Saturday, February 20, 2016

Life is the mother of all eff you's

Life has a real way of sneaking up on you.  We most days wake up and give little regard to exactly how much time we have left in this life.  We just get up and get on with our day.  We give the occasional thought to when we might die or maybe how, but generally speaking I think we try very hard to not think about it.  Who wants to acknowledge how fragile and short life is?  Who wants to think about how quickly life can forever change, from one breath to the next?  Nobody likes thinking about how the death of a loved one will leave a sorrowful void in their lives.

Unfortunately, death is the one thing all of us who were born share in common.  We all die.  We begin dying the moment we begin living.  Ironic, no?

I've spent the last month trying to remember my words and force my thoughts into cohesive and coherent sentences.  This is the best I could come up with in a month.  Don't judge me.  I've also spent the last month eating girl scout cookies for dinner more times than I'd care to admit.  Don't judge me.

This last month we suffered a catastrophic loss.  My ex husband had been suffering from congestive heart failure for some months, we knew he wasn't well.  I can promise you that it still came as a complete and total shock when he suffered from a massive heart attack.  Or whatever they "think" it was.

Some days I wake up and for just a moment I forget he's gone.  So fucking cruel when reality bitch slaps me with the reminder.  I still expect to hear him walking through the door every day around 6pm.  Another bitch slap when I remember he'll never walk through the door again.

I've recently come to the realization that death (not to be confused with the act of dying, that shit CAN hurt!) is painful only to the living.  Once you're dead, you're pretty much never going to hurt again.  Your problems are over, no more.  No more suffering.  No more worrying.  No more heartache.  No, that gets transferred to those living that get left behind.

I've also learned that grief really does come in many different forms.  I was completely caught off guard by just how angry I was.  The anger hasn't completely abated, but it has greatly diminished over the last month.

I've spent the better part of the last month being angry.  At not just him.  Angry at myself.  Angry at the doctors.  Angry at myself.  Angry at the people trying to help me.  Angry at him. Angry at me.  Angry at world.

That first wave of grief was so powerful and so overwhelming.  For my kiddos, especially.  My poor baby girl hurts so bad, and there is little I can do to comfort her.  Her sobs are so painful to hear.  My heart breaks for her with each and every tear she sheds.

Denial is also a bit of a dick punch.  Even though you know they're gone, know know, you still hold out hope that it was some sort of cruel joke or hoax.  It's irrational, for sure, but it's a powerful feeling nonetheless.   I was still deep in my secret realm of denial at his memorial service.  I held onto that last flicker of hope until I received his death certificate.  My small flicker of hope was momentarily fueled when vital statistics still hadn't received his death notice, a two full weeks after his death.  Surely this meant he was still alive.  And then I was handed the death certificate.  And then I had a monumental breakdown in vital statistics.  Those poor folks must get that sort of thing a lot, because she seemed prepared for it.  Thus began a new wave of anger and tears.

Oh my dear God the tears.  You wouldn't think the human body could produce so many tears.  I'm surprised my kiddos and I didn't drown with how much we've cried.  Stock in Kleenex is definitely up this month.

Oh, and because anger can't travel alone, guilt rides bitch to anger.  *sigh*  Guilt is simply agonizing.  Truly

It's not been a fun trip.  Each day is a new adventure in remembering how to live.  Some days are good.  Some days are horrible.  Some days I wish I could stay in bed and just make the world stop and recognize the loss we're suffering and wait for us to catch up.

I still cry more than once a day, more often than not.  I sometimes yell when nobody is around.  I sometimes yell when everyone is around.  I remember something that happened 15 years ago and laugh uncontrollably.  I look at pictures and imagine I can hear his voice in my head.  I write.  I delete.  I rewrite.  I color.  I talk.  Like, a lot.  I avoid.  Like, a lot.  I fake smile.  More than I real smile.  Like, a lot.  I rely on others to distract me enough to get me through to my next sleep.  I listen to music and occasionally dance it out.  I spend a lot of time in my bed, curled up under the covers.  I hold my kids and smell their heads, like I did when they were babies.  I memorize their smells and their sounds and their faces.  I recognize now just how very precious that is.  I do my very best to just keep going and to keep propelling myself forward, always, never allowing myself to stand still for too long.  I make sure my kids are taken care of and have a shoulder to lean/cry on.  I don't exactly make it to the shower every single day, but I do make an effort to not let it get too bad.  I go outside and get enough adult interaction to remember that I hate adult interaction.  I get all some of my bills paid.  I've even gotten back to baking.  I actually cared enough to put deodorant on more days than I didn't.  You're welcome.  And I finally took down all my Christmas decorations (Ok, before you judge me for that, a LOT happened very shortly after the start of the year and, well...). 

