Step Away From The Book

Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around wondering about yourself.

Katharine Hepburn

Out of all the advice I can give my kids, I hope it’s this message that sticks. I’ve spent too many years “wondering about myself” and it’s exhausting, not to mention a total waste. All this investigating in self discovery has gotten me absolutely no where. The only thing I’ve succeeded in doing is adding more “labels” to my persona. I could’ve put a down payment on a small cottage with the money I’ve spent on self help books over the years. The topic range is endless; Depression, Anxiety, Stress, Mothering, Marriage, Perfectionism, Mindfulness, endless Diet books, OCD, SAD, Meditation and my personal favourite The Chakra Bible.

The thing is I can find myself in every single one of those books and poor Homer has to listen to my rambling every time I discover a new quirk of mine. You know the one that’s going to change my life? The one that’s going to give me vision, clear the clouds and I’ll finally be on my way! He nods carefully because he knows better than to roll his eyes and say, “Here we go again.”

Truly, I must be an exhausting spouse. Don’t tell him I said that.

But no matter, because whatever book I’m reading at the time there is a moment when I think; this is it. This is the answer. This is why I’m like I am according to this woman/man with a bunch of letters after their name. After I follow their instructions, I’ll be fixed and then I can start my life. When I lose this weight I can go on vacation. When I get a hold of this depression, things will start happening for me. And on and on and on. When this happens (fill in your blank), then this is how I will be rewarded, (fill in your reward). Sound familiar? If not, forget what you read and continue on to the next blog.

All I have to do is follow these steps, do this exercise, listen to this chanting, drink green tea and I’ll be cured. But cured of what? Myself? How does one get so lost that they waste years dismissing what’s right in front of them convinced there’s a better, easier way? If only wishing on a star worked. I blame Disney for making me believe this sham in the first place. None of the princesses went through any identity issues. When Cinderella was running around cleaning up after her step-bitches and living in a tower with only small animals for company, was she depressed? Nope. She just went on her merry way singing and laughing. The message? Happiness is easy. She never worked at her happiness. It just existed.

Then one day we wake up older and have a coffee table made of books we thought would open the skies to our future. And when they don’t you feel like a failure, an imposter in your own life; the life that doesn’t include a pumpkin carriage.

In the end, I always lose interest in the book of the month and don’t do the work. My fault, I know. I lose focus. Like everything else I go whole hog and then get bored and start looking for the next label to paste to my forehead. I get busy with life and then mad at myself for not following through. Cue endless negative self talk.

I’ve never been one to ask for help. I can do it myself. I don’t want anyone to know. If I ask for help I’m weak or worse, if I tell anyone they will think I’m weak. Why are we so afraid to show our shortcomings? If we only put our hands up in surrender and acknowledged our need for guidance once in a while we might have an easier time of it.

With age comes wisdom and I’ve learned the best thing I can do is talk to others. Isolating with a book (or worse the internet) only takes my mind to crazy places. Being validated by someone with the same struggles makes me feel insanely better. I guess this is why there are so many support groups and message boards out there, because people just want to belong. I want to listen and share with people I identify with so I don’t feel so alone. And it helps, but it’s not enough. Like anything else, nothing changes if nothing changes.

No one has it all together. If we did Facebook and Twitter wouldn’t be overflowing with inspirational quotes. Enjoy yourself. Tap into yourself. Let Go and Let God. Just do it. Or whatever slogan works for you but stop wondering how you work and work with what you have. Just stop wondering and start doing.

The tricky part is the doing.

Attitude Adjustment

 “You cannot change what you don’t acknowledge.” That’s what Dr. Phil says and it drives me absolutely crazy every time I hear it. Of course, I tune into his show just so I can bitch about it, so yeah, there’s that.

They say that the thing you dislike in others is a mirror of what you hate about yourself. So, I decided this year I would “acknowledge” some things about myself so I can change them. Unique concept I know, but however over done I think I’m well overdue. I’m going to retrain my brain to be more positive and you my lovely readers are along for the ride. I’m warning you now, things could get ugly.

