Welcome to 2017

 

So far, I am not impressed.

Let me refocus.

So far, 2017 has been a tough year.

Someone asked me recently how I was doing. I hesitated. I had just finished a pretty intense workout. It wasn’t particularly difficult, but for me it was. I felt like garbage. I hadn’t been to the gym for about three weeks. I’d worked out in that time, but only running. No strength training. No high intensity intervals. So getting back to fast-paced circuits with moves that I’ve never done before (weighted mountain climbers. Seriously, go fuck yourself), it was tough.

It was also particularly difficult because I’m fighting off a cold. This reality seriously upsets me. I normally don’t get sick too often. Maybe once a year. But I’ve been getting sick frequently lately. I got sick in October. It wasn’t too bad. I did a decent job of fighting it off and getting over it within a few days. Then in December, I got sick again. I think I’ve blocked that round of illness out of my head for the most part. I just remember that the recovery part sucked. The few days after not really being sick anymore were filled with being gross and snotty and lethargic.

Two colds in three months. Not great. But now, new year, I was fighting off a cold again. I was almost concerned. Had my immune system plummeted so low because there’s something seriously wrong with me? Despite my homebody tendencies (or maybe because of them?!?), had I somehow weakened my immune system? Should I be concerned?

No. You’re fine, Yvonne. Here’s what (most likely) happened:

You’ve been traveling more.

You’re around young people more.

That’s it.

Okay, I’ll add stress to the list. You’ve been more stressed out lately, and that isn’t helping anything or anyone. It’s okay. I think we all are.

Last week, I traveled to San Francisco. I now do that from time to time. With my (amazing) new job, I get to head up to our National Headquarters (it’s seriously, like, ten people, but it sounds cool) and touch base with my coworkers IRL. It’s great because I like the people I work with, I get to see everyone, and I get to check out a little bit of the Bay Area each time. This trip, I stayed in an Airbnb with not-so-subtle gay erotica peppered through the place.

On my flight, there was someone coughing behind me. I was immediately infuriated, then I got over it. My flight was also delayed, so I got to spend more time in a stuffy airport. And, when I arrived at SFO, it was pouring rain. Like the smarty-pants that I am, I decided to walk a half-mile to this hella hippy grocery store so that I could at least have something fresh and green and leafy during my stay.

Maybe because of the sick person on the plane, or the stressful delay, or the weather, or all of the above, I was then fighting off a cold.

It could also be the super stressful 24 hours that preceded the trip…

 

I flew up to SFO on Sunday morning. Instead of the relaxing day of doing laundry and packing and hanging out with my Johnny Lovely before my trip, I spent three stressful hours making pureed soup for my poor father who won’t be able to solid food for at least another week. Why? Because he nearly bit off his tongue!

That feels weird writing that. It’s weirder saying it out loud. It’s even worse, I imagine, experiencing it for one’s self.

Here’s how I experienced it:

On Saturday, Johnny Lovely, Betty Jane Grace (my puppers), and I went for a walk. We went through our neighborhood to the base of a hill where there is a nice trail. We took that trail around to our neighborhood and back home. It was beautiful. Great weather. So on and so on.

When we got home, I noticed I had a ton of missed text messaged and a few missed calls from my sister. Reading through the texts, a few words stood out: ER, blood everywhere, awful.

I called my sister to learn that during a bike ride, my dad had an accident. His bike lost traction in a puddle of water, he fell, and he bit through his tongue. At the time, they also thought that he may have broken his thumb and cracked a bunch of teeth. Thankfully, it was only a bad bruise on his hand, and he only chipped one tooth.

But his tongue you guys! It was bad. Thanks to my super gross brother, I got to see a picture of my dad, in shock, with his tongue dangling out of his mouth, held together by a small piece of tissue. It reminded me of how some people cut their tongue in two so that it looks like a lizard tongue, but somehow in the process the person sneezed or the guy cutting the tongue tripped, and instead of a nice clean cut it was a fucking disaster.

Talking with my sister and the many texts later, I learned that my dad would probably be okay. A plastic surgeon was called, and he stitched my dad up real nice. I wanted to be there, but I had to get ready for my trip the next day (laundry, pack, and so on). I felt terrible. So I did the one thing that I knew would be helpful: I made my pops a ton of soup.

Since his mouth was a nightmare, my dad couldn’t eat. He couldn’t even talk. Everything hurt. So I made sure that he would have something to eat with veggies and beans and grains, all pureed so that his nightmare mouth could handle it. Tomato and white bean. Roasted and potato butternut squash. Black bean, corn, and quinoa.

That night, after three hours of cooking, two loads of laundry, packing, walking around the house making sure I had everything, and writing myself notes of things I needed to pack the next morning, I got to bed late. I was a nervous wreck. I needed many hugs from Johnny to make me feel better. I felt guilty for not going to see my dad. I felt bad that he was in so much pain. I felt anxious about my flight the next morning. But I knew that I had done something valuable for my dad by making him a whole week’s worth of food.

The next day was my flight. I left the house in a rush. I remember vaguely that I got frustrated with John for something (probably stupid since I don’t even remember it).

I left the house later that I wanted and decided that I could make it on time if I speed the whole way there. No big deal, but I rarely speed, so this was a commitment.

But then, I got a flat tire on the way to my parents’ house (where I park and get a ride to the airport so that I don’t have to pay for parking). I BARELY made it to their house with my flat. The light came on not even half way. I pulled over to check on my tires. They seemed fine. I kept driving. I decided to drive slowly the rest of the way, but after a while my nerves kicked in and I started to speed again. I figured the light was a signal for something else—change your oil…eventually!

When I got off the freeway in Ontario, I began to hear the vibrating noise of a flat tire. I went slowly the rest of the way. I parked. Got out. And saw that the rear driver’s-side tire was flat. This marks the third time that I’ve gotten a flat, and it’s always that same damn tire!

Oh well. I could deal with this later.

I grabbed a ride to the airport, just making it on time!

That’s when the nice man behind the United counter told me that my flight wasn’t for another 12 hours. I booked the PM flight on accident.

BUT I was in luck! There was one seat left on the AM flight, a flight that is normally over booked. He switched my flight, and I rushed through security. I got to my gate safe and sound to learn that the flight was going to be delayed four hours due to maintenance. FUUUUGH!