Some days I feel like I'm handling this like a total rock star.  Some days I feel like I'm a total failure.  But, I do know that I'm doing my very best.

Death is hard, especially on the living.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fear is the mother of all eff you's

I've spent a good chunk of my life being afraid. Afraid of doing something. Afraid of feeling something. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid to trust someone. Afraid of something bad happening. I've spent far too much time being afraid of people. I've done a lot, a LOT to overcome some of my fears over the years. For the first time since ever, I was starting to trust myself more, and fear less. I don't ever want to go back to being the girl who spent so much time living in fear. I want to be the strong, brave person who faces each challenge with a fuck yeah attitude and a drive to finish on top.

I was getting there, slowly, but getting there.

But it occurs to me, sometimes fear is a healthy response. A healthy fear is what keeps us from doing stupid things like poking a rabid bear. My fear has certainly kept me a safe distance from rabid bears. But I've let my guard down. I've been too complacent and not been on the lookout for rabid bears.

Foolish foolish me.

My dad once told me that it's always easier to believe the worst about a person than it is to see the good in a person. He taught me we have to look past the things we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. Not everything is as it seems. That I shouldn't jump to assume the worst in a person. As a result, I tend to see only the good in people until it's too late and I end up getting hurt. 

Sometimes we see the truth we want to see. Sometimes it's easier to believe a lie, than it is the truth. Sometimes a lie is so convincing you just don't want to believe it can't possibly be anything but the truth.

My fear is always that I won't be believed. My life reads like a horror fiction novel. I don't believe most of the shit that's happened to me in my life. Who wakes up in their bed with a car three feet from their head? 

I know I'm damaged and impossible at times and argumentative. I'm far from perfect. I'm flawed and fucked up. Probably worse than most. I don't pretend to be anything less than I am. I've faced a lot, seen a lot, and done a lot. I've experienced things I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I've felt shunned and alone and carried the weight of the world on my shoulders. I've fought tooth and nail and lost a good many battle. I've failed and failed and failed some more. I've cried literal buckets. I've puked. I've wanted to quit and run away.  I've cried some more.

But I'm so much better now for those things. I've learned to fear rabid bears. I've learned that I can survive and thrive, even when it's darkest and coldest. I've learned that I can succeed, even after failing 934 times. I've learned to learn from my failures. Even if it means I keep failing. I've learned I'm strong enough to get up and keep going. I've learned I'm a bit of a whiner. But that's ok, I like cheese. I've learned that I'm a good person, even if I'm fucked up and flawed. I've learned I love to laugh, even if I don't do it as often as I'd like. I've leaned to forgive, even when the person isn't someone I want to know anymore. I've learned forgiving is more for me, than it is for them. I've learned that life is always going to be hard. Fighting to live each day isn't always easy. I've learned that it's mostly worth it. I've learned that each day is a new opportunity to live the life you want. I've learned that it's not always easy doing what's right for you. I've learned that sometimes people aren't always going to like where you're going in your life. I've learned it doesn't matter, because you need to be happy with your own life. I've learned how to be my own friend and how to like myself. I've learned that I am lovable.  I've learned to let myself love others.  I've learned to lean on my friends, even when I'm used to being the strong one.  I've learned to be humble.  I've learned I am worthy. I've learned that some fear is justifiable and acceptable and should be respected.

I've learned that life is hard, but still worth getting up and fighting for. I didn't start this weekend feeling that way. Some time to reflect and a little bit of clarity seem to have renewed my will. I don't need to be right. I don't need to be believed. I don't need to be justified.

I just need to get on with being. A friend recently saw me having a hard time at work. She asked me if there was anything I could do about it. I said no. She said then let it go. I think it's time I start heeding that advice. 

It's just not healthy to keep beating your head against a wall, expecting the wall to give way to your head...

