Interweb Mistakes.

I make a lot of mistakes on the Internet by looking at ridiculous shit. I recently noticed a trend in telling readers how to journal. For maximum effect, I will repeat: I recently noticed a trend in telling reader how to journal. I mostly see this on Pinterest accompanied by professional photographs of “fancy” writing in “fancy books” with multiple colors of ink, doodles, charts, graphs, etc. I see books with pockets for keeping items, stickers, bookmarks, paperclips with stuff glued to them…. It looks expensive and overwhelming.

I don’t remember when I started keeping a journal, but it was back when I still called it “keeping a diary.” I remember owning a lavender diary with a cat on it. I hate cats. I remember that diary. It had the goofy, flimsy lock and the key that had the strength of a paperclip – a low level paperclip, not one of those serious paperclips that can easily manage 18 pages.

I’ve written here about my current journal here – an emerald green moleskine that I carry in my purse. I would prefer nobody read it, but if someone grabbed it from me and ran off as if to humiliate me with what they found inside it, I don’t think I’d do much to stop them. They might learn something.

The idea that I need to be instructed or taught how to journal is offensive, unless the instructions are:
1 – buy a blank book, notebook, index cards, whatever you want to write on;
2 – buy a writing instrument you like to use;
3 – write whatever you want in whatever fashion you want in the item you acquired in Step 1.
What else is there? Am I missing something?
Realistically, you could scrap all of these (3) instructions and just write whatever on whatever surface with whatever instrument. If I really need/want to write something down, and I don’t have my journal or some kind of paper handy, I’ll write on receipts, napkins, old grocery store lists, etc. Whatever I can find. Later, I’ll copy it into my journal or maybe just put the written-on scrap between some pages. I wrote it down. It’s there. That’s all I need. It’s not uncommon to find napkins between the pages of my journals.

Even considering that I journal incorrectly (that I need to be taught how to do it) or that I don’t journal effectively makes me think of being advised that I need to wear make-up all the time. I don’t do that. If you follow me on social media, you may remember that the caption for a picture of me & Todd the night we went out for my birthday dinner refers to me rubbing dirt and chemicals on my face. I do it when I want to do it. I also do it when I know I’m going to court, which I have to state specifically because that is a time when I don’t always want to do it. The point is, I am the same Maggie whether I paint my face or not. My journal is as valuable and effective and correct, regardless of how it’s done. As a special note, if you wear make-up every day and that’s what you want to do, *high five* You are kicking ass. If you wear make-up every day and you don’t want to, please talk to me about this. I have seen this other side of life, and I can tell you that nothing bad happens. You will still be you – worthy, valuable, important and loved.

Journaling seems like one of the last things we should need several items to do it effectively. One writing surface, one writing instrument and you’re set. What if someone was interested in keeping a journal and they saw all of these articles about different ink pens, stickers, etc. and decided it was too expensive, too overwhelming or required so much skill? That’s absurd. The special lettering and doodles may do someone in. I don’t draw and my handwriting is sloppy, but I keep my journal. I write what I want to, when I want to. But if I tried to start journaling and felt that to do it correctly I needed to master all of this lettering and special doodles…. I wouldn’t do it, because that’s not my area. I’m a word person, not a shapes and lines person.

Journaling doesn’t require special skills or equipment. Depending on your motivation for getting into it, it doesn’t even require a special commitment. The idea of writing in my journal every day sounds great, but I also like reading, going to the gym, spending time with Todd, spending time with our [four-legged] girls, watching TV/movies. I don’t always make time to write in my journal. If/When I feel moved to write, I do it. Sometimes, like today, it gets done here and not in the moleskine.

If the shorts don’t fit, you must….

When I decided to share this blog with anyone & everyone, I realized there is some element of bravery in this adventure.  There is A LOT of bravery in sharing this post.  If you suffer from an eating disorder or are a survivor of an eating disorder, this may be triggering for you.

