Too Young to Die

Too Young to Die: More on Being Fat and Dealing with Doctors

Because I am fat, I have a much greater risk of developing cancer: I have heard this from every doctor I’ve ever been to. Were they attempting to scare me? Were they espousing a given truth? Were they projecting the future? Were they/Are they in the hands of Big Pharma?

I’m not sure of the truth. I’m not sure the truth matters, but what I do know for sure is that I’m tired of interacting with people who want me to live as though I’m dying, and I”m tired of dealing with people who want me to die, so I fill their statistic. Do my doctors want me to die? I dunno, but they’re not helping me by mentioning the C word EVERY TIME I see them.

Just over a month ago I went for a mammogram, and mammograms terrify me because I hear the doctors’ voices in my head. After I left the mammogram place, I could feel the fear creep through my body. I was going to get a bad diagnosis. I was going to die. I knew it, and that’s how I spent the next six days, filled worry and fear. I didn’t sleep much. I barely functioned.

I spent those six days figuring my life would spiral into a realm of sickness and despair. I lost my appetite and didn’t eat much. I went through those days like a zombie, with the voices of my doctors filling my head. I took to journaling to express my frustration. Over and over again I wrote in my journal “F*ck them. F*ck them all. I am not a statistic. I am a living functioning human being who just happens to struggle with weight and with a food addiction.

I walked through my daily activities with a profound sense of gratitude, figuring they would be the last time I’d do them. I do realize I’m overreacting here, but am I? That’s not what the doctors want me to believe.  I put myself through hell because I couldn’t shut up the voice of the doctors in my head. I

t’s true when you’re fat medical diagnoses and treatment are more difficult. Testing equipment isn’t designed for big people. The irony is, of course, that the majority of people have a weight issue or fall into the category of morbidly obese, so if there’s something wrong figuring it out becomes that much more difficult.

I am, it seems, okay. I received the letter that said my mammogram was clear. The doctor’s assistant said “you’re clear for another year”. I thought to myself “I’m clear for a lot longer than that.” And then she said, “see you in a year.” I thought to myself “oh hell no. No. No way.” I’m finding new doctors. Doctors who will help me live and not die. I”m done dying. I’m ready to live, to really start living. I refuse to spend the rest of this incarnation thinking about my death. Death will come soon enough. I choose life. I choose to live.

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The Subtle Art of Being

I’m a person who always finds herself on the go. I’ve heard many people say “you’re okay just as you are.” But I don’t really believe that. I’ve always felt I had to be doing something to matter. I’m working on changing that. I’m working on saying no more. I’m working on just being, which means I’m saying yes to me.

Last week I took some time just to be. I drove to the beach, had a late lunch at Neptune’s Net and then walked along the beach. Just me and the endless ocean waves. I walked along the shore and felt at peace with the endless rippling waves.

I need to do more of that. Spend more time just being. Just being me and not thinking or wondering or considering others. Just me and the vast expanse of the ever-living, ever-loving universe.

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Gone in a Flash: the story of my red couch

For as long as I can remember I wanted a red couch. Red defines a part of my lively and colorful personality. Seven years ago I bought my first red couch with money from my late friend Sharon. I found it at Macy’s on sale for $999. I felt it was one of my first “big girl” purchases.

I’d also always wanted a chaise lounge, so I got one that had a chaise lounge on one end. Two dreams in one.

I remembered its delivery day seven years ago–I remember how happy I felt seeing my red couch in my living room.

So many memories. Furniture contains memories. I just realized my dad saw that couch and sat on it. I’ve had a couple of friends over who spent the night on it. I’ve spent many hours sitting on it while working. My red couch.

Change is good. Change is exciting. Change can also bring tears. Good tears.

My red couch started to show its age. Started to wear down a bit, and the time came for a change.

When I started to look for a new couch I took my red throw with me. And a book. And my laptop. I took pseudo naps on the couches I really liked. There were two top contenders. Actually, I took the naps on the second shopping trip. During the first shopping trip, a salesperson followed me around, acting as though I’d walk off with a couch.

During my second napping excursion, the salesperson on the floor did not bother me, except to ask me once if I had any questions. Toward the end of that second trip I realized my choice had been made BUT I wanted to be sure, so I decided I’d come back a third day.

That next day I went back and sat on the couch again. I knew, in that moment, my decision had really been made. So I purchased the couch. Then came home and arranged for the red one to be removed.

Now as I sit here, I’m in limbo. Out with the old. Waiting for the new. I don’t miss the old and hope the new brings me more than I imagined because sometimes a couch represents so much more.

