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…

Continue reading “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder, Not Cover Girl”

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.

Continue reading “Five Simple Strategies: #4 One Small Step”

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:

Continue reading “Five Simple Strategies: #3 Get More Sleep!”

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.

Continue reading “Five Simple Strategies: #2. Drink More Water”

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?

It’s the little things…

This has not been a good week.shower

And I realize that what I’m about to write are totally First World problems, and yes, I am keenly aware that there are others who have it “far worse” than I do.

So there’s my disclaimer.

Upon returning from my awesome adventure in California, I experienced post-vacation blues like I had never anticipated.  Add to that, I managed to catch a cold from the asshole seated behind me on the airplane that kept hacking all over me.  I probably should’ve taken the Airborne I had purchased prior to leaving rather than keeping it stored in my pocket, “just in case.”  I don’t know what in the hell I was waiting for…I think the purpose of it is to take it before you leave to enhance your immunity.  But, hey, I’m not an experienced traveler, so what the hell do I know?!?! Point noted.

Continue reading “It’s the little things…”

When the Wind Blows Up, Just Stay– Lessons from the Luna Moth

How in the world did that vine end up clear over there on that deck spindle, I wondered as I neared the sliding doors leading out onto the deck.

Wait.  What the fuck is that?!?!

Upon closer inspection, I grew fearful.  A large, terrifying-looking bug had attached itself to the deck and I was frightened, somewhat for myself, but more so for Bella (my Rottweiler) who had joined me.  Scared that she might get bit by whatever this magnificent creature was, I sent her back inside while I continued to investigate.  What is this, I wondered.

I posted the picture to Facebook and asked that very question.  Soon, I would come to learn that it was a Luna Moth.  A born researcher, I then turned to all things Google to find out whether or not this was something to be scared of…and what I found out was astonishing, surreal, and symbolic and poignant…

“In spiritual terms, they signify rebirth and new beginnings. Because they gravitate towards light in the darkness of the night, the lunar moth are seen as a symbol of spiritual transformation, of heightened awareness, and a striving towards truth.”

Say what?!?!

And so I returned back to the deck to observe this gift of nature.  I sat, wrote, and cried while watching how it clung to that railing…and here’s what I wrote…

I want to touch it, but I wouldn’t dare.  Not yet, anyway, for this creature is far too stunning to disturb and risk its flying away.  its antennae, like feathers of a down pillow, its back like a fluffy bird, its wings spread wide, with their appearance drawing such a resemblance to the vines growing in the flower box just above it.  Those thin wings, so delicate, paper-like even, like a sheet of vellum even, they flutter when I draw closer, as though this creature is frightened or nerved, just as was I upon first discovery.  This moth is a creature of the night, yet here she stays, in broad daylight.  She just STAYS, clinging to this rail.  Its markings seem painted, in perfect symmetry.  I draw my finger to her delicate wings and she spreads them further, revealing another set of markings that are just as fantastic as the others. I tenderly touch her furry back and delicate wings, and while my touch is foreign to her, she flutters and STAYS.  Surely she is not comfortable with my human touch.  Surely between my touch and the bright light of day, she must feel outside her element.  And yet, she STAYS.  The wind picks up and blows under her wings, revealing her long, graceful body.  And against that breeze, she clings to that rail; she does not allow that wind to carry her away or cause her to fall.  She STAYS.  I shall not disturb this magnificent creature. It is not my job.  Who am I to step in and interfere with what this moth needs to do and where she wants to be.  My job is to simply observe this remarkable beauty, to record it, and to remember that when the wind draws up, to just cling; to be steadfast; and to STAY.
Thank you, Kerry, you teach me this every Wednesday.  And I see it– the importance of staying, even when the wind draws up.

