This is Only a Starting Point

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I’m not where I want to be. Mentally, physically, emotionally – this is not where I want to be.

I ended 2013 with such optimism for the year ahead. After all, this is the year I marry my hunky homeboy. We’ve decided to build a life together and we get to celebrate that decision – and the love behind it – with our nearest and dearest.  In freaking MEXICO. How could 2014 not rock?!

Welp. So far, it hasn’t rocked. It’s done the opposite of rocking, actually.

Yesterday, I was reading a post that Ashten wrote about facing her weight and her choices and making some changes to get where she wants to be. It’s a great post. Go read it; be inspired. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. Did you catch the part where she said she left the doctors’ office with a “starting point”?  She decided that her current situation isn’t just something she doesn’t like, it’s something to be improved upon. It’s a place to begin moving forward onto better things. That really stuck with me. Because you know what? I’m at a starting point, too – I just hadn’t looked at it that way. And now that I am looking at it in that light, I’m much more excited about my world and all that lay ahead of me.

It’s time to make some changes. I need to do some serious purging in almost every area of my life; I need to figure out what I’m keeping, shine it up with appreciation and care, then I pick up some new goodness to add to the mix. It’s a daunting task, one that has felt like it is lurking over my head. Until I read the words “starting point”.

It’s such an optimistic idea. A starting point isn’t just where you begin; it’s something you launch from. You leave it behind, and burst onto better things. Sometimes, a starting point is left behind you in a cloud of dust. Other times, you slowly, methodically venture away from it. But no matter what, you take a step that moves you away from the starting point. Then another step. And another. Eventually, the starting point is so far behind you that you can barely see it through the fog of your own progress. So a crappy place is never really that bad after all; you just need to start seeing it as your starting point.

As the journey progresses, you remember the starting point. You know the feel, the taste, the smell of the starting point, but you also know that you can never truly go back there. Even if you can physically return, you will never again be the person you were when you were standing on brink of more. The steps you’ve taken to move forward have changed you; you’ve grown. You’ve changed.

The starting point is filled with doubt, fear and uncertainty. Can I really do this? Must I? Maybe I shouldn’t? It is also filled with hope, possibility, and a drive unlike any other. I can do this. I will do this. I know how to get there, and I’m going to fight like hell. The road is clear before you. The steps are well-defined, if not smooth or easy. The starting point is filled with a very specific desire to move forward.

So, I am at a starting point. Several, if you want to get specific about it. I am moving forward. Away from what isn’t working, and onto something better. I am moving away from what is defeating me, and away from the person I do not want to be any longer. I am not trapped by past choices, traditions that no longer fit, a misguided sense of loyalty, or the expectations of others. I will step away from what is dragging me down, because after all, this is only a starting point.

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Defeated

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I’m an optimistic, positive person. I really do try my best to see the bright side, the silver lining, and all that other happy bullshit.

I do. I promise.

But this is not going to be a cheerful, upbeat, I-love-life kind of post. Come back tomorrow if you are looking for a half-full glass. My glass today is filled with Ketel One (dirty, up, 4 stuffed olives – in case you were wondering), and while it’s nearly full at the moment, we are barreling toward empty at a mind-boggling pace.

2014 sucks. We are only six days into it, and I am not impressed. It has been chock-full of disappointment. Some of the disappointment has been expected (though no less disappointing), and some of it has been so rough and unforeseen that it knocked the wind out of me. The kind of shocking disappointment that leaves you gasping for breath as you lose all control of your tear ducts. The kind that makes you ugly cry. Repeatedly.

My family has let me down in unimaginable ways, all to pacify someone who hasn’t been honest with them. They have hurt me in ways I could never fathom because they are being manipulated by someone so whose self-centered, cold nature continues to astound me. Based on past experience with this person, I can only imagine that there are lies being told which I will never be able to guess, let alone correct.

I am not hurt by the instigator. I am not shocked by them. I am not grieving the loss of their support or unconditional love, because I never truly believed it was there. I am, however, blown away by the reach they have. By the family members who let me down because of this person. I am heartbroken by the people I thought were my biggest supporters, my most loyal allies, my steady supply of strength. I am discouraged that they could be convinced to abandon me when I want and need them by my side the most.

There is no bright side to this, no light at the end of this particular tunnel.

I am defeated.

Deflated.

Tomorrow I will pick myself back up. I will stand up, forge ahead, and I will enjoy every moment of a beautiful, amazing experience that I will cherish for years to come. But tonight I will collapse into the strong, steady arms of my love. I will cry an ugly, ravaging cry while he strokes my hair and calls on karma to right the wrong. I will let the grief and disappointment invade my body until I am consumed with sleep. Tonight I will give into the hurt, the pain, the unbearable betrayal. I will just feel it; that is all I can do right now.

