Thursday, December 31, 2009

100th Post: Winning


For my 100th post on this blog, I wanted to share something a bit personal and what most people would deem embarrassing or shameful. The reason I share so much about what I’ve been through and where I’m heading is that there shouldn’t be a social stigma for someone suffering from a mental illness, or any illness for that matter. As I continue to work on becoming a Clinical Psychologist, one of the most powerful things I am armed with is my experiences, my story. Here’s another chapter . . .

For the past 5 years, I was a hoarder. A hoarder is someone that, for some reason or another, can not throw anything away. They collect everything – and I do mean everything. Right now, the Mental Health Community isn’t even quite sure exactly how to treat or classify hoarding. It could end up being a separate diagnosis all on it’s own, or a subset of OCD.

One of the mysteries to hoarding, which in turn makes it hard to treat, is why people do it. There’s not one specific answer or cause. My reason started off simply enough . . . I liked to shop. I liked to buy things. I wasn’t happy and I’d get up, go shopping, buy something . . . and feel better. As time drug on, I ended up buying more and more of the same stuff.

Then, some where down the line, I stopped throwing stuff away. I got paranoid that someone might come into my home – they might actually want to come in my house! That kind of freaked me out. My home was my safety – my place to hide from the world. So if my home was not “clean”, therefore no one could come over. It wouldn’t be proper to entertain when your home is not “clean.” It became a very effective way to keep a barrier between me and the rest of the world.

I liked the isolation, and being burrowed in my little hole . . . for awhile. Then something unexpected happened. I met my best friend. Someone that loved me for all of who I am, and she didn’t care about my issues, she just wanted to help me b/c she loved me for who I am. That was kind of cool – and different. I let her in. Not my home mind you . . . but my heart. She didn’t press coming over, she understood. She just let me know that at some point, she wanted to come over. She offered so many times to help me clean, to help me get through it. But I said no . . . inside I felt it had to be something I did myself.

Another thing happened, quite recently. I met someone else. Something completely unexpected happened . . . we went out . . . and the unexpected part was that we had fun – I ENJOYED IT! One night with him showed me the last missing piece – and gave me the rest of the motivation I needed. I realized that I really, REALLY did want to have someone in my life, and in order to do that – I had to stop hoarding. I had to let go of my fear of getting hurt, because in life – you get hurt. I had to tear down the last walls of isolation I had built.

In 5 years I had filled up my 870 sq. foot home with crap. In 4 days, it was clean. (Yes, that picture is a partial picture of everything I threw away . . . there was more than I could get in one shot) It was over . . . all of it was finally over. In the end, I did it. I beat it. I got thru the PTSD, I got over the depression, I reconnected with so many that I’d lost touch with, I am beating my weight issue, and I no longer hoard. I can’t thank God enough for all the blessings he's given me and continues to provide.

With tears of joy in my eyes I say thank you. Thank you for reading this, thank you for learning about me, thank you for understanding. 2009 was one helluva year . . . and 2010 is going to be better. Here’s to another 100 blog entries . . .

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Poem: "First Dance"




"First Dance"

The music is playing softly,
the lights are turned low.
You stand across the room,
Ready to go.

Your hand on my hip
sends ripples up my skin.
Into my eyes you look,
I'm a mess deep within.

I don't know the steps,
I haven't learned my cues.
My frustration mounts
I don't know what to do.

Do I lead? Do I follow?
What's the step I take?
Do I jump in? Do I wait?
Is it already too late?

I know what I feel
I'm aware of the cost.
but at this dance
I'm completely lost.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Irony


I want to start off by saying I absolutely, without a doubt, LOVE irony. How can you not?? I think it’s one of the things that makes life just too funny. If you can’t laugh at life – then there’s just not that much that is funny to ya . . .

So, with that in mind – let me tell you about my Christmas in Topeka. It actually begins in Texas, where I tell my parents that I really don’t think it’s gonna be a good idea for me to drive back down from Topeka on Christmas Eve b/c of the weather. They are predicting lots of snow, and I just don’t think it’s a good idea for me to drive in that kind of weather. They agree, and it’s settled. I am NOT leaving for Texas.

Now . . . not that I mind heading to Texas, but I was looking forward to a relaxing holiday and a little fun time with friends, not to mention 5 days off from work (that kinda rocks!). On Christmas Eve, as expected, I wake up to sleet and ice that quickly turns into the Christmas Blizzard of 2009. We broke a 100 year record for snowfall and well . . . good call on not leaving. Two friends come over to help me fix a drainage problem in my basement, and later I attend Christmas Eve service with a good friend. Mind you, it has been snowing STEADILY since noon . . .

I wake up on Christmas morning and am so excited!!! My first WHITE CHRISTMAS!!! How fun! I know what I’m going to do . . . I’m going to open the back of the car and listen to Christmas music while shoveling snow off the driveway. How Midwest of me!! So – I get thru RuPaul’s rendition of Santa Baby, and then move on to Mariah’s “All I Want for Christmas” when the radio shuts off. Hmmmmmm . . . that’s odd.

I go to see what happened, and the battery is dead. D-E-A-D . . . I suddenly go from a relaxed snow shoveler to a caged animal in a poorly attended zoo . . . AHHHH! I can’t go anywhere! I’m stranded in my own home!! On Christmas!!! UGH!!! (Irony #1 – was going to relax all week ANYWAY and now I’m so stressed out b/c I no longer have the OPTION to go anywhere)

So, the day after Christmas, my friend comes over to pick me up after I’ve gotten my battery (almost) completely disconnected from the car. We get in his car and, well, he gets stuck out in front of my street. See . . . Topeka doesn’t really do a good job of plowing the snow, and after a foot of snow and all the wind, one can tend to get stuck. My neighbor pulls us out – and we’re off to Big O’Tires to get a new battery.

On the way back to my house with new battery in hand, I suggest parking in the driveway across from my house b/c no one lives there (it’s for sale) AND there’s NO way you’d get stuck there. So he does and we get out and replace the battery. He backs out into the middle of the street . . . AND . . . he gets stuck again! So my neighbor AGAIN politely pulls us out of the snow in the middle of the street . . .

And as SOON as we get his car unstuck from the snow . . . the FREAKING SNOW PLOW turns on the street. SERIOUSLY??? NOW THE SNOW PLOW COMES??? What was even kind of funny was the snow plow got stuck in the street too! (Irony #2 – after pulling his car out twice from the snow, the snow plow comes to plow the road and gets stuck too)

Yeah . . . while it was kind of a frustrating experience to live through . . . looking back you kind of have to giggle about it.

Oh, and Gracie . . . you need to learn how to read the number of tags . . .it’s the number AFTER the tag . . . so you still have one more tag than he does you big ol’ diva!!! 

Friday, December 25, 2009

My New Year's Resolution


I realized something today that I didn’t quite have my hands around. It sounds a bit weird, but don’t judge. You have to walk in someone else’s shoes to get it sometimes. I don’t know how to be happy. It doesn’t mean that I have never been happy, or felt happy, but for the first time in a long, long time – I’m actually happy. It really weirds me out – I keep waiting for the other foot to drop and it is totally stressing me out.

I don’t trust that life can be this good. And believe me . . . it’s really, REALLY good. With all the changes going on this year, my outlook and attitude was bound to change . . . but this whole “happy” thing is new. I have had so many people over the past few months (and at home last weekend) comment on how happy I am. People never really used words like happy, content, satisfied, at peace, etc. when describing me. They do now . . . spooky . . .

So – if you haven’t been following (and so I can remind myself) here’s the year in a quick run down . . .

January – after being told that it’d take six months to get approval for lapband surgery, it’s approved in two weeks
February – 26th of Feb – last step of reclaiming my life back – I get my band
March/April – recoop at home and get to spend some time with the family – it was awesome!
May – decide to go back to school to become a Therapist – apply at Washburn University
June – Take my first college course, get an A! Intro to Psych in the books – loved it!
August – I’ve lost 100 lbs! Seriously!!! 10 days shy of six months!!! WHAT???
September – Off and running on my first semester back in school – juggling work and school is quite a challenge but am enjoying it
October – My BFF ties the knot in a beautiful ceremony AND my newest niece, McKenzie Grace is born.
November – Just taking a deep breath. School is almost over and weight loss is good.
December – Ready for this?? Got my first collegiate 4.0, Got a 1230 on my GRE (needed a 1200), went on a FANTASTIC date, met someone who is at the very least a great friend and hopefully wants to be more, got to hold my niece for the first time, saw my family the weekend before Christmas, AND – I can buy clothes off the rack!! I wear XXL shirts now (in most brands) instead of a 7XB (which means 7XL cut really big for my belly). I’m smaller than when I MOVED to Kansas 5 years ago . . .