Re-frame: Classic Metal

It happens every semester.  At the end of it, our students are encouraged to fill out what’s called an SRTE– Student Rating of Teacher Effectiveness (at least I think that’s what it stands for! LOL!!!) They are asked a number of questions about how well they believe they were taught by their instructor or professor.  The results from all participating students are then calculated and we are given a ranking across a number of different criteria.  There are two “umbrella” type criteria– our overall effectiveness as a teacher (named “quality of instructor”) and an overall assertion of the quality of the course.  Rankings are from 1 to 7, with 1 meaning, essentially, that you suck, and 7 meaning you’re the world’s greatest thing since sliced bread.

Now I’m not one to brag, but my “quality of instructor” score usually runs in the high 6’s.  One semester, I even got a whole 7!

But then I’ll run through the rest of the criteria to see how I “performed” in other areas.  And invariably, every semester, there is at least one student who apparently hated my guts.  Because this student breezes through the SRTE and gives me “1’s” on every single criteria.  Over and over, this student is saying to me, “you suck, I hate you; you suck, I hate you.”

But the rest of the students apparently LOVE me, if my overall average ends up being in the high 6’s, right?  And I should be amped about that, right?

Wrong.

Nope.

Instead, I fixate.

…On that one student who hated my guts.  Who thought I was incompetent.  Who thought I was the worst teacher in all of Penn State’s history.

I’m not the only one who fixates.  My colleagues talk about the same fixation.

Why is this our human nature?  Why do we focus on the negative and fail to celebrate the positive?  What social constructs support this kind of negative thinking?  It is so counter-productive.  And destructive.

There IS power in positive thinking.

The executives at Disney World have this figured out.  When “guests,” not “customers,” inquire with “cast members,” not “employees,” about what time the park “closes,” cast members are instructed to say, “The park is open until 8:00.” Disney uses associative language and positively connotated word choices to convey a message that is more enticing and welcoming.

I’ve learned from grief that I cannot focus on the negative because it is the negative that eats me apart.  It drags me down and makes me sink.

And so I’m learning to re-frame everything.

Instead of focusing on what I’ve lost, I strive to focus on what I’ve gained.  I’ve gained a tribe of individuals who have loved me and supported me throughout this whole process.  I’ve gained an insatiable desire to live and to live life to its fullest.  I’ve gained the capability to love even more freely– and even harder– than I did before.  I don’t have anger in my heart.  Grief, loss, taught me all of that.  And I’m learning to step away from those negative thoughts that come in every now and again; the ones that tell me that having a happy life is just not in my cards.

I’m learning to re-frame my thinking.

G. comes from a world that is totally different than mine.  I tease him by saying that his world is “classical” and mine is “metal,” using music genres to compare our differences.  And previously, I was intimidated by his “classical” world.  Thought that the two could never mesh.  If our lives are so very different, how could it ever possibly work?   I’d fixate on that.  And to this point, there has been no evidence of it not being able to work, but when the mind fixates, it will search for the “proof” until it convinces itself that its found “solid evidence,” that indeed, it will not work.

Well that’s not so healthy, is it?  Seems pretty counter-productive for someone who really wants to live and live life to the fullest.

So I changed my thinking.  And instead of being “intimidated,” I am now seeing his classical world as an “adventure,” like going on safari or a scavenger hunt or an exploration!  I hope that he also sees my “metal” world as an adventure too!  This could be– and so far, has been– a really, really wild ride, like being at Disney!  And that charges me.  It gives me the freedom to believe that I, too, deserve to be happy in this new life.  It gives me “permission” to have fun, to simply enjoy life, and to let love in and to breathe love into everything I do.

There IS power in positive thinking.

Maybe that one student who hated my guts was just confused, thinking that 1s were equivalent to the “highest ranking” and 7s were indicative of the “lowest quality.”  Or maybe she/he was drunk/high/half asleep/ when filling it out. It is possible, you know.  After all, they are college kids.  Or maybe she/he never came to class and just doesn’t care about a stupid SRTE.  Or maybe she/he is just a bully and hates everyone.

Who cares?!?!

Re-frame it.

Believe it.

Live it.

