THIS.

I can’t promise how often I will, but I want to blog again.  Scratch that: I don’t only want to blog:  I want to write and think and share.

Years ago, everyone I knew was on LiveJournal and we wrote whole sentences about what was happening in our lives.  We commented in whole sentences to let our friends know that we understood, to give advice, and occasionally, just to give the best electronic hug we could.  I remember the feeling of hardly being able to wait until I could get to a computer and share something exciting or dramatic that had happened.  In the time between the event actually happening and the time I would be able to sit down and create my missive to the internet, I thought about how to best present the story, I reflected back on the event, and I actually wrote about my thoughts and feelings.

It’s so much simpler to post a photo up to Instagram and show everyone how happy I am.  But it’s probably not the first photo I took, because I had three chins and a wonky eye in that one.  And I look a little chubby.  Did I mention I’ve gained weight, because I’ve been working too much to go to the gym?  And also, that’s really adding to my anxiety.  I’ve also been struggling with relapsing into drinking – three times this year, for anyone keeping count.  The first two times, I just went out and bought booze because the only thing that got me through the physical and mental anguish of the day was the promise that come 5 pm, I would make it so that I was wasted to where I couldn’t feel my face.  The third time, I fought the urge to buy booze and made it home, but found some cooking wine and drank all of that.  There’s a certain feeling – on top of the hangover – in waking up and knowing I’ve become the drunk who can’t keep booze in the house because of the temptation when I get a little to sad to cope.  And the idea of going to a meeting, handing in all the chips I’ve earned, and telling everyone that I utterly failed doesn’t make me want to stay sober, it just makes me want to get drunk again.

There’s an unwritten set of rules about putting content on the internet (especially for the ladies):  if you’re going to be happy, you have to post about what you’ve achieved or how you’re overcoming obstacles.  You should give your advice, but it needs to work, and it has to be really easy.  If you’re going to be a mess, you need to be really funny, or no one will want to know what you’re trying to contribute.  And if you’re going to post an opinion, you need to have a really good one, or you’ll end up judged and possibly shamed.  And in the midst of this, I’ve come to believe that the single bravest thing a person can do is live out loud.

So many times, I just re-post content (especially political content) and just write a small blurb (usually “THIS”).  I do that, mostly because I agree with the content that other people are writing, but in a lot of ways, I just re-post because I’m afraid to post my own opinions and content.  That is ridiculous, but entirely true.  And as I’m re-posting my way into oblivion, I’m discounting my own valid thoughts, opinions, and life experiences, and putting out sound blurbs on a Smart Phone which autocorrects like I’ve been drinking, even when I haven’t.  Meanwhile, I’m just existing instead of truly living, reacting instead of truly thinking, and stopping short of truly communicating.

Sometimes there are struggles from which there’s nothing to be learned other than that life is hard, and sometimes there just isn’t enough energy left from surviving to be grateful to have lived another day.  But I think other people are struggling – maybe not exactly like I am, but they’re struggling, too.  And maybe instead of using the Internet to shame people and share LOLCats, we can use the Internet to think and build each other up.  You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I bet I’m not the only one.

Why I Hate Thanksgiving (No, Really)

For the other 364 days of the year, the things I am thankful for are on the tip of my tongue.  Often, I herald that which I am thankful for from the rooftops.  Or at least from Facebook and Instagram.  When I talk to people, before we bid farewell, I make an attempt to ensure that person knows how special they are to me, for life is too short to not tell people you love them and appreciate them.  So what about one day of the year squeezes all of that spirit of happiness out of me?

Food.

Other North American holidays are about dressing up, consumerism, fireworks, veterans, traveling, religious figures dying in terrifying ways, religious figures being born in terrifying ways, but Thanksgiving – if you really look at it – is a holiday entirely about food.  And like the bloat of Christmas, Thanksgiving is spreading itself to where Wednesday is Friendsgiving, where you drink and eat too much with friends before doing it again on Thursday with family and again with the leftovers on Friday with whomever.  Also, you know it’s coming all November long as well-meaning people ask you what you’re doing for the holiday, because they assume the honest answer wouldn’t be you screaming “I DON’T KNOW, MAYBE HIDING UNDER A ROCK???”

