Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Exercises in Non-Fiction Writing: Confession of a Cynic

Confession of a Cynic:

I'm trying to get back into the habit of writing for myself and not only for school assignments. In my search for motivation, I found a prompt about cynicism- having someone cynical in your life, how does that expericance make you feel, etc and I thought "I AM the cynic in my life!"

The idea was to write a journal type entry about how expericancing cynicism effects your life and it dawns on me that being a cynic is why I am stuck at not writing. Everytime I even think of writing, I "doubt" myself out of any and all ideas. "Nope, that's been done," "no one wants to hear about that," or my biggest enemy, the most evil, most convincing villian to my creativity- "you don't have anything to offer. Who wants to hear from you?"

That is worse than cynicism, it's self-destructive behavior. I would not allow anyone to treat me like this yet I constantly find myself putting myself down. I think I am fairly intelligent and yet... I seem to have lost my ability to write it out, express myself unless I have a specific, non-emotional reason to do so. I have completed my Bachelor's in English and am about to embark upon the Master's program and yet I cannot say I have a voice.

Where did that voice go?

Women are slammed with images telling us how to look, act, BE and I understand this. I understand the mass marketing of image and the untruths in those images and yet... I believe them at some level. If I say I am too fat, there are many who would say "oh no, you are beautiful the way you are. Embrace yourself." That is a lovely idea until a plus sized women goes shopping. It's hard to be beautiful when all the clothing options are moomoos and all the "cute" or trendy clothing stops at a size 12. If I say I am happy being the age I am, that is a great mantra until I walk through store isles and am bombarded by row upon row of anti-aging creams. Aging is something to be fought against and spend mass quantitites of money and time fighting.

Being a woman is supposed to hold power and is something to be proud of but... it's not. Being a woman is nothing but a huge struggle. It is hard to not be cyncial when the world around me tells me I am not enough. You hear somethng enough, you begin to believe it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Fool for a Client

It's been too many days but I have had a couple of workouts with the trainer. It is amazing the difference the workouts are with a trainer than alone- we have a plan, the exercises are explained and I find myself pushing harder with him then I would on my own. The encouragement, advice and feeling of empowerment are amazing!

It's been a bit of a slow start- my last workout was Monday and I won't see Maurice until Friday (that's the plan I arranged). Throughout the week however, we set goals and workouts for the days in between. I missed going yesterday, it was not a nice day and I found myself dragging to move anywhere- we've been fighting with car trouble all weekend and it was finally resolved yesterday evening (don't ask, ugh)!

Monday was arms with some core- my right shoulder is still unhappy with me but it's the good kind of ache. The ache which means muscles were used that have not been used before (and knowing the difference). I pushed, sweat and grunted and it was good. It's somewhat embarrassing to see how little the weight is but Maurice constantly tells me we will build, we will strengthen and I'm doing a great job.

My husband is doing cross-fit and we talk about our workouts. He is heaving 100+ pounds while I lifted a paltry10lbs. That could be depressing- I have allowed myself to become so badly out of shape. However, I understand why a trainer or someone working with you is beneficial. It is all about the encouragement, the "you're doing your best, you're on the right track" and someone having your back is amazing.

I used to think trainers were only for rich people but now I understand- the encouragment, the knowledge and the help are key. There's a saying that a man who represents himself has fool for a client. We wouldn't think to sell a house, go to court, or do our own surgery yet we think we can go it alone at the gym. Now I think I get it- I was the fool client.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Finding What Works

It should come as no surprise that my brilliant plan of exercising did not work- however, all hope is not lost. I tried the "I'll do it myself" at home approach and just didn't stick to it, then had guilt about that and well, you know the rest.

I took the plunge and got a GASP gym membership. A few years back, I had a treadmill and had decent results so I thought that's the way to go. As part of my membership, there is a health consultation included. We all know this is standard but I thought, "Hey, what the heck! I might learn something." Learn something I did! After all these years of back, knee and foot pain I chalked up to being overweight, lazy and all those various, harmful words we say to ourselves to account for failing, I found answers. This is only day one but the answers were like manna- it all made sense. After my official write-up, I'll tell you all the big words but it was eye-opening. My back slopes at the base, resulting in constant pressure on my lower spine (thus, the back pain) which  you can check standing heels, butt, back against a wall then raising your hands above your head. Put your palms against the wall. Is your back against the wall?? Mine was definitely NOT. The trainer (the Amazing Joe) could fit his entire arm through the space between the wall and my back.

