So, I was sitting at a bar…

A weird thing happened to me last night.  I was sitting at a bar, watching a band.  I was with a group of friends, but I lost them and just decided to chill and hang out.  I started talking to this girl, and I have no idea what we were talking about, but out of no where she says something to the effect of, “You know, you’d get a lot more guys if you had a different purse.  That purse scares a lot of guys off.”

(I’m not sure it’s necessary to know what kind of purse I have, but it’s handmade bag from Thailand.  This purse has a story.  I love this purse.  It’s me.)

There are lots of things wrong with what she said.  The worst is that she continued – apparently I don’t dress right and don’t wear enough makeup.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know how I dress.  You know I don’t wear much makeup.  I’m not critisizing anyone who wears more makeup than me or dresses differently than me, it’s just not me.

Anyway, she pretty much said that I had a nice personality and I’d attract more attention if I changed everything about my outside appearance.

I was offended.  I pretended like I wasn’t.  I laughed and asked her how old she was.  She was in her mid-20’s.  Right, I thought (maybe said).  When I was your age that’s all that mattered to me too.

This conversation has been weighing on me since.  I’m trying to figure out why this happened to me last night.  There aren’t any coincidences, something that I was thinking brought about this experience.  Was I feeling vulnerable?  Ugly?  Belittled?

Or maybe, I just needed her to say that so I could see how far I’ve come.

It was only a few years ago that her words would have really, really hurt me.  I’m not saying that they didn’t sting a bit, but then I realized that I don’t care at all what she thinks of me.  Or anyone else in that bar, for that matter.  I am who I am.  It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I don’t need makeup or expensive uncomfortable clothes to make people like me.  The people that really matter don’t care what I look like.  They appreciate the fact that I have a purse that I care about.  They like that I’m not the kind of girl who needs makeup or fancy clothes or whatever to prove my worth to the world.

I guess that’s it – I’ve learned that my true worth is what’s inside.  And as long as I like me, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Because the people who matter, who will stick around, care about what’s inside.

That girl didn’t get to learn how smart I am, or funny, or caring, or that’s I’ve traveled to exotic places and met amazing people and seen wonderful things.  That I’m a writer and a music lover  and I hate to do dishes and I’m a great friend.  But I know these things, and that’s all that matters.

So thank you, my friends, to the old ones and the new ones, and the friends I’ve made through blogging (which is proof that it really doesn’t matter what I look like to be my friend).  Thank you for helping me realize how great I am.

Trying too Hard

I was doing a seated twist in yoga the other night.  I’m really not good at these.  I like the laying down twists so much better – and not just because I’m laying down (although that’s a bonus) but because gravity does so much of the work for you.  This is helpful when you have not only a terribly inflexible spine, but also boobs that have a tendency to get in the way.  Anyway, I was pushing myself into the twist, trying to keep my left hip on the ground (really, this pose is so much harder than it looks) when I heard a little voice say:

“Stop. Trying. So. Hard.”

No, it wasn’t God.  And I don’t think it was my right kidney, although it was probably screaming something similar at this point.  It was that little part of me (ok BIG part of me) that is just tired.  Tired of me pushing so hard for everything ALL THE TIME.

I read all kinds of yoga blogs where the people writing them say how they learn all kinds things about themselves during yoga or because of yoga or whatever.  I never thought I’d be one of those people.  I love yoga, I love what it does for all of me, but I’m not one of those people who has revelations during yoga either.

I wouldn’t really call this a revelation.  My body was just tired.  I’m not one of those who goes crazy pushing myself in fitness, but I had been hitting the power yoga pretty hard lately.  And I was trying really hard to keep up with the people next to me who did inversions in between vinyasas.  (Nope, I didn’t get that far.)  I had to pull back, to let my body do the work.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since.  Stop trying so hard.  Where else do I push to hard in my life?  Right.  Everywhere.  I pretty much go all or nothing on most things I do.  Sometimes this makes me really good at things – like my diet right now.  It also makes me a hard worker, a dedicated student, and a good friend.  It also means that I burn out.  Fast.

I’ve dealt with a lot of burn out in my life.  When I was in my early twenties, after working one too many 60 hour work weeks, I quit my job and moved back to Sacramento.  I was burnt out.  I was so burnt out that before I quit, I got strep throat so badly that I was out for nearly 2 weeks.  Back then I didn’t believe that my health was a reflection of what was going on in inside.

Now I know that it’s true, and as I deal with a different layer of burn out – not necessarily job related (although that’s part of it) – but health and life related I think about this a lot.  Stop trying so hard, Carmen.  Your body knows what’s best.

Try this – it’s really good with pork chops.  And while you peel the layers of artichoke you can take your mind off trying so hard.  These are pretty hard to screw up.

