On Sabbatical

19 Nov

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve sat down to write. I honestly don’t know if I ever even wrote about the next major change in my life. But here we are and its time to put metaphorical pen to paper. Consider this another type of healing.

Moving home was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make for myself. Even now, almost 2 years after deciding to do so, and just over a year of living with my decision, I struggle with if this was the right decision to make. Some days I feel regretful. Some days I feel like it was the right (and obvious) choice. Most days, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s coming to terms with the fact that this was my choice and it’ll shake itself out eventually. I’m not one to feel regret, so I know deep down that it’s all part of the grand adventure (even though sometimes I question this whole “adventure” to begin with).

At first, I was jokingly calling my time during the move as a sabbatical of sorts. As I approached this so-called sabbatical and as I’ve lived through it for the past year and a half, I’ve realized that its more of a sabbatical than anything else. The growth I’ve experienced and the things I’ve had to address taking a step back from my career has been mind-boggling. Because really, that is what its all come down to. Yes, I need to pay off debt. Yes, in order to do that effectively, I needed to move to somewhere I could afford to live. But what I really needed, and this is affirmed pretty much every day of my life, is that I needed a step back from animal welfare.

I worked in animal welfare for just about 7 years (which, I didn’t learn this until about 5 minutes ago, is the length of time at which one may take a sabbatical in a traditional sense) and it is hard, exceptionally stressful work. Looking back, I may have very well had more bad days than good. I’m working on it, but I still can’t talk candidly in mixed company about what I did for a living. It is just such a loaded topic that I can’t begin to address it all.

I’ve learned some things about myself in this past year and a half that I hadn’t even expected to address. The most prominent is that I rediscovered a long-lost sensitivity about myself. Its been 2 or 3 years now since I set out to allow myself to feel feelings. A person close to my once told me I was “cold” and “unfeeling” and “robotic”. It was a comment I kind of just locked up and never really referred to unless I was in a bad mood, but about that time – 2 to 3 years ago – I found myself dating a gentleman who seemed really awesome. It was this time in my life when I realized I really needed to allow myself to feel and express feelings and that it was okay to be the sensitive person I hid and smothered for so long. But…nothing really changed. I think I realize now (as I’m addressing these feelings popping up here and there) that my job in animal welfare required me to squash these feelings as much as possible to protect what was actually very fragile. That feeling all my feelings and sensitivities fully would make me horrible to deal with while doing my job. I’m still trying to find the balance and I’m grateful for the people in my life who must put up with my sensitivity, but until quite recently, I didn’t even realize why I had all of these feelings pushed back into the dark recesses of my mind.

I also find myself more and more regularly exposing myself back to things I once loved. For quite some time now (I can’t quite peg which year, but possibly around 2013) I lost the ability to watch animal documentaries. This I knew was directly caused by my line of work. No one wants to do something all day every day and then go home and do it more and then sit down to relax and keep doing it. So while I had to still scoop the litterbox and feed my pets, animal documentaries were out. As the years ticked by, I began to realize that it wasn’t just something I chose to do. I could no longer sit down on the couch and put on an episode of “My Cat from Hell” and just enjoy Jackson Galaxy’s presence. I found that even thinking about the action of turning on the TV and seeking these shows out, as much as I loved them, stirred up so much anxiety I couldn’t keep going. I had to stop. I hope that within the next few months I can sit down and watch a full-length, David-Attenborough-in-all-his-narrative-glory animal documentary. I’m able to put clips up on the TV, and through the unexpected help of a friend, watch extended clips via Snapchat but I’m not quite able to actively seek out full-length shows.

Moving back home and living in a small town again has definitely had its challenges. It’s been difficult some days and quite peaceful others. I absolutely miss many of the pleasures and conveniences of big town/small city living but its given me a different perspective that I know I should be thankful for. I know I have a long way to go, and perhaps the scariest part of this journey I’m on is that I’ve reached a point in which I have no clear path ahead. For the first time in my life I have no 5 year plan. No 3 year plan. I don’t even know what I’ll be doing a year from now. I abandoned my career to take time to heal and I’ve found myself at a crossroads at the mercy of the universe. I think the next part of my journey is not “I’ve paid off a chunk of my debt and now its time to save to move back to where I was” like I thought it would be. Right now it is looking very much like I am finding my way back to independence to continue the healing process on my own, in my own space, and in my own home. I have an idea of where I’d like to be in 1, 3, 5 years but the universe is still making up its mind on how (and if) we’ll arrive as intended. But until then, I suppose I’m just “on sabbatical”.

On the Delicate Nature of Having a Good Year

14 Jan

2017 was one of the best years of my life.

It may have actually even been the best year of my life, but all that means is that 2018 has a lot to live up to.

Have you heard the song “Good Ole Days” by Macklemore and Kesha? If you haven’t and have any joy for nostalgia, I highly recommend you do. There is a line that says “maybe you always look back and remember it was better than it was”. How true. I look back on 2017 and see all of the triumph and personal development in my life. I look at each hardship I overcame as an adventure. But I still find myself glossing over those terrible days when I could barely get out of bed or the nights when I was so angry all I wanted to do was run for hours and then eat a whole pizza afterward. I guess what I’m getting at is that our victories always come between trials. Our good days only happen because of bad days.

