Swimming to Shore – Anxiety:0, Laura:1

If I could look at something and determine I’ve come a long way, it would be Saturday evening. I was able to tackle anxiety head on during an attack. I don’t feel as powerless now.

My boyfriend’s family hosts a collective birthday party every few months that celebrates a month or two of birthdays and they’ve included me in their bunch for February/March. This happened last year and went without a hitch. But this year, I had an anxiety episode that was part nervousness and part triggered. I don’t understand why I’ve had them more frequently after a nice long cessation except for the fact I don’t have my own space anymore and it’s harder to decompress. I realize now that decompressing is important for me and I need to make the time to do it even when the house is a rotating door of visitors and house guests.

But anyways…my other trigger was time. I wasn’t exactly running late until my episode started, but the fear of being late set me off. It isn’t rational, but anxiety isn’t rational. When I’m under an anxiety attack, time is this weird morphing thing. I feel like *I* am moving a mile a minute but that it takes me a thousand times longer to get a task done. It’s like that fear of danger but with nowhere to hide and you’re stuck between fight or flight. My episode started at 3:30 and I needed to be at dinner by 5 a few towns over. I realized that wasn’t happening. I made sure everyone knew I wasn’t going to make the dinner after all and would be there for the party. I couldn’t get myself to eat though, so by 6 I was shaking as all I had was coffee and a light breakfast. I made myself shower, got dressed, and pep talked myself into driving. I knew I was stable enough to drive but my nerves were not okay. My heart rate was elevated, I had chest pain, and the inside of my arms were randomly surging with pain, like a dull ache and then someone reaching in and was pulling my veins out. I stopped by the nearest drive through and ordered a sandwich and made myself eat it in the parking lot. That seemed to help with some of the internal shaking. But when I’m in anxiety mode, it’s like there is no saliva in my mouth. So it was a series of birdish bites coupled with many sips of soda with a lump to swallow. There was no enjoyment in my food. I concentrated on driving to my boyfriend’s place and deep breathed all the way there.

My boyfriend greeted me and I dropped all the presents off and ran to the bathroom for a quick decompress. I told myself that sometimes I just need to stay home but if I stayed home my attack would just continue and I needed to take this head on so I could calm down. I came out and tried to be cordial but who knows if I was or not. Josh said I looked aggravated and I told him I needed time. I think he misread my shaking for lack of food and didn’t understand I was having an episode. I couldn’t really relate or participate in conversations around me so I just sat down amongst it. Finally, I was able to clear my head enough to contribute a word here or there. About a half hour later, I felt like myself again.

I ended up enjoying the party even though it started out rough. I don’t know what everyone thought of my odd behavior but I’m so glad they acted cool around me and didn’t press. I need that sense of normal when I can’t feel normal.

I was chatting with a friend who self-proclaimed “hates people.” She was telling me about how nervous being in social situations makes her which is weird because she’s very energetic, spirited and quickly warms up to others. But that’s the thing with social anxiety – you don’t know who has it. It’s not about being a shy person or fitting a certain stereotype – it just is.

I don’t think that my solution this time would work too often but I’m glad I didn’t banish myself and I fought against everything and made it. I was able to ameliorate the problem this round. I won.

Advertisements

12 Articles for 7 Days

Look what I put together!

2638

My outfit combo chart

5155

The doodle I started with

I’m an over-packer. I wholeheartedly admit it. That’s why I’m challenging myself to 12 articles of clothing this trip. The problem with overpacking is that nothing ever packs down quite as well on the way back. I’m also plus sized, so clothes already take more space. Add souvenirs and gifts to the mix and I’m smooshing and hopefully not smashing things just to try to get them all to fit!

In preparation for a future trip, I’ve configured my own packing mix and match up. As a visual person, seeing what I have to work with is really helpful. Thanks to pinterest, I’ve also found tips to make my outfits work out better.

1. Don’t go print crazy.
2. Stick to neutrals and a color family.
3. Use layering techniques.
4. Wear your heaviest outfit on the plane (but make sure it’s comfy!)

This just makes a lot of sense and saves tons of room. I’m also bringing a travel space bag with me to roll up clothes if need be to pack something bulky into my luggage.