You know what. It was okay. I can wait four hours. I’ve done that before. I’ve had nearly every single flight I’ve taken out of Ontario on United delayed. I can relax, grab a coffee, and settle in with a book.

So I did that.

About an hour into my four-hour delay, United had an announcement: they had a new plane we could take! It would be there in 10 minutes. And so, I got on a plane, flew to San Francisco, and landed (without difficulty) in under an hour.

The without difficulty note is important. At the time, San Francisco was experiencing a BUNCH of rain, enough to pull them out of the historic drought. Half of the airport runways were shut down. So many flights were delayed because of the weather. But I was able to get in just fine. I was able to get a ride to a Burmese restaurant, eat some awesome Burmese food, and get to my Airbnb without much difficulty. I was okay.

It was difficult with my frantic morning and my nightmare-by-proxy Saturday, but I was fine.

Here’s what’s up you guys: I started writing this post, like, three weeks ago. For one, it was difficult to write about my dad’s accident. It was pretty traumatic for me, and I didn’t really experience it.

But then, I experienced fairly debilitating depression. Donald F. *rump was sworn in as #notmypresident. I couldn’t sleep. I had difficultly doing work. I felt like screaming and crying all of the time. And I did cry about a week into his presidency, after he signed the not-a-Muslim ban.

Writing became something that I wanted to do, but I didn’t have the energy for. I wanted to write about the Women’s March that I attended. Maybe I still will.

I want to write about the trip to Portland, OR that I just took with Johnny Lovely. I went to Portland guys! It was great.

Three weeks ago, it was just too much. It was too difficult to write. It was too difficult to think clearly. It was too difficult to do anything really.

But, I do want to reflect back on my trip to San Francisco. A lot went wrong. A delayed flight. A flat tire. Booking the wrong flight because my ADHD makes it really difficult to pay attention to details. My dad’s tongue!!

But I was okay. I somehow managed to make it through everything. I held it together. At the time at least, I didn’t let the situation drag me down. I refocused. I gained better perspective.

It’s hard to do that a lot of the time. Most of the time.

I didn’t let those difficulties drag me down in San Francisco, but I did when I got back. Fighting off a cold (and a new president) was overwhelming (debilitating).

This is me fighting through. This is me fighting for perspective. 2017 still isn’t great, but I can make it better. We’ve all heard the phrase “we create our own reality.” I kinda hate this phrase because we don’t always have control. We can’t just change our jobs or have enough money to pay our bills. Some things are shitty (like a lot of what I wrote above), but we can change the way we perceive them, and we can work to make them better.

I think it was Buddha who said: “What you dwell upon you become.”

So let’s refocus. Let’s not dwell on the negative. Let’s try to find some of the positive, like how the United guy helped me get on the right flight or how my dad’s tongue is doing better!

It’s going to be difficult. But there’s another phrase I like. Maybe it was Jesus. Or it could have been Mae West: “I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.”

Let’s get to work.

 

 

2017 Resolutions

As I stated in my previous post, I like New Year’s Resolutions. I love the idea of a new year and the possibility that year holds. I like to visualize the year ahead like a map, each month a stage in my travel. Who will I be at the end of the year? What will I have done? What will I have accomplished?

Sometimes I’ve set very simple resolutions, ones I know will make me happy: pet more cats. That’s always a good one. And it can be a challenge. You don’t always come across a cat. Dogs? Yes. But a cat? A friendly cat? One that will let you pet it? Good thing I have two cats.

I like to write my resolutions down so that I can reflect on them later. Did I do the things I hoped to do? Did I pet more cats this year? Hard to tell. I don’t know how many I pet last year. But it feels like more.

I’ve never really planned out my resolutions. Some people do. Real go-getters. They set dates and deadlines, benchmarks for progress. That’s good. That probably makes it easier to accomplish your goals. I however, have not done this.

Instead, I’ve written them out, in some detail, below. These are just some of my resolutions for this year. I have more, like: save money; travel; pet more cats. But below, you’ll find ones that are important to me. Ones that I’ve thought about a lot. Ones I felt compelled to share.

I’ve written them in the style of a debate brief. I don’t know why. They’re not up for debate. I simply like the style. It’s clean, straightforward, and clear. I hope you enjoy them and, if compelled, please share some of your resolutions with me. I’d love to read them.


Resolved: Yvonne Lorraine Lovely will read more books in 2017 than she did in 2016.

Background: Yvonne Lorraine Lovely, hereafter referred to as Yvonne, loves to read. She reads nearly every night, as least one chapter of a book from the stacks (yes, stacks) of books on her nightstand. She loves to read so much that she used to work in a bookstore, one that no longer exists due to progress and technology and a shitty economy (so it goes).

Therefore, Yvonne will read more books in 2017 than she did in 2016. In 2016, she read 30 books. Good. Great even considering that in 2015 she read something like 14 books. She more than doubled her reading list. While I do not insist that she double her list for this upcoming year, I stand solidly in favor of her reading more than 30 books. 31 perhaps?


Resolved: Yvonne will write, weekly if not daily, in 2017.

Background: Yvonne created a blog in 2016. This blog, the one you’re reading now, becoming evielovely, is a chronicle of her mind and her development as a person. She has a few (possibly three) readers. Thank you.

In 2016, she wrote, but not consistently. We will absolve her of any ill feelings because, we understand. She was going through some shit. In 2017, however, we highly encourage her to write more. Write her feelings. We know she has plenty of those. Write her thoughts. She’s always in her head. Get some of that out. Write about your work, your development, your progress, and your struggles. Write what you know. Get it out and share it with the world.

Write creatively. We know you have it in you. Write a story. Write a poem. Whatever it is, just write.


Resolved: Yvonne will continue to work on her mental health.

Background: Yvonne has had a rough few years. Honestly, her whole life has been rough. She can’t truly recall any time in her life when she wasn’t depressed. There may have been a few good years as a child, but she’s blocked many of those years out. That’s okay. She doesn’t need them anymore.

The past, say, four years have been really rough. She’s been depressed, everyday, after the death of her aunt in 2012. Or maybe it was the moment she heard her sister say, through strained teary vocal cords, “Aunt Jolene has cancer.” That moment changed her. The phone call four months later changed her. The call that expressed, like a confession, like a brick to her stomach, that it was over. She passed. Yvonne hasn’t been the same.

