A Devotion to my Mother

Friday May 5th, 2017

I have been thinking a lot about my mother, Kay. She is not my biological mother, she is my husbands Step-Mother.  Kay is also Kathleen coincidentally, so am I. We are both married to William. So, Kathleen and William Klavon – which is both weird and enchanting at the same time. Anyway.

Today is Kay’s birthday! It is now 9:36 P.M. and I have not called her or left a message on Facebook. I did not send her a card, or a present. You see, I have been thinking about my mother, Kay all day today. So Kay, this is for you.

I am 51 years 4 months 14 days 8 hours and 44 minutes old…and there it went. I remember when you were my age! Isn’t that funny to hear from your younger? It seems like it was yesterday, and then I could not imagine what it would be like to be my age now. I had no other women in my life who were older than me, since I lost my mom. Being the observer that I am, I paid attention to you, probably more than you think. More than you could probably imagine, really. Even though, you and I are really very different in our personalities, I am just now learning about what it means to be on this side of my womanhood. I remember vividly how you fussed over everything, trying to make sure everything was just perfect. It made me so nervous. Probably because in some way, I could also be like that, except I felt like nobody noticed that my perfectionism was this unrelenting desire to prove something. Now that I am in Middle Age, I find myself blooming into something I can barely even understand. I finally feel like I have glasses on, and I can see things much more clearly than before. Chalk it up to growing up, and growing into my own womanhood. I sort of watched you back then, and at the time – it all seemed so foreign, I could not relate in the slightest. Of course, I had 2 or 3 little boys running around and our stages of life crossed paths on different timelines. I want you to know though, that I saw you. I see you.  I have so many regrets about so much I did not do, about so much I often did not say. I want you to know that I have appreciated so much about you,  your whole self. It isn’t just one thing. It is so many things. So, again, I didn’t send a card, but I did buy you one. Did you know that I always buy you a card, and then I forget to send it? It’s worse now. I’m doomed. Peri-menopause has taken my brain, and I do not know if I am going to get it back soon. I have doubts.

I am an imperfect person, and I missed a lot of “what to do” and “how to say” and all the things that I feel that I can never get just right, but I swear, in my heart, it is there. I try. Perhaps trying is not good enough. I am not going to go on a tangent and beat myself up for my imperfection, but just acknowledge it, and give myself a little compassion.  For not being perfect. Kay, I want you to know something. I think you are a wonderful woman, a wonderful person. I hope that in your heart, that you know that I really love you.

 

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Trust the process

Easter Sunday 2018

I’ve been contemplating again. I have had an inquiry about my hair, for the past 4 years – and apparently, I am still in the inquiry.
It’s April first, and I made my goal to not color or bleach my hair until today. I decided to make an appointment after meeting my friend who thought I should wait to be grey in about 10 years. Admittedly, it got in my head. The thing is though, that I’ve been looking in the mirror in an objective way really, and I suppose I can say that I actually like the way the silver is looking. Yet, there Are days, when I look in the mirror and I need to ask myself what I am doing. There is a part of me that really, really, REALLY loves hair color and styles. Perhaps it’s something in my blood. My mother owned her own beauty shop the year that I was born. I grew up with her books in our library of books to read, and there is a part of me that relished looking at beauty books from the 60’s. It was classic, Mad Men hairstyles. I have a pretty vivid recollection of those books. I wish I still had them. I suppose it is much like a time capsule in my memory.
Now, it’s 2018, and I feel as if I am in a period of my life where I am sort of at this impasse. I am 52 years old, and I feel really young – (I think) that I look young. My face looks young. Oh, what do I know? Last year, I got into an argument with a young woman at NOVA community college and she called me “an old lady”. I was rather taken aback at her what I perceived as an insult and a slight. Since then, I suppose I was made aware of how the world (or at least some people perceive my appearance). Until that incident, I really hadn’t felt like an “old lady”. I mean, seriously. What in the actual fuck?
So, I have been in this hair inquiry for about 4 years now, and this is probably the longest that I have ever went without coloring or altering my hair in some way.
The other day, I met a friend. She knew me with dark brunette hair. Then, I went lighter brown, then red, then blonde. She likes the blonde on me the best, because she says, “dark hair makes me look more serious”, and “blonde hair made me look more fun and less serious”. I do understand what she is talking about. The platinum hair has been a kind of dream come true for me, since the Madonna era circa 1980. I hadn’t had the balls or the money to pull that off. I wanted to, but I never did. Fast forward to about 2 years ago, when I started playing with bleach, and lightening my hair because it was becoming much more difficult to keep up with coloring my “natural” brown/black hair color. In general, my hair grows exceptionally fast compared to some people. It was just becoming rather annoying to need to color my hair within a couple of weeks really. The contrast was intense, and I became increasingly aware of the toxins that I was putting onto my head regularly. I can’t say that I was ever really sensitive to any dye, but I knew that there could not be anything remotely healthy about my practice. Like an addict though, I couldn’t stop. I tried to move into lighter colors but never really found the “just right” lighter color. I am very fortunate in the sense, that for whatever reason, my skin tone allowed me to look good in many different hues and tones. Still. I could never really settle on one particular hair color. I always wanted to keep my hair closer to my natural tone, which had been dark brown, almost black. I loved being a brunette. Now though, at 52, I have this awareness of how harsh the dark color can appear on me because my skin is still relatively fair, and my eyes are light. But, I had the thought that perhaps it would be an easier transition if I were to bleach my hair platinum blonde. So, this is the direction that I decided to go in. After many mishaps, and burning the shit out of my hair because I tried to do it on my own, I finally succeeded by biting the bullet and paying a shit ton of money for the guarantee of my obtaining platinum blonde color without my hair being destroyed. I succeeded.
It’s been a few months since I last had my hair bleached. It’s getting longer again, and I am enjoying the length coming back. My hair actually has a rather interesting range of silver that is coming in, and there are actually days when I love the way it looks.
It’s funny, almost (ironic) that am liking the way it is looking. I’m really trying to stay on the positive frame of mind, so I can continue this process fully. A part of me just needs to have this experience, whether I decide at some point to lighten or darken my hair again.
2016-now has been a transformative time for me personally. From the time I turned 50, and the time that the patriarchy is finally becoming dismantled, I have had time to reflect on my own version of feminism and what it means to me personally. I have several women friends who have cheered this process on for quite some time now. I fought against it for a long time. I admit, there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to accept my aging. Perhaps it’s because at some level it reminds me that it is inevitable that aging means death. And it does. The reality is that we age, and we will die. The reality is also that we are currently living in the present, and I am beginning to understand that the concept of death is much beyond my own control. I have the choice to enjoy and expand my current place in time, no matter what my age. To be continued…

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2018 The Year of the Silver Fox: Meditations on Menopause, and Seasons of my Life of Adventures

It's not all that unusual for me to be talking about adventures. I 
was born with wanderlust. I was made for adventuring. It likely has 
to do with my propensity for freedom. Well, that and my tendency 
towards being a person with a deep passion to be continually learning something new. I am a philosopher by nature, so experience makes for great conversations. 