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6.10.17

We went swimming at Tristi’s today.  I felt so excited to put on my bathing suit.  I really like my bathing suit.  I like the story of how I came to have this bathing suit.  I felt so excited to go lie in the sun and – hopefully – get some color on my skin.  I pulled on a pair of running shorts over my bathing suit.  The shorts are every bit of 2 years old.  I talked to Todd about how they used to fit loose.  They did.  I have photographic proof!  Now, they are snug around my booty and my thighs, but I like that.  That was part of our discussion – that I like having a bigger booty and bigger thighs.  By no means is it all solid muscle, but there is a fair amount of muscle.  I squat, I lunge.  I do what Coach Aubrey tells me to do and I use weight.  I feel proud of my thighs and my booty.  There is power & strength there.  The shorts are satisfyingly snug, not uncomfortably snug.

After swimming, I dried off and attempted to put the shorts back on.  Tristi commented on how she thinks they are cute.  We had been talking about trading clothes earlier because as I am getting larger, she is shrinking, so she said she will take them if I’m ever ready to get rid of them.  Then, I couldn’t pull the shorts all the way up.  I couldn’t get them over my thighs.  They made a sound like the seams were tearing.  Okay, no shorts for the short ride home.  My brain went to a place that I would have preferred it not go.  Chubby.  Heavy.  Fat. 

While walking to the truck, CARRYING MY SHORTS I COULD NOT FIT ONTO MY BODY, I thought of giving them to Tristi.  Why not?  I need to stop wearing them.  They don’t fit me because I am chubby.  I am too big.  Tristi has gotten so tiny, and I know she needs shorts.

When we got home, I got ready to shower.  Chubby.  Heavy.  Pale.  My stomach is so big.  My thighs are fat, not strong.  I am pale all over.  My stomach is gross.  My waistline is GONE.  Chubby.  Pale.  Gross.  Ugly.  Those shorts must look awful over my chubby thighs.  They are short, which means my pale legs are exposed.  Pale.  I could already tell that I didn’t get any color today.  That’s not surprising.

I must disclose that this is very difficult to write.  I work every day to love this body.  I work every day to remind myself that I am so much more than this.  When others struggle with their own body image, I remind them of these things that I’m not always good at remembering for myself.  Every body is deserving of love and care.  But this belly has to go.  These things have to get toned.

I lose the fight against my skin tone every year, and every year I feel angry and frustrated that I am allergic to something in self-tanners (and this is the only thing I am allergic to, as far as I know).  The only time I’ve gotten and kept a respectable tan is when I used a tanning bed, which I won’t do anymore.  It’s so weird that I may see someone who is pale and my mind makes up all these reasons why it is okay for that person, but not for me (it is okay for that person, but not for me = that statement, alone, is a huge problem, that it’s not okay for my skin to be the way it is).  Sometimes I can go long periods of time without giving a fuck.  Yes, I am pale.  Whatever.  What-ev-er.

I don’t want to buy bigger clothes.  I have convinced myself that buying bigger clothes means accepting my body at this size and not trying – not working – to make it better (read: smaller).  Then I might accept it getting even bigger.  How long before it’s out of control?

As I wrote, I work every day to love this body.  I have had many long stretches of time during which loving this body went very well.  Part of the reason why I love my bathing suit so much is that I spent the time and energy to work up the courage to try on bikinis and buy one.  Earlier this year, I told myself my bikini days were over.  I told myself I needed to get a one-piece bathing suit this year.  More often than not, I do the work for my self-love.  I do the work to keep it afloat.  As you can see, there are times when I slip.  My self-love isn’t as reliable as I need it to be.  I am a work in progress.

Work in progress.

I feel tired of seeing clothes I like and almost immediately thinking, “I can’t wear that.”  I don’t seem to ever really have a solid, logical reason.

I can’t wear that because my skin is pale.

I can’t wear that because my arms are too skinny.