This all hit me last night while at Christmas Eve service. I am so incredibly humbled by the blessings I’ve received this year, and it’s just so much to take in. I don’t know how to handle it . . . I keep looking over my shoulder.

So – my New Year’s Resolution – and I’m really going to do this – is to just sit back and enjoy life for what it is. I’m going to stop looking around for the bad coming, and instead enjoy the good.

Damn, I’m such a drama queen . . .

Monday, December 21, 2009

Baking Cookies


Does anyone else love to bake cookies? I know I do . .. it’s been a long time since I have baked some cookies.

In order to start out with the best batch possible, you need to make sure you have the best ingredients. That doesn’t mean you must purchase the most expensive, but rather what you have learned thru experience works for you. Get out all your ingredients and make sure it’s all there . . .

Knowing prep time is important. Some cookies you make are quick on prep, and can be made hastily. Typically though, they’re often too easy to make and not that memorable. After all, anyone can just whip together any ol’ batch of cookies . . . I like to make special cookies (not THAT kind of special!), and so I prefer my prep time to take longer. In this case, I had to mix all the ingredients together and then let the cookie dough sit for several hours in the fridge . . . just letting it do its thing naturally.

After awhile, it is time to turn the heat up! Lined the cookie sheets and made the cookie balls, then pressed ‘em with a fork and stuck ‘em in the oven. Don’t want to overcook the cookies b/c that ruins the whole batch, but don’t want to undercook the cookies b/c that leaves ‘em too soft and they fall apart. You have to make sure you have the right amount of heat . . .

And when the cookies are all done, the best part . . . you get to eat ‘em! The gooier the better! Nothing is better than when you finish eating cookies and have to lick your fingers too 

I think I like making cookies . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Best Week Ever


What's up kids??

Yes, the title says it all -- I officially think this past week definitely qualifies as my BEST WEEK EVER. I want to know right now where VH1 is and why they aren't talking about me. Seriously . . . who wouldn't want to talk about me?? Let's go through the week and I'll explain why this really had to have been, literally, the best week ever.

It starts on Saturday, 12/5/09. A random lunch turns into an evening in Kansas City that will always be remembered. All I'm gonna say is that there was dancing, good music, great company, and fireflies in the stomach. We didn't even get back to Topeka until 6 in the freaking morning!! And remind me not to EVER drink rum again (and no I didn't drive) . . .

Monday, 12/7/09 - Statistics final. Can you say NERVE RACKING?? I'm currently sitting on a 91 in the class, and it's the only class that I don't have an "A" locked up. While I've always been quite studious -- I'd never pulled off the mythical 4.0 in college. This was as close as I've ever been to it. So, with studying behind me and nerves all bundled up -- I took the test. Mind you my other 2 test grades in the course were an 89 and an 82 (thank goodness for homework!). I felt very confident walking out of the test that I did pretty good.

Tuesday, 12/8/09 - Studying for GRE. The highest I'd gotten on any practice exam was an 1120 (ironically, what I got on my SATs EONS ago . . . ). My Abnormal Psych prof (side note -- love her!) told me to get flashcards to help with the vocab thing so that's what I bought to focus on.

Wednesday, 12/9/09 -- YES!!! I got a 92 on my STAT FINAL!!!! First ever collegiate 4.0 is in the books!!

Friday, 12/11/09 -- Woke up and went to work out. Got on the scale and it reflects that I'd lost 142 lbs! DAMN!!! Talk about a confidence boost. Run into a good friend that I hadn't been able to catch up with at Panera while having my pre-GRE breakfast and got to catch up. He's getting married!!! YAY!!! I then head to the mall to do some retail therapy (aka Christmas shopping) to calm my nerves and I get the sweetest text telling me to relax, I'm gonna do well, and to remember "Footprints in the Sand" . . . Three sets . . . It was what I needed. I walked out with a 1230 and was in utter disbelief! This is the first time that I actually realized that I'm going to be a psychologist. I'm going to be able to help people thru what I've gone thru. It was all a bit overwhelming to be honest. To top off the evening . . . went out and celebrated and had another great time. Again . . . must remember to not drink rum . . .

Saturday, 12/12/09 -- My house is officially clean. I'll do a whole seperate entry for this later, but in a nutshell I was a hoarder. If you don't know what that is there is a show on A&E that does a great job at dipicting it. It's pretty rough to get thru -- and harder to clean up from. I'd been working on the house all weekend and was able to get it completely cleaned up. I can't even describe what a fantastic feeling it is to FINALLY be over and done with that . . . Now it's just working on building the habit strength to prevent it again.

Sunday, 12/13/09 -- Was asked to do a reading with my good friend and Lap Band buddy Annette at church. We are kindred spirits, and I was touched that we were asked to do it together. She's my sweetie! Later that day, Gracie came over to my house for the first time. That was awesome to have my bff come over and be able to see my home without the shame or embarrassment of it being all messy and gross.

Monday, 12/14/09 -- After working out and weighing myself -- I'm now down 144 lbs!!! Are you kidding me??? Gracie said that I'd be at 150 by the new year and I didn't believe her . . . but damn I'm getting close now!!

Whew . . . it's all I can do to just drink my Starbucks and not run around screaming at the top of my lungs right now . . . I'm so thankful for this past week . . . and while I know they won't all measure up to what took place, I look forward to them all with anticipation.

Happy Christmas! (I love the British for that phrase!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finding My Way

I've been asked often why I moved to Topeka, KS. By family members, friends from Texas, people at work, even friends here. I never could come up with an answer.

I didn't know anyone that lived here. I'd lived my whole life in Texas, and all but 4 years within 100 miles of Ft. Worth. So, while working at the Target DC in Tyler, TX - word came down that they were opening a new center in Midlothian. I jumped at the chance to move back.

That's when things took a bizarre twist - that I think only now I'm beginning to understand. I walked into my HR manager's office in Tyler and sat down. I said, "Fred" (because that was his name) "I think I'd rather go to Topeka then Midlothian." He kind of paused and looked at me and said - "really?" (because that's what people say when they think you're a bit off your rocker) "Yeah, I really do." Fred kind of looked puzzled and asked "Why?" And as clear as a crystal I said "It just feels like what I'm supposed to do."

It's funny, but it seems like my whole life I've been preparing for what is about to happen to me. I've been through the ringer emotionally as a child and young adult - but I've come through. Patience and perseverance has truly kept my feet grounded. When you least expect it - you hear your calling. You hear (not as in I'm having auditory hallucinations or anything -- but I can't think of another verb) what it was that your life was meant for. I'm very lucky that I heard. It's like I couldn't embark on what is about to happen without first going through what I did - because it has made me who I am - both the good and the bad.

So again -- why was I drawn to this place -- this ice cold frigid place (it's 3 degrees outside right now!)?? Simply put -- to finally heal. My mental state has never been stronger. I still have my mood swings (can't blame a girl for a bit of emotion), but all in all it's steady sailing. I rediscovered my faith. MCC Topeka (my church home!!! holler!!) has been a blessing I never knew I would want or need. I felt as if God called me home - even though as I look back I realized I never really left. I developed stronger relationships with my family (in TEXAS!). It's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I met my kindred spirit - my bff - who loves me in spite of all my flaws and crazy antics - someone who is there for me when I've need to be picked up, dusted off, and (sometimes) given a lollipop and told to go back out and play.

What's ahead on this path I walk? A new career awaits - that I know. Second semester of Pschology has gone very well -- waiting on one more test grade and that will determine whether I get a 3.5 or my first collegiate 4.0. My professors have already said they see a good therapist in me . . . There are many more adventures that await up the road, and time will reveal those to me.

So - the reflection is due to this being the day before I take the GRE. I am already planning on taking it again, so no concerns if it doesn't go super well this time around. I need to get a 1200 . . . that's about 80 pts higher than I've gotten on a practice one - but those are paper based and I'm doing a computer one, so the harder questions are weighted more if you get them right but less if you don't -- so 1200 is possible.

In closing - I leave a thought and a poem. My thought is take time to listen when no one is speaking, when no one is singing, when no one is there. You might be surprised at what you hear Him say.

"Finding My Way"

The air was bitter cold that morning.
The sun was no where to be seen,
and as I shook the frost from my eyes,
I could see nothing. Just blackness -
A blackness that engulfed all.
Try as I could to find my way,
the obstacles were to great.
And there I stood, motionless,
Unable to defend from the evil lurking
in the onyx veil surrounding me.
I lost my way.

