Resolutions of 2012 (and what I learned from 2011)

Move forward or get stuck in the past

Choose, but choose wisely.

It is always something I enjoy doing – making my resolutions.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Resolutions are goals.  People who are like, “I don’t make resolutions ’cause it’s stupid” are likely to be the people with no aim or direction.  They probably float through life, accidental like, waiting for things to happen, rather than making them happen on their own.  I take issue with those people.  Now, conversely, if you’re the person who is constantly setting goals and re-evaluating them, then the prior statement doesn’t apply to you.

I’m not a fan of the cop-out resolutions.  Without defining, clearly, what your commitment is to, it’s easy to let them slip away.  If you go with the ones that are often broken (weight-loss, less debt, more family time, etc), you’ll find that you will have lost sight of them by March.  Because life happens and it’s easy to get off track.  Not that those goals aren’t worthy and/or easy.  They are *very* important and often difficult to achieve.  But, I guess I’m a bigger fan of goals that go deeper than that.

When I made my 2011 goals, my life was in a decidedly different place.  I stuck with many of my resolutions, but not all.  I’m okay with that.

I learned a lot from 2011.  I learned that things can change slowly, but you often realize the gravity of those changes all at once.  I learned that emotions that are bottled up for too long will find a way out.  I learned that my strength is a sleeping giant, but it will prevail.  I learned that, without direction, I am lost.  I learned that no one will speak better for me than I can.

So for 2012, here are some of the big ones:

  • I need to keep an outlet for my emotions.  A person or activity or both.  I need a place to vent, and I need an activity to safely process my emotions.  Currently, I have those.  I need to remember to use them and not feel weak when I do.
  • I will continue to focus on my physical health.  Not to lose weight, per se.  But to keep my body healthy by keeping my mind engaged.  I lost about 20 lbs in 2012.  And I did it through active participation from my mind.  I will keep that focus.
  • I will speak up when I have a concern.  But when I do, I will be insightful and kind.  It does no good to be hurtful.  I generally don’t do that, when I do say something.  But I find that the first step is speaking up.  I will speak up more often.
  • I will read more.  I read a lot during 2011, but I want to read even more in 2012.  It helps my subconscious process things while I escape.  Plus, it makes me a better writer.  Can’t argue with that.
  • I will be featured by WordPress at least once as a featured writer.  So, you hear that, WordPress peeps?  Pay attention to me, please!  I have stuff worth saying (most of the time).
  • I will be off meds by the end of the year.  So long as I am ready, at least.  I don’t want to take myself off them before I’m ready, but I will take the steps to try to be ready to do that.  Meds weren’t ever a long-term solution.  And although I am much more comfortable with my choice, now (thanks to my very dear friend who helped me through the decision), I don’t want it to be a forever thing.
  • BFF #1 and I will go blazing at least four times this year.  I value that time, so much.  And it gives us both an opportunity to express ourselves creatively.  That’s a good thing.  Plus, I got some kick-ass photographs this year.  I want that to happen again.

I have some others, but these were the biggies.  I have one more, though.  It’s one of the most important, I think:

  • I will take care of myself.  My mind, my body, my soul.  I will reward myself with things that make me happy without guilt and shame.  I will enjoy myself, and being in my own skin.
    I am a worthy person.  I know this, deep down in the cockles of my heart.  But I will practice it, in 2012.

What are your goals?  Do you make them?  If not, why?  And if so, what are some of them?

I hope you all have a wonderful, safe and exciting New Years celebration.  Don’t drink and drive, and move forward into a new year with love and determination to be the best person you can be.

I’ll end 2011 with a quote from my favorite movie, of all time: Forrest Gump.

“Don’t you just love New Years? It’s like you get to start over.  …..Everyone deserves a second chance.”

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Taking stock in 2011

I’m still sick. Remember in the comments of a recent post when I told El Guapo that I didn’t get grouchy…. I lied. I do. And as of yesterday I hit the grouchy point. Tired, voiceless, coughing, whiny, forced to be couch-ridden… I hate it. Being forced to stay home makes me feel totally useless.