The purpose of this trip is not sightseeing: it’s to spend time with my bestie and her family. I can get away with shorts and leggings which I don’t usually wear out because much of the trip will be hanging out around her place. It’s very laid back. Just in case the mid-may humidity kills me or makes me a sweat monster, which it might, I have the option of laundry at their apartment facility. I may cave in and throw a pair of black pants and an extra top into the mix. We’ll see. 🙂

Fitbit Bits #3

So yeah, this fitbit bit doesn’t really involve my fitbit, it’s just here for accountability. 

My poor cord to charge my fitbit is missing (confession: messy room problems) and I haven’t worn my Charge in nearly 2 weeks. I’m not a watch or bracelet person, but I have grown pretty accustomed to my Charge. I feel a little naked without it. Not only is it a good visual cheerleader, it’s an awesome fidgeting device when my anxiety rears its ugly head. If I don’t find it this week, I am going to buy another cord so I can keep chugging along.

I lost my uncle the night (early morning) of my birthday and that week was very trying. I gave into some stress eating during that point and was too emotional to care but too rational to not mentally note it wasn’t okay. I’m giving myself grace and moving on.

Here’s how I’m doing in the weight department. You can see where I let myself go during the holidays and that while slow, I’m steadily declining again. I probably gained 2-3 pounds my birthday week but I didn’t track it and I’m back where I was before the stress eating. Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 2.36.12 PM

Each horizontal line above is about 10 pounds. So if you’re looking at the first week of December onwards, no I didn’t put on 50 pounds. LOL. I think what happened is that in November I stopped tracking (on myfitnesspal) and then got honest, thus the jump, too. And then a gradual decline as I got my fitbit and refocused.

I have one large commitment coming to an end today. That frees up an afternoon to be a gym day. And, beginning in May, the non-profit I help’s big event will be done for the year. So yay, sleeping in on Saturdays and more time to work out!

I haven’t followed up on my commitment to exercise at all. So I guess you could say, I haven’t committed yet. I do a lot of conscious walking but I haven’t added workout tapes or gym stints to the mix. At this point in time, I’d rather focus on toning and getting back into shape than seeing the pounds drop. I just need to make it a bigger priority.

Some hurtful comments were made and I did some crying last weekend. I’m shaking it off, however, and not letting it become a disappointment. When people say judgemental things, even when well meaning, they hurt.  But if I let their words fester it does me no good.

Short Term Goal:
Gym 2x a week, home workout 1x a week, 8-12 pounds lost by the end of March. 


Long Term Goal:
Gym 3x a week, home work out 2x a week, 25-30 pounds by end of May. 

What if I Lost It All the First Time?

This weight loss question repeatedly comes through my head:

What if I lost it all the first time?

What if I never struggled with losing? What if, as everyone claims, weight loss is just ‘calories in and calories out’ and nothing more? What if I willed myself to drop the weight and did it in one go?  What if the last ten years I would have shopped in the “regular” sizes and removed all the setbacks I reasoned were due to weight?

But it’s never that damn easy. Ever. It’s not just stupid calories standing in my way. I’ve TRIED the starve it out method. I’ve – in teenage desperation – PRAYED for God to give me an eating disorder that results in weight loss. I’ve tried frantically to somehow magically jam my fingers in my throat in a way that would cause me to vomit. I’ve curled into fetal position crying on holidays when a relative insists it’s now or never and that I’m a beautiful person except from the neck down. I’ve denied outings with friends because they are beach or poolside or may be an activity that my fat potentially can’t handle. I’ve picked the healthy meals and watched others eat carelessly without the consequence like it would have on my body.

I dare anyone to say to my face I haven’t tried. The fact is unsuccessful weight loss does not mean someone isn’t trying. And if people wouldn’t tell someone who was underweight because of an eating disorder “just eat more calories,” why is it okay to shove the line “just eat less” in an overweight person’s face? I’m not saying that everyone who is overweight got there because of overeating or an eating disorder. But in most cases, it’s a gradual gain despite the worst assumptions out there. Overweight and obese people are often shown as lazy or gluttonous. People don’t usually see the emotional or physical stress the weight has on the body, they only want people to calorie restrict and sweat their asses off. Literally.

