The Purge

Comedian George Carlin had this skit where he comically postulates about the very human and very American condition of collecting stuff. It’s one of my favorites. According to Carlin, we are in a constant state of collecting stuff. For the whole transcript– which is hilarious, I might add– you can go here:

I’m no different than those Carlin criticizes. I have quite the accumulation of stuff: stuff I have from my childhood, stuff I’ve collected in my career, stuff that I don’t know where it came from, all kinds of stuff.

My stuff was suffocating me.

My house is fairly small, and yet I managed to pack it full of stuff, so much that I anticipated the floor joists breaking and perhaps the siding falling off the outside of the house.

But here’s the thing: I don’t need all that stuff. I suppose most of us don’t need all the stuff we cram into our homes, yet we all seem to keep accumulating more and more stuff.

During the last two weeks of summer vacation, I purged the shit out of my house. Every room fell victim to a ruthless inventory. My closet was first. If it didn’t fit or I hadn’t worn it in over a year, it went into the Goodwill pile. For kitchen and other household items, if I hadn’t used it in a year or it was worn out, it got tossed. If an item didn’t serve me, it got tossed. If it was an item that I hadn’t used in a long time, yet was inexpensive enough that I could re-purchase it if I regretted shedding it, tossed.

And then there was the memorabilia. I made some tough decisions there and decided that at the end of the day, the memory of those “events” was all that mattered. They would be forever etched in my head, regardless of any insignificant momento that might’ve been attached to it. So some of that stuff got tossed too.

And for a number of years, I’d saved a bunch of journals and letters that I’d written to Jeff when we were struggling in our marriage. What was I hanging onto them for?!? To remember that painful past? Why?!? That hardly seems useful. But I thought that maybe I could learn something from some of them so as to not make the same mistakes that I’d made in the past. My letters, my own words, caused me some shame and also some enlightenment. There were some things I wrote that I thought “what a bitch!” of myself. Other things, I thought, “I will never do THAT again!” And then I refused to dwell. I read them once, processed what I’d read, vowed to never repeat my mistakes, and then threw them in the garbage. Why hold on to that pain from my past?!? So I let it go.

I don’t consider myself to be a tree hugger or a hippy or a spiritualist or any one particular sort of “weirdo” by societal standards, but I do believe in positive and negative energies. I believe that much of my stuff– the stuff I no longer used, was worn out, no longer served me, it was a reminder of a painful past– was negative energy that I was allowing in my home. And I fully believe that in order to bring more positive into my life, I must release the negative.

So I sent some unused furniture to a local charity. I stuffed my GMC Terrain full of stuff I no longer use. My negative energies that I’d stored in my house for years will likely become positive energies in someone else’s home. Someone out there needs my stuff that I no longer need.  It can serve someone else. It will have value for someone else.

A loaded Terrain, moments before being driven off to the local Goodwill.

And the other stuff that nobody needs? It’s going to the landfill. Probably still not the best place,”earth-wise”, but the right place. For me.

two giant garbage bins filled to the rim, 15-20 garbage bags, and other assirted junk awaits refuse removal.

I can breathe more easily now. I sleep better. The walls in my house don’t feel like they’re caving in on me anymore. I feel like I’m more open to positive experiences in my life. Coz its not “stuff” that brings me joy. It’s the people in my life and the way I share my life with them that brings me joy. I’m ready for more of that. So very ready. Bring it!

 

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, Not Cover Girl

I am a makeup whore.

I LOVE makeup!  It is not uncommon for me to visit an Ulta brick and mortar store and spend an hour and over $100 per trip.  I’ll walk out of there with things I need and things I don’t need– like another tube of lipstick to add to my growing collection of 20-25 sticks.

And I enjoy playing with makeup, too.  Ever since my first bottle of foundation, I have liked to play “makeup artist” and I’ll try new techniques and color combinations with my countless booty of beauty products.  Sometimes, I’ll even narrate a makeup tutorial to myself in the mirror while applying my war paint.  I should’ve been on the YouTubes.

It is not often that you’ll find me without makeup.  In fact, the only time I’m sans makeup is when I wash my face before going to bed and then also in the morning before I’ve gotten my shower and have gotten ready for the day.  With makeup.

