My Dad had a heart attack this Friday. He is alive. Thank you Lord.

The Face of Heart Disease. This could be our motivation to fight it, as if life and death wasn’t enough.

When I say things like that I always feel like I am not inside my head. Heart Attack seems like an abstract concept. Dad’s heart was blocked in two valves, one 100% and the other 95%. This is not the first time in my life in which I felt the world had stopped moving. Sometimes that is all you can do, stop your world, breathe, pray, clean until the grout in your shower is sparkling white and your walls are no longer dusty, cry, and then start the process all over again. One of the other times I have gone through this process was when I got the call about my Mom’s heart attack a couple of years ago.

We are in a panic as a family. Our patriarch doesn’t understand why all the fuss guys? I am fine now?

I won’t even write my response here…I am sure you can imagine that a tear soaked, worn out, angry Danielle bit her tongue from saying. What I will say to you is that it is frustrating when someone you love is flippant about their health. I mean it is one thing to try and fail, but it is entirely other to deny the problem so you don’t have to try. It is scary. I know, but everyone is scared.

Now is the time to be brave everyone. All of us wanting to have a healthy life, and wanting to make ourselves better. Now is the time to be brave, to want things that we never thought we would have.

How many people have denied themselves love because they did not believe they could get it? How many people have been denied jobs or promotions because they didn’t ask for it? I believe it is the same thing with health. So much of the health industry is so seemingly unattainably.

When we think about words like Diabetes or Heart Disease they can seem like impossible monoliths rising out of our bodies, impossible to overcome.  Face to face with death, we can either fight or die. While this doesn’t seem like life or death, while we might not be overwhelmed on the surface, down below subconsciously it is devastating. These diagnosis’s can feel like Voldemort is coming after you, and you can fight back, but first you have to kill all the horcruxes first.

I think those horcruxes are the emotions we feel about these diseases: dread, fear, anger, and trepidation. These things can freeze me in my tracks where I won’t do anything for days, weeks, years. I believe this happens to everyone.

How can we work through those quickly so that we can get to real fight? How can we put aside all the horrible fears? How can we work through the regret because with these diseases sometimes we feel that we deserve this? We don’t. How do we not just sit in our rooms laying on our bellies crying with dread? I don’t know. I’ve cried until I can’t cry anymore. Now, I am faking it until I make it. I am fighting the war without killing all the horcruxes first.

I am just going to figure it out as I go. I am going to start by doing something for my body every day. This is the real war. Whether we know it or not, we are at war in this country. We are at war with poor health. We should be treat poor health this way. I am going to treat this like a battle against the grave because I feel like it is. I feel like if I don’t change my ways I am going to die. I am worried about the ones I love, because if they don’t change their ways…

I can’t sit idly back on my couch anymore. I want to save my family. I can’t make them change their ways, but I can at the VERY LEAST walk the talk. I am going to war. I am storming the castle. Who’s with me?

What can help?

When the pain comes flooding in, even tranquil places like this in my mind don't help.
When the pain comes flooding in, even tranquil places like this in my mind don’t help.

I keep reading articles about chronic pain on Facebook that start…things only someone with chronic pain would know. These lists are meant to make us feel not alone. Some are also meant to help our loved ones know what we are going through. I find some comfort in that but am slightly disturbed that they don’t understand it already. This ignorance of the plight of us chronic pain sufferers stems from several issues, the worst of which is that no one believes suffering unless they can see it especially if the one suffering has a vagina. The least worse reason is that most of us suffer in the silence of our homes. For me it is because I am embarrassed. I don’t like being so weak. I don’t want people to know I can’t handle things. It doesn’t really matter why someone doesn’t believe I am in pain. In fact, it doesn’t really matter how anyone feels or thinks about my pain…it exists to me and I guess that is all that is really relevant.

It is awful coming to terms with the fact that I will be intermittently in pain for the rest of my life and there isn’t anything I can do about it.

The thing that most of those lists don’t stipulate is that this realization comes smacking me on the face over and over. There are periods, days, where I am gloriously pain free. Then I blessedly forget about my pain. I have to employ this blissful denial or I would enjoy none of my days. Then inevitably the pain returns and I am shattered with the realization once again.

It is the dashing of hope that is demoralizing, and it doesn’t just happen after a period of good days. I selfishly and stupidly allow myself to hope for no pain in the mist of the painful days too.