Friday, August 7, 2015

Dying is the Mother of All Eff You's

I recently wrote about turning 40, and the real reason that scares the shit out of me.  I'm not so much scared of the number, as what it means.

I've had a hat trick of a year when it comes to losing loved ones, and the year is only 3/4 of the way done.  For me, that's a lot of loss.  Two of those deaths were younger than I am.  Two of those deaths were cancer.  I'd had something of a relationship with one.  I met two at work.  Worked with one.  Loved all three.  All three were kind, good souls.

I'm dreading losing more loved ones.  I'm terrified of dying.

There is only one true certainty in life ...death (if we're not counting taxes, 'cause let's face it, you can find ways around paying taxes).  We all die.  Every single one of us (except vampires, but we're going to exclude vampires for this portion of the discussion).  There's little we can do to avoid it.  At best we can only prolong it.

I recently had a thought, and it's been gnawing away at the back of my head for a minute now.  It's one that I think I really and truly need to have answered for me.  This is one for all my religious/faith driven peeps.

Barring some tragic circumstance, why do religious folk cry when a loved one dies???  I mean, if there is a God and a Heaven, why aren't we rejoicing that they're there and getting to kick it with J.C. and eternally happy???  It seems weird to me that we mourn so egregiously when we should be happy for them.  Obviously we're going to be sad for our loss and their absence in our lives, but if there is a Heaven and it's eternal and awesome, why do we ugly cry over the death of our loved ones???

Please don't think me unfeeling or uncaring, in any way.  Also, I'd greatly appreciate not being judged too harshly.  I have questions.  I'm having an existential thing.

I just, I want to know.  I want to understand and I want peace, and more than anything, I want to believe.  My faith has been nearly obliterated.  I've tried looking for it everywhere, but it's playing a cunning game of hide and seek with me.

Losing what once was a big part of you, sucks.  I want so badly to believe, but how do you believe in something when all logic and reason tell you to do otherwise???  I'm not one to just go through the motions, so going to church when I'm a doubting Debbie isn't going to help.  I know how to pray and talk to God, I'm not a total heathen, I just don't know what I believe these days.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Who am I???

I'm not often curious about what makes other people tick (people generally suck and the less I know about why they suck, the better off I'll be!), but I do often wonder about what makes me tick.  Like, why do I like mushrooms and okra and broccoli., but not asparagus or olives.  Why do I have a propensity to fall for tall, left handed men (this must be some weird subconscious thing I do)?  Why don't I appreciate jazz or basketball?  Why do I sleep better when there is someone else in my bed with me?  Why do I prefer to write over typing?  These are all burning questions I'd like to get to the bottom of.

I've had all manner of psychological test in my 40 years.  Yes, my mother tested me to see if I'm crazy.  Feel free to have fun with that one.

I'm not, by the way.  Or rather, I wasn't.  I guess I could be, now...

Anyway, I recently decided to see if the psychological tests you can find online are accurate.  I did a basic google search on psychological personality tests, and started from there.  Though I did sit and laugh at some of the results that popped up.  Some of the tests were labeled "are you stressed" or "are you neurotic."  Well, duh, I don't really need a test to tell me that.

The first test I took was The Big Five personality test on  Apparently I'm an extrovert (You are somewhat extroverted, preferring the company of others rather than spending time alone. Extroversion refers to an outward and interactive orientation. Extroverts are stimulated by being around others and are often considered gregarious or outgoing. People with this orientation usually have a lot of friends, and find it easy to interact with strangers. They tend to feel lonely and withdrawn when denied the company of others. When extroverts feel bad, low on energy, or stressed, they look outside themselves for relief. They might go shopping, call friends to come over, or arrange a party) and scored a 96% on openness.  I always think of myself as being introverted, I'm perfectly fine spending time with just myself, so being called an extrovert was a little surprising.  However, I am fairly open person, so this wasn't too huge of a shock for me.

The next test I took was on  This personality test, based on the Five Factor Model of personality, seems to agree with the first test about my extroversion.  I scored very high on extroversion, openness, and neuroticism.  These results told me that I have a lot of energy, have average friendliness, somewhere between well organized and sometimes distracted, I am more emotional than others, and I'm very open minded.  Okay, I can get on board with that.

Still not seeing myself as an extrovert, though.  I love being alone in my room with a good book or a movie.  I enjoy alone time!