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Beauty Through the Eye of the Beholder

I don’t perceive myself to be attractive. I just don’t. I’m not asking for pity here; nor am I asking for compliments or other adulation. Somewhere along the lines of time I’ve bought into the idea that attractiveness has to do with size, with weight. I’ve bought into the truths magazines portray that body size determines one’s attractiveness, one’s beauty.

Skinny. Thin. That’s the widely accepted sign of attractiveness. I don’t entirely blame myself for my beliefs. I read an article the other day that talked about how the majority of women are plus-size, but if you go into any store then you’ll see that the majority of the space clothes takes up belongs to “normal” size women.

This made me think about the places I like to shop, such as Macy’s and Nordstrom’s. Both stores have small plus-size selections. And, while I do not have a measuring tape, I can tell you it’s less than 25% of the floor space devoted to plus size clothing. Think about that for a moment. “Plus-Size” women make up the majority, yet we are side-lined and usually hidden in a corner, far from public view.

It makes me wonder if people really see fat women, plus-size women. Does anyone really see? Do we see ourselves?

I am tried of defining myself by my weight by my size, but I am struggling to find alternate ways to define myself. I don’t want to wake up every day and think oh I have to think about losing weight, or I have to think about anything related to body size. It’s exhausting, but it’s exhausting because I do it to myself. I create this space. And I’m exhausted by it.

I’m exhausted and I’m tired. I am physically tired of judging myself because of my size. I can’t explain it any other way. It’s exhausting being me. It’s exhausting carrying the extra weight, but it’s more exhausting carrying that weight in my mind. Seeing how I view myself and so much more.

Don’t get me wrong. I need to concentrate on my health. I need to put that first. But I also don’t need to make my weight the sole or major focus of my life.

I want to move forward. To go beyond what and where I’ve been living. To see a world that goes beyond the physical world created in my body and mind.

I appreciate my body. I appreciate its ability to move. I feel better when I move it more.

I want to fill the spaces of my life with joy. What if I could live today as if my body didn’t define who and what I am. What if? What if? What if?

Maybe that’s what I need to do more of. What if?

What if? What if I could learn to be just me. And not care if they world saw or didn’t see me. What if?

What would I do? Where would I go? Who would I be? What would I be capable of doing? I’m capable of so much more. That I know.

There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and I need to find it. I know that once I see the gold there, it’ll have way more than I ever imagined. Way more. Way more. Did I mention that?

I’ve settled because of my size, and I’m done with that or working at being done with that. I give too many fucks about the wrong things. Too many.

I need to see my life beyond my weight. I need to go beyond the messages my head hears, the messages society has indoctrinated into my head. That’s the hardest part.

But it’s worth working for. I’m worth working for.

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The End of An Era–The End of Clothing Era

The End of a Clothing Era

Several months ago on a dark and stormy night, I had a conversation that upset me. The contents of which don’t really matter, but I remember feeling determined that I would not be defeated by the food monsters that make me want to eat when I’m upset, so I channeled my energy elsewhere. I decided I’d go through my closet and donate the clothes that didn’t fit me or the clothes I didn’t feel good when I wore. I have tons of clothes. Some clothes I bought because I’d wear them someday, when I lost more/enough weight. Other clothes I don’t know, but I just hadn’t worn them.

When I arrived home after that fateful conversation, I dragged a couple of large garbage bags out and prepared to start going through my closet. This would be no easy task as I’m attached to my clothes, to the memories that they bring. SO many memories, but I felt determined to face those memories and their unfulfilled promises.

There was the teal blue skirt I bought in Hawaii that didn’t fit, but that I could wear someday. That someday isn’t now, so it went into the bag. There’s the beautiful tiered Calvin Klein cocktail dress that I could wear but not sit down in. Literally to drive somewhere in it I’d have to bunch the dress up past my hips, and then pull it down when I arrived. It’s beautiful, but it also went into the donation bag that night.

I didn’t just throw the clothes in the donation bags. I tried them on. I evaluated them. I checked in with myself to see how I felt. I was brutal, and I was merciless. Living in the now, especially when it comes to clothes takes great emotional fortitude and courage. By the time the night ended I felt beyond exhausted.

I’ve spent so many years trying to make my body fit into clothes it wasn’t meant to fit into. Trying to make my body something it’s not. I can’t airbrush myself. I went into Macy’s the other night and looked at bras. While I was there I saw an underwear advertisement that showed a gaping gap between a woman’s thighs. Seriously, no one has that much space between their thighs. No woman’s body looks like that, even if they’re anorexic. It just doesn’t happen.

My body carries its weight around the hips, so slim fitting clothes don’t work. I need A-line outfits. Fortunately, for me, there’s a fair amount of cocktail attire that has A-line skirts.

