It’s very therapeutic to write. Especially to write a letter to oneself. And to read it 1, 2, or 6 1/2 years later is so eye-opening. I recently found this draft of a blog post unfinished. I think I started it in October of 2012 it said:
“I just recently reread a post I wrote to myself last year called, “Crystal, Don’t Read Until July 19th 2012. Anyone Else: Go for it” It was both sweet and depressing.
The depressing part is that I haven’t met ANY of my goals that were on my little list. I am not pregnant (maybe later) am still obese (workin’ on it…still…) and I have not run a marathon (but I AM running one in November!).”
That’s as far as I got. I must have begun some serious self-reflection if reading the letter prompted me to write a blog post about it. But it was also probably so depressing that I couldn’t finish. 6 1/2 years later I read it again and boy, things have changed. I finally met two of the goals I had (running a marathon and having another baby), my older kids are in 10th, 8th, 3rd, and 2nd grades now and it’s neat to see the progress I’ve made the perspective I have now, and the encouraging words I wrote to myself in the past. But one major one has only gotten more difficult: my weight. It’s a struggle that I have tackled anew since having the baby and I am trying to approach it differently.
I feel like I’m finally ready to admit how difficult it is for me and that I need to work at it. I used to resent the idea that other people were seemingly being able to eat whatever they wanted and still be thin, and I was kind of in denial that it was my own fault i wasn’t. But I’ve realized that most people work at it. Most people work at most everything. and most people, have to deprive themselves a little. In fact, most of life is about work, deprivation, sacrifice, and pain. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t enjoy the easy/fun stuff so much. The point of life is not to do whatever we want, whenever we want, constantly seeking endless entertainment, immediate gratification and total freedom from pain. People who obsess over that are not very happy or pleasant to be around, and rarely get anywhere. (like toddlers) I have to accept that life is work. And that’s OK! strangely this realization actually lifts a burden off my shoulders! I shouldn’t pity myself for having to put forth effort and for struggling with my weaknesses because THAT’S EVERYONE’S NORMAL. It’s a part of life. I’m not better or worse than any normal person. We just are. But what makes me not lose hope at that realization is that we have a secret weapon.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
But that’s a whole other blog post.
This morning my 8-year-old daughter, with plans for her monthly allowance on her mind said, “It’s October 1st!” I said, ‘No it’s not.” (It can’t be. It’s still 100 degrees and school barely started, right?) When she insisted, I remembered that yesterday was September 30th and after debating whether September had 31 days or not, and deciding on “not,” I looked at my phone to make forsureforsureforsure it was October 1st (I’m still a little sleep deprived after having the baby). When I saw that it was, indeed, October 1st, I felt a little chill. You know, that little creepy feeling you get when something is just…wrong. I have had that feeling every October 1st for the past 28 years. I have it now as I am typing this. And it amazes me that memories can trigger actual physical sensations in our bodies almost three decades after the fact.
This is me in September of 1987. I had just turned 7 and was totally adorable (obviously!). I had very little to fear in my life except for the goose I was convinced would bite my butt if I slept too close to the gap between my bed and the wall (and no, we did not have geese in our 3rd floor apartment in the city of Whittier, CA). But that all changed on the morning of October 1st of that year (the fear, not the geese).
I was sitting across from my dad at the little round table by the window in our tiny little “kitchenette” eating cereal for breakfast that morning. I remember that it was just a little before I was supposed to walk to school that morning. I heard a deafening BOOM! that I thought could only be a cannon, followed by a loud and violent shaking. I looked through the long, skinny kitchen to my mom standing in the hallway on the opposite end. I got up to run to her, but I could barely see her in her blue and white striped nightgown through the blur of dishes flying out of the ceiling-high cupboards on both sides. As they shattered at my feet, I changed course and started to run through the living room to get to her. I vividly remember the panic and the indecision. I didn’t know how to get to her, and I don’t remember why exactly I wanted to get to her, I just remember that I was desperate to try. According to my mom, she had been screaming incessantly, which was probably part of the reason I was so panicked and determined to reach her.
At this point my memory gets fuzzy. I know that as I tried to run through the living room to get to my mom, a 6-foot tall bookcase started to fall. My mom remembers that my dad caught the bookcase, at least long enough to keep me from getting smashed, but I remember that he grabbed me by my waist and yanked me back into the dining room just in time before the bookcase came crashing down. Maybe it was both. Either way, he’s a hero for saving me and the bookcase did fall at some point because I remember later on having to climb over and around the fallen bookcase and all the books and blue three-ring binders that were strewn all over the floor, just to get around in the living room.
