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.

8.11.2015

The essence of achieving lasting change

The essence of change is knowing yourself where you are, envisioning who you want to become..and then charting a course between these two points.

Weight loss gurus tell you it looks like this..

.--------------"eat less"-----------------------"move more"---------------"goal weight".

Problem solved.

N.....o......t........t.....r......u......e

I've said before that morbid obesity is usually a symptom of a larger problem.
It can be a shield.
An excuse.
A reason.
A validation.

Your reason to lose the weight has to be bigger than your reason to keep it.
The problem is...
You may not know what the reason for your misuse of food IS, until you begin to lose the weight.
Or how BIG the reason is...
So your wanting to lose the weight has got to be bigger than wanting to look good in a pair of jeans..
For many morbidly obese people..
It isn't even something they can imagine...
Your reason for weight loss is ultimately going to be life altering.
And no one prepares you..
No one.
It is exhilarating.
And frightening..
For me..I couldn't see past two hundred pounds..
I got down to 148 and stalled because I didn't have a reason to continue.i also had overwhelming fear...
My real reason I was fat.
I was afraid of attention from men..
Not a little afraid..
Phobic afraid.
Then life intervened.
I got a job blah blah blah...
Whatever. 
Now I have my reason to lose the rest of the weight..and it involved nothing less than finding my life's purpose.
Like a graphic I once saw...your weight loss journey..if it's real change, will not happen in a six month burst of juicing glory..
Or cabbage soup.
Or pills...
It is a long, hard road of learning to use food in its proper context. Learning to cope with emotions...deal with trauma...find your joy and embrace the change.
And that's just the weight loss...
I write this not to discourage anyone..but to encourage someone.
Someone, somewhere...thinks because they've had a setback..it's over.
It's not over...you have learned something essential.
Now move forward.
The essence of change is a continuous process of learning, applying and growing.  
But you have to begin.
So begin.




6.30.2015

Mental might

It's all mental.
All of it.
All of life.
From the moment you are born til the day you draw your last.
There is one thing that will propel you, or bury you.
Your mind.
If you can't control your mind, you will never be able to control your life.
My mind was shaped and framed from an early age with two diametrically opposed points of view.
My first shaper was Duane.
My stepfather.
A man shaped by his abusive upbringing.
He lacked the fortitude, the wherewithal, or perhaps the innate ability to change.
His inner rage projected itself through total control of our every movement.
A demand that we not speak or laugh.
To how we chewed our food.
To what we were allowed to touch.
He used derogatory nicknames like "stupid"
Then,
When he was drunk.
He would terrorise us for hours with a belt.
Snapping it in front our faces to frighten us.
He would whip us by turns.
For hours.

My other shapers were positive.
My mother, until the abuse started, would read to me...books.
The bible.
She taught me to read at the age of four.
She worked hard.
And she fought back.
There is plenty she could have done in the midst of the abuse.
But I have come to terms with my abuser, and my moms role in it.
Part of the healing and recovery I have engaged in over the last five years.

Up to the age of six it was solely my mother.
After the age of six it was church.
Which I volunteered for.
One day, I simply asked.
And I went.
There I learned how real fathers were supposed to act.
And what real love should look like.
Who God thought I was...planned and precious.
I didn't know it at the time.
But these positive experiences would become valuable weapons in my fight to become whole.
You may not know it, but you have weapons too.
Somewhere, someone loved you.
Someone supported you.
Even in passing.
They spoke a truth you held on to...
Even amidst the constant barrage of pain and criticism.
Even in your darkest moments.
When you are waging a war in your own mind.
Deep down, you know which voice you want to prevail.
Now to let that person win.
It begins and ends in the mind.

The first step is this. 
 Are you where you want to be.
Are you who you want to be.
If that answer is no...
And you feel as if you have been rowing forever, and getting no where?
You are worn out, as if you've been fighting..but in reality, you haven't moved?
Nothing has changed?
For years? 
Then you have two voices in your head...
And your mental struggle is sapping your energy and your will to improve.
It's time to identify your inner dialogue.
If you have to...write it down.
When is the best time to hear your negative dialogue?
When you are in the midst of struggling to overcome something that has been your hangup for years. 
If it's weight...go to the gym to work out, and then stop and listen to your inner dialogue.  
If you enjoyed a dinner but then feel horrible..listen..write it down.
If you want to hear the part of you that is positive...do something you've a natural talent for, that makes you happy.  Write down that inner voice.
This is the very, very beginning of self awareness.  
To Know what your thinking.
It may seem simple, obvious even.
But when I began to listen to my inner voice. 
I was shocked at the things I told myself.
The shame and derision I buried myself under...for years.
No wonder I was stuck and tired.
So...the first step...
Awareness.
Chris out.

6.19.2015

Epiphany!!! I figured out my life's purpose.

For over a year now, I have been bouncing around...trying to figure out what in the hell I want to do.
I wanted to help young girls develope self esteem...that's the beginning of everything.
Then I met many young men who were not given the tools THEY needed to excel.
And I thought...what about them?
Then I thought, you can't help everyone.
 Can you?
Then I thought about the way of the warrior...
 Bushido.
How much I believe in life in every breath and living every moment...
And how so many people had simply given up.
Or settled for less...

So, today, as I was marking down items at the store...
And I was talking aloud to myself...
Trying to figure out what it was that I wanted..
I said aloud..
"It is not my job to inquire about your battle..
It is to equip you for the fight."

Out loud.
I didn't even know where it came from....until I thought of the idea of the whole armour of God.
Then I thought of bushidos seven guiding principles.
That is it in a nutshell...
I want to teach people how to fight and win their individual battles!
It doesn't matter what it is!
Because many times..the war we THINK we are fighting is not really the war we are fighting.
It's a battle within the war.
What is important is having the keys to the will to fight.
I have been doing it all my life.
Weight loss was just one fight inside this gigantic struggle.
A small piece of a much larger pie.
But the great thing is...it's all the same fight..
The same steps.
The same mentality!
Now...where do I teach that? 
In self defense class...on a new blog? 
Volunteering with tessa? 
I don't know.
But at least I know what I want to do now.
Chris out.

6.16.2015

Sometimes the best thing you can do..

Is tell someone to BLOW IT OUT THEIR ASS!

Just did it, felt great.

so ends this public service announcement.