I even wear makeup to the gym.  This is considered heresy by some women who suggest that going to the gym is not a beauty contest.  And they are right, it is NOT a beauty contest.  But I prefer having “my face on” because it makes me feel better about myself.  When I like the face that I see looking back at me in the gym mirror, I usually have a better workout.  When I hate how I look, my workout suffers.  And don’t get me started on my hair…if I’m having a bad hair day, my whole day seems to fall apart.  I do not know– or care about–  the psychology of why this is; it just is.

But something strange happened the other day…

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Happy Babies and Flying Pigeons

Pfft,  yoga.  I’m NOT doing yoga.  I’m not doing all that stretchy crap and “om shit.”  And those women who take yoga? Ew.  Not me.  They’re into all that organic stuff and Buddha and Lululemon and they only drink Voss water and they will NEVER want to associate with someone like ME!

I’ve been a gym rat since I was 15.  My high school basketball coach got my teammates and I started on a weight training program back in the 80s, which was kind of revolutionary for back then.  I started on Nautilus equipment for a time and then eventually moved to free weights (Big Girl Toys!).  But I was hooked from that first workout.

Over the years, I got more set in my weighted ways, and I got more and more engrossed in lifting, challenging myself to move heavy weights that most women (and most men, probably) even half my age couldn’t move.

My ego started to take over as I became more fixated on the poundage that I could lift rather than how my body felt or how it responded to the weights I was lifting.

Over time, I was finding that my body, especially my back and hips, were incredibly achy.  At just over 40 years old, I was having a hard time getting out of bed.

But this continued for quite some time.  I’d ignore the pain and just pound the weights.

Until I couldn’t anymore. 

In the PYP Studio, readying to get my Zen on!
 A friend dragged my ass to yoga one day.

Yes, yoga.

At first, I resisted, thinking all of the aforementioned.

And now?

OMG!

I attend a restorative yoga class taught by Kerry Bestwick at PYP Studio.

Talk about disspelling every single myth I believed about yoga.

First of all, it’s not “om-y.”  I don’t sit there, humming and praying to the spirits or gods or whatever.

Restorative yoga is more about, well, restoration.  Yes, it’s stretchy, but it focuses on lengthening my achy body parts.  When I leave there, I feel like I’ve given myself a massage.

Second of all, “these women” ARE just like me.  They each have a story– some of them a very painful one.  Maybe some prefer organic foods and some wear Lululemon, but so what?  I’ll eat organic foods, I’m just not attached to them.  And I’m a Nike and UnderArmor whore, so what’s the difference? Maybe one costs more than the other, but who cares? I’m still a label freak.  Maybe not one of my finer qualities, but hey– we all have our vices.  And I’ve not seen a single bottle of Voss.  Instead, everyone, just like me, brings in their plastic RubberMaid bottle that they probably found on sale, just like me, at the grocery store.

And yes, “these women” associate with the little old likes of me.  In fact, after a few months’ hiatus, a number of women– and the teachers– were so welcoming when I’d returned.  Many remember my name and have asked how I am doing.  They show an interest.

Not only have the myths been dispelled but the benefits I have acquired have been insurmountable.  The poses have even helped with my lifting, as my hips have loosened, thus improving my ability to squat and deadlift.

But perhaps even overshadowing ALL of that is how yoga has impacted my mind.  Kerry is an exceptional “therapist” as yoga instructor.  When she puts us through the poses, she talks to us.  I’m sure there’s some yoga word to describe what she’s doing, but in my terminology, she simply offers a healing sermon or lecture or talk.  I don’t even know what to call it, actually.  But she calms me down.  She helps me to stop, breathe, and remember that all I can control is my breath.  She helps me to focus, to see the bigger picture, to not get so fixated on the minutiae of daily life. Her practice has been integral to my own healing– both physically and mentally.

I still don’t know what an “asana” is, and I don’t know who the Yoga Gods are, and I always thought my Third Eye was Blind (hehehe), but I do know this: change is good.  It’s good to challenge your preconceived notions.  It’s good to keep an open mind about things you don’t understand. I can still hit the weights, but adding yoga is just as strengthening. 

Namaste.

Five Simple Strategies: #5 Stop DIETING!!!