This is my thorn in the flesh. This is my struggle that I will have to deal with my entire life. And even if I lose it all now, it took years to mentally get to this point.

In retrospect, I am GLAD I didn’t lose it all the first time.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the meantime. I’ve broken down a lot of walls and conquered a lot of fears. I’ve built confidence in my body image. I’m grateful that God spared me from getting what I selfishly wanted and I never dealt with anorexia or bulimia. I’ve had people compliment me on kindness, style, personality and grace…while being over 250 pounds. I have a boyfriend that loves me and accepts me as a whole: quirks, fat, and all. I’ve learned to shut out negative comments even if they still hurt me. I’ve learned that this is the only body I get so no matter what weight, I need to treat it well. I’ve learned about nutrition and health so it’s not just restricting calories, it’s a lifestyle that helps me make healthful choices.

Most importantly, I’ve learned this weight loss journey is for me. No one else.

It’s not to make my parents proud. It’s not to make someone love me more. It’s not to conform with society’s standards of femininity and beauty. It’s not to prove to the world anything. It’s for me. And before this renaissance, it wasn’t for the right reasons. It’s because I can love myself right now that I see this chapter of weight loss as a healthy one.

You see, in the last decade, I may have put on more pounds, but I lost a lot of insecurities and emotional weight. That was my first step all along…

I know that if and when I get to goal weight, I’ll finally see the same person in mirror. Not a person I wanted to be, but the person I am, just with less weight to carry. And that’s exactly what I want – not to lose myself in the process, just the physical and emotional weight. Because the Laura minus 80 or more pounds is still Laura. And she’s been Laura all along.

The Cute and Comfy Shoe Secret

I have a secret to share with you guys. Maybe you already know this secret, but it’s something I’ve just slowly figured out and am excited to share. This shoe type is cute for ANYBODY. Tall, short, slim, plus size, and everything in between. It goes well with skirts, shorts, pants, crops, and even leggings. It has a chunkier heel and more toe support for better shock absorption and comfort. It holds your feet in place and often has some ankle support so there’s less klutz potential. And you can usually wear them for longer periods of time than heels.

Have you figured it out yet?

It’s clogs!

Yeah yeah yeah…the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they hear clogs is something like this:

 

And if that’s your thing, you keep on rockin’ them…

But these are the clog styles I have in mind. Clogs may be a bad word in fashion but these are incredibly cute!


Over the last 5 or so years I’ve finally figured out a couple things about my feet.

1. Having large, wide width and flat feet, shoes are difficult to find. Period.
2. Being over 250 pounds means flimsy shoes stress my feet. They have A LOT to hold!
3. Ballet flats are dainty but rub my heels and pinky toe. I feel the shock and no support.
4. Heels over 2 inches really hurt me and stress my toes if standing/walking past 15 min.
5. There is more to life than flip flops. Sorry, Havianas.
6. People really do pay attention my shoes and feet. It’s a noticeable part of my outfit.
7. Rounded toe styles squish my feet less. That makes them happy.
8. I have long toes. Deep cut flats give me toe cleavage. Toe cleavage is gross.
9. My big gal calves don’t fit longer boot styles. This makes me sad, but it’s reality.
10. I am a practical shoe person, but I like to keep sneakers to workouts and outdoor activities.

So booties and clogs to the rescue! They provide a comfy shorter heel and more support for my feet. They tend to be more roomy which makes my wide width feet happy. They usually have a little upward curve to the toes or extra padding, which minimizes stress. I can walk in them without feeling like I’m wobbly and keep them on for long periods of time and be comfortable. They tend to look cute with and without socks and tights which means I can wear them year round. They also tend to make my outfits look more put together and I feel more fashionable in them.

lula-roe

This isn’t me, btw. Photo credit unknown.

So, there you have it. Clogs are my new best friend.