When I decided to start writing about this, it is because I really 
need to capture all of the intricacies of this particular experience because it will be my once in a lifetime experience. I am referring to the joy of crossing over from Peri-menopause to Menopause, and what it means for me in my own life, because this experience is my own. No other woman will have the exact same experience as any other woman - in this way. It is time though for me to begin to take this season slightly more seriously now because I am 60 days from my last blood which is a first for me. It is as much of a mystery to me as anyone 
could even begin to guess. I'd say that I am looking forward to the 
experience, but I'd be lying. Much like some other women, I will be 
glad to not have any surprise periods, and for me, I long for the 
loss of the pain of deep cramping, and extreme fatigue. I wish so 
much for these things to be gone. It has debilitated time in my life.  

I have been fortunate to meet other women who have already traveled this path, and who are there to help navigate this season in a very unique way. 

It is the time for me to embrace and discover this uncharted 
territory in my own life. It is time for me to own it, and to nurture it, and to love it because if I don't, who will? No one will be here to do 
it for me, it in my own right. Perhaps that is what the fuss is all 
about. It is about me taking a huge look at my own self 
"response - ability". It is a season to honor the changing rhythm of my life, because it is changing for me in some pretty huge ways. 
I have two adult children and a teenager who live at home. I still have a high schooler, and I am on the verge of my own developmental 
shift.

I want to talk about my hair. It seems I have been talking about it for about the past 4 years now, so some people will not be taking me very seriously because I have caved in the past and went back to the 
dye. The last time I blonded my hair was around my birthday, at the end of December 2017. That means it's been 9 weeks today, since I last colored my hair. The longest I waited before was 10 weeks, and that was because I wanted to wait a little longer and allow some time for my hair to "heal". Whether I color my hair or bleach it to platinum, I have realized that not only is it highly toxic for me to continue my hair coloring but it is more or less a losing battle. I have been able to see that the rate of growth in my hair is moderately fast. With that I assumed that I needed to stop coloring my hair dark because it is literally impossible to keep up with. I decided to go blonde, after many years, I finally was able to achieve this. It turns out that I can get away with pretty much any hair color because I have such a good skin tone. What I didn't understand though, is that my hair still has a lot of gradient dark in it. So, even though I don't get a 
demarkation line, like I did with my dark brown hair, I now get a 
dark shadow near the back of my head. In essence, there is really no sense in me fighting nature anymore. It's time to go completely zen and allow my life to unfold naturally. It seems as if life is providing a sense of clarity. I actually do get to choose. Oh, I can't choose staying young, but I can choose to be youthful. I am a person of vitality and youthful energy. Nothing is going to change that part of me. 

A couple of weeks ago now, my Beloved hubs and I were going to Santa Fe, New Mexico for some well needed R&R and focused quality time for each other. Prior to that, I had started pondering the idea of just allowing my hair to grow out. Again. I bought a book for the plane called, Grey Hair Adventure: Things I learned about Life when I stopped dying my hair by a woman named Susan Paget. I blew through the book on my both of my flights. There is a lot of really good inspiration there, as well as good food for thought, for me. I believe that this is the time that I am going to complete this journey. There are various reasons why I am just now, kinda sorta ready. One, I feel like my hair is taking a lot of work to look good. Bleaching opposed to coloring really dries out my hair. I have naturally thick, coarse, curly hair. The only thing this does for me is make my hair extremely difficult to manage now. If anything, it has pretty much made it worse for me to wear it natural. In order for me to look kempt, in my opinion anyway, is for me to blow-dry and then flat iron my hair. This is an interesting thing for me to say because I spent most of my life wishing for straight hair. When I finally was able to get my hair to tame the way I wanted it to, I was basically torturing my hair, as well as becoming very taxed on the time it takes to really fix my hair. Don't get me wrong here. By nature, I am kind of a high maintenance girl. I actually love hair color and I love hair styles. I found much joy to coloring my hair or getting it straight. Perhaps this is the part of menopause where the one half of my brain is like, "woman, you ain't got time for that" and the other half is finally acknowledging that as the truth. How to I want to spend my time? Not only that, but as I have gotten older, more mature, my mind also loves to taunt me with the truth of my aging, and the truth of my fighting the truth at some level. I'm not saying that maturity means letting myself go. No, in fact, I think that all of my attempts to self medicate by coloring my hair has left me feeling empty. When I say this, I mean, that there are just times when coloring my hair is not going to really make me feel any better about my own aging. I am 52 years young, and I am blessed to have good skin, and good muscle tone (despite being overweight, which is my albatross in life). I am tired of this constant self focused over indulgence on the wrong things. I am fighting a losing battle here really. Or am I? Is it time for me to champion myself first so that I can see how it feels to stop beating myself up for the way that I look? Can I look forward to something that is natural, normal, and perfect really? It has been quite the conundrum for me for a really long time. I am finally starting to realize how much fear of the unknown there is in all of this. It's not that I would ever stop caring for myself, or let myself go. Rather, I can REALLY care for myself by not doing all these things. Perhaps I can begin to focus on loving myself exactly as I am, and cutting the bullshit out of my own preconceived ideas of what beauty really is. It's been difficult for me to face my own vanity, and reasons for staying smaller than I know I should. There is a lot there to explore, and I think I will save that for another time. Regardless, I am ready to have the guts to 
allow, and to savor this process instead of shriek at myself for what is only a perfectly natural process. 

Okay, so the caveat in my mind goes like this. If in the end, I do not like the way my silver locks play out, then I give myself full permission to do whatever the fuck I want with my hair afterwards. That being said, I am not looking for a way out. Rather, I am looking to myself for my own innate wisdom, of what will work for me. 

