Being Assertive

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“For no one can fill/ those of your needs/ that you won’t let show.” – Lean On Me by Bill Withers

I’ve always been a humble sort of person. Someone told me in the last year that I’m the least pretentious person he’d ever met. Another friend said I’m so easy going that if someone couldn’t get along with me, then the problem was definitely with the other person.

It’s true that I don’t carry ulterior motives, try not to over-bill myself, and what you see is what you get.

Usually.

Sometimes, however, when you’re this kind of person, others sometimes walk all over you. And because you’re laid back and go-with-the flow, you don’t get out of shape about it.

And when you’re this kind of person already and you get depressed or anxious, you think you *deserve* to get walked all over.

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Until you get fed up.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I will go to bat for anyone else any day and never for myself. I see solutions to other people’s problems so clearly and know how to help them. Or at least advocate for them.

I’ve been working for months on telling others how I feel even if it scares me. There are still plenty of things I can’t say out loud even though I think they are true. I told a friend the other day that some of his behavior was scary to me. At the risk of losing a friend and of course questioning whether I had done the right thing, I did it anyway. That was probably the biggest example of me building the muscles I need to build in order to be more assertive like I’d like to be.

I have two minor, silly examples from the last 24 hours when I have been assertive.

  1. Last night at dinner, I placed an order exactly as the restaurant had told us in the past to order it. It’s a barbecue place, and even though I don’t eat meat, they have a salad I like, and it comes with two hard boiled eggs.  My son loves hard boiled eggs, too, so we started ordering an extra side of eggs for him. Last night, I ordered the salad (which comes with eggs, as you now know), and a side of hard boiled eggs for my son. My salad came out, with eggs on it, and the server said, there are your eggs. I was a little baffled and she flitted away before I could ask her if my son’s eggs were coming. Another server happened by, and I asked if she could confirm if the salad was supposed to come with eggs or if I happened to always get eggs when I’ve ordered it in the past, just in case, you know, they make it without eggs now. She said it comes with eggs (as I thought), so I told her I’d order a side of eggs. She looked pained and unsure that I was being truthful. The other server came by a few minutes later, set down the eggs in a little bowl, and said condescendingly huffy, “you were supposed to pay for them, but here are your eggs. Enjoy,” and walked away scowling. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, and I very badly wanted to assure them this was how I had placed my order, but they were busy and frankly I didn’t want to talk to either server again. But, I am glad I stood up for what I wanted, for what I ordered. In the past, I hadn’t. It wasn’t the first time they didn’t understand what I was ordering. I did decide to kill with kindness by cleaning up the table to make it very easy for them to clear: silverware together, trash gathered, wiped up crumbs, etc.
  2. I got a haircut a few weeks ago. It looked pretty when I left the salon, because, duh, it always looks amazing when you leave the salon. I had told the lady who cut my hair that I typically didn’t have time to blow dry it and that I needed a cut that would dry okay. Fast forward to pretty much every day since the first wash after my haircut. I don’t like it. It looks dippy and I don’t feel pretty. I want something else. Counter to what I would have done in the past, which was settle for the haircut and just deal with it, or go to an entirely different salon (avoidance), I called the salon owner and simply told her I had very patiently tried to get used to it, but that I hadn’t been able to really love this haircut. She can see me tomorrow! And I even asked if she’s going to charge me, and she said, of course not! Phew. So glad I asked.

Again, these are tiny examples but they signify progress I have made in being more assertive about the things I want.

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Thanks for reading.

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Irked.

I’m having a silly work issue and no one believes me when I told them the system wasn’t working.

Even Josef didn’t fully believe me. Said he was playing devil’s advocate by suggesting it was operator error. If it had been operator error, I would have known that earlier than the two full days and nights of trying to work through the issue. I don’t pretend to be a genius, but come on, don’t treat me like I’m stupid.

I’m so angry right now. Frustrated. I even cried a little.

I feel like the little girl I used to be, trying to explain something to the adults and older siblings in my life and no one believes me. I’m not being petulant or trying to cover for my lack of efficiency. I am WELL aware of my lack of efficiency — but this issue was standing in my way, making my lack of efficiency even WORSE, thank-you-very-much.

It’s a crap feeling and makes me want to run away, frankly.

Time to look at those ocean pictures again, I guess.

Underwater

I’ve been living life underwater. It didn’t seem that bad at first, but it’s haunting me now.

