I know we are supposed to “Celebrate with those who celebrate, and mourn with those who mourn!”

But both on the same day, is more than a tad bit much. At least for a feeler like me.

The Saturday started at a delightful birthday party for twin one year olds. It was beautiful – it was as if the Pinterest Gods descended to earth and bestowed every adorable Dr. Seuss detail to this happy home. Friends and family gathered.  It was a full celebration of the life of these two precious babies.

As it should have been. It wasn’t always this way.

Their story began long before their birth.

My friendship grew with their mother over many months, and many tears. She was told by the professionals that infertility had won, that there was no hope for her to birth her own children. If she chose Invitro, and more than one child implanted, she would have to have a “selective reduction”. The thought of this tormented her. I remember her shaking as she was explaining it all to me. Her body was weak, pregnancy could kill her. Before she was faced with any of those decisions, she became pregnant, naturally – with twins. The pregnancy was long, and hard on her body. But she never lost hope, she never lost her joy.

A year later we gathered – and we celebrated.

My stay was short. The birthday party started at noon, the funeral started at one.

I drove from the gated community into the inner city.

The day had appropriately turned grey.

I arrived to the tiny church and was “greeted” by a group of armed policemen. I sat in the back pew. I listened and prayed as some wailed and screamed as they approached the open casket. Some mourned silently in their seats as tears rolled down from their eyes down past their chin.

A young man sat next to me, stoically, reeking of weed. I rubbed his back as his legs started to shake and he hid his head between them as he silently wept. He sat back up, as stoic as he started. No evidence of the tears.

The church was filled with friends and family.

As it should have been. It wasn’t always this way.

Johnny should not be dead. 

Everyone keeps saying Johnny was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Dammit, stop saying that!

That place was a street, in his neighborhood, where he called home.

And the time, was the middle of the day.

Reports said that he and his boys had just walked up to the corner store to get ice cups. As I’m sure they had done hundreds of times before. There was a shooting. Two injured, two dead.

I knew Johnny from when I worked at Urban Youth Impact. Johnny was not perfect, no one is claiming that he was, but God he was different. His smile lit up a room. When I saw him a few weeks before his murder, he was so excited to tell me he had graduated high school and was enlisting in the service. He was actively working to end the violence that made him a statistic in one of West Palm Beach’s bloodiest summers.

Four city commissioners silently stood in the back of the church – one was unexpectedly called out by the pastor to speak. He had met Johnny at a meeting held by Inner City Innovators. Because of that meeting, Johnny is no longer just a statistic. He is a face, and a name, and a contagious smiled that I pray stays engraved on the minds of the commissioners as they shape our city.

His story will continue long after his death.

This blog has been brewing for almost a month.

I am still feeling faint pangs from the emotional whiplash of that day.

“Celebrate with those who celebrate, and mourn with those who mourn!”

Sadness that turned to joy. And we celebrated.

Joy that turned to sadness. And we mourned.

Back and forth and back again.

And this is life.

Facebook. Not Normal. Code Red.

I am sure that there are normal people out there who can check Facebook once a day, and not have it emotionally affect them, but I am not once of those people.

As frustrating as it is, as much as I resent facades and overly convenient “connection”, I am always on Facebook. Always.

I refresh my newsfeed when I wake up.

I refresh my newsfeed when I am at work.

I refresh my newsfeed when I am at red lights.

I refresh my newsfeed before I go to bed.

I refresh my newsfeed when I get up to go potty in the middle of the night. (Only sometimes, gosh.)

I mentioned it above – I am not one of those normal people who can just see something and carry on.

I get bothered, really bothered, because of things I see on Facebook.

I get so bothered I cry, really cry, because of things I see on Facebook.

I got in a heated argument, with a stranger, back and forth for 3 days , because of things I saw on Facebook.

Not normal.

As the Not normal escalated within me, 3 weeks ago I hit code red.

even

pc: @melissa_hartwig

I think it was the moment that there was more reaction on my newsfeed to Cecil the Lion than to Sandra Bland, or the fact that I had recently found out about deaths, miscarriages, pregnancies…through Facebook.

All of this was flurried within posts that included: another selfie,  ItWorks Wraps sales pitches,  “Please pray for my cat!”, and quizzes that answer the most important-est questions like “What Disney Princess Would You Be?”.