I feel like booties are fairly easy to find in several types of styles. And clogs have always kind of been around, they are just highly overlooked. Many of you who follow my blog know that I’m trying to keep a KonMari mindset for my belongings. So I’m nixing a lot of those cheap flimsy shoes I hoarded from clearance end caps and sales. Those DO NOT bring me joy. Once I get enough pennies saved up, I’d like to purchase a pair of Swedish Hasbeen clogs, and once I reach 50 pounds lost, I would like to reward my hard work with a pair of Frye boots. If I stick with timeless styles and practical colors these shoes should pay for themselves with how well they wear.

Do you have any shoe advice to give me? Have you figured out what you like on your feet for style and comfort?

I’m Pro-Life, but…

I’m Pro-Life, but…

1. I understand that most women are smart enough to know abortion is not a means of birth control to be performed several times and that many do not choose abortion flippantly.

2. I understand that while medical conditions are a very small percentage, abortions do happen because of things like ectopic pregnancies…where even pro-life women need to opt for an abortion.

3. I understand that one of the reasons abortion rates have dropped is because of access to birth control (sorry, I know there’s more to hormonal birth control, I won’t touch that in this entry.)

4. I understand that places like Planned Parenthood actually DO MORE than provide abortions – they provide care for several men and women who wouldn’t have access to care otherwise and provide medical and sexual health knowledge.

5. I understand that there are cases of rape and incest where the baby is a painful reminder of something traumatic that happened. (I do believe that baby is innocent, although a product of a horrible event, and abortion robs an innocent life, even in this situation.) I understand that it must be hard to have something happen and be stuck carrying a child to full term that someone may not want.

6. I understand that relationships, age, and financial situations may not always be ideal for welcoming a child and carrying a child to full term.

7. I understand that abortion is not an easy topic to discuss and that everyone has an opinion on it.

I don’t know all these things personally, but I do understand. And that’s why I cannot support the idea of making abortion illegal and defunding Planned Parenthood. 

I suppose with everything I’ve said, you are probably wondering where I personally stand. My stance is that ideally and morally, abortions would only be performed for #2: rare medical instances where aborting the baby means saving the mothers life, where the choice is to either have both die or let one live. And my heart goes out to everyone who carries a child because of rape or incest. I truly care about their hurt but cannot deny the personhood of their child and I know that is messy and others may not agree with me. I’m sorry rape and incest happen in our world. I know that the reality of foster care and adoption is that it’s not an easy thing and that children in the system do not always have a good childhood. I care about that too. But I advocate to choose adoption instead of abortion. That is my personal view.

Here is what I think are more helpful than trying to make abortion illegal or defund PP:

1. Pro-lifers should support local pregnancy centers. Volunteer, donate, fundraise. If you are religious, pray.

2. Pro-lifers should support local maternity homes for mothers who want to keep the baby but have no place to turn to or have a home life situation that puts them in danger. Volunteer, donate, fundraise. If you are religious, pray.

3. Pro-lifers should be open to more views than just public abstinence programs and should take the shame out of premarital pregnancies. Particularly in religious homes, where children may not be educated about contraceptives and sometimes not even given full education on the reproductive system and end up pregnant. A large percentage of women getting abortions identify as catholic or protestant. I personally think some may be getting them out of shame or fear. What if parents and religious communities supported those mothers first and foremost? It’s a given that not everyone who plans to be abstinent will stay abstinent. And ignorance on sexual reproductive health does not help anyone. I believe ignorance is destructive.

4. Pro-lifers should support foster care and adoption. Not everyone may have an ideal situation to adopt or foster, but for those who can, it truly shows your commitment to owning up to what one believes. How can one advocate fostering and adoption and not be open to helping these children in some way? There is always a way to help. Donations, fundraising, taking classes to get a better understanding of the process, being mentors, advocates, volunteers…the list goes on. There is SOMETHING each one of us can do to help the lives of these babies, kids, and teens.

5. Work on things on a personal, community, and state level. That has the most impact. Your voice may only be a whisper on the nationwide level, but in your own city? It can really be powerful and echo throughout the area. And on a one-to-one level? You could save a life or help support someone with a life-changing decision.

