Monday, April 21, 2014

A Turtle's Pace

Slow and steady wins the race.  I have said it before and I will say it again.  I know this and then I always want the quick fix.  The miracle.  The AMAZING.  I will get so caught up in an infomercial or the latest skin/hair/diet craze that even though I know that I am getting seduced by something that isn't even real,  I often can't walk away.  After I spend money (LOTS of it) that I don't have, I will take a step back and realize that I am crazy and that I just need to go to Walgreen's and Kiehls and count my calories and everything will be fine.

Today I got on the scale and I am down another pound.  I have now lost over 25 pounds (and nearing 30!) since I moved to Charleston and it has been a slow burn.  0.5 pounds to 1 pounds lost most weeks if I lose at all.  There are some weeks that even with the best eating and lots of exercise, the scale stays frozen.  But, this time, unlike ALL other times, I have stuck with it.  All of a sudden, it isn't for a pair of jeans, for my wedding dress or as a heavy reaction to a nasty comment.  It is for life.  I want to live my life without the weight of my weight holding me back.  I want to drink coffee and eat dessert and share appetizers and savor wine and be a part of things.  I want to be present around food.  I want to know that a meal shared with friends counts as a real meal and does not give me permission to have a second one in private where I can "really" enjoy something sinful while I camp out on my couch with the TV serving as company to hide me from my binging secrets.

I acknowledged my eating issues and they are getting better.  I accepted that I had a serious problem with something that I put off for decades.  I even knew when I was 8 years old that sneaking Milano cookies out of my pantry by the handful wasn't something that I was comfortable doing because it made me feel ashamed.

What has been working has been 2 key things.  Tracking my eating (all of it, every tablespoon of cream, every bite off Crush's plate, every nibble straight from the fridge) and my new Fitbit.  The combination of the tracking and the Fitbit, which helps me know exactly how much I have moved in a day and then exactly how many calories I can eat to stay at my goal, has been magic for me.  It has made me accountable to myself.  Something I have struggled with for years.  I have a bad history of thinking I didn't eat all that much or that I worked out a TON when in actuality, I ate three times my caloric limit and worked out half as much as I imagined.  My mind plays tricks on me a lot, especially when it comes to food and people hating me.

And still, the scale doesn't ALWAYS corporate from day to day or week to week, but as long as I know that I am actually doing what I need to be doing to scientifically lose weight (eat less, move more), the scale does eventually catch up.  I haven't had 5 pounds gone in a week, but I am changing.  Slowly, but surely.

Smarty Best Friend said it best when she told me that "she likes to eat healthy because she feels better." It is simple.  If I eat some fruit and veggies, I feel phenomenal.  I move on with my day and have energy and I don't crash.  Cookies, chips and pizza are scrumptious, but they don't make me feel good.  Especially, if I don't treat junk food as something special.  I got into a terrible habit of using food as a work reward and this has been a very hard habit to break.

Yesterday night, I got the urge to try on a dress that I bought for a wedding festivity even though I didn't know which one yet when I purchased it.  It is classic and lace and white and reminds me a little of my wedding dress.  When I bought it, it didn't zip.  At all.  It was on sale and looked like something I would wear.  I have a very particular way that I like to dress and not all things look good on my figure (curvy, tall and broad), but I saw the potential in this dress.  It was on sale after all.  Well, last night, it zipped right up.  Without a Spanx.  And it looks nice.  A Spanx will help to smooth out the areas that always need a little support (tush and thighs say what), but I can't wait to wear it THIS very weekend to a party for our engagement.  I feel so proud of myself and in many ways, I feel like I didn't even try all that hard.  I made small changes and I didn't need to restrict myself with such a heavy hand, like I have always done in the past.  When I strictly limit myself, I have learned, it just leads to a monster binge of everything I told myself I couldn't have.  Everything is allowed, I just need to track it.

So, as I continue my weight loss journey, it's one day at a time.  Rinse and repeat.  I look forward to passing by the exhausted hare on my way to my final goal.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Old Soul

As I get back on here, I will be sharing more about the move to Charleston and then a bit about my next move which will be happening in a few months.  It is indeed a lot of transition!  I am old-fashioned and I am proud of it.

As I reread my last posts and enjoyed the wonderful and thoughtful comments, I giggled to myself.  I was really describing a life from the past.  The truth is that I would have been fine living before modern technology and sometimes when I daydream, I think about life in a different time.  I know this seems CRAZY and I love my hair straighter and Bravo, but I liked life before all of this computer jazz (even though I love sharing my blog) and I know I could have been satisfied in a time when people enjoyed a bit more solitude and privacy.  I think the idea of real people (reality stars) becoming celebrities has sprung this whole subculture of over-sharing.  I get annoyed about it.  My reactions are not the norm.