Sauteed Baby Artichokes with Garlic

1 lb. of baby artichokes (the fresh kind from the farmer’s market)

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

Pinch of red pepper flakes

1 swig of olive oil

1 swig of chicken stock

Lemon (optional)

 

Have you ever prepared baby artichokes?  They’re really easy.  Peel off the bottom couple of layers of leaves until you get to a light green color.  Trip the bottom a bit, and chop off the top 1/2 inch or so with a sharp knife.  Cut in half.  Put cut artichoke halves in a bowl with water and a bit of lemon juice or vinegar.  This sounds labor intensive but really goes pretty fast.

Heat up a heavy bottom frying pan and add a swig of olive oil.  When the oil heats up add the garlic and pepper flake, and fry until it starts to smell good.  Add the artichoke halves and try to get them all cut side down.  Let them hang out for about 5 minutes or so, stirring a few times.  Add a swig of chicken stock (or white wine), stir a few times, and put on a lid.  Let them steam for a few minutes.  They’re ready when you can poke the bottom easily with a knife.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon, if you want, or a really big glass of white wine.  Or both.

I’m worth it

James Darren, William Shatner, and Heather Loc...

I swear this picture makes sense later. And all blog posts are made better with William Shatner. Image via Wikipedia

You may have noticed my rant from yesterday.  I think I need to put in a little context, because I have much more to say about the subject and it deserves more than just me being pissed off about someone telling me I can’t cook in olive oil.

It seems to me, as I browse through the sites like the Paleo diet sites I’ve been running across that they are the same as every other diet website out there.  Everyone of them is promising them the same thing.  Choose this diet and you’ll lose 10-20-30 pounds!  It will change your life!  You’ll be sexy, happy, successful, desirable!

Here’s something I’ve learned through this insane crazy illness.  Losing the weight will not change the way you feel about yourself.  Happiness doesn’t come from being skinny.

All the stories sound the same.  There is always a testimonial about a woman (90% of the time it’s a woman) who’ve tried everything to lose weight.  Nothing worked until this miracle product!  This product could be Weight Watchers, it could be the gym down the road, it could be the Shake Weight, and yes, it could be a Paleo diet.

One story in particular talks about a woman who was very obese who lost a lot of weight though exercise and limiting calories.  After losing the weight she gained much of it back.  Her trainer said she had “issues”.

Well, DUH.  You don’t get to be well over 300 pounds without having issues of some sort!  Of course she needed to sort those out.  Why on earth would you just focus on the outside without addressing what happens in her mind, and in her heart?  The donuts and candy didn’t just hop in her body.  She made the choice to eat them.  She knew.

After a lifetime of up-and-down weight, I was probably at my most unhappy when I weighed the least.  I still didn’t think I was skinny enough.  (And I was skinny.  My mom tells me that I scared her a little.)  And do you want to know why I was unhappy?  Because it had absolutely nothing to do with my weight.

I am the same person no matter what I weigh. I have the same heart, the same soul.  I still love to travel.  I can probably still make you laugh (hopefully, anyway).  I am still smart.  I still work hard.  I still like to take long walks on the beach.  I still have curly hair.  I still talk too loud.  I still love yoga.  I still cry at Hallmark commercials.  I am still me.

Of course, I know that much of my weight issues, my depression, my energy issues, etc. stem from Hashimoto’s.  It’s impossible to say what I would weigh if I didn’t have this disease.  It would be impossible to say lots of things about myself if I didn’t have this disease.  It has become a part of me.  And while I don’t identify as being Hashimoto’s, it still defines much of my life and my relationship with my body.  But I can’t blame my all my issues on this disease.  And I can’t blame my weight on the fact that I just wasn’t following the trendy diet at the time.

I was drinking too much, not getting enough sleep, under too much stress, watching too much television, worried too much about what people thought about me, and frankly ignoring what was good and healthy for me.  Because I didn’t care.

There.  I said it.  I didn’t care.

When you don’t think you’re worthy you just don’t care.  You don’t care what you put into your body.  You don’t care how your body reacts.  You just don’t care.

Until I made the decision that I was worth it — that I was worth feeling good, strong,  healthy, happy, centered — I could never make the decision to change my diet.  I could never, ever, put myself first.  I couldn’t say, “Yes, I am SICK” (yes, that word again) “and yes, I am putting myself first and  yes, I’m not going to eat crap because it isn’t good for me.”  This sounds simple.  But I know that 99% of you reading this will agree that it’s not.

Now, I’m not perfect.  The last 19 days haven’t changed me that much.  But I’m working more on loving me, all of me.  I’m owning up to what choices I made to get myself to this point.  And I’m also acknowledging that some of it isn’t my fault because I am sick.  But it is now up to me, and only me, to take the steps necessary to improve my health.  To show the world that yes, I am worth it.

(You are totally allowed to repeat that last sentence in your best Heather Locklear voice and do a hair flip.)

So when someone asks me why I’m doing this crazy diet, I’m going to tell them that no, it’s not because it’s the newest health trend.  (Hello, gluten free is not a trend, people!)  It’s because I am finally taking responsibility for myself, my choices, and my diet.