Yesterday I cried several times because of the pain I was going through before I broke down and took a pain pill. In the midst of the subsequent chill that descended upon me, I had hope it was over this time. I was even so bold to make plans for today: a Walgreens trip, a library trip, and coffee with a friend. Reading this I am sure you can imagine that I again woke up with pain. I will once again put off my library and cancel plans with my very patient friend.

I am tired of being patient. I am angry and disappointed once again. I can not express how angry I am. This anger is further confused and inflamed by the pain. Unless I medicate to wipe out the pain I can’t stop being angry and sobbingly feeling sorry for myself. This is compounding exponentially by the fact that I hate myself for feeling sorry for myself. The emotional component of chronic pain makes it all worse. Not only that but stress makes fibromyalgia pain worse so it doesn’t just add insult to injury but also further injury.

What can anyone say to this? What is the solution? There isn’t one. That is the futility of it all. I keep doing my yoga to minimize the occurrence of pain, which has been the only thing to help so far, but I know from my Grandma and Mom that it will never go away. What is the point of these lists for people like me, how can it really help? How can anyone else help even if they did believe me? I don’t have the answer for those questions. I wish I did. I can only ask them. Right now, I guess I just needed to get out my frustrations with its futility. Will it help to just be heard? I guess I can only see.

Getting Inspired

I am so excited! I can finally do this...tucking the tummy in!!!
I am so excited! I can finally do this…tucking the tummy in!!!

Have you ever been around people that inspire you? I am sure everyone has. Certain people inspire me in different ways. My life is filled with these type of people. I know a smorgasbord of people reaching beyond what life has given them. My Dad once told me that I should find someone smarter than me and then follow them around. I think this is probably true about everything. I feel it is important that I always challenge myself because I need that or I will get bored and depressed.

I hang out with great minds who are constantly reading and talking about literature. We have meetings over coffee or breakfast and talk for hours about the books they’ve read and the social implications. I have friends who are politically charged, keeping up on the latest news, and love discussing their views. Some of them are activists and writers for a cause. I read and research to keep up with all of these people. They are most of the time smarter and more focused than I am and I love that. Their intensity infuses me and that stimulates me to strive to be smarter and go deeper in creativity. I can’t possibly explain how much I love it. It gets me so excited.

I don’t think I have ever had a health inspiration. I know that sounds horrible but it would be like having a pole vaulting inspiration but I have never pole vaulted before. How can you be inspired if you haven’t really done something before? Before when my lady friends got together and talked about stuff they were eating, or exercising they were doing I would simply ignore the conversation or change it. The avoidance was both out of embarrassment and because I didn’t want to do anything about it.

I know now that is a real sign that change will never come. If I don’t want to talk about how I plan to eat healthier, or how someone else has changed their eating habits, I am surely not going to actually put those changes into practice. That is a dangerous way to be. I have found it to be detrimental in my life to avoid my inspirational friends in any way, because if I am doing that I am ashamed of something…

Because I have avoided the topic for years I had to go back to grade school level knowledge for fitness and health. I had to relearn everything. I now feel like I am at a high school level on those topics. I am starting to really want influences in my life who are striving to be better at fitness and health. I am just now getting to the point where I don’t feel bad when someone else is an expert. I realize I am becoming pretty good at the eating healthy and doing my yoga. I am very excited about that. My husband and I are actually becoming a little snotty about our food, saying variations of that meal needed vegetables, I wonder if this has anything resembling food it in it, and is this organic?

I am in no way saying we are experts, but I feel we are ready to sit at the table and discuss exercise and food without being embarrassed and that is something I am proud of. When people brought up these issues before I would do everything in my power to avoid the conversation. Now I can at least sit in the room without avoidance or embarrassment.

So now I am looking up to my brother Patrick who walks about an hour every night. My best friend Christine walks in the mornings, sometimes does yoga, and quit drinking which she enjoyed. My other brother Matthew and my sister-in-law Lori are taking their health in their own hands. They both have lost weight by exercising, gardening, and cooking healthy meals. My brothers grew up in the same home I did, and they are reaching for better. That is inspiration. My mom even helped me finally figure out the tree pose I’ve been working on. (She has been telling me for years to suck in my abs, I finally listened. I was finally able to listen.) Talking about the best foods to heal the body, recipes to make good food, the best form for yoga poses and the best way to get energy: this is starting to make me happy, and I think that’s a good sign.

My Cousin

Handsome, right?
Handsome, right?

