You Can Take the Girl out of Oklahoma…

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This was how Oklahoma welcomed me. 

 

About a month ago I went to visit my family in my native state of Oklahoma. I was inspired by my family to move more and to enjoy the simpler things that I sometimes ignore. My family is extraordinary and every time I am around them it is as if I have been given new life. Sometimes it reaffirms who I am. Being away from my home state for so long sometimes allows me to forget what I have inherited and how deep those Okie roots run: the laid back sense of humor, master story telling, and the vein of gumption that runs through all of us.

It’s that tenacity and live wire like energy that is contagious. Inspiration to move and accomplish the physical is everywhere.

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Going to the grocery store with Mom is like an aerobics work out. I was still getting out of the car and she had a cart inside already. 

In the mornings Mom and I would do our perspective exercises. She does a video by Gilad, a very handsome, bulging, swarthy man. She’s done various videos of his for years. I don’t enjoy the aerobic videos so I went over to the corner and played my Pandora music channel and did yoga. This concurrent clashing music didn’t even bother us. At one point we discussed how this could be a metaphor for our relationship.  I said it is funny how we clearly like different things but still hang out because we love each other so much.

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We are so proud of my beautiful, smart, strong sis.

I was encouraged to walk by my sister Katie because she walks everywhere. We trekked all over the OSU campus before I had to take my shoes off and sit until someone brought the car to me. My feet were done but she was still going. I feel after 40 you shouldn’t have to suck it up.

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Yep, we even fed a horse! These people live super special lives.

My brother and his wife have a handsome five year old son named Caleb and he inspired everyone to get physical. Katie and I even risked and failed at cartwheels. That family spends most evenings outside in the sun after dinner riding bikes or watching Caleb ride his big wheels up and down the driveway. I got to ride bikes, slide down slides, fight imaginary wolves and run through the park. Caleb and I even had a session of yoga together. That was so fun. There are these children’s yoga videos on YouTube, and he loves them. A fifteen minute video story of going to an amusement park with a Hispanic penguin had me sweating!

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First time on a bike in years, can you tell?

 

While some of these attempts didn’t work out so well (one slide left me with a swollen and bruised thumb, another with two skinned knees, the cartwheel left me with a slightly sprained ankle, and I also got kicked in the head more than once while rough housing,) the fun that I had was more than worth it. I will never forget this trip because I learned I miss being playful. It is absolutely the best exercise. I miss that idea that my body is here so I might as well see what it can do. Seeing what my body is capable of is an activity I have neglected and it is actually fun. My new fitness goals are: being able to perform a cartwheel, AND get enough arm strength to walk only on my hands while someone holds my feet by the time I go back to Oklahoma. We tried it this time. While I could hold my brothers legs while he walked the living room, I couldn’t quite walk on my hands. I will though mark my words. I am doing planks every day.  If I can walk on my hands then maybe there is even a handstand in my future! Now that is exciting! Won’t my nephew be so proud of Aunt Danielle?

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I felt like this was the appropriate image for a mic drop…

Back Baby Steppin’

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This is me socializing in the park. Even my lunch dates require exercise now!

There so many exciting things are happening in my life right now. I am volunteering at the library, getting to know new people, writing more and exercising more. I have not had an episode of pain in two weeks. I am delighted. My husband is relaxed and I am making very small progress on all areas of my life. I am cooking, walking, and stretching a lot more. I am in the zone.

Something that is helping me besides being pain free for two weeks is this new deal I have with myself. If I do not write at least an hour a day, then I have to forgo my modem and give it to my husband to take with him to work. Without the router I have no internet and no TV because we have no cable. So I have nothing to research with while writing or entertain me while I clean. This is an even bigger motivator to jump start myself than the writing I am already doing. Once I get writing I get more excited about the writing. So this is just a jump start to get the fingers moving! It has worked. This week I have written every day.

I have also met my pedometer goal every day and done yoga three times. I even tried to do a yoga video called Power Yoga with Rodney Yee. Rodney Yee is a yoga instructor born in my native state of Oklahoma. (I just found that out!) He is a very handsome man who apparently only owns pants. These pants are made of spandex and are usually neon colors. I like his calm voice and dulcet tones, but I think I want to branch out. I think that I need something called Half Power because I had a lot of trouble doing those yoga moves so quickly. Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog —  Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog — Downward dog –Upward dog…sweaty sweaty sweaty sweaty but I was done when he got to Half-moon pose and fell over because my knee didn’t like it very much.  So I stopped but was proud of myself for attempting and making it about half way through. It’s been a long time since I even put in an exercise DVD. Actually I think last time I put a video in it was a VHS tape.

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Lynne my library lunch date!