Let’s back up here.  I had a very happy childhood which abruptly segued into super awkward adolescence.  And since my teenaged life was devoid of actual problems, I developed one in the form of a raging eating disorder.  At first it went really well.  The compliments on weight loss played right into what I was doing.  Can’t you see how I am now skinny and thus deserve the love and attention and happiness that skinniness merits?  But of course, it doesn’t work like that.  The mind of someone who self-loathes is a black hole, which all the love, attention, and happiness in the world can’t fill.  And inevitably, it will go too far, and people will notice you’re starving yourself (which is bad, even though skinniness is good), and you will have to go to therapy and talk about food.  This is where the mind of the self-loathing can be manipulative.  It figures out how to give the right answers so those who are concerned until it receives the approval of being “all better”, so it can go back to what it was doing in secret.  And so it came to pass that I figured out the exact number of calories I needed to be pretty-skinny and not raise the alarms to where I was dangerously-skinny and needed to go back to therapy.  This number occupied all my thoughts for years.  The days where the food I ate came in under the number were good days.  The days where I went over the number began a cycle of overexercising, constant measuring on a scale and with the fabric tape measure, and re-committing to extra restriction until my body went back to the ideal.  This continued for the better part of a decade.  A DECADE.  Ten years of being obsessed about food and weight.  It took me finding veganism, which I originally embraced as a new way to lose weight, to radically shift the way I thought about food away from bad vs good.  I finally stopped obsessing over food, and I started actually liking it.  I found a personal trainer at the gym, and we figured out a way to exercise and mark my progress in a way that wasn’t strictly tied to numbers or reducing size.  After a decade of self-loathing I was finally free.

Fast forward to the present.  Sometimes, I am hungry, I don’t have a snack at work, and it is another hour until mealtime.  And I snap.  Or I find myself unable to function or think.  I’m so emotional.  And it hits me – this is what I made myself feel like for a decade.  I was constantly hungry, by choice, for a decade.  There is no telling how irrationally I acted, how many people I pushed away, or how much more I could have accomplished if I would have been able to just love myself.  What could I have done differently if this obsession hadn’t been consuming me?  I can’t focus on this for too long, because there’s nothing I can do to change it.  I can only go forward.

But that brings us back to the issue of food.  Anyone who is or has struggled with addiction, with the -isms, and with certain types of illnesses knows there is progress, and there is better, but there is no magic potion that makes the issue something you never have to struggle with again.  I can’t do WeightWatchers when I’d like to go on a diet.  I can’t step on a scale more than a few times a month.  And I can’t look at those “Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels” memes without feeling a tug of that which wants to pull me back into insanity.  I will always struggle with extremes, but it doesn’t have to occupy my every thought.

Until Thanksgiving.  It’s a fucking whirling vortex of PTSD inducing oven baked goods.  I deal with it by making strategies of portions of starches, fats, complex carbs, and proteins in accordance with what I need to eat plus a small buffer of overindulgence.  And that strategy is instantly bombarded by the well-intentioned but frankly-fucking-clueless.  “Try another spoonful of the cranberry sauce”.  Somehow, those who are able to feed themselves for 364 days a year need the help of someone else to tell them how much to eat.  Lest they may… starve?  Change the portions of leftovers?  I don’t know.  But I can’t handle it.  I already put all the food I want on my plate, don’t pressure me to put on more.  “And after we eat all of this, we can lie down for a nap!”  There is a panic.  I can’t describe the tightening in my throat.  The thought of eating until needing a nap sends me into such a panic, I can barely breathe.  I would like to eat too much to where I have excess energy, and want to go for a long walk.  Perhaps a run.  Not to punish myself calorically, but to make good use of the bounty of food I enjoyed.  But I can’t enjoy food in the way you just described, so please stop pressuring me.

The day feels like an episode of Survivor challenges, and after finishing all the challenges, I just want to be left alone.  There is no remaining energy to give thanks.  Sometimes there is enough left in me to be thankful I no longer feel like this every day.  To celebrate how far I’ve come.  But there’s the reminder that we have to go through all this again – but with the added obstacle of presents – in less than 30 days on Christmas.  And since 2007, we’ve set the plane of complexity to Level 90 Wizard, since holidays at our house include the added sadness of Recently Deceased Parent.