She wasn’t the same after receiving a text message, what, a year and a half later? It came through on a rainy day in November. An awful day that was grey and dirty and exhausting. “Kaylee committed suicide.” Her breath caught. How?  Why?  Oh god.

She wasn’t the same after a phone call nine months later. Something’s wrong. An attempt at suicide. Days in a hospital. But then, in a flash, it was over. She was okay. Everything was okay. Nothing had changed.

But it wasn’t. And it had.

After that, Yvonne knew she needed to take care of herself. She knew that her depression was becoming too much for her to hold on to on her own. She developed an anxiety disorder. She started having panic attacks. Life became overwhelming. Answering the phone was too much. Opening email. Responding to a text. Her head became heavy. Her arms were like weights. She’d cry just turning a corner. Her life halted. So low. So sharp.

She’s doing better. She sees someone about it. Two someones. A councilor. A psychiatrist. She’s medicated. The panic attacks have lessened. No more crying jags. She has good days.

Keep working, Yvonne. Take their advice. Take care of yourself.


Resolved: Yvonne will work on her physical health as much as she works on her mental health.

Background: Yvonne has, for most of her adult life, worked out. She’s learned to love to run. She’s gotten strong. But it’s been tough. With mental health issues, the ability to move one’s body becomes impossible sometimes. There have been good stretches of time where she’s been able to be consistent with a workout routine. There have been mornings she’s been able to wake up early (before the sun once or twice) and run. There have also been times where the thought of getting out of bed was too much, so she didn’t.

Some people argue that exercise is good for depression. They’re right. But they need to shut the fuck up about it. I’ve read many articles about natural ways to fight depression. That’s great. I get it. Eat well. Move your body and all that. That may work for some people. But if you’re using all of your energy just to stay alive you may not have any more to spare for a quick jog. That’s okay.

Unfortunately, for Yvonne, and many more like her, with depression came weight gain. I’m not here to judge. Fast food is still food. Frozen dinners provide a quick, warm meal. But if she’s doing better, I argue that she can improve her physical health as well.

Let’s not measure this is pounds. Her body is fine no matter what weight it is. Be strong. Be capable. Do pushups without wanting to die. Get to a point where your heart rate can soar without feeling like you’re going to have a panic attack (because exercise and panic attacks can feel quite similar).


Resolved: Yvonne will create beautiful things in 2017.

Background: Yvonne used to be an artist. She used to paint and sculpt things out of clay. She was never really that good, but it felt good.

Yvonne will create things this year. She will use her favorite tools. She will create beautiful meals to share with her family. She will create memories with her friends. She will create laughter and love and beauty. She will use to hands. She will use her mind. She will use her voice. She will, hopefully, touch people with her creations. She will bring beauty to those around her. She will create space for more people to share their beauty with her.

Hey Yvonne. Where have you been?

…Dealing with some shit.

I know it’s been a while. I’m sorry you guys. Some great stuff has happened since my last post (SIX MONTHS AGO!!!).

And some not great stuff has happened to all of us.

First: the good stuff. I got a new job. That happened back in September. I started the interview process in July (right after my last post. I guess that is what kept me from writing, at least initially). I now work for an awesome organization. I work with wonderful people. We have a great mission: engaging with young people and helping them get involved in politics and civics. Be the People. Do something. Give a shit.

I am no longer in a toxic work environment. I no longer work 10-12 hours a day with little support, where everything is my fault, and I can never do enough. I’m out. I can’t believe I lasted so long.

Despite being in a better work environment, I’m still dealing with a lot of anxiety. I wonder why? Maybe because I got to witness this country poorly handle racism and sexism and homophobia and transphobia and Islamophobia and xenophobia. I’ve seen dick heads justify sexual assault, violence, hatred, and more. And I got to witness our least qualified presidential candidate win an election in, what I feel, was a knee jerk reaction to marginalized people having more access, having a voice, due to social media and smartphones.

Sure, it’s more complicated than that. Jobs are scarce. Wages suck. The world is…not doing great (are any of us?).

But, ultimately, fear won. Racism won. Sexism won. Hatred won.

Before the election, I felt lots of anxiety. After the election, I felt lots more. I don’t have an eloquent way of expressing it. It was hard. It was difficult to understand it. It was difficult to know what to do about it. It was difficult to do anything at all.

Now it’s January First. It’s a New Year. There are Possibilities involved with that. There is Hope.

I know many people don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Well, fuck them. Thanks for being a bummer.

If you don’t like resolutions, that’s fine. Don’t do them. And shut up about it please.

I like resolutions. I’ve been doing them for a while now. A couple of years ago: eat more vegetables. Great job, Yvonne. You’ve been eating more veggies since!

Another year: get better at folding laundry. Well, I have. I now, almost always, fold the laundry within 24 hours of taking it out of the dryer. ::high five::

Almost every hear: read more. Last year I read 30 books. The year before: 14. The year before: 16. It’s been rocky, but not too bad. This year: read more than 30.

So, I will work on a new set of resolutions. I plan to include in them writing more (weekly my lovelies!). I plan to keep reading. And I plan to work: on fighting racism and hatred and fear. I plan to keep working on my self: on my anxiety and depression, on my physical and mental health. And I plan to keep working at this new organization. With these new amazing people. With amazing young people. To educate. To engage. To do something. To fuck shit up.

Putting Yourself Out There

I’ve been super spotty with this blog. Sorry about that. I’ve been super struggling lately with a lot of things. As you lovelies know, I struggle with depression. I have for a while. It sucks. It REALLY sucks.

I had an idea to do a piece about depression—what it means to have it. What it feels like. What it looks like. Because, guess what, it’s a lot of things. It’s different than just being sad. It’s more than just being sad.

I still plan to do that piece. I promise. I’ll get to it. But I’ve been distracted lately. I’ve been depressed.

Without getting too much into it (mostly because it’s complicated and I don’t want to share something that’s I’m still working out because blah blah blah whatever), but I’ve been “putting myself out there” lately. Not in a sexy sense. I get now that it might come off sexy.

I’ve been putting myself out into the world, putting my brain, my skill set, my experience, my personality, out into the world for people to look over. For people to evaluate. For the express purpose of changing a huge aspect of my life (for you smarty pants people, you probably know what I’m talking about. For those of you who don’t, I’m sorry. I was hoping to have news, and when I do I’ll write about it. Then you’ll get it).