Myers Briggs results
 Next I took a Myers Briggs type personality test, found on  I really found the results to be pretty interesting.  This one said that I could be either an introvert or an extravert.  Nice.  It also called me a feeler.  Seriously, I'm aware that I'm a jumble of feelings.  Not exactly news, but I did find the results to be fairly accurate and reflective of me.

Last I took a Keirsey Temperament Sorter.  I think this one may have surprised me most.  Here's what this one said:

"Idealists (NF), as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self -- always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.
Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the "not visible" or the "not yet" that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.
Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a "soulmate," someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.
Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers."

I guess I don't know as much about myself as I originally thought!  I still don't quite understand myself as much as I'd set out to, but still some interesting info!  So, what kind of person are you????

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice???

Throughout most of my childhood, I dreamed of my future children.  I wondered what they would look like, what their likes and dislikes would be, what their names would be, if they'd like me, if they'd like brussel sprouts (I HATE brussel sprouts, so I always thought it would be weird to have kids who actually did like them), if they'd be smart, what they'd grow up to be like...  I spent a lot of time contemplating my future hypothetical children.  And like most little girls, I imagined I'd have girls.  Why does it work out that most girls want girls, and most boys want boys???

I even practiced my mommy skills.  I dutifully cared for my stuffed animals and barbies.  I saw to their every need; I mended boo boos, bathed them (my mom was soooo less than thrilled at me washing my stuffed animals in the bathtub, then dripping water from the bathroom to my playroom, where I invariably seemed to leave the towels), fixed their hair/fur, fed them, read to them, did all the mommy things that needed to be done.  I even doctored them.  Growing up I had two uncles who were doctors and only too happy to send me care packages of doctorly things for me to play with.  My barbies and animals all got very regular care.  I performed all manor of medical procedures for them.  Mr. Badger's recovery from his hysterectomy was a little touch and go, but he pulled through just fine.

In short, by the time I got around to being a mommy, I was already an expert.

Except that I didn't end up with my imaginary hypothetical children.

My first born was a boy.  Despite the fact that I'd gone shopping for all manner of girl attire for him.  I'd bought countless dresses and pink, frilly blankets, little pink shoes, and hair doohickeys.  Then, of course, he turned out to be a he.  I wasn't at all bitter when I returned and exchanged all the girly stuff.  No matter, I'm pretty found of my son, anyway.

Next came my Hope.  Huzzah, a girl!  Only, I started to realize from a very early age that she wasn't like any little girl I'd ever met.  She's 16 now, and I've spent the last 15 years trying to remind her that's she's a girl.  This isn't at all how I imagined being a mother to a little girl was going to go.  First off, she repels all attire that bears any semblance to anything girly.  She likes playing in the mud.  She likes playing football (and has a rather impressive spiral!) and camping and fishing.  Admittedly she probably got those three from me, but that's not important.  She wrestled.  She wrestled rather well.  I was actually fairly impressed with her wrestling.  Until her wrestling career ended when her older brother broke her arm trying to wrestle her.  She has short hair.  No, no, she has short hair!  And its once naturally beautiful blond has been dyed black.  We met Julie Newmar at Comic Con a couple of years back and the lovely Ms. Newmar complimented Hope on her beautiful blond locks.  I died a little bit.  I love Julie Newmar.  Julie Newmar didn't comment on my hair.  Anyway, she dyed that lovely blond to black.  My imaginary child would have left the Julie Newmar complimented hair the fuck alone!

This isn't exactly the girl child I had imagined.  So, reality and the imagined expectation of reality aren't quite the same.  Shocking, right?

But, she's strong.  The kind of strength that must have been apparent when you met Rosa Parks or Joan of Arc.  She's so beautiful.  She's smart and quick witted.  She loves books and has an appreciation for all things musical and dramatic.  She wants to be an orthopedic surgeon.  She's ever so sassy.  She's good and compassionate and caring and empathetic.

These are things I definitely imagined my child would be.  I guess I can live with not being able to put her in a dress, in exchange for her being able to put to shame any boy with her throwing arm.

Next came another boy.  I was prepared for it this time.  I knew better than to even allow myself to believe I'd be the mother of two girls.  I'm pretty fond of this guy, too, so it worked out pretty well.