The thing is, I really do have beautiful hair, and have gotten complements my whole life about it. Do I have enough faith in myself to embrace this process? Yes, I think so. That isn't to say that I am not going to go through some really important head stuff along the way. My hair has always been a signature of who I am. Okay, so I am not my hair and my hair is just a physical part of me, but it has been one of my favorite things about myself, when I wasn't complaining about it. I can't say that about a lot of physical things about myself. I have a self deprecating nature. Speaking of which, I find that it's time for me to give that shit up. Perhaps THIS is exactly why I feel that it's time for me to give myself some slack to grow here. I truly am tired of all the negative self talk, the subtle and overt put downs, the grossly exaggerated energy surrounding the very superficial part of who I really am. 

I have to wonder, what WILL my hair look like? I am very curious to see. What if I discover that I actually love the grey and silver locks that will be distinctly mine? What if it ends up emphasizing my physical appearance rather than make me look "older". I mean, just the fact that virgin hair will be in beautiful condition makes me really happy inside. I have had some really beautiful women role models as well. I have many feminist minded friends who have not only walked the walk, but who have encouraged this for me because they have already walked the gamut. I have been shown the way, and perhaps it's just natural for me to be the next in line to lead the way, for myself. 

So, this is the first in the series of my silver fox adventures. 
Again. I make no apologies. I plan on keeping a blog and also taking photos of how it is going, so anyone who is curious about it all can vicariously live through this experience with me. 

Times are a changing.
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Racing mind

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I haven’t written in a long time again. I really want to keep a log of my present day moods, because I am becoming more aware that peri-menopause has changed something in me. Perhaps it’s because I have such an ADHD or Anxiety? mind, I get stuck quite a bit more than I probably need to. I am becoming more aware of the ways my brain tends to over think about everything. Definitely resulting from PTSD trauma, I know my brain was altered from childhood through my young adulthood. Given that is the past, at 51 years of age, I am more interested in how to manage any uncomfortable symptoms. When I say uncomfortable, I mean, my mind doesn’t like to rest. In fact, I think my brain prefers to be jacked up on adrenaline, however, it becomes rather unpleasant and exhausting. I learned a lot about this last year when I decided to go back to therapy to deal with the fallout from Liam coming home from college with anxiety, and learning how much his anxiety and my mental issues, and parenting style merged into our relationship.

I’ve learned about how PTSD causes hyper vigilance, and although I’ve been acutely aware of this attribute, I did not really understand the impact on the kids. I have been in therapy on and off since I was about 21. I suppose it is safe to say that trauma issues go on in one’s life, regardless of whether one has awareness about it or not. The result being variable with each individual. As self-aware as I have always been, it is safe to say that my journey has truly been an unraveling or like peeling the layers of an onion. For some reason, I spent an extraordinary amount of my life thinking that I was responsible for figuring out what is wrong as well as figuring out a solution to fix it. This has been the cause of great angst in me for my whole life. In childhood, having such chaos and instability caused me to adapt to “figuring it out”. I’m pretty certain it is the result of fight,flight, freeze.  Children don’t have the maturity to solve complex problems stemming from an alcoholic household. My situation in childhood was extreme. It was complex. I was/am intelligent. I had a keen sense of intuition. I could read situations that most kids probably would be oblivious to. I wish so often that I could have been a kid like that. That wasn’t my experience, and I can’t change it, no matter how much I long for it to have been different. I am truly over delving in the past, despite still having triggers as a result (of it). I have been attempting to integrate what I know now about the past and how I respond in the present. It can sometimes be a blur for me. I can’t always see things clearly in the present when I am stuck in feelings/emotions.

One of the reasons that I decided to write today is because I took adderall today. I confess, that I love the effect of it. Perhaps because my mind perseverates so much, the stimulant reigns me in, and I can go off on clearer mind explorations. I have so many things that I want to talk about, to explain, to discuss, to contemplate, to understand. I am writing this as a catharsis for myself because who else is likely to ever read it? Do I want someone to read my flowing thoughts? Well, I know it would certainly not be boring, but I am not sure what someone else would get out of this kind of writing. I did make this blog private, or so I think it is. Sometimes, I swear to gosh that I was not made for this time. The technology is here to be used, but sometimes it just feels too overwhelming, as one more thing I have to learn but it is not something I am really interested in investing in learning because it is so fucking boring. My mind likes more tangible ways to express, like writing without having to think about where this blog will end up in the future. I suppose it could go on paper, you know, like a journal – but I am so disorganized, paper then becomes an issue for me because I never know where the heck to put anything. It would end up in a pile that only ends up stressing me out. Since I tend to be on the messy side, everything doesn’t have a place. As much as I would like for everything in my home to be completely organized and minimal, I never seem to be able to get there. This is why if I had the money, I swear, I would hire an assistant to help me keep myself together. Well, perhaps that should be on my list of things I would like to have or people to hire. I would love to have a professional organizer come in and make my life more efficient from that perspective. Part of me doesn’t really care about my messes, but sometimes I do. I think perhaps I am more stressed out about it because it drives Bill crazy. If I am being honest though, I like when things are organized and efficient. I just have a hard time being that way consistently, despite wanting it desperately. I do it to myself. It is a habit. It is one of things remaining as a trigger for me. There is some deeper aspect of why I make piles. I think it goes back to being ADHD and not being able to sit and complete one task at a time because I frequently feel as if there is just too much that I want to get done, and then I get stuck because I don’t want to deal with it. I end up paralyzed in not only getting started but in finishing. I know if I made a list, that would be a great help. Sometimes, it just feels like the list is one more thing I need to do, of all of the things that are racing about in my mind that I am trying to remember to do, or get done. Anyway, sometimes I think to myself, that if I lived alone, I probably wouldn’t even care if I left shit all over the place like I do sometimes. That really isn’t true all the time. Sometimes, it really does stress me out quite a bit. When I start to clean, everything becomes magnified, and I start to notice details of things that make me even more neurotic. So yes, messes are actually toxic for me on most levels. I think that it is in my nature to have a lot of tabs open at the same time. I believe that I get triggered by Bill when I feel that he is stressed out by any mess, even sometimes when in my opinion, it isn’t that big of a deal, but his stressing on it, makes me stress on it, then I get internally anxious about his attitude of frustration. I end up feeling like it’s all my fault. Everything is my fault. I am a bad person. I am lazy. I am…it’s all part of the neurotic mantra that I can get going in my head about how I am feeling. This pattern stems from my abusive stepfather, who was a misogynistic, authoritarian, abuser. Even though I know in my mind now that none of that matters, this is a pattern of behavior or emotions that seem to continue when I get stressed about messes. I can honestly take a moment here to tell “Little Alice in Wonderland” that all of that is over. The criticism, the contempt, the anger, the hatred that I felt directed at me was not my fault. It was his fault. Ralph Barbour did not know how to parent. All of the things that he inflicted on me mentally as a child got ingrained in my psyche. I don’t know his story, not that it matters.

