Seeking My Best Self

trying to make sense of my life – and lose some weight

Dance, Dance, DANCE

danceI read an article in the New York Times today. The topic: Is running or walking better for your health?

Turns out, it depends on what you’re going for. Walking an equivalent distance is twice as good at preventing high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. But if you want to lose weight, then running is the hands-down winner.

Walking actually increases your appetite, and in studies, walkers tend to eat more than the calories they burn. Runners, on the other hand, eat much less, even when the walkers and the runners burned the same amount of calories in exercise. Why? Running releases an appetite suppressing hormone. Walking does not.

Well, damn. I don’t want to GAIN weight by walking. And I can’t run, my hips and knees won’t take it.

I remember the summer of 2010, when I lost about 15 pounds in a very short time. I was busy, sure. But what I was doing regularly, obessively – was DANCING. I would put on music every couple of hours or so, and just boogie in my bedroom. (Well,I was actually in my living room, but bedroom is alliterative, and I do love to take literary license when it improves the story.)

So. I am going to walk until I drop. But I’m also going to dance, dance, dance these 20 pounds away!

Here’s the article, if you’re interested: New York Times

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Turn that Frown Upside Down (Or Eliminate it Entirely)

cherie tapeI recently discovered and watched Weeds – all eight seasons. I could identify with Mary Louise Parker’s character, of being lost for years after the death of her husband, of struggling (with mixed success) to keep the family going while trying to refind herself.

What I couldn’t identify with was the actress’s lack of expression. No matter what the situation, she always had a blank, mildly surprised look on her face. Her brows never furrowed. Ever.

Here’s my conundrum: while I find her doe-in-the-headlight-fixed-expression disturbing, I am a bit jealous of how young she looks without those creases between her brows. I’m not obsessed with staying young, but I am somewhat obsessed with doing what I can to look my best.

So I researched Botox, which I assume is responsible for her lack of glabellar frown lines (and affect.) Sure enough, it totally paralyzes the muscles between the brows. But did you know, people who use Botox also show a mild cognitive blindness with regard to social emotions? Turns out, our ability to understand emotion in others is tied to our ability to make appropriate facial expressions.

Well, that killed it for me. No pun intended – OK, maybe it was. (The bacterium used in Botox is the same bacterium that causes botulism, a fatal paralytic illness.) But I really wanted to minimize my frown lines, because the deep furrows marred my appearance., IMHO.

So I googled ‘frown lines’. And I found a video that shows a non-invasive way to minimize glabellar lines. It’s really simple. Buy athletic tape, pull your brows apart, and stick the tape between your brows. Wear it as long as you can each day. It prevents you from deeply frowning while you’re wearing it, and retrains you to frown less even when you aren’t. I added my own trick – I run a drizzle of honey over the frown lines before applying the tape. Honey is the best skin product EVER, by the way.

Turns out, this is a pretty good solution. It doesn’t involve injections, high cost, blank looks or cognitive disfunction. It does cause me to be aware of how much I frown – even in ‘non-frown’ situations, without preventing me from empathizing with other humans. It seems to be working. The lines aren’t nearly as deep, and I like to think I’ve had a more positive outlook, since I’m not (unconsciously) frowning all the time.

Am I being shallow? Probably. It’s OK, I’m down with my shallow self. And if you give it a try, let me know if it works for you. I won’t judge you, I promise. 🙂

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Walking to Happiness

walkerBryan will be gone for the entire month of June, serving his country at Annual Training in Idaho. It’s tempting to wish they would turn the National Guard loose in the panhandle and roust all the anarchist crazies and Klansmen hangers-on. No, I don’t *really* wish that, and no, that’s not what they’re going to do. Although, if we’re going to continue to send our young people to tribal-oriented, anti-American areas, they really should receive authentic training, and, well, we DO have Idaho…

While B is gone, I’m going to see if I can break the ten-pound weight loss barrier. After a winter of hard-fought improvement, I’ve reached a plateau, despite being reasonably active and paying attention to my eating habits. I just finished six weeks of church directory madness, and that’s physically taxing. But still, my weight loss has stalled. It’s just sitting around my hips, taunting me. So is my Wii (taunting me, I mean.) I have three pounds (or five, depending on the day) before it will quit chanting, “That’s overweight.” I hate that sing-song computer voice. Grrr.

I know I swore to avoid the addiction of numbers, but I didn’t succeed. Why? A-D-D-I-C-T-I-O-N. Hello. Those numbers control my life. Perhaps it’s time for therapy. I wonder if I have a psychologist client who would like to trade for Cherie’s photo therapy?

Anyway, I have a new plan to lose those pesky pounds. Happiness. I’m going to focus on happiness, because I overeat to compensate for something, and I think it’s a lack of attention to the needs of my true self. My math mind tells me that meeting my physical, spiritual and emotional needs = happiness.