This process, the searching, the actually putting of myself out into the world, the waiting, the hoping, the daydreaming, the practicing in my head, the constant conversation I’ve had in my head, the dreaming, the wanting, the waiting, the scared feeling, the hopelessness, the exhaustion, the wanting it to all be over…really sucks.

The time. The energy. The draining of my energy. The draining of my hopes. The feeling that I’m not worth it. The feeling that I’m flawed. That I suck. That I’ve messed up. I took a wrong step. I REALLY messed it…sucks.

The need to keep looking. The daily feeling to not being good enough. The constant refreshing of my emails. The constant search. The need to take a break. The need to calm down. Take a breath. Clear my head. Get outside. But not having the energy to go outside…fucking sucks.

The distractions. The time of Facebook. Refreshing. Checking for something new. A new cat video to distract myself. From the constant feeling that I messed up. I’m messed up. I’m not good enough. New distraction. Searching. Daydreaming of a new life. A new location. New conversations in my head. Hoping. Hoping that something will change. A new distraction. Any distraction. Because this feeling sucks.

Putting yourself out there sucks. Whatever way it may be. For me, it’s one thing. It’s been that one thing for over a year now. Two years now. Will be another year. Probably. Fuck. I hope not.

For you, it may be another thing. It may be a sexy thing. It may be a school thing. It may be a work thing. It may be a personal, physical, mental, psychological thing. It may be anything. But it always sucks. The waiting. The hoping. The pretending.

I’m so sorry it sucks. I’m so over it sucking. I’m so over putting myself out there. But I’m still going to do it.

I’m not going to setting for this. I’m not going to stay with this. I’m not going to continue doing something that I don’t enjoy doing. Something that drains me of my self-esteem. Something that makes me feel stupid. Something that made me drink too much. Something that made me have to stop drinking. Something that makes me feel so so so so worthless.

I’m going to keep searching. I’m going to keep refreshing. I’m going to keep writing because it makes me feel good. I’m going to keep trying because I know I will find something.

There are two phrases that I fucking HATE, but I keep thinking about them.

  1. Things always happen for a reason.

No they don’t. Sometimes dumb things happen. Sometimes stupid, pointless, sad, scary, mean, terrible things happen.

  1. When one door opens, another one opens. (note: sometimes it’s a window).

This is also dumb. Sometimes nothing happens. Sometimes you’re trapped.

I am not trapped. These things just happen.

 

It’s All About Love

As you weirdos may remember, I do martial arts. I started doing it last summer. I’m currently working on my purple belt (I think. I have trouble remembering what colors go where in the system). I started off with one coach (Mark #2). Now I have a new coach (Mark #1).

My new coach recently told me that the marital arts are all about love. He heard that from someone, and he admitted that at first it was difficult for him to understand. It’s fighting. How is fighting about love?

What he failed to realize at the time is that martial arts is about self-defense. As a person learning martial arts, essentially learning how to fight, you learn that you don’t get into fights. You don’t WANT to get into fights. They teach you that if you’ve gotten yourself in a fight, you’ve already lost (as a women, I see flaws in this line of thinking, but I understand the point).

Here’s the idea: you want to do all that you can do to not fight someone. You walk away. You de-escalate a situation by talking. You avoid certain situations to begin with (dark alleys and the like).

But if you end up in a fight, it’s all about love.

I understood this concept when Mark #2 presented it to me like this: Do you think you could defend yourself?

Umm…

::gurglie noise::

Did it just get REALLY hot in here?

::shrug::

Mark #2: Imagine someone was attacking your nieces. Do you think you could defend them?

Fuck. Yes.

There’s the love.

That’s how the martial arts are all about love. You will do anything to defend the people you love. You will fight like hell to protect your family. I don’t have kids (#childfreebychoice), but I have people in my life that I would do anything for. If someone tried to hurt one of my nieces, one of my nephews, my sister, ANYONE in my life, I wouldn’t hesitate.

But why did I hesitate when asked if I could defend myself? I do love myself, but it’s something that is really tough. Thankfully, I’ve always had very supportive people around me. My parents loved me. They told me they were proud of me. They’ve always encouraged me to do the things I’m passionate about. They never told me that I was stupid or not good enough.

But I’ve told myself that I’m not good enough. I’ve told myself things like that my whole life. I used to stare at my thighs and pinch the fat and think I was gross. I’ve spent countless hours staring at and obsessing over my pores. It times, I was convinced that I was fat. Ugly. Gross. Unsexy. No one could ever like me. UGH!

Soon, that transitioned into not being smart enough. Not deserving to be in college or graduate school. I had the feeling that I was an imposter. No way I could have actually earned a degree (or three) based on MY ability. Someone must’ve not been paying attention. I slipped through the cracks. Really, you guys, I’m not supposed to be here!

My evielovely project, my writing, my therapy, and even part of my martial arts are all things that I’m doing to get over that. That negative talk. That imposter feeling. That self-hate. I’m working on building up my self-esteem and grow my love for myself.

My next post, I’m going to write about my depression. I wanted it to be this post, but I took me a while to figure out HOW I wanted to write about depression. What does that word mean? What does it feel like? What does it look like? What does it do to me? Someone recently asked me about it, and I struggled to explain it, in part because it’s personal (jeez, dude! It’s kinda none of your biz-nessss).

But then I got to thinking that I may be really helpful, and therefore REALLY important, to explain what that word means. Because it means a LOT of different things.

I couldn’t just jump into a post about depression, my struggle with it, what I’m going to work through it, and so on. So this is my start.

It’s all about love.

Losing Weight and Self-Esteem

A few months ago, I notice that my jeans were baggy. This was good. I’d lost weight. I wasn’t trying, but I had made a few changes in my eating habits, and a few pounds lost was nice. The bad part that it meant I needed new clothes, and I REALLY didn’t want to have to shop. Not only is that experience terrible (crowded mall, lots of people, terrible parking, bad lighting. I can go on.), but having to try on a new, smaller size was terrifying. So, instead of going to the mall and nervously trying on new jeans, sweating in the dressing room, and lowing my self-esteem, I bought a few pairs online. Clearance ones. Because of course they wouldn’t fit, and I did not want to waste any more money than necessary on this doomed-to-fail experiment.

