8.16.2016

Be the change before you die


For some reason death is a topic lately..
I guess I'm getting to an age where people I know have started dying.
It's happened three times in the past two years.
Always the words..they were too young. 
When I hear those words, I always think of a little girl named daisy who was seven when she died..
That was too young.
Health concerns raise their ugly heads...
You start to feel the creep of time..days, minutes and hours.
This may be what inspires the so called mid life crisis.
Let me tell you..
It isn't a mid life crisis...
It's a mid life reality check.
It may seem out of control..when what it really is, is an expression of longing to live out the inner life that they may have been repressing to be "productive members of society"
Then one day...people you know start dying..and suddenly life is not a endless commodity.
The reality of limited time sets in...
And you look around and say..how did I get here!
Hopefully that is a good how did I.
A 'good family, productive work..further than you thought you'd be' how did I. 
Not a 'broke down in Hoboken with a dead hooker and a flat' how did I....
When you see your how did I...
you can do one of four things...if it's bad..change it..whatever that means.  
If it's good...keep it...recognising all the gifts you have been given.
..or, bad keep it, too scared to change..good, throw it away for the sake of change because you bought into a societal lie about status and image.

Choices.
What I have found it really all comes to is this.
What makes it okay to die, at whatever age..
Is that you feel you have fulfilled your life's purpose..
I think that is what people mean when they say someone died too young.
They mean that perhaps that person has not fulfilled their purpose.  
That's why people go insane in their 40's and 50's.
It's 'twenty years of useful life left' syndrome.

While Everyone's individual purpose is different..
Like that great philosopher Arnold once said...
Do what makes you happy..regardless of how crazy it may seem to someone else.
How we implement our purpose is the same.

We are all dying...the time left is invisible..no man knows the day or the hour.
It could be one hour..or 40 years.
Are you going to waste the hour?
The month?
The year?
Playing fast and loose with time helps no one.
I will not let my life be a legacy of untapped potential.
Unfulfilled promise..
Acceptance of a life of pain and heart ache.
Or apathy.
Every minute is potential.
Our purpose may be quiet.
Maybe it's intimate.
Or our purpose may be larger, with a communal or societal impact.
Either way..
Every person or interaction is an opportunity.
The opportunity to be the person who makes things better..in whatever sphere you enter.
Be the person who lifts people.
Who cares.
Who encourages.
Be the person who helps others find and fulfill THEIR  purpose..
Real leaders create leaders.
Because we can sit here and talk about change.
Or we can be the change.
We can complain about a lack of community.
Or we can help create a sense of community.
This is down to the cellular level. 
Down to every thought..
Every intention..
Every individual act.
It can begin in the next breath..
In your next thought..
In your next determination.
And it builds.
Change comes one compassionate act at a time..
Our purpose is fulfilled when we begin.
Chris out



8.04.2016

Making monotony work for you.

I used to have a real issue with routines..
Like the color beige....headbands, minivans and day planners..I thought they were anethema to the soul.
Once I started working full time and my life crumbled like a dry tea cake...I realised that I needed a plan...
A plan...
(Yes..a routine...but plan sounded more...something).
So I created one...
A plan.
And it kept the big pot stirred.
I'm going to tell you the unglamorous truth of weight loss...
Monotony..
We are what our routines make us..or our habits.
What we habitually do.
If you get up in the morning and your habit is to eat a big breakfast and then Facebook..go to work..eat whatever donuts some evil troll brought to the office, then come home...pay some bills..binge watch Netflix...eat takeout and go to bed...chances are you are overweight and too tired to care.
Now say if, instead of getting up at six..you got up at 530 everyday and did a half hour of cardio...ate a yogurt and an apple and a morning coffee..went to work with your pre packed sandwich ( avoiding office troll) came home..did weights or walked with your family..then ate a nice, home cooked meal...
You wouldn't be....
Because it's the day in, day out grind that builds our reality...change one thing per week until your new usual has built a whole new lifestyle..and let the movement of time propel you..the months go faster than you think.

8.03.2016

El puño

.El Puño means the fist..
I'm studying Spanish because I would like to be hired by tessa..I have no degree, no money to obtain one..so being bilingual is my best bet.