In the 90s, I envied the bodies of physique competitors, Cory Everson and Rachel McLish.  I watched ESPN’s exercising/weightlifting show Bodyshaping and coveted host Keana Tom’s body.  And I longed to have those muscular, feminine bodies.  I wanted it so badly that I could taste it.  So I did what I thought was logical: I pounded the weights in the gym and I starved myself in the kitchen.

That’s how I thought I was going to look like them:  if I starved myself.

It was frequent that the only meal I’d eat in a day would be a boatload of egg noodles with butter after a long workout.

I never got stronger.  I never got leaner.  And I could not figure out why.

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Five Simple Strategies: #4 One Small Step

At the beginning of every new year, Americans put tremendous pressure on themselves to set resolutions.  One of the top resolutions is “I’m going to lose weight!”  And we start out in full blast mode, and we get going, and all of the sudden…we fizzle out.

Why?

I think it’s because we start “too big.”  The goal of “losing weight’ encompasses so much.  Not only is there exercise to consider, but there’s diet too.  And time management– how am I going to figure out how to get a workout in during the day?  And what gym am I going to join?  Is a gym even right for me?  What will I wear?  What will others think of me?

And if you’re anything like me, you probably start to overthink the answers to all of those questions, and that thinking becomes paralyzing, and you end up doing nothing–fizzling out– because you grow frustrated.

Guess what– you’re normal.

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Five Simple Strategies: #3 Get More Sleep!

For the next several weeks, every Wednesday, Never Buff Enough 2.0 will post on the topic of weight loss and living more healthfully and well-fully.  This is the third entry in a series called “Five simple strategies you can try RIGHT NOW to achieve your fitness goals” 

When I was just a little girl, my parents used to have to practically drag me out of bed in the morning.  I seemed to be someone who just required more sleep than my older sister, or anybody else in my family for that matter.

But when you’re a kid, needing that much sleep isn’t as frowned upon as it is when you’re an adult.  By the time we reach adulthood, we’re expected to go, go, go and achieve, achieve, achieve, and we come to believe that we don’t have time for sleep; that we’ll sleep when we’re dead.

But here’s the thing: without adequate sleep, you may as well be dead because you are probably walking around like a zombie anyway, and you are likely not performing in your daily life at your best.

We spend a lot of the time beating up our bodies, and unfortunately, we don’t spend much time allowing our bodies to recover.  Sleep is recovery.  And we all so desperately need more of it.

Here’s some things you might not have known about sleep that are relevant to your health and fitness goals:

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Easy Peasy Chicken Salad

chicken saladEating healthfully doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or bland. Take this simple salad for example…

5 oz of rotisserie chicken (I know you can’t see it all; it’s mixed up in the greens!)
1/2 head of romaine hearts
Juice of one lemon
1Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Easy!

Cheap– 5 heads of lettuce on sale at the store this week for $4.99

Bag of lemons– $4.99

Chicken– $4.99

See a price trend here?!? Ha!

The other items were already on hand.

My lunch cost for today? About $3.00.

Flavorful, too.

You could certainly add some other vegetables, but I was in a hurry and didn’t feel like chopping up other items.  This was a full meal in itself!

Bonus: I threw the used lemons down the disposal to disinfect and clean it.

Five Simple Strategies: #2. Drink More Water

For the next several weeks, every Wednesday, Never Buff Enough 2.0 will post on the topic of weight loss and living more healthfully and well-fully.  This is the second entry in a series called “Five simple strategies you can try RIGHT NOW to achieve your fitness goals” 

In part one of this series, we discussed the importance of getting rid of your scale; it’s a useless beast, and it is only there to frustrate you.  Have you thrown it away yet?!?

This week, it’s all about…

Water, water, water.

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the health benefits of drinking water, of how it helps you to stay hydrated, about how it helps your kidneys function well, about how it keeps your body functions actually function as best as they can.  So I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time trying to convince you of something that’s probably already been drilled into your head anyway.

Instead, I’ll tell you about how I struggle with my water intake, in spite of knowing how beneficial it is to stay hydrated.