I keep wondering what I can do to never regret the way I treated another human again. I have lost a lot of people in my life. Dad, two Grandmas, many friends and now a cousin. I love all my cousins, but Josh was different in the way that he was my age and we were very close. Growing up I saw Josh sometimes more than my own brother. I spent afternoons after school at his house roaming around large expanses of land. We rode horses and mini motor cycles and our play areas included broken down cars. Once we were part of a pre-rodeo festivities. We spent most of the time outside playing, but we were like siblings antagonistic. He called me Onion because I had a slight smelly problem. I called him Joshua potato-tot-toona-fish-casserole. I wasn’t as good at the insults.

When we moved onto junior high and high school. We became super close. We were both socially oblivious and hard working. He got me into the job we both held throughout high school. We both scooped ice cream at Braums. Every payday we would meet and buy each other breakfast. During these Saturday morning talks we hypothesized our future, advised each other on our love lives, and confessed our fears. Both of us were part of middle class families, the oldest with pressure to succeed. No one put more pressure on us than ourselves. We both felt like we didn’t want to stay in the small town we were born into, and we didn’t. Some of those Saturday talks were strategy sessions on how to get out.

I talked to him about boys. He talked to me about girls. We both dated a lot. He dated many of my girlfriends but none of them stuck because no one stays with the nice guy in high school. Josh was the type of guy who was the sweetest guy you would ever meet, but in high school it didn’t translate to long term. He would often say, “Oh yeah, I have another friend, great!” Eventually he developed a sort of curmudgeonly exterior, but he loved and deeply. Not many people understood how deep.

While he was “cute,” he didn’t really grown into hunk territory until he became one of the American heroes. After graduation, he joined the US Army and tested in the top ten percent. He went on to become an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expert and lead teams in Afghanistan and Iraq. His LinkedIn profile reads like the beginning of a war movie. I don’t really know what half of it means. All I know is the men who served with him sounded impressed with him when I talked to them at his funeral. That to me says something. Heroes were impressed with my cousin.

We grew apart. I haven’t talked to him in fifteen years. I regret it. I can’t make excuses. I always felt like Josh and I would retire back in Enid and play cards and bullshit into the evening. Now I will never have the chance to catch up with my cousin. I can’t believe and will never understand the things he has been through or accomplished. All I can feel is surprise, regret, and sadness.

Perhaps this is indulgent talk for a blog about health, but I want the world to know what this warrior meant to me. The funeral was a lovely tribute to a soldier who gave his life to the military, someone who lived for the mission. I want to tell everyone I know that he was my friend. He was a life line in a tumultuous time for me. He was a kindred spirit, and my soul longs to hear him say my name one more time because he could make me feel loved by just saying my name. While to America he was the true embodiment of a hero, and his fellow soldiers called him an EOD god, I just really miss the guy I grew up with and loved.

How can we love someone who hates us?

Image result for human hugs
“Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh

(My friend over at Coffee and a Blank Page, Alice Isak, has challenged me to post a quote here. I decided to work it into my current post. I am supposed to ask three other bloggers to do it, but I don’t really know any of the bloggers I follow face to face so I am not that comfortable with that. However, if you want to read great writing, search out http://coffeeandablankpage.com/. She somehow makes ranting, pain, and feminism lyrical and beautiful.)

I don’t usually talk about political issues, but I feel that certain things are really getting me down lately. I have had arguments with my family about certain things and am humming inside with a brewing sadness. This affects my health surely so I feel I can talk about them here.

Last post I pleaded that I wanted to be considered human. As a fat person, I am viewed as less than, and I really want to be just viewed as human in the media and life. I am rethinking that.

In the light of the Supreme Courts recent decision I sat down to write my friend a letter. I wanted to let him know how happy I was. I said to him congratulations doesn’t really cut it though. To say congrats would be like saying, “You worked so hard to finally be considered human.” Being able to marry the one you love seems like it should be inherent, a basic human right, so maybe the sentiment should be “about time?” Congratulations for finally being considered human in the eyes of the rest of your countrymen. So now I am sending out, “YAY! It’s about time” cards.

As more and more violence against African Americans are coming to light, makes me believe my gay friends who want equal rights still have decade’s worth of fight ahead of them. One step forward, two steps back. The task of getting rid of the hate in human hearts is a huge one: painful, desperate, and seemingly unending. It is ridiculously ignorant and, if history is any indication, a fruitless endeavor to hold onto hate. Yet people do it.

From the blogger from Marie Claire who felt able to express her disgust at watching fat people kiss, to the movie reviewer who called Melissa McCarthy names I won’t repeat here. I have seen the hatred of fat people in the media.

I think we as a human race are asking for too little. I don’t think we should just ask for equal rights and to be considered human. I think we should ask to be celebrated for what makes us special.

“Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh

He goes on to say that there will be no peace in the religions until we listen to one another, really listen and try to understand. I don’t think that understanding will happen on a normal human to human level until you fall in love with a person who is of that path. I don’t mean romantic love. I mean really love, give the shirt off my back, kind of love. How can someone understand a movement if they don’t really love someone in that movement? I don’t believe some people can love without the true knowledge of what they are going through. I try. I try to love the best way I know how.

As a Christian I believe that it is my responsibility. I believe that Christ wanted people to be and feel loved. I believe redemption was the guiding force under most of his actions. I want people to feel not only infallibly and wonderfully human but deeply loved.

I think it comes from my mother, this emotional involvement in current events. She is the one who feels things in her bones. She watches the news constantly and yells at the TV sometimes. I have avoided that, but only because I avoid news channels and nightly news. I know I am emotional. I know that I feel pain for what is happening and I only get my news from the internet.

I long for a “Federation” type community where everyone is loved for their gifts. Do people not understand there are lives at stake? I am not just talking about crazy white supremacist gun men. I am talking about those adults that say things and take actions to dehumanize others. When you dehumanize someone else, people die. People die every day because of hatred. The pain caused by bullying and this other than sort of mindset is horrible and pervasive. Not only does it affect the person you are bullying it lets those around you think and believe that sort person is not human. I know it sounds Pollyannaish to say love everyone, but if we want to save lives and souls we need to love EVERYONE. Not the “I love you so I am going to tell you what to do and how to live kind of love.” We need to love in the deeply understanding kind of way. If you look at someone and say I don’t understand that person or their life style, try. Don’t try by studying or remote observation. Try to love them.

I had no idea I was so disgusting.

When she invented "smad".
Sookie from Gilmore Girls. (Thank you Buzzfeed for the pictures)

I enjoy this new fat turn around we have been having.  Women of all shapes and sizes are starting to claim Hey, assholes, we are humans too. I didn’t really understand the depth of distain for me or my people. I mean I have dealt with teasing and the occasional conversation where people give me a certain look of embarrassment for me and my shameful fat—but hate? I haven’t experienced hatred. I am sure people do hate me, but not usually because I am fat. I am not saying it doesn’t happen. Apparently fat hate is common according to a Salon article I just read here: http://www.salon.com/2015/06/14/back_off_thinsplainers_fat_people_have_heard_it_all_before/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

These ladies have studied fat and assumingly fat people? I don’t really know what that means. I know the hatred must be true because I have a lot of friends who have felt this weight distain. My husband has told me there is a Reddit section that had to be blocked called: r/Fatpeoplehate. I know I might have joked once or twice about beautiful thin women saying, “Don’t you just hate her,” but that was only teasing and was meant to be flattering. Do thin people really HATE fat people?

Isn’t this the stuff of middle school drama? Aren’t we all supposed to be grown? Media? Society? I don’t really understand it. Aren’t your mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, brothers, sisters fat? I mean I can’t imagine when sixty plus percent of the American public is fat that there is anyone who doesn’t know and love a fat person. However, these things are as illogical and apparently as prevalent as racism, sexism, and homophobia. All of them stem from fear and pain. There is no logic in hating a section of humans.

On the other hand, the resulting body positive movement has been good for me, even though I haven’t felt this blatant hatred. I have been following Instagram ladies that are plus sized like me and it has been a revelation. I am really loving seeing women who are my size wearing beautiful clothes, made up faces, and in yoga poses I aspire too. It is amazing to me that at thirty nine, I have never seen this before. I have never had anyone in the media whose beauty I felt was attainable.

The beautiful Tess Holliday

Also, now we finally have plus size models. Before the store Torrid came on the scene, we used to be relegated to trying to figure out what a garment would look like on our bodies. We would flip through catalogues looking at women a size two modeling a size twenty four. It would look like a shapeless tent, even if the clothes were tailored. Torrid was established and that was the first time I saw women my size selling clothes my size. It seems logical now, but back then it was amazing. Now we can even look on certain web sites and see normal women wearing the clothes. Things have changed slowly, but it is still astonishing for me to see women like Tess Holiday creating beautiful tableaux’s in fashion magazines. When I do it makes me feel more beautiful than ever.