Have you seen the movie Midnight in Paris?  It is one of my favorites because I like the idea that everyone has their own "perfect" time to live in this world.  I don't know what time mine would be, but I was very obsessed with the entire Little House on the Prairie book series. What always got me was how quiet their life was.  I wanted that.

I was the last one to get a cell phone, the last one to activate a personal email account, the last one to join Facebook (and the first one to quit!).  Don't think I am high-tech because I have a blog.  Blogging involves about as much computer knowledge as sending an email and I can do that.  Over the past few years, I was hiding from life because it was what I needed for me to heal from the Awful epidemic.  I missed out on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram crazes and I don't see myself wanting in on any of it now.

As a highly sensitive person, I struggle with approval.  I want everyone to like me and it kills me when I am not included (even if I didn't want to attend whatever it was that I didn't get an invitation for).  All of this online stuff is a bit much for me to handle and it gives me horrible anxiety and gets me depressed.  I think, "why wasn't I invited to that wedding, why didn't that person tell me they are pregnant, when did THEY become friends, why are they still friends with my ex" and it just isn't healthy for me.  I take it ALL personally, even when NONE if it involves me.  The news has always been there, but it just wasn't so in my face.  I am fine hearing about something way after it has happened, its just the real time stuff that I have a hard time learning how to react to.

I don't want to live my life having to calculate my next move online to be this person that I probably never will be offline.  A very common comment I get now is that, "I should rejoin Facebook because I currently have so much to brag about" and that makes me want to stay away more.  Because then I will be playing this game that I don't believe in.  I don't think I won because I have all of these things now.  I am still struggling with my personal happiness and until I don't care about what anyone thinks about me, I will never be truly victorious.  Let me say this though, I may be forced to rejoin Facebook because I don't seem to be able to connect with anyone in a new place without it.  I hate the idea of this, but it seems like there are more people who use it than don't (I am the exception here).  If I do get back on, I will be posting a very limited profile and I will just use it for messaging as it seems like sharing an email address is even too much work for some these days.  The hypocrisy of my life.

Online, I see people posting these perfect realities (including couples that could hardly pay for their weddings and then jet off to 5 star honeymoons when I KNOW that their credit cards were fizzled out the day before) and then I hear that they are getting divorced and it hurts my heart.  Why can't people just be the people they really are?  It is one of the reasons why I decided to stay hidden after I played around with the idea of posting photos of myself on here.  If I told you who I really am, I wouldn't be able to tell you how I really feel and I want to tell you how I really feel.  I understand the importance of an online presence in this world and the struggle to look good or be real.  I just can't seem to get myself to be a part of it.

As I just started to share recently, one of the real breakthroughs for me this year has been realizing that I am highly sensitive (this article I linked to was a huge eye opener for me).  Because with this knowledge, it makes sense why I just can't handle some things that other people can and why I take loyalty so seriously (I plan to share thoughts on that soon).  Sometimes I wish I could be a person who could be comfortable online as me, who was fine being acquaintances with many, who didn't care about an invitation to a party…..I make things WAY too exhausting than they need to be.

Off to make coffee now in my coffeemaker….maybe if I got my dream to go back in time, I could bring it with me!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Charleston of My Dreams

Charleston is a great place to visit.  A grand one.  Every single time I came for a stay, I was smitten.  It has all of the components necessary for a terrific getaway: amazing restaurants, quaint hotels, a charming downtown, lovely stretches of beachfront, tons of history, plantations (my newest obsession other than my Fitbit) museums and even a pretty lively nightlife.  I have many visitors coming down in the next few months (YAY!) and I can't wait to whoop it up like Vicki (I was waiting for the Real Housewives of OC to come back all winter) with them.  

Charleston is the perfect getaway. Beyond a few jam-packed weekends, site seeing and eating, lies real life.  The days that happen between bursts of fun and fancy.  This is the Charleston I am getting to know. 

Charleston is HOT right now.  Everyone is moving here in droves.  Students and grad students that come for school and never leave, young professionals looking for a faster or slower pace (depending on what direction they may be moving from) and retirees.  Tons of retirees.  My fiancĂ© says that Charleston has been a transient city for some time now.  There are always people coming and going. I have encountered an equal amount of people not from around here as southerners.   I am from Chicago and I was born in New York, so I am used to living around many different types of people.  I associate this melting pot idea with the concept of a city and Charleston is rapidly expanding. There is change occurring at every corner (literally, there is a TON of construction) and I can feel Charleston bursting at the seams.  Traffic is heavy; you can’t even find a parking spot at Publix.  Maybe, this is just America. We can’t fight the mass developers from turning even the most historical places, like Charleston, into Anywhere, USA.  Where there is money, there is this inevitable cookie-cutter assimilation.  I have started to see it when I visit other cities.  Everywhere is starting to look vaguely familiar. 