It feels like too much, and I decided it was actually too much.  This is the step in which one learns their limits and how to enforce them.  I can’t go past my limits for you, I need my strength for me.  Those who love me have learned to respect this decision.  In 2008, I developed the coping mechanism of traveling.  I either leave town for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Sometimes I go out of town at Thanksgiving and visit someone who can’t travel to visit their family.  And we have an adventure that largely ignores the holiday.  Sometimes I go places by myself at Christmas, and enjoy watching the day slide by as if it were any other day, buoyed by the merriment and relaxation of being on vacation.

In January, I began preparing my mother (whom I already see every single day) for the idea that I would be gone at Christmas.  This gives her adequate time to feel that it is a foregone conclusion, and thus it is not dramatic when it actually arrives.  One of the elements of your coping mechanism needs to include time for other people to accept it, too.  As time passes, they will begin to see their own upsides.  For example, my mother can volunteer on Christmas day.  And my brother can work at his job, earning triple overtime.  And come Thanksgiving, the day passes much easier, knowing I only have to survive the event once.  But I don’t RSVP to the Friendsgivings and leftover feasts.  I am sorry, it would be nice, but I can’t do it.

So now the Big Day has passed.  I have a long weekend to recover emotionally.  I am starting to feel thankful again.  In less than 30 days, I will be in Europe on the vacation I imagined with a twist – I will spend Christmas in Paris with the man I love, instead of sightseeing alone.  (To be clear, I was very happy at the prospect of sightseeing alone, but everything is better with a hot, red-bearded man.)  I am thankful for him.  And I’m thankful for my family, who still don’t understand all of my limitations, but try their best to accommodate them.  But most of all, I’m thankful that I can feel thankful again.  Amen.

Link

2 Days in Paris: A Mini-Review

2 Days in Paris: A Mini-Review

one of my resolutions this year was to watch more movies and post reviews.  i’ve since revised that resolution to “watch *better* movies”.

2 days in paris can be filed under Really Terrible Date Night Movies. Luckily (?) I wasn’t on a date, and this movie provided the appropriate amount of stupid for background noise while I worked on an accounting project. Marion (Delpy) and Jack (Goldberg) take turns being annoying as their two-year relationship completely falls apart in two days. Blame Paris for pulling the wool from their eyes as Jack discovers Marion is a sexually liberated woman, and behaves like a judgmental American about it. Hello, stereotype. Marion, who speaks otherwise excellent English, is a terrible communicator who doesn’t understand why Jack isn’t going along with her ephemeral Frenchness, nor does she try. There are one or two scenes where it’s obvious that the couple doesn’t seem to know how to have sex, which concerns me on a number of levels. There’s also a bit where Marion reveals she has a degenerative eye disorder, but is evidently an accomplished photographer despite this. The disorder is then never mentioned again.  It’s just one of the many plot holes the Third Reich could march in through.

The high points of the film are Marion’s mother confessing to an underwear-clad Jack that she slept with Jim Morrison in the 60’s (so awkward!), the fire-setting fairy in the McDonald’s (the high point of the entire movie, as played by a mischievous Bruehl), and Marion’s monologue on relationships during the last 3 minutes (which is actually quite beautiful). I have no idea whether those two ended up together, as the montage of them dancing may indicate, or if they separated and the dancing was a dream in Marion’s French brain. Either way, I really don’t care. I give it a C-. Or whatever the French word for “meh” is. (Le meh?)

resolutions in review

Image

so 2013 was a pretty big year.  i made more resolutions than i ever have before and nearly accomplished all of them.  for 2014, i think i’ll scale back to ten resolutions unless inspiration strikes in the next few days.

one:  i’m pretty sure i had this one completed by january 2nd.  well, i mailed the paperwork that day.  it was about a month later that i got a letter from the canadian government saying they had no information for me.  so, i had mum pull my paperwork, it had some additional information, and i took to the internet.  after about a week of searching, i found something promising.  back in the early 2000’s, someone had posted on yahoo message boards and it could be my birth mom.  i was 99.99% sure it was my birth mom.  but i wasn’t sure if the email address she had listed on the message board would still be active, if my email would go to spam, or how else to get in touch with this person.  after clicking on the poster’s user profile, it linked me to other posts she had made.  it would turn out – she is a huge tragically hip fan (i could describe them to you for a few hours, or we could just call them the r.e.m. of canada and move on with the story), some posts she made about going to hip concerts told me the town she was in, and i was able to find her on facebook.  then, the message i sent her went to spam because we’re not friends or in the same circles.  after more deliberation, i decided to contact her on linkedin.  she got the email this time.