My last, my baby girl, was not at all what I was expecting.  For starters, I was entirely convinced she would be a boy.  I was so convinced she was going to be a boy that I made a bet of sorts with my then husband.  We made a deal that if she was a boy that I'd get to name her, but if she was a she, he'd get to name her.  I am no longer a betting person...

My Rosebud is something else.  She's scary mean when she's mad.  No, ha ha, she's really scary!  We're ALL pretty scared of her when she's mad.  She can whoop the snot out of my 16 year old, and she's only 11, and the 16 year old has about 50 pounds on her.  She's teeny tiny and has fists of fury.  She reminds me of Taz when she gets all worked up.  She doesn't like scarey movies.  She's probably the single messiest person in the house.  She has to be constantly reminded to brush her hair.  Like, multiple times a day.  She wants to be an actress when she grows up.  She's a bit of a hard core people pleaser.  Abignation hard core (if you get that, I love you).

However, my Rosebud is everything girly.  She's girly enough for both of my daughters.  She's girly enough for 10 average girls.  At least 10.  In fact, she's so girly that she actually might out girl me.  And that's really saying something.  My room looks like it belongs to a 12 year old girl.  Or Anne Shirley.  I actually have an Anne Shirley doll in my room.  She's one of my most prized possessions and I love her.  She sits on my dresser next to an old fashioned looking (girly) bear.  She keeps Anne company.

Sorry, I digress.

She's pretty damned girly.  If there was an award for being girly, she'd probably win it.  She loves pink.  And purple.  And nail polish and perfume and makeup and accessories and dresses.  She's also caring and compassionate and she's a helper.  She's gorgeous.  She loves to read and dance and sing and act.  She's as sharp as a tack.  She likes to do girly activities and she can be dainty.  She's very polite and sweet and can be quiet and demure.

I say "can be" because she's not always, she is part me, after all.

So I didn't exactly get the children I had imagined all those years ago, I still think I won the offspring jackpot.  I've seen/met some other people's kids, I could've done soooooo much worse!

Monday, July 27, 2015

My Book Bucket List

Growing up, my mother tried to expose me to as much of the world as possible.  I've been to plays, musicals, and live performances of all kinds.  I've been exposed to music of all kinds.  Dad loved all things old timey country music, which explains my love of Johnny Cash, while mom was a total Elvis and Streisand fan.  I've met all sorts of people.  We traveled a lot when I was a kid.  As a result I've visited 49 of the 50 states (Alaska remains the last state left to visit), been to the Bahamas, Canada, and Mexico.  I've seen and experienced quite a lot in my lifetime.

But for the most part, my worldly exploration would take place from the comfort of my own home, in the form of books.

While my parents wanted me to see and live as much as possible, they also wanted me to be able to visit these places without having to leave my own room.  My mom was usually only too happy to enable and feed my book addiction.  As a result, I was a pretty well read kid.  I liked everything from L.M. Montgomery to Stephen King.  I didn't (and still don't) have a favorite genre.  I'd read anything that was put in front of me.  I'd even go so far as to read the cereal boxes, since books weren't allowed at the table.  As a kid I was a smaller, female version of the character Henry Bemis from the Twilight Zone (btw, if you get that reference, you're tops in my book!).

My best friend, Tammi, and I have spent some time discussing things we'd like to read before we die.  A bucket list of books.  A booket list.  There are a lot of books that I'd love to read and I've been doing some research about what should be on my to do list.  I recently found a list of 100 books to read before you die, and I feel pretty good about it.  If I counted right, I've read 18 of the books on this list.  Not too shabby.  I've started a few and failed to finish (have any of  you ever tried to read a badly translated copy of Anna Karenina????), but didn't count those.  I like this list, it seems pretty well rounded.

What I really wanted to talk about are some of the books I've read that have influenced my life in some way and have found a permanent home on my book shelves, both the wooden variety and the cloud variety.

I've sort of separated them into three different stages of my life: when I was young (preteen), teen years through twenties, and my "grown up" years.