I can’t wear that because my stomach isn’t flat.

I can’t wear that because of my age.

Etc.

When I first learned about the magic that is positive self-talk, I also learned to ask myself if I would treat my best friend the same way I am treating myself in a given situation.  Would I tell my best friend that she can’t wear something she likes because she thinks her arms are too skinny?  No.  I would tell her that she should wear whatever she likes.  To Hell with what someone else might think.  Apparently, I have created imaginary rules in my head that only apply to me, and they make me look at myself through a filter that only I am using based on these imaginary rules I created (where I got the fodder for these rules is a whole other entry).  I’m not *less than* or *less worthy* because my skin is pale, my arms are skinny, my stomach isn’t flat.  There’s no reason for me not to wear what I like.

I know that I may find clothes I like, try them on and decide I don’t like them.  That’s not really where I am with this entry.  I’m talking about that initial admiration of an outfit or piece of clothing being immediately followed by my brain making up reasons why I just cannot even try to go anywhere near it because of….see above.

I’m not sure what kind of growth this may lead to, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

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I’m researching blog topics and themes almost every day.  I love seeing the body positivity movement and reading others’ inspirational stories.  Last night, I read about how the body positivity movement doesn’t make space for thin women because thin women already have a space.  I know that’s true.

I reached out to a blogger/researcher, via Twitter, to ask her about body dysmorphia & body positivity.  That’s not to say that I suffer from or am a survivor of body dysmorphia, but I’m curious about that dynamic if we are talking about people who perceive their body a certain way that isn’t accurate, which could be a thin person perceiving his/her body as overweight; how does body positivity work in that situation?  Maybe it doesn’t?  Clearly, I need to do more leg work here.  I plan to reach out to others with my questions as I move through articles and blogs and Instagram posts.

I plan to continue to support the #bopo movement and see if I can claim a tiny place for myself there, not as a thin woman, but as a woman who struggles with body image.  That’s my personal work – being more positive about my body as the vessel that carries me and what I have to offer as a whole person, and not as what defines me as good/bad, worthy/not worthy.

I absolutely support others feeling more positive and open about their own bodies.  This life is short, and the filter through which you view yourself may be based on imaginary rules that nobody else is following because those rules are only in your head.  Wear the dress, wear the shorts, wear the low-cut shirt; dye your hair that beautiful shade of purple you have been admiring, pierce your nose, don’t shave your legs everyday, quit tweezing your eyebrows, commit to growing your hair long even when you hit that awkward phase in the growth process.  Ignore whatever aesthetic-related chore you saddle yourself with every day because you think you have to do it to please every person around you.

I know it’s easier said than done.  I KNOW that.  Try to grasp what it will feel like to go through that first full day after you – for example – pierce your nose and nothing bad happens.  Nobody makes fun, nobody laughs, you don’t burst into flames, the ground doesn’t open up to the let the Earth swallow you whole.  It’s more likely that someone will compliment it, comment on your courage or want to hear the whole story.  Another example: not tweezing your eyebrows will be different.  Nobody will comment on your courage or even want to hear the story.  The likely scenario here is that nobody says anything.  That first day turns into the first week turns into the first month and, pretty soon, you don’t know how long you’ve had your nose pierced; you don’t know how long you’ve been letting your eyebrows grow [mostly] wild.  Nothing bad happens.  You just keep being you, keep doing what you are meant to do with an extra hole in your nostril or with fuller eyebrows.  And it all goes back to that first day – the courage you mustered to get you through that first full day feels normal.  It might even feel comfortable.  Courage is courage, friends.  The more you exercise it, the more you have stockpiled.

 

34.

“All there is in the end is death, so who cares.  Just be happy!”