The only thing that matters to me now, is that I want to be mentally healthy. I want to have good relationships with people in my life. I am currently in my winter mood, which means that there may be a bit of S.A.D. that affects me every year. I feel less motivated to do anything or go out. I think of what I want to do, and often there really isn’t much that I actually want to do. When I say that, I mean literally. Lately, I could sit on the couch and surf the web during the day. I have too much idle time, and I also procrastinate getting other work done. I end up at the end of the day being mad at myself for not being productive. There is always, always, always work to be done around the house. The thing is, that I really don’t pride myself anymore on being some kind of domestic goddess who I would have been almost forced/conditioned to be during the 1940’s – the 1970’s. For one, like I mentioned before, I am not the most organized person,not consistently anyway. Deep down though, I know that pissing away my time so often only makes me feel like crap. I sporadically get a lot done, here and there. The essence here boils down to one thing with me. “I NEVER FEEL GOOD ENOUGH ABOUT MYSELF OR WHAT I DO”.

This is another reason why I wanted to write today. I am back into my self obsessive mind, about my hair, about my body, about my looks, about my aging.  It is almost systemic with me. I become really obsessed about my looks. My hair seems to be an ongoing mental illness with me. I can’t make up my mind about what I want to do with it. I want to look like a healthy, attractive normal middle-aged, 51-year-old woman (who really looks only 40) if I am being honest. I know that it is seemingly a cultural issue in some ways, and I am not alone in the pervasive thinking about my looks, but still, this kind of more intense with me. Even though I am aware that this is the result of a childhood abuse, I am working to heal it in myself. I’m not sure about the nature of true healing without lingering unhealed parts. Perhaps this is what Noah Levine meant by the nature of suffering in humans. That we will suffer because we are human, and one cannot get around that. It is possible through regular meditation practice that I can find more peace. The thing is, I have difficulty establishing regular self-discipline in my life, in many different areas. I am inconsistent. Maybe everyone can be inconsistent sometimes, and for me specifically I use it as a way to beat myself up. This is the crux of my story here. There are literally times when I feel such self loathing, and honestly, I have no idea why. I just know that it makes me feel horrible about myself when I do it unconsciously. Right now, I am being a witness to my own dysfunction. Sometimes, I sit with the feeling that there is nothing good about me. Which I know in my mind and my heart, that isn’t true. Yet, my mind ends up in this darkness about that which for some reason, I want to be different. If it isn’t my hair, it’s my body, or my intelligence, or personality, or my parenting style (or lack of it).

There is a pervasive lack of satisfaction with so much. It disturbs me that for some reason I can never seem to find contentedness. Maybe that isn’t exactly true. There are times when I am content overall, but it is fleeting. A lot of the time, I feel discontent. I know that I shouldn’t, that I don’t really have reason to. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in my current life, I would have to really think hard about what needs are not being met. In fact, after being with Bill for so long, I feel like his support of everything about me has been above average compared to some other people that have had a difficult childhood. For some reason, I do not know if I have self-actualization or if the premise of the hierarchy of needs is one that involves a person in their lifetime. That being said, if I am being honest with myself about my own Self-actualization, I do not feel as if I have reached my full potential. I know I have reached beyond where I would have been, had I not met Bill and married him. I married above myself in some ways. We compliment each other, I do know this, but I know that he could have probably married a less fucked up person. (I had to throw that in there) Yes, we each have our albatrosses, and we have each grown through our relationship together. Who really ever knows how differently things could be, in any given situation. Anyway, that doesn’t even matter. In that pyramid of needs, 1. Physiological: Basic needs of food, shelter, sleep, activity, sex – I can say that I have everything I need. Sex is a weird issue, but as I have gotten older, I understand now that I am not the only one whose drive is compromised. 2. Safety: Feeling safe from potentially dangerous physical and psychological situations and events. Security of health, work, money, (routine) and familiarity. I am completely safe. *I think this is an area of trigger for me though. I have quite an obsession with making sure there is food in the house, all the time, or overstocking. I have no reason to feel scarcity. 3. Love and Belongingness: Affiliation, feeling part of a group – family, socially, and/or work. Giving and receiving trust, acceptance, affection and love. * Here is a little tricky because I DO have love and belongingness, I feel trust and for the most part, I think other people perceive me as a trusted person. However, I struggle to feel like a part of. I often feel like an outsider or different from my own family of 5 and even in social situations with friends, I can find myself not fully trusting in the relationships that I have. I’m certain it goes back to conditioning. I’m working on that in my friendships, but I am constantly over-thinking this. 4. Esteem needs: Feeling competent. Self-esteem and self-respect. The respect of others, family, socially, and at work. *This is a difficult area for me, in that I never really feel a sense of competency. On one hand, I have come to accept my type of intelligence yet, I don’t feel that I know as much as I want to. I want to know more. Perhaps I do have a learning disability that challenges me at times, but I know that I am intelligent and capable of learning. I think this is a weak area for me though, and is one of things that causes me to have a sense of not being good enough because I have a perfectionistic side. I want to be an intellectual that feels both credible and also humble. My short term memory is truly an issue for me. That isn’t an excuse. How can I work around that though? There are ways to explore, if I could only work on each “problem” that I want to “solve” through discipline and consistency. I get sidetracked and distracted easily, and I can be lazy sometimes. I like to play more than work sometimes. *SELF-DISCIPLINE* 5. Cognitive needs:  The desire for knowledge and understanding. The need for meaning and predictability. As I said, I do love to learn and grow. I have always been a curious person, and I love learning new things. Perhaps this is an area worth looking at too. Meaning and predictability are things I think are very important to me. My life actually does have meaning by all of the things that I have managed to accomplish or rise above. Being a good mother, a good parent is one of the most important things in my life because I want to give my children the life that I did not have. I know that I have done well, considering. I feel torn sometimes about what the right thing to do is. Having no real role models, I have done okay. I think a part of me feels that nagging that I am not doing good enough, that I could do better. *Always not good enough* 6. Aesthetic Needs: The need for beauty and order. Creativity, design and art. I think this is an easier one for me. I like to surround myself in beauty.  *although, I seem to have a nagging discontent and want to change things. Part of me would love a magazine perfect house with matching decorations, the other part of me loves to play with creative ideas and I like the notion of comfort and personal eclectic style. (Maybe that is why The Wonderfactory office was so amazing) It had the feeling of playfulness and creativity for different moods or desires. Personally, I love this concept. 7. Self-Actualization: Reaching Full Potential. Becoming everything one is capable of becoming. Perhaps I am not giving myself enough credit. Perhaps this ideology is a lifetime ideal. I do want more for myself, but I cannot seem to figure out how I am going to get there. I don’t even know where “there” is.