When people think of abuse..we are used to thinking of battery.
 Someone hitting someone else.
I have found the biggest hurdle in someone trying to turn their lives around...is the fist of government.
I have heard many surprising things in the course of deciding to advocate for abused women...I am always surprised how negatively people can view the process.
WHY wouldn't she just leave...
I would never allow anyone to abuse me!
If she stays, she gets what she deserves.
Now, I understand not everyone has been in an abusive relationship....and not everyone understands the dynamics that occur when a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship...or even how someone gets to a place where they "allow" it to happen.
How do we allow anything?
How do we allow ourselves to get fat?
Settle?
Quit?
What do we tell ourselves that makes it okay?
Many things.
An abusive relationship does not appear, full blown..if a man came up to you..beat the shit out of you and then asked you on a date.
You'd say no..
These things don't happen all at once..our lives don't slip away from us all at once. It's a gradual eroding of self...
Giving small pieces away in exchange for peace and quiet, or a nice dinner...or an end to the argument..
Or to spare your kids another argument.
Then, one day you look up and realise you lost your friends two years ago because you got tired of the shaming comments, or the accusations of infidelity when you took time with friends.
You stopped talking to your sister because you didn't want to argue about your relationship....you had a child, you wanted it to work...
Little by little...concession after concession...and one day you look up..you have no money, no job, no friends..and he hits you..and tells you that you are the reason...and he is the only voice left.
Now you want to leave.
But you have a child, no money..no job, no friends and no resources.
You call the police, they arrest him..he's out in two days...
And now he's angry.
He has a temporary protection order..which he violates repeatedly.
And gets nothing but a slap on the wrist.
Because, believe it or not..it's a misdemeanour.
Even if he is convicted, it has no effect on his parental rights.
So he can use the courts to control her.
And a man who has spent years psychologically and physically abusing her will now have unfettered and unsupervised access to her children.
And only she knows what he is capable of...
And people wonder why they don't leave...
I wonder that they do. It's a miracle really.
A tremendous act of courage.
People have a hard time changing jobs, or losing weight...
Let alone....
Leaving the only home you have, with threats of violence and death..with your child...only to get ground up in the machinery of a system that doesn't recognise the affects of trauma.

The fist.
El Puño.

That is why I love this job...I'm on the inside of the fist...the only way to really change anything is to join it.
And try.

Chris out.



8.01.2016

To whom much is given...

Much is required..

Any church going people recognise that?
Probably.
I remember hearing that in Sunday school...it didn't sink in..
Probably because deep down, I didn't think it applied to me...
I'll get back to that..
So I am at the gym yesterday..without music. I hate it when that happens..leave your MP3 player with power on overnight, and you are left listening to wannabe Arnold shwartzennegers grunt their way through their 30 pound deadlifts.

So, without music..I think.
About my life.
And I seriously wonder wtf sometimes.
Shit childhood.
I wandered into a marriage where I was alone most of the time...
Then when my husband came back..it was PTSD and anger issues and marriage recovery.
Every step of the way I feel I'm scaling walls..
Obese..lose 100 pounds..stay home with my kids, nearly lose my marriage and have zero work experience..no college...then to work in a pretty toxic work environment..made manager..
Recovered my marriage with a lot of hard work.  

Then finally I have a friend..for six months..I wasn't so alone in my adultness..
And she dies...
To whom much is given...
What is my much? 
I have had a lot required of me..

And I was done with my workout..
Walking down the hall..and it hit me.

My much is that I will not quit.

And I finally realised that is not a gift everyone has..
In fact, it is extremely rare..and I have a feeling that the people who read this blog are the same as me.
They recognised it in words I wrote...the feeling of it..but never those exact words....
I will not quit..ever.

No matter how badly I want to sometimes.
Even as a child, I didn't.  I never could accept my nickname (dummy) from my abuser. 
I just tried harder. 
In the army, I never could quit on a run...til I made first run group.
I didn't quit on my kids and homeschooling and moving and keeping our family together.
Even though I was tired and done 70 percent of the time.
When my friend died...
I didn't get scared and quit on life...
There was something terrifying and exhilarating in this thought...the idea that you will not quit.
If you are that person...deep down you know.

All of  these hurdles are not what was required..
They were the trials that were meant to show me the nature of my gift.
What is required is that I take my gift and help the people who weren't given this gift..
The people too tired to move forward.
I think you will find your true gift in the tools you used to face your battles...my gift is perseverance...fight...determination and the acquisition of wisdom.
What is your much? 
Have that answer and you have your purpose.
You may wonder what I decided to do with my much..I did my second domestic violence intake at tessa today..I quit my job in March, took the training and jumped in both feet...I am equipping women in the fight to recover their lives from domestic violence, and on August 31 rst, I am also going to help teach a self defense seminar at a local church...helping women feel safe and secure in their person. One person at a time, one day at a time.
Chris out

5.23.2016

Redefining you.

Names...
What we label ourselves is very important.  
When you name something, you integrate it into your perception of your world.
It becomes what you label it, in your mind.
For instance....the mean dog down the street.
You know, the one that growls at you as you pass on your walk.  
You name it every day.
As you pass..(in my case, I call the dog cujo)

 Now say one day the dog gets out, and it is standing on the side walk.
It isn't growling or acting aggressive..
But what would your reaction be....
Not good.

I think what we call ourselves becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
So if you are the "fat friend". Or the "class clown" and you ARE that for years on end....how much does that color how you interact with your environment.
How does it color your perception of what you are capable of accomplishing?

