So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions – I’ve written about that before – but it is a reflective time of year, and lately I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  Some would say overthinking.  The end result of all this thinking?

A want list.  A very personal, very selfish want list.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want.

1.  Health, or the semblance thereof.  Many of my Bikram Yoga teachers will say, as we are in savasana, to “visualize yourself in perfect health”.  I want that.

2.  Staying with a theme…I have noticed that almost all my Bikram teachers compliment the same things about my practice every time I see them (and I basically see the same teachers every week).   And for whatever reason, those things are the ones that come a bit more easily to me.  In the meantime, I’m over here all like “hey, did you notice I didn’t fall over even ONCE in the balancing series?”  Or “I stayed in Rabbit despite being so far into it that my cleavage inhibited my breathing”!  Crazy, I know.  I want them to notice the things that are so hard for me that I am surprised.

3.  I’ve been thinking a lot about love.  I would like to know that there is someone – maybe more than one – that loves me (whatever love means, anyway) without it being an assumed condition of our relationship.  (For example, I love my family, even when I don’t like them.  Would I love them if they weren’t my family?  Well, some of them, sure.  Would they love me if I weren’t family?  Well, some of them, I think.)  Love, offered with no conditions, is something I want and want to give.  And I think everyone deserves it.  (And before you say it, no, I am not talking about a romance.  Sigh.)

4.  One thing I want I completely control.  2016 will be the year I get the weight back off.  I won’t say “get back to my goal weight” as I’m not sure what that is anymore, but I will be at the right weight for me in the new year.

5.  I also completely control my reactions to the bad behavior of others, and I want to stop letting others’ bad behavior get to me.  Both friends and strangers, in fact.  I may want to talk about it, but it is not going to upset me any more.

6.  I want to remember to be nicer to my cats.  And myself.

And, oh, World Peace.

May your 2016 be the year of getting just what you want.

Not (necessarily) what you deserve. 

 

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Excited AND Scared

A_girl_in_her_graduation_cap_and_gown_with_a_rose_in_her_teeth_100501-112945-805009Two weeks from today, I will arrive in Amherst, Massachusetts for my College Reunion.  My TWENTY-FIFTH Reunion.  Two-five.  Two and a half decades. 

Boy, I’m old.

But seriously, I’m excited about this.  The advent of Facebook (and having gone to my 2oth Reunion) means I’m more in touch with many of my classmates than I expected, and ideally, I know a little bit about them.

And at the same time, I’m a little scared.  Frankly, I think I’m probably a lot more fun (and cuter) on Facebook (or here) than I am in person.  After all, you can edit yourself – or not – when you’re sitting in front of a screen.

Then there’s my job, which is hard to describe, and while I think it’s consequential, I’m not at all sure the College agrees with me.  It’s also kind of insular and hard to explain.

And last, but not least, I’m no longer at my goal weight.  Admittedly, I weigh about 25 pounds less than I did at the 20th, but there was a short time period in there (which luckily coincided with my 25th high school reunion) when I was actually at my goal weight.  I liked it there.  I’m still trying to get back there.  But I won’t be there in two weeks, unless I immediately stop eating, drinking water, and do nothing every day but work out.  And even then, I have my doubts.

Still, I do have great hair.

It’s not like I’ve even considered not going though, and it’s certainly not like I think I’m not going to have a great time.  I’m going; it will be a blast; and I will be glad I went.

But I am excited and scared.  Just putting it out there.

P.S.  Bonus points for anyone who can tell me where my title for this post originated.

Revelation

Until yesterday, I loved makeover shows.  It started one New Year’s Day, when I was sick as a dog, and some random channel showed an entire season of The Biggest Loser.  From there, I moved on How Do I Look?, What Not To Wear?, and on occasion, Ruby and Too Fat for Fifteen.  I also admit to watching Extreme Makeover:  Weight Loss Edition.

None of these shows are very realistic, as I’m sure you know, even though they are called “reality shows”.  I mean, seriously, losing double digits every week?  dressing up as a ballerina on a daily basis – with fairy wings?  But I was obsessed.  They seemed to fit right in with the personal makeover I started on August 6, 2005, when I was reborn as a Bikram yogi.  Since then, I have reshaped my body (thanks go as well to Weight Watchers) and established a place in my own head where I am happy with what I see in the mirror.  Most of the time.