After that all I have in my mind are disjointed scenes from that time of my life: hiding with my dad under the table (during the main quake? During an aftershock?), rolling aftershocks while my entire family huddled in a door jamb, sometimes getting our fingers pinched by swinging doors (no longer advised, by the way), feeling off-balance during aftershocks outside while the whole neighborhood gathered out in the open, away from anything that could fall on us, and people superstitiously speculating about the warm “earthquake weather,” the predictive behavior of animals leading up to the quake, and when the inevitable “big one” would hit. I remember that we couldn’t open the pantry door because all of the food had fallen onto the floor blocking the way. My mom remembers that we ended up throwing it all away because jars of fruit were busted open and shards of glass tore open bags of wheat.
I didn’t go to school that day, but when I did go back and things started to go “back to normal” I had friends who wouldn’t come to girl scout meetings at my house because they were afraid of being in a three-story apartment building. I was afraid too, but my mom told me that we were even safer in our apartment than if we had been in a single-story house because the foundation of the house was as big as an entire basement filled with concrete. Most likely a lie, but it helped a little. Turns out we were safe. Mostly because of modern building codes in effect before our building was built.
I remember parking structures with wires and twisted rebar and chunks of concrete hanging all over the place.
In fact, the brick building where I had taken ballet classes when I was 4 years old had partially collapsed. It was incredibly unsettling to see a section of a place that I had been in multiple times literally crumbled to the ground so that you could see inside of it.
Not sure exactly which building this is, but it’s exactly what I remember my old ballet class looking like after the earthquake. This may or may not be the same building. Unfortunately, many Uptown Whittier buildings were made of bricks back in the 1920’s or 1930’s before updated building codes.
I was paranoid for months or years after the earthquake. I remember having a lot of anxiety about there being another earthquake. We moved all breakable dishes to lower cupboards and put plastic up high. We put rubber bands around the knobs of closet double doors to keep them from flying open in the event of another earthquake. I started to have real trouble sleeping at night, but imaginings of geese were long gone. Now I kept shoes under my bed to put on in case we had to flee over broken glass in the middle of the night. Which at that point in my life, actually became a valid possibility. Now that I think about it, 28 years and zero large earthquakes later, I still have a pair of old sneakers under my bed for just such a reason.
It changes you when you start to learn that there are real things to fear in the world. Not monsters and not geese under the bed, but terrible things that can actually happen to you at any moment. I honestly don’t know if I ever really felt safe again for years. I think that anxiety even extended to other possible horrors. I would imagine “bad mens” trying to rob us in our home and would ask in my evening prayers that if they came they wouldn’t “bring their guns.” I guess I had reached a point where I still had faith that the Lord could help me in a crisis, but now I knew that bad things could and would happen, and I suppose I thought asking for “bad mens” not to come at all would be asking too much.
I looked it up last year on October 1st and found out that the main large earthquake only lasted 30 seconds (although there were more than a dozen medium and small aftershocks) but it has affected me and many others for a lifetime.
Dude, I knew I hadn’t blogged in a really long time, but I didn’t realize it had been over a year. That makes me so sad. I love blogging and I’ve thought of several topics but I never seem to get around to doing anything other than running around like crazy getting things done or lying comatose trying to avoid doing those things that need getting done. I haven’t had much motivation for any of my old “hobbies” in a really long time. Saying (writing) that out loud (on a public forum) makes me feel really lame. Well, on to not-quite-as-lame-ness.
