Archive for January, 2010
I was laughing the other day at the kind of ballerina I used to be: the wrong kind. The chunky kind.
I believe that it is a general rule that ballerinas are long and lean, not short and thick. But it was okay for me then. I was blissfully unaware 8 year old girl, and my lack of longness and leanness was completely irrelevant; I just danced in euphoria in those little pink shoes. It didn’t matter that I knew I looked different from the ballerinas in the photos on the wall. I knew that I was the best ballerina I could be; that made me happy.
But as are so many things of our youth, it was a temporary. The beauty I saw in myself, in my differences, didn’t last. I forgot how to accept myself, to appreciate myself just the way I was. So when the time came that I became painfully aware of my shortness and thickness, I was lost. I was miserable. It was long after my short lived ballerina career; long after the simple and pure love a child feels for themselves. It was when all people start to pay attention to their body. When all people start picking apart their body.
And boy, did I. I would argue it is one of the few things I’ve ever reached “professional” status at. I spent years denying that I would ever be beautiful. Years denying that I would ever succeed in losing the chunk. Years denying that I would ever be “beautiful.”
It took years to reverse my way of thinking. So many years of tears, and pain, and shame, and ugliness. But it happened, and I was greeted with the warm hug that self-acceptance and appreciation is. I finally saw that I truly was beautiful. Inside and out. I finally saw that I was worth loving no matter what I looked like on the outside.
And so at 23 years old I finally did it. I knew that I was beautiful. Not just in the logical part of my brain, but in the vulnerable and pure parts of my heart. And finally I was strong enough to conquer my biggest battle: weight loss.
It couldn’t have happened a minute sooner because I just wasted ready. If I wasn’t ready to believe I was beautiful just the way I was, I would never truly believe I was beautiful at any weight. It was a mental game, not a physical one, and I learned how to play it. So over the course of 8 months I went from a size 20 to a size 12. People didn’t recognize me. Guys asked me out. I could finally shop at the stores I had always wanted.
But it was funny; none of that mattered. I mean sure, it was flattering and exciting and such an unfamiliar world, but it didn’t add to my beauty. Those things didn’t make me feel beautiful. They were just circumstances. Nothing of true value that would add to my self-worth. I had already reached the place where it truly didn’t matter what the outside looked like, what the outside thought about what I looked like. I knew I was beautiful. I felt it.
And so the frilly adornments of, “Oohs” and “Awws,” and new numbers in my cell phone and receipts from stores I had never shopped at before were just what they were; words, and numbers, and paper. They didn’t add any more beauty to me; they were just things.
And things don’t make you beautiful. This was a lesson I had already learned. It wouldn’t be the quick sand it was to so many people.
So I made the trek from “The Chunky Duckling,” to the beautiful Swan. And how surprising it was that it had nothing to do with looks, or waist size, or any number on the scale. It had to do with believing, with knowing.
And I finally knew.
On January 19, 2010, I checked my baggage and hopped on a plane (again) to fly to the other side of the world (again) – I flew home.
It’s been a weird transition calling this house in Italy my home. I’ve only been living in it since May; I still miscalculate the distance I am from the doors and where the light switches are, but it’s home. This is home.
Despite the awkwardness of it, despite the newness of it, so much of my life is contained in it – my best friend and husband, my two hilarious cats, trinkets from my life, trinkets from his life, the used furniture that makes up a newlywed couple’s first home together. And I love it; in all its awkward newness.
And it isn’t that the place that I used to call home doesn’t feel like home anymore, it’s just that while my family are still there (as well as a few boxes of my things, thanks mom), I know that I will never LIVE there again. It used to be the door marked an entrance to my home, but now it is a door that marks an entrance to my PARENTS’ home. And boy that’s a weird thought.
There was a time when (okay, don’t exile me for saying this) I thought it was an alien idea to even WANT to move out (I can feel your jaws collectively hit the ground, thanks). I never so strongly wanted to move out and so I didn’t – not until I got married. It wasn’t that I wanted to live there forever, I mean c’mon, I’m weird but not that weird; it was that I couldn’t imagine any other place ever feeling that good to walk into. And so why would I?