"Rush" is a Dirty Four-Lettered Word

Why is it that when I’m trying to get somewhere via car, I’m always stuck behind some person that clearly does not know how to drive?  The speed limit could be 35 and this person will be traveling at the speed of a snail, making 35 mph seem as though it would be warp speed!  And naturally, there is never a passing lane when stuck behind such said person.  There is no way out.  I’m forced to stay behind, cursing and yelling (to myself, apparently, because I’m pretty sure the alleged guilty party cannot hear me) along the way as we travel at this “dumb ass mother fucker who doesn’t know how to drive would you please get the fuck out of the way you stupid fuck?!?”

And I will sometimes tailgate.

So I have aggressive driving issues.

But at least I can admit it.  And that is the first step toward healing, right?!?!

But beyond that tendency to be aggressive, I can’t help but also wonder…

Why am I in such a hurry?
What’s the rush?
Why am I in such a hurry to get from point A to point B?

I guess when you lose someone, you gain an appreciation for living life to the fullest and you learn to appreciate living “in the now”, in the moment.  And you realize that there is no time to waste.  That the time for action is, in fact, “NOW.”  Being behind a slow driver “prevents” me from doing the thing that I want to do NOW.

So this is a double-edged sword.  Because living in the “now” is also a breeding ground for having a lack of patience. And I already lacked that before Jeff died.  Now, it’s even worse.

Dana Linn Bailey

I see evidence of this in my list-making that I talked about last week.  http://neverbuffenough.blogspot.com/2014/06/help-wanted.html When I fail to accomplish all of those listed items, I feel as though I failed myself as well as the day; that I didn’t use my time as wisely as I could have.  I feel badly that I might have to put off some items until the next day.  I stress out that I didn’t get it all done.  I see evidence of that sense of hurriedness and lack of patience in my endeavors in bodybuilding.  I want to look like  Dana Linn Bailey today.  Forget the fact that first of all, she’s inches shorter than I am; that she’s worked on her body for years compared to only the three years that I’ve been involved in this sport; that she is a professional bodybuilder. Somewhere along the line, I lose sight of all of that and just get caught up in not being satisfied with the journey.

And I hate that word– “journey.”  You hear it everywhere.  This is your journey.  Appreciate the journey.  The journey is yours to travel.  Look, Journey was an 80s pop band, one that’s gained recent recognition through shows like Laguna Beach and Glee.  And I liked Journey.  Even have a bunch of their songs on my iPod.

So maybe it’s not so much a “journey” as it is just living one’s life and enjoying the successes and setbacks that lead to eventual growth and opportunity.  It’s quite the juxtaposition, to have learned from grief to “live in the moment,” but then to be in constant search of “the answer” or the satisfaction of scratching items off a list or “the final product.”

But here’s the thing…

There is no “answer.”

What does scratching items off a list really do for oneself anyway?  It’s just some scribbling on a note card of things that I’ve deemed to be so exceptionally relevant and important.

And moreover, the “final product” only exists when you die.  What lies in graveyards across the country and the world are a bunch of “final products.”

And I’m not done yet.  There is no final answer.  The list will never be fully accomplished.  And I am certainly no final product.  And I reckon that neither are you.

Life is a process, a series of trial and error, drafts and revisions…

So what’s your hurry?

Slow down.

Who cares if everything on the list of things to do is not accomplished?  Tomorrow is another day. And if it’s not, still– who cares?  Is everything on that list really time-sensitive?  Or is it just a ridiculous constraint that you place upon yourself?

Pay attention to the trials, the errors.  Don’t shut them down.  Don’t ignore them or brush them under the rug.  Face them– head on!  And as crazy as it might sound, embrace the setbacks as much as you embrace the successes.  Be kind to yourself.  Be patient with yourself.  And also with that slow-ass driver in front of you.

You’ll get to where you need to be. You will get done what needs to get done.  You are not a failure.  You– and your life–  are a work- in- progress.

A beautiful, unique, and wonderful work- in-progress.