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An optimist, a pessimist and a realist walk into a bar…

19 Jan

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I’m not exactly sure how the conversation started. This very young, cute-sy, twenty something year old tells me how optimism is really the cure for all things painful. That’s not exactly what he said, but that is what I heard. My eyes narrowed to slits, I took in his perfectly coifed hair do, not a single black strand out of place. His slim blue suit was on point… He could have just stepped out of a magazine spread. Legit. I wish I would have taken his picture just to show you. No doubt, his broad smile had opened a few doors, and likely even more zippers. No, no he isn’t at all my type, even if I were single (which I’m not.  I’m WAAAYYY married, like 22 years of marriage – married.) That’s not where this story is going, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give you the background.

I stood there taking him in (judging this book by the cover) and wondered if he really believed what he was saying. Could optimism really be the cure for all things? Could bad things cease to exist by simply not acknowledging them? Had he been successful with this concept?

My response, “hmmm… I’m not sure about that. I’m more of a realist. Neither believing all things are good, or bad. But allowing space for both.”

He sputtered a bit and I continued to stare. I do that sometimes when I’m thinking. I stare …and blink….and remain uncomfortably quiet. Wanting to be cynical and ask him for the resume of loved lost, evaporated dreams, crushed opportunities….and yet willing myself to not go there. For one, I didn’t want to have to share my list (if asked)….and I honestly found it hard to believe that he had experienced enough to hold the conversation. I stared until I noticed him blushing and then said “do you really believe that?”

Yes, of course he did.

Would he in ten years? In twenty? I don’t know.

I know that I’ve learned that life is not all good or all bad. It certainly isn’t fair. Bad things DO happen to good people.

Positivity is such an endearing quality and I really do try to “look on the bright side”. I start each day fresh.  I forgive (even when I don’t want to.) I believe the energy you put out in the world is the energy you get back. Some call it karma, some say it’s biblical with “you reap what you sow”.

I also allow space for heartache. For disappointment. On those days I don’t simply suck it up and power my way through.

I feed it Chick-Fila….and chocolate. Sometimes vodka …I smother my self with blankets and wallow in the sorrow of it all. I take the time to be there, to breathe in the heaviness, and to grieve. I allow myself to cry. Nothing feels more lonely to a  person struggling than suggesting they barrel through to the land of sunshine and roses powered only on fumes and a fake smile.

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No. No, it is ok to be sad too. Some where along the way I think we’ve forgotten that.

The trick is, not staying there for to long. At some point, you have to bid it farewell. Pack it’s lunch and send it on its way. It’s even okay to offer a warm goodbye hug or two. He will be back….sadness, disappointment, heartache… They always return at some point, knocking the dust from their boots as the enter through the threshold. They find their way to your table and ask for coffee. While it brews, you wonder how you got here, again….We can only pray the visits are few and far between…maybe that’s just my realistic world view. Maybe it’s not the same for everyone.

The ebb and flow of life. It’s hard to appreciate triumph if you have not experienced defeat. It’s hard to know true love without first knowing heartache. Sometimes the two are intertwined and inseparable.

A realist searching for balance –  believing that to far to the left or to the right is neither right or wrong …it is just to far.

What lens do you use to view the world?

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Caution: curves ahead

22 Mar

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This week I watched a recent video of myself that I made with my son.  I was shocked  at the image I saw reflecting back at me. I’ve had a rough couple of years with some things …and apparently, I am an emotional eater….or possibly an emotional drinker… maybe…I’ve found a fondness for red wine and it found a roomy home on my hips.

Over the last few months, I began moving the clothes that no longer fit to the left side of my closet. I’m still flabbergasted  when I’m unable to pull up the pants I’ve worn for the last 10+ years past my thighs….The pile on the left of the closet  is large.

This means I’ve also had to  purchased new pants – begrudgingly. My collection is minimal in comparison. It was either that or go naked… I had no choice in the matter. Yes, leggings work well and are cheap…but they hide the fact that I appear to be growing – out, not up. At this point, my ass could qualify for it’s own zip code…

So, I’m watching this video thinking – How in the world?  Really.  How did I let myself gain 30 pounds? When I look in the mirror I know I’m bigger…but this video.  Lord, please promise me that the camera adds 10 pounds…that I really don’t look that way in REAL life.