I’m a negative thinker. The glass is half empty; the grass is always greener and all of that. When something bad happens I’m the first one to point out that it sucks. It’s how I’m hardwired and it’s a bitch to change. My parents would occasionally say I needed an attitude adjustment so here I am in my early forties trying to do just that. I do pretty well too, until something bad happens…like this morning when I stepped on the scale.

This week I started Weight Watchers again. Well, I haven’t signed up or anything. I know the program off by heart. I know it’s changed to some “Points Plus” thing but the old one has worked for me in the past so I’m sticking with what I know and keeping my money. Thanks anyway, J-Hud.

Today was my weigh in day. Granted, I weighed myself on Monday but that’s when I started. I made Friday my weigh in day because, well, honestly, I like the weekends to be a little lineate and I figure if I don’t have to weigh myself until Friday then perhaps I can have something naughty on the weekends.

Long story short, I gained a pound. My first reaction? Well, self pity of course.

Why the hell do I bother? What is the point of eating tasteless food and skipping alcohol? I might as well go and drown myself in Pinot Grigio and stick my head in a bag of Miss Vickies!

Now I know what you’re going to say because it’s what I say to others when they’re having weight loss issues.

“You can’t expect miracles in four short days.”

“You have to give your body time, we aren’t teenagers anymore.”

“Do you have your period?”

“How much salt do you eat, it could be water retention.”

My personal favourite, “Muscle weighs more than fat…blah blah blah.”

Or as a friend of mine asked, “Are you pooping?”

It’s true over the holidays I may have neglected the gym. I also ate and drank everything in sight so I can’t really expect a big result. That people is what’s called reasonable thinking. Unfortunately, I’m not a reasonable person, not when it comes to my weight. Let’s just say I have two moods; happy and fat. And when my mood is fat it ruins my entire day.

This is where my attitude adjustment comes in. This morning, (after my initial breakdown), I struggled with keeping a stiff upper lip and going to the gym. It was snowing outside and the roads were slippery and jammed. Meaning, I’d have to leave earlier to get across the city. I was down and angry. I thought of just staying in and doing a workout at home and not waste all the time on the road. But, that’s what I would’ve done in the past, besides I push myself harder when other people are around.

I had to “acknowledge” my bad behaviour. So I grabbed my water bottle and left. I got ten minutes down the road and was stopped in a traffic jam that was clearly going nowhere. Welcome to winter city driving. It didn’t take long for my attitude to go south.

“Fuck this,” I said to no one, and I whirled around and headed back home, now angry I was going to miss the class I had to talk myself into going to! What? Exactly. It isn’t easy being inside my head.

This class is one of my favourites. The instructor is Jillian Michaels (ish) and really pushes me, plus she takes the time to correct my form so I get the most out of the work out. It’s hell really, but I feel amazing after and I just like her, okay?

I almost got home when I began the battle in my head; my bad attitude self and my good attitude self were having it out. It reminded me of the cartoon with the angel and the devil whispering in my ears. Ultimately, the angel won and I drove past my street and tried another route to the gym. It wasn’t so bad; I made it in good time, abeit a little late. This made me happy, but still fat. I guess you can say I had mixed emotions.

I hurried into class that had already begun and had the wind completely knocked out of my sails. Jillian wasn’t there. It was a petite Asian lady doing an easy little warm-up. I glanced down at the weights in front of her.  She had a set of 3lbs and 5lbs.

I drove in a snowstorm for a light weight class that isn’t going to make me break a sweat? Just as I thought, this day is shit. Why do I bother?

But I was already there so I grabbed my gear and made plans to stop for some Miss Vickies on the way home, you know, for a reward for putting up with this day. Because that’s what I do when I’m having a difficult time, I reward myself, but that’s for another blog, I can handle only one self revelation at a time.

The instructors’ accent was so thick it took most of my energy to figure out what the hell she was saying. I could only mimic her actions. The only thing I understood was when she would start a new rep she’d yelled, “Let’s do this…” in the loudest voice possible which made me giggle.

The thing is I barely finished the class. That little woman kicked my ass!  Sometimes it’s better when someone else adjusts your attitude. I left in a better frame of mind, went home and shovelled my neighbour’s driveway. As I worked I realized it was the first time today I hadn’t been completely self absorbed. When you’re helping someone else you don’t have time to think about yourself.

Consider my attitude adjusted. For now.