You know what best meets all of those needs? Walking. Just walking. Recently, I discovered that I experience deep joy when I walk the neighborhoods of SE Portland. I think it’s because it triggers memories of the happiest times of my life – walks in the late afternoon with my Situ and Gidu, walks to the store, to the park, around the neighborhood. Walks just because.

Especially ‘just because’. I’m too destination oriented. The Divine already talked to me about that. (See my Ariyawen post.) Walking is good for my body and good for my soul. Recently, I walked seven miles in the sun through SE neighborhoods and downtown Portland. By early evening I was exhausted, sunburned – and deeply happy.

I have more ideas: yoga, volunteering, writing, photographing, baseball. But over-ambition is as dampening as no ambition at all.

So I’ll start with walking.

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It isn’t Virtue, it’s Addiction

Adrenaline is addictive. It’s a drug of choice for most women. We crave it, we seek it, and we destroy our physical and emotional health to keep it pumping, pumping, pumping through our systems.

It’s the only explanation for our behavior. Look at us. We constantly push past our physical and emotional limits. We take on too many projects, too many people, too many obligations, becoming both ill-tempered and ill. Listen to women talk, and you’ll hear an intense competition as we talk over the top of one another to prove that WE carry the largest load. We listen intently as others recite their litany of abuse. “What’s she ‘using’? Oh, I didn’t know she’d added THAT!” we whisper to ourselves. Then we squeeze another committee meeting/Zumba class/child’s ballet lesson into our already over-burdened schedules, upping our adrenaline load even further. Hell, yeah. We’re on top now.

I rode that chemical high all the way to clinical exhaustion. I spent most of 2012 recovering both physically and mentally. For months, a one-block walk resulted in a two-hour nap. I tried not to panic as my brain refused to absorb new information, instead descending into confusion. It was a long, dreary year.

I decided to address my addiction. I accepted personal responsibility for my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I restructured my life, so that (most of the time) I work no more than 30-35 hours per week on the ‘making a living’ thing. I sold or gave away about 3/4 of my possessions. It’s not as though I’m currently living in a cardboard box. I still fill a comfortable apartment with my upright grand piano, guitars, books, cooking equipment, furniture and artwork. But I’ve drastically reduced the amount of energy I need to spend maintaining my ‘things’. I try (and mostly fail) to exercise, pray, and meditate for at least an hour every day. I take walks. Long walks. I visit with friends regularly. I find a place of worship most every week. I research, study and learn about anything that interests me.

What a maelstrom I’ve created! The response from my female friends was (and is) almost universally negative. “Well, must be NICE,” they say (in so many words.) “Unfortunately, my life is too busy for THAT kind of lifestyle.” Then follows a thirty-minute diatribe of all the things and all the people and all the projects that they *have* to be involved in. When I say that I’m learning to be kind to myself, the ‘pack’ moves swiftly, surrounding me with hostile growls and ruffled fur, letting me know I’ve strayed.

But I’m not the one who’s strayed, at least not anymore. Women as a whole have strayed. We’ve wandered into the backstreets of our souls, where broken glass glitters, piercing our unheeding feet, where cement walls are scratched with self-deprecrating graffiti, where we lie to ourselves about who we are and what we’re doing, because the truth is, all we can think about is how to score our next high.

IT ISN’T VIRTUE TO OVERTAX OURSELVES. IT’S ADDICTION.

PS: Here’s a link to the signs and symptoms of adrenal fatigue.

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Big Boobs

boobsBoobs.

I have them. I love them. I think they’re absolutely fabulous, and I don’t understand why every woman isn’t in love with her boobs.

Now, maybe I’m more appreciative than most because Nature made me wait so long for them. I was thirty-eight before they unexpectedly blossomed. I went from a not-quite-A to a B to a C to a… Yes, they’re ‘real’. No, I have no idea why they suddenly decided to appear. I grew an inch in height when I was thirty, so maybe I’m just a late bloomer.

There’s been quite a hoo-hah about boobs lately. For years, online gaming was a bastion of men, you know, the barber shop of the 21st century. If women entered, they could expect to be scowled at. You don’t like the titty calendars on the wall? Then don’t walk into our game.

But women are walking in. In fact, they’ve always been here. Just because it’s a growing phenomenon (wow, the twelve-year old humor that’s dying to surface) doesn’t mean it’s new. And certain behaviors have always been indecorous. Your mother surely told you to masturbate in private, that it wasn’t appropriate to do it in the living room. Just because it’s your fingers on a keyboard and a character called Lara Croft doesn’t mean it isn’t a lonely masturbatory fantasy. And that’s OK. In private. But have you noticed there are several million people running all around you with weapons in their hand? Many of them women, who would like to have a choice in persona?

For me, I’d choose a busty woman, because I am a busty woman. But…tummies and stocky thighs generally accompany boobs. So, let women design their own action figures.

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