Turned out, the pants fit. They were a little tight, but damn it, they got on. They buttoned. I could sit down and even do squats in them. Hell yeah. I was a size 6! The lowest I’ve ever been. This meant…something. Progress? Validation that my workouts were working? Something about me being a better person because I was thinner?

But something really weird happened when I started wearing a size 6 (in addition to the clearance pants I bought, I got a couple more because, hell yeah! I’m a size 6!!). After going down a size, I started to really lose some self-esteem. I started feeling really fat. The thing was, yeah, the pants were a little tight, but not by much. Some of the pairs were a little tighter. You know what guys, not all size 6s are the same.

The weird was happening in my head. Wearing smaller pants that were slightly tight made me feel fat, like, the size of a house. I started to judge my body again. I started to analyze my actions.

I realized that I hadn’t been doing intense workouts lately. It wasn’t like I had stopping being physical. I was running, but that wasn’t the same intensity as my previous workouts. I’m still doing kenpo, but that doesn’t always get my sweat pouring, especially if I’m learning a new defense, focusing on visualizing my target and moving more mechanically rather than moving with force and speed.

Even though I’ve been active, I wasn’t gargling my heart. I wasn’t killing myself through every workout. I wasn’t pushing myself so hard I was exhausted for the rest of the day.

My previous workouts were tough. They were only 30 minutes, but they would wipe me out. I never really thought of them as that rough because they were only 30 minutes! Plus, I liked pushing myself that hard. It made me feel badass. Well, it made me feel badass when I was able to do the actual workouts. Often they would make me feel bad about myself when I couldn’t do the moves (you know what, fuck spider pushups).

I never really thought of those workouts as potentially too much for me, mostly because those were what I did. I did high intensity circuit workouts. Since about 2011, I started regularly doing Jillian Michaels. High intensity is her jam. She’s known for being tough. I’ve done nearly all of her workouts. I loved the convenience of working out in my home (gyms are gross). I loved the short, 30-minute workouts. I loved the feeling that the time was spent doing something worthwhile. I never thought that brutal workouts like JM would be bad for me in a way. But they were.

The way that I mean is that once I stopped doing them I lost so much self-esteem. I felt bad about my body because I was “only” doing kenpo and not doing suicide squat burpies or something. I felt bad because I was getting comfortable doing easy runs rather than single-legged, weighted sprints (those things don’t actually exist as far as I know).

Getting away from the high intensity work made me feel like a big, fat loser. I felt like a cow. I felt like my cool new size 6s were a big, fat lie, and I was the big, fat liar wearing them. I felt like the only way I could truly be thin was if I stayed doing intense training regularly and not settle for anything that didn’t get my heart pumping (oh my god, I’ve been stockhomled).

This post has been very hard for me to write. If you guys are paying attention (all three of you), you may have noticed that I haven’t written a post in three weeks. Part of this has been because I’ve been busy. Then an unexpected bout of depression overcame me and I decided to binge watch Scream the MTV show to help get over it (you guys, it’s so good).

But this post has also been challenging because it’s uncomfortable thinking about this stuff. I’m struggling to write sentences about hating my body. I hate writing about feeling fat.

I’ve always felt fat. Only within the past three years did I actually start to feel pretty good in my body (that’s also when I went fully vegan…just saying. #goveg). I grew up fat. Or chubby. Or something. I oscillated between being chubby and not-so-chubby my whole life. It sucks. It’s weird. I’ve had mega body issues. I’ve always been jealous of skinny girls. Showing your midriff is terrifying for me. Young women in clothing catalogues effortlessly looking great and comfortable in low-rise jeans or tight tees made me feel like a giant (do any of you remember those dELIA*S clothing? It was super popular in the 90s. Did you know it still exists!?!).

Three years ago, I finally got pretty okay with my body. I was relatively thin. It was no longer challenging for me to keep weight off. I felt like I finally got some part of life figured out. Losing a few pounds, dropping a size, showed me that maybe I don’t exactly. Mentally I’m still that fat girl in high school who is so sure everyone is judging her body, looking at her stomach and fat thighs, realizing that she’s always the biggest girl in the room even though that’s never the case.

Be Negative, But Don’t Make That Your Home

A while back, maybe 6 months or more now, I spoke to a woman about a problem she was having. I tried to help her. I thought I could help. But things are rarely simple. It turned out, that there was much more to the situation, and I couldn’t help her in the way that she wanted.

A few weeks after that, I spoke to that woman again. There was another problem. Once again, I tried to help. She was upset about another problem. She seemed rooted there. She couldn’t see anything outside of the situtation. So I tried to create space between her and that problem. I tried to refocus her. It seemed to work, but I was wrong.

Recently I spoke to this woman. There were a few new problems. Some of the old ones were still around. Some of these problems were very minor. They were not at all important. Some were reasonable, and I tried to work with her and listen to her. But the problems were not ending. She seemed determined to be upset about something, anything, or possibly even everything.

I realized shortly after the last time that I spoke with her that I have never heard her say anything positive. It’s always a problem. Always a complaint. Always an issue.

I know another person who also tends to lean more negative. Things are frequently bad. She never has time to do all the work that she needs to get done. There are always roadblocks. There are always new issues coming up. I’ve know this person for years now, and I’ve heard a lot of these types of issues. I’ve also heard a lot of positives. I’ve heard her laugh. I’ve heard her sing. I’ve seen her stressed out, and I’ve seen her relaxed. I’ve seen her moved by touching stories to the point of tears. I’ve seen her in many different situations with many different emotions. She’s complex, mostly because people are complex.

While she can be negative, that’s okay with me. We all can be negative because sometimes everything sucks. It’s good to get those feelings out. Sometimes it’s necessary.

I tend to be a positive person. I see the bright side of things. I love to laugh. I’m goofy as hell. I sing throughout the day about random topics: what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, if I feel hungry, if my dog does something cute, and on and on. I also love to dance silly. I use funny voices when I talk sometimes. I pretend to speak to my pets and that my pets are responding.

I also tend to be very optimistic. While everything sucks, things will work out in the end. While things may be difficult, they won’t be difficult forever. That’s my headspace. That’s where I live. I try to get perspective. I try to get context. I try to think big picture.