Today is my 34th birthday.  I have loved my 30s so much.  My cousin turned 30 earlier this year and I was glad to find that she was looking forward to her 30s.  I have accomplished so many things during my 30s.  The most important thing, I think, is truly accepting and loving myself.  Do you realize how many doors open up with this revelation?  It’s not an arrogant, “I can do anything.”  It’s a humble, solid, “I can do anything.”  And maybe I can’t, but I can damn sure try anything that strikes me as enjoyable or beneficial.  I can finish a half-marathon.  I can go into a new place by myself.  I can ask questions.  I can speak to a large crowd.  I can be assertive.  I can openly communicate with my partner.  I can start a blog and share it with anyone who wants to read it.  I can go out in public with unwashed hair.  I can testify in a court room.  I can make small talk, even if I don’t like it.  I can switch jobs.  I can drive wherever I want to go.  I can get out my little journal and jot down whatever whenever I am called to do so.

To be fair, “truly accepting and loving myself” is absolutely a work in progress.  There are good days, there are great days and there are days when I have to consciously focus on positive self-talk and on reversing all of the negative thoughts that are attempting to overwhelm me.  On those bad days, I can be found writing out a list of positive self-talk statements, like a “newbie.”  There’s no shame in my game, folks.  I will feel proud and tell whoever will listen about whatever it is I do to live my happiest, best possible life – sometimes that’s re-reading an old list, sometimes it’s writing a new list, sometimes it’s just remembering.

Today is my 34th birthday.  I told Tristi this is the first birthday in my 30s that I have felt “weird” about.  I don’t feel old.  I don’t necessarily feel bad, but I feel like maybe I should be doing something bigger.  I can count on Tristi for a lot of things – all good things.  As usual, she came through with a great perspective.  She said, “Be happy.  That’s all that matters!….All there is in the end is death, so who cares.  Just be happy! And just like that, I was back on track with enjoying my 30s.  I am happy.  I have a genuinely great life.  The more I think about it, I’m not even sure what I should be doing is real.  I do love my job.  I do believe I am where I am for a reason.   Where in the hell did the thought come from that I should be doing something bigger?

This is me today in my 34-year-old glory; sitting on the sidewalk in front of The Latest Scoop in downtown San Angelo.  Something I hope to achieve in this blog is to be authentic.  I could have asked Todd to take the photograph from a different angle to prevent the sun being in my eyes.  I could have found a more flattering pose.  I could have chosen not to ask Todd to take my picture because I wasn’t wearing make-up, my hair wasn’t fixed, I don’t have a tan, I’m wearing an outfit that could easily pass for pajamas, blah blah blah.  This is the photograph I wanted.

 

BD Flowers

These are the super sweet surprise birthday flowers that Todd sent to me at work yesterday.  I like a good surprise.  I like Todd.  And I like my birthday.

Mother’s Day, 2017

 

Why I hate Mother’s Day. 05/14/17

When I was 5-6 years old, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  As a 30-something, that means I can barely remember a time when MS wasn’t a part of my life; when I didn’t know what it is.  Over time, “what MS is” has changed so much, for me, and remained a mystery.

I could go into gory details, right?  I could explain my mom’s decline over the years – over about 17 years.  I could tell you other people’s stories of how they knew something wasn’t right before any diagnosis.  I could tell you what “remission” meant to me as a young girl and how long it took before I realized “remission” was not a gift we would get.  It was not a gift mom would get.

MS is never good.  I would never wish it on anyone.  But, see, there are different varieties.  Some are “luckier” than others.  Many are luckier than my mom was.  Not only did she have the most aggressive, least forgiving type of MS, but she was diagnosed when MS research was still in infancy.  We don’t know much about it now.  We knew even less in the late 80s.  Looking back on everything and listening to others’ stories of what happened and when, my mom’s MS treatment could best be described as, “Let’s just throw all of this at it and hope something helps.”  There is still no cure today, but there are treatments.  There are ways to slow it down or even arrest it, temporarily (sweet remission).  There are treatments that allow those with an MS diagnosis to live full lives of real quality for much longer periods of time than they would have 20 years ago.  I often see, “You don’t look sick” in reference to persons who have MS.  My mom looked “sick.”

