Seeking My Best Self

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

The Simple Act of Waiting

_DSC9723I’m in Paradise. I landed last night, but it was dark and late (1 am) in my ‘native’ timezone. I awoke this morning to foreign bird call. Peering out the window, I see color! In Oregon, only the earliest flowers are in bloom – modest daffodils and daphne. But here in Maui, I am treated to deep color and lush foliage. Even the air is exotic – pungent and humid. I haven’t left my apartment yet. I’m drinking my first cup of coffee and enjoying the anticipation.

“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting” ― Andy Warhol

I’m the girl who never wants to know her gifts in advance, who neither peeks nor shakes. There’s such EXCITEMENT in expectant waiting. My latest camera was purchased without the benefit of anticipation because my previous, duct-taped camera staggered to an unexpected halt (the camera was DUCT-TAPED together, Cherie. How unexpected could its demise be?) at the very start of a two-week photo shoot. I had to cancel the rest of the day’s photography and rush to the nearest camera store to buy a replacement. Not only were the ‘salesmen’ (read: techies with no social skills) rude, but I didn’t get to anticipate. I still haven’t gotten over the disappointment.

“Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.” ― Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns

For some people, imaginative speculation brings anxiety and dread. For others, it is its own reward, and they never move forward into actualization. But I use it to heighten the joy of fulfillment. It’s like holding off an orgasm for just a few more moments. When the release comes, it’s deeper, broader. It’s more fun.

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.” ― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

OK. I’ve titillated myself enough. Time to venture out!

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Headed for Hawaii

DSCF2264“Cherie, I need your help!” A dear client – who now lives in Maui – called me last week. She had photography needs, which she planned to attempt herself. She wanted me to provide long-distance guidance.  Being the altruistic person that I am, I suggested an alternative. Why didn’t she just fly me over there to provide direct services, saving her time and frustration?  She was delighted with the idea, so tomorrow I take off for sunny Maui.

That’s wonderful, right? Except that I’m still 18 pounds overweight. I’m EMBARRASSED to be seen in scanty clothing, and besides, my summer clothes don’t fit.

Beware Cherie the beluga whale, flesh acquivering as she saunters over the sands! Avert your eyes, children dear, lest ye be scarred for life!

I know, I know. How idiotic can I be? But I have to admit, after my initial delight, that was my next reaction.

I assessed my current clothing options. I had a bathing suit. It was two decades old, but it was one-piece and black. With a pair of exercise shorts, I would feel…covered. I had plenty of tank tops. I had a nice skirt. All I really needed to round out the ensemble was a pair of shorts.

So, yesterday I went downtown. I have to tell you, even at ideal weight, clothing shopping ranks WAY DOWN on my list of pleasurable activities. I hate shopping. I’d rather be reading a book. (OK, that’s not fair. “I’d rather be reading a book” is a very difficult mark to best. It was the standard during my dating days, which explains why I had two-hundred-and-forty-seven first dates and only three second dates.)

It was SO depressing. I started at Ross Dress for Less (newly opened, their signs have defaced the elegant brick buildings of the downtown mall. Shows what money can buy. It’s the only explanation for these cheap, plastic white and blue billboard-size monstrosities. Note: the same downtown governing board had a hissy fit few years ago when a small business tinted their windows too dark, because THAT didn’t conform with the aesthetics of their downtown vision) and then visited Kohl’s. Everything I tried on confirmed my fears – watch out for Cherie the Beluga Whale!

I went to Nordstrom. No, I wasn’t going to pay $112 for clothing I hoped would be too large by May. At Macy’s, I finally found shorts that didn’t cause my muffin top to expand as though it were being baked at high altitude. I liked them well enough to wear them out of the store, even though the saleswoman looked critically at me and asked, “Did you try a smaller size?”

No. Leave me alone. I feel comfortable. I feel attractive. I feel, for a change, like I’m not being squeezed in two.

Hawaii, here I come!

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Pelted with Lemons

lemonWhen life throws me lemons…

I get bruised. (Lemons are HARD little suckers!)

My fatal flaw is that I tend to isolate myself during difficult times, which escalates my abandonment fears, which then become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Which, if I’m not careful, can quickly place me in a powerful plummet – the world’s scariest E-ticket ride. (Yes. An old person’s reference. Because I am an oldish person.)

But if I can avoid the self-centered spiral, there is opportunity for tremendous growth. If I look carefully at myself and my circumstance, I might just learn something.

For example, over the past few days, I’ve become acutely aware of my own negativity in the face of this crisis.

Well, that’s natural. Right?

Except that if I fall into negative thought, speech and action, I don’t benefit myself. Or those around me. After all, this isn’t the worst of the worst of the worst. It’s just a thing.  And things pass.  It’s important to choose a positive outlook – even in the midst of painful things. Especially in the midst of painful things. I mean, it’s easy to smile when life is easy. But it’s the smile when life is difficult that shows maturity and wisdom – and joy.

And that’s what I want for my life. Joy. Deep joy. Joy that isn’t shaken by external circumstance. Joy that looks for good things even in the midst of bad things.

So here are five good things:

  1. I’ve lost three pounds in the past couple of weeks. Three MORE pounds, and my Wii will quit yiping at me. Hurray!
  2. Cherry trees are in full bloom, their precocious puffs proclaiming the imminent arrival of Spring.
  3. Daffodils are everywhere. Tulips will soon follow.
  4. Daphne. Oh, sweet daphne, whose siren scent floats in the air. Daphne alone is cause for joy.
  5. Caring people, who didn’t wait for me to ‘let them in.’ They’re already here.

You know what? Compared to famine, war, disease – the current crisis just isn’t that big a deal. A confluence of forces created a hurricane, but if I look at each separately – meh.

Squall, storm, typhoon – they’re all just wind and rain. After this current sequence has passed through, I’ll mop up the mess and rejoice that the sun has returned.

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A Wild Inside Pitch

baseballLife throws the damndest curveballs. It’s not fair. You straighten your jersey, step bravely up to the plate, stand with solid form, dig your heels in, hold your bat high, and whoosh! comes something you didn’t expect, a wild inside pitch that causes you to dive for the dirt. You end up with a mouthful of dust and bruises from the fall.

‘You’ is, of course, ‘me’ in this scenario, and it happened quite recently. I’d protest to the ump, but the potential for an inside sneaker is, after all, part of the game. Grrrr. I’m pissed.

I’d like to just take my equipment and go home. But life isn’t like that. First of all, the equipment isn’t mine. Second of all, I’m as home as is possible – prone beside the plate.

It would really help if I could hear the encouragement of the fans. But I’m face-first in the mud and I can’t see if there’s anyone in the stands.

So all that’s left is to stand back up. Take my stance. Dig in. Try again.

Here’s a secret every baseball player knows: I have to clear my head in order to continue my at-bat. I can’t clutter it up with rage about the last pitch. I can’t worry about what’s coming next. I just have to stand here with a clear head and a clear heart, and wait.

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