When you’re underwater, sounds are distorted, reality is distorted. The pressure of the water supports you but also creates force on your body from every angle. And, for me, it makes me sleepy.

If you ever get diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and you’re prescribed Latuda, just plan to take some time off from work until you know how it will affect you. And hire some help around the house.

I was taking it at breakfast per the instructions to take with food. Then I spent the next 4 or so hours completely zonked out while trying not to be zonked out. At work, I was drinking as much coffee as possible, taking walks, standing at my desk, going outside to let the cold air wake me up. I couldn’t get physically comfortable in my desk chair.

I Googled “Always physically uncomfortable.” I thought, maybe I hate my job? But I felt the same way on the weekend mornings, too.

At work, I yawned in meetings and checked on the clock to see how much longer the meeting would last so I didn’t have to be “on.” On the weekend, I was lying down, falling asleep so easily. Taking the nap my three year old was refusing to take.

Turns out, it was from the Latuda pill I was taking along with Effexor. Because I took it so soon after I woke up, I didn’t realize there was a line of demarcation between feeling sleepy from waking up and feeling sleepy from the medicine, which set in as I should have been waking up.

And I didn’t realize it until YESTERDAY.

Ugh.

Yesterday I was so sleepy I had to leave work and go home to go to sleep. Yesterday I decided I can’t go on like this anymore. Yesterday I realized the stupid pill — which is ridiculously expensive, btw — was causing all this frustration.

I didn’t take the pill this morning. It feels like a window full of fresh air is blowing in my face as I drive my car on a gorgeous spring day. It doesn’t hurt that I went for a 7-mile run yesterday.

The last few weeks, work has suffered, life has suffered, those who love me have suffered. Josef told me he doesn’t want me to stay on this medication, and I don’t blame him.

Looking back, I feel so awful that I didn’t recognize the culprit sooner.

I’ve been living life underwater. And now I’ve come up for air and am ready to rejoin society.

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Perfection

After a 2 year break, I think, I have some things to say.

“You’re so perfect.”

“How are you so perfect?”

“You do everything so well – you’re just so perfect!”

“I love your shoes. And your dress. And that scarf goes with both, ties them together, actually. It’s perfect!”

My whole life has been built around this theme. Why? Who even knows.

No one ever told me explicitly I had to be perfect. There was no sit down conversation with my parents where they said, “we won’t love you unless you’re perfect in all things.” Similarly, my two big sisters, who helped raise me, never told me, “you’re not good enough to be in our family unless you’re perfect. ‘Cause perfect is how we do things around here.”

And, God never said I had to be perfect, either.

When I was kid, I was very independent. I liked to figure things out for myself. Researched encyclopedia pages to answer the questions I could have asked parents or teachers. Taught myself how to ride a bike. Perfectly happy to read a book, create some artwork, write, whatever. I lived in my head. My imagination had a never ending supply of entertainment. I rarely gave into peer pressure, either. I think because of this, many people left me alone.

Looking back, I really could have used more input from an imprinting adult on how to express myself. Once I became interested in interaction, I think in order to feel interesting to others, I became both a chameleon and a comedian, becoming a source of blending in and enjoyment for others at the expense of my own happiness. That’s not to say I didn’t have many authentic, wonderful experiences — I did — but as a daily habit, I always tried to draw as little attention to my own feelings as possible because then everyone might realize how inept I was. The times I did express myself were some of the worst experiences in my formative years, as developmentally necessary and normal as that pain likely was.

We all do this. When someone says, “Hey, how are you?” the answer is always something like, “fine,” even when things are crappy and I’d rather not talk about it. Because I don’t even know how to talk about it.

I’ve been through counseling with different therapists in my lowest points. One of them, who was my least favorite (she literally spent every session talking about herself), actually finally gave me some useful information that none of the others had. This was our last scheduled session out of maybe 6 that I had to attend due to a self-initiated referral, and because I was weary of the idea of having to keep coming to see her, I told her I now felt much better and didn’t think I needed to continue these visits. She recognized my determination, and she must not have been too concerned for me otherwise to compel me to continue our sessions, because these were her parting words, showing me she actually had been observing me the whole time despite my lack of participation:

“You’re a perfectionist. You have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. And, you squelch yourself.”