It’s official: I have bronchitis. I also have laryngitis. I also have a sinus infection. I also fell off the exam table *in* the doctor’s office and sprained my wrist. Yup… Life is pretty damn fantastic. So I took the day off work (against my will… although I did work for two hours BEFORE the appointment at the doctor). Went to get my meds filled. Bought way too much to eat because I just wanted to feel better. Went home. Ate the aforementioned food (which included, but isn’t limited to: tomato bisque, grilled two-cheese sandwich, cupcake, hot cocoa, snowman shaped marshmallows) (oh…and a rib roast….but the rib roast is for later). Made my cocoa, in my favorite cup, with the snowman accompaniment. It was fantastic. The best part of yesterday. Almost. I was alone at home, but I had good company. That was the highlight of the day.

Tasty Cocoa

Hot Cocoa in the BEST cup! Ever. Ever in the history of ever.

Slept. Slept. Slept. Watched Ally McBeal. Slept. Woke up today, still felt bad, couldn’t speak. “Called” in (it was a pathetic conversation). Slept. Watched Ally McBeal (Season 2!!). Slept. Heard this quote and it moved me to write this post.

“If you think back, and replay your year – if it doesn’t bring you tears of joy or sadness, consider the year wasted.” ~John “the Biscuit” Cage

I looked back at my 2011. Yeah. There are tears. Some joy. Some sadness. I couldn’t tell you the mixture… I don’t even know that I would want to know if it was 50/50. 30/70. 80/20. It wouldn’t matter anyway. Instead, I’ll tell you it’s been a phenomenal year. For good reasons and for not so good reasons. I want to summarize the year by telling you what I’ve learned, in no particular order.

  • We teach people how we want to be treated. As I was telling my BFF, yesterday, I’ve known that for a long time. But I didn’t learn it until this year.
  • Work is what we do, but it isn’t who we are. Being who we are is who we are. That may seem redundant. But it’s not. Trust me. If you are nodding your head, you get it.
  • I am full of very many talents. I still haven’t decided how to use them in a way that pays the bills and makes me happy. I’m not sure if there’s a way.
  • Patience is a virtue. It’s a virtue I suck at. I don’t know that I’ll ever change that.
  • Love is thrilling. It’s also destructive. If you don’t love yourself enough, you’ll never know when you cross the line between the two.
  • I wanted to learn to raise one eyebrow at a time by the end of the year. I think it adds character. I haven’t learned that.
  • I did learn how to move my ears when I smile. When I smile a genuine smile, my ears move. *That* adds character.

    If you could see yourself, just for a day, you'd see how everyone else sees you. And my God, you are fucking beautiful.

    My BFF is *awesome*!

  • My loved ones know my heart. And today I got this in the mail from BFF#1 and it brought me to tears. “If you could see yourself, just for a day, you’d see how everyone else sees you. And my God, you are fucking beautiful.”
  • There are angels all around us. Open your eyes to them and they can help guide you.
  • I don’t always know best. I need to do a better job of considering the advice that my loved ones offer. They have a better view of what’s happening, sometimes.

Finally….a biggie:

  • I will be okay. Despite the struggle, the good days will return more often. The bad days will come around less. And I will survive. Because I’m good at that.

Next week I’ll do a review of my resolutions for 2011. And then make the 2012 goals. I’m really excited about that. But it was worth taking stock of this year before I did that.

Why it’s fun to make my kid cry

To start, I’m still sick.  I’m beginning to suspect bronchitis.  BFF #1 has it, and it’s possible that I got the bug from her before she knew she had it.  I got a little better for a couple of days, but I feel worse than I did before, now.  Plus, no voice, again.  I did, however, make it to the Christmas party in my bad-ass steel-gray dress (because I was so freakin’ medicated that I could have bled pseudoephedrine).  And I looked good.  So there’s that.  Yay.  Today?  Sucking.  Whatever.  It’ll pass soon enough.