But I have to admit – sometimes it’s still hard.  I choose my clothes not only as outfits that might make me feel good, but based on what other people might think.  Some days, nothing works, and I head out sure that everyone who sees me is secretly snapping photos to send to Stacey London and Clinton Kelly, or even worse, to Jeannie Mai.

We have all heard the stories of how even those women who society considers the most beautiful have doubts about their looks, but I don’t believe it.  It’s got to be a publicity stunt.  While I am sure some of then went through their awkward phases, and I hate for them that paparazzi make a point out of trying to catch them looking “bad” (normal for the rest of us),  I also remember reading Lauren Bacall’s autobiography when it first came out.  In it, she makes a big deal out of talking about how gawky and unattractive she felt…just as she tells the story of moving to Manhattan to work as a print model.  Hmph.  Someone who makes a career choice that puts looks front and center is not my role model when it comes to doubts about my looks.

What brought this on, you might ask.  Well, I was watching last week’s episode of What Not To Wear (which was once my fave), and I noticed – I can’t believe it was for the first time – that despite all their talk about accepting your body as it is, the mannequins they use to show the looks are all standard mannequin size.  That is – thinner, taller, and better proportioned than 99% of the women in the world, let alone than the women on the show.

And that is when I had my revelation – don’t TELL me how I look is okay.  SHOW ME.  As much as I love the Dove Real Women campaign, and the Fruit of the Loom commercial on that same theme, those women still have conventionally beautiful bodies – just larger than the model stereotype.  Show me lumps, and bumps, and scars, and sagging bellies – even wrinkles and cellulite.  And show those women with pride and joy – they deserve it!

So ladies, start sharing those “flawed” photos – you’ll be surprised by how many of your friends will see how beautiful you are.  To get you started, here’s mine.

This was taken on South Beach in July, 2012.

If It’s Easy, You’re Not Doing It Right

All the commercials about weight loss and exercise are making me crazy.  “It’s so easy!”  seems to be the common theme.  Well, you know what?  Weight loss and proper exercise is not easy.   It’s hard work, and it takes focus, attention, and commitment.

In 2008-09, I lost almost 50 pounds on Weight Watchers, and it was hard.  I’ve gained some again, so I’m back on Plan, and it’s hard.  I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga for almost seven years, and it’s hard.  But see, I don’t think hard work is a bad thing.  I actually think one of the continuing causes of the obesity epidemic in this country is the weight lose companies trying to sell weight loss as easy.  And don’t get me started on the exercise machines…though, yes, some of them do help – if you work hard.

Add to the “it’s easy” campaigns the expense of most of this crap, and it’s understandable that the war on fat is not helping the people who need it most.  I’m very fortunate that I can afford to exercise the way I choose, and that I can pay a monthly fee to Weight Watchers, and that I can buy exactly the foods that support my journey.

There was actually one specific commercial that set me off today, for a new documentary – “The Weight Of The Nation”  – that purports to examine this issue.  Probably worth watching, right?  Maybe a chance to get the message out that you can take care of yourself and your family without having some (or any) of the advantages that I (and I bet you) have?  Well, a lot of people won’t see it, and there is probably a higher percentage among the economically disadvantaged.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s airing on HBO.  I don’t know about you, but cable itself is pricey enough that I don’t spend extra on premium channels, and if I did, they would not be where I was looking for life-saving information.

So, network television – step up to the plate.  Air this documentary.  And yes, air it for free.  A bunch of times.  Federal agencies, step up to the plate -regulate the false claims in weight loss/exercise commercials (beyond a tiny tagline saying “results not typical”).

And what should we do?   Work hard.  Set an example.  Reach out to others.  And stop pretending that anything worth having comes easy.

Pick A Choice

I’ve been making decisions right and left lately – which makes me think about how I actually make those decisions – more about what I don’t do as opposed to what I do.  I’m still working on my tesseracts, of course, which are clearly based on what I do.

This started because I decided to take a Facebreak, which I enforced on myself by actually deactivating my account.  (Side note here:  They actually never let you go.  You can’t delete your account.  They hold onto it forever…and they’ll even give it back anytime you ask.  They know they’ve got you hooked.)  I announced this decision (surprise!) on Facebook, and was immediately deluged with “why?!?”.  Well, why not?

There is this idea out there that all decisions can and should be made logically, weighing pros and cons, and that the “right” decision will emerge inevitably.  Crap.  Some decisions, if not all, need a big healthy helping of “why not?” or “it kind of feels good” or “just because” or even “what the hell?”  And the decisions I made that way have been the ones that have made the most positive impacts on my life.

I chose my college (the only one to which I applied) based on “why not?”  After the fact, I joked about how I liked them because they didn’t recruit me, but really, it kind of felt good.

Graduate school was the result of a “what the hell?” moment.  I tried Bikram Yoga and Weight Watchers the same way.  I asked for my current job just because.  Listening to yourself, really listening, is a great thing.  Telling yourself can be, well, not so great.

I also have this theory that almost no decision is ever wrong – that you make the best decision possible at the time, and while you can learn from your 20/20 hindsight, there’s not point in beating yourself up over things that don’t work out exactly “right”.  What’s right, anyway?  Easily the most productive answer is “the opposite of left”.

So, pick a choice.  Just pick a choice.  The worst decision is always the one you don’t make.

What WAS I Thinking?

So, People Magazine is running a contest to go with their “Most Beautiful” special issue.  It’s called “Real Beauty At Every Age”, and because I am basically insane, I entered it.  You can see my entry and “fave” me here (search for “Flora S).  Given how I feel about my looks, I’m not sure why I did this, but then I thought “why not?”

It’s like when I was at my goal weight with Weight Watchers (a place I will be at again).  Someone showed up at my meeting one day and was taking photos of various members.  I was one of them, and for months, I would hear from Weight Watchers periodically asking for yet another photo, or asking more questions.  Nothing ever came of it, but it was kind of fun.  Weird, but fun.

See, I do actually know why I entered.  Despite everything, I have moments when I feel beautiful, and this photo to the right was one of them.  It was taken at a friend’s wedding, and I was thrilled to be sharing this day with them.  I think it shows.

But then, I also feel beautiful in this photo, taken in the studio lobby right after a Bikram class.  Not quite the same thing, but the same joy.

And sometimes, that’s enough.

Mean Girls

I was never one of the popular kids.  My circle of friends include, to this day, some of those kids, as well as some geeks, some athletes, some theater types, and a wide variety of the uncategorizable.  I remember a party a friend had for me to celebrate my getting into grad school that degenerated into clumps of people who only knew each other – and me.

When I’ve told people that particular story before, they’ve said nice things about how clearly I draw together different types of people, and how that shows how open I am to those different types.

Oh, bullshit.

That might sound good, but what it really shows is that I don’t fit in.  At the age I’m at now, I’m pretty okay with that.  But I still have those moments in which I feel like I’m watching the party from the outside.  I’ll be with friends with whom I have a long common history, and find that they share experiences that not only was I not invited to share, but that I was unaware of until that moment…when they discuss those experiences as though, to them, I was there.  Or as though I should at least remember the story.  And when they say “don’t you remember?”, sometimes I’ll lie and say yes.  And sometimes I’ll say “no, I wasn’t there” (or even “no, you never told me”) and watch them squirm.

I’m lucky in that I was never one of the real targets of teasing and bullying, though I did come in for my share.  There was one really embarrassing nickname I was “given” in junior high that haunts me…and the worst part is the “friend” who gave it to me probably still thinks it’s funny.  And despite all the writing and films about the “queen bees” and the “mean girls”, in my experience, the boys were much, much, much worse.

So I spent a lot of energy trying to fit in – and found every excuse as to why I did not.  I couldn’t afford the “cool” clothes (until I learned how to be the expert shopper I still am);  I wasn’t good at anything important (except I can’t really say that with a straight face); I was fat (thank you, Bikram Yoga and Weight Watchers); I’m a big loser (still working on this one).  And after spending all that energy, I finally came to the best conclusion.

Being an outsider is not so bad most of the time.  And when it is, I just think about how much worse it was in junior high.  No one would DARE give me a nickname I don’t like now – at least not one they would use to my face!

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