I looked to the heavens and realized,
hope was not to be abandoned.
For the sky was turning just a hint of blue.
The faint light was the signal I was waiting for.
Looking to the heavens,
I was able to find a break in the thorns
in the bushes that ripped at my face,
tore my clothes, and ravaged me.
I followed the heavens, walking where I could see the stars.
I found a path that I knew would lead me,
to where I would not be lost.

As I looked down the snow covered path,
The first light of the sun kissed my face.
Warming my skin, thawing my soul.
The path in front, although not clear, was illuminated.
I needed to just take a step,
One step to help myself,
One more step to help others.
Two more steps to love myself,
Four more to love someone else.
Heading towards the light I realize,
I am finding my way . . .

Monday, December 7, 2009

Off the Rack


Most people in the world here the term "off the rack" and think of rich people that order custom apparel and us "normal" folk have to buy clothes that aren't custom made to our bodies off the sales rack. Well . . . that's one meaning -- but another meaning is for those of that have struggled with our weight.
See - once you reach a certain size, you are no longer able to go into any store and buy anything there. See, they don't really make your size. So - you are shuffled off to the specialty stores to buy clothing that fits -- at exhorbitent prices.
Well today, after about 8 years of shopping in specialty stores -- I can PROUDLY say that I bought some clothing OFF THE F'KN RACK!!!! Yes, ladies and gents -- today is a day of freedom for me - of overpriced underwear (instead of 2 for $20 I can get 4 for $9), going bankrupt for a shirt, and basically getting killed at the register for a tshirt.
Today, at Target (of course!), I bought a pack of 2XL underwear (boxer briefs -- what else would I wear?) and some workout shirts that were 2XL. To give you a comparison -- I was wearing 7XL clothes before the surgery. Um . . . That's like holding a 2XL shirt next to a men's XS shirt . . . It's still kinda hard to fully grasp.
Pant size is getting close to off the rack territory as well. Was wearing a (so embarrassed to write this) 64" pant size, and now can fit into a 48" pant. Four more inches will put me in off the rack territory as well. I feel like running around screaming like a school girl -- but I won't. How about I just smile really big? :D
The ab routine is really working out well - as I've lost 7 lbs this week. I had to call the doc b/c he wanted me to tell him if I lose over 5 in one week - but all is fine. It's just the workout. I'm now down 142 lbs . . . 24 more lbs and I'll be under 300 -- and that's been a LONG time coming.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Weightloss Sistas


How about this for some bravery -- that is my current weight as of 11/29/2009 just after noon. Most people might not be excited that their weight is just a smidge under 330, but honey -- I am. I'm down 135 lbs . . . and that ab routine I started a few weeks ago -- yeah, it's working!
However -- this isn't a post about my weightloss journey, but how our journey is going. See -- I thought I was all alone on this weight loss thing. No one around that would really get - or understand the struggles. Who could relate to wanting "one more chip at 3am" or "two more pizza slices are fine -- who cares if it finished the large pizza??" I was ready to roll my sleeves up and fight this all by myself.
That's when God reminded me that I'm not alone. Not by a LONG shot. Not only is he with me on this trek, but two of the sweetest ladies I know have confided in me (and others) that they are on this journey too. I do believe he brought us together - for support and encouragement. It's so much easier knowing that someone you know totally gets it. They understand the struggles -- truly understand it all. They know the satisfaction in walking past a plate of cookies -- and how unbelievably difficult that task actually is.
So Cindy & Annette -- this is for you . . . (and me too) . . . I'm so proud of my Weight Loss Sistas!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Being Cold, Overpriced Coffee, and Being Thankful


As this holiday season fast approaches, everyone comes up with a list of what they are thankful. Not being one to buck tradition (you can stop laughing now) -- I'd like to give you my list of things I am thankful for, in no particular order . . .
1. I am thankful for getting cold.
Getting cold?? Why on earth would I be thankful for that?? Well simply put, I've NEVER been someone that got cold. I was always hot, sweating, and out of breath. Now, after everything this year and going into this winter -- I get cold!! I have to wear long sleeves and coats and everything!! Who knew?? Losing 129 lbs will do that to ya ;)
2. I am thankful for not being able to get enough sleep.
Really . . . I am completely excited about this. In a nutshell -- I've spent so many years of my life passing me by that I want to make up for living. Who has time to sleep?? Don't get me wrong, there are days when a girl needs her rest -- but those days have become few and far between. I absolutely love going to school, having a steady job (and therefore income), and all the friends I have. I don't want to sleep my time away with all this going on around me. Besides . . . that's what STARBUCKS is for . . . right??
3. I am thankful because I have to pay bills.
Picking up on the theme yet -- complaints are also reasons why we are happy. It's all on how you look at it. Who doesn't hate paying the mortgage, car note, credit card bill, etc? However, consider this outlook . . . if you have these bills to pay then you have a car, a home, probably some nice things, and a few bucks left over for some nice things. Yeah -- paying bills is a good thing!
4. I am thankful for Overpriced Coffee.
So I thought about what kind of category this would end up being, and this is what popped up. I enjoy studying, visiting, looking at the cute guys at Starbucks. I've quickly become a regular, as the staff knows my name and what I want (usually a carmel light frappucino, but lately totally into the peppermint mocha light frappucino). Plus it's the perfect setting for a great conversation with my bff . . . Creepy Manager Guy was going to be the other choice for this one since Gracie and I are total regulars at Panera as well.
5. I am thankful for texting.
Admit it -- those of you with iPhones are totally in love with it! It turned an anti-Apple guy into a total softy for iPhone. So I love my iPhone, but more importantly I love the people that text/call/email me on it on a regular basis. Every person in my contact list has had some effect on my life, and I am grateful for that impact they've had. People are not static, we are always changing. And one major way that everyone has an impact on me is through my phone. Even CrackBook is an iPhone App!
So hopefully this little list of mine finds you in good humor, good health, but most importantly, good times. God Bless you, your family & your friends. Those of you travelling for Turkey Day, be safe!! And think about all that gets on your nerves, and you just might find what you are truly thankful for . . . :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just a Fear



Not really sure what to say, what to type. I've been frustrated for a week and the only thing I know how to do is type it out -- so to speak.

I hate being alone. I can find 47 million reasons why I should be alone, but I still don't like it. Things like - no time b/c of school, need to save $, work is crazy right now, you want to move back to Texas, blah blah blah . . . I sure can talk myself into misery.

Please, as you're reading this, don't send the "just relax" or "you'll find it when you're not looking" or "you're a great guy" comment . . . I appreciate it but it doesn't help. I'm 34, and my biggest fear is that I'm always going to be alone. Yet, for some reason, I do nothing to change it. It's my paradox, my dichotomy, my whatever you'd like to stick in this blank ____________. It's rather frustrating.

I even know the problem -- rejection. Yes, kids -- it's an intense fear of rejection. (And yes, I know where it comes from, why it's irrational, and why it's a roadblock) I just feel like I'm gonna end up sitting on my front porch with a blanket and watching the rest of my life pass by.

I feel like I'm screaming as loud as I can and the silence is deafening . . . just wanting someone to answer back . . . someone that is interested in me.

Forgive my insecure moment . . . back to your regular blog reading.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Liberty and Justice for All*


Welcome to America, where you will have liberty and justice for all*
(* unless you're homosexual)
Okay, so I am a bit upset about the rash of same sex marriage defeats over the past several years, including the horrid Federal Defense of Marriage Act . . .

I think what pisses me off the most is that my civil rights are being put to a vote -- and yes, I said civil rights. For those in the mood to argue about what civil rights are, let me put that arguement to rest right now -- civil rights as defined by dictionary.com is "rights to personal liberty established by the 13th and 14th amendments to the US Constitution and certain Congressional acts, esp. as applied to an individual or minority group."

The whole reason we have civil rights is that the majority in any nation (not just ours) have the tendency to want to marginalize the minority. That minority over the years has been defined by many different aspects -- be it race, country of origin, religious faith, gender, and sexuality. In order to ensure equal rights among all, our nation, while begrudgenly, has enacted statutes and laws to ensure that the minority, however it is defined, has the same chance at happiness and fullfillment as all others . . . until now. Now, for some unknown reason, we have decided the way to decide civil rights issues is to put it to a vote . . .

So - to all those that see nothing wrong with allowing civil rights issues to be put to a vote, I offer this question and list of answers . . . How would our nation be different if we allowed civil rights issues to be put to a popular vote?

  • Seperate but Equal statutes would be in effect -- there'd still be whites only and colored only places in America, and as evidenced by the pictures of that time, the whites would have an advantage b/c typically those facilities were much better

  • Education would only go to white men -- before Title 9 and other Equal Opportunity statutes were passed -- most minority classes (i.e. Blacks, Hispanics, Women) were not afforded the same chances at scholarships, team participation in sports, or even admittance to the top universities and colleges in the nation.