Tomorrow will be brighter, but tonight I am defeated.

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I Feel Fluffy. And Blah. Mostly Blah.

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My wedding dress has arrived.

About a month and half earlier than anticipated.

I got a call from the bridal shop last week that it came in early, and they are ready for me to come for my first fitting. But instead of joy, overwhelming excitement, and all that wonderful bride-y flutter, my first reaction was “Uh, thanks. Maybe later.”

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to marry Mr. B. I adore my gown. The ladies at the bridal shop were beyond wonderful, so it’s not like I’m avoiding them. So why wasn’t I rushing out the door to see what is arguably the most monumental article of clothing I will ever wear?

I joked that between my trip to New Orleans and all the Thanksgiving food, I’d eaten too much and was in no rush to try to squeeze into my dress. It’s true, I suppose. My clothes are a little snug these days and I am afraid the dress won’t exactly fit like a dream. But that’s not the whole story.

I’ve been eating like crap. I’m still not eating a ton of junk food, but I’m not eating the things that make me feel good. Lean protein and veggies? Sure, if someone else wants to cook it. No? I’m on my own? Ok then, Thanksgiving leftovers it is! I ate all of those? That’s cool. Pasta is cheap and easy. Basically, I’ve been carbo-loading for the last 2 weeks. Except, without the major athletic event. So I feel fluffy. Fluffy like all the mashed potatoes smothered in gravy that I’ve consumed in the last few weeks.

I’ve also been getting less exercise. I don’t work out in the typical way – I don’t go to the gym, or even really utilize the NordicTrack (remember those?!) in the basement. I’m busy, always on the move. Between the farm work and the boat and hiking with the dogs and horseback riding, I use my body. A lot. Except…it’s winter so there’s not a ton of work to do around the farm, and I’m not really up for leaving the warmth and comfort of the house these days. And since Mr. B still refuses to let me bring Sally in the house, I’m doing a lot less of the keep-me-moving stuff that I normally do. 

Slacking on the exercise + carbs + salt + butter = a fluffy Nikki.

This isn’t about my size or weight or dress size though. This is about how I feel. I feel sluggish. I feel bloated. I feel tired. I feel BLAH. And that’s the real problem.

I’m not concerned about how I look (though, let’s be honest, I don’t love the extra chunk protruding from the top of my jeans), I’m mostly concerned about how I feel. I don’t feel good. I feel lethargic, slow, and foggy. I know it’s my own fault, I don’t feel the way I want to feel. And I’ve realized, I don’t want that feeling anywhere near my wedding dress. May 10, 2014 is going to be a magical day, and I don’t want that blah feeling – or anything associated with it – anywhere in sight. So I don’t want to slip into that gown until I feel better in my own skin, until I feel better about my body and how I treat it and what it is capable of.

Yes, my face is a little rounder, my thighs are a smidge closer to one another, and my midsection is a little softer than it was a few months ago, but I don’t doubt that I will be able to zip the dress up. I do doubt is that I will feel good in it, and I don’t want to feel like anything less than a million bucks when I put it on . Even in the fitting room of a bridal shop, 3,000 miles and 6 months away from my wedding. I’ll brave the cold more often and take the time to make healthier meals. I’ll get back to me. And then I’ll go for my fitting, and it will be fabulous.

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A Change Is Brewing, but I Am Hopeful

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I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now. Not sure what to say, or how to say it. Not entirely sure I wanted to say anything at all.

But I do want to talk about it. It has been pulsing gently in the back of my brain every time I sit down to write. I feel like it has dampened my mood and spirit, and I’m afraid of the toll that it is taking on my writing. I fear that the tone of my blog has changed ever so slightly. Maybe it hasn’t, really. It’s possible that I am the only one who sees any change, but still…I want to get it out. To share.

My parents – after 30+ years of marriage, two kids, one house, and a handful of Labrador Retrievers – are divorcing.

And while it does suck for so many reasons, at the very heart of the issue, I support this decision. I’m ok with it. I really, truly am – probably more than you would expect a child to be.

Secret To Change

Of course I’m sad. I’m sad for the end of their union. I’m sad that my parents, for the first time in my life, will relate to my brother and I as individuals, instead of the unit we’ve always known. I’m sad for my brother, who is closer to the nucleus of this whole ordeal. I’m sad for the parent who didn’t ask for this change, but who must muddle through it anyway. I’m sad to say goodbye to life as I’ve known it for 28 years. It weighs heavy on my heart and mind.

But I am hopeful. I know there is a beautiful life waiting for both of them in this next chapter. I am certain that they will thrive in this new unknown. We all have to learn to exist in this new reality, but I have hope that we will be better, stronger, and happier for it.