Those that most influenced my life as a child, and still haven't left me after all these years, include:

  • Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McClosky - just a truly beautiful children's book!  I still have a super old copy that was mine as a kid.  It's a much loved book!
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - this is quite possibly my most favorite book of all time.  I loved it as a kid, and I love it still today.  Every time I wanted to escape my horribly mean and unreasonable mother life, I found James and we escaped to the peach with Ladybug and Miss Spider.  Always a good read!
  • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks - I loved trying to anticipate what kind of trouble Omri was going to get into with his cupboard.  None of my cupboards were remarkable.  Not a single barbie was brought to life.  Ever.
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame - arguably my second favorite book of all time.  It's a contender for first, it was a close call.  I still have a stuffed badger doll (named Mr. Badger, of course).  I have an affinity for talking animals.  And also toads.
  • Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - I grew up in California near a little school house that always reminded me of Little House.  I wanted so badly to be Laura.  
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien - might be a close third.  I love this one so much that I've read it with all of my kiddos.  I remember reading it with my mom and just couldn't wait to read what happened next.  I was so worried that Timothy wouldn't make it.
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - what little girl didn't want to find a secret garden?!?!?  Mary seemed like a bit of a spoiled ass biotch, but c'mon, of course I wanted to go with her to find the garden!
  • Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery - oh Anne, Anne, Anne.  What's not to love about Anne Shirley???  I've read this book so many times I feel like I know Anne personally.  I think every girl ever should read this book.  So  much love for that carrot headed girl.
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls - another one I've read with all my kiddos.  This one calls forth a real range of emotions  Admittedly, the last time we read it, I had to keep pausing my reading so I could ugly cry.  We read it aloud and at the end, when Billy buries Old Dan and Little Ann loses her will to live...well, it wasn't pretty.
  • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - two sort of loners who create a beautifully imagined world to escape to...yeah, I could totes relate.
  • A Wrinkle in Time by  Madeleine L'Engle - this is really a remarkably well written children's sci-fi book.  I loved reading about Meg and the tesseract.

During my teens and twenties, these were the books that were making an impact:

  • Animal Farm by George Orwell - we are all pigs.
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding - I have never been terribly afraid of monsters or demons or ghosts or boogie men.  I fear humans.  This book here is a good example of why.
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - I've read this book so many times I have to buy new copies because the old ones fall apart.  I'm so in love with Katie Scarlett O'Hara.  She's so feisty and headstrong and stubborn and driven.  A woman who is used to getting her way.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I love visiting with Jem, Scout, Atticus and Boo Radley.  Such a great read!
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - "It is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done."  Might be my favorite line ever.  Probably not the easiest read, but so worth it!
  • Needful Things by Stephen King - this book just says so much about the human condition.  We are greedy and selfish and quite often very ugly.  Well done Mr. King, well done.
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - really a depressing read, but paints quite the picture about a time in history where life was hard and grim.  My grandmother once recounted to me her life during the depression.  Lots of hardship and struggle.
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - I still remember with vivid clarity the first time I read about the rather gruesome scene of the woman being hit by a car.  Loved Daisy. 
  • Cujo by Stephen King - this book terrified me.  I'm always afraid of being trapped in my car by a big rabid dog, anytime I go down a dirt driveway.  It's a silly irrational fear, I know.  But it's a fear I still have now.  Thank you Stephen King.

Now, as an adult, these are some of the books that I've loved most:

  • The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling - I'm so jealous of Harry.  The whole constantly fighting for his life thing aside, he led a pretty magical life!
  • Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley - like I previously stated, I love Katie Scarlett.  I just had to read (and re read) this book.  Not quite as Margaret Mitchell as Margaret Mitchell, but it'll do.
  • Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I love these two books.  I took British Literature in high school and that's when I fell in love with Ms. Austen.
  • The Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz - there is something about this short order cook that I just love.  He's so sweet and pure and oh so loveable.  I'm always dying to find out what kind of trouble my odd one is going to get into next.
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom - really kinda gave me something to think about.  I'm not religious or terribly spiritual, but this book spoke to me.
  • The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins - I volunteer as tribute.  'Nough said.
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis - sadly the only Narnia story I've read, to date.  Not sure if I should've started here or not, but I did.  Great read!
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - the only book I've read in this series, but it was so effing good!
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - nasty teenaged asshole kings, a dragon tending chick, a crippled kid, and Hodor.  Need I say more???

At this point I feel my list may be getting a tad bit out of control.  However, I'm not wrong, these books are amazing!

Books have long been an escape from my world to another reality.  Books take me to places I've never seen.  Books allow me to meet new people.  Books teach me about things I previously knew nothing about.  Books are my companion on long trips and have seen me through many a sleepless night.  Books are an invaluable resource we should be sharing, freely.  Books are my friend!