  • Right to Vote would only reside with White Men -- Blacks didn't gain the right to vote until after slavery was abolished (by statute, not a vote) and women didn't gain sufferage until the 1920 . . .

  • Blacks would not be allowed into the military, nor women

  • In all likelihood, several states would probably still have laws allowing for legal slavery and women would be treated as property

  • Polygamy would still be legal in Utah

Just think of the depravity of our society if we would have allowed voters to decide the rights of the minorities. We would have missed out on leaders that have directed our nation and industries. You don't even have to look very far to find leaders of minorities that have had an impact on us, Dorthea Dix, Susan B. Anthony, George Washington Carver, the Tuskeegee Airmen, Gen. Colin Powell, Condeleeza Rice, Janet Reno, President Barack Obama, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton to name the most recent . . . Whether you agree or support them in their endeavors, you can't deny the influence they've had on our country. None of them would have had the chance if we voted on it.

I'm not for the abolition of voting rights, or that I know all, but rather to understand our history and how we, as all other societies, have had the tendency to oppress others in the minority. Why, at this time of our existence, with the history our nation already has built, would we suddenly choose to trust the masses in regards to a question about oppression? Where are the leaders in our country to stand up and fight with us? Every member of the NAACP, NOW, LULAC, the Islamic and Jewish communities (among others), should be standing beside us - acknowledging that our rights have been denied.

The problem I guess, is that now that they are part of the accepted majority, there's just not many left to stand with us . . . sad that they have forgotten what it's like to be denied the opportunity just because of who you are.

So -- I have one thing to say in closing -- I'm here, I'm queer, get over your fear. Because it is -- at it's core -- an irrational fear that is preventing the legalization of same sex marriage.

(Notice I didn't even point out the weakness in the "sanctity of marriage" arguement by discussing common law marriage and how hypocritical that arguement really is . . . oh wait, just did)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don't Take it for Granted


Ever thought about what you take for granted? There's a lot of stuff that I used to take for granted . . . and now I am appreciative of each and everyone of them. In January -- my quality of life was not well -- and now it already seems off the charts -- and getting better all the time. So, here's a list of things that I used to take for granted, that I haven't been able to do in years, that I now can do again because of losing 120 lbs so far . . . (btw that is a pic of the sunrise over Chicago from a United airplane)
  1. Using the non-handicap bathroom stall. Seriously -- I don't have to worry about it anymore if I need to use a stall -- I can actually used the normal size one!! YAY!!

  2. Going out to eat and sitting at a booth. For awhile I couldn't go out to eat with friends without having to specifically ask for a table instead of a booth. It was so embarassing when I would get walked to a booth and then have to ask for a table instead. Now -- no worries.

  3. I don't have to save money for underwear. Big people clothes are OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive - and not very good quality either. Today, I went to a regular store and bought to packs of underwear for $19 (they were 4 packs). That would have been like $60 at the big boy store.

  4. Flying -- I can fit in the plane seat. Still don't like it, but I can fly . . .

  5. Walking all over the place and not losing my breath or having to rest . . . I went to a KU game a few yrs back and had to stop at various points and rest, because I couldn't walk all the way there in one trip.

  6. Riding with friends -- I had to buy a bigger car (traded up from a Kia Sorento to a Chrysler Pacifica) b/c I didn't fit in my car. I would have to volunteer to drive everywhere b/c I knew I fit in my car, but really didn't know if I fit in everyone else's car. Now -- I can fit in a Honda CRV, a Volvo sedan, a Nissan Altima, a Mitsubishi Galant, and a Jeep Grand Cherokee for starters . . . yeah -- I'm still keeping count. Oh, and I no longer drive the station wagon on steroids either . . . I have a Pontiac Torrent (and love it).

  7. Good health -- wow do I feel better! I no longer have high blood pressure, high cholestorol, high blood sugar, or high whatever will kill ya . . . my levels are back to normal . . . and that's the BEST part of this journey.

  8. I don't mind having a full body picture made -- I used to hide behind things so only my face would get photographed. I didn't like the reminders of how big I was . . . now it's all I can do to not jump into a stranger's picture . . . b/c they need to see how hot I am! :)

  9. Britches without elastic waist bands . . . I DON'T HAVE TO WEAR BRITCHES WITH ELASTIC WAIST BANDS ANYMORE!!!

  10. Positive self image -- I feel so good about all I've done and all I have to offer. I can't even begin to describe how that feels.

So what is the reason or this? Don't take things for granted, b/c you never know when you might lose it. And it's hard as hell to get it back . . . savor everything -- every benign moment, every beige event, every boring gathering -- b/c you never know if it'll be gone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Crush


So, "The Summer Wind" has passed since my last entry . . . it's been a bit hectic here in Dorothy Land with "Everything" that's been happening. Between school (going well btw), Gracie's wedding (she looked "Wonderful Tonight"), work (still on solo coverage), and volunteering (United Way and Church) . . . just haven't had a lot of time to blog. But then again . . . "That's Life"

The point of this entry, however, isn't to talk about the past, but rather discuss that "The Best is Yet to Come." You see, there's this guy . . . who I've talked with briefly at church . . . and I must admit that he gives me "Fever" . . .

The problem with all this is that I feel a bit "Lost" when it comes to dating and asking someone out. Let's be real for a minute . . . my last 2 dates were more "Heartache Tonight" than "Feeling Good" . . . I know, I know -- your sitting there saying "Cry Me a River" -- and I'm not gonna. I'm just very intimidated to ask someone out -- the whole fear of rejection thing. I could go into detail why all this is, but let's just chalk it up to "Home" and move on, no need to rehash that old story again.

So . . . this guy . . . I "Haven't Met You Yet" . . . need to work up the gumption to meet him . . . funny that I can talk to anyone at anytime, as long as there's not this type of feeling associated with it. BUT if I'm interested in the man, then I go all stupid. "Whatever It Takes" to get past this, I will . . . I would really love to go out with him and have him "Save the Last Dance for Me" . . .

"Call me Irresponsible" for putting this emotion out there, but then again . . . blame it on a "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" . . .

(Not bad . . . I worked in 16 song titles by Michael Buble while writing this . . .)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

10 Reasons Football is Gay


Damn I love me some football!!!!
Many people don't realize this -- but football is kind of a gay sport. Seriously . . . (This is kind of a repost -- I couldn't find the original post so I just thought about it again and this is what I came up with) :)
There are just so many things about football that lend itself to gay culture - so for those who don't realize it I give you my 10 Reasons Football is Gay . . .
10. Coordinated outfits and matching accessories -- move past the matching uniforms and helmets -- but now there is coordinated gear to wear under your pads so your long sleeves match the uniform, colored athletic tape, arm pads, etc.
9. 5 or so old men wearing striped outfits with yellow hankies blowing whistles and waving their arms . . . big ol' queens there . . .
8. While everyone typically wears underwear that covers their entire rear, the undergarment designed for football is assless . . .
7. Have you SEEN the tight metallic pants that the players wear??? Who do you think designed those puppies??
6. when the ball goes out of the back of the endzone, you get a touch back (think about it for a minute -- it'll make sense)
5. Three words -- The Locker Room
4. Think real hard about how the ball is put into play . . . you'll see what I mean. Unless your team is a bunch of wusses and just does the shotgun.
3. Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
2. The innuendos by the sports casters -- in one broadcast you might here "He really stuck it in there," "They rammed it in thru the crease," or "They shoved it down their throats" . . . you can fit yours in here . . .
And #1 -- The Good Game Ass Slap
Discuss . . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

Poem: Slaying the Beast

Illuminated in warmth,
The confidence of the warrior,
Burning deep in my soul.

Fighting for my freedom
From the oppression and pain,
The enemy on death’s door

The rage of anger
Pulsing through every fiber
Readying to slay the dragon.

I stop and ponder
The thought of mercy in my mind,
Looking down at my antagonist.

We’ve spent so long together,
Became comfortable, Became resigning,
Snared in its neglectful tentacles.

Not pity, but empathy, for I understand.
But impale the demon I must.
And my patient sword I thrust.

Its breath stops,
My eyes close,
My demon is almost dead . . .

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gym, Lunch, Tears, Scarves


I realized I haven't actually just randomly "journaled" in awhile, and really thought today would be a nice day to do so . . .