she confirmed she was my birth mom.  and even though the message board post was over a decade old, she also told me she still wanted me to be in her life.  we talked on the phone for a few hours the next night.  i was jitters and excitement for weeks.  i spent so many years wanting to know her, but feeling like i didn’t have a good enough reason to intrude into her life.  then, one day, i just decided i would have to trust my birth mom to say no if it wouldn’t work to be in each other’s lives – all relationships are two way streets, i can trust everyone else to make their own decisions, so i should trust her, too.  it’s worked out amazingly, i’ve finally been able to wish her happy birthday, to talk to her on mine, to Skype on Christmas, and to say that i love her.  i feel like i opened myself to possibility and ended up with a bigger family.

two:  this is one of those resolutions i keep making because it motivates me to keep going to school.  i have seriously been in university and paying tuition of some manner since 2000.  i want it to be done.  i’m sure everyone in my life wants it to be done.  with just two years remaining before i can sit for the cpa exam, i’m literally the closest i’ve ever been to being done.  but i need to keep putting this one on the list until it’s done, because i’ve experienced the euphoria of free time before semesters, and it’s siren call is the kind that would have me choosing watching all of doctor who instead of taking a class.  anyways – wahoo – four more courses out of the way.  two b’s and two a’s earned.  although honestly, that 89 should’ve been a fucking a.

three:  i fell in love with four new bands.  and failed to see a single show all year.  not just of the new bands – i didn’t see any bands live.  i’m putting a priority on shows in 2014.

four:  because i spend most of the year saving for dragon*con, i feel like it’s a worthwhile resolution.  but after attending for 12 of the past 16 years, this is the last year i’ll be making this resolution.  it’s not a resolution if you’re obviously going to go.

five:  i went to los angeles, y’all.  i didn’t expect to love it as much as i did, but it was amazing.  i did tourist things, hung with cool people, survived a fire alarm started by a fellow hosteler throwing a lit joint in the trash, saw disneyland, and smiled and laughed more than i had in months.  it was the perfect vacation.

six:  i went back to nyc (i visited manhattan in 2010).  i saw brooklyn, queens, and harlem, which was new.  i also tripped on a sidewalk in the village and tore a tendon.  fun trip.  literally.  new york, i still love you.

seven:  for someone who complained about being poor all the time, i was sure being ridiculous at buying all my own books.  now i have a library card.  and i still buy all my books, because the ones i want to read have an insane wait period.

eight:  i decided graphic novels count, as long as they’re larger than a trade.  i read 5 serious pieces of literature, 3 fluffy pieces of literature, 7 irs publications, and 24 graphic novels.

nine:  i’m still addicted to instagram and facebook.  but changing my focus on how i use social media was good for me.  i use it to reach out to people, but i don’t limit my interactions with people i consider friends to the internet.  i still post lots, but i’ve gotten much better about enjoying my experiences, taking a few photos, and then sharing them later.  i didn’t realize how much time i was devoting to showing people what i was doing at that exact moment, and how much i was missing out on by trying to impress folks that weren’t even nearby.

ten:  i’m still pinching myself that i performed in a show that was produced by one of my burlesque inspirations, much less got paid to do it.

eleven:  i’m still pinching myself that i was accepted to perform in one of the southeast’s most prestigious competitions.  i found out i had been accepted when i was heading to dragon*con, and i spent about 10 miles just screaming my head off.  i learned so much and met some really great people.