The first sentence made sense but I didn’t really focus on it at the time. The last sentence is what I reacted to at the time, as it was only too true. I’d rather be miserable than ever let on that I am unhappy. Others in my life never have any idea I’m enraged, depressed, or anything other than what I want them to see me be. This is generally because I don’t want others to worry about me. I’m the peacemaker, and I’ll try to distract others from their misery so they don’t even have time to notice I’m carrying a huge suitcase full of my own misery. And as a result of successful deflection of attention on me, others think I’m somehow perfect.

Perfectly happy. Perfectly content.

Perfectly furious at times, to be honest. And never comfortable enough to reveal how I really feel, and therefore who I really am.

Remember how I mentioned that I taught myself how to ride a bike? I actually can’t ride a bike. I was such a poor teacher to myself – ill equipped. My bike training regimen consisted of figuring out the balance of the small rusty used bike that was at our house. It didn’t even have brakes, but fortunately, our driveway was the perfect gradual U shape, allowing for a gentle downhill launch and an uphill natural braking mechanism. Over and over I went, down and up, a live physics lesson, until I reached equilibrium. I was such a poor teacher to myself that I also never learned to truly love riding the bike. Just checked the developmental box and moved on. I’m terrified to even try now. The last time I tried I shook so badly that my hands ached for days from gripping the handlebar with such ferocity.

I refused help with it, because I wanted to figure it out, but maybe there was something more to my rejection of help. I had trust issues as a child. I still do. And just like no one told me to be perfect, I can’t recall why I would have trust issues. But between these two areas, I have a placed a huge burden on myself. I have this weird belief that I am to be both perfect and 100% self reliant. Neither of which is possible. Neither of which is healthy. Neither of which feels good.

Even now, I am writing this and wondering if I should just delete it all, edit it to death, try to say all the things I left out. Reveal more. Reveal less. I hate dithering, but I do it all the time. Perpetual spin of yes, no, yes, no. Stop, go, stop, go. Don’t, do, don’t, do. Say something, no don’t, say something, no.

The major dithering episodes usually drive me crazy, keep me up at night, and end with decisive ultimatum action. I usually leave situations rather than try to make them better (jobs, singing group, relationships). I reject before I am rejected. I think the act of detaching gets the point across. Even when I give other plausible reasons for ending things, it’s usually because I have chosen not to fight for what I really want. I choose flight over fight.

I’m going to try to take a crack at being less perfect. I’m so used to putting everyone else’s needs in front of my own, and it’s very hard for me to be actively selfish enough.

In writing this post, I read an American Psychological Association article that said some really scary things about perfectionism, including these revealing highlights (emphasis mine):

“The PSPS rates three aspects of perfectionistic self-presentation: advertising one’s own perfection, avoiding situations in which one might appear to be imperfect and failing to disclose situations in which one has been imperfect.”

“‘”Those types of individuals [perfectionists] tend not to disclose anything that’s going to make them look imperfect… It’s difficult to keep them in treatment, because you’re asking them to do the thing they’ve been fighting against.”‘

I think the imperfections I choose not to disclose is what keeps me stuck in the Dithering Cycle. Why make someone unhappy with what I could say? Why make a big deal about something that maybe isn’t a big deal in the long run? Okay, I’ll just instead smile and say, “I’m fine.”

I’m always amazed at what people feel comfortable telling me. Whether it’s a compliment or something deeply personal, I am usually stunned at first. Sometimes I think I am a mirror, reflecting back how others want to see themselves, so I can see that I make them comfortable enough to share their thoughts with me. I’m going to work on saying what I mean. Maybe I’ll amaze someone else.

As I write this, I imagine myself on an elementary playground, standing before a swinging jump rope, and it’s my turn to jump in and keep up with its pace.

Encouraging Me: Jump in, Susan.

Dithering Me: No.

Encouraging Me: Jump in!!!!

Dithering Me: No.

Encouraging Me: Oh for the love of all things, just go do it! What can you possibly be waiting for?

Dithering Me: No.

Deciding not to decide is making a decision.

The lyrics to Lean On Me say, “no one can fill those of your needs that you won’t let show.”

I’m in a Dithering Cycle right now. How do I get out of it? How do I let my needs show?

My current therapist says I need to work on expressing how I am feeling. I’m going to start there. She says we can’t control other people, places, and things. And no matter where we take ourselves or surround ourselves with, we’ll still be stuck with our same unresolved issues. If I want to be all the things I want for others — to feel worthy of time and attention, to feel valued — then I’d better get to work on addressing my unresolved issues.

