There’s Always Time for Truth

A couple of months ago, WordPress emailed to say my subscription was due – to renew my domain name so I could still own refractionofmelia.com and use it. I ignored it for a long time because I had not written in it for so long and had forgot I even owned a blog. But I renewed it, thinking that one day I might write in it again. I guess that’s today.

It has been a year. Almost to the dot – I looked at my last post and it was August 10th of last year. I do not even know how to begin the update. Probably 100 million things have happened in the last 12 month to my health, running, weight, mental health, emotional well-being, and family & friends. It’s just too much for one post. Hell, it might be too much for one blog.

So I will start slow. I can’t guarantee I’ll be here every day writing nor that it will always be exciting. It might actually be depressing and sad and infuriating sometimes but I promise you it will be a story of a journey from top to bottom to even lower than bottom to practically burned to ashes. But it will include success, too. And resurrection. And stories of the most amazing friends and family and forgiveness and support that you will have ever heard. And truth. I promise it will be nothing but honest.

Honesty Truth #1:

Sometimes It Really Sucks To Lose Weight

Honesty Truth #2:  

You Learn Who Your Friends Are When You Set Your Life On Fire

Honesty Truth #3:  

Stubbornness Causes Cortisone Shots

Honesty Truth #4:

You Have To Just Breathe

I started this blog years ago about being obese, losing weight, and trying to run a half marathon. I will now have to begin again with a brief update. Later I will write more about my Honesty Truths listed above but for now, you should know that I am no longer obese. I have in fact lost 100lbs and after being a size 22/24, I am now a 9 or an 11 depending on what type of clothing I am wearing. I will talk about how I did it and how (unhealthily so) quickly I did it and everything & everyone who played a part in that journey. But not today. Today I will end by saying that I hope you’ll read about my journey and comment and question along the way – I don’t mind answering your questions. Today I will end with a photo that is my before/after – the me on the left is at a conference in July 2013 and the me on the right (yes, with a guy dressed as Austin Powers) is at a conference this July 2014. Today I will end with telling you that this blog is going to be about so much more than weight loss and exercise and running – it is now about how I survive/d the fight with demons.

before after

end of summer thoughts

So in case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a blogging hiatus. I meant to get on here and explain why and then just didn’t have time. When I started blogging again a few months ago, part of the reason was to dedicate myself to some “just me” time and allow myself to focus on me and not work or other things. I had let my life get to a point where there was never any time for me and I wanted to change that.

And then, well, this summer has completely changed my life. In the last couple of months I’ve gone from work, work, work to still doing a lot of work, but a lot of taking care of me and myself as well. So many things, ideas, plans, and goals have changed in my life just since spring. A lot of the change has been positive and involved be taking care of myself physically – which in itself is time consuming. With the arrival of my son here this summer and our goal of running the 5K together, along came many hours of training with him on top of my own running schedule. I also added in a personal trainer, which involved more hours of my time. Then I decided that I was going to start making better, solid, healthy decisions for my health and family and well, there goes almost every hour of my day.

Now the summer is almost over. My son goes home this coming weekend – one week from today. It’s my least favorite weekend of the year and every year on the drive back from Nebraska, I cry. I’m an excellent “drive-through-the-tears” driver. You would think that after 11 years I would get used to it, but I don’t – it never gets easier. And in only a couple of weeks, the semester starts again and my mad crazy of awesome begins at work again. My goal through all of this is to not stop taking care of me. I’m thrilled with how I feel and the results that I can see from training and living healthier and I have no intention on stopping – but it will be a struggle. I’m kinda notorious for working 60+ hour work weeks during the school year and my challenge will be to find a way to balance that with my fitness regime I’ve got going on. I have faith in myself though and I also have one hell of a support system at home (seriously – I have no idea why this man I live with puts up with me and my “hey, guess what I want to do now?” ideas lol).

This is me saying then that I won’t be here as often. Definitely not every day but I will keep in touch with updates and struggles as always. And photos – I so love doing photography that I want to continue doing photo posts. That’s all for now – talk to you all soon. 🙂

out in the country – and fire!