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Newton’s Third Law as it Relates to Love

I’m currently at a crossroads.  And I feel like the only way to get wherever it is that I need to get is to write about it; to share my story, or at least the parts that I’m most comfortable sharing with others.  So yesterday, and the day before, I began to write, to process, in my journal about this latest curve ball.

So what follows is my processing what I’m currently feeling….this is from my journal, dated May 13, 2015, yesterday:photo (2)

Was it Newton’s Third Law or the Theory of Relativity that talked about that equal and opposite reaction shit?  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction?  Something like that.  I think that’s Newton’s shit.  I think the Relativity one might be Einstein’s or one of those other geniuses.  Even that theory still applies to what I’m feeling: isn’t that the one that questions truth, at least if you allow his theory to branch out into philosophy and not just science?  I don’t know.  I think relativity is something about how someone’s “truth” is really not “truth” at all because there is no such thing as “truth.”  Or there’s that shit that goes something like this:  there are three sides to every story: his side, her side, and the truth.  Whatever…I’m digressing…

All I know is that love does not come without a cost.  That’s what’s reminding me of good old Newton– equal and opposite reaction shit.  Or something like that.  Love does not come without a cost and that cost is pain.  So before you invest too deeply, remember that what you invest does not always come back to you in the same way that you’d figured.  That sometimes, the reaction is one that hurts.  It will still be “equal”, but it might not be what you were hoping for.  

Even if all other signs seem to point in the right direction, even if everyone offers their positivity and continues to cheer for you and says that everything is going to be alright, and even if you believe that, still, sometimes the shit hits the fan and you feel a deep, burning, agonizing pain.  The kind of pain that makes you wonder if love was even worth it in the first place.  Right now, I don’t know the answer to that.  All I know is the rawness of this pain– the kind that swells your eyes, stains your cheeks with tears, chaps your lips because you’ve cried so much that you’ve managed to dehydrate yourself.  

The kind that puts you in bed, just begging to fall asleep for the whole day, an attempt to lessen the burden of pain, or maybe even avoid it.  

The kind that you know you could probably get past if you would just get up and do something productive; but you can’t because you feel paralyzed by your pain.  It hurts that bad.  The kind that tells you that maybe a hot bath would help to relax you.  

But the pain, it wins.  You stay in bed.  And you just cry.

Pain.  The kind that makes me scribble in my journal, hoping that in my rambling, I’ll find the light, the answer, the thing that will save me from this pain.  

The kind that rationalizes and then gets irrational.  

The kind that you wish would just go away.  Today.  

I seek no platitudes for my pain, just a simple nod of the head, an acknowledgement that pain exists today.  And that that pain came from  a choice to live again, to love again.

And while I wish that this pain would just go away, I know that it must not.  And it cannot.

Because that is the cost of love.  The cost of love is pain.  

And I have loved.  And I love.  

And I do not regret having love in my heart.  

So it should stand to reason in all my irrationalities that I’m creating in my head that I do not regret having this pain either.  

I just know that it exists.  

And that it hurts.

And that “I’m still here.”  

And the Lesson For Today Is:

So that was yesterday.

I still have that pain.  And my writing about it and admitting it here is my way of trying to find the light and trying to move forward.  I am not trying to mask it or run from it or avoid it; I still feel it.  And I do not regret having this pain or feel sorry for myself for having it either.

Because what I have experienced as a result of choosing to love has been something that I’d never dreamt possible.

It has been an amazing journey; I am hopeful that this journey continues, even if it needs to be in a different capacity.

In my journal only yesterday, I’d asked myself and didn’t know the answer to the question: is love worth it if it’s going to potentially bring you this kind of pain?

I know the answer today.

Yes.

Absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 100%– yes.

Love is worth it.

I still hurt.

But also,  “I’m still here.”

Make sense?

Pumpkin Protein Bars

pumpkin protein barsI went for my first mountain climb/hike this past weekend.  Although a novice, I knew we’d get hungry when we reached the top, so I made some of my “famous” pumpkin protein bars.  The recipe that follows can be adjusted to meet your specific caloric needs.  When I’m in contest prep, there are some adjustments that I make as well– such as eliminating some of the chocolate chips or substituting them all together for carab chips instead (granted, not as tasty, but when in contest prep, you make these kinds of adjustments).

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