Here goes nothing. Well, not nothing. These feelings are going to be named.

I feel unfulfilled because there are a million things I want to do with my time that I am not doing. I feel like I am wasting precious time. I feel like I am 80 years old, looking back on my life, and am disappointed in myself for the things I’ve left undone. I feel worried about the many unknowns in life. I feel guilty for hurting others I’ve cared about by not expressing love to them. I feel overwhelmed with responsibility. I feel lonely a lot of the time. I feel disconnected from those I feel like I should be the most connected to. I feel sad over relationships I’m not enjoying that I used to. I feel lost. I feel frustrated. I feel terrified about sharing all of this. I feel vivacious though, doing so. I feel sad about not singing in an official group or recording. I feel my talents are invisible when I am ready to shine. I feel like I am missing out. I feel mature and childish at the same time. I feel stormy, like a teenager, which right now to me means the world is at once amazing and unfair. I feel confused about what all I am feeling. I feel like dancing. I feel like singing. I want to create. I want to leave a legacy. I’m tired of constantly retreating to the safety of my shell, like a turtle or a snail.

Me: Jump in. Let’s do this.

 

Watching the Clock

A funny thing happened to me twice over the last few months.  Perhaps it was supposed to be a sign, but it was frustrating at the time.

I have a clock I bought for work.  It’s a dinky little wall clock I bought at Target for my office at my old job.  It was a little silly to buy, I admit, given that there are always plenty of sources to tell the time at work – my computer, my desk phone, my cell phone, plus wall clocks around the office.

I came to work a few months ago and found the clock had fallen off the wall. No biggie, right? Pick it up and put it back on the wall — good to go!  Nope. This plastic chrono-wonder had split and cracked in several key places and it could not be repaired.  I was bummed!  I referenced it a lot throughout the day, and I had also used it a bit like a mirror to see if people were approaching my desk when my back is turned – handy when I have Pandora blasting and am knee deep in figuring out why my calculations aren’t working in a spreadsheet (or, okay, maybe I’m checking personal email).  Plus, I was sad that it wasn’t part of my work decor arsenal anymore because it was cute.  Again, silly, but I liked that clock, m-kay?

Secondly, my beautiful watch’s battery died.  Josef gave me that watch for Christmas a couple of years ago.  It was sparkly and made me feel special to wear it.  I rarely went a day without wearing it.  It stopped on my birthday this year, when Josef and I were spending our last weekend in Montreat before the baby arrives. My wrist feels naked without it still, but I haven’t gone to the trouble of getting the new battery put in it yet.  Not a difficult thing to do, but it hasn’t been done.

So, recap: two different time pieces I adored no longer work and I haven’t done anything about it.

My priorities have shifted and I have slowed way down.  I am off the clock.

I’m almost 30 weeks pregnant and I am finding it difficult to care about what time it is anymore. Maybe it’s the lack of time pieces.  Maybe it’s the new life growing inside of me.  Throw in the time change this past weekend and waking up at the new 6:30 is really, really hard.

Ten weeks until little Baby H arrives.  I feel myself watching the clock, figuratively, for when he will get here.  I feel the urgency of the dwindling of time as well as the stretch of infinity between now and when he is born.  How can one amount of time feel so drastically different at the same time?

I’m so ready to pour my need to watch the time on this baby’s time, on his watch.  I’m excited to calculate time based on his being born: one day later, one week later, one month later.

Outwardly, I am telling time myself, with my body.  I am a walking waxing moon, with my baby bump growing fuller before everyone’s eyes.  This also is slowing me down, making time seem to pass more slowly.  It takes me longer to do everything – between moving slowly and being generally spacier, it’s amazing I get anything accomplished!

Folks at work are hurting my feelings more and more by bringing up my appearance.  I hate the attention to my body.  I think many of them have never seen a walking time piece before! They think I should be ready to give birth based on my appearance – but I know better.  It is not time yet for me — they’ve got the time wrong, and their perception of how to tell time based on what they think a pregnant woman looks like is wrong.  Their eyes large as saucers, they proclaim “Not much longer!” “You’re popping more each time I see you!” “You can’t get any bigger!”