With Christmas rapidly approaching (I really should put the Christmas Tree up already), I was thinking about some of our holiday traditions and how they came about.  Here they are, in no particular order (plus the reason why we do it):

  • Frozen Pizza on Christmas Eve
    We started doing this after many years of Christmas Eve dinner with my in-laws.  They are very nice and well-meaning, but their food is gross.  Not even kidding, none of us ever really enjoyed the meal.  So, one night after the meal, we stopped at a grocery store and picked up a frozen pizza for each of us.  Later that night, we realized that we loved it because each of us got what we wanted (I am a veggie pizza girl, the kiddo likes cheese, and the hubs loves meat).
  • No family on Christmas Day
    It’s just a rule.  Keeps me from murdering them.
  • Chinese Food on Christmas Day
    One year we were so broke that we took the Christmas money we got from the In-Laws and went to the cheapest chinese food restaurant that was open so we had at least something to eat on Christmas Day.  The next year, we did it for fun.  Now we do it for tradition.

Lastly, one of the biggest traditions is one that will make me laugh forever: torturing my daughter with Dora the Explorer.

Dora the Explorer / Courtesy Nickelodeon

Christmas Dora / Nickelodeon

When my daughter (now 16 and a half years old) was only 7, we would put Dora the Explorer on TV and tease her by saying we knew how much she loved it.  She would get all haughty and stomp out of the room.  All of the sudden, we had an instant child remover!  We could put it on, at any time, and she would run out of the room.  (For the record, we’ve probably watched most of the episodes of Dora.  It works to this day!)  Because of this strong aversion, I started buying cheap Dora-themed items and giving them to her for random holidays.  Christmas, Birthdays, even Easter, once.

When she was 9, I started harping on the Dora thing about two weeks before the holiday.  By December 22nd, I had her convinced that not only did *we* get her Dora stuff, but so did her Papa.  On the 23rd, everything came to a head.

Her: So… when will be taking the presents back so I can get the stuff I want.
Me: *gasp* (giving her a stern look) Not until after Christmas!  There’s no time now!  And there’s like, 4 feet of snow on the ground.  I’m not going to tell Papa to go to the store now!
Her: Mom! (and she gets really upset now)  But it’s all Dora stuff!
Me:  I don’t care.  You need to be gracious, even if you don’t like it!  You don’t want to hurt his feelings do you?
Her: (crying now)  But…mom?
Me: Knock it off.  Be graceful, not a spoiled brat!

I know… I’m cruel.  She left the room bawling and I was giggling.  The hubs scolded me and told me that I was being mean.  So I ended up going into her room and calming her down and telling her I was kidding and Papa didn’t get her Dora stuff.  She settled down and I was bummed because I was really enjoying myself.  I get it though.  It’s not nice to scar the child.

She learned a few things, though.  She learned that no matter what, she should be gracious about gifts.  Even when it’s not the thing she wants, it’s the thought that counts.  We used to have a little trouble with her, when she was young, with being kind and polite in challenging circumstances.  One thing I won’t ever tolerate is a spoiled child, so this taught her something.

I did get the last laugh, though.  The very first gift she opened on Christmas Day?  Dora Bubble Bath.  Yeah…her facial expression was priceless. I winked, and she got the joke.  But ever since then, we have that.  I told her that I’ll give her Dora panties when she gets married.  And the great thing is she knows I will.

That’s love.

Who is in my head?

**Side note: I’ve started a Facebook site for theflameinside, and I’d love it if you connected with me there. That makes it easier to share with your friends, if you find a post that is particularly moving for you. Or just to hear some of the other news I’ve got that isn’t necessarily blog worthy. Check it out here!

I have found myself hearing the things I say to myself in an acute, very sensitive way. And I’ve come to a few conclusions:

  • Very few of the tapes that play in my head are actually *mine*. Often, they are other people who have said things that have stuck.

    Useless tapes we play

    Courtesy of graur razvan ionut

  • Most of the time, they don’t even make sense!
  • The person who did say it has bigger issues than I do.

Here are a few examples that fit the bill:

  • “You’re too heavy to cut your hair to your shoulders. It’ll make you look fat.” (Um….wrong. I know a few beautiful ladies who are heavier who have short hair.)
  • “You’re stupid.” (This couldn’t be more wrong. I won’t even give credence to the statement by explaining why.)