But the truth is I’m now heavier than when I delivered both of my children.  I know I’m teetering on the verge of no return….and I don’t know what to do about it.  Don’t get me wrong. I know there are many women larger than myself. This isn’t about them. THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. This is about me feeling good, or not, in my own five-foot-five-and-half skin.

This is how my day starts:  I try on a new black skirt that arrived yesterday.  To tight.  I contemplated keeping it for “when I lose the weight” but more than slightly depressed at the likely hood of that NOT happening, I tossed the skirt on the bed to return later.

I then selected white slacks that I knew were a size or two larger. They fit, but the view from behind was not so cute….On went the Spanx – boy shorts.  Spanx, the well-known by ladies around the world (but rarely seen by men) undergarments that are made to make me look skinner.  Yet, I some how now feel like a sausage.  A bratwurst to be specific…But damn it to heck, I have to go with this outfit because I’ve already worn the other two pants that fit me this week.  Tomorrow it’s jeans….

I tossed on a cute shirt from a local boutique that I haven’t worn since last summer. It was a little snug across the chest but nothing terrible I thought…However, the more I moved my flat iron across my hair, I realized it was too constricting.  I no longer liked it.  Crossing my arms at my waist to lift the fabric….I find I can’t. I was stuck. I couldn’t get this damn shirt off my body.  I twisted, I tried….I grunted…I thought, “Imma have to cut this bitch off.”…For a second I contemplated running downstairs to wake up one of my children to help me pull this sucker off….I’m not sure I’d live that one down…EVVAHH… Five minutes and a few tears later, I wiggled out of  shirt looking like I’d been on a subway fight. Red in the face, hair a mess…

I promptly moved it to the left side of my closet.  My first thought?

You know you are fat when you get stuck in your freakin’ shirt. What the hell…

On to work. As I’m walking up the sidewalk I say a little prayer.  “Lord, I don’t like this. I don’t like how I feel about me. You love me and have helped me in so many ways.  Help me to lose this weight.”

Fast forward through my day.

I’m in the ladies room where a coworker asks How I’m doing. “busy. good.” I say.    I tell her she looks beautiful today.  She shrugs, not believing my words, her eyes drifting away from me.  Then she says, “You look good too. How did you gain your weight? Eating too much.”

Yessssss. She said those words.

Before you get riled up and ready to kick ass, please hear her story.

She is from South America. She LOVES curves.  Which until her recent weight loss, she had — curves for dayyyys!  She tells me, almost too eagerly, she can’t wait until she can put on some pounds.  She is serious…This I know.

I tell her I’ll shift her some of mine – If only it were that easy!   She then says with a large grin and wiggling eyebrows,  “I bet your husband is happy” as she points to my zip code carrying ass….

She is losing weight not because she wants to friends, but because of the chemo.  You see, she has breast cancer.  She wears a scarf to cover the hair loss which makes her self-conscious.  She has a hard time looking me in the eyes,  really – looking anyone in the eyes, these days.  Yet, I think she looks more beautiful than in any day prior.  Her warrior spirit is shining.  She is fighting and it shows. Without the distraction of her hair, which was indeed gorgeous, her eyes become the focal point, dancing in the light.  She is simply stunning.

I get back to my desk and think, “You know your fat when…”

Then I stop.  I close my eyes….I sense God’s hand…and I pray.

I thank God that I’m healthy.  Specifically, I thank him for my cancer free body.  With embarrassment, I apologize for believing anything different. A few extra pounds is nothing in comparison. I thank him for this lesson, for humbling my spirit.  I know I have some work to do…and I will.

Ladies, would you please join me in shifting our focus away from who we want to be and allow ourselves permission to be who we are?  Let’s not put our self-worth in our hair, our bodies, our curves – or lack of…

PS – If no one told you today, let me have the honor of doing so.  I love you. You are beautiful.

Put that on repeat.

Perspective.

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