There was once a time when abortion was illegal, and when women had very little reproductive rights. I care enough about women as a whole to not want the horrors of that time repeated. I think we need to redefine what is acceptable without making abortion illegal. It’s a hot buzzword during election season – abortion and Planned Parenthood. People may not agree with my stance, but I think we can all agree seeing abortion and teen pregnancy percentages drop is something both pro-life and pro-choice can celebrate together. And we can agree that supporting pregnant women, reproductive/sexual health education, and our local community make a difference.

New Clothing Muse – It’s made in the US!

I’m in trouble. I found a new brand of clothing I **REALLY** like. And no, I don’t sell them and I didn’t get any free products to review or anything. I was just invited to an online boutique event and liked what I saw. Haha. It’s called LuLaRoe.

static1.squarespace

Here’s why I like it:

1. All their items except their leggings are made in the USA.
2. With that in mind, their prices are very fair!
3. They carry most items from XXS to 3XL.
4. They make leggings that flatter and fit large ladies like me.
5. Their clothing is modest but fun.
6. The shapes and styles are forgiving if you gain or lose weight.
7. The prints are unique to 1,000 pieces.
8. It’s a small business opportunity that helps women gain a side or full time income.
9. Their items dip lower in the back to be most flattering.
10. The models on their site all look happy and healthy and show a good range of sizes.

Let me clarify that when I say modest, I mean modest for my personal standards. I like to be comfortable and part of that comfort is not having to stress about necklines and hemlines. I personally do not like attention drawn to those areas as I prefer to wear clothing to express myself. And I think despite size and stretch, it’s an unwritten rule that bums should be covered when wearing leggings. Which they also keep in mind. And my fellow plus sizers know the struggle of a dress being perfectly cut for the front but riding a bit high in the back because of a well padded behind. That doesn’t happen here!

Keeping the KonMari mindset, I appreciate the idea of clothing that sparks joy and one of those joys is knowing that my tall and curvy leggings will not stretch out and will fit me at my current size of 20W all the way down to a size 12. It’s something that will stay in my closet even if lose an impressive amount of weight…which I hope to do gradually! It’s priced well but still enough that I consider each item I buy an investment piece and cannot impulsively fill my closet all at once. The leggings will definitely last me the longest in my journey to weight loss, but the other styles work well belted or cinched or tied too.  My favorite dressy pieces are the Amelias which are dresses with sleeves and hidden pockets with a flattering box pleat, and the Nicoles which are mid length sleeve dresses with a full circle bottom for twirling or swishing or heck, even sitting indian style on the floor. The Randys are baseball type tees which I think are really comfy but feminine.

Here are some pictures from LuLaRoe’s instagram:


There’s a lot of prints, so it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I love prints but even some of the ones I’ve seen have been too funky for me. But with the variety they offer, you’ll also see stripes, florals, and solids in the mix. See how varied the ladies are in their features and actual branding? I LOVE IT.

Here’s a picture of me modeling one of their funky tights. Unedited besides being cropped so you don’t see my toes which are in desperate need for a pedi!

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 10.10.15 AM.png

What are some brands you’ve found work well for your journey? I found City Chic last year, and LuLaRoe this year, and am very happy with those two resources. They make me feel good in what I wear.

A Time to Be Born, A Time to Die

You’ll know that phrase from one of two places, if not both. It’s a fragment of Ecclesiastes 3 in the Bible and words from a Beatles song [Turn!Turn!Turn!] inspired from the former.

Last night, technically early this morning, it was my Uncle’s time.

One thing made his time very hard.

Yesterday was my birthday.

My work phone lit up and it was a familiar personal number. On the other side of the phone, my brother asked if I knew the plans today for my Uncle. Those plans.

Uncle N was admitted to the hospital over 20 days ago as a precautionary measure. They wanted to make sure his discomforts with something very treatable were taken into consideration. At most, he should have been there three days. But his body was already wearing out and so this little scourge is what sent his body snowballing into a decline. The medical staff and family determined he wasn’t able to survive outside of medical intervention that would only prolong his suffering.