There are a few others, though, that I’ve heard in my years that stick with me. Even though they weren’t said with malice or intent. Here are two that I hear that have actually done me some good:

  • “When you run, it sounds like elephant footsteps.” (Thanks, BFF#1 – I think of it every time I run, but it forces me to shorten my stride and run with better form. And yes…every time we run the Runnin’ of the Green, I will remind you. ‘Cause it’s funny!)
  • “You can’t do that.” (I realize this is a general phrase I’ve heard a lot over the years, but it’s part of what drives me to do anything.)

This story is about those two phrases. I’m not sure if I’ve told the story before, so if I have, bear with me as I tell it again. If not, then you’re in for a heartwarming and amusing tale of foolishness.

BFF#1 told me that me feet sounded like elephant footsteps the very first time we ever ran together. I weighed about 198 lbs, and had never run (on purpose) in my life. She called me on Friday and said she’d be running the very popular Bolder Boulder (a challenging 10K race), and asked if I wanted to do it with her. I did. Sounded fun (I would come to regret that!).

So there we were. About 1/2 K into the 10K. Amongst the other 1000’s of runners were the unmistakable “whap-whap-whap” sounds of my heavy feet. (Insert her comment here.) Now… at the time I was a little mortified. All I could think of were the awful various “you’re-a-fat-girl” random tapes that I could so easily cue up. But, I did it. I performed horribly. 10K took me 1:40 to do. And I suffered for days afterward and thought, “What the heck was I thinking? I’m not a runner!”

Now, insert the other comment here: “You can’t do that.” I was determined to prove whoever it was in my head wrong. Yeah…I can. And I so I did. I started running. Small runs, at first. 2 miles here and there. Then a little more. And then a little more. And the next year, I ran that same 10K in 1:10. A full 30 minutes less. And then, I was hooked. I started running more and more and more.

The next year I really wanted to do the Colfax Half-Marathon (which is 13.2 miles). But I was a little short on cash and felt a little weird about it because, despite the fact that I could and had run longer distances, that tape played over and over. “You can’t do that.” The week before the event, BFF#1 calls and says she’s running the event as part of a relay team with the people she works with.
**Side note: I love BFF#1. She is one of two people who have known me, inside and out, good and bad, dark and bright, and loves me anyway. Nothing (and I repeat *nothing*) has ever happened between us with the intent of hurting the other. But that being said, there is an unspoken competitiveness between us. It’s a good thing. It always pushes us further and challenges us to be better people. I’m grateful for her every day.
But…all of that loveliness aside, I was like, “Oh hell no! You’re not running that event if don’t!” So I managed to come up with enough for the registration and there I was – ready to run the entire distance, alone.

There was a cool satisfaction I had; sort of an empowered state of mind. I *could* run it and now, I was going to.

Imagine my surprise when I get the call from her, the Friday before the event, and hear these words: “We’re not running it. One of the guys on our team is injured.” Wait…..WHAT?!? She was gracious, as she always is, and offered to take me to the start line. The hubs would meet me at the finish to get me home. For the next two days I lamented my stupid need to be competitive and felt like an idiot because now I was going to torture myself for 13.1 miles…and for what? For the glory of knowing I was a “real runner”?

Race day arrived. My BFF picked me up and drove me. I expressed my uncertainty at the distance. I was nervous. But, being the amazing friend she is, she just encouraged me and made me feel better. She dropped me off and I stood there, looking at all of the other runners and still had that nagging need to come clean to her. So I called. The conversation went something like this:

me: (ring ring)
her: Hey! Is everything okay?
me: Yeah….no. I’m still nervous. And I have a confession. (sigh) I was upset because you were running the relay so I signed up for the whole half-distance so I could prove that I wasn’t a loser and then you aren’t running it and now the joke’s on me because I will be kicking my own ass for the next 13 miles while you go home and relax and I’m stupid!
her: (quietly) …I know that’s why you did it.
me: I’m sorry.
her: It’s okay. I’m glad that it helped you push yourself to do something that is uncomfortable. You’ll do fine. I know you’ll do great.

And so I did it. I went out, ran 13 miles through old neighborhoods full of memories and with the support and encouragement of the people who loved me and believed in my success. And yeah…. at about mile 12 I was in pain and regretting every stupid step that took me from the start line to where I was. But after crossing the finish line I was overwhelmed with so much pride that I cried. I still have my finisher’s medal hanging in my office. It is a reminder of what I can do if I put my mind to it. (I also did the same event with BFF#1 the next year.)