It was too late for my mom.  The MS that got her was unrelenting.  Over 17 years, the progression of her MS was all downhill.  I am told and believe I remember the progression slowing down while she was pregnant with my half-sister.  I have read here & there that pregnancy is known to slow MS progression.  When mom was pregnant with my half-sister, I was an ignorant, self-absorbed child.  I really don’t remember the disease progression during those 9 months.

I hope you aren’t still waiting around to read gory details.  They aren’t coming.

My mom passed away in December of 2006.  That reminds me: I’m not terribly cracked up about the Christmas season, either.  Over a period of about 17 years, I watched my mom waste away.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  A slow burn?  Some unusual, long-running trauma?

Since her passing, some Mother’s Days I have spent alone.  Whether anyone else likes it or not, I need to take care of myself on that day.  It’s not personal.  It’s not that I don’t care about any of the other phenomenal “mother figures” I have in my life.  It’s just not the same.  I want my mom on Mother’s Day.  I don’t want to talk about her.  I want to remember her in my thoughts.  I want to take care of myself for her on Mother’s Day.  I want to text my older sister and make that connection to her for mom.  If only for the time it takes to make that exchange with Lindsay, we are both thinking of mom and each other at the same time.  In some weird way, the 3 of us are connected.  And I don’t want anyone else involved in that.  There isn’t room for anyone else in that.

I have spent some Mother’s Days with others.  I should, right?  I know so many incredible women who are mothers and those phenomenal mother figures in my own life who I mentioned earlier.  I can shove my own mom out of my head to be “normal” on Mother’s Day.  Maybe I can spend the whole day not thinking about mom, except when Lindsay & I text about her.  Jesus.  Lindsay is a mother.  I can’t imagine what Mother’s Day is like for her.

I hate shopping for Mother’s Day cards and gifts.  It’s an unfair challenge.  I feel guilty and angry and frustrated.  It is so difficult to do this kind of shopping without my mind wandering into, “If things were different, what would I buy for mom…?”  That is not a good place for my mind to go.  Then I am reminded of how little I know about my mom.  The unfairness of not knowing what questions to ask her when I had the chance.  The unfairness of being a child and, by nature, being self-centered while my time with mom was running out.  The unfairness of being a child and not realizing that our time – her time – was running out.  I took so many things for granted.

After my mom passed away, I heard someone say that on their own birthday every year, they sent flowers to their mom.  What a genius idea.  I don’t get to do that.  I could put flowers on her grave, though, right?  That’s fulfilling (it’s not).

So, I hate Mother’s Day.  I hate advertisements for store sales, brunches, whatever.  I feel so envious of anyone who can go to a Mother’s Day brunch with their mom.  I don’t like “mom and me” activities.  I know I did activities with my mom, but I don’t think we ever wore matching outfits.  I know we never got our nails done together, we never bought/shared make-up.  We never went out for coffee or brunch.  I never drank a glass of wine with my mom.  She didn’t teach me how to cook or how to take care of myself (make-up, hair, etc.).  The only time she was able to watch me graduate from anything was my kindergarten graduation.  She missed the other 3.  The two times I went to the prom, my date & I went to her.

I do many things with mom in mind.  I thought about her during both half-marathons I completed.  I think about her anytime I run, especially when my legs get tired.  Sometimes when I complain about running at the gym, she creeps into my mind.  I may not be happy about running, but I am physically capable of running and what a blessing that is.  I’m not terribly concerned about getting a close parking space.  It’s a nice perk, but so is being able to walk independently.

I often think about mom while I’m at the gym.  “Do it for mom.”  Thinking that often helps me find a hidden reserve of energy or strength.  Half-way through a plank, I can finish it for mom.  I may not always do a great job.  I’m never in the lead, so to speak, but I finish the work.  Slowly and maybe sloppily, but surely.