Coming out of 2017, I also look back at 2016 and 2015 and 2014 and even 2013 and I see the days peppered with many more bad days than good. Or is it more mundane days and fewer great days? It could even be far more terrible days with only okay days on occasion.

So I see 2018 laid out ahead of me. I see a new year ready to be the best year yet. It’s terrifying. How can life get better than it already was? Each bad day I’ve had in January (and believe me, it’s been way too many) is a reminder to the most insecure part of my being that it can’t get better. It can only get worse. I’ve been grappling every day trying to make sure I’m happy and that I don’t lose that forward momentum. There is so much pressure to not ruin it all because when I do look back, I can’t have another 2014. I can’t have another 2015. My being can’t handle another one of those and the balance feels so delicate that at any moment life will all of a sudden change from a 2017 kind of year to a 2015 kind of year. The stress is monumental.

And that leads me to the one thing I have to keep telling myself. January is a Monday. We tried to prepare on Sunday but we never fully recuperate until at least Tuesday, and while my bad days have surpassed my good, I still have 351 chances at having a good year and by then, the few bad moments on that Monday won’t really matter at all.

What’s your 2018 outlook? Did you transition from a good year or from a bad?

A Week in Sweaters

13 Jan

A new week, a new batch of sweaters! That’s nakeytaters365 on Instagram!

Nakey Taters!

6 Jan

Meet Sir Hippopotamus N. Tater

I recently adopted him from the shelter I work at. He is a skinny pig (otherwise known as a hairless guinea pig) and very social! If you’d like to keep up with him, you can find him sh owing off his fashionable sweaters  (a whole years worth, to be precise) on his instagram: nakeytaters365

Here is this week’s set:

My First Week at the Gym

20 Jan

 

This is not an inspirational story.

I’m not going to tell you how to get the will to start working out.

But this is my story, so sit tight!

 

I have lived the majority of my life as a plus-size human being. When I was still a small child (5 and 6), I was broad, but I wasn’t overweight. I didn’t have a belly or rolls or chubby arms. But then, as life goes, my thyroid stopped working. Doctors don’t know why I was so young, but the weight started piling on. While I grew taller with ease, I was well overweight in 5th grade. I weighed 150 lbs and I was 5’5″. My mom struggled to find me pants.

At my lowest adult weight, I weighed 175 lbs at 5’7″ when I was a sophomore in high school. I was working my ass off during my extracurricular activities and didn’t have the time to eat, so naturally, the weight fell off.

Now, I’m at my highest. Post-sophomore year I remained at about 235 until the death of my father. Given the holidays at the time and the stress, I gained 15 lbs. Then another 10 lbs, and was sitting pretty at 250. That didn’t really change until early last year, when I could no longer afford my medication for my thyroid, the doctor’s visits to adjust my levels, and the lab tests to test my blood levels.

10 lbs…

20 lbs…

30 lbs…

I now sit at 280 lbs and had no way in sight on how to change that.

But then I got sick for the first time in like 5 years and made myself go to the doctor for antibiotics (ear infection). He didn’t prescribe me any, but he did kindly refill my prescription. I bit the bullet and paid for a 3 month supply I couldn’t really afford. My mood and energy levels improved greatly! Life was no longer as dismal an existance.

I felt myself listening to music in my car that was just pumping me up. I wanted to do THINGS. And ALL OF THEM.

Then, a few weeks later, I went to see a movie by myself courtesy of T-Mobile Tuesdays and got a free burrito courtesy of a friend. I sat down and I watched Moana, which now sits squarely in my top 3 favorite Disney movies. I felt so inspired and motivated to be a better me. I got in my car surged with new-found motivation and turned on some Eminem. By the time I got home, I was so pumped that I decided it was time to join a gym, cut my hair, stop drinking soda, and wake up early enough to do my makeup and hair before work.

There is nothing I’ve felt previously that I can compare this feeling to. There is no “you just have to want it badly enough”. There is no “say you’re going to do it, then DO IT”. I just reached a moment in my life that felt right. That felt like it was time. I don’t have to find the willpower to go to the gym. It’s just what I do. I barely have to resist drinking soda; I just drink water.

From personal experience, there is no amount of will I could have mustered to get myself into a gym. Or to run.

Yeah. I’m using the treadmill. And with some little encouragement from Macklemore and Eminem, I power through the tough moments. It’s been a week and I don’t really feel different and I’m sure I don’t look different, but I can run for a full minute! I didn’t think I could. I ran for 10 minutes yesterday! Who knew?

Now I just need to find an inhaler. One part of always being the fat kid means that when your chest hurts when you run, the doctors just think it’s because you’re overweight…not because you have exerise-induced asthama.