I hear accents from New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Michigan more often than I hear the soft drawl of Charleston.    I don't mind this, especially since I am an outsider myself.  The people not from around here are the ones that seem to want to help me find a job and actually respond to email (more on this in another post).  Charleston just isn't what I expected.   Tourists came to visit and were charmed into relocation.  It all makes sense.  But, where are my belles and gents? 

You see, I dreamt of Charleston as some kind of magical fairyland.  I imagined that all the ladies would look and speak like debutantes and they would smell of honeysuckle and jasmine.  Men would pull my chair out and compliment my hairstyle and tell me I was "real sweet" just like Crush does.  I only wanted to see Lilly Pulitzer and seersucker.  I thought I would be invited to the finest parties and drink mint juleps and sweet tea and wear ball gowns and gloves.  People would be envious of my figure and poise.  Everyone would admire my ability to make lovely conversation and my big city ways.  I would be referred as "very cosmopolitan!"  I thought that I would learn how to shag and that someone would show me how to set a table properly, using only the finest china and silver.  Down South, I wanted to believe that I could eat all the fried chicken and biscuits I desired and then I would slip on my bathing suit and head to the beach looking as pretty as a picture.  This is my fantasy, dammit.  There are no societal boundaries or calories. 

I set myself up for something that doesn't even exist.   I do this a lot.  I get stuck on how something should be without processing how it really is.  Then, I get disappointed that life isn’t what I imagined.  Exhausting.  And even worse….sometimes my over sweeping generalizations come from TV, movies or books.   WTF?   Nothing is how I wanted it to be.  WHAH WHAH.  The weather, the people, the service, the job market, the common courtesy, the social life, the parties, the food….it was ALL supposed to be different!

 I made my move into what I needed it to be.  It gave me hope and positivity and motivation.  It made me excited.  It got me through a very tough time in my life.  My idea of Charleston may not be where I am living now and that is okay.  My Charleston is a place of fantasy, magic and whimsy.  It is a figment of my imagination that I depended on to give me the strength and courage to leave everything I was once familiar with.  I will always be grateful that I loved the idea of Charleston before I even moved here because it shows me how much I trusted and believed in my relationship with Crush.  And, if anyone knows of a city that allows anyone to join every club (even people like me, who had a grandfather who owned a deli and NOT a plantation) and where I can eat biscuits by the dozen and still lose weight, please let me know…I will buy a one-way ticket and get on the next flight!

PS: Thank you for the wonderful, thoughtful and kind comments yesterday!  They really made my day and I appreciate the terrific feedback.  Also, sorry about the post fonts looking inconsistent, sometimes when I copy and paste (like I have with the last few posts)  I cannot get the words to take on the default font (I am not very tech savvy).  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Being Highly Sensitive is BAD for Business

I have been hiding from this blog.  I have been scared to share this because I wanted and wished for so much more than has been happening lately.  I know with my past personal focus and great hope, I found Crush.  Now, I have to work on all of the other areas of my life that require deep concentration.   

I am horrible at transitioning and I am still processing a bunch of change.  Lately, I have been enjoying my time here in Charleston. But, do I love it?  I actually don’t.  I like it very much, but I am excited about moving to a smaller place where I can hopefully feel a bit more a part of things.  My feelings about Charleston have been hard for me to accept and it has been a bit of a let down. Embracing the reality of life versus what I imagined it would be is a tough lesson for me to muddle through.   I take everything hard and extra personally.  I am over feeling attacked and like a victim at every turn. 

I struggle with being happy.  I don’t always feel good about myself.  Recently, I have accepted that I am highly sensitive.  It is just the essence of who I am.  I don’t see the world the same way most people do and I am trying to use my fragility as a tool to help me be a better person.  I have always reasoned that I have an issue with being too sensitive. It wasn’t until I ventured into the raging waters of owning my own business (and broke up with Awful and then had a breakdown) that I truly accepted how thin my skin is.  This is an area that has been holding me back my entire life and I am sick of not being able to be a present and active part of this world because I am so afraid of not being liked.