Yesterday morning we went to a different park on the other side of town for a change of scenery and because if you run the track/path twice, you’ve mostly ran a 5K. We wanted to see it how long it would take to do it, even if walking some of it. But I’ll write more about that in a different post – today, let me tell you about we did that afternoon. In between showering after running and church, we were invited out to a friend’s house, about 45 minutes away in the country. It’s beautiful out there:

They are moving soon and had an old shed and some other stuff to get rid of and that means burning it. If you don’t live in a rural area, that probably seems a bit crazy to you, but trust me, in the midwest, that’s how we get rid of stuff. And who doesn’t love a bonfire? So my family and I got in the car and away we went. One of the coolest things about being out there is the number of goats – including a brand new baby goat!

So, it’s lots of fun to go out there and pet all the goats – they’re kinda like dogs or pets. But, to get to the bonfire part, here’s what we were burning:

Before the Fire - Old Shed

Before the Fire – Old Shed

After checking the Rural Fire folks (who I believe have to give permission to burn on any given day – well, I think that’s what they do. I really don’t have a clue. I live in town and have no understanding of country rules.) to make sure all was good, the fire was lit. I may be in my mid-30s and all grown up and stuff, but there’s still something about a fire that is strangely cool and beautiful at the same time. I think it’s the colors – I’ve never seen any person be able to create the same vivid color of flame outside of nature. I took some pictures of it – sadly, I’m only a pretend amateur photographer so these photos do not do it justice.

It was pretty beautiful (in that weird, fire-kind-of-way) and all went well until the wind kicked up and we had some complications – but we got those handled and everything was all good. It was definitely not a normal Sunday afternoon/evening for my family and I’m quite happy I brought my camera to take photos of the good times – in fact, here are some more random photos from the earlier afternoon.

Oh, I should mention that Sunday afternoons = no makeup or doing hair. So no judging me on my Sunday beauty. Or the fact that I’m holding a newborn goat and a beer. LOL.

That’s all for now – will write more about running adventures tomorrow – when The Cutest Boy starts his training for the 5K!!!

burning to emerge

It’s been a long 2+ months, I must admit. Many changes – with friends, life, work, service, self-care – some of those changes were good, some were not-so-good. But as I’ve said repeatedly, change is my constant so I go with it as it truly makes me who I am today.

I put myself on a mandated blogging hiatus since October – which was more difficult than I thought it would be as I kept thinking of things I wanted to write about, but could not. The reasons for the mandate was largely because of work and that I really needed to focus on some important tasks and let’s be honest, October is the crazy busy time of the semester for academic instruction librarians.

But, it is time for reprieve and here I am again. I do wish I could write about all the amazing life changes I’ve made these last two months and say that I’m now super healthy, in great shape, totally centered, and thin. But that is not the case. Some of that is true – I am in fact more focused and centered than I have been in a long time. And I have learned some great things about work and life – like which friends you can count on during tough times and who really cares about you, how politics on a campus really affect decisions, how collaboration with colleagues can give super amazing results, how much I miss my best friend who moved to Chicago, and unfortunately, how when the stress really hits me, really hits me, I’m the first person I give up caring for.

Whew. Some of those (especially the last one) are a little depressing. But, also eye opening. I have spent the last two weeks thinking about how I’ve totally thrown my own needs out the window in order to take care of others at times. But the good news is that I am doing so. much. better. than I have in the past. I have made some very smart decisions on what to take on and add into my life and what to say no to and what to get rid of and keep out. I’m actually pretty darn proud of myself on that one.

But, back to being focused and centered. Though I’ve had a few setbacks regarding health and wellness (that’s a whole different post), I’m back on track eating better. The past few days I’ve done well with eating decent, tasty, healthy food (with the exception of yesterday – that was just bad, bad, bad) and this morning my butt was at the Rec (the gym on campus). Yay!