All I know is that I am working to become my best self, and I seem to get in my own way. A lot of this has come up from talking to Jillian about her father (my brother) and all of the ways that I analyze my family of origin. I wish I could “fix”. I can’t. I can’t even completely fix myself, and by fixing myself, I sure would be happy to not be so erratic with my thoughts all the time.

After my last round of therapy, I learned that it is possible that I have Borderline Personality criteria. So, how do I work with that at 51? I want to not have mental illness, but I do. It is genetic and also conditioned by living with a broken household, addiction, instability, chaos, abuses, lack of support. I see correlations between John (my brother) and myself in our behaviors and some of our ways of thinking.  The one area where we are really alike is our desire to be heard, even sometimes when it is not rational. The difference is that I am constantly striving to learn how to not hurt people, yet I have hurt my loved ones, and some of my friendships. I do try to make amends when I figure out that I have done something that needs to be made right. In this case, it is easier for me to avoid a relationship with him because he can be so damaging. I know he doesn’t mean to be, he is also trying to preserve himself. Even though I think it is pretty self-destructive. I can relate in some ways. I have no answer for this.

2016-2017 has been challenging for me on the political front because it brought up triggers that come from abuse and misogyny. I have a lot of unresolved shit. Perhaps this is also developmentally normal for a middle aged woman who is close to having an empty nest. I know politics have challenged many people, particularly women this time. My goal is to stay present and work to make things better now. As for my family, there is not a lot I can do to teach them how to get out of the pattern they are in. I do try to, but perhaps it is just one of those things that is not my responsibility to try to fix. Then again, I feel that my breakthroughs are worth talking about to Jillian in particular. She has her own set of life challenges. If I were to create a mind scenario about them and how their lives are going to turn out, I don’t feel very positive about it. For my own kids, I feel much more confident that I have actually done things to teach them about my experiences and what I do to handle situations. When my kids are launched into the world, I want them to be better prepared than I was. I think they are already.

Okay, so I have been writing for quite some time now. It is time for me to release this. It was good to get some of this out of my head. Although, initially, I did want to also explore my own addictive behavior, and the possibility that the tendency to avoid can come from my lack of self discipline. Sometimes I just want to keep my addictions because they are not working very well for me at times, in terms of self-actualization. I learned how to numb and disassociate, and that is very familiar for me. I don’t like it, but that is just where my behavior goes sometimes. A part of me is very delicate with myself. I do feel the need to protect myself when I feel insecure or incompetent by hiding. My next question for myself is, do I want to go away to a Dharma Punx retreat and get my shit together in the way that I think I could if I abstained from all chemicals? I don’t know. I have so many ideas about what things I would like to do, to accomplish. At the end of my life, I just hope that I am at peace with my decisions. Life is too short not to be using my gifts and talents more than I allow myself to. I have a lot of self-consciousness and fear. I remember when I was on the Kripalu track and I was SO ON. It was hard, but I was engaged, and I pushed through. Why can’t I do that again? Where did my self-confidence of that time go? I want it back.

 

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Encountering Random Acts of Kindness

Pondering thoughts or merrily, merrily, merrily merrily, life is but a dream.

“Sounds of laughter shades of love are ringing through my open ears, inciting and inviting me. Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns, it calls me on and on across the universe…” 

-John Lennon

 

Today has been an ordinary morning in the life of this human.  I awoke rather sleepily after having been awakened in the middle of the night by my college student, who felt it necessary to run up and down the stairs to print papers that he just had to have at 2 am.  I was more than a little disgruntled having been jarred awake on a perfectly good night of sleeping.  Yet, morning comes if your lucky enough to wake up.  

     I started my day by giving Aidan wake-up kisses, and doing the rather mundane things in the daily life of a mom.  I had to go get…

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Generation, Why? “Mysteries”

It’s 2016 and not a day goes by when I do not think about love, and what it means to me. Turning 50 in December has been a revelation of time and space – a blip in the radar of my life. How did I get here?

I rarely speak about my past to anyone, except those who are closest to me. Since childhood, I have always known that my calling was about helping others – particularly women and children. I have a soft heart for people. I consider myself an empath, primarily because I was born into caregiving without ever choosing it for myself. Yet, my heart is very open, very tender for humanity – despite the fact that I could have turned out like some of the others in my family of origin. Perhaps it is enough to say, that generationally, most of my family comes from a line of alcoholism/addiction, abuse, and mental illness. As one of the youngest in my family, I was spared to some degree of it, almost by proxy. I am my mother’s daughter.  Since I am 7 and 10 years younger than my brothers, I was left behind by my father’s family after my father committed suicide when I was 3, almost 4 years old. I was left behind by my father when he decided to take his own life. No one ever really talked about it. It was too taboo, too much pain and I imagine, shame.  There is a sadness and great tragedy for those who don’t want to see the truth, or talk about it. As for me, I am on a mission to heal.  Not only do I work on my own healing, but I relish Truth. I will no longer be silent. My story needs to be told because it will help others to know that there actually is hope. The truth is, that survivors of generational mental illness, addiction, and abuse must work on themselves to end the pattern. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. It takes a willingness to believe that one is worth it, which isn’t a simple task for someone whose self-esteem has been battered to death by circumstances.