Not normal.

All. Of. This. Information, all in a refresh of the newsfeed.

So I strove to control what came up on my newsfeed.

Hiding people from showing up was an option for awhile.

I mean, I can’t just go unfriending everyone. Who does that?

Finally… I didn’t have to be exposed to what I deemed as nonsense, racism, ignorance and narcissism.

But how many people did I have to hide before I starting asking myself “Who are these flipping people, and why am I surrounded by them?”

And then there is my own Facebook page that bothers me. Please feel free to just whisper with me when you see a period or a question mark:  Not normal,  Not normal,  Not normal.

I am constantly scripting so that I am honest, but not a Debbie Downer, encouraging, but not annoying.

Did I like that in an appropriate amount of time?

Who did I tag in this status and why, and why wasn’t I tagged in that status/picture that was just taken?

Was that too arrogant, was this too self deprecating?   

Should I post a selfie or another sunrise?  

Should I check-in?  

Who was in my last profile picture?

Should I cuss because I really want to let you know all the flips I don’t give? {No, don’t cuss, the kids may be reading over mom’s shoulder.}

Jayne

Why did I just take another quiz?

Oh! this playbuzz quiz said that I am  Jayne Mansfield.

These descriptions are so right on . I love bubble baths….

I wonder what algorithm playbuzz used to determine this.

Should I share a screen shot?

OMG, who cares?

Not normal.

Julie, post something that someone will care about. Something that will make someone  think.

I post about my sparkly Sperry’s, 30 “likes” in as many minutes. I post about Social Injustice… Crickets.

 Not normal.

One day I posted about confederate flags and swastikas, preceded by a post about how I was buying another batch of glitter. Because all of those things were happening in my mind at those moments. And I felt the need to post them both.

Glitter was the engaged conversation.

Not normal Code Red was reached. Severe Sensory Overload. I Literally Can’t Even.

So I deactivated.

I lasted about a month until I realized that you wouldn’t even know that I wrote about this, until I share it on Facebook.

How can it be liked, and shared, and…….Not normal..

What happens when 1 + 1 ≠ 2

What happens when 1 + 1 ≠ 2?

Eating right + Exercise = thin and healthy

Right? Not so much.

Eating right + Exercise ≠  thin and healthy

Thin ≠ healthy.

Thin ≠ eating right.

Thin ≠ active or strong.

Fat ≠ unhealthy.

Fat ≠ eating wrong .

Fat ≠ lazy or weak.

In my mind, I know all of this is truth.

In my heart, 1 + 1 = 2. And if I eat “better”, and exercise “more” then I will be thinner.

By two different doctors I have been told that I have to eat more and exercise less.

Eat more?!? calories, eat more fats, eat more salt, and even eat more carbs.

Exercise less?!? do not incite the “fight or flight” response within your body.  HIIT Cardio only twice a week, no more than 20 minutes, no Spinning. Strength Training only twice a week, no Crossfit style, and absolutely no boxing. Yoga twice a week – or more.

The doctors are glad I am so healthy, and seemingly couldn’t care less that I have not lost a pound in 7 months, or that I am still hovering over the 200 mark.

The problem is not just in the structure of my equation – it is in the solution that I am trying to achieve.

Thin ≠ lovable.

Thin ≠ pretty.

Thin ≠ wanted.

Fat ≠ unlovable.

Fat ≠ ugly.

Fat ≠ unwanted.

In my mind, and truly in my heart I know all of this is truth.

And in all honesty, I still want healthy = thin.

I know why….

I know why.

I know why writers drink, and I know why writers write .

We drink because the glass says:
“..just. One. More. Sip. and you’ll fall asleep and you won’t feel a thing.”

Oh the lie of the glass”.. just. One. More. Sip.”

And thoughts that haven’t been thought in years flood the mind.
“..just. One. More. Sip.”

We write because the pen chimes in:
“Get it out.
Now.
Write it down.
Write it.
Now.
Someone else feels it. (You are not alone.)
Someone else thinks it. (You are not alone.)”

And the conversation becomes between the pen and the glass and the drunken vessel…just.

“..just. One. More. Sip.”
Alone.