And so, that’s it. Just a short little “hello, I’m back” post for you. I’ve fallen a few notches in my dedication to running, being healthy, and living a centered life but I’m back on the road to improvement. Thanks for reading – I’ll be back to posting photos, quotes, and sharing my crazy with you if you’d like to stay along for the ride.

Let me end with a favorite quote from White Oleander:

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”

brought to you today from northview

So I am writing this evening from my bff sister’s house while sitting on her couch with hair dye on my head. Of course, the hair dye part is not surprising – most people who know me are aware that I cannot go very long with the same hair color. I start to get twitchy from being the “same” – I like change way too much. What may be surprising is that I’m not at work – granted, I am doing some work today because I have an IM reference shift tonight – but I’m not in the library or at my desk at home buried under work projects.

As I mentioned when I first started blogging again, I needed to make some changes in my life involving prioritizing and my friends were on that list of priorities that needed some attention. Two things happened for me this week:  first, I had an encouraging and great conversation with a role model of mine where we talked about work/life balance and second, this weekend was my bff sister’s birthday celebration. I was worried about making the whole friend celebrationwork this weekend because I was exhausted sick on Friday and actually had to go home and sleep and take care of myself so I was worried I’d even make it. But I did make it – and it’s been great. In fact, until my IM shift, I have done NO work this weekend with the exception of email (hey, baby steps LOL). And that whole “no work” thing has been both crazy wonderful and kinda scary at the same time.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks full of busy busy work stress and life stuff – and this upcoming week is busy PLUS I’m flying out to a conference in Baltimore early (like, seriously early – I’m leaving town at like 3:30am) Thursday morning. But honestly, I feel stronger and more prepared for my week of crazy ass workouts (courtesy of my trainer) and lots of great work, events, and travel. I truly, truly, truly thank my friends for that- nothing can help you like two days of laughing your ass off and being there for each other. 🙂

17 Ways to Leave Your Lover

I’ve had the most downward-spiral / fell-off-bandwagon / feel-like-I-need-to-start-over week ever. Okay, maybe not ever, but it’s been pretty bad. Lack of exercising, lack of working out, too many cookies, not enough water, and so on. Last night I was thinking about how bad this week has been and how exhausted I am and trying to figure out what the heck I can do to get out of this rut that I seem to be in this week. It’s like I have something that I need to do to leave this place I’m in, but I can’t figure out what it is or how to do it right now. And, then it hit me:  I need to treat “it” like something I have to end a relationship with – a lover, if you will. I need to break up with my bad habits and overall crappy lull I’m in right now.  And then the song shot into my head – you know the one I’m talking about, by Paul Simon:

Okay, that’s a cover of it from the Muppet Show but it seemed appropriate considering comments in the media of late regarding Muppets, Sesame Street, PBS, etc. 🙂

Granted, the song doesn’t quite fit my situation completely since I’m not really having an affair nor am I trying to leave my marriage, but I like it regardless so I’m going to stick with the metaphor. Therefore, I give you 17 Ways to Leave Your Lover; or, How to Get Out of Your Damn Rut and Move Forward (meliastyle):

17.  Call a friend. No really, like RIGHT NOW

I think that talking with a friend is a great idea because first of all, friends do pretty darn well in the making you feel better arena. Plus, it helps to spend time thinking about other people’s lives and solving their problems rather than focusing on your own.

16.  Tell your accountability partner. Don’t have one? See #15.

Yep. Gotta call him/her and admit it. For me, simply the dread of having to tell him that I didn’t workout today is enough on most days to make me get my butt out of the house and do it!

15.  Get an accountability partner.

Okay, so you must get one of these. I actually have a couple. And you can’t make any excuses like “no one else I know is trying to lose weight” or “no one lives around me and can run with me” or some other crap like that. I have accountability partners who live literally on the same the street as I do (granted, it’s up a few blocks), and partners who live freaking far away like in Chicago and in Afghanistan. Your accountability partner can be someone who works out with you or checks in on you or lets you vent about your concerns and encourages you along the way.

14.  Color.

I freaking love coloring. And, it’s a stress reliever. Don’t believe me? Check out mandala coloring pages on the internet sometime. Mandalas are very spiritual and can be used for meditation and focusing. Good stuff.