This is the moral of the story: most of the tapes we play for ourselves are played when we’re facing adversity. And that’s when it’s easiest to believe. Pay attention to what you say to yourself when the chips are down. And refuse that voice admission into your choices. Some of your tapes, like mine, can be motivating. But others are destructive. What are you playing for yourself and it is suiting you? If not, destroy that tape. Replace it with something else.

I’ll give you one: “If you can control it, you can do whatever you put your mind and heart to. I believe in your power.”

And you can quote me on that.

Why it’s the little things that matter

I’d be lying if I said that since the meds everything has been smooth sailing. In case anyone stumbled onto this blog because they’re looking for info on what they’re taking or interested in taking, I’m taking Celexa for anxiety. I take one 20mg pill every day. I also have Xanax, which I use irregularly to help cope when I’m feeling really overwhelmed.

It’s been a month. I officially started my second month today. It hasn’t been easy. So if you’re looking at this and thinking that the pill will make your life better right away, it probably won’t. That’s not to say that I haven’t noticed changes in the last month. I have. And it’s been a good thing, overall. Before the meds, I was regularly having total, very public, meltdowns at work. I’ve managed to control my frustrations since. I still get frustrated. I still have my moments. That’s what the Xanax is for. And yeah… I’ve taken one here and there. It helps.

My BFF said, “It doesn’t make sadness and anger and disappointment and frustration go away. It just makes it easier to deal with.” Yup. That’s exactly right.

I’m acutely aware of the triggers. I’m also very in tune with what my body does to signal me before I get to my breaking point. I have a safe place I can manage these moments in, and that makes all the difference. Just knowing I can say, “I’m feeling bad today” or “I feel crazy” without judgement or babysitting. I’m having very off days. And a lot of them. I am having physical manifestations of anxiety: autonomous deep breathing, jaw clenching… things like that. Things that I very well may have been doing *before* the meds, and now I’m just aware of them. It’s hard. This is hard. Because I feel totally outside of myself. I don’t like that feeling.

People can say the stupidest things. “Just get over it.” “Happiness is a choice.” “It’s all in your head.” And you know what? They don’t make it easier. Don’t think, for one second, I haven’t said, “Just choose to be happy. This is all in your imagination.” Reality steps in, though, and I’m reminded that this is bigger than “choice.”

It’s the little things that get me. Big stuff? I got that. Maybe it’s because we’re hard-wired to manage the big things that hit. But the little things creep in and before you know it, they’ve rooted in and taken over.

It got me thinking about what triggers me. And I have a few things, off the top of my head, that I see are sparking those feelings. But…. I’ve also decided that I’m not going to share most of them here, with the exception of this one thing: Seeing the issues/non-issues in other’s lives get me. When I read about someone who has been triggered to eat dysfunctionally, it makes me question my own habits and then I’m back to them. Conversely, when I read or talk with someone who’s like, “Yeah, life is super wonderful and everything’s great and I’m so happy.” That does it, too. And not because misery loves company. I don’t want everyone to feel like I do. God! What a horrible, sad world this would be! No, it’s not that. Instead, it becomes a comparison game. “Why is she/he/they/everyone so fucking happy and I’m stuck in a hole that is slowly collapsing on me every day?” It isn’t that they are happy. It’s that I’ve taken to comparing myself to everyone in an effort to identify with anything that may feel normal.

On the flip side… you know what’s really saving my ass? The little things. I know, right? Funny how that works.

  • Skinny Peppermint Mocha Latte – that makes me happy.
  • BFF #1 time. Heart.
  • My safe place, which is literally saving me from totally losing my mind.
  • Writing. A little. A lot. Whatever. About anything.
  • Music.
  • A kind word. (Pay it forward…. say something nice to someone today.)
  • Fleece sheets.
  • A hug.

They’re keeping me going. They are giving me hope and strength.