The day started with Ragan trying to push me off the bed at 10:00am probably b/c either he needed to go outside, or he hid a chewie under my pillow and now couldn't get to it. I woke up and promptly cuddled with the pooch for a bit (he's a bit needy) and then headed to the gym. Today was just a light cardio day - and today's first great event happened . . . I fell off the plateau!!! My body is starting to lose weight again . . . two pounds this week for a total of 96. That's freaking AWESOME!!!

So then, all showered, cologned, and nervous . . . I go on a date. (No - it is NOT the guy that was the DFH from a few weeks ago) We went to HuHot and had a great time, good lunch, and just all in all good visit. He's quite the charmer and has a nice smile . . . but that's all you get for now. Gonna keep the rest secret cuz I don't wanna jinx it. (If you're keeping count - that's great event #2 for the day)

I decide after lunch that I need to go check out the big boy clothing store b/c it's clearance time and they usually have a shirt or two that I like to buy for pretty cheap. PLUS . . . everyone is riding me to get a smaller size shirt b/c all my clothes are 2 sizes to big now. I go and hit up the size down from what I had on. (I started at a 6x, was wearing a 5x, and was happy that the 4x's were fitting). So, I find a really cute one on the rack (gonna wear it on my date this weekend!) and then the sales lady is like -- Joe, you can wear a size smaller than that!

I don't really think I can . . . but she insists and so I grab a 3x and head back into the dressing room. Side note -- (and this is kind of important) -- I have been struggling to actually SEE the weight loss change. I see myself everyday - and the baggy clothes don't help (cuz I still see what's underneath) - so it's where I struggle. It's common among those with rapid weight loss b/c the mind doesn't quite grasp the changes as quickly as they are actually happening.

Sooooooo, I try on the shirt and then step out and look in the mirror. And I cry. Just a little but they were DEFINITELY tears of joy. It fit . . . and for the first time I could actually SEE how much weight I had lost on my body. I really wasn't ready to see that, but then not sure if you ever really are, but it was a bit overwhelming. This definitely ranks as great event #3.

In celebration of a rather glorious day . . . I go to Target and buy some scarves - from the mens section (Gracie!!) . . . so all in all - today was fantastic and I am quite content. Haven't had many great days like today so gonna just enjoy it for awhile . . .

(oh, and I'm off work tonight AND tomorrow night!!!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Poem: Dichotomy


“Dichotomy”

It’s not just naughty.
It’s a chance to give a piece of your spirit,
your essence, a piece of your core.
You share something hidden in the depths of your heart
something so pure, so pristine, so perfect,
It’s not just naughty.
~
It’s not just nice.
It’s a chance to unleash the beast within,
your primal instinct, a basic desire.
You engage in activities that stimulate your sensations
something so exciting, so exhilarating, so exhausting.
It’s not just nice.
~
The touch, the bond, the insatiable quest –
The sweat, the passion, the emotion –
The two shades of your heart, the dichotomy of your spirit –
something that touches your faith and your lust -
Complex, confusing, complicated, compounding –
It’s not just naughty, it’s not just nice.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Return of the Guru

Alright my skittles . . . The Fashion Guru is baaaaack! It is time for me to impart some extremely importante information regarding certain fashion choices that have been working my last nerve. I am tired of walking around in all my fabulosity and having to be bombarded with some rather . . . well, disturbing selections that some of the less fortunate are making. Since my journeys have made me almost other-worldly, I'd like to impart my fashion wisdom. So today, there are 3 simple rules that I'd like everyone to follow for the rest of the summer.

Rule #1 - Read Instructions ~ Read instructions?? Yes dearies . . . if you were not aware many of today's ensembles come WITH INSTRUCTIONS! If you will just read the item's instructions you will not make a poor choice. Need an example?? Take "skinny jeans." This is such an easy instruction to follow - they are telling you if you are skinny, these are your jeans. If you are NOT SKINNY, these ARE NOT your jeans. It's just that easy! And skinny isn't if you line up all of your relatives at the Southern Deep Fried convention and you happen to be the smallest fatty that you are then skinny . . . skinny is NOT relative. Other examples -- mom jeans (jeans for mom), fitted tees (if they don't fit . . .), undershirts (rednecks - this means to wear 'under' another shirt - or to make it easier to understand you will end up wearing as many shirts as you have teeth). See?? That was easy.

Rule #2 - Ensure contents don't shift during travel ~ or in other words . . . wear undergarments! Ladies -- unless you are 24 with super perky boobs, you need to support your girls with some type of bra . . . any bra . . . seriously. Try the pencil test . . . If you can stick a pencil under your boob, and it stays, you need support. Gravity is the devil - and after nursing 3 children and gaining 40 lbs, you should not under ANY circumstances allow you girls to EVER be free . . . I'm not sure I'd even recommend them to be free EVER, but at least in public keep them contained. The last thing anyone wants to see is a couple of droopy orangutan boobies bouncin under some light cottony fabric. It's enough to make anyone wanna hurl.

Rule #3 - Also known as JJ's Golden Rule of Fashion - Just because it's your size does NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD WEAR IT!!! ~ Low rise jeans aren't meant to be warn by a size 24 women or 40" waisted man . . . they are just not! There is nothing sexy or alluring about someone that is wearing a pair of jeans that doesn't cover back fat or muffin top. NOTHING! Since you are not hot, (trust me, your not) your fashion choices should create the illusion that in a really dark bar with several drinks, you might be "cute". And if you are wearing something you shouldn't, it won't work.

Please, if you are one of the few gifted souls like me, help me help the fashionably challenged, or as I call them the FT's (Fashion-Tards), pass these rules along. It can only make the world a more beautiful place . . .

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Poem: Damaged Heart


Look into these tear dried eyes.
Do you see the scars behind them?
Is the hopeless dispair of lonliness
outshining the promise of life that burns
deep down inside?
I've shed the last tear in pain
over the last bit of drama brought to my door.
There is nothing left to grieve,
nothing left to cry.
Who will wipe these dry eyes?
Now that the tears are gone . . .

Hold onto this weary hand.
Can you feel the weakness within?
Can you tell that it doesn't cling
to what it knows will quickly leave
as it came?
Releasing with my grip, my nemesis, my defeat,
They no longer walk with me in the night.
There is nothing more to grasp for
blindly in the dark, misguided.
Who will take this tired hand?
Now that the strength is gone . . .

Love this broken heart.
Do you feel the pieces tearing my chest apart?
Is there a moment that passes
that every ripping beat shredding all hope
can not be heard?
It's been smashed and effectively trashed, shredded.
Slowly, with patience and perseverence,
I've collected the small pieces
and mended what I could.
Who will love this damaged heart?
Now that the strife is gone . . .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What is Forgiveness?

I don't know if most abuse survivors struggle with this, but I know I have for quite a long time. I imagine my struggle is not unique, yet for me the journey is very loansome. What does it mean to forgive?

That question has burned in my mind for years upon years. On my left shoulder, I had tattooed "spirit, pray, grace, love, forgive" to remind myself over and over that I needed to do that. I needed to forgive the people that let me down as a child. It might sound odd, but it's something I know I must do in order to finally put it behind me.

But how do you know when you've truly forgiven someone?? I've prayed to God to forgive them, and I say I have forgiven them. I don't hold a hatred in my heart towards them, nor do I wish them ill will. I do chose, however, to not have them participate in my life. I don't think to forgive necessarily means that you forget. I wish I could forget those events, but unfortunately they are etched in my brain.

So in my struggle and my anxiety, I reached out to my pastor. I'm not known for asking for help, but I am so glad I did. He gave me the best advice, and what I truly believe it means to forgive, so I share it with you. He said, "Forgiveness is all about letting go of the anger and the hurt, and trusting that when we do that, God meets us in that place of surrender and strengthens us for the journey ahead."

He went on to explain that it's not about forgetting, but letting go of the emotion, the anger. Sometimes, too much has happened that even though we forgive, the relationship can never be healed. So I pray now for God to help me forgive them, to let go of the anger and negative emotion, and help me to move on. I no longer want to survive, I want to thrive.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rules of Engagement


I might be a bit judgmental, but I just think it's important to actually be employed - or working on gainful employment, when looking for a mate. It's kind of scary when you go out with someone that doesn't work - and isn't planning on getting a job in the near future.

Then there's the right and wrong things to say when courting someone. You shouldn't comment on less than flattering features of your prospective partner. It's not the wisest idea to actually point out a flabby chest or a bit of belly fat. Kinda kills the mood . . .

And definitely ask questions if someone says something that you don't understand. Never just assume you know what the other person is talking about or that you will figure it out later. Topics have a funny way of rearing their ugly head again and forcing you at some point to actually admit you have no clue what's being discussed, and therefore looking more like an idiot.

Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever under any circumstances whatsoever profess to be in love with the person on the first date. Even if you've known each other for years and years, it comes across as hokey and reeking of desperation. Kinda ruins the joy of the pursuit.

On the first arranged meeting, don't bring your two hags, gossip and talk amongst yourself, giggle uncontrollably, and then leave within 15 min of arrival. Well, you can, but don't ask if the other person likes you -- if you can't stick around to find out it's probably not worth finding out the answer.

Refrain from asking what names the kids are going to have that you both will be adopting on the first date. Not the best time to suggest building a family and home with someone when you are just getting to know each other.

Everyone knows it's all about putting your best foot forward - but make sure it's actually a good foot. No one likes a know-it-all, and everyone hates an idiot. It's better to be comfortable with yourself, flaws and all, then to try and mask it behind feigned intelligence.

I don't think this is asking too much . . . is it?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

America -- there is life after MJ!!!


I was trying to avoid this, but after having the death of Michael Jackson shoved down my throat for an entire weekend, I couldn't avoid it. So -- let me dust off my bedazzled soap box because I'm about to stand up on it and go off bitches . . .
All of the sorry ass people that are "devastated" and "depressed" because of the death of Michael Jackson -- I have one question for you. Name his last number one hit . . . go ahead . . . I'll wait.
Still waiting . . .
And still waiting . . .
No - this isn't one of those I'm a huge fan and all you people are idiots -- I'm not the Britney youtube kid under a sheet. I can't name it either . . . that's my point! How can one be sooooo devastated and distraught over someone that they can't even remember his last #1, his last single, or his last cd. I wanna know how many of these "fans" who are leaving flowers at his rent-a-mansion in LA actually owned his music BEFORE he died.
Look -- I love me some Michael Jackson -- especially his earlier stuff (re: Bille Jean, Smooth Criminal, Don't Stop til You get Enough) . . . but I didn't know him. I didn't go out with him. I didn't talk with him on the phone about all the little boys locked in his basement (yeah, I went there). I can empathize with the pain his siblings are going thru (I'd be distraught if one of my brothers died), but that's where it ends. My life is not any different b/c he passed -- and that's my point. GRIEF is not the appropriate emotion here kids -- unless you are a friend, family member, or associate. The appropriate emotion here is CELEBRATORY.
My life IS different b/c he was on this earth, for better or worse. I acknowledge all his accomplishments in how he changed pop music, dance, videos, and the definition of crazy. I'm not gonna cry or feel the need to mourn his passing. Celebrate his contributions, his impact, his music.
But enough with what a great person he was . . . he wasn't great, he was tragic. He couldn't get over being a child star, accepting his race (don't tell me it was a skin disease - that doesn't explain the hair, nose, or make up kids), and in the end reality itself. He had to have children to have people that unconditionally loved him -- his parents didn't. Don't believe me? Check out the CNN interview of Joe Jackson (his dad) on YouTube at the BET awards. He actually PLUGS a project while talking about the death of his son. Really?? The death of a child is a good time to promote your next project??
Look - I'm stopping short of calling him a pedophile (minus the boys in the basement joke earlier) b/c we don't know. However his "associates" or "keepers" should have ensured that he never got in the situations he was in to begin with. He needed help - the mental kind. And instead of helping him they allowed his madness to continue - as long as they got paid. And we got entertained. I think it's sad that not only the boys he could have harmed, but even HE was marginalized . . . as long as made records. Tragic . . .
It's safe to say he was a tortured soul. He didn't like what he saw in the mirror. I'm sure he didn't like all the jokes on tv, and all the negative print in magazines and papers. Who would?? Now the same group that ignored, took advantage of him, and basically ran him into the ground now act alarmed and surprised at his demise??
Everyone had a hand in his demise, EVERYONE. His family couldn't give him the tough, but real love he needed. His friends took advantage of him, without really helping him. His business partners or associates (or whatever) enabled him to do whatever as long as he made them money. Hell, we forgave all of his crazy, insane behavior as long as the music was good and the concerts were fierce. So - let's stop being hypocritical and celebrate his music, but enough with the "tributes" to how "great" he was. Stop leaving flowers, having candle light vigils - and all that other crap. The only ligit mourning that we even could justify would be to be sad that he will no longer entertain us.
Let the tortured soul die in peace, b/c no one would let him live that way. There, I'm done -- I'm gonna go download some Michael Jackson music now . . . beyatches!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Poem: The Storm

I've been tested by the strike
of piercing lightening through the heart.
There he stood ravaging my innocence,
but my soul he could not....
The flesh was weak, mending into scars,
but my spirit I found, would not depart.
Deep inside, I hid alone,
hardening the shell around.
Yes, I've been tested by the strike.

I've been tested by the sound
of deafening thunder rattling my bones.
The muffled screams still echo in my mind,
buy my voice he could not....
The words not known, but the feelings remained,
and in time, the emotion would roar out.
From deep inside, I cried,
beneath the shell around.
Yes, I've been tested by the sound.

I've been tested by the volume
of drowning water stealing my breath.
The weight would keep me down,
but my faith he could not....
The path not clear, but the tasks crystal,
step by step, my sweet release closer.
Deep inside, I healed,
beneath the shell around.
Yes, I've been tested by the volume.

Through the sweet tears of pain,
I saw HIS light raditating out.
HIS love would lift me up,
my sorrows would not....
With HIS sacrifice, the life within awoke,
moment after moment, my heart beat.
Deep inside, HE was always with me.
WE shattered the shell.
Yes, I saw HIS light after the storm...

(not exactly what Pastor Ty spoke about today, but this has been circling my head since church)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Feeling Much Butter, So to Speak



You probably are thinking that the title of this little entry is a typo . . . but it's not. Not by a long shot . . . but we'll get to that.

I haven't blogged solely about the whole lap band experience for a bit, and that's b/c I've been a bit preoccupied - but time for self reflection is now. I go in tomorrow for my third fill - and it's much needed.

While the weight loss is still fantastic, I've been eating more than I should. I'm supposed to eat until I'm not hungry, and while I still eat small portions, I've graduated from 3 to 4 meals over the past few weeks to keep me satiated. That's just too many. I did skip my last fill appointment b/c things were going so well - so this is not at all unexpected or a concern. I just want to make sure all is a-okay inside.

So, that brings me to this -- as of right now I've lost 74 pounds. That's a lot!! I couldn't even visualize how much that is or what it looks like, so I did some computations and research, and I thought this might help line it up for ya. Below is a list of items that weigh 74 lbs . . .
  • 32,560 mosquitos
  • 2,041 compact discs
  • 8.5 gallons of milk
  • 15,392 pennies
  • 252 iPhones
  • roughly 3.5 bags of dog food
  • about 5 15 lbs bowling balls
  • 23 of my laptop computers
  • 9 Wilson Kitty's
  • almost 1 Ragan
  • 29 pairs of shoes
  • 148 double whoppers
  • and for a visual effect - 4 sticks of butter is roughly the size and consistency of 1 pound of fat - so that's 296 sticks of butter (Paula Dean would be appauled)

Now THAT'S putting it into perspective. I find myself speechless at times, and not able to put into words what's going on in my life. As many of you know, I do believe in God - and he is very strong in my life right now. I feel very blessed to be able to even type these results - it's very humbling, and at the same time very, very liberating!

This past week - I've had several "firsts" that I haven't been able (or comfortable) to do in a long time -- I put down the armrest in between the driver's and passengers seat of my car, I tucked in my shirt (still wasn't totally comfortable with that), I walked 3 miles for the Memory Walk 2009 for Alzheimer's (btw thx donors!!), and have the energy to work full time, go to school, and work out. Crazy I know . . .

So - to put it in another way - I'm feeling much, much butter, thank you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A lot goin' on . . .


Funny how things are grouped together even when you don't plan it. Makes you busy, busy, busy. Main difference for me this time around is that I'm enjoying the heck out of almost everything! As I try to hydrate for tomorrow, here's some brief updates to catch y'all up . . .

Memory Walk 2009 is tomorrow.


I'm excited to do it -- and am truly thankful to everyone that donated to help me crush my fund raising goal! I raised $350 to help fight Alzheimer's!! Tomorrow should be nice so can't wait to do the three mile trek.

School is going fantastically. I was worried about starting back again and how it would all go, but it's been such an awesome experience. I approach college this time around in a different way, more like a job for lack of a better analogy -- and half way thru my first course I've got an A!


Work is work . . . blah!


I've lost 72 lbs!!! I have a doctor's appointment for my next fill for my band, and it's time to get one. Over the past 2 weeks, I've been quite hungry and have eaten more than I have been in the past. So - that means it's time to get my band adjusted. I've had 2 adjustments, and I'm supposed to have 3 to 6 fills to get the band in the right spot, so it's time.