But now when I pull up to this strange house in the outskirts of Naples, Italy I feel that silent pull of a sigh; that feeling of, “Finally…home at last.” And after over a month away, and a 20 hour day of traveling I definitely felt that urge to sigh and that reassuring feeling that I was home.
And as reassuring as it is, it is also a little heartbreaking. I will never call the house I spent my dramatic teenage years, and my self-realizing twenties in, HOME again. It will never be the place I live, the place I walk into every afternoon and say, “Home sweet home.” It will be a place that I visit. A place that is somebody else’s sigh of relief. A place that I will always fondly remember as once being mine; once being my home.
So as I gaze around our living room and watch my cats throw around their toy, roll my neck to rid it of the kinks and think about what I have to do tomorrow, I feel that pull of a sigh. This is my new Home sweet home.
And I didn’t even need ruby red slippers to get here, my brown Converse did just fine.
…in 20 hours.
Okay, so my apologies for my random hiatus. An Italian home with no internet connection is not really helpful in ways to my blogging world.
With that being said, please be patient with me. The Husb and I will be making sure that some sort of regular internet activity will occur…and in my disconnected time, a’writing I will do!
Cheers friends. I hope this January is treating you beautifully so far 🙂
I was thinking earlier today, “At the end of my life, if I looked back on who I am today, would I be proud? Would I be excited?”
There was a long phase (ie: ages 12 through 23) that I lived a life less-lived. I was afraid and insecure and didn’t think I was strong enough to take the world head on like I really wanted to. And I used to think, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be strong enough.”
But “tomorrow” felt the same as today, and I said, “Tomorrow,” again.
At the time I looked at those years of my life as an embarrassment; how could I have been that stagnant? But now I just look back at those years as lessons learned. I can, and am going to, live my life now. No more “tomorrows.”
So today as I rolled the thought over and over in my head, I thought about how if I had continued to live my life so blandly, I would not be proud of the person I was; I would not be excited to retell the stories of those years. I mean, what would there be to tell? What would be worth retelling?
The nights I spent crying because I felt like no one would ever think I was beautiful or ever fall in love with me? They wouldn’t add anything positive to any conversation.
The breaths I wasted complaining about things without ever doing anything to change them? They would only highlight my weakness.
There would be nothing to tell, and that is certainly not what I would want to leave this world.
I won’t pretend that I just woke up one morning with an epiphany biting at my every neuron, my body bleeding adrenaline and fearlessness and things changed that day. What is more of my reality is a series of sometimes small and slow steps, some I made all on my own and others I made at the strong pushing of others, that are continually making my life something I would be proud to retell, excited to relive.
I said, “Yes,” when most people thought I should have said, “No.”
I looked in the mirror and finally saw that I was killing myself and worked to lose 80 lbs. of insecurity, pain, and embarrassment.
I hopped on a plane and moved thousands of miles away from everything I had ever known.
I looked into his eyes and promised to love him forever. And meant it.
I became a big part of children’s lives and allowed them to become a part of my heart.
I danced the night away in a crowd of strangers and didn’t give a second thought to how awkward I may have looked.
It took me a long time to truly believe my life was worth living. It took me a long time to take steps forward instead of side-steps or no steps at all.
And now I can say that when I look back on my life, I’ll look back on a life well-lived, and not a life less-lived. All the mistakes, all the laughs, all the hurdles, all the accomplishments, all the tears, all the stolen breaths, all the foot-in-mouths, all the moments that will make up my life…they will make me alive.
And that is success.
I used to keep a daily drama diary. Not that I used to call it that, I’m sure in my adolescent angst I still just called it a diary, but looking back on it I’m pretty sure a more suitable name would have been Daily Drama Diary.