On Monday I was told his body was failing him. On Tuesday I saw him in the weakest and most desperate state, so uncomfortable, so tired of fighting. On Wednesday his children gathered for goodbye. And yesterday, we surrounded him in love and cried many tears together. I had prayed selfishly earlier that day, please don’t let him die on my birthday. Please don’t make my day of celebration one also filled with sadness every year as I remember his passing. I saw the hurt around me though, and knew for certain it was his time. That everyone who gathered from near and far needed closure, needed this to happen as we were gathered together. So, fighting back tears that night, I went into the hospital restroom and prayed once more. Lord, it’s okay. You can take him home today.  I’m sorry for my selfish request. Please take him home peacefully.

He went to be with Jesus early this morning. We cried and hugged and cried and hugged some more. My cousin, his daughter, reached out for me and said, “It wasn’t your birthday. He didn’t leave on your birthday.” And with that I had peace.

Creatures of the Night

Sky reflects the ebony
Of the asphalt under foot
Grab one cart and stroll
Through a grocery store
There’s no list
Just listlessness
As I’ve often brought before.

Creatures of the night
Weighing apples
Reading labels
Checking cartons full of eggs
Chucking in a loaf of bread
Hoarding sections to themselves
Walking in the dust
Of where others have tread.

Where were you
When the warm light
Was on your shoulders
Basking in the
Golden glow
Or earning pennies
For your keep
Why walk these vacant aisles
When most others are asleep?

And I wander
Alongside them
Past the yogurts
Past granola
Scanning red tags and
Sales signs
Tallying what’s
In hand

If I gave away my secret
They would scurry
On their way
If I admitted
Too many people
Would be here
In the day

Too many to wonder
Who they are
To see them as
Individuals
When I’m
Dodging my cart out of the way

But at night
We all are people
And as I pass
I wish them well
Though they only do their shopping
And have nothing to tell

Spinny Chairs, Soup Cans, and Other Splendors

On Saturday my boyfriend and I took advantage of the free admissions to some major museums. We made a day trip to two art museums: the LACMA and the Hammer Museum. I sometimes forget how fortunate I am to live close enough to a major metropolitan. The work of classic and modern figures like Matisse, Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Braque, Warhol, and more are just a drive away. And featured at the LACMA, works by Elaine Lustig Cohen, which made my designer heart flutter.

The Hammer Museum is always free, so on a day when you can go elsewhere for free which usually costs, it’s lax and devoid of congestion. I’ve been to the LACMA several times, but this was my first time ever at the Hammer Museum. When one usually thinks art museum, one thinks structured, grandiose, and somewhat serious. This place feels entirely different. I walked up to the front desk, got my stickers, and as the person pointed to open exhibits on the map, she added, “Don’t forget to check out our lounge and ping pong area up stairs.” We walked up and in the courtyard were these huge chairs and people laughing as they gripped the sides and spun around. Functional and playful!

Here’s a video of the functional art pieces in action:

Chairs at Hammer Museum

At the risk of admitting puerile pleasures, I will say that the spinny chairs and ping pong break really added to my experience. I also couldn’t believe my luck at their permanent collection. I feasted my eyes on art by French and European greats. Josh’s favorites were Gustave Moreau’s King David (1878) and Salomé Dancing before Herod (1876).
Talk about visual opulence. On a more contemporary note, I loved Catherine Opie’s portraiture. Her dramatic lighting is so painterly and visceral. What is not subtract by shadow is large, detailed, and impacting.

LACMA was PACKED. Like, nearly sweltering as the A/C couldn’t keep up with the droves of art amateurs and enthusiasts alike. We weaved through much of it as quickly but efficiently as possible while taking breathers outside to cool down and get away from crowds. To my dismay, the Rain Room was sold out for the day. The highlight of LACMA for me was their graphic design exhibit on Alvin Lustig and Elaine Lustig Cohen. And revisiting pieces I always anticipate each time. In the contemporary section, we both had to point Warhol’s iconic Campbell soup painting and the Litchenstein’s work.  Josh enjoyed the Egyptian art and lavish religious art/sculpture best. We have very different preferences in art appreciation and that worked out well for such an impressive amount of work in one museum. We both pointed out different things to each other.

I know he would have enjoyed our outing either way, but when I mentioned getting Dim Sum before tackling the sites, I think that sealed the deal. 😉