Going back home in August to see my Dad show the Gran Torino he restored at a car show in Ft. Worth. I haven't been back since my surgery so I'm excited to see them and show them my results.


And finally . . . I caved. I got an iPhone today . . . and YES as much as I am LOATHED to admit it - I love it.


Well -- that's pretty much it for now I think . . . so wish me luck tomorrow!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Watching the Clouds Grow


Along he came, walking slowly by.
A boy I once knew.
It was a time long ago, an innocence so pure.
Down his gaze, away from the world.
He plodded steadily along,
A heavy heart, a searching soul.
He missed the little joys of childhood,
So simple, so good.
There I sat, on the bench in the path.
Too shy to inquire – I let him walk through.
There I sat, quietly, watching the clouds as they grew.

Along he came, quickly moving.
A young man I once knew.
It was a time not so distant, yet not so near.
Focused in books, focused on goals.
He darted quickly to his destination,
Not absorbing the life around.
Too myopic, too blinded.
There I sat, on the bench in the path.
Too slow to interrupt, I let him walk through.
There I sat, quietly, watching the clouds as they grew.

Along he came, wandering and lost.
A man I once knew.
Seems just the other day, yet a lifetime away.
No direction, no meaning, just breathing.
He meandered along the path,
Stains of pain and sorrow on his face.
He gazed at me, and instantly I knew.
There we sat, quietly, watching the clouds as they grew.

He turned to me, with a soft glance,
And spoke in a voice so familiar and true.
What is the point? Why do you never move?
I thought, and thought, until at once I knew.
Touched with a wisdom so few ever could,
I said bittersweetly, “I’ve been waiting for you.
I watch the clouds, my soul waiting to see;
When will you finally come to meet me?”

“I’ve sat here for years, watching you walk on by.
Quiet, patient, knowing deep inside.
I knew the time would arrive, when you would see
That life holds more than you were to believe.
Your heart now healed, your gaze searching,
Your soul sat here alone and waiting.
It’s time, my friend, to no longer dawdle,
For inside, you’re ready, for all that life offers.”

Along he came, confident and sure.
A man I know and love.
Tomorrow has come, illuminating the possibilities.
With patience and perseverance he glides along,
Every turn an adventure, a lesson, a friend.
He pauses at the bench in the path where we met,
A smile, a tear, and down the path he went….
No one sat to watch, for there were no more clouds that grew.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

EZ Weight Loss my Arse!


Okay - so I'm about sick of all the easy weightloss plugs that are out there today. Yes kids, it's been awhile, but here's a rant for ya . . .


First of all -- If I have to see the Nutrisystem ad one more time I'm gonna scream. Read the small print -- "results not typical". My problem with that is that they even put that up when Dan Marino talks - and he only lost 22lbs!!!! What kind of program are you trying to sell if the results are not typical that you can't even guarantee someone losing 20 freaking lbs! What a crock!


Then -- there's this new ad thing I keep seeing on facebook for something called "the pink patch". A--I'm assuming it's for women only. And B--putting a patch on your belly isn't going to make you look like the models that are photographed on the ad. I mean seriously . . . if a damn patch was all that was required then wouldn't we all be walkin' around with it??


Don't even get me started on this goober trying to push "The Fat Switch" crap on people. His claim is that he lost over 200 lbs without strenuous exercise and ate all and whatever he wanted and it just melted away . . . Really?? A Fat Switch?? How about I bring my Snake Oil Salesmen meter around you and see if it goes off or not . . . What do ya know -- it does!


There's only 2 things you can do to lose weight and keep it off -- eat less and exercise. And yes, the exercise will make you tired and your muscles sore . . . but it feeeeeeeeeeeeels soooooooooo gooooooooood . . . yeah, I'm kind of addicted to it now. I just needed to rant about this b/c I'm starting to see these ads next to my blog on fb b/c of it's topics, and it ticks me off. There are tools and (obviously) procedures that can help you eat less, but you still gotta work out! Okay . . . back to normal now . . .


Oh -- and I'm totally sportin' the 60 lbs shoes today!!! That's right kids . . . 60 lbs and loving it!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Love Hurts - Musically



Okay - so I have a burning question that needs to be answered . . . is it morbid that most of my favorite love songs aren't positive happy tunes?? I mean - what is that all about??

Here's the deal -- I'm working on putting together a pre-reception playlist for Gracie's wedding in October (yeah, I am a bit ahead, but I am kind of a planner). So - I'm sifting through all the songs I have, and I've realized that all of my faves - for the most part - are more about heartache than love.

I know why this is - but it still catches me off guard. Obviously, we are all more drawn to music that touches are souls or that we can relate to. Yes (insert tragic violin music) I can identify more with the pain of love than the joy of it. Kinda bites!

Please, no "it'll be alright" type comments. I'm not down about it and I'll meet the right guy some day. I'm sure he'll be buff, smart, rich, and want to tour Europe for a month too -- but that's not what this is about. It's just about identifying with music. I just found it odd that my favorite love songs are not so "lovey" -- which is making it a bit of a challenge in filling the playlist. Please feel free to suggest any . . . I'm open!

Oh - for the curious - here are my favorite love songs:
  • "Patience" by Take That - about not rushing into love because my heart is still healing from a broken heart
  • "Come Back to Me" by David Cook - a rocker version of the I'll let you go and see if you will come back
  • "The Rose" by Bette Midler - not totally negative, but not totally positive either . . .
  • "Yesterday" by Leona Lewis - not that I don't love "Bleeding Love," b/c I do, but this is much less played and just as beautiful. Basically the future can be taken away, but I can remember the past.
  • "I Stay in Love" by Mariah Carey - can not get this song out of my head! About staying in love with someone that treats you like crap . . . morbid I know!
  • "One Night" by The Corrs - about just getting one night for the person you love
  • "I Can't Make You Love Me" by Bonnie Raitt - didn't know that Bruce Hornsby plays piano/keyboard on this 'til the other day
  • "Can't Stop Loving You" by Phil Collins - still in love with the person that's leaving you
  • "Melt Away" by Mariah Carey - a positive one!! There's hope!! Grace says it reminds her of middle school though (b/c she IS that young! I hate her!!) I want to dance with someone to this song . . .

Anyway . . . I heart Love songs . . . just tend to lean to the heartache ones right now . . . but one day I hope to lean towards the other :)

Peace out for now! jj:)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Candle


I blew it out.

Smoke billowing lazily
from the glowing wick
that once held
the flame of my hope,
my dreams,
my faith.

Yet it was not dark.

The oozing wax down the shaft
slowly hardened
as the heat
dissapated from my heart,
my soul,
my belief.

I could still see.

I see You standing there
holding a candle
with a flame
so bright that it energizes my being,
my desire,
my love.

I turn to look at You.

I suddenly see that
while I extinguished my candle,
it was not my light.
It was not my soul.
Instead,
it was Yours.

A tear rolls down my cheek.

Beside me you were there
to light the way
when I was to blind to see
the path laid
in front
of me.

I light my candle for others to see
the joy You bring me . . .


Monday, May 4, 2009

Day 66: 8 inches and 51 pounds



I'm FIFTY and LOVING IT!!! I just had to put a pic of the great Molly Shannon as the incomprable Sally O'Malley for this post - b/c I thought it was rather fitting.


So, the entire weekend I struggled with what to blog. Seems many have given up their blogs or have focused on, well, life -- but for me the journaling has and must continue. It's a way to capture the emotion, capture the feeling of this journey. AND it's now a tool to help motivate others that are walking the same path as I am. Two people that I know of are getting LapBands and have been following my adventures to see what they are getting into. So -- I also kind of fill an obligation, in a good way, to update my milestones.


So - this week was interesting. I had what initially was diagnosed as a belly button hernia, then an abdominal wall strain, to finally a sub-dermal infection. The last one proved to be correct, as the antibiotics cleared up the issue. They aren't positive how it happened, but think it could have been related to my last fill - where the doc had some issues finding my port and left me with a bruise. Anyway . . . not the real point.


There seems to be a million things that are different about my life in such a short time, that it's hard to capture them all. Below is a list of things that I now do that I didn't before the surgery - it kind of catches me off guard at how much I let life slip by me before, and I'm determined not to do that anymore. So, without further ado - the list of how things change after your first 50 pounds . . .


  1. I work out almost every single day. Usually walking at least a mile on the treadmill and some light weights.

  2. I attend church on a regular basis. MCC Topeka has become my church home, and I'm truly thankful for being so welcomed there. I even volunteered to help with this year's pride picnic -- that ought to be an adventure in itself!