I realize that everyone can’t easily adopt this positive mindset. Some people genuinely have shitty things going on for them, and that’s why I think it’s absolutely fine to be negative. It’s not good to try to paint a positive picture when the world around you is crumbling. By accepting the negative, it can help to get it out.

Without getting into detail (only because it’s definitely way boring to everyone but me), the other day at work I was hella negative. Someone did something that threw my whole day off. I was pissed. At one point, I literally stomped around the office because I was upset and making the noise made me feel a little better. Then I got over it. I got the emotion out. I stomped around and burned off the extra energy. And I felt better.

The problem I have is when people make that negativity their home. It becomes their default setting. They’re constantly upset. There’s always a complaint. Like the woman I mentioned at the start of this post, there is never anything positive coming from them. Maybe for her, it started with one bad day, but it’s been months and years from what I can gather, and she still holding on to something.

(Without intending to get this song stuck in your head) sometimes, you have to simply let it go. Let it go! Be upset. Stomp around. Then move on.

If someone were to ask me what my motto is (which is such a weird thing to ask a person, but I guess it happens) I would say it’s: “Forward Focus.” Everyone is going to have a bad day. Things are going to suck. You’re allowed to get negative. It’s okay to get upset. But don’t stay there.

I wrote recently about gratitude (HERE and HERE). I like to think about all of the things that didn’t go wrong in a day. I like to recognize successes. I also acknowledge and evaluate opportunities for improvement. I recognize my failures and try to learn. I think about how I can apply what I’ve learned to get better. Rather than staying in the past, I think about the future. That’s the point of forward focus.

So people, you’re allowed time. I’d say a day, but take a week. Take a year if you have to. But try to gain perspective. Be negative. Use it to get whatever emotions you have out. But don’t make that space your home.

My First 10K

Let me tell you guys about the time I signed up for a 10K during my busiest season at work, didn’t train, but ran it anyway. It sucked. Here’s the story.

Some time ago (February. It was February) I got excited about the idea of running more. Something in my brain began craving all things running. I wanted to listen to running podcast and running audio books. I wanted to read about running form. I even picked up a running novel, Once a Runner, that I couldn’t really get into because of some fat shaming language in the first chapter (doodes, I know it was written in, like, the 70s, but come on. Get with it).

I hadn’t been running much. Over the summer, I had been running more, but I’d gotten really into kenpo. That was new and shinny and fun (it still is). But running took a back seat. And then it was winter, and guys, I HATE to be cold. Once the time changed, I couldn’t bring myself to get up before the sun and go for a run. So, I just didn’t run.

But once the weather started getting a little nicer, my body and my brain wanted to get back into it. Part of that was a desire to sign up for a race. With a quick search on the internet, I found the Moreno Valley Mother’s Day 5K/10K race organized by the Moreno Valley Road Runners (which I seriously didn’t even know existed). This was exciting: a race in my neighborhood! In the past, I’ve had to get up super early to drive out to the race location. Or I’ve skipped cool races all together because the spot was just too damn far. But Moreno Valley. I could do that.

After registering for the 10K option, I looked into training plans. I’d only ever “raced” a 5K, and my average mileage for my runs is two or three miles. I don’t run far. I don’t run fast. But I got it in my head that not only could I do a 10K, but I could crush a 10K. I’d train. Then I’d run it hella fast. And it would be easy.

You guys, I was so dumb. I got busy. Work got bananas. I had every intention on running on a regular schedule. I even bought Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20 Running, which I’ve mentioned before. I started reading it, but I didn’t even get too far into it before work threw me off track.

I got so off track that at one point I thought I would just skip the race. It would be easy to forget about it. I hadn’t really told many people that I was going to do it, so what would it matter if I didn’t go? Thankfully be awesome sister-in-law, with her enthusiasm and support, unknowingly persuaded me to stay with it. She even signed up to do it with me! After that, I was so pumped.

That enthusiasm did not last long into the actual race. I started off pretty excited. I was excited when I woke up. I was excited getting into the park, getting out of the car, and simply being near other runners. It was a Mother’s Day event, so there were lots of kids and people that I assume where their mothers. There was a LOT of pink. They even had finishers medals laid out on a table that were so pink they practically were glowing.

It was a small group of runners that day (maybe 50 people, but I honestly don’t know. I’m terrible at gauging a crowd). I was pumped and ready to go. When we started racing, I remember thinking how awesome it was to run in a group. I was feeling the energy of the crowd. At mile one I thought, “Only five more to go. I got this!”

Guys, I was not prepared for hills. I was not prepared for wind. And it wasn’t even windy. It was just a slight breeze that made it feel like I was being pushed backward. In a word, it was super hard. I hated running nearly the whole thing. I wanted to give up. I wanted to duck out with the 5K group rather than continuing on to do the full 10K. I wanted to walk those damn hills. I wanted to hitch a ride to the finish line with every car that drove by.

But I didn’t (okay. I walked a part of the race, but only a small part. And it wasn’t really up to me. It was a pretty steep hill, and my body literally just stopping running. It was like something pulled me back. I allowed myself to finish that hill walking, and then I didn’t stop running until I crossed the finish line).

I ran the rest of the race thinking, “Why did I decide to do this. This sucks.” I truly hated every minute of last half of that 10K. I kept thinking about how I should have trained more. I thought that if I could just lose a few pounds it would be easier for me to run. I thought about the few miles that I did put in on my treadmill and how I should have done them outside. I thought about how I should have done hill work because it was pretty clear that the course would have hills. I thought all of these negative things and only occasionally forced myself to look around me at the beautiful landscape that I was getting to run in.

I finished the run in 1 hour and 10 minutes. I was pretty pleased with that. As I was nearing the finish, I wanted to walk so badly. But I forced myself to finish strong, and I finished with a smile. My legs hurt. My feet hurt. I was thirsty, and I wanted to just sit down.

My sister-in-law finished ten minutes after me. I walked out to meet her and run the last stretch with her. My legs were aching badly, but I really wanted to be with her to finish it. I thought that it must have been torture for her to run the 10K too, and I figured I was offering support by being with her for the last steps of the awful experience. It turns out, she enjoyed the flipping thing.

She told me how when she felt like she needed to walk, she walk. She told me how she allowed herself to experience the scenery. It was a lovely morning, not too hot. We had some beautiful clouds. She didn’t stress over running the entire thing or making a certain time. She just did the 10K.