Practicing My Prose: Story 1, The Kiss

8 Jan

In an effort to practice my prose, particularly first person narrative, I am going to be telling some stories. Here is the first story, chosen from a list of questions posed to me, simply because it was the easiest to write about. Here is the story of my first kiss (a true story, I might add)…

 

The Kiss

 

I’m a smart girl. I’ve always been a smart girl. I know good and well what and where this could lead to, and that is exactly why I’m doing it. If anyone asks me tomorrow or next week, I’ll play none the wiser. Maybe I’ll even believe myself then, but for now, please. I pull out the small, but quite heavy, Nokia from my pocket. The Nokia that isn’t even mine. Half a pre-paid minute worth of text is all it takes.

“u left ur tape in my car…im driving around…do u want me to bring it to u?”

Yes. I’m driving around in a car I’m not even licensed to drive.

Nothing good happens after 2 am, they say. The same must be true after 10 pm in high school.

Midnight. It’s midnight and I’m texting a boy because I want to return his tape. No, not that. I’m texting a boy because I want to spend time with a boy. I’m driving around in a car I’m not even licensed to drive at midnight texting a boy because I want to return his tape. But these things haven’t turned into anything other than time before, so I shouldn’t hope for anything this evening. But it’s midnight. And I am. And I shouldn’t. But I am.

The Nokia chirps. “ok just come in when u get here”

Just come in? Just come in? What does that mean – just come in? What am I even walking into? I pop a cherry jolly rancher in my mouth. Dan, 19, from Charlotte, NC told Cosmo that the best kiss he ever had was when the girl who kissed him had just eaten peaches. Peaches isn’t something you eat at midnight. No. Cherry jolly rancher will have to do. I pull into his driveway and turn off my car. As I open my car door, I breathe a sigh of relief as I notice him coming out of the front door. Black t-shirt. White gym shorts. This is already nervewracking enough without having to go into someones parent’s house, a house I’ve never been in. I grab the tape and I get out of my car and walk over to his doorstep.

“Hey. What’s up?”

“Not much. You?”

“Oh…just driving around being bored. Here’s your tape.”

“Thanks. Want to come in?”

Well, I hadn’t planned on coming inside, but don’t mind if I do. Maybe I hadn’t planned, but I sure had hoped.

“Sure.”

The house is dark and unnvervingly quiet. More than likely because it’s midnight. It’s midnight and I’m in a boys house. A boy that I like. Because I needed to bring him his tape.

Without any other place to sit, we sit on his bed. And we talk. I’m sure we talk, but the words aren’t sticking and I’m not even sure what we are talking about. But I know we are talking. I initiate contact first: a simple poke to his side, but it’s plenty enough to get the reaction I needed. He flinches. I do it again. His body bows in ticklishness.Then, with more voracity than I, he grabs my sides and begins tickling me. I shriek and laugh and roll and when he stops I’m on my back, each others various body parts intertwined in a way that results from a tickle fight. I love being tickled.

My laughter dissolves into a smile as I look up at him. We stare at each other for an eternity. Jolly rancher help me. He brings his face close to mine and slowly kisses my upper lip.

Is that how it is supposed to happen?

He makes his way down one side of my mouth and across the bottom. This doesn’t feel right. This doesn’t feel right at all. Is this really what people get so excited over? I open my eyes as he moves around my mouth and I stare up at the ceiling.

 

Wait. My eyes are open. I close them abruptly and squeeze them tight.

I feel his hand underneath my tank top, working its way toward my butter-yellow bra and my 17-year-old chest. This moment went from mediocre to uncomfortable really fast. What do I say? Should I let him keep going? As he reaches the top of my lip and the bottom of my bra, I pivot away and teasingly say “Get out of there!”

He pulls back quickly and apologizes. Oh no! I didn’t say it teasingly enough! Get out of there? Who says that?

I’m mortified. And that kiss was terrible. Or at least completely different than I thought kisses should be. Maybe Dan from North Carolina was right. That sure wasn’t anything like peaches.

I get into my car and reflect. I must’ve said something to get here, but what? I pull out the not-mine-Nokia and think of what to say as I drive the few blocks home.

I’m going to get teased so much when I tell my friends what I said. I just won’t tell them. It shouldn’t be hard to keep that detail hidden.

Oh, but it was…

fin

 

Did you feel any emotions when reading my story and if so, what emotions? Were you able to visualize the situation? Did you feel connected to the narrator (me)? Did I capture the awkwardness of youth? How do you feel that I didn’t include any names? Did you feel anything was too vague or had too much detail?

My goal here is to improve my writing, so feedback is extremely appreciated!

Help Needed!

25 Oct

Hello folks.

I have a dismal update for you all.

2 days ago, the engine on my car exploded. Now, I need to buy a car because I do not have the ability to pay to fix my old car (and at this point, is just isn’t a good choice anyway).

Please…I am trying to do this by this weekend because I don’t have the ability to continue to get to work.

If you can donate, please do. Anything helps! If you can’t donate, please share. I am trying to make it to the 2000 dollar mark.

Thank you!

Donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/2grfuuc