In retrospect, I have much more insight now than I did when I was younger. As an adult, I can see things from a different perspective about things that occurred. I have been on a mission for many years to piece together what is missing from my memory. I suppose that some things require speculation, because I have yet to talk to anyone in my family about the truth of things that happened before I was born, except my brother, John. I know that there are things that people knew about and ignored, or hid from, because back in the day, you were not to speak about the embarrassing truth. Perhaps it was a means of self protection, or perhaps even the sick notion of familial loyalty when someone did something wrong. I will never really know the intricacies of it all. It really doesn’t matter to me anymore. As I have come to learn, that truth is subjective and it is relative to the mind of the person who is telling the story. I have seen the pattern, which I have tried to escape from in my own family of 5, which is my husband, and 3 children. I have always said, that I was born again when I met my husband. My life literally got a do-ever, and not a day goes by that I am not filled with gratitude for the life I have. It could have gone much differently. Statistically, I am a miracle.  It could have easily gone a different direction, and my path could have been drastically different. Suffice it to say that resilience and strength of character went a long way for someone like me.  One cannot emphasize this clearly enough, that my personality and the Angels were pivotal in my life. I made choices when I came into the age of reason that others may not have been able to have made.  It wasn’t because I am smarter or more intelligent. My survival skills were innate in me for some reason. That, and I have a guardian angel. I am certain that is the truth.

One thing I know for sure, is that my 3 boys have a fierce sense of self, and of justice for the oppressed. I have changed the future for my family, and nothing could make me happier. They are not the kind of people who will remain quiet when something is wrong. They are enlightened men, like their father. They will go out into the world and make it better.  I believe that it is my destiny. I came into the world as Patsy’s daughter. For my mother, I was the one she waited for. She had 7 miscarriages before I was born. Some people say that we choose the family that we come to be born into. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it is certainly an interesting mystery.

More to be revealed.

 

 

 

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Silver Sparkles of Excitement

I know, it’s boring hearing about my hair dilemmas. It’s a process for me though. It’s a newness. So, although I may have been blathering about it to my good friends for the past 2 years or so, it has gone by fast for me. I mean, life has gone by fast for me. In hindsight,  my hair started having bits of silver tinsel decorating my hair in high school. It didn’t really seem like that big of a deal back then. I pulled them out. My mom said that my Gram had already had a full head of them in her twenties.

By the time I hit my forties, coloring my hair just seemed normal. It was what everyone did. Everyone I know anyway. We’ve all reached the stage though where the new discussion seems to be, well, I am not ready to go grey. Then again, there has always been the few that never blinked an eye that it was happening. In my opinion, their mothers taught them well. My mother was a beautician, so I come from a distinct breed of hair people I suppose. I don’t know. It’s not like it’s criminal or something. I actually appreciate hairstyles and color. What I do not appreciate in myself anyway, is the angst that comes along with the demarkation line. I do not appreciate that somewhere along the line I was basically told a cultural story about how silver hair makes women look dowdy and old. I don’t appreciate that I was lied to. That is an opinion, not a truth. It is only one of many fabricated things that I was told that ended up being build into the fabric of core beliefs that made me into a neurotic mess. Now, I have to navigate my brain to rewire all of the bullshit that I was told and question it all. It isn’t easy. It’s worth it, but it isn’t easy.

Last time I tried this journey was December of 2015, so only a year ago really. As I look at myself in the mirror today, I keep willing my silver locks to grow faster, and despite the fact that my hair does actually grow pretty fast, it – it can only grow so fast. In the meanwhile, I tend to get bored really quickly. So, I got on amazon yesterday and ordered a couple of wigs to help me play around with the boredom. Now, the issue is this. 1. I don’t want to look ridiculous. *Or do I? Hmmmm. Maybe my aim is to have a little fun and not take myself so seriously? I don’t really know. Anyway, it’s just hair. I am looking forward to seeing what my natural hair will look like one day soon. I wonder if it is going to be more white or more silver or more charcoal.  One of the really cool things about my hair is it’s ability to transform into something different all the time. It’s lush and thick, and can be wavy or curly and I can straighten it sometimes. The potential for the newness is nice. Honestly, I am excited about not having to color my hair ever again. I am just over it.

It is a good feeling for me, as I admit, there is this tendency in me to be negative when it comes to talking about my hair. I think perhaps this might be a way to find a positive solution. I think wigs may be a temporary kind of thing because I bet they will make my head itch, but they have the potential to be fun. If I have a lot of money though, it would be so fun to cut my hair off into a pixie and have someone put in real hair extensions. Oh my, sometimes, I think my extravagant thinking borders narcissism or fantasy anyway. It’s harmless wishfulness. 🙂 Anyway. I am really glad to not have to think of this. I can’t wait for my wigs to get here. Now, Snowzilla has halted the mail delivery as well as the garbage pick up – but what can you do?

 

HI HO SILVER!

 

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The Silver Muse

There is a silly complexity of thought when it comes to aging for most women. There are days when I find that even I buy into the illusions that Western culture seems to ram down our throats. For one, as long as we have been alive, most of us have been told that our appearance is of primary importance. At least, I can say, in my experience anyway. This has been the message in one way or another.  In the United States, we are bombarded daily with images not only in print, but on television and cable. We are told what it means to be *whatever* “they” (whomever *they* actually are) and I assume they are the advertisers. Regardless,for me, the fashion industry has an element of fun to it. I admit, I love things which I find pretty. I love color, texture, and how certain things make me feel. Of course, there is a darker side to it for me. The side that makes me rather neurotic and judgmental. It shows me that I am not really one. I don’t fit in, I could not possibly because I am not this or that. This is the part that makes me sad. In my idealistic mind, I think that there actually is a place for everyone. Of course, to be real, there is no way someone like me is going to walk down a French model runway, wearing the latest fashion. For one, it would be a joke, but for two, I am not called to it.

What I am talking about though is in general, the idea that women seemingly have this tremendous amount of pressure placed upon them to be some certain way, when in reality, there is no certain one way that we are all meant to be. I mean. What I am finally recognizing in myself at 50 is that we hopefully all reach a state of allowance at some wonderful point in life, and hopefully before we reach 50.

Let’s face it. I am the first to admit. I am a visual person. I am an artist. I’m not so sure if this makes it better or worse for me because I have my own special breed of female neurosis when it comes to my hair or my looks. In a general sense though, I have always carried myself from the outside pretty much as someone who does what she wants. The reality inside though, was always different. I guess I am actually struggles a bit too much with what other people think of me at some level, and I know it really pisses me off. Deep down, I am a rebel. I admire the ones who live on the edge, who wear what they want because who fucking cares what other people think? Really? Yet for me, suffice it is safe for me to say that I have both an angel and a devil on my shoulder. If I looked liked someone like Charlize Theron or Carrie Anne Moss, where my body type was one that warranted not looking horrendous with certain things that might actually look kind of badass on them but ridiculous on me.  I admit, I have my own preconceived stereo typed languages built into my own brain. All of which I blame on the social conditioning that was created beginning at the time when I came into the planet. Let me throw in a plug for anyone who is reading this, if you have not yet read “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz” please, get on Amazon and buy it. It truly is food for thought. Anyway, this book has been pivotal in helping me to see that the world in general is just a bunch of people who have pretty much been conditioned to believe what they think is their version of the truth. Every human being walks around with their own version of reality, creating a dream of their own, thinking that everyone else is in the same dream, except that they are not…they can’t be in the same dream because we all have different brains. Is that trippy or what?

Anyway, back to the silver hair musing. I had an epiphany the other day. One of my dear silver sister friends is about 3 years older than me, and she became one of my inspirations. It happened because she is someone who is at ease with who she is. It just happens that she actually happens to be above average attractive, (IMO), which brings up an important point to recognize. This is a friend who has been known as the “Pretty One” her whole life. I have a few friends who could tell stories of this being their story, and just how this impacted them, how it makes them really feel, and how they navigate self esteem. I have another friend who was told by her father that she was the pretty one, and her sister was the smart one.  Of course, in an immature female mind, we often desire the male figure to tell us how pretty we are. Self confidence and self esteem seem to be tied up to authentic complements. What happens when something just is?  What if one could feel good without needing the approval of another person to tell them that they are approved? What if we just needed to approve ourselves first, be happy and then allow others to complement us, but not live for it as an authentication?

My friend Lorrie is a natural beauty. Seriously. She has nice skin, hair, bright blue eyes, and good teeth. Her hair started turning when she was very young, although her hair was more on the lighter side, she was still a brunette. Eventually she became platinum blonde, which made her transition smooth. Now her hair is long, and healthy, almost one length, and it is her hair. Only a little color is left, but she is keeping the length.

As for me, I played around so much with my hair last year, tweaking it from black to brown to red to light brown to blonde to light blonde. I could never get it down to platinum. In my impatience, I only ended up burning my hair. In hindsight, I looked really ridiculous with burning my hair like that. It was fun to have such blonde hair though because I had always wanted to do it, and it was a sort of dream come true.  If I had been in the place in my mind that I am in now, at the point that I was in then, when I had the perfect blonde tone, I should have left well enough alone. Again, my impatience left me antsy, and I had to “do” something.  I ended up recoloring my pixie dark, which I admit, I love. I loved. That is, until that ol’ demarkation line showed up again as I knew it would, and as I knew I would have to face it and make some sort of a decision again.

January has been a profound time of spiritual practice for me, and I have been delving into meditation practice to ground myself and stay present and in the moment. This has helped me to understand that my propensity to experience frustration and impatience *when it comes to my hair* is a real issue. It made me realize just how much I actually pick on myself. So, I made the decision to allow. I am allowing myself the idea of having natural hair as a release from the pressure of having to create this unnatural color hair every couple of weeks. I have come to realize that for me, I have been looking at it from the wrong point of view. It isn’t that coloring my hair was making me look young. It is more about the fact that it is a habit of something that I have been doing. It is a stressful habit. It’s predictable even! I go to the store, get my box, color my hair, feel great…then the anxiety. Did it set right. Are the grey hairs porous enough, did they cover, did I miss, I did miss, people will see the ones on the hairlines, or in the temples that didn’t cover…etc. Finally, I say, enough. My time on this planet is much to precious to continue to go though this bullshit mantra that I have allowed for the past – oh, I don’t even know how many years. I’m over it.

The other day I watched a movie called “Cutie and The Boxer”, an art movie about an older couple, one of them a magnificent crone with a silver-white braid, and I could think of was how lucky she was to have it. It sparked the thought that if I allowed, in time, I could have it too…and then I was in Whole Foods, and I met a 40-50 something Goddess with long silver white hair, and I had to stop her to ask. “Is it natural”? She says, “Yes, it is. It is the best thing I ever did. I had to. I became severely allergic to hair dyes.”  She was stunning. I was in awe. It was a sign for me. I need to be nice to myself. I need to just allow. This does not mean that I am letting myself go. No. I am much too Vain for that. It is more about letting go of VANITY. It’s about becoming me. It’s about becoming the SILVER MUSE.

I’m Antsy. I’m impatient. I fantasize about shaving what’s left of the color off of my hair to get on with this. I have already used color oops to lighten the dark, but I wish I had just left it alone. Oh well. I was trying to get the silver to show more. Last night I went on Amazon and bought some wigs to play with. What I know for sure is that I do not want short grey hair. I mentioned above that I do have some preconceived stereotypes in my head, and if I am being honest, short grey hair (ON ME) will make me feel old, and somewhat like a cross between Rachel Maddow, Ellen Degeneres, and Rosie O’Donnell – if you catch my drift. Try not to read too much into that, statement. All it means is that I want to look like a feminine woman. Nothing more. SO, I am going to leave the hair on my head alone, and let it grow out. I intend on wearing wigs to offset the frumpy look of the hair. I could just do one more short pixie, have him bleach it white and it will be ready. It’s all a matter of where my mind is at in any given moment. In a way, I feel like that could be a quick solution and I could finally just get it out of the way. I have been fooling around with making this decision for a long time now. I can be sort of wishy washy. haha.

Anyway, I decided. I am going to allow. I am going to watch it. This is the transition. No quick fixes. I am going to try to have some fun with it. I am going to watch my hair grow out in silver sparkles. I hope that it is more white than silver or charcoal, but it will be what it is. It is the only mystery left. 🙂 How exciting is this?! I admit, I love a good mystery!