twelve:  this one happened accidentally.  i tore a tendon in my foot right before convention season, and then broke my ankle a few weeks later.  i went to all my favourite cons (and a few new ones) in a wheelchair.  so i made an oracle costume, and it was perfect.  next year, i might try something a little more ambitious.  (like diamond form emma frost)

thirteen:  i sometimes get confused between things that make me so uncomfortable (which i will avoid at all costs) and things that actually terrify me (which i will also avoid at all costs).  the end result is that i avoid more things than i technically have to, and it boxes me in and makes me unnecessarily neurotic.  when i set this as a goal, i made it open-ended because i wanted a big challenge, but i also wanted to reward myself for taking risks, even if they ended up being small.  there were a number of actions that would qualify for this item, but i’m specifically saying i achieved this by leaving a job where i was comfortable and happy for a true career opportunity.  there’s part of me that has no idea what i’m doing in life, there’s part of me that i call “punk me”, and there’s part of me who has known since she played with a briefcase at the age of 6 that she wanted a career.  a serious business career.  i had never left a job i was happy at before, and i felt like i was tempting fate to ask for more happiness.  (or better happiness.  or just more challenging challenges.)  it’s strange how one leap builds confidence for other possible leaps.

well, this went on for a really long time.  much longer than i expected.  i normally talk about how i like to set goals, and compare with previous years.  if you’d like to see more about my 2011-2013 resolutions, that link is here.  xo.  happy 2014.

the downside to pretending it’s all okay is how people react when, suddenly and unexpectedly, it is not actually all okay

…or as we call it in the real world, living with anxiety.  a big part of living with anxiety – for me – is that much of my internal dialogue involves flailing and screaming.  having learned from the fable about the boy who cried wolf, us anxious people have to learn to filter when to let on that we’re overwhelmed, lest we be labeled “dramatic”, or worse, plain “crazy”.  the downside of my filter is that i tend to leave it up until i seriously, absolutely, literally cannot handle one more thing, and when that one more thing happens, i freak out and cry and watch as those around me react with shock and horror because they genuinely had no idea.  also, by the time we’re all at that point, the ship for calm and rational talk-it-out-edness has genuinely sailed.

– my mum is having surgery to get a pacemaker on december 2nd.  it’s a relatively minor procedure, comparatively, and it will go a long way to helping her feel better.  once she feels better, i can stop worrying about her heart rate bottoming out and her blacking out/getting sick/hurting herself.  but no matter how many times i tell myself those things, i am worried and it is her 3rd heart procedure in 3 years.  the surgery is happening during one of the busiest times at work, i won’t know if i can come in late to work the day she goes in to surgery and use a vacation day for when she comes home til the last week in november.  this alone has me on edge and generally stressed the fuck out.

– i have been studying for this tuesday’s exam ever since i got the grade from my last exam.  i love taxes and i’ve been doing them for the better part of a decade, but i somehow managed a low-b on the first exam in federal tax.  i hate our prof, i hate this class, i hate the way this class is squeezing the joy of accounting out of me.  i probably put in 30 hours of studying this weekend, and i still don’t feel prepared.

– there’s a stressful situation going on at school.  the head of the evening studies department quit, and perhaps-relatedly, the classes that are being offered spring semester are intro-accounting classes.  i was thinking i’d take spring off and do taxes, but now, i’m definitely doing that.  what i’m worried about is that the situation won’t be rectified by summer semester and then i will never finish this fucking program and then i will never be a fucking cpa.  (have i mentioned how disheartening it is whenever people ask me how long i have left?  i should sit for the exam in 2015, and yeah, it seems really far away until you realize that i’ve been chipping away at the requirements since 2008.  that’s what i tell myself every time i get all emo over spending all of my 20’s in college and discretionary income on tuition)

– i really, really, really hate the holidays.  and i know that’s contributing to my overall stress level – knowing that they’re coming up and that i’ll have to deal with them.

– at work, i’ve taken on a new responsibility in budget forecasting.  also, management directives regarding sales and profit margin seem kinda impossible, given real world numbers.  also, when our division fails to make the forecasted numbers, my bosses get dragged in front of senior management.  while this is not my fault nor my problem, it does result in me feeling pressured to do a really good job so none of the figurative beatings have to happen.  i don’t know how to do that, which conspires to make me feel like i know nothing about accounting.