In this DDD I would write about, surprise!, the daily drama of my life, which at the time, really felt like the end of the world EVERYDAY. You were an adolescent once, you know what I’m talking about…I hope. Besides all the stories of hair pulling, face smacking and eye poking I imagined doing on all of those that made me miserable were entries I designed to help me become a “cute girl.” (I’m not going to lie, I’m a little embarrassed for myself…but I like to think we all had something like this and even if no one else did, I’m holding onto the lie. I am not above denial.) I dreamed that one day I would walk onto school campus and people would stop; the clouds would part, the birds would sing (and possibly dance) in unison, and mouths would be agape in awe and adoration. It would all be due to my meticulous planning of hairstyles, eye brow plucking, make-up and the super cute clothes I would purchase and wear from “5-7-9” (crazy, desperate dream of my middle school years was to be able to shop at 5-7-9 and then be brave enough to wear the stuff. Neither dreams came true. THANKGOD). All things that I talked about in detail in my DDD. This book is a treasure trove of CRAZY.
At any rate, I still hold onto that dream (minus the middle school campus because, ew! and the 5-7-9 mainly because I don’t think they exist anymore) in many ways. I’ve always wanted to be the cute girl (ie: hair always nicely done, perfect make-up, awesome clothes, immaculate accessories, a giggle that could knock men over with its melodious beauty) and still want to be, even at 26 (almost 27) years old. A part of me will always hold onto that dream.
Let’s get one thing straight, though – I do NOT think I’m a troll. I’ve come a long way over the last few years and have a tremendous respect for not just what I look like, but the person who made that happen (hint: me). I’m just saying I still wish that I had the a) ability and b) energy to be that put-together-cute girl who walks into every situation looking, well, put-together and cute.
But I have to face the facts, I am not that girl; I have doubts that I ever will be. And I’m okay with this (middle-school self is NOT but that’s alright because she’s a little straight out crazy plucked right out of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” video. Heebies).
I’m okay with it because, let’s face it, I’ll never be the girl that wants to set aside 1-2 hours everyday just to get ready. I, in fact, set aside 20 minutes most of the time, and in some rare cases, just a mere 10 minutes.
I’m okay with it because no one will ever be able to say they don’t recognize me without make-up and my hair done (the chances are far higher that people would not recognize me WITH make-up and my hair done).
I’m okay with it because really, the dream of being a cute girl far exceeds the reality of me being a cute girl. I don’t pine after anyone who doesn’t already love me for who I am, and have no desire for anyone to pine after me because of how “cute” I am.
I like who I see in the mirror; I even think she’s beautiful.
Despite the fact that my hair is rarely ever done (unless you count 2 butterfly clips as “done”), my make-up is scarce, my clothes are generic, I have no clue what to do with accessories and my giggle mostly just surprises people with its ferocity rather than its melodious beauty.
Cheers to the cute girls AND to the rest of us.
I can remember this adorable commercial I used to see all the time as a kid. It was a little girl, dressed up in what is presumably her mom’s “grown-up” stuff; high-heeled shoes, pearls, and make-up. And at the end up the commercial the little girl, in her still unquestionably innocent voice with a slight lisp and says, “Growing up.” I just loved it.
I remember this commercial especially because my mom used to say I looked a lot like that little girl, and we used to walk around the house and tease each other with the words of that little girl: growing up. At the time I could never have realized just how much I would “grow up” over the years to come. And I especially couldn’t have known just how much growing up can sometimes involve forgetting who you really are, what you really want, and how it also sometimes means giving up all that delicious self-confidence and bravery you felt as a child. It makes me a little sad.
I’ve thought a lot about this over the last few years. I definitely became one of those people that forgot a lot about what I wanted in my habit of being a people pleaser and conflict avoider. In all the rush to grow up and not to cause ripples I forgot all those things that made me the unabashedly hungry-to-take-over-the-world kid that I was. And I yearn for that again.
So when I came across the perpetually inspiring JustaTitch‘s post where she referenced the new to me OdeMagazine’s article Reclaiming Our True Self I was sold. I mean, if answering a few questions might help me recapture that amazing free feeling of being a kid as a grown-up and allow me to hold onto it every day, consider it done. So a’answerin’ I will do…
- What is more important for me, memories or dreams?
Memories have made me who I am, they have molded me into the person I see in the mirror, flaws and beauty. Dreams lead me forward, and keep me aching to live every day of my life. If I had no memories I would be a shell, but if I had no dreams I would be immobile. They are both equally important to my well-being.
- Am I living my life for an audience? In what ways should I be more true to myself, despite what other people expect from me?