Now stand at your usual, comfortable stance. My feet always want to look like a duck- what that means in the short answer is my outer leg muscles try to overcompensate, creating constant knee and foot pain. The  list is longer but to not dull you to death, it means no amount of working out alone will ever fix these things. It means no amount of push ups, cardio, whatever will ever take away my pain even if I could lose all the weight I wanted.

All hope is not lost though! Now the cool part! I know what the problem is and we're going to solve it! It's called "Antagonistic Muscles"- just like the antagonist in a story. One set of muscles is always doing all the work, all the time while the opposite, opposing ones do nothing and even can't do their work since the others won't let them. We have to make those over-compensating muscles relax, then work those weak, underused muscles. As those muscles learn to do their work, strength training occurs, creating more muscle. Muscle burns fat! SO as we strengthen and build the new ones, we are also improving our core while rebuilding my back and posture.

PHEW! That's a lot! I'm excited about working out for the first time ever!

I created a set of my goals which Joe asked me to and they are goals most people want who engage in weight lose or exercise but the best part is, I don't have to give up the food I love or make drastic changes which is why diets never work. I'm building a better me- I'm building a person who will feel good inside and out. That's what really matters- not what size we are but that we are happy and as healthy as we can be.

So- this is my journey using a trainer and trying something new. This is a really new experiance- let's see what happens!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Time to Quit Whining!

I've whined about how fat I am, how I don't like the way I look, blah blah blah. I've done a few BodyRock workouts but not stuck to it for various whiney reasons but now, they've started another 30 day challenge. It's time to poop or get off the pot, quit my belly aching and get on with it!

I did the Day 2 challenge AND mowed the lawn so I think I'm good for today. (I didn't complete the whole challenge but got about 30 min. of it). I'm using weights Hubby has, doing what I can do and pushing. This is something I can do and doesn't take long. That's the brillance of bodyrock- it's user friendly even for out of shape hippo butts like me!

I know I should be able to be happy with myself for who I am but I admit, I'm not. I hate seeing pictures of myself- hate seeing my chin look like a frog puffing out. BRRIBBET BRIBBET. I want to buy cute clothes from the mall, and not squish my own fat when I sit down. I know many people would disagree with me- I'm smart, funny, etc. but I am not happy in my own body for my own reasons. Some of those reasons are vain or foolish I admit, but they are mine.

 I've made excuses- too hot outside, my feet hurt, can't afford a gym, blah blah, whine whine but here is the perfect, at home, adaptable workout. Now what's my excuse. To me, the excuses to not do something are worse than the fat. I've allowed the excuses to stand in my way too long and I've run out of them. The excuses are heavier than the fat.

NO MORE EXCUSES! Tomorrow- scary measurements and accountablility. EEP!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Welcome to My World- Learning about Deaf Culture

The past year, to fulfill my foreign language requirement at Texas A&M San Antonio, I have been taking American Sign Language. As I have moved forward, I have come to love the language and the culture. I have learned Deaf people have their own individual and unique culture. I have come to love what I have learned that I decided, on top of my English degree, to add Deaf Support specialist training.

Part of the process for each ASL class is to attend a number of Deaf events and with each consecutive class, the requirement becomes more difficult. In ASL I, one could attend an event and but not be too concerned with the amount of interaction (after all, you won't know much sign but only that you try). Now being in ASL III, the level of interaction and signing has increased accordingly. In an attempt to complete one event and increase my signing abilities, I got my courage up and attended Game night on campus- a once a month event hosted by the ASL department's student club. I enjoyed myself but also once again realized how much harder I need to practice. My sign reading ability is pathetic and trying to read finger spelling just is not there.

While it is never fun to be faced with one's short comings, the event was not a bad thing. Quite the opposite. Everyone present was there for similar reasons- we want to learn more about this language and culture most of us hearing people are not familiar with. Many of us have come to love what we have found and are there for the enjoyment and chance to practice/ improve our signing. Professor Cage, a Deaf professor, spoke briefly. He asked if we felt a bit uneasy, found communicating by strictly signing, and not speaking aloud was a bit intimidating. It was. He laughed and said, "welcome to my world. Now you have a better understanding of how I feel in a meeting of all hearing people. You have a better understanding of how Deaf people feel all the time in the hearing world." The wonderful thing about all I have learned about the Deaf community is they do not want to exclude those of us who are desirous to learn, they embrace us and are more than happy to help us with our signs.