Now I know how the moon must feel, how the watched clock must feel.  My work colleagues are willing me to be ready based on what they see, much like I have watched many a clock willing it to be time to be ready to go.  I’m sure the moon is frustrated when it’s called a full moon and isn’t, and 5:00 ain’t 5:00 until it really is, no matter how many grumpy faces we make at the clock until 5:00 is ready.

30 weeks – that’s a quarter til in clock time (40 weeks in pregnancy, fyi). 75% complete in a progress status. A quarter til seems like almost time to be done to the point it feels time to be done, but that’s not quite true.  I have to be patient with myself and with others this last quarter and focus on what really matters – this sweet little boy who I hope is eagerly watching his own clock to know when it’s really time to arrive!

Head Games

I’ve never been much into power.

As in, it doesn’t motivate me to finagle my way into a position of authority. I am perfectly cool with being an independent follower, as in, give me some guidelines and I will follow them to the extent we’re both happy.

When I have been called to be a leader, like in my singing group, I was really motivated to work on aspects of the group I felt needed to be changed, but with the approval and consensus of those involved, as I would never, ever take a dictatorial stance on things. Even when I become a parent, I imagine my proclivity to listen will set my child on more equal footing when it comes to debatable topics. This is not to say I don’t have strong opinions — I just respect others’ strong opinions a little too much, probably. At the expense of my opinions.

Peacemaking intentions don’t always bring about peace though. By not standing up to the other leaders in my group, I didn’t accomplish the things I’d set out to do because I let myself come to believe that their wishes were better for the group. Then, when the group was upset, I basically had zero recourse as I had gone along with the more vocalized issues put forth by my co-leaders.

I feel the same about doing what is best for myself.  If I have learned anything from my LOR, it is to really listen to myself.

The outside influences, though, really cripple me.

For instance:

Last week, I was feeling fit and fabulous!  I felt trim, pretty, and like the world was my oyster (or whatever the phrase is that means everything is going well for me).  I was at work and had gone to lunch.  I saw an older male colleague who had just celebrated a major accomplishment and I wanted to offer my congratulations to him.  After I had told him how happy I was for him, and we shot the breeze about some other stuff we had in common, he asked me, “When are you due?”

I was humiliated. Thinking I had misheard him, but knowing I had not, I replied, “Due for what?”

“Aren’t you expecting?”

“No.”

It’s awkward. He went on to tell me someone had told him I was.  I told him that, no, I wasn’t, had never been, and had never told anyone that I was.

He made the situation EVEN worse by asking, “well, weren’t you before?”

“No!”

I feel like running for Mrs. America, and my platform will be DO NOT ASK IF A WOMAN IS PREGNANT. SHE WILL TELL YOU IF SHE IS.

Geez!

I honestly feel at this point that I should do one of a few things:

1. email my entire work place and tell them I am not pregnant

2. wear a t-shirt that says “I’m Not Pregnant!”

3. Stop eating and spend the rest of my life exercising.  Because clearly having a healthy lifestyle doesn’t do enough for my physique.

What makes all of this worse is that I have friends who are in the trenches, working on trying to get pregnant and haven’t quite made it there.  Pregnancy is already such a weighty issue on its own, in other words.

I feel like the power of what body image should be is dictated by our culture, as well as how assumptions are formed about people based on their body image.  A girl is too skinny? She must be anorexic. A girl is too fat? Oh, she must be a couch potato. A girl has a big middle? Awwwwwww, she’s pregnant! Let’s just say for the sake of my argument that none of these assumptions are true, because I know from personal conversations with women in my life that there are women of every shape and size whose body shape belies what is actually going on with them.

What I hate the most is how these assumptions about my particular body is how much collateral damage it costs me. I have been sucking in my stomach for a week. I have been questioning my posture, clothing, diet, exercise, and more all because one person heard a false statement (actually two false statements, given his second question!) about me. Why am I so fragile?

Confidence is a hard thing for me to hold on to. The last time I wrote, I was feeling really good about myself and my audition.  Well, it that audition only taught me that no matter how it goes in the audition, you still might not be their “type” or what they want. Even for completely different shows.  I am trying to tell myself that I did well, that I am talented, and that they are crazy for not casting me.  I am trying to tell myself that I cannot count my self-worth based on not getting cast for this particular time. It hurts though. The power of rejection hurts afresh each time.  Much like my friends who would like to have a baby, each time they find out the answer isn’t “right now.”