To be more true to myself I need to make a conscious effort to not always try and avoid conflict and uncomfortable situations. It started out as self-preservation but continued on to become self-destructing; I can’t avoid all conflict, all uncomfortable situations, all things that make me a little scared and still be happy. I can’t be true to myself if I’m trying to please all people and live without discomfort and fear.
- What recurring patterns cause me pain or discomfort? How could I change my behaviour or lifestyle to avoid repeating them?
Not living for myself is the biggest source of pain and discomfort, which is ironic considering my need to please people was built out of my dislike of being uncomfortable with telling people, “No.” The only solution is to realize I can’t please all people and know that it is not just okay but integral to my happiness and well-being…and I deserve that.
- What are the unfinished things in my life that I should walk away from now? I felt that sometimes it is better to make room for new dreams if old ones have been pending for too long.
My school career. It was a dream of mine forever to go to college and come out with at least a Master’s; I thought that would be what I needed to feel smart and to prove that I am smart. It turns out that college really isn’t my favorite place on earth, and that I don’t have to finish college to feel smart and/or have others know that I am smart. Maybe one day I will go back to college, but maybe I won’t. But it shouldn’t be a reason I think less of myself; some of the most brilliant people I know never stepped foot inside of a college class.
- If I took my ten year old self to lunch today, what would she think of me? Would she identify with the person that I have become in the last 16 years?
I think my 10 year old self would be a little worried for me; a little sad for herself. I was very brave back then, a “spit-fire” and I just lived to laugh and love. I may have been scared from time to time, but it never stopped me. But I have been living a pattern of letting my fear stop me, and that is definitely not something my 10-year old self would want to identify with. She knew that acting despite fear was the ultimate in bravery, and that is what she would have wanted for her entire life, not just the first 10 years of it.
- Do I still have that eagerness, joyfulness and optimism that I had at the age of ten?
I secretly do, but in my negative habits of people pleasing and not wanting to cause ripples I hide a lot of those things because sometimes, often, it clashes with the desire of someone else and/or may cause the ripples I so desperately don’t want to cause. I think it may be harder to know I am many of the same things my 10-year old self was but hide it for the sake of others than if I was just a completely different person all together.
- What must I do about people I have hurt, disappointed and have let down in my life, so far?
I must accept what I’ve done and make amends with them if possible or make amends with the fact that it happened, I can’t change the past but I can do all that is in my power to never make the same mistakes again.
- What do I expect now from people who have hurt, disappointed and have let me down?
I expect nothing from them. What has happened has happened, and I have forgiven them for what has happened. I have evaluated where they stand in my life and know what I can and can’t share with them anymore.
- Am I ready to heal the damaged relationships, or is it time to move on?
I feel very secure in the fact that the relationships that I felt have been damaged by me or another person and want to keep are on a positive path to achieve keeping the relationship. There are however, a few relationships that are damaged or just aren’t what belong in my life the same way anymore that do need to be accepted as not the same. I can’t say that I could ever just completely “move on” from the relationship, but there are definite changes that need to be accepted.
- Am I as healthy as I want to be? What must I do to be physically and mentally as healthy as I want to be?
Both physically and mentally I am just a few levels off from where I would ideally want to be, but I also respect the positive changes I have made up until this point; they have not all been easy. Physically what I need to do is simple; I need to respect my body and eat healthy and exercise regularly so that even when my age is reaches higher and higher, I still can reach higher and higher. Mentally I need to stop the habits that make me unhappy (the people pleasing and conflict avoiding) and recognize that I am worth a few ripples.
- How would I act and look at the age of sixty? Would I be called ‘a nasty old cow’ or an ‘elegant, poised and gracious person’?
I think on the track that I am on at the moment I would be somewhere in between, something like a “typical and naturally aging woman.” I can’t say that people would be surprised to hear that I was 60 years old but they wouldn’t think I was 80 either. I would ideally like to be the 60 year old no one wants to believe is 60; physically or mentally.
- What must I do now, what must I know now that I don’t know now, to not turn into somebody ‘extremely avoidable’ when I reach my ripe old age?