I love my parents, and I want them to be happy. I can honestly say that I see them both being happier, stronger people when they emerge on the other side of this mess. First, though, we have to get through the mess.

So, if it seems like my head isn’t always in the game, forgive me, please. My world is in a bit of a transition.

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A Role I Play {The Thankful Project – November 2}

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This month, I am joining Kenzie for The Thankful Project. It won’t be everyday, but I will be following these writing prompts to talk about the many things in my life that bring me a feeling of gratitude. Today we are talking about how thankful we are for a role that we play…

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Thankful Project Title

 

Unearthing recipes, new and old. Making the grocery list. Clipping coupons. Scanning the aisles and filling the grocery cart. Stocking the pantry, the refrigerator, the spice cabinet. Planning meals. Preparing each dish. Baking, grilling, stirring, boiling, mixing, kneading, seasoning – in our home, I do it all.

It’s one role that I play in our little family; it’s what I do for us.

It never ends. We will always need to eat. Some days it feels like a dreaded chore. Really? I have to go grocery shopping again? I need to make another dinner? Ugh. I have “better” things to do, other items on my list that are vying for my time and attention, and sometimes, I just don’t feel like doing it.

Other days, I love it. The planner in me loves making lists, organizing meals, and searching for deals and discounts. The wanna-be chef in me loves trying new recipes and playing in the kitchen. The foodie in me loves to eat, sip, taste, savor.

No matter my mood, I do it with pride. It is an important role that I play, and it is about so much more than food and cooking. I plan our week, manage a budget, run the errands. I provide the comfort of a warm meal to the man I love at the end of his hard day. I make decisions about the healthy options in the cupboard, the delectable treats in the candy jar. I show my love through these choices, through the work that I do in the kitchen, both at the stove, armed with olive oil and fresh vegetables, and at the counter, armed with a calendar and a calculator.

It is only one role I play, one hat I wear of many. I do it for love, for our family, to help and to provide. It is an important role and one for which I am profoundly grateful.

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Perfect…or Positive?

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perfection

I strive to be a positive person. I consider myself an optimist.

I’m always not as chipper and cheerful as I’d like to be, but I really do try to find the good in every situation. When something unpleasant pops up, I’m the annoying girl who points out the one random (and usually small) bit of good in the mess. “But hey, at least…”

Seeing and focusing on the positive aspect of a situation – instead of dwelling on the negative – makes me a happier person. If I focus on the bad and let that be all that I can see, how can I be happy? Plus, perpetually negative people suck the life out of me (and, I’ve found, everyone else around them), so I make it a point to look for the good. Who wants to be a Debbie Downer all the time? Not this girl.

It is a choice I make. It may not always be the easy choice, but I try. Some days, it would be so much simpler to curl up in a ball and let myself believe I am the victim in my own life story. But I’m not. So I keep reminding myself that there is a little bit of good, a tiny glimmer of hope and joy in everything that happens. The good may not be big, it may not outweigh the bad, but it’s there. So I choose to seek it out and appreciate it.

This attitude touches every aspect of my life – I want it to! – so I’m sure it affects my writing. Despite the occasional rant, I make a real effort to keep the content of my blog upbeat. I try to avoid complaining about things I can’t change, I look for beauty in everyday life, and I find (and focus on) the silver lining of the darkest storm clouds.

Lately though, I’ve been wondering: does my positive attitude come across as me painting a picture of perfection? Where is the line between trying to find the good, and “sugar-coating” my life?

Reading about someone’s “perfect” life is, frankly, annoying as f*ck. Seriously, nobody’s life is perfect. We are human – we make mistakes, we make messes, we trip and fall and spill our wine. It happens. But does my focus on the positive aspects of life come across as me trying to portray a perfect life/home/relationship?

I truly believe that my positive and upbeat “voice” is a true reflection of who I am in real life. My life is far from perfect. My relationships with the people around me are far from perfect. My home is far from perfect. But I make a choice not to focus on the imperfections. I am a happier person when I give my attention to the positive aspects of any situation. That doesn’t mean that the negative parts aren’t there or that I don’t acknowledge them, it just means that I’m choosing not to let them override the good. I make the decision to work around them, improve them or simply not let them drag me down.

I don’t believe in wasting my energy on things I’m not willing to do something about. If I have the ability to change a negative situation, or at least change how I look at it, I honestly believe that it is MY responsibility to do so. My happiness is my own responsibility. And if I choose not to take responsibility for my own happiness, what right do I have to bitch about it if/when I end up [shocker!] unhappy?

So I try to be upbeat. I muddle through the bad, but I look for the good. I choose to be positive about the world around me. I seek out that little glimmer of hope and beauty. Because it makes me happy.

That is me. It’s not perfect. It’s positive.

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