Honestly, that blew me away. It hadn’t occurred to me that by pushing myself so hard I was missing out on the experience of the 10K (and engaging in some pretty negative self talk). I didn’t allow myself to enjoy the feeling of running or connecting with the people around me. I missed out on the scenery and the smells of nature. All I could think about was how I wanted to quit, and how I couldn’t wait for the damn thing to be over.

Here’s the lesson: it’s okay to slow down. It okay to not be perfect or live up to whatever ideal experience you’ve build up in your head. In fact, it’s good to stop sometimes or go slow. By going fast (or kind of fast in my case) you miss out of so much of the experience.

And: BE NICER TO YOURSELF. Damn it, evie. Enough with the negative self talk. You’re pretty awesome. You finished your first 10K, and you did it smiling!! To be fair, I was mostly smiling because Johnny lovely was there supporting me at the finish line. That was awesome. But it also felt good to finish. I was happy.

After I stopped running, it hit me: the 10K was awesome. It hurt. It got lonely when most of the runners veered off to the 5K course while a few runners and I kept going for the longer option. Those hills were tough. My calves were already cramping before I got to the finish line. But damn, I’d do it again. The Road Runners even have a Valentine’s Day run that I’m planning on doing.

So, I messed up my training plan. Oh well. I could have guessed that it wouldn’t have gone perfectly. It’s literally peak season for me at work. I shouldn’t expect to be perfect. It’s awesome that I did a 10K. I’m going to try to keep it up. I’d like to race again and try to get under an hour. I’d like to build up my miles and eventually run a half marathon. I’ll get there, and when I do, I’ll try to slow down and allow myself to enjoy the experience.

 

 

Practicing Gratitude

All right guys. Last week, I wrote about how I was grateful that my nephew was okay after he was rushed to the hospital the week before because he had stopped breathing, turned blue, and was having seizures. Nothing is wrong. He’s fine. He’ll continue to be fine. We don’t have to worry.

But all too often, I forget that things will be fine. Because, daily, things tend to really suck.

“The world is a garbage fire.”

“Everything sucks.”

“Fuck everyone.”

These are things I sometimes (I’m not going to admit how often) think in my brain. Why? Because things are hard. People make then hard(er). Things pile on. Things get worse. And I (we) forget that things will be fine.

(Okay, I’m going to pause right quick and note that some things will NOT be fine. I used to think: “things always turn out fine in the end.” Dooodes, I was SO wrong. Sometimes, everything sucks. Bad things happen that profoundly change your world forever in a bad way. I learned this when my aunt died after battling cancer for a little over four months. It was the longest four months of my life. It was drawn out and excruciating. Those four months were a blur. It was so sudden. So, sometimes, things do not turn out fine. Barring this type of situation though, lots of stuff does turn out fine in the end.)

What I want to think about (and that’s what I’m doing by writing this blog: thinking things through for myself to learn hoping that you guys like it and think a little too) is how I can take a step back and learn to deal when things are tough. Normal tough though, like work being difficult, people being difficult, or run of the mill stuff that we have to deal with on the regular.

I think one answer can be to practice gratitude more often.

Right now y’all, birds are chirping outside. It’s a beautiful day here in sunny California. I got to sleep in. I played with my cat, Molly, and my dog. Betty (Marco, my other cat, was being a bit of a handful so I told him to go take a nap). And I’m WRITING! I LOVE to write. It feels good and natural and hard and lots of other super cheesy things.

I can easily bitch right now. I can list a bunch of stuff that sucks. But I don’t want to. I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole of negativity. I want to stay positive right now.

So, here’s what I propose: let’s practice gratitude daily. Let’s not get swept up in the garbage fire of daily life. Let’s pause. Let’s reflect on how things aren’t all bad. And let’s acknowledge that some stuff is pretty okay.

Here are a few ways I want to start:

  1. Three Things.

Here’s how this one works: every day express three things that you’re grateful for. I’ve heard that some people do this at the dinner table with their families. I’m not going to assume that you all eat dinner together with a family. Maybe you don’t have one. Maybe you don’t eat together. I don’t know you.

Find a way to acknowledge three things. If can be to someone, like a family member or a friend. I can be on Twitter or Facebook or some other online social tool you use (#3things). Or it can be in private. Write it down somewhere. Or simply stop, think about three things, and let them sink in.

  1. Say “thank you” more.

This one’s simple you guys. Be nice. Be polite. Tell someone that did something nice for you that you appreciate it. I can be a quick comment or a text. Whatever works. And do it for all kinds of things. If someone helps you at work, take a moment and let that person know that you recognize their help. If someone takes you out to dinner or makes you food, say “thank you.” It took time for them to do that. Don’t take that action for granted. They may stop if you do.

2a. Do a Big Thank You.

I’m making this a subcategory because I’m building off of the previous idea. We can express gratitude more often, but it can become more of a gesture and less sincere very quickly. Try, when applicable, to do a Big Thank You. This is when you take a quick minute to express in a little more detail exactly what a person did for you that was awesome. If someone helped you with a project you were working on, send them an email. Don’t make it too long. Note one or two details about the work they helped with and why their help mattered. This takes so little time, but it makes a BIG impact. That’s why it’s called the Big Thank you.

  1. Do something nice for someone.

Putting nice things out into the world for other people feels good. I don’t believe in karma or anything like that. But doing nice things feels nice, and sometimes people return the favor. Recently, I had a co-worker who was stressing out over a big project she was working on. I took some time to help her. I did a few things that made a big impact on her mood. It helped get the project done. And it didn’t take much effort on my part to make a big impact on her.

Do more nice things. Rub someone’s back. Get them a glass of water. Help them with a project. Big or small, these things matter.

3a. Do something nice for yourself.

I’ve heard people say before something like, “I wish someone would                for me.” I dunno what the blank is. Something nice. “buy me flowers” or “take me somewhere.” My thought has always been, “Why don’t you do it for yourself?”

Recently, I bought myself flowers because I was having a bad day. People were making things harder than they needed to be. So, while I was at the store, I bought flowers because when I looked at them, they made me smile. I posted online how I had done this, and some people were shocked that I bought flowers for myself. Why? Why aren’t more people doing this?