Between those pictures and my favorite actresses Melissa McCartney and Rebel Wilson I am finding it amazingly comforting to see someone who looks a little like me in the media. I was surprised to have been affected so much just by seeing Sookie on Gilmore Girls in those cute clothes and the story line that never addressed her weight. It was like a dream. When Lorelai asked her how long had it been since Sookie had been in a relationship, it wasn’t even implied that Sookie should lose weight to have a more successful love life. As she taste tested cookies and whipped cream, no one said, Hey, you shouldn’t eat that… Sookie was treated like a human, a fully formed person who was loved. It wasn’t that she was loved in spite of her weight. She was loved in her totality. I already loved that series but loved it even more because of Sookie’s portrayal.

When she was super cool.
Sookie played by the wonderful, beautiful Melissa McCarthy

It is only in recent years that we have gotten persons of size on TV and movies in more than a supporting role, and Sookie is the only one I can think of that didn’t draw direct attention to it. I just want to be a human. I want all my plus sized loved ones to be considered human, complete. As I write this I am pleading for myself, but also my family and friends. In my heart I feel a desperation. As that desperation hits me in a wave, I recognize the words. I just want to be a human. I have seen that in my Facebook feed before, I am sure of it. It is the thread underneath every call for equal rights. Why do we look for so many reasons to dehumanize each other?

Yes, being overweight is a health issue, but seriously do I discuss anyone else’s health? Do I point out all the other health issues or waste any time at all thinking about any of the preventable diseases out there? Truly, I don’t think anyone is concerned about my health at all, unless they are a friend or relative. Those people who have posted on a hate filled Reddit, or have made my friends and family feel less than. I can only say, mind your own business, because if I ever stop being socially oblivious and notice someone doing that to a person I love. I don’t know what I’d do, but I am pretty sure you’ll be embarrassed.

So Far it’s Working!

One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.
One of those meals I would be ashamed to write down.

I am very pleased with myself, because I of my new daily goal system. I may not be a morning person. Heck, I may never be a morning person, but I may have figured out a way to get things accomplished anyway. When I am productive in the morning it makes me feel good the rest of the day. Last post I told you that I have started to make lists at night. I write down what meals I am going to make, and what goals I have. The purpose of making the list at night, when I have the most brain power, is so in the morning I don’t have to think about tasks or the order of those tasks. I don’t get overwhelmed anymore by my hazy morning brain. It has been giving me just enough clarity to get me by. So when I finally fully wake up around eleven a.m. I have some tasks already done, which is encouraging.

There has been a really great side effect of writing down all I have to do, and what I have done. I have been journaling how I feel every day because I wanted to know how this was working. It was like a science experiment. I have realized so many things as a result.

The first one is that I realized I have more good days than bad. When I feel bad, groggy, lethargic, it is like thinking through a haze. Lately I have been thinking that my life is filled with those days. Between the fibromyalgia and the soreness from exercising, I thought pain was what my life would be like now.

I had about four days in a row that I felt pretty amazing when I started keeping track. I was feeling energetic and thinking clearly. It was pretty good and I thought it might be because I was really paying attention to my feelings. Also I was eating well, and getting exercise because it was on my list. I was really happy that my list was successful too.

I don’t know why but slicing words in half is so rewarding! Seriously when I cross stuff off my list I get a real high. Does that make me a weirdo? Maybe. However, it is also making me very happy so..

Something else I noticed is how awful I felt when I ate something horrible. I was craving some junk food and when I ate some “not so good for me” Mexican food one night, the next day not only was I bloated, I was lethargic and my body ached. I don’t think I would have even noticed that was the cause had I not been writing down everything I ate and how I felt.  I always understood that fast food could give me indigestion or that extra bloat, but I didn’t realize that because of one bad meal, I slept badly and so the next day I was seriously off my game.

I think that is part of the reason that I am so horrible at losing weight sometimes, because I don’t notice how bad food makes me feel. I don’t know if others are as oblivious as I am, but I think that not only writing down what I eat but how I feel is helping me see what I have been missing for years. I think I am different in that I don’t really notice what food is doing to my body. I am teaching myself to be more in tune with how I feel and what I need to do to fix it.

This is making food choices and exercise easier because I understand the repercussions a little better. I am excited that I am making a little more progress on my road to being healthy. I guess it is super healthy to at least know how I feel.

I am oblivious about how my body feels so often. If I have a goal, I can work through pain and hunger without feeling it. I have eaten crappy food before and I know it must have made me feel sluggish over and over but I didn’t notice it. At least, with my new plan I can get on top of that now.

Not only that, I have been writing myself encouraging things. I know that sounds corny but I am really liking having this way of checking up on myself. It is both an efficient way to keep track of how I am feeling and what affects my feelings, but also a way of encouraging my efforts in all areas. At this point, I have to be excited about anything that is working and providing more stability in my life.