What books have influenced your life?  What books can you not live without?  What is your absolute most favorite book ever???

Go lose yourself in a good book!

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Stairway to Heaven. Except, not.

So, I recently talked about some of the things I've done on my weight loss journey.  I've literally tried a million different ways to lose this bit of extra me.  But sometimes life has a way of kicking our asses, and motivation (for whatever reason) to keep trying and keeping fighting gets lost.

It's not easy changing your life.  And truly, any weight loss journey is about changing your life.  You need to commit to the journey and it takes a certain level of serious effort.  This isn't one of those passive hobbies you just sort of pick up and work on every now and again.  It's something that demands daily attention and effort.

My best friend, Tammi, and I have tried a lot.  We got gym memberships and spent damn near every day at the gym.  We did a little bit of everything at the gym.  We did the treadmill, the 30 minute room (dear God, that was no joke!), the weight machines, the bikes, the elliptical machines (ok, so we didn't do those very often, they really hurt!)...We basically tried to incorporate the entire gym into our workout routine.  We were killing it at the gym.  Crushing it.  Just not enough to be happy with our weight loss progress.

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure we're still getting charged for the gym, actually...

Next, we moved onto doing things like the squat challenge and the plank challenge, etc.  There were more than a few times when I wanted to kill Tammi, every time I heard her say "I found a new challenge!"  Some of these challenges are downright mean!  We twisted and contorted our bodies and pushed them to do things we hadn't previously imagined our bodies capable of.  And held it for long periods of time.  But, we were still left unfulfilled with our progress.

The ones I can do, and the ones I can't do.
I've tried doing yoga.  I actually find yoga to be quite nice.  I enjoy the stretching and trying to find my center and using my core.  I have HORRIBLE balance.  Dude, seriously, it's bad.  When I did my first (aptly named) awkward pose, I couldn't lift onto my toes without falling over.  It was a sad, sad sight.  I still can't quite breath through the half moon.  And you'd better give me a wide birth when I do the balancing stick pose.  My favorite is the warrior pose.  Not sure why, it just is.  But I still feel like it's just not enough.

We've tried walking and hiking and we've found that we really like hiking.  We get outside, soak up some vitamin D, connect with nature, and get to enjoy some really beautiful scenery!  Even when our hikes have gone horribly wrong (and some of them really have), we still end up having the time of our lives.

So  many effing stairs.
Last summer (back when we were still hiking noobs and didn't know wtf we were doing) we got it into our heads to climb the Manitou Springs Incline.  I'm still not entirely sure how we managed to survive this beast, and not just once, but twice.  Now, before I let  you get too terribly impressed with just how awesome we are (and we are), I feel I should mention that we only made it about 2/3 of the way up.  We left the stairs at the "bailout" and were quite happy to have made it that far!

The incline was/is a true test of strength.  I don't mean just physical strength, it's also a test of mental strength.   We had to endure quite a bit to get up this beast.  There are numerous points where we each wanted to give up.  Instead we cheered each other on and encouraged each other to propel ourselves further and further up the stairs.  I know there are probably a few people who would say "it's easy, I've done it in 30 mintues..."  To that I say, can you do it with an extra hundred pounds on your back???  No?  Well, I did!  That's right, I did this when I was still about 100 pounds overweight.  It hurt so bad I wanted to die.  Every inch of my being was screaming at me to stop.  I don't know what my driving force was those two days.  Could have been the desire to finish something I started.  Could've been I was too stubborn to call it quits.  Might have been that someone didn't think I even could and I needed to prove them wrong.  Maybe it was a need to say that I did it, even though I was sure I couldn't.

It took us just under three hours to make our treks.  I want to be sad that our time wasn't better.  I want to be sad that we didn't make it all the way to the top.  I want to be sad that there were people twice my age on the incline who passed us as we climbed, then passed us a second time as they made a second ascent.  I want to say I'm sad that I cried at a couple of points going up.

I want to be sad at all the shortcomings, but it's hard to be sad when you reach that "bailout" point and look down and see just how far you've come.
Couple of smug bitches.
We are total bad asses.  I'm so proud of us.  We've come a long way since we started.  We plan to keep going until we are standing on the top of this mountain, queens of the mother fucking world!