 

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Muse
As a verb, to muse is to consider something thoughtfully. As a noun, it means a person — especially a woman — who is a source of artistic inspiration.
In mythology, the Muses were nine goddesses who symbolized the arts and sciences. Today, a muse is a person who serves as an artist’s inspiration. Often filmmakers talk about a certain actor being a muse — meaning the actor inspired a movie. Writers, painters, musicians, and other artists have muses. Muse can also refer to thinking deeply. If you muse about something, you’re giving it serious thought. You can’t muse in five seconds. People muse on certain ideas for years.
Primary Meanings of muse
1.v reflect deeply on a subject
2.n the source of an artist’s inspiration
Full Definitions of muse
1 v: reflect deeply on a subject
Synonyms:
chew over, contemplate, excogitate, meditate, mull, mull over, ponder, reflect, ruminate, speculate, think over
Types:
show 11 types…
Type of:
cerebrate, cogitate, think
use or exercise the mind or one’s power of reason in order to make inferences, decisions, or arrive at a solution or judgments
2 n the source of an artist’s inspiration
“Euterpe was his muse”
Type of: germ, seed, source
anything that provides inspiration for later work

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The Journey of Transitions

Turning Fifty at the end of 2015 was Epic for me. I had not dreaded it, nor had I really felt any awareness that I was depressed or old or really different. Yet, I can say that I did find myself more mindful. I was more aware that I wanted to respect my time all that much more now than ever before, and not because of some morbid thought that I am running out of time. It’s actually more about doing something that matters while I can. I want to use the gifts and not let them go to waste.  I may be more tired than I once was, but I am not going live for long naps. I really hope to see it all. 🙂

For the past 2 years, I have been obsessing about my hair color – and whether or not to become a silver fox. I have contemplated deeply from all sides, and the reality for me is that I actually love different hair colors and styles. In all honestly, it isn’t as simple as the silver demarkation line that now appears every few weeks, although to be honest that too is one of the banes of my existence. I’m beginning to realize the importance for myself to understand the difference between any correlation of “Letting myself go” and Aging, and Pro-Aging in general. I think at some level I have been fighting the reality that I am actually getting older. I feel young, I look young, I act young, and I am young really. I am in good shape, although moderately overweight – I have good skin, and teeth. I think I look good. I am ready to embrace this person in transition, the one who is more confident, the one who truly is looking to simplify every aspect of herself. I am not one for trendiness, and yet my decision to embrace this actually comes at a time when younger women are embracing their uniqueness by allowing themselves to be who they are without hair color, despite the pressure to succumb to societal pressure to remain young or at least appear so.

I mean this without any judgement, I really do. It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I would even consider becoming a Silver Fox at my age. I mean, I literally JUST turned 50 at the end of December. Yet, I am the kind of person who comes to a place of peace when I do finally make a decision about something. This is one of those times. It comes at a time in my life when I have some friends a few years older than me who have went natural without blinking an eye about it. All of us are the type of women who I consider more natural type of women, albeit, I am a bit more frilly, I love my hair and make up. That being said, I am also a natural kind of girl as well, but with a side of Tom Boy. Anyway, I hold my natural friends in deep admiration. I could not let go of coloring my hair though.

The time has come for me to allow.  I have no energy left to think about what color I might buy, or if it should be semi or demi or permanent. I have no energy left to consider whether or not the color I am using is breeching my scalp and entering my brain, or my blood, or worse, the possibility of creating cancerous tumors. I had to ask myself if it’s been worth exposing myself to so many chemicals over the years out of my false need to appear young. I mean, do I appear young? That is subjective. My inquiry is this. Do I look young with dark hair, or blonde hair? Will I look older with silver hair, or will people think I look older with silver hair? Does it matter what people think at all? Why do I care what people think?  Why do I want to look young? Does looking young make me happier? Does looking my age make me sad? Does looking my age make me happy?! I think it might be time to to find out!

Like I said before. This is not about any kind of judgement. This is about my own self inquiry. It is not about getting anyone else on board with doing what I am doing. It’s not about trying to convince anyone else that what I am doing is right. This is purely about me.

 

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Life changing decisions are hard

I was thinking about my last post and my thoughts about shame. After I had thought about it, I realized that my shame comes from a place of the possibility of other people’s non acceptance of my decision, which is why I really don’t feel the need to tell people before hand. People always tend to have strong opinions about things, and while I acknowledge that it is perfectly fine to have a neutral opinion, I do not feel inspired to convince any one of anything that I decide on, regarding my *self*.

The decision to make a radical change in my body is not taken lightly. I mean, I do not relish the idea of having surgery. At some level, I suppose that it is safe to say that I do not like being overweight. It is hard to be fat. I acknowledge, that aging is hard enough on the body, and I am not even that old yet. The fact of the matter is that I would rather have a good quality of life as I age. Despite my not being “that fat”, which is subjective, I know that being “this fat” feels physically miserable. I get tired easily, my body aches,  my spirit is always willing and the Flesh is just weak.

As an example, today I wanted to get out and exercise. I felt really good. I ate my breakfast,  had a good night sleep too. I decided to try a couch to 5K program, which is pretty gentle over all. Yet, I got to it. I was feeling good, even enthusiastic about giving it a go. The program has you walk a minute and a half and then *jog* for one minute. Physically, I was sort of able to do it. I mean, I was becoming breathless even at a snails pace of jogging. Then, I could begin to feel a tweak in the back, near my sciatic nerve, then the knee pain began. So, I had to say to myself, I am not willing to risk an injury so I will just walk. I ended up walking/jogging briefly for 4 miles, about an hour. Yes, my Spirit was indeed Willing, but my flesh is weak. Not because I am weak or even unconditioned but because I am carrying around an extra amount of weight that is taking a toll on my body, on my joints. I am relatively healthy, and relatively active. I don’t sit on my ass doing nothing. There are many assumptions that people make when they judge a person based on weight alone. I am a physically strong person. It is my “fault” to some degree how and why I landed at this weight. I eat well, I eat healthy. I would be judged by some based on what they think they see, which is really an illusion. We cannot deal in absolutes about weight and perception of peoples bodies. I have seen many heavier people who can out run a “skinny” person.

Things being what they are, I am going to log my journey, so I can reflect with honesty in the moments that I write about now. I will try to keep my writing as honest as I can.

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