– after reading some of my concerns, does it sound like my life revolves around accounting a little bit much?  yeah, i was thinking that too.  i want to have more time for my friends and hobbies, but when my schedule isn’t getting in the way, it’s my anxiety that does.  while it’s important to rest and relax, those activities aren’t really the ones that make me feel like i’m living life.

when i’m overwhelmed, it’s often helpful for me to envision the worst case scenarios.  my friends could all never call me again because they’re sick of my reclusiveness and anxiety, and then, worst case, i will have to go to terrible bars in greenville and find new friends.  or i could move and go to terrible bars there, and find new friends.  but that all seems terribly unlikely that i will fall victim to a mass-unfriending.  if i do badly at budgeting, my job can fire me.  then i can go out and find a new one.  that’s not so terrible.  if i fail this exam, i can take this class over again, and at least i’ll have a head start on studying.  if school doesn’t offer any classes i need in the summer, i can talk to the dean, and worst case, i can transfer schools.  or get a degree from the university of phoenix online.  if my mum’s pacemaker doesn’t work… okay, that one is genuinely fucking scary.  and i can’t really worst-case scenario that one.

even after worst-case-scenario-ing everything, i feel like it’s still okay to be anxious and a little overwhelmed by all the stuff going on right now. it’s a little pollyanna of me, but i also try to put it in perspective.  no one is dying or has cancer.  i’m not facing homelessness.  i have a family that loves me.  i have friends who love me, too.  i have a dog who will sit next to me all day while i study because it’s like she knows how stressed out i am, and wants to comfort me.  (either that, or she’s just there for the head scratches and junk food treats)  i have so much to be thankful for that it’s crazy how i let the things that aren’t going well overshadow the things that are going well.  sometimes that helps a little, too.

another coping mechanism i use quite liberally is to pick things i can control, and then control them.  i can make my life feel more organized by organizing my room and study areas (check).  i can help myself feel better by ensuring i get adequate sleep (check – so far).  i can control my diet, eat really well to help me not get sick, and pack lunches for work so i can use my break times to relax (check).  i can control my feelings of helplessness about the present by making exciting plans for my free time in the future (check).  and when all else fails, i can just pack it up for the night and go to bed, because things normally feel better in the morning.  and even if they don’t, it’s another day i’ve survived, and when i get past all this and nothing catastrophic happens, i’ll feel so much better.

ch-ch-changes

over the past few months, i have developed such a fitness crush on mankofit, a personal trainer in new york.  her twitter and instagram accounts are full of ideas for nutrition and workouts.  she also seems full of endless positivity.  i’ve incorporated some of her ideas into my workouts, and not only did i see results, i feel like i’m never bored.  her motto is “train insane or remain the same”, and it struck a chord with me.  i felt like i had been stuck in a rut, and i was ready to get out of it.

last year, i started a raw diet and shifted my focus towards clean eating.  it made a big difference in how i felt.  sometimes you don’t know how crappy you’ve been satisfied in feeling until you make a positive change.  my main complaint with raw eating was how much i still craved breads and pastas, something i rarely ate in the first place.  since sandwiches and pasta plates weren’t in my diet to begin with, i didn’t think the shift to raw eating would be a big change.  but no matter how i adjusted what i was eating, i still missed breads and pastas.  like, i would sit at my desk at 2 pm, and the idea of the smell of toast would work its way into my brain, and it was literally all i could think about for the rest of the day.  there are plenty of sources of complex carbs in raw food, and eating any combination of them might be right for you.  for me, when i took out the portions of rice and quinoa from my diet, i found myself constantly hungry and eating more than i should.

i really liked the nutrition tips manko was posting, but she eats chicken and fish.  i wanted to see if i could get the same levels of nutrition but keep my vegan diet.  it turns out, i can, although i am consuming slightly more carbs and fewer proteins than she is. i started the new diet plan two weeks ago, and was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to prepare my meals for several days at a time.

at the grocery store, i buy a bag of salad (usually it’s kale, but i bought arugula this week), several servings of rich green vegetables like asparagus or broccoli, a few blocks of tofu, an assortment of nuts, two packages of quinoa mix, and fresh or frozen fruits and berries.  for my carb, i alternate out between quinoa, long grain rice, and sweet potatoes.

while cooking the quinoa mix (approximately 30 minutes), i also bring a bit of water to a boil in the bottom of a sauce pan.  i have one of those little steamer devices, and it rocks my world.  i put a bit of garlic in with the veggies.  broccoli steams for 3-5 minutes.  asparagus steams for 5-7 minutes.  tofu steams for 5-7 minutes.  (steamed tofu????? you might ask.  yeah.  get the extra firm kind.  and scramble it up.  top with nutritional yeast and sriracha sauce and you have a party in your mouth.)

the portions and times i eat are:

9 am  breakfast shake time.  my large nurtibullet holds 18 oz liquid.  in it goes:  1 1/2 scoop raw protein powder, 1 cup fruit (if i worked out that morning, a banana is necessary), 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 tbsp acai berries, and almond milk or water.  i eat half of the shake with plain decaf coffee at 9 am.