  3. I wake up every day between 9:30 and 10am. I hate it sometimes b/c it's so dang early, but I look at it as I've slept a lot in the past, so now I'm making up for all that.

  4. Yard work -- seriously! I haven't done any yardwork in over 2 years -- that's not a lie. Today, I spent 4 hrs cutting back everything in my yard I can get to -- and now I don't know what to do with all the limbs . . . oy! Good problem to have though -- the yard looks about a million times better.

  5. Read food product labels -- I can't believe this one. I literally won't buy a soup that's over 300 calories/can and you get less calories from jello brand fruit in jello than you do in dole fruit in gel -- put that in your pipe and smoke it. (plus pear w/pomegranate jello is to die for!)

  6. Am excited about my career - the one I'm going to school for! Where I work has been wonderful for me, but it's not my calling. Helping others is and I'm looking forward to tackling it, both the good and bad.

  7. Cooking -- I never cooked. I just swung by and got whatever was premaid or in the drive thru . . . gee! No wonder I topped out at 465 . . . Now I grill fish almost every day and really don't eat much beef at all.

  8. Drink water -- a lot of water. I drink close to 64oz of water every day now - no pop will do that to you. My skin is better, I feel better and more energized, and I'm hydrated!

  9. I get cold. Not something I'm used to experiencing - but now I am. I am no longer hot or sweaty all the time - and a big part of this I know is the exercise and eating right. It's great to be comfortable like everyone else.

  10. I have hair growing back! Okay, not on my head, but on my legs, my eyebrows, my face (grows much faster now), and even my belly. I used to be pretty furry, but my body couldn't keep up with everything. Now that I am losing weight and eating right, it's starting to function like normal again . . . WOO HOO!

Like I tell everyone - this has truly changed my life - and I am willing to share it with anyone that wants to know. Much love to everybody!! Below are pics of my handiwork . . . :)


Monday, April 27, 2009

Angels


Angels

Angels are all around me,
interwoven into the fabric of my life.
Forever unconsciously following their path,
as they try to lead me away from strife.
I’ve not been coherent to their meddling,
merely clay awaiting the potter’s wheel.
Blindly trusting a will I didn’t comprehend.
Following the guide, walking through the tides.
Unknowingly embarking on a journey,
With a destination not determined.
Heading towards the sun . . .

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Taste of Success


Who doesn't love icecream?? I mean really - what's not to love?? Sugar, Milk, Flavor, Yummy goodness, Creamy . . . yeah, anyway - this is NOT about ice cream and how it made me sick the other day . . .

So, Wednesday I will register for courses, and then I'll officially become an undergrad student pursuing a Bachelor's (and eventually a Master's) in Psychology at Washburn University here in Topeka, KS. After much self reflecting and soul searching, I've heard a calling and have answered. I believe that I can help those that are struggling with the decision to have bariatric surgery, and more importantly help them deal with the issues that got them to this point.

At church this past Sunday (where I am now a member incidentally) I met a wonderful woman, we'll call her Xena (b/c I don't know if she'd want her name on here). It came to my attention that someone in the church was considering having a lap band. And since I had one, they wondered if I'd be willing to talk to her about my experiences and insights. Of course I said yes! Those of you that know me know that I am open book on this experience, as it has already completely changed my life!

So Xena and I chatted about the surgery itself, what I went through, where she's at in her journey to getting the band, commented on how precious her grand daughter is (she truly is), etc. We shared a lot, and I pray that the hope and joy I have come to experience from this procedure I was able to communicate to her. We laughed, shared phone #'s/emails, hugged, and parted ways.

That's when it hit me -- THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! I'm going to help people that have had some tough experiences in life, and I will help them not only survive them, but be able to thrive. I get to help them slay their own demons, as I did mine. It's humbling, and motivating at the same time. It motivates me to continue to follow the program (btw - I'm up to 45 lbs lost in case you missed the counter change!!!) and to really focus on my upcoming degree endeavors. I don't want to become a psychologist quickly, I want to be a damn good one.

I've said before I'm not a big believer in fate. But I do believe in paths crossing for a reason, and I believe that we all affect each other and change each other a little as we pass through our lives. Xena did more for me than I did for her. I hope to repay the favor one day. God indeed works in mysterious, but wondrous ways. Good luck hon!!! I can't wait to find out your surgery date!!!


"Cocoon"

So long I've toiled, in my cocoon.
Building walls to stand against the elements,
to stand the threats of hunters,
to stand against the world.
Safely I'm bundled inside.

Slowly working, becoming more than I am.
Looking around, I must tear them all down.
The walls that protect now bind,
that heal not hurt.
Suffocatingly I'm bundled inside.

Tearing at the fibers, hopelessly fighting to get free.
A prisoner in my own shield,
Unable to cast it aside.
The only existence I've known.
Tragically I'm bundled inside.

Breaking through to the outside, my wings spread wide.
The armor prison falling down by my side,
The world around, not at all how I left it.
So full of hope, so full of life,
My soul no longer bundled inside.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Killing Time - Random Updates


If there's one thing I'm not good at, it's waiting. Guess it's a product of being a Gen-Xer -- instant gratification is such a necessity sometimes. Or maybe it's that I'm worried my ADD will kick in and I'll forget what I'm waiting for. Or maybe it's the excitement piece of wanting to move forward from where I'm at. Or it's that I have to leave for work soon and need to get this done. Or . . . (see - it's the ADD)

Seriously, I'm just chillin' waiting for 1pm so I can call the psychology department at Washburn to set up a meeting with an academic advisor to get my schedule set and then register for classes for this coming summer session and Fall 2009. It's kind of weird, but I'm going to be classified as a Freshmen again :) Of course, I'll be moving MUCH faster through those designations than my peers will be - since I only need a few classes to progress from each classification. In 2 years time ~ give or take a semester ~ I should be graduating with a Bachelor's in Psychology from Washburn University. Then comes one of the biggest decisions in my life - stay here to get my Master's or move back to Texas. I know where my heart is, but this decision has to be made with my mind. So - no rushing that . . .

Working out is going rather well. I've gone everyday since I joined the gym, and have enjoyed it a lot - suprisingly. I walk for 30 minutes or so at an incline and do some light dumbell work and resistance training to tone muscles. Last night, I started working on my "core" which is a nice way to say my big belly! That's a bit sore from last night :) Good news is that instead of dreading the gym, I actually look forward to it. I didn't sleep well the night before last so it was hard to really get into my workout yesterday, so I will really push myself tonight after work. Don't wanna fall off the wagon there . . .

Finally finished the redesign of my own website - http://www.joejoesdesigns.com/. I've been so busy with work, getting into school, and helping others with their websites and other design favors, that I just kept putting this off. I'm very happy with the outcome, a bit cleaner I think. Feel free to let me know what you think. Also keep in mind I would gladly help create a gift for you for someone - you just have to pay for the item (it's a hobby so don't charge - just like the challenge). Recently, I did a t-shirt for a good friend of mine that is going to Egypt for a year and he wanted a tee for his troops (he's in the Guard).

Have completely fallen in love with the Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka. It's such an open and welcoming congregation - they even gave me a coffee mug the first time I visited! I'm taking membership classes this Saturday to become a member of the church. I've ignored my spirituality for far too long, and am excited to reconnect. You know I am open with beliefs and don't want to push mine on anyone, just sharing here. For me, I seem to be on a journey that I can truly feel God's love - I really feel that I'm finally on the path he wants me to be.

So - other than major career change, going back to school, web design, working out, and joining a church I don't have much going on :) It's so strange to even see that list - I really am enjoying life again! Can't wait to get back home . . .

Anyway . . . killing time waiting for 1pm. Don't remember why but I'm waiting for 1 . . . ;)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poem: the Phoenix



Thom is right, this will be a birthday I will never forget. There's so many reasons why, but beating the demons that fought for control of me for so long is on top of the list. For the first time in a long, long time, I am content. That doesn't mean I won't continue to move forward, quite the opposite actually. I just have the confidence, faith, and patience to know that I will succeed. Hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend - hide an egg for me:)


“the Phoenix”

Reaching up
With dingy hands
Sorrows clogging lungs
Granules of pain
Making it difficult
To see ahead

Climbing up
Pulling life from the abyss
Moving towards the light
Ascending from the pit
The flames have singed
But not destroyed

Looking up
It is bright, the sun warm
Spirit not broken, resolve still strong
Vision clearing, Breath cleansing
Understanding soul
Loving me

Rising up
I am the Phoenix
From the flames that burned
I raise up from the ashes
Living again
Reborn.