Maybe it's something as basic as your name? 
What if you were named for something or someone who you don't respect, or admire.
You may feel like your identity was stolen before you had a chance to create your own.  
Beginning to Reclaim your identity can be as simple as renaming yourself.
Shortening your name, lengthening your name...changing it entirely perhaps.
Writing a list of attributes you admire next to your name....old or new...
Stripping of self given names and trying on new ones.
 I'm the empathetic friend..
The mathematically inclined friend..(not me btw!)
The artistic friend..
Creating positive connections between your name and your inner self is really key to feeling good about who you see in a mirror...
My associations, before I got well were:
Chris is the fat friend.
Chris is messy and unorganised.
Chris is a product of a dysfunctional upbringing.

When all of your inner dialogue is negative and disempowering, there isn't a whole lot of room for those 'moving forward' thoughts.

When there is only discomfort and shame associated with WHO YOU ARE...it doesn't lead to feeling very capable.  

Begin your redefinition.  
One step at a time, you can begin to create a new definition of who you are.
Have a great day.
Chris

5.15.2016

All in

 


I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.


Thoreau
Walden


As you all know, I am a fan of Thoreau.
(hence the name of this blog)
Sorry about the absence....so much to say it got clogged.


I began this blog as a way of documenting weight loss...which I achieved...
(I have regained some...because my focus was elsewhere. But I am back on track and headed downward.) 


My weight loss caused a monumental upheaval in every aspect of my life.
Mostly because it caused a monumental upheaval in me.
It was a cascade effect that slipped from place to place.
In the end I discovered the fat was a byproduct..
even bigger than the fat were the relationships.


All of them.
Based on faulty perceptions of who I was, what I wanted, how the world works....


My marriage, over the last 6 years, by necessity,  was taken apart....stripped down and is still in the process of re assembly.
It's about 60 percent there...
The funny thing.
I had to be okay with the letting go of it before it began to heal.
Because when you cling to the idea of something too hard, it gives you no room to view it from a truthful perspective.
I also had to release my friendships, re examine them and then approach them from a different angle.
I was stuck in the paradigm that for it to be love, it had to hurt.
Not consciously....
Because that was what I was taught.
I also tended to pick people who needed me to earn love or friendship.
Or friends who would 'correct' me.
Not all of them, but a great many.
And in the midst of my panic when my marriage was at it's worst..
I went and picked a job that was a mirror image of most of my other relationships.
The ones where you give and give...and people take and take..or it's all surface and no depth.


I wanted friendships like I experienced with a select few growing up....
honest, up front and loyal.
(circumstances being what they were back then...all of us in some deep shit, we had nothing but each other.. Life isn't like that here.)
But my mindset up to two or three years ago, really didn't allow it.
Although I didn't really know it.


In the middle of all this changing perspective, my childhood friend moved here from across the country.
Since she had been a stay at home mom for quite some time...and had no work experience, but was about to get her bachelors degree.
I helped her get a job at my store.
Her name was Channa.
We were tight in high school.
I would spend weekends at her house.
She was always honest and vulnerable in a way that I could not be.
I am honest intellectually.
She was honest emotionally.
It all hung out there.
She never hid anything.
When she was sad, she cried
Happy, she laughed- big.


She let you see her pain.
She let you know her opinion.
And she was a generous friend...willing to give her time and attention to her friends in a real way, not the bullshit way so many do. 
Where they smile and pretend to be happy..but maybe are jealous...
She was truly happy. 
She bought people little gifts to celebrate their milestones.
She was  happy when you were happy. 
Sad when you were sad.
She was on your side.
She was all in.
She didn't weigh pros and cons.
If she saw you fucking up..she didn't think "live and let live'....
She told you.


And from the day she started working there, she started calling people on their bullshit.
Me included.
"Why do you allow this...why don't you say that."
Referring to breaks I never took, help and credit I had earned but never received.
Her critical narrative was irritating.
I needed a paycheck.
 I needed this job.
 It didn't matter how shitty the job, or how shitty the paycheck.
Little by little she was pointing out how I had once again, settled.
I had all this baggage...and all this responsibility.
I had worked my way up to a full time position with benefits.
All the while...
She was looking for another job.
In the midst of a reoccurrence of her symptoms of epilepsy...drug changes that made her ill and unable to eat...a big military move.


And she kept pounding away. Sending 15 resumes out a day, between doctors appointments and throwing up and taking care of her husband and her son.


In between all this, she was reminding me, always reminding me, of the one place I didn't want to think about.
She would say things like..".We came up hard, we are tough, we can take it."
And I would say to myself..."Yeah, why do you think I left."
I left and never looked back.
I wanted normal.
Sedate.
average.
I wanted a life well tended, carefully manicured..