I am also cooking more so my husband and I are eating fresh vegetables and fruits. I got back into making smoothies and eggs with veggies for breakfast. Leftovers for lunch and for dinner I am cooking fresh salads, veggie filled pastas and I make delicious veggie tacos.  I am not saying I haven’t had weird pizza roll dinners once or twice but I have been making great strides to getting my healthy habits back.

It feels like I am just bragging in this post but I feel as if I must after what I have been through lately. I am now looking forward to progressing but more importantly, the most encouraging development is coming back to the program feels inevitable. If I have to put my exercise plan on hold for a month because of pain and there be no doubt I will get back to it when I feel better, then that means I am officially a person who works out. It am not a poser. I am the real deal.

 

What Gives Me Hope

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Brad took this pic and emailed it to me saying, “My wife is so pretty.”

Today was a very good day. I woke up with no pain, husband made my favorite breakfast, and I got to volunteer with full energy, and then walked home as if I hadn’t a care in the world. It was one of those days when I have felt extraordinarily lucky to be alive because I have no pain. If I hadn’t had all these health problems I don’t know if I would feel this blessed, or maybe I am just extremely smart.

I don’t mean to brag, but I believe people who can see the good stuff, the sometimes referred to silver lining, are the smart ones. You know how they say that most comedians have gone through a dark time. I know that makes sense. Sometimes we have to go through the fire to appreciate the soul soothing rain. I know that I have read other people with chronic pain talking about how blessed and lucky they feel on the good days. It is just natural to soak it up, tilt your head to the sun, when you live in the shade most of the time.

Right now I am typing but also writing letters to my family and dancing to a Pandora channel filled with Korn, Metallica, and AC/DC. That’s my feel good music. I think that any day I feel up to dancing is a good day!

I wish I felt this way every day. I wish “Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap” could help me get out of my chair and giggle and dance when I am doubled over in pain, but as good as that song is…

I know my family and friends have been worried about me. It is hard when they are so far away and they call me when I am in agony or what’s worse when I am on drugs that make me talk like Kermit the Frog on drugs. It can be excruciating to watch your loved one go through pain. I know because my Mom has chronic pain. She is strong and hides it better than I do, but she is in some form of pain most of the time.

Going through the endometriosis and adenomyosis has helped me to understand how it feels to be her. Even if you are surrounded by tons of people it can be lonely, because no matter how much you explain it…no one will know what it feels like to be you.  Also, they may not always believe you are in pain or to the extent you are and that is isolating and insulting. The cool thing is most people will believe you and those people might ask what they can do, and I have some suggestions that I might have wished for if I knew how much it helped. Now I know how to help my Mom because someone helped me.

My husband has been so awesome.  Being in pain, you would think, would make me want to be rubbed or massaged, but it hasn’t. I just want to be held. I just want two arms around me, and his strength and presence. I don’t know if that what everyone wants, but that is what I want from my husband. He holds me and I remember he is there and I am not alone.

Also when I neglect something because I have been curled up like a rolli polli all day, husband doesn’t even skip a beat, he says, “Of course you didn’t do the dishes/laundry/inane chore because someone was stabbing you in the ovaries.” Small tip here for those husbands and wives who think it’s understood. It’s not. Say the words.  We feel guilty, and shitty, and useless because of the pain. When you say the words, “Of course I didn’t expect that,” it helps and relieves so much. Absolution is a powerful thing.

He also helps me have things to look forward to. He makes plans for the future with me, like dates and vacations.

Distraction from the pain is essential. My husband entertains me with reading material, music, and my favorite action movies.

Friends and family also distract me. When I start moaning and groaning about my horrible life. It is wonderful when they listen, acknowledge how shitty the pain is, and then distract me by asking me about something else in my life. If then they transition to a funny story about themselves or even distract me by letting me help them with a problem that is awesome. It really helps to stop marinating in my problems and usually that is the only thing that kicks me out of my grief – hearing someone I love’s problems. I love my friends because this is what they do. They show me I can handle it. While it might not be dancing to AC/DC, I usually leave the phone call giggling and feeling blessed and that is what I need more than anything: hope. I hope for the good days. I hope for friendship. I hope for more laughter and dancing.

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

For those of you who also have chronic pain what helps you? How do your friends and family help? What do you wish they’d do?

We all need maintenance

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My Momma: The glue in our family

There are so many incredible women in my life. Beautiful, remarkable, talented, and really genuinely care about the people in their lives. It amazes me the lengths they will go through to take care of the people in their lives, but then totally neglect their own health and their needs. It is so difficult to believe after all this time the guilt and shame built into our roles as a woman, and especially as mothers. I am not a mother, but a daughter, sister, and friend to many. I watch from the outside, which can be more telling than inside sometimes. I watch these monoliths of strength hold up their families in ways that would make super glue want to patent them. They spend most of their days devoted to keeping their families safe, well fed, educated, and well adjusted. The culture of sacrifice pervades incessantly, to the point their always standing, always the last to eat at dinner time, and even feel guilty when they are sick. I thought that was an old way of thinking, but it is so prevalent they even make Nyquil commercials about it.