This is about to ramble for a minute. Stick with me, here, folks. If any of you have ever driven in fog, or walked in fog, while it can be beautiful, it can also be quite confusing. You see, when there’s no fog, you know you’re on the right path/road because you can *see* the landmarks that tell you where you are. Without those landmarks identifying your progress, you’re left wondering where you are and how much further you have to go.

I don’t know where I’m at. I feel like I’m walking through a fog. I can’t see any sign of progress, because there are no landmarks to tell me how far along I am. And I don’t know how much further. So I lean, quite heavily, on any light to guide me. Often times, it’s a friendly voice, calling out to me. That voice is leading me. And thank God. Because I seem to have lost the cognizance to lead myself.

It’ll get better. The doc said give it another month. So I’m gonna. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime… if you are feeling the way I am, or have felt… know that you’re not alone. Be patient. Let the meds do their work. And build your support system for when things are tough. You will get better. I promise. In the meantime… just stay the course.

The merits of ketchup

You can go ahead and file this under the most random post of the day.  I needed a topic and one was graciously provided to me.  So… here….we…go!

First off… ketchup? Or catsup? Is there a difference?  I mean, is it like the difference between sweet potatoes and yams (and yes… there is a difference).  Who cares, though, I suppose.  For the purposes of this blog, I say ketchup.  And I say it just like it sounds (ket-chup), although I realize that people say it all sorts of ways.  They’re wrong.  There.  I said it.

I’ve been infatuated with ketchup for as long as I can remember.  To be completely honest… my mom made a few things very well.  Everything else was mediocre.  And we were poor.  So guess what you always get through food banks?  Ketchup.  I put it on everything. And by everything, I mean absolutely everything.  I’m fairly certain that I didn’t develop taste buds until I was 20 years old.  Among the favorites that I would use ketchup on:

  1. Eggs (but really… who doesn’t do that?)
  2. Fries (duh)
  3. Fish Sticks
  4. Steak (oh yeah… I’m not kidding)
  5. Chicken.  Like, fried chicken.  Mmmmm….
  6. Rice (this really freaked out BFF #1 when I did that the first time.  She’s Japanese and I thought her head was going to roll off when I asked for ketchup)

But my very very very favorite?  Brace yourself….

Macaroni and cheese with ketchup

Holy moses.  You have no idea how much I love that.  My dad would also make something every now and then… he had a mexican name for it… I forget what it is now.  And so does he.  (He’s getting old, what can I say?)  But basically it would be ground beef and sliced potatoes fried in the beef fat, with some flour added to make it a little starchy.  Super. Duper. Ultra. Tasty.

But beyond the flavor, you can also use ketchup to shine copper pots and pans.  Been skunked?  Ketchup to the rescue!  Ladies who have chlorine damage can use ketchup to bring back the vitality and shine to their hair (I would just assume that while men can…they probably wouldn’t).  Not to mention… who hasn’t used ketchup in place of blood for a costume or on stage for a performance?  (For the record, I haven’t.  But I totally COULD!)

The only ketchup I never got behind was the colored kind.  Do you remember?  It was, like, green and purple.  It almost looked like poster paint.  It tasted the same, but something about smearing purple-ketchup-ish onto my hamburger was wrong.  Gross.

Although my tastes have improved and now I don’t use ketchup on everything, I still have my things.  I like messy food.  Yup.  I’m one of those.  Give me over-medium eggs, hashbrowns and ham and I will smother the whole damn thing in ketchup and mix it up like a breakfast casserole.

The merits of ketchup…. For me, it begins and ends with: It makes me happy.  And really?  Isn’t that all we want?

Playing the waiting game…

Update: The urgent move to today was moved back to Friday because doctors suck.  Seriously, if you give me an hour’s notice before you give away the appointment, why tell me at all?  And why say, “Because we’ve reviewed your case we need to see you sooner?”  And why *not* say, “If I don’t hear back from you in __ minutes, we’ll offer the appointment to someone else.”

I’m all a mess now.  Slept like shit.  I’m stressed beyond reason.  I’m worried.  Even though the BFF tells me not to worry, and gives a pretty good argument why I shouldn’t worry.  But, I worry nonetheless.

So, we wait.  Until Friday.  Again.  I’ll keep you updated.  Keep me in your thoughts. ❤