As a wedding planner, one of the main things I have to face is blame. Clients want to blame vendors, vendors want to blame clients, brides/grooms want to blame their in-laws and in-laws want to blame their child for putting them in a situation that they often would like to stay out of.  The cycle of blame continues through families like a raging forest fire until it gets to me.  When all of the blame has been shifted and allocated and there is still a bit left, it becomes my problem.   I once got blamed for the City of Chicago doing construction five blocks away from a host hotel.  The client thought I should have told them that there was construction “in the area” because they wanted to take their families on a walk and the streets “didn’t look nice.”  Because of the construction, they threatened not to pay me.  This shit is real.

I get exhausted all over again just thinking about how I once let myself be roped into madness.  As a way to appease the crazy, I almost always bended over backwards and did not keep my limits.  I wasted thousands (like $20,000 at my last accurate count, thank you taxes) of dollars paying for blame (mostly created by clients) that I didn’t create. This included such shenanigans as clients contracting vendors independently of me (like finding the vendor themselves and wanting to use this person/company, often because of a low price) and paying a deposit directly to the vendors and then hating the initial product (photography and hair and makeup often come to mind) and looking at me to fix it.  Hard to admit, but sometimes the vendors wouldn’t return the money and I would pay the client out of my own pocket to look like the client got their way.  I just wanted my clients happy and I sometimes needed peace.  There often wasn’t enough time in my day to debate $500.00 relentlessly and listen to empty threats from both parties, so I paid it to shut everyone up. I created little monsters by not sharing reality.  I made my clients think the impossible was possible.  I just didn’t have the balls to confront things head on when they were small and then I let the avalanche of missteps bury me whole.  I would grow resentful of clients I felt taken advantage of and it showed.  When I got wind of bad client practices (they exist just like how bad business owner practices do, it is all a 2 way street) I didn’t want to call the client and have the tough conversation of ending our contract and parting ways.  I waited for them to call me out on something and then I folded time and again.  I people pleased my way back in, even when I wanted out. The few epic clients disasters that happened to me….often I had a hand in creating because I didn't cut the cord when the cray first came into light.  Where was my common sense?  My pride?  My integrity?  My ability to stick up for what is right and just and sane?

This has been super hard for me to come to terms with and it was a terrible and maddening way to do business.  I WAS NOT THINKING CLEARLY OBVIOUSLY.  Please know that I have changed every single detail in the way I now do business and I updated it all: business plan, contracts and most importantly how I charge and collect payment.   I realize that creating limits brings respect.  I have to take my business seriously and practice a strict standard of practices without exceptions or it will never work. 

Here I am complaining about Charleston, my sensitivity and my business.  What do they all have in common?  I feel like a failure.  I feel like I don’t have what it takes to be the person I should be.  I live in fear of the few people I should have never gotten involved with, including Awful.  I am sick of hiding out, but I am also terrified to put myself out there again.

I guess I wanted to tell you how AMAZING life is here in Charleston.  How I am popular, thin and wanted.  How getting a job has been easy.  Aside from my incredible relationship with my man, things here haven’t been a cakewalk.  I have few friends and all of the “let’s get togethers” never turn into anything more than unanswered emails and texts.  I feel like a huge outsider.  Job rejection is my norm.  I have lost over 20 pounds, but I still struggle with binging (even if I don’t do it much anymore, the compulsion to do it is a daily battle) and I still can’t get into my pre-Awful clothes although I am getting closer. I am dragging my feet to get back to planning because I am scared, even though I know I am good at it.  Even though I know that the mistakes I made, I mostly brought on to myself for not being stronger. I give too many people too much power over me.  I agree to costly things just to feel accepted and wanted and don’t even realize I am being used, until it has already happened.  I did this again only a few months ago and it was a costly and annoying mistake.  I vowed to myself that this was the LAST time.  I take a lot more time than most to process important decisions and if I feel pressure, it is because I am being pressured.  I should always trust my instincts. 

I WILL learn to deal with the sensitivity.  I have dealt with so many other struggles these last few years: my honesty, my happiness, my food addiction, emotional abuse and being true to myself.  Putting yourself back together isn’t instant.  I want to live my life on a deeper level than most and I am learning that I hold myself to a different standard, too.  All part of the sensitivity cycle.

I thought that everything would be perfect when I met the man for me, just like how I used to think that being thin was the answer to all of my problems.   Life is so much more than a perfect engagement ring (I LOVE mine, but I would have been fine without it) and single digit clothing.   I guess that when you finally find the prince you have always been searching for that you forget that life isn’t really all a fairy-tale.  Some things are harder than others.

Everything is not okay and that is okay.  No one is judging me. Are they?  No one thinks about me as much as I imagine they do.  I know this.  I want to find the balance between love, happiness, personal fulfillment and honesty.  I need to change a bit more to get there and I don’t know how exactly.  But, let’s start with really sharing my life again, all of the good and all of the bad.

Here goes…..