I get it. I really do, society says that if you spend any time on yourself that you are selfish. It isn’t men either, we do this to ourselves. Our moms, grandmas, and great grandmas gave so much of themselves. We feel this urge to be productive, useful, and loving at all times. It is not just a current expectation it is a sociological imperative. My grandma had surgery to remove cancer on her nose in the morning, and much to my dismay, that afternoon was making my Grandpa a sandwich.  My Mom still can’t take a day off and all of the kids are grown and moved out of the house. My sister in law who is the best mom I have ever seen, felt guilty last week because she was so sick she couldn’t make breakfast. She has a very competent husband, my strapping brother, who makes a very delicious breakfast. I know, I have eaten his biscuits and gravy and they are better than my own momma’s (Please don’t tell her.) My nephew is probably better taken care of than any child in the world, and that is not Okie exaggeration.

I am not making a case for neglecting of children or any other responsibilities. I am trying to impress upon my sisters, mothers, and friends to stop putting your needs last and please breakup with the guilt monster.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer.” –That’s from the CDC website

I believe that there is just too much. We have too much in our lives anymore. We need an exhaust vent. I am not a parent but I need my alone time. I need to do things that make me feel autonomous. My hubby and I are eerily close, but we both need time off. He will play video games all day if he wants. He doesn’t need to be productive. He understands the need to vent the steam, and doesn’t feel guilty about it.

Everyone works now, and I am a feminist so I am loving that, but with women still shouldering most of the household responsibilities it means most of those women are over worked and stressed. Why is there guilt when a day off is needed? Why do we feel like we have to explain our time? I wish my Mom was more indulgent. It is not selfish, its maintenance.

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I’ve begun to really rely on my yoga maintenance. It makes my mind calm down. My muscles relax and my heart be more kind to my loved ones.

Even inanimate objects require maintenance. Cars need their oil changed. Houses need gutters cleaned and filters changed. Don’t we deserve better than inanimate objects? Please, if you are reading this, find something you love doing that is all yours and take time out to do it. Even if it is super small like twenty minutes a day, please make sure it is yours and that you feel amazing after you do it. Maintain your sanity, and in turn your heart and soul. I have been doing yoga, and I love a nice long bath. My sister likes the hard core stuff like rowing machines. Art is fun, meditation, journaling, or reading, even just sitting down with a trashy magazine is good. Women, mommas especially, need restorative time to themselves or even time with friends. Please if you feel guilty call me. I will tell you it is okay. If you need permission, I will tell you how much you deserve to indulge. It’s not selfish. It is maintenance.

There is such a thing as helping wrong, or as my Mom liked to say, NOT HELPING!

I have a beautiful young friend that won’t go to the doctor because she is afraid they won’t do anything for her other than tell her she is fat.

I will let you sit with that for a minute. Yeah, truly soak that up. Because what fat person needs someone with a medical degree to point that out. As if our culture doesn’t already stigmatize us to the point of brow beating it into our heads, but now that a doctor says it…

There are so many people that claim they are doing what is right by telling fat people to lose weight. I, as an official fat person, want to stand up and speak for all fat people right now and tell you to not do that. Admittedly if anyone could talk about another’s weight it would be a doctor. However, don’t talk to anyone, not even a young person with judgment and announce that they are fat as if that is the thing causing every problem. An ear infection can’t be caused by being overweight. Believe it or not doc, there isn’t an overweight person in this universe that isn’t aware that they are overweight.

Let me assume for the moment that you are really concerned with my weight. You are desperately trying to save me and you feel that the only way you can do that is to tell me that I am overweight and need to lose weight. You feel the only way for me to be healthy is to do so. I get it. For me it is true, I need to lose weight so that my five three frame can feel better. However some fat people are still healthy. However, that still isn’t the point. There are also many reasons why someone is overweight. Unless it is a health reason, nothing you do is going to change that.  So the shaming of a patient is not necessary. Do you understand?

Maybe you believe that shaming them will cause them to lose weight. Many times and many ways that it has been expressed and studies have come out that say THAT IS JUST NOT TRUE. Shaming people doesn’t help them lose weight.

You know what sucks is, it may not even be the doctors fault. It is probably a symptom of an intolerant society that refuses to actually take the time to be empathetic.   If you have been on the internet at all you have probably seen the video from that Canadian comedian talking about fat people. I refuse to write her name because I don’t want to give her any more hits or any more publicity. Let’s be honest: I struggle to forget hateful people exist so I definitely try to forget their names.  It is intolerance such as this that encourages fat people to be ashamed. The more people act like this the less likely people will get help with their obesity. When you shame someone they hide. When you shame someone they shrink. This is your goal. You are hateful and I hope that someday you will see what you have done and you will change.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. I wish that more people had empathy. Not just for this issue but for every issue. I think that this is possibly the most important thing we should teach each other. I also think that the minute you cannot empathize with a certain part of society, you should shut the fuck up about it.  If you can’t for the life of you figure out why someone would be fat, then shut the fuck up until you do. BECAUSE YOU ARE IGNORANT! Struggle to figure out a realistic not hateful reason. If you can’t then – don’t speak – because all you are doing is making the problem worse. Stop making it worse. REALLY. STOP. Please. Stop.

I am so tired of my family and friends being ashamed or saddened by your ignorance. As a community, we are failing our fellow humans.

There is a girl who is only three years old diagnosed with type two diabetes. Her parents I am sure probably were just ignorant to how to eat healthy, and how to take care of themselves. So that poor girl has to live in a society that hates her, and makes fun of her. Some day she is going to want to change to take care of herself. Do you know how hard it is going to be for her? When all she has learned is to take solace in food, she is going to grow up in a society that is relentlessly finding fault in those who do so. Her friends will make fun of her, the media will vilify her, and doctors will chastise her.

That is just the support a young person needs to get better, right?

Now, I am going to go really radical. We need American women to have pride in their bodies, not only the ones that have your standard of beauty.  Our bodies are magnificent in all sizes. Our bodies are works of art that move. We rely on them every day. We must appreciate them; love our bodies, in order to live a healthy existence. We also need good self-esteem to be happy. There is no reason not to love our bodies. There may be things that need help, or maintenance, but it is not something to hate. Stop contributing to these young people hating their bodies. Just stop.

I had no idea I was so disgusting.

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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.

We Need A Different Way Of Seeing Things

These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped.  I was the same weight in both.
These two pictures were taken within two weeks of each other, neither photo shopped. I was the same weight in both.

I started this blog because I got tired of hearing how easy losing weight is. I got sick of hearing, “I lost weight like this and you can too!” This is typically accompanied by a picture of the happy smaller person in some sort of tight clothing, next to one when they weighed their worst. The worst picture is always of the person wearing something unfortunate and usually sitting down so their rolls are perfectly blatant or chin down, double chin emphasized. A picture like that could bring one to their senses and start a weight loss journey.

However, what really upsets me is the myth that is perpetrated by the media that weight loss is easy. If I did it this way– you can too. This is not true. In the most basic sense, yes, it is possible to lose weight a myriad of ways. It’s possible, but highly unlikely. It is even more unlikely that I will lose the weight the exact way anyone else has lost it. Everything I do, from waking up in the morning, to talking to my husband is different from anyone else. The most essential and basic relationship is the one with sustenance, and it’s a personal one. Not even my siblings like the same things or eat the same things I do and we are essentially genetically as close to one another as can be. We each have different emotional responses to food, exercise and will power. My own mother approaches food differently than I do, yet, the one stop shop method of weight loss is peddled from every media outlet possible.

One thing sadly missing from most weight loss programs or ideas is the emotional component. It seems blatantly ignored. If you look at other programs for addiction they deal with the emotional component. They ask questions like: How do you deal with stress, how can you get support, why do you use this addiction to cope, and how does your addiction affect the ones you love?

Here is the support food addicts get, jewels like: calories in/ calories out, eat less / exercise more, and nothing tastes better than skinny feels. The simplicity galls me.

What is worse is that over simplification can make failure all the more disappointing. By making weight loss seem easy then it makes it even harder not to internalize self hatred and pain. The fallacy perpetrated by most weight loss companies, that anyone can do their programs, does more harm than good.

For me, I didn’t realize how hard it could be until I had failed many times.  Each time I failed at a diet attempt or exercise venture, I would go into a deep guilt and binge for days. I am sure I am not the only one who didn’t realize that weight loss is a lifelong goal, and a very difficult one. No one admits they were deluded into believing that they could lose weight easily. I would say we are all patsy’s of the weight loss community. If you look at the statistics, you can see two thirds of Americans are overweight, I think that something is wrong with the system. There is a multimillion dollar industry out there, and it isn’t helping as much as we’d think. I believe the problem is the misconception that it is easy.

I want to show that losing weight and getting healthy is not easy. To weight loss professionals and to companies who provide weight loss assistance, I would like to offer this advice: don’t trivialize weight loss. If you want to be helpful, acknowledge the struggle it takes to change an entire lifestyle. Let those people, who do accomplish this great thing for their bodies, be even more proud because society could finally realize the difficulty. Even more, allow people who are having trouble losing weight be kinder to themselves so that it is easier to get back on a healthier path. Studies I’ve read show confidence and self esteem is an important factor in weight loss. It is time that as a society we started to work towards that goal instead of against it.