The bigger, more difficult lesson I am learning though is while the Deaf welcome us into their world, we do not do the same. Hearing people judge the Deaf as "handicap," inferior, less than human many times and less intelligent. This is absolutely not true. I think the lesson is to be more accepting, to understand what is outside our comfort zone, be less judgemental. Instead, I think there needs to be increased, sincere curiousity and a willingness to learn what we do not understand. I was uncomfortable, I admit it. I was not uncomfortable with Deaf people but at my own shortcomings. I wonder how many times someone has struck out, with the intention to knock someone down for a similar reason. Not because the person deserved it but because there was an unwillingness to understand why and what the difference was.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Time to Yell "Yipee"!!

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to Mustang Island with a couple of friends. When I was asked, the unadventerous part of me thought, "why do I want to drive over two hours to the beach? I have a perfectly decent pool in my backyard"

Now I think I understand a few things about myself. A couple of years ago, my family went to Cozumel on a cruise. I did not enjoy myself much but they all did. The reason- they let themselves while I held onto ridiculous hangups. I did not get into the water- the beautiful, crystal blue, clear water because I felt too fat. I never got into the ship's pools or sunbathed because I was too fat. I went and ate and felt fatter... I allowed ridiculous hangups about my self image to ruin two cruises and who knows what damage I have done to my family because society says I can't be seen in public since I'm overweight. I allow myself to believe this.

My friends are wonderful women with similar body types as mine. They dropped their towels and plunged into the waves. One shouted a huge, unrestrained YIPPEE!! and we were off. Guess what! No fat police came and told us, "hey, you're too fat for this beach!" No one even noticed us. We splashed, we played and I learned how to boogie board. I learned to make the board leap off the backside of the waves so you could "fly" and I learned something else. I learned to let go and fly.

I felt the difference between those waves and my pool. The difference is everything. I learned to let go and embrace the wild, crashing freedom. The pool is tame and controlled. I control the pool- who swims in , who sees me in it and whether or not I get splashed or not. The pool is a controlled environment and this is the difference. The waves on the beach cannot be controlled. They crash and roll, unrestrained. I learned to feel that wild sense of YIPPEE and yelled WHEEE as we crashed over the waves. The water did not care what I looked like. The sand did not care if my thighs rubbed together and neither did anyone else on that beach. I got salt water in my mouth, sand in my suit, a sunburn and, best of all, I let it all go. I yelled YIPPEE!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unhealthy Healthcare

Summer is finally coming to an end and school started for the boys (I start next week). In order to start school though, Bubba's school nurse called a few weeks ago to inform us he was missing a couple of shots. No big deal right? We have insurance, loads of places offer quick and affordable drop in clinics so no problem...

How wrong I was.

Our first stop was Walgreens where we were informed that our insurance didn't cover the two shots and they would be nearly $200!! Are you kidding me!? Hubby suggests a local clinic we could pop into, no problem. The receptionist was helpful and told us that upcoming weekend, vaccines would be given for free- YAY! Good news! I like free!!

Saturday comes and we head off to get the shots (Oh, and after double checking shot records, I discovered Bubba only needed one of the two but more on that). We arrive to find this GIANT tent with hundreds of people in line, some sitting, some standing. I assume the standing line we were directed to was for shots, the other for free dental exams which we don't need. I was WRONG! The entire mass of people are there for both, it's all one HUGE line.

To make a long story shorter, we waited over six, yes SIX hours to be seen. Bubba counted the times we moved, equaling eleven different stops or lines within lines. We went from the tent into the YMCA, into the gym for two more areas to sit in, and finally into the clinic for three more stops. (That's not all eleven, trust me, you don't want to know all the details). When we finally get to see the doctor, he says, "Okay, so you need just the one shot correct?" Yup- but he says something different... Huuuh? Turns out Bubba was missing the second half of his Hepititis shot but that is not either of the ones the nurse mentioned. It all worked out okay in the end since he did need a shot after all but... ACK!!

The thing that stuck me over and over were all the other people waiting in line- literally hundreds and they will be doing the same thing a week later. All those people, all either under or uninsured and yet our government has been fighting for years over healthcare. I think if they had to spend even a day going through one of these lines, things would change. I saw people who were most likely lower income but I also people like myself who were most likely under-insured. I was not looking for a hand out, we are insured and pay a dang lot of money for that insurance. However, this is is not the first time our insurance has failed us. Why do we have something that does not work? Because its the only option we have? If any other company or service worked the way healthcare does, that place would not be in business long but here we are, fighting to get something as basic as immunizations, which cost hundreds of dollars and are not covered. I ask someone to explain that logic to me. Stand in line at a free clinic in the Texas heat and tell me we don't need a better plan.