11 am.   eat the other half of the protein shake with a handful of raw almonds, or 1/2 cup fresh fruit.

2 pm.  i have a bento box with two layers, so i put the cooked food in one layer and the raw food in the second layer.  usually the air conditioning has come on full blast by 2 pm, and i’m ready for something warm.  it contains:  4-6 oz steamed or baked tofu with nutritional yeast, 1/4 cup complex carb (quinoa, long grain rice, or mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon), and 1/2 cup cooked veggies.  i tried for a cup of veggies, but i literally cannot eat that much.

5 pm.  right before i leave work, i eat the other half of my bento.  it’s 1/2 cup lettuce, 1/2 cup sprouts, 1/2 cup chopped vegetables, and 1-2 tablespoons of raw nuts.  and another 4-6 oz tofu.

7 pm.  if i’m getting home from the gym, i have another 1/4 cup complex carb, 4 oz tofu, and 1/2 cup vegetables.  if i haven’t exercised, i leave out the complex carbs.  if i’m not really that hungry, i snack on something like veggie chips or veggie booty.  (seriously:  is that stuff made of crack?  it’s so good)

bento

when i cook my food, i put it into containers immediately.  and when i get a bag of salad, i go ahead and organize it into mason jars, and then there isn’t any waste.  i prep food on sunday, and it lasts through wednesday (perfect, because i have class on monday and tuesday night).  then i eat what i make on wednesday night and make enough food to last ahead until friday.  it’s cut my trips to the grocery store and out to restaurants down to once or twice a week.  not to mention, i always have food prepared, so it makes sticking to the plan much easier.  if i’m still hungry, or if my coworkers bring in little treats to work, i still indulge in small portions.  because i’m not starving hungry between meals, it’s much easier for me to take reasonable portions of these treats.  and one of the keys of calorie cutting is to allow yourself days of high caloric intake so your metabolism doesn’t adjust to the reduced caloric intake as its new norm.

did i mention i feel fantastic?  i’ve got progress photos coming soon, as well as some of my favourite workouts.  i just wanted to share what i’ve been doing so far, and maybe pass along a little inspiration.

why reproductive rights matter

i’m almost ashamed to admit that i wasn’t a feminist and reproductive rights activist until i had to go to unreasonably great lengths to obtain emergency contraceptives in 2006.

i had always been super careful.  i talked to every partner about sexual health.  in college, i used the clinic on campus to obtain STI tests between partners and checked in annually for preventative screening.  i always had my partners wear condoms, i faithfully did fertility awareness charting, and i avoided having sex during ovulation.  it seems like a lot of work, but it worked really well… until it didn’t.  once out of college, i had this super-minimum health insurance that didn’t cover much, and i was between doctors.  tim* (*this is actually his real name, he’s an ass) and i hadn’t been dating very long when we had sex and the condom broke.  i estimated i was about a day away from ovulation.  it’s okay, i told myself, i’ll just take the morning after pill.

at that time, the morning after pill was only available by prescription.  i wasn’t sure how to obtain a prescription without a regular ob-gyn, so i frantically called the doctor i had gone to in high school.  the nurse informed me they didn’t prescribe abortion pills.  not ru-486, i told the nurse, just the morning-after pill.  she insisted i was requesting an abortion.  i hung up the phone shaken, wondering how i knew more about the reproductive cycle than a gynecologic nurse.  an internet search revealed that there was no planned parenthood within a two hour driving distance.  in a panic, i went to the hospital to see if i could get help there.  the hospital is run by the catholic church, so in addition to denying me access to medical care that would prevent a possible pregnancy, the admitting nurse told me i was a slut and i should keep my legs together.  that is a direct quote.

tim proved to be no help in assisting me.  i sent him a frantic text, which he responded to with “i so sawwy.” i remember this, because the incomplete sentence and incorrect spelling were just the icing on the cake.  also, the clock was ticking and i was rapidly approaching 24 hours with no pill.