I was recently invited by a friend to do a “scripture challenge.” Something about sharing a scripture that speaks to you on Facebook everyday for a week or so. It sounded like fun but quite honestly, I was too lazy to participate. But today I was thinking about what I think might be my absolute favortitest scripture ever in the whole wide world. I was going to post it on Facebook, but realizing I had a lot to say about it, it might be too long for Facebook and might be better as a blog post. The scripture is From the bible in Matthew 6: 25-33. I know, that’s a lot of verses and its pretty long, but I just can’t break it down any smaller, each part of it is just so powerful. In the King James Version it reads:
“25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Oh. My. Gosh. Powerful. Comforting. I love it! How often do we worry, stress, freak out and obsess over “these things.” Whatever “these things” are to each of us (love, marriage, money, children, school, jobs, illness) we need to have a little faith and stop losing it over them. I know I lose it plenty of times about lots of things. Money is one of them. Finances are a major problem for probably 99.9% of the population of the world. We worry about what we will eat, drink, and wear. These are valid worries. As George Bailey says in the amazing movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” money “comes in real handy down here, bub!” God isn’t saying we shouldn’t work hard and make a good life for ourselves. That just doesn’t even make sense. And I firmly believe that God makes sense. What I think He’s saying is that He doesn’t want it to consume us. Which, wether we are rich or poor, it so often does. But there is more to life than that. There is joy, and family, and things of eternal significance to think about.
I love that the Lord compares us to the splendor of nature. Nature is beautiful. The grasses of the field, the majestic birds of the air, and the gorgeous lilies! The Lord takes care of them, provides for them, and makes them beautiful. We are even more precious and beautiful to God because we are made in His image, so it stands to reason that He would take care of us at least as well as He does them. Besides, what can we really do of ourselves anyway. We can’t make ourselves taller, and even King Solomon wasn’t arrayed as a lily. Everything we have is a gift from God. We make money because we were blessed with abilities and skills to work. We eat and drink because He has provided food and water on this earth.
So what do we have to do to get the assurance that the Lord will provide for us in our time of need? “Seek first the kingdom of God.” I’m not always very good at this. I pursue the wrong priorities, neglect responsibilities and I sin. But I’ve noticed, and been promised that when I do put God first, everything else will fall into place. And it has. Every time I take a leap of faith and do something the Lord wants me to do, even if I don’t know how it will work out, it does. When I do the essentials in my daily life (pray, read the scriptures, keep the commandments), I get blessings. More and more and more blessings. Things just seem to work out. Doors open. And when they don’t, I know it’s ok because God closing doors allows us to find the right ones to open. And He wants to help us open them!
Another scripture I love is Luke 11:9-13.
God wants to bless us. He’s begging us to let Him bless us. We make one little right choice and we get blessed immensely more than we could ever deserve. I can’t really comprehend this kind of love that the Lord has for us. But it helps to imagine how, as a parent, I want my children to be happy. I want to give them what they want, if it’s good for them. I don’t play cruel jokes on them by giving them something they hate or something that would be bad for them when they ask for something they’d enjoy (not judging those who take Jimmy Kimmel’s advice and prank their kids). And neither does God.
Sometimes putting the kingdom of God first is easier said than done. But thankfully the Lord gives us this promise in the Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 3:7 says,
“ 7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
No matter what the Lord gives us, no matter what He asks us to do, He will provide a way. He will help us make it happen. And that is a very comforting thought. It’s what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me trying harder and making an effort and picking up blogging again. It’s what keeps me praying for help, knowing He IS there, He IS listening, and He DOES help. Thank goodness, because I can’t do it on my own.
Fat girls can’t run marathons. Fat girls can’t backpack. They can’t rock climb. They can’t hike. They can’t ride roller coasters. Heck, fat girls can’t even snorkel. Except that I have. I’ve done all those things while being quite overweight. And I bet others have too.
But apparently there aren’t enough of us to constitute plus size active wear. Have you tried finding size 22 zip-off hiking pants at REI? Sport Chalet? Sport Authority? You can’t. they simply don’t exists past size 12. FYI, you can find them online at rei.com. The downside being that there is only one (one!) style and you can’t try them on. Not that it matters. Whether they fit well or not, you are buying them anyway because your only other choice is going on a backpacking trip slugging around in jeans. As if there wasn’t ENOUGH extra weight on my body already.
That goes for wetsuits and running clothes as well. I ended up buying a size 2X men’s wetsuit with cut-off ankles and wrists off of Craigslist from a guy in Long Beach. And yes, I drove an hour out of my way to pick it up. I even tried it on in his apartment. Awwwkwaaaaard! The bright side: it was only 25 bucks. We mos def need more availability for plus size active wear. How are we supposed to lose the weight anyway if we can’t get some quality exercise gear at the local sporting goods store?
And don’t get me started on the naysayers trying to dissuade you from realizing your dreams. A guy on a Runners World forum flat-out told me that I should find another hobby because I run too slow. He even posted this article for me on the cons of having “plodders” (the slower of the “runners”) run marathons. The nerve! Sure, I run slowly. But who cares? Its better than not being active at all.
Although I try not to believe any of the above statements that I “can’t” do anything I want to do, the fact is, as I have gained more and more weight, these things have become increasingly problematic. Sure, I trained for and completed a marathon while 70 pounds overweight. But I got plantar fasciitis in the process and had to take (a lot of) time off from one of my favorite things to do: running. I can’t keep up with others when I hike, I carry more weight than anyone when I backpack, and I’m afraid to have people belay me when I rock climb because I’m so heavy, so I don’t do it anymore. I don’t even try to ride roller coasters nowadays. The ride operators at the theme parks used to be able to smoosh me into my seat and buckle me up, but now they just can’t. Ugh! CAN’T! I hate that word! I should be able to do anything I want to do! But I can’t.
I have learned a lot from being a plus-sized active woman. Not the least of which is that I can do
anything many things I set my mind to. But does that include losing this weight? This has been the hardest battle of my life, and that’s saying something, as I’ve had my share of trials, losses, and heartbreaks. But I’ve also had my share of triumphs. I have overcome things I never thought possible. But can I do this? There are as many reasons for being overweight as there are overweight people in this world. And I have more than a few reasons working against me right now. And not only does the weight make it harder to do the things I love, but the weight-related health problems are a trial all their own (ever had sleep apnea? That thing is NOT good). But I am working with my Dr. to get healthy. Most of all, so that I can go back to doing the things I love. Because sometimes fat girls can, but other times, not so much.
Location: Undisclosed. Participants: various and sundry hoodlums. What: ding-dong-ditching so top secret even the ones performing the shenanigans didn’t know the recipients of the good deed.
After casing the joint and doing several drive-by’s, The 6 rabble-rousers made a drop to a home where people were inside and lights were blazing on the back step. 2 of the culprits banged on the door and then ran to where the other 4 were hiding behind a large tree. Allegedly, a man exited the house, moved the packages to a second location (a shed) and called out, “who is it?” They were unsure if they could be seen crouching behind the tree, but they waited upwards of 5 minutes while the man continued calling from the porch. The ruffians, whose younger members had been complaining and giggling and all around being “not quiet enough,” waited until the count of 3 and began booking it (or in the case of the larger female, huffing and puffing and wheezing her lungs out while carrying a not-so-young child under her arm like a sack of potatoes) through a very very long alley that was in plain sight of the house, to a vehicle located also in plain sight.
At this point the hullabaloo escalated with lights coming on in the car as the sextets piled into the vehicle, illuminating the scene of chaos. A younger member of the outfit scrambled to find the shoe of another, as if it were another EFY get-to-know-you game gone wrong. When they were all inside, the white SUV that had been camped under the street lamp for almost 20 minutes, lurched down the street. All six members of the operation bounced around in the well-lit cabin while the driver tried to turn off the overhead lights and drive with head down and headlights off all at the same time. Most likely, the laughter from within the car was heard throughout the neighborhood.
Although it isn’t recommended that the instigators quit their day jobs (if they even have them) it was, overall a complete success in tomfoolery, tenderness, and togetherness.
I really love Halloween. Not only is it the start of “The Holidays” but it’s also my youngest sister’s birthday, (insert happy birthday shout-out here)! As far as I know, I have never NOT dressed up for Halloween and gone Trick or Treating, or at least gone to a church-sponsered Halloween party, or both. I did it as a child, a teenager, a college student, a newlywed (We were pregnant with J-dub and an old lady scolded us for being worse than the teenagers), a mom, and I’ll do it as a grandma, gosh dang it! The only time I remember not actually going trick or treating was the night before the SAT’s and my mom wouldn’t let me, which was probably a good plan, but I still dressed up and worked the church Halloween party so it still counts!
Let’s take a trip down Halloween Memory lane, shall we?
This is Halloween when I was 5. I was a Cabbage Patch Kid. I don’t know what possessed me to be a Cabbage Patch Kid. Perhaps that’s just what was available to me at the time. I do, however, remember that my mother, my saving grace, drew eyelashes and freckles on my face and put my hair in pigtails so I could actually look cute instead of wearing the hideously terrifying (think Quasimoto) mask that came with the plastic pink and blue “dress.”
The year before that my Grandma had made me (she MADE me!) be Mickey Mouse. That’s right, the BOY. Why, oh why couldn’t it have been Minnie? 4-year-old girls want to be a lot of things, but a boy is not one of them. And for goodness sake, the costume consisted of a plastic pantsuit. Pants! I don’t ever remember ever wearing pants ever at all ever in my whole life ever until I was in 2nd grade. And even then I thought they were boyish and uncomfortable. Even IF they came with a shirt with two pandas holding a heart-shaped balloon between them.
When I was in 1st grade I was a…wait. Can’t you tell? Isn’t it obvious? No? Well if you looked carefully you would observe that I had two buns on top of my head (aka: ears) and a cape (aka: wings). Do I have to spell everything out for you? Geez! I was a bat! Duh… Oh well, at least I get points for imagination, right?For some reason I don’t have any good Halloween pictures of myself until I was 10, and even then I wasn’t in a costume. It’s kinda cute, my sweet and photogenic little sister and me with pumpkins my other Grandma brought from Oregon. Grandma’s taking the picture. And I sure loved those Saddle Shoes. But I hate this picture. It makes me sick to my stomach to even look at. It reminds me of earlier that day at school. I was headed over to the jungle gym and some kids were at the top who were a year younger than me. They started calling out to each other, loud enough that not only could I hear them, but half the playground could hear them, “Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!” Yeah, that was elementary school for me. Thank goodness for Junior High and High school and finally making friends!
Now this picture I love. When I was 11 I went to my first and only Daddy/Daughter Dance. We played games, ate food, took pictures and danced. It was heaven and one of a few cherished memories I have of my dad with me one-on-one.
This is when I was 15. I hadn’t yet decided what to be for Halloween. A friend and I had decided to be Thing 1 and Thing 2. It didn’t exactly work out. I think we ended up wearing Hawaiian shirts over red turtle necks. What?
When you’re a poor college student, you and your roommates and (almost) boyfriend dress up in pajamas and curlers/pigtails and go get free candy in the hills where they’re rumored to give out full candy bars. I am yet to confirm that rumor as true. Still trying, though.
I have all kinds of love for this next picture. I’m not sure what my favorite part of this picture is. It could be the fact that there’s another kid photobombing our family picture. Or the fact that my trendy straight-ironed hair is a little too…flippy. Or it might be the fact that J-dog is grabbing the jack o’ lantern by the mouth. Or it might be that Hubby and I were dressed up as…you guessed it…The Hills! wait, you didn’t guess? Neither did anyone at the party. I still think it was dang creative of me to puffy paint a picture of the nearby hills on a green sheet and cut two holes in it so Josh and I could wear it at the same time. Logistically this was not easily accomplished. But extra points for creativity on a budget!
Probably the only year we pulled off a family costume. I was pretty proud of that one. Oh no wait, once we were all Star Wars characters. But alas, no pictures of me for that one. An all too common occurrence. But aren’t Grumpy and Dopey cuuuuuute?!Contrary to popular belief, I was not “The Holy Ghost.” What a sacrilege! I’m Charlie Brown in the great pumpkin movie when he tries to be a ghost…but he cuts all these holes in his sheet…and ends up with rocks in his treat bag…Y’know? You get it? Hello?
OK, you get THIS one, right? Josh and I are each other! Good thing we didn’t go to any church-sponsored events this year, as cross-dressing is frowned upon. Heh heh. But seriously, this was a great couples costume.
Every year we carve pumpkins and most years we make and frost spooky-shaped sugar cookies and eat them and give them out to people and eat them some more. This year I got too busy for the pumpkin carving and forgot about it until it was too late. How could I? That’s the unpardonable sin of all holiday-dom! Although the kids barely noticed and weren’t all that shook up about it. Maybe I CAN be forgiven. Someday.
Some of the cookies turned out OK but I forgot to buy butter, was busy, forgot about them, didn’t feel like doing anything with them, and so we never got around to frosting them. Mothering fail. So it finally happened: my worst (OK not WORST) nightmare has come true (I actually have recurring nightmares about this). I am unprepared for a holiday. I know, I know, no holiday is perfect. And we’ll still have fun. I just hope this lapse in holiday tradition doesn’t extend to Thanksgiving and Christmas (cue screechy horror music)!