Sometimes I’d see beautiful clothes that wouldn’t quite fit but I’d buy them anyways, because someday…..Well you know what happens there. When does someday come?

Life is meant to be lived in the now. Not in the someday. Learning that is a constant process.

I cried a lot that night. But the anger from that fortunate/unfortunate conversation motivated me, so I kept at it. I didn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. I had to keep going. I had to get rid of the clothes and I had to do it then and there. I understood then that my anger had a purpose. But I don’t always want to learn from anger. I also want to change through joy. Anger can be a prod to action but so can joy. And that’s the part I want to encourage. The joy and not the anger.

Epilogue: Living in the NOW

When I’m out shopping now and I feel tempted to buy something that doesn’t fit I remind myself to live in the now, and even though I might feel a twinge of sadness in the moment I feel an overall deepening joy as I become more comfortable in my own skin.

Three weeks ago I decided to practice that trick where I turned all the hangars in the closet the opposite way. I want to be aware of what I do wear and don’t. The clothes I haven’t worn at the end of the month will be evaluated, and I’ll make a plan for when I can wear them. If I can’t make a plan then maybe, just maybe it’ll be time for them to find a new home.

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A Closet Filled with Clothes I Can Actually Wear!!!

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Because I Could

Tonight, because I could I did. I wanted and needed to nourish my soul. I wanted to feel loved from a place inside myself. I spend too much time looking for love and self-gratification and approval from other sources and other places and other people, and that’s not fair to anyone, least of all to me.

The journey to self-Love can be as complex or as easy as I make it. As I walked around the store tonight I thought about all the times I’d buy packages of Oreos, pints of ice cream, bags of potato chips, etc to fill a hole inside myself so deep that none of that could ever fill it. It just made the hole deeper.

Tonight I made a different choice. I bought myself two dozen roses. Pink and yellow long stem roses. For $23.98 it’s less than the cost of eating out. Then I scattered them in vases throughout the apartment.

This Love feels right. This beauty brings happiness. Wherever I look I see roses. And that makes it all worth it. I’m worth it.

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Beware of the Pretty

Prologue: I started another road to clearing my space a few months ago when I had the epiphany that I no longer wanted to take time taking care of possessions that didn’t bring me joy. I’ve spent a lifetime surrounding myself with stuff, with things, and the time to spend more time living is now.

Walk into any bookstore, spend anytime browsing on Amazon and you’ll discover a plethora of books on decluttering—a multitude of methods to match all personalities. Pick one. Pick two. Pick them all. I did. From Marie Kondo to feng shui to so many others. Each spoke to me in a particular moment in time. I never followed one exactly, but that may be just the point. What works for one may not work for another, but pieces of each experience may inspire.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share moments of inspiration from my journey of these past few months. Maybe some of my experiences will speak to you.

I do know these two things for sure:

  1. I have no regrets. I do not regret letting go of any of the items that have left my apartment.
  2. With every passing day, with each successive moment, I find myself enjoying my surrounds and my life more than I thought possible, and that makes continuing the journey more than worth it.

Beware of the Pretty

One day while in the process of decluttering I became aware of how many “pretty” things I own. I own so many “things” that I have lost sight of what I really enjoy and what I have hidden in the nether regions of my cupboards. Part of the process of decluttering for me involves having an awareness of what I “own”. What do I possess and what possesses me?

I have pretty jewelry and pretty Christmas ornaments, I have pretty clothes and pretty knick knacks. I have lots and lots and lots of pretty “things”.

Collecting and buying pretty things can be and has been for me a distraction.

I am not trying to toss all my pretty things. No. Not at all. I’m working on being aware of the things I have. The things that surround me. If everything I own is socked away in a cupboard then I can’t possibly enjoy those things.

Seasonal things, of course, have to be stored. If I kept my Christmas decorations out all year round they wouldn’t be as special.

Over the years I’ve managed to collect fancy tea cups which I’ve stored in dark corners. Tea cups, especially pretty ones, deserve to be be on display. One day I realized I had the perfect display place for them, so I pulled them out and placed them in the bay window of my kitchen. Now when I see them and they make me smile. If I want to have a tea party of one or more now all I have to do is pull a tea cup out from the window.

At least two of the tea cups have been in the cupboard for 7 years (if not more) until recently. All that time hiding away. Socked away in darkness.

Beware of pretty things because stores have a way of displaying pretty things in a way that will appeal to you, in a way that will say “buy me. I’m pretty and will make you feel good.” Too many times I’ve fallen for that. I’ve fallen for the impulse purchase and bought the thing that then stayed in the back of the closet.

I like to collect Starbucks ornaments because they shine when Christmas lights reflect on them. I put them out at Christmas. Some I put out all year. I know these pretty things. I know where they belong, and I know where they live. Even when they’re away it makes me happy knowing I’ll see them again.

I’ve learned to visit pretty things in stores. And not to buy them. ON a recent trip to San Diego I saw a cute little plate. I really liked it, but didn’t want to make an impulse buy, so I waited until I walked around for a bit before making a decision. It had a pink flamingo on it with the saying “no flocks given”. As I sit here typing, I can look over and see the little plate on my end table. It makes me happy. I bought just two things on that trip. The plate and a sweater.

One time when I traveled to England, I bought so much stuff my suitcase weighed 70 pounds upon my return. Fortunately, the gate agent took pity on me and didn’t mark the suitcase as overweight. That suitcase DID NOT have wheels.

I don’t remember most of the things in that suitcase, but I do remember struggling to get everything in it.  On that trip I probably spent more time shopping than having experiences.

That’s the real lesson here: pretty things in my living space need to bring happy memories or make me smile. After all, happiness doesn’t belong in a cupboard gathering dust, only to be seen when a door is opened.

Pretty Tea Cups on Display

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Before and After: A Tale in Pictures

December brings a beehive of busyness for me. Finals at school bring countless essays to grade and comment upon. I also have the good fortune to coordinate a Christmas Party for about 250 people or so. Between those two factions of my life I find it easy to allow things to go by the wayside. Simple things like tidying up—I find I’m too exhausted to do, especially the night of the event and in days after.

After the event is over I gather my belongings and supplies and head home. Once home I drop all my bags on the floor. I’ve been known to leave them there for as long as a week or two, but this time I decided I would take a different path and make the time to put things away, and doing that has made all the difference.

The pictures below show the dining and entry areas of my apartment the night I got home after the event and a couple of days later. Taking care of my space in a reasonable amount of time makes all the difference in my mood and productivity. It took maybe a half hour total. That’s time I’m worth.

After the Party

After a Half Hour or so of Post-Party Tidying

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Sunday Morning Ramblings

I woke up this Sunday morning with a resolve to change my routine. For too many years, for too much time I’ve done the same thing. Lived in the same town. Sometimes I fear varying my routine because of FOMO. I have a serious case of FOMO. If I learned to water the grass on my side my case of FOMO wouldn’t be so bad.

Someone said to me this morning that the only time to express thoughts about others’ behavior is when our behavior is perfect. And I know my behavior, may life, is far from those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. is so far from that.

So far.

So far.

I’m trying to train myself to look in the mirror every time I’m tempted to criticize another. Or judge another. When I catch myself thinking “why does this person do that?” Or “That’s stupid” Or anything like that. I’m trying to look at ME with honesty and not with criticism.

My car is dirty. So if I have the urge to say anything about anyone maybe I need to clean my car first or take it to the car wash. A small example for sure but an example still.

I cleaned my car out awhile ago but I let stuff pile up again. Not like before but it’s still piled up with a file folder here, an empty cup there. Actually it’s more dirty than anything and I decided one day to take it to the drive-thru car wash but the day after I did that the complex I live in decided to start trimming trees so my car is no longer so clean. But it’s still cleaner than it was.

I need desk space but I don’t really want more furniture in my house, so I decided to make half my dining table a desk, but I still have a tendency to put stuff down on the table and that’s something I need to stop. A place for everything and everything in its place. I’m happier when I can see and eat at a clean table.

If I haven’t used an item or worn a piece of clothing or jewelry in a certain amount of time for so long then I need to let it go or find it a place. Not just put it on a table. I deserve better than that.

I deserve to care enough about me to look at my space and not be so concerned about the spaces of others. What’s in my space? I have to let go of what is in the space of others.

In yoga there’s the concept of having a mantra. My mantra is show me what’s mine. But I forget that a lot. I feel like I need to be doing something or be involved in something to matter. What does this have to do with FOMO. EVERYTHING. I feel like I have to have my hand in every pie to have value. I need to focus more on the tasks at hand.

So if have something to say about something else it somehow means I matter or it means I’m smart or I have knowledge or I have value.

See the key here is to learn to have enough value in myself to do things that are important to me. Things that show I value my life. So maybe I do my own laundry, literally and figuratively before I do someone else’s. Maybe my plate needs cleaning before I say anything about anyone else. Maybe I just need to keep my eyes on my space.

I need to vacuum. I need to dust. I need to pay attention to my life before I pay attention to yours. But somehow it never feels as good to pay attention to mine. I’d rather fix yours.

I’m guessing the key is to find a way to make my life so appealing that I have no desire to look at yours. To look at anyone else’s. Part of the problem with me is that I judge my own life. I’ve never moved much. Four times in my life. Maybe five. I judge myself for that. More than anything I judge myself for that.

I admire the globetrotters. The movers and shakers. The crazy makers.

I don’t admire myself.

And so much of that has to do with my size. I base so much of my life and my judgment about myself based on my size. That’s just not going to help me.

I don’t judge you because of your size. I judge myself because of mine. MINE.

That’s a hard habit to break. The world doesn’t help because they judge me because of my size too. Not everyone, of course but plenty do. But it doesn’t really matter what others think. That has to be my new mentality. On some levels I know that. But it can be hard to get past because so many people have opinions about it. And I use their judgments to limit myself

I don’t want to have an opinion about it anymore. Not anymore. I continue to tire of the judgment.

Writing helps  me with that. It helps me to realize how tiring it is to judge myself. I can actually feel the lightness come as the thoughts leave me.

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That Woman in the Mirror

I first thought about this blog over a week ago but it took time to build up the courage to write it. What I see when I look in the mirror may not be what you see, but it’s really not what you see that matters. When I’m deep inside my head I do not see the fat; I do not see the weight. I do not see the apron belly. I see my intelligence. I see all that I’m capable of and know that I’m capable of so much more.

When I look in the mirror I see an alternate reality. I see the fat, I see the rolls. I see it all. And it’s not me. It’s not what’s in my head. I am not that fat, until I see the fat. Then that’s all I see, and it takes away so much.

I’ve heard all the modern day “pyscho babble” that clearly states if I change my thoughts I will change my life, and I do believe that but I have a hard time changing my thoughts. There’s a whole psychology to the process of changing thoughts that I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

I’m conditioned to see myself as something other than pretty because of the images of thin and gorgeous people presented in the media. Images that, btw, have no basis in reality. Let’s face it, if there was a size extra extra small that person would be dead.

But I don’t mean for this blog piece to be about the media. This is about my relationship with myself, and what happens when I look in the mirror. I wear colorful clothes. I always have. I’ve never hidden in that sense, but I’ve also never let the world see my inside thoughts or when I have people have shrunk away because it makes them feel uncomfortable. They’ll say “you’re beautiful.” A nice affirmation, but I have to change the tenor of my inner thoughts, and that has to come from me.

I’m sharing this now because I know I’m not alone in these types of thoughts and I want people to know they are not alone too. I hate being fat. It’s not fun. Not fun at all. I also don’t want my whole life to be about losing weight and waiting until I’m thin to live.

In my head I do not feel the weight of my stomach on my thighs, but when I sit I feel it. The other day when I was doing a floor pose in yoga I looked in the mirror and saw it. I saw the fat. I saw the balls of fat that hanging from my abdomen. I saw that, and I saw me but that’s not the me that lives in my head.

When I see my fat, I don’t see ugly but I don’t like what I see. I see myself in the mirror and I think that’s not me, but it is me. It’s the me that sometimes people look at and judge. It’s the me that judges my self. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I wish that part of me would just shut up.

Getting that voice to go away means I really have to face my demons. I really have to sit with just what is. To really sit with myself. My fat protects me from the world. I eat to keep the world at bay. I don’t know how else to explain it. I also eat to keep myself at bay. (Minor editorial comment: I’ve come a long way these past few years in how I interact with food, but still have a ways to go.)

Sitting here I can feel my stomach resting on my thighs. That feeling just reminds me I’m fat. It reminds me of what I see when I look in the mirror. It reminds me of just how much work I NEED to do on myself. It reminds me of just how much internal work I need to do, I have to do.

While it might seem that way, the work I need to do isn’t about losing weight. If I was the perfect weight today I’d still have the negative self-talk, and eliminating that is the real work that I need to do.

Healing is from the inside out, and it’s my responsibility. It’s my responsibility to lift the  myself out of the darkness and into the light.

So the question then remains how. How do I do this? How do I create the light that I know is within me right now?

How do I create a life where I don’t shy away from what I see in the mirror? How do I make these things happen? In the here and now. In THIS moment.

I actually have the answer. It’s simple really. DO ONE thing each day that makes me happy to feel alive. In this moment I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing this blog. THAT makes me happy. The other day I went to a HOT PILATES class. THAT made me happy. Wednesday, I’m got my hair done. That’s how to do it. Day by day. That’s also what I need to keep doing. That’s how I will make this life about living. That’s how I make peace with my relationship with food, with my body, with my inner voice.

That’s how I will make peace with that woman in the mirror—who is and who is not me.

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