I need to cherish myself, mind, body and soul. I need to exercise my mind and body, and never underestimate what I can do. The moment I start underestimating myself is the moment that I stop trying as hard and that is the moment that I will fulfill that expectation of not being that able. I need to give up my inaction due to fear and start acting despite fear. I must never stop learning and laughing, and start recognizing what is not healthy for me and eliminating those things from my life.
- How do I want to love and be loved? What is my true definition of a satisfying relationship, marriage or love -affair?
I want to love and be loved unconditionally. I want to love and be loved in a way that is both tender and strong; so that we know when to push and when to stop pushing; so that we know when to say something and when to be silent; so that we know how to make each other laugh and think. For me a satisfying relationship is one that acts without always having to be asked, to reciprocate love and good favors, honesty, commitment, communication and encouragement. Respect.
- What is stopping me from finding that?
I am lucky (and deserving) enough to have already found that. Someone who loves me for me, but pushes me when I need it, hugs me even when I don’t know that I want it, and says and does things out of pure love for me and our relationship.
- When I set my goals today, do I clearly see them coming to fruition in the future? Or am I blocking it subconsciously, due to my suppressed fears?
There are definite blocks as a result of fears. I haven’t really recognized them until recently but I do know that they are there, and I am working on facing them head on; this blog is a result of facing some of those fears.
- What am I doing everyday to improve the quality of my life, to contribute to my environment and do my bit for the society?
I am practicing the habit of doing something everyday that I love and makes me happy, whether that is writing, or talking to a friend, or cooking something delicious. I want to practice doing things that make me happy so that it no longer feels like I’m being selfish when all I’m really doing is nurturing myself. I try not to be wasteful with any thing; material or not and one of my personal goals is to volunteer and give back to the world in any way; both because these things are worth doing and because it is one of the things that makes me happiest.
Wow. I feel like I could write a post on each of those questions…and I just might.
I hope this inspires you to look inside and ask yourself questions that may make you nervous. I’ll tell you, it feels good.
So the very first full week of 2010 is done; the year is rarin’ on full speed into what I know will be an amazing year. I’m excited. Like dance in my PJs to the CSI: Las Vegas theme song (“Whooooooooooo are you? Who, who, who, who?!”). I know, it’s a cute visual.
In any case, the year is starting off splendidly.
January 1st – Spent the morning recovering from NYE shinanigans with my cousins, friend, brother and husband. I’m pretty sure I spent the day with dirty hair playing on my MacBook while in my pajamas, but I can’t be sure. I enjoyed it.
January 2nd – The majority of my morning was spent much like that of a hamster in a wheel (lots of running, very little ground covered) in preparation for the migrating of my family and friends into my parents’ house for the 11-month late wedding party for the Husbatron and I. It was a long evening of laughing, food, harassment and all around circus like activity. In other words: a blast.
January 3rd – Finally had the Escobedo-Garcia Christmas and celebrated with my version of huevos rancheros at 1 PM. Then I’m pretty sure he and I spent nearly the entire day on the couch playing with our laptops. Let’s not go into how ridiculous we are and let’s just focus on how embarrassingly meant for each other we are.
January 5th – It was Eric’s last day in California before heading back to the boot, so I went easy on him. I hardly even made him talk to me (let’s not lie, we were too busy playing on our laptops again. Eesh). Then later than night we met up with friends and ate TONS of sushi. I like to think that eating sushi is somehow better for me than other things I could have gorged on, so let me believe it. Then we went to my cousins’ house and played games (Girls Team won “Taboo.” SUCKAS) until Eric and I decided it would be responsible of us to go home and pack him up for his 8 AM flight (PS – Responsibility is WAY over-rated).
January 6th – Got the weepies as Eric went up the escalator to security and then came home and slept (after, of course, stopping by McD’s for the breakfast menu that I’m never up earlier enough to take advantage of). Okay, and played on my MacBook. And let me just say for the record, I did do some slightly productive things like play with OmniFocus which is basically an OCD’s dreamcometrue.
January 7th – Wasted my entire day surfing, being nosey and listening to music. I at least took a shower to feel like I was in some way minutely productive.
So week 1 of 2010, I like you. I certainly don’t hope to do as little over the next 51 weeks, but I do appreciate all the down time I’ve had after the crazyawesome month I’ve had.