If you’re stressed out, tired, upset, or whatever, do something nice for yourself. It can be flowers. It can be a cup of coffee. Take yourself to the movies or sit at home and watch a movie on your own. Take care of yourself more often (rather than hoping someone will do it for you.)

That’s where I’m going to start. I’m going to try to be more mindful this week and practice being more grateful for others and myself. I’m going to be honest. It may be difficult. But I’m gonna try. Please try with me.

Gratitude!

On Sunday night of last week, I started writing down all of the things that I accomplished that weekend. The list was LONG. Doodes, I was hella productive. I was feeling really good about the start of my week, and I was planning to take that momentum with me all of the way till Friday.

But, life happened.

On Tuesday morning, I received a group text from my sister-in-law. Not really thinking much about it (my family does group texts a lot. We love each other you guys, no big deal), I started reading what she sent, and my heart dropped.

“Just to let you guys know I had to call 911 yesterday. Avram stopped breathing and his mouth was blue…”

The text continued in a long paragraph with details on what happened and what they experienced. But I couldn’t really comprehend what my sister-in-law wrote. Avram, my sweet, goofy, little 8-year-old nephew, stopped breathing. He was rushed to the hospital. Something was seriously wrong.

Immediately, my family started responding. I sat on the couch and read the responses, too shocked to wrap my head around the situation.

“We’d like to come by and see him.”

“Me too! I’ll come by during lunch.”

“If he gets out earlier, we could do something together outside of the hospital.”

Finally, more than ten minutes later, I began to barely, kind of understand what was happening, and I wrote: “Is he sleeping? Is he okay? I want to give him a big hug. Are you okay?”

This was me restrained. I wanted to scream: “What the FUCK! What happened!?!?! How did this happened?!?! What’s going on!!!!??”

I didn’t want to freak my family out. I didn’t want to freak my sister-in-law out. Watching your son turn blue, having to call 911, rushing with him to a hospital in an ambulance, watching him get stuck with a bunch of needles, waiting for test results, talking to so many doctors, and STILL not fully knowing why your son stopped breathing and turned blue must have been scary enough. I knew I needed to keep it together.

I eventually left work early to go sit in the hospital with my sister-in-law and nephew. We were soon accompanied by my parents and another nephew. Then my other brother showed up with his wife and three kids. Then my sister came. We all crammed into a hospital room and talked. The kids played and laughed and made lots of noise. In a way, it was great. It was terrible that what brought us together that day was this shitty situation with my nephew in the hospital with an IV and machines hooked up to him. It sucked beyond belief to watch him take gross medicine. It sucked knowing he was uncomfortable and confused on how, let alone why, he was in a hospital.

But it was nice that I was able to see almost my entire family (on, coincidentally, my sister’s birthday). It was so cool knowing that everyone, without hesitation, came to the hospital to just be together.

It also was nice that we knew (with almost 100% certainty at that point) that my nephew was going to be fine. He didn’t have a tumor pressing on his brain. He didn’t have an infection. He simply has seizures now. That it. Seriously. They call it Sudden Onset Disorder, or something like that. Apparently it’s pretty common. We have it on both sides of the family. No big deal. He’ll take medicine to control the seizures for as long as needed, which could be the rest of his life, or not.

I’ll spare you all the details about this situation because I realize that my experiences at a hospital are probably boring. They’re incredibly interesting to me, like how I had to wait in a long ass line to get food, and then got hella frustrated because people were taking their damn time deciding between tacos and lasagna, so opted for the salad bar instead. Or how parking was a nightmare. Or how I spent $50 in the gift shop on three things because that kid deserved a teddy bear, and a dinosaur game, and a deck of cards, and anything else he might want t have because he was in a damn hospital.

What I will say though, is I’m so grateful that it’s something as simple as taking medicine. Okay, it may not be super simple. Come summer, he’ll have to navigate swimming, and driving may be a whole situation when he gets older. He may never be a pilot or an astronaut or some other profession that he may or may not even want to be. There are details like that which will probably come up and may hinder his life. But oh well. We can figure those out. Or he can. He’ll be a grown-ass adult by then. It won’t be my problem.

My point is, it could have been worst. It could have been life threatening. It could have been devastatingly scary. Heads up, the lips turning blue thing wasn’t a big deal. His brain sucked up all the oxygen, and he would have started breathing again (most likely). If he were along or if this happened in the middle of the night, he wouldn’t have died.

The reason I started reflecting on gratitude was my sister-in-law said something in the hospital about how we can handle this. We can handle onset seizures. And we are. Granted, most of it is her and my brother because it’s there kid. But we’re there for them. We were there for Avram in the hospital. We were there when he got to go home. We’ll continue to be there because that’s what we do, and that’s awesome.

That week, the hospital week, I didn’t stay on track with my productivity. I ate fast food. I didn’t run. I didn’t write. Oh well.

But I did think a lot about gratitude. Apparently, there’s science behind it. There are techniques where practicing gratitude can make you happier. By practicing gratitude, by integrating it into your daily life, you can become more authentically happy. I dunno. That’s probably true. I like that idea. But sometimes life happens. Life, like that text we all got that morning, pull you away from any sense of happiness.

And that’s okay too. We don’t always have to be grateful, because life is going to happen. Let’s not try to sugar coat everything and pretend that it’s all great. I’m a pretty optimistic person, but I frequently think to myself “everything sucks!” And I mean everything. Work. Chores. Going to the grocery store. Paying your bills. Getting texts like that.

But, as a super smart dude explains: “Yes, there are bad things in my life, and it’s OK to feel bad about them. But it’s also important to remember the rest of my life, and to remember that even the bad things make life as complex and interesting as it is. Life would be boring without challenges!”

While I don’t fully agree with Leo Babauta (he’s the smart dude I quoted above if you didn’t catch that) on the idea that bad stuff makes life interesting (doode, I would LOVE for life to be hella easy), I like that he notes that you’re allowed to feel shitty sometimes. You’re allowed to get scared or frustrated. You’re allowed to have a bad day.

But let’s also thing about the pretty okay parts of the day. Let’s reflect on some of the great things we (hopefully) have in our lives. Yeah, we were in a hospital, but we were handling it. Yeah, the kid’s gotta take medicine for (potentially) the rest of his life. But we’ve got each other. We’ve got this.

So let’s do this gratitude thing.