in desperation, i asked nearly every single one of my lady friends for help.  and someone knew what to do.  she told me that i could obtain the morning-after pill at the free clinic run by the county, but they don’t take appointments, and they don’t give you an estimate of your waiting time.  oh, and they’re closed for lunch.  at the time, i had no vacation and my work paid hourly.  i made some excuse about having to sort things out with my vehicle taxes, and went to the free clinic.  i sat for three hours before a nurse called me back.  i had to take a pregnancy test and get a pelvic exam to prove i wasn’t pregnant.  there was another hour-long wait for those results.  once that was over, i had a really long consult with the nurse practitioner, she gave me a packet of plan b, and i left the clinic with feelings that were equal parts relief and sickness.  also – the free clinic is only free if you are on medicare.  otherwise, that will be $80 for all the tests i just cost the state.  so after 10 phone calls, one unsuccessful hospital visit, $80 of tests, and 36 hours of panic, i could take the morning after pill…. which is actually two pills.  i mean to say, i could take the first pill, rest a little easier, and never call tim again.  also:  pro tip for the dudes – if you feel the condom break, you should stop and put another one on.  if you decide to keep going and tell your partner after you finish, she won’t ever call or see you again, because you’re an ass and you don’t deserve to have sex with anyone.

the whole experience got me to thinking:  i am college-educated and super informed about reproduction.  i have steady employment, a car, and access to the internet.  yet i barely managed to meet the effectiveness deadline of plan b because of lack of access.  so how hard would it be for someone with less intelligence and resources?  the answer:  it can be impossible.  it can lead to unwanted and unnecessary pregnancies.  and this is where access to planned parenthood and reproductive clinics is SO CRUCIAL.

plan b is now available over the counter, but that doesn’t ensure access to contraceptives, family planning, and feminine care has become easier.  and better access is something we have to keep fighting for.  most recently, the failed SB5 bill in texas has gained national attention.  proponents say it caps access to abortion after 5 months and legislates for clinics to be safer.  but it doesn’t.  one of the provisions is that the bill “requires all abortion doctors to have hospital-admitting privileges within 30 miles of every clinic where they practice”.  this measure will force many of the rural clinics to close, as there isn’t a hospital within 30 miles.  also:  sb5 requires a woman to have to have two in-person visits with a doctor before she gets an abortion.  TWO.  are you kidding me?  two visits plus the abortion is a huge burden on women who work fixed hours, who aren’t close to to the abortion clinic, who don’t have convenient access to transportation.  and there aren’t provisions from these draconian measures in cases of incest and rape.  it’s not helping women make better decisions, it’s keeping women from making decisions.  and finally, the worst provision of all requires every abortion clinic to be licensed as an ambulatory surgery center, which will cost providers $1 million to comply with, effectively closing all but the most profitable of centers.  but shouldn’t women only have abortions at clinics that meet the highest certifications?  sure.  but in texas, health care centers that provide abortions also must have a licensed physician and nurse on staff and must already follow rigorous requirements that put an estimated 50 clinics out of business when *that* legislation was passed 3 years ago.

but more than limiting access to abortion, SB5 limits access to healthcare for women.  only 3% of planned parenthood services are for abortions.  the rest of their services deal with women’s overall health, as outlined here:

source

when wendy davis stood up for women and access to reproductive services, it struck a nerve with me.  and with lots of other women.  with the above chart in mind, what sb5 aims to do is not prevent the 3% of texas clinic services that go to abortion, but prevent the 97% of other care that happens.  what is frightening to me is that there are women on the side of this argument that limits access to healthcare.  it took a truly terrifying event for me to go from ambivalence to rage that this kind of thing even goes on.  and while i don’t wish for any woman to go through what i went through, women go through that exact same experience all the time.  and it is a disgrace that in some places that provide the very medical care these women need, women are given incorrect scientific information, their morals are questioned, and often times – they are turned away for services.

so what can you do to prevent bills like this from passing?  talk to your representative.  even if you live in a red state with an anti-choice majority, filing your opinion on current legislation is part of the democratic process.  donate to planned parenthood and other pro-choice organizations that have lobbyists and can influence representatives.  tell your story – awareness is key to preventing oppressive legislation.  and never stop fighting.  sb5 would’ve passed by a majority vote if it weren’t for women like wendy davis and the people who flooded the senate floor.