13.  Write in a journal about why you started this journey to begin with

This works pretty well for me – whenever I start to “lose my way”, I write about it in a journal. I have both a word document I use to write in and the old traditional paper variety as well. Depending on my mood, I either sit down to type or write in longhand in the print journal. It’s a good method to remind yourself what’s important.

12. Make a list of the accomplishments you’ve done so far – nothing is too small.

For real – list everything you accomplished that day, week, month, whatever. Doesn’t matter if it’s “got up out of bed” or “ran 3 miles” – they all count! This will help you remember you’re not a complete failure (which is how I often feel when I’m in these slumps).

11.  Take your (or a friend’s) dog for a walk.

How can you not totally enjoy watching your dog freak out in joy when she sees her leash? Or while she’s on a walk with you and tries to catch a squirrel? Or bird? Or leaf? You get out of the house and she gets out of the house and you both get fresh air and it’s super great.

10.  Laugh your ass off (this may or may not need to involve others).

This is absolutely the best thing ever. Laughter truly is the best medicine. Truly. Do it – do it until you’re crying tears of joy you’re laughing so hard.

9.  Ride your bike somewhere. Anywhere.

Even though I’m in my *cough* 30somethings, I feel like a 12-year-old girl when I ride my bike. Wind in your face, flying by the trees, big smile on your face. You can’t beat that. Well, I think if you had all of that AND a bell on your bike, that would be even better.

8.  Facebook a friend whom you cannot call for any other reason

Not all of my friends answer phone calls (you know who you are) and some I can only chat via FB messages – and that’s okay. We all have our own preferred modes of communication. So if you can’t call or text a friend, get on FB and look at their silly photos, write them a message, and say hello.

7.  Sing.

For those of you whom I have not graced with my awesome singing, you should know that I’m practically tone deaf. And I don’t care. I still sing on top of my lungs. And it rocks. You must be careful in your song selection however – belting out Everybody Hurts does not always a good day make.

6.  Dance around your house while cleaning something. And singing.

I recommend this above singing because it’s got all the benefits of singing, plus shit is getting cleaned in your house. Extra bonus. My recommendation:

or

5.  Get outside. Even if it’s just to read something while sitting on the porch.

I’m fortunate because I have both a front porch and a back deck to hang out on – I like the front porch because I can work or read while watching the people walk or drive by the house. And Cleo the super dog loves it too. Ah, outside fresh air.

4.  Take a moment to understand that you can’t be perfect all the time (this one is pretty hard).

Sigh. It’s hard to admit that you can’t do it all perfectly all the time. But we’re only human and this is a good realization to have – one that I frequently need to remind myself. It’s hard, but it’s good.

3.   List three things you love about yourself (this one can be pretty hard too sometimes).

OMG> I dislike this one SO much. It’s asinine hard to do this sometimes. And then I’ve been known to even cheat and say “I love that I picked such amazing friends” which isn’t really a solid “love yourself” comment. So then I make myself do it again and again until I get it right (which is kinda funny, considering #4).

2.   Watch ridiculous TV show – but only for one hour!

I can’t begin to tell you how nice it is to just let yourself zone out into some craptastic TV show. It’s good downtime – but you have to limit yourself or otherwise you’ll have wasted an entire freaking day to the marathon of Flavor Flav’s Flavor of Love reality show. And that’s never a good thing.

1.   Make yourself go running

Okay, okay, this is easier said than done but honestly, if I’m really stressing and having a horrible day, nothing – and I mean nothing – makes me feel better than running. I run until it hurts, and then keep running until it stops. If I can get myself out the damn door, so much in life is better.

So, there you go: melia’s super awesome list of ways to get out of your rut and leave your lover, or bad habit, whatever. 🙂

you know, for a fat girl…

Let’s talk about fat. I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last few days, primarily because I’m losing weight – which is awesome – but I feel weird about it. I feel weird because I’m majorly dedicated to it now, more so than I think I have been before; but it’s not the “losing weight” that I’m obsessed with. It’s the ability to be able to go out and run and feel healthy. I love that. I love the feeling of being the person who can get up and run and make her life better every day. That’s the amazing part.

At least that’s what I tell myself every day. Until some messed up bullshit happens (which frequently happens).

The bullshit takes many different forms – for example, in taking a photo of myself or seeing myself in the mirror in the morning before I go out on that run and honestly, truly, wanting to throw up. That’s right, physically ill over my own appearance. Every day. I cannot feel that way about myself and then try to play it off as “I’m doing this just to be healthy” and not because I’m trying to be thin. skinny. pretty. acceptable. wanted. needed. looked-at. happy. loved. respected.

I’m pretty good at performance. I think the performativity of my day is largely successful – performativity of how awesome I am and how great everything is and how everything is fan-freaking-tastic – which honestly for the most part, it is – but let me tell you a (not)secret:  self-esteem is not something I max out on every day – I’m just REAL good at faking it. I’m so good at it that in the last week or so, I’ve been told that I’m vain by four different people. But you know what? Every time you compliment me on my hair, dress, shoes, face, whatever, I end your compliment with “you know, for a fat girl.” Fucked up, yes? Yes, because I’m knocking down your compliment and insulting myself and others for being fat. Sigh.

So now that confession hour is over let’s talk about how this gets real messy – I’m a pretty staunch feminist. I will debate/discuss with you for hours about equality and how we need to fight societal bullshit. And I have amazing, intellectual conversations with my feminist friends about societal norms and guess what? My stupid lack-of-love-for-myself comes up and we talk and analyze and evaluate and work on moving forward. A very recent conversation included this amazing quote:

“We’ve so internalized ridiculous beauty norms (even though we know they are rigid, sexist, and racist ideals that leave no room for disabled bodies or aging bodies or the wide range of real women’s bodies, etc.) that we believe we are not attractive. But reading your words makes me realize that a central…goal [of mine] is to reject beauty norms and accept myself as beautiful just the way I am. I want all of my motivation to come from a place of wanting to be healthy and love myself UNconditionally.”

Amazing, right? Conversations like that, friends who support me so amazingly help me realize that if I take a step out of my own head and look at this intellectually and in a broader sense, I know I can do this. And here, I mean “this” as in, commit to myself that I CAN and WILL love myself enough to not want to throw up after looking in the mirror in the morning. Now, can I just wake up tomorrow and have all this change, poof, just like that? Unfortunately, no. It’s got to be one day at a time – hence the whole living through the journey thing.

I truly pride myself on being me – and just me – I love accomplishing the amazing things I’ve been a part of lately while still being me. I have remained just me and that is awesome and everything, but what frustrates me the most is how I can go through all of this every single day and have that stupid f’n underlying issue. Well, okay, there may be more than one issue (I mean, damn, you can’t write a blog about a journey and change with just one issue LOL). The other frustration lies in the fact that I HATE SOCIETAL NORMS and yet here I am, measuring myself up against some damn bullshit. Ugh.

Oh, and yes, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m fully aware that I’m dumping out my soul on this damn public blog where you all can read it. And I know you may be wondering if it’s too much unveiling, TMI, admission/confession, whatever – but damnit, I’ve sought for years to find someone who understands the world as I do and someone who struggles the way I do and for someone who let’s me know it’s all going to be alright and it took me a long, long time to find people like that. So I can only hope that someone who is searching for the same will find this blog and maybe, just maybe, I can help her. And for those of you whom I know, maybe I’ll see you some day and you’ll look at me and understand me a little more. Or not. Who knows?

But here’s the deal folks:  every day we each get a little better. every day we each take another step towards being that person we want to become – the one we already are but haven’t realized it yet. And that’s where I am – just starting this crazy journey where I’m unpacking years worth of shit that I can only imagine how it got there – but I’ll figure it out. I’m pretty intelligent, resilient, and resourceful. Well, you know, for a fat girl. A fabulously amazingly fat girl. 🙂