We hung out...looking over old photos.
And I began to remember the old me.
Who never cared about my couch, my clothes or other people's perceptions.
I used to do what I was passionate about.
In high school, that was art.
Now.
It was this idea of helping women overcome their obstacles to achieving the life they desired.
My husband and I had long since settled our differences over a multitude of issues.
I had paid my college loan.
Now I was stalling.
saying things to myself like..
."after we get a new roof'.
or..
"after we get some new carpeting..."


I have always prided myself on my pragmatism.
Cowardice often masquerades as pragmatism.


The last time I saw Channa was October 22nd, 2015...a job opportunity did not work out...and she wanted to rescind her two weeks notice.  I called my boss, and we got that taken care of...she hugged me and said, "See you next week."


Then on October 25th, 2015.
I received a text from Brian.
Channa's husband.
She had a seizure in the bathtub and drowned.
She was 42.


Here is the bottom of my chicken coop.
I have been afraid my whole life, of making foolish decisions.
Of being like my mother.
When I left, I thought I left the old me behind.
To build a new me.
That's what I thought weight loss was about.
It wasn't.
I was about looking at the old me and honoring that, and now adding to what was true.
Now I know what was true....and is true.
I did come up hard, and it taught me compassion.
It also gave me my honesty, and my perseverance.
Now, from Channa, I take my fearlessness.
 I am  building my existence on a foundation of steel.
I tell you what.
Looking at my friend in her casket....knowing that right up till the end..she never gave in.
All her life she fought an uphill battle..
Childhood abuse, epilepsy, an abusive first marriage...which she left with no money and a one year old daughter.
She was honest and funny and brave.
and fearless.
She didn't need a new outfit for a new endeavor.
And neither do I.
She was herself..and world molded itself around her or it could fuck off.
Looking at her lying there....
And I was simply done.
Done waiting. Done settling.
Five months to the day that she died...I had my last day at my job.


I have very little extra money.
But I have enough to take care of the basics.
 I take my spending money and use it to buy a membership at empower training.
I have already participated in a self defense domestic violence seminar.
And tomorrow...
Wearing the clothing I have in my possession.
The body I have in my possession.
I start my first day of training at Tessa.
our local domestic violence prevention program.
Because the only way to begin is to begin.
Sometimes it's just quitting what you know you don't want...
and as clumsily and haphazardly as you can imagine...
beginning.
I'm done fearing failure...
better to try and fail..
than fail to begin.
Because you think to begin is to require a whole new you..
when beginning is what creates it.
There is no flip of a switch.
There is no magic but what you make.


And your world will never change unless you change it.
I'm all in from here on out.
Chris














Channa, Brian and Jared

8.14.2015

What I gave up

Like I wrote in my last post...to lose weight, you reason must be stronger than why you want to keep it..
It's a serious decision that our society lauds, yet undermines continuously.
When I decided to lose weight, I had to give up the notion that what I weighed was harmless..and that it hurt only me.
Looking back on the years I spent tired, in pain, ashamed of how I looked, frustrated and defeated.
You can't live like that and not have it affect everyone and everything around you.

I could honestly cry.
If I believed in doing that.
Which I don't.
The only thing worse than the time I wasted in that particular state..
Would be to spend more time wishing it hadn't happened.
So...
I gave up floating along.
Letting life happen, but not fully participating.

I gave up the comfort of food.
Now I have to feel emotions, past and present...
And learn how to feel, deal and express them.

I gave up the comfort of magical thinking.
I think every fat.person has truly believed at one point or another that someday, they were  going to find the magic pill or the right food combination..they would wake up one day and love exercise...and all that weight would melt away.
It's never going to happen like that..
Weight loss, like everything, is a day in and day out commitment to living a disciplined existence where serious work and effort is rewarded.
I learned that respect is earned..
And it starts with treating yourself with respect...
Self esteem is a natural outgrowth of effort and achievement.
To feel better I had to take steps and do better.
And finally..I gave up the victim card.
I accepted that every aspect of my life from the time I reached adulthood to now was a product of my choices, decisions and efforts...or lack thereof.
It's a truly humbling moment.
But until you reach the point where you accept responsibility for your life...you allow the locus of control to remain outside of you. And you will never change anything if you do not accept that you, and only you, have the power to change your life.
The great thing about realising this, is that for every harmful decision made...for every undrawn boundary, every  time you settled or quit...you can, in the next moment, decide something different.
As surely as you can pick up your finger and touch your nose.
You can open your mouth and say no.
Close your mouth at 8 pm to food.
Use your legs to walk away from a toxic relationship.
It's your decision.
I gave up the fantasy that life was happening to me.
And realised I could float, abdicate and die living half a life.
Or I could swim, rule and live, then die knowing I lived every minute.

It was worth it..it's still worth it..and that decision applies to every thing you do.

Chris out.