As a Christian, I am often responding to the pattern of my life through discernment.  That door closed? God wants me to pry the window open.  That’s a dead end? God wants me to turn around, look at my steps, and see where else I can go.  I know that even when things go wrong and I am pitifully upset about it, something better will come along that will mean more to me because it will have been earned through prayer, reflection, and trust in God.  That’s the only thing that consoles me sometimes.

My voice coach said to me, when I asked him how to not get psyched out as I waited on my my turn at the audition, that I should ask people that I love why they love me.  Then, no matter how the audition went, if I cracked my high note or fell on my face by tripping over my own feet, then that won’t matter because Josef loves me, my friends love me, my colleagues love me, my neighbors love me, my parents and in-laws love me, my students love me.  He said waiting is all a head game anyway.

Life is a lot of waiting, and a lot of head games.  While it keeps things interesting to have things coming up that may or may not work out, or pursuits for improvement may or may not make things better, set backs can and do happen.  While I don’t mean to dwell on the negatives,  I do need to pay attention to why set backs get me so terribly down and have longer-lasting effects than success has.

One thing I think this perspective gives me is the ability to be really happy and celebratory for good things that happen to others.  I want good things for other people as much as I want them for myself.

I am waiting on a few things that might happen for me, but if TWO good things happen for me, then I’ll have a tough decision to make.

Oh, LIFE!!

Happy Pi Day, Big Middle!

The inner math nerd in me giggles about today’s date every year. Also, the person in me who likes to celebrate EVERYTHING is happy to have a reason to celebrate today. Oh, and we’re so close to St. Patty’s Day! Two celebrations in one week! I know, right?!

Another reason to celebrate today is that today marks Day 6 of my Lenten Observation Routine (hereafter, LOR). I’m including Sundays, so it’s still 41 days left for me.  I figured it would make dull blogging (and for you, reading) to make an entry each day stating I reached my goals! And, again! And, yet again! And, guess what, again!

So far, as you can probably ascertain, I’ve been able to mark off each day that I have had a gallon of water, walked a mile, not watched TV, and read the Lectionary text of the day. It was surprisingly harder to accomplish the walk on the weekend, and it’s been nice to have something on my list that I am NOT supposed to do, because, in effect, it’s something I don’t HAVE to do. I never thought it would be that way. Of course, would I love to watch TV? Yes. Yes, I would.

I was worried what the change in schedule this week for mean for my LOR, as last week was spring break for school, and while I had work to do as it’s admissions season, I still got to move at a leisurely pace through my day, allowing easy integration of the LOR into my life.  I didn’t sleep in all week, which shocked me, but I got to hang out with the dog while I drank my first Nalgene full of water. By the way, I realized my Nalgene, being purple, is the correct Liturgical color for the season of Lent. Freaky. Anyway, the switch to the full force work week has not hampered my LOR abilities.

It’s been nice to make myself drink the water because I am only hungry at about 10% of the rate I was hungry before. It’s wild. I knew this would happen, but it’s still nice. It makes me feel to stupid for not putting two and two together, but, by golly, LOR is teaching me a thing or two!

Going for a walk has offered a nice interlude for my day as well. And, ever the overachiever, I usually walk more than the required mile. My poor pedometer, though, is not doing so well. I’ve dropped it at least four times, three of which have been on pavement, which is not a very forgiving surface. It still keeps track of my steps, but its display goes in and out of visibility. Might have to find one that can hold on a little better to the tops of my pants as this one slips very easily. Maybe it just doesn’t like its job very much? Maybe it prefers to be on the ground? Maybe I am moving way too much for its liking? Geez, pedometer, give me a break! It’s LOR’s fault!!

Reading the Lectionary text has also been a nice interlude for me. And I fully embrace technology — I either read it from my computer OR my Blackberry. Very exciting. I like reading it, though. I like how there are different parts of the Bible represented each day, and even Psalms listed as being for the morning or the evening. It’s become really evident to me how much music has taught me about the Bible, given that at one passage each day picks up a tune I know that was inspired by the words I am reading. It’s pretty cool.

In other news, I was just walking, feeling all great about being on a walk and enjoying the great out doors, and feeling healthy and all that, when lo, and behold, a neighbor I was passing (I’d just waved hello to her) said, “When did THAT happen??”

She was referring to my midsection.

She clearly thought I was preggