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Archive for December, 2012

Dragon’s Blood and Fueling Fire

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self portrait

I’ve given myself the challenge of losing 35 lbs. in 6 weeks: my deadline is Valentines Day. Can I do it? That will put me right at 130 lbs. at 5’6- a healthy, practical, obtainable, goal to not only reach, but maintain, which is the most important part.

I’m going to call on my former cross country and trak training. I ran for three years from ages 9-11, so I know about healthy body mechanics and warming up. I’m also an x- med student (3.9 GPA/Phi Theta Kappa) so I know about the anatomy from the inside out. 

I don’t want to lose weight to “be skinny”. Although I have the average dose of vanity I suppose (although I don’t “do makeup”) but still, I want to look good. That’s not my overall reason, however. I want to kick up my cardio and feed my heart the necessary oxygen it needs to fuel my organs. I want to strengthen my body from the inside out on a cellular level. Education is very important to me. This is why I studied Nutrition last semester in college, so that I could gather the foundation I need to build a good workout on. I’m going to pair the nutritional components with the physical ones so that I can lose weight and be healthy– not just “thinner”. 

I know some people who practically starve themselves- they drop the pounds- but they end up depriving their brains of the vital oxygen it needs to maintain homeostasis. Electrolyte balance as well as sodium and potassium exchanges need to be interchangeable regarding a healthy PH balance. Starving your body for prolonged periods is seriously just asking for a psychological breakdown- I would know a thing or two about that.

So tomorrow is my first day of the “lose 10 lbs. in 7 days” week. I realize that it’s neither healthy nor practical to do this weekly, but it’s necessary to give myself that push and confidence to keep going. It will also instill the discipline I need to follow through. As an X-trainer and runner, I learned strict discipline.

I was as skinny as a noodle as a child. We didn’t always have food (or running water for that matter) and I was exceedingly poor. Nobody in my family had ever joined any extra curricular activities after school, but I was naturally hyper and loved to run. I don’t remember how it started, but I signed up for cross country when I was 9. We learned all about stretching and body mechanics, and we ran for miles every day after school. 

I didn’t have a ride home, so after running miles at practice- I would wait until everybody left, and then I would run home. My house was about 6 miles from the school. This went on for many months until one day, my coach spotted me halfway home. He couldn’t believe that I was running home after running for miles already. I gratefully excepted a ride. He became my regular ride then. 

Although it was 34 years ago, I still have the fighting spirit that was carved into me- race by race- and implement what I’ve learned into my daily life. Tomorrow, on day 1 of “lose weight week”, I’m only allowed to eat fruit (no bananas allowed), and must drink at least 10 glasses of water. (I have a cup of grapefruit, 6 apples, and 6 tangerines ready to go.)

Today I fasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. (after breakfast- which consisted of 1 cup of cherry vanilla yogurt and a cup of grapefruit, followed by my usual dose of “dragon’s blood” as I call it- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper mixed with 3 oz. of water). For supper, I made fried chicken, dinner rolls, and a salad made up of avocados, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow onions and sharp cheddar cheese. “The last supper”. 🙂

After supper, I hit the Gazelle Stryder for 10 minutes- hard- and have forbidden myself to eat after 10:00 p.m. This is a real sacrifice for me as I’m a midnight muncher. I’m prone to getting migraine headaches so this will be a challenge to lose weight while not triggering a migraine. It’s a bit of a tightrope walk.

I really am tired of feeling like I have a spare tire (as the saying goes), but at the same time, I want to be good to my body- not just “lose weight”. 

I would usually be munching on something at this time while watching the Food Network show (Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef now- go Alex! 🙂 but now I’m headed to the cabinet for my second dose of Dragon’s Blood, then headed to the shower. I even have a smile on my face. I’m pumped! (Talk to me in 7 days after a brutal week of rabbit food.) 

I’m a firm believer in drinking cayenne water. It burns like raw hell but MAN does it do wonders for the body! Here’s a small list of the glorious things cayenne does:

1.) kicks up the metabolism- bigtime
2.) cleanses the blood
3.) Increases and optimizes the body’s cirrculation
4.) equalizes blood pressure, so that many people no longer have to take blood pressure medicine after taking cayenne over time.
5.) Opens up the blood vessels in your head in such a way as to decrease migraines, if not eliminating them altogether.

I know I haven’t done a lot today to shape up, but the small steps I’ve taken have put me on the right track mentally, so that I can lose weight safely

I’ve also apologized to my tongue.
You heard me.
My tongue.

See, I’ve had this lifelong habit of biting my tongue and jaws until they bleed. I’ll rip off skin mercilessly, and right as it’s starting to heal, I’ll rip it off again. It’s a sick addiction and a vicious cycle. It’s no different than cutters, alcoholics, or a junkie who shoves a needle in his or her arm. I know that it’s a chemical thing within the brain. Somehow, I’ve confused pain for pleasure and so the wires are tripped in my “reward center”, kicking up the endorphins every time I rip off new flesh. Very nasty habit.

I figured that “getting healthy” means not ripping my bleeding flesh out of my mouth also, right? So, I apologized to my tongue.

I want to make a real effort to stop abusing my body in that way.

Nobody is “helpless”- that’s total crap. We just get lost sometimes. And then, to make matters worse, we’ll pity ourselves, then get good and pissed off when others won’t. 

Then bitterness sets in. And hatred. And envy. (And on and on and on.)

I’m taking a personal inventory- I simply have to change a few things about myself that I don’t like.

Starting…

 

now. 🙂

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Forgiven

 

Wow. 
So my school had penalized me for dropping my two classes (College Algebra and Public Speaking) due to the car accident that I was involved in on October the 1st. Although it wasn’t my fault, they put $1,380 back onto my balance (meaning that’s what I now owe them) as well as a transcript and registration hold. Without help, I could practically kiss college goodbye. 

But I’m a fighter and I simply refuse to go down like that. I wrote a compelling letter simultaneously to the Dean, the bursar, and the director of financial aid, begging them to help me, and asking them to not allow me to fall through the cracks of society and become a statistic of “what could have been”.  Two days later I received a letter from my adviser stating that the balance would remain, but they lifted the registration hold, allowing me to return for the spring semester. (!) I know a handful of people who have had to drop out altogether for similar holds and situations- this is nothing short of a miracle. 

So, I’ll get to return in several weeks to finish up my degree. I’m ecstatic. 🙂 
I’m not crazy about math, but I’m going to give it my best shot. This will be my fourth semester of college algebra; the first three were developmental and I didn’t receive credit, so this will be somewhat gratifying.

I have three weeks to play in the snow before the madness begins!

Let it snow…  

 [Taken today, on my snow walk.]

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Chocolate and Brandy. Chocolate and Brandy.

 

 

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Bullfrog Creek- Day Camping with J / 5 picture Panorama

 

 

“I’m sorry Birgy,” Josh says. “I will not play any more ‘Hotel California’ on your guitar.”

“That’s alright,” says I. (I’m lying.)

He switches over to Cold Play and I give him an approving sound. Until, that is, he starts speaking in a pseudo-British accent, and badly. He’s not even drinking, and so that makes it even weirder.

“How do you spell weird?” I ask nobody in particular.
My son, Brian (“Bob”, he says with a stern look), says, “Mom…it’s w-e-i-r-d…” adding a slight roll of the eyes.

There’s clearly a celabratory vibe in the air. 

Josh switches over to “Rolling on the River” -careful to curl his R’s for words like “turning” and “burning”.

Something peculiar happened the other day. 
My daughter, Brianna, took J and I out to Ihop. Naturally, I felt really awful because she was paying for it and adamant that we accept, so, we reluctantly obliged. Now I’m not one to go around making trouble with waiters- I swear it. But ask those that know me best and they’ll say otherwise. It’s not that I’m looking for it, it’s just that I appreciate attention to detail and good customer service.

The last time we were at Ihop, we were turned away. They said their machines were down and so we were unable to order, but were “more than welcome to have a seat anyway”. (Isn’t that nice.) Naturally, I said to my posse, “Let’s blow this joint.” 

We left.

Upon our return, we settled in (weeks later) lusting over the idea that we would be served a hot cup of cocoa with marshmallows. I asked our server to bring us a round. 

“Um, we’re out of hot chocolate,” she said.

“Hmm…,” says I. “Do you think you could bring me a cup of coffee on the house in that case?” 

She laughed a nervous laugh, and realizing I was serious, gave me an even quicker laugh with a muffled “Um, I can ask…” (etc.) 

I asked for water also to which I was given, “I always bring water,” abruptly. 

Oh boy- here we go.

(Josh switches over to “System of a Down”.)

She rushed off saying, “It is what it is…” -my daughter agreeing.

“It is not “what it is” – what it is is unprofessional because they should have been on top of this! Regardless, they should compensate their customers when the person is inconvenienced twice in a row in an establishnment. It’s just “good business.”

I receive “the look” from the family.

The waitress had said that she would see what she could do before racing off. I doubted that highly.

When she returned, I wasn’t surprised that she said, “Um, about the free coffee…yeah, I’m just not able to do that.” 

No doubt. She’s not. But I doubted that she’d even tried. And that’s what pissed me off. I figured she went into the back room, moved a few cups around, and came back with the news. No, I don’t have proof, but I could tell by her demeanor that she was not liking me. At all. 

I asked to be excused and went to “the bathroom”. 
(Actually, I went to the front desk to ask for a manager.)

The manager came out and was very polite and such. I explained the situation to him, mentioning that this was the second time we were put off by his establishment. 

Now you may think at this point that I’m a complete nag. But no. It’s the principal of the matter- and I’m driven by principal and integrity in life. I just want people to give a damn.

He said that free coffee was no problem and absolutely he could understand what I meant. 

THAT is my kind of service. 🙂

I went back to my table to find a pitcher of coffee sitting there. The waitress came to the table and I said, “By the way, the coffee IS on the house. I talked to your manager.” 

She seemed slightly embarrassed and I was taken aback by her response.

“Well, in that case, ALL of the coffees are on the house.”

We had ordered some fancy coffees (cappucinos with cream, etc.) totalling about $11. 
I was caught off guard by her grace and devotion. She totally didn’t have to do that and I was perplexed.

When we were preparing to go, I got my checkbook, and wrote out a personal post-dated check for $15. I wanted her to know that I thought she was absolutely awesome for what she did. Handing it to her I said,

“I want you to have this, for going above and beyond your job and doing this for us. We think you’re awesome.” 

The look on her face said everything. 

“Come here,” she said, grabbing me into a full bear hug, tears in her eyes.

She hugged my daughter too, and myself again. We smiled at each other and gave each other another hug before we left.

I was so humbled by this experience.
Life is funny. 

It has a way of kicking your butt and making you realize that you’re not the big hotshot you think you are.

And thank God for that…

 

 

 

 


Last Post of the Year (Sort of)

 

I can hardly believe that it’s been a year since I’ve started this blog. I’ve always kept a diary, since I’ve been a young girl, and so I thought, “Why not make my diary public?” It really is just that, my diary. I’m sure I could start a blog, perhaps a commercial one, and “like” everyone to death and “follow” tons of people, and, as the unspoken rules dictate, reciprocally speaking, in turn, have tons of “followers” as well. But that’s a double edged sword. Nothing wrong with it, but I don’t like to play the back-scratching game. Some people make their whole lives their blogs, and as with anything else, feel so bonded to it that they don’t know who they are without it. Much like Facebook. We all want that 15 minutes! But why? Why do we need to feel like we have to have 560 “friends” or 300 people “following” us? How many of us would be able to kill our online identities and never look back? I’m speaking from experience, as I’ve done this several times in the past. 

My first Redbubble (art/photography) site had hundreds of people who were “watching me” and after a while I actually felt responsible, like I had a new obligation to report to them or something. I grew tired of the notoriety and perhaps responsibility that goes with the territory and, without a word to anyone beforehand, wiped out my account entirely. Hundreds of pics- gone in a second- and I simply vanished. I did the same thing with my Facebook account- poof. Gone. That was over three years ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It killed my vanity immediately! I had to do some in-depth soul searching and re-prioritizing. I didn’t communicate with anybody for almost 30 days. Ironically, that was the same time I was published in Digital SLR Photography magazine. Oh the irony! I was finally published and I couldn’t even tell anybody, because I virtually murdered my online identity! Even so, it was an enlightening experience and one that has changed my views of society and social circles overall. 

I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I know that I want to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, perhaps through Photo Therapy. I’ve seen few programs on the subject and it’s virtually unheard of in my community. I would like to develop a program that teaches children/teens/disabled/disadvantaged people how to express themselves through photography. To tell a story

For me, taking pictures allows me to control my environment, instead of my environment controlling me. I can change the scene and manipulate my perspectives and make the sun dance in any direction I want- it’s really quite empowering! I would like to help kids, in particular, to tap into the rich stream of art within themselves, and to be able to express their angst, joy, hatred, love, laughter- whatever it may be- through photos. 

I can see the light on the horizon. I’m not there yet. 
Maybe I’ll volunteer at the Boys and Girls club of America. 
I’m just not sure yet.

I know this: I am a poor woman. I will probably always be a poor woman. But that’s what drives me. I have a constant hunger that pushed me to go outside of myself- always- and think of others, do for others- to really try to make a difference in their lives. 

I have a message, and it is this: “Never give up. Know your value. Always believe that you were created for other people. The more you suffer in this life, the more valuable you are to others. We all take turns on the great wheel of pain. When it’s your turn- step up boldly. Remember that every drop of pain you go through can benefit another human being- somewhere…somehow.” 

When I was a child, I was given five dollars in quarters, as were all of my siblings. When nobody was around, I split up my quarters into four little, equal piles, and then I hid a pile in each of my siblings’ drawers, underneath their clothes. It was my delight to sit back secretly and wait for them to see the extra money they had. 

I never told them that I did that. 🙂 After all these years, it has been my little secret. I learned something that day; there is no better feeling in the world than to give to somebody else, and it’s all the more powerful if your pockets are empty afterwards. This, is my joy in life. 

And now I will share (with whoever may want to read this) a special story of giving, that involves a pair of grey house slippers, a homeless woman, and myself. 

Merry Christmas to whoever may be reading this, and know that God is watching over you; He sees your struggles, hears your cries, and genuinely loves you. ♥

 

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Pay it Forward

Today I was at my mother’s house. I’d popped in to collect some library books and chit chat for a moment. I was pressed for time because my classes started last week (Behavioral Sciences/Substance Abuse) and 5 classes + 2 teens is nothing to sneeze at! She asked me if I wanted the new pair of house slippers on her sofa- her neighbor had given them to her: size 10, just my size. They were gray, with gray fur trim around the edges and super soft inside. I accepted them, and with a hug and a kiss I was out the door.

I had only driven a few blocks down the road when the feelings were put on my heart to go and take the shoes to the local homeless shelter. It would have been fairly easy to go and drop them off as a donation, I’m sure somebody could have used them. But this felt more personal, and the feelings that were tugging at my heart were very clear, “Go to the parking lot- somebody will be there that can wear them.”

I had no idea what was going on, but I knew that these feelings were too strong to ignore. I had to go. The shelter used to be a church- it’s in a seedy part of town and known to be running rampant with drug addicts and alcoholics. I know the scene well- I lived there years ago. I took the back alley, keeping my eyes peeled; I didn’t see anybody at first, it looked pretty empty. As I got closer, I could see two couches out at the dumpster right at the edge of an alley. Sitting on one of the couches was a woman in her 50’s, facing the alley- backpack at her feet. There was nobody else around. She sat as still as a stone and even as I pulled up alongside her, she didn’t turn her head. I knew immediately she was the one I was meant to find.

I took the slippers and walked up to her and said, “Excuse me, I have some new, gray slippers here, would you happen to be able to wear a size 10?” (I didn’t want to come across as a total whack-job, but I knew I had to do this.) She was startled, but gratefully accepted the slippers- she wore a 9 1/2. Bingo!

We talked for a moment and she told me about her sister who’d been brutally murdered in the city next to us only a year before. She also told me about her daughter she hadn’t seen in over three years. I shared some of my own story with her along the same lines and I felt for a moment, that we were able to share an understanding of sorts, we truly had walked in each others’ shoes in life. I shared with her that I was a former resident and knew her plight all too well. I too was no stranger to losing a child. I asked her if she had a Bible- she did, a small one in her pocket. Then I asked her if she had any money. She looked frightened and I realized how my question had sounded! I explained that I didn’t want money, I wanted to give her a few dollars. At first, she was hesitant, but I knew she was embarrassed, so I made light of the situation, handing her $20.00. I told her that if I had two pennies, I would give her one, knowing that God had all things in His hands. What I give, He will make sure I get back somewhere else.

She broke out in tears and I gave her a big hug. I asked her her name and she told me it was Lucille. “Lucille, I’ll keep you in my prayers. Everything is going to get better, it really will. It’s going to take time! But it will get better,” I told her. And with that, I left.

This evening my friend stopped by. I hadn’t seen her in several months and we had tea and cake and a nice visit. I shared my earlier experience with her regarding Lucille. I had been feeling almost selfish, like I wanted to keep Lucille all to myself. It’s not every day something like that happens! It had become suddenly very precious to me, but I told her about Lucille and how God had put it upon my heart to go and look for her there.

After my friend had left, I went to my computer. (I needed to try and get an Algebra assignment in.) Sitting there by my keyboard was a twenty dollar bill. Before my friend had left, she had snuck in here and left the money on my desk. Smiling, and in shock, I sat here and shook my head, and then I laughed. I knew exactly how Lucille had felt earlier.

I love that life is so beautiful. (So hard sometimes!) But so beautiful, and our lives can be touched by total strangers…

 

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p.s.

I’ve written a BIO for those who want to know more about me.
(Tab at the top.)

Everything in it is incredibly true.

xo


Maestro

 

Josh smiles wryly in the dark, holding the pinhole camera he’s building for me.

I have a slight obsession with the pinhole. He created an aperture hole by poking an attached slice of a coke can (that was firmly fixed to the inside of a wooden box) with a guitar string. We picked up some 200 ISO film last night, and we’re going out today to test it out. A homemade pinhole camera!

 

More on this later.

 

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Catch of the Day

 

 

It’s amazing how much I want to get out and shoot, and begin the creative process almost immediately now that the semester is over. I’m beginning to realize that there are two very distinct cycles that I rotate through: the “school me”, which is the stressed out, dead-line driven, insomniac who strives to get good grades and is very, very sad- and then there’s the carefree child-like “out-of-school me”, who indeed looks up at the sky and marvels- and cries, with a big grin on my face, as I did today.

I am 43 going on 19.

I don’t ever want to lose my child-like view of the world.
And I feel complete with the simplest of things.

I think I’m falling back in love with life.

And so fast!

 

I remain obsessed with monochrome,  mood, lighting, and manual exposure.

 

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The Awakening

 

School is out.
Autumn is dead.
Winter is here.

This is when I come alive. 🙂

 

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Exit Hell- Enter Life

I’m ecstatic. School is OUT. Depending on whether I’ll be eligible for Financial Aid (due to the recent car accident), I’ll either return for the spring semester in 2013, or the following fall. I can hardly believe I’m only 3 classes away from receiving my degree in Behavioral Sciences and certification in Substance Abuse. This past year has been pure insanity!

Now that my finals are over, I feel myself immediately exhaling. Laughter comes quickly. I had forgotten what it was like to laugh!

In my mind, I see flowers. They’re actually coloured. 🙂

I’ll be able to focus on my art now: photography and music/songwriting.

It’s 2:23 a.m. and J is at the stove cooking.
Brianna took Brian and myself out to eat, and then we went to the bookstore in Kentucky.
Brianna bought me a photography book, wearing her little elf hat (bright red and green), jingle bells attached, with long grey gloves- sans a coat-we looked a sight.

Brian was very sad still- his turtle, Alfred, died today. He brought him to me in his little aquarium; Alfred’s head hanging limp in the water.
He smelled pretty bad too. I told Brian to follow me, and we walked out to the woods to bury him. It was biting cold.

I was impressed and touched that Brian chose a location high up on a hill, instead of right at the edge, conveniently closer to the fence. Instead, we were slapped in our faces with branches and bramble, trudging up the hill, but again, was very touched that Brian went the extra mile for him. We buried him there and took a moment.

On the way home, the rain turned to sleet.

RIP little Alfred.

xo

LittleTurtleBigWorldAAG


Post Mortem

NiftyFifty

He keeps falling out of love with me

Doesn’t have far to go

The ground was sweeter and it broke his fall

He really didn’t care for me at all

He’s tap tap tapping on his keyboard there

The waste hangs thickly in the air

Words are dead

His heart has taken flight

Away from me

Again

tonight


The new $200 Do

Well I have to say, I’m not hating the hair.

beforeandafterhair

I was feeling a little woozy when I got to Kelly Ann’s place. She ran my Visa before we started (naturally, I tipped her $20 + ) and told me that it was going to be a process. My hair was so damaged, we were going to have to strip the colour down and then recolour it 3 different times. It took a total of 5 hours. The wooziness increased throughout the evening and several times I caught myself microsleeping under the heat lamp. When I got home, I snapped a few “after” shots (for Kelly Ann) then ran to the bathroom. Full projectile vomit. I was able to go and lie down, and thankfully, Josh nursed me back to health.

Two days later- it’s still kicking my butt- whatever it was- and I feel like there are needles sticking in every joint I have. It’s not the flu- I’m not even “sick”, as in, a virus or anything. Whatever is going on in my body right now is definitely systemic and attacking my nerves and bones. The pain is excruciating, and it hurts to even walk. My feet feel like they’ve been beaten for hours.

On the bright side of things, my Nutrition final is due tomorrow and then I’ll need to do one more Substance Abuse Treatment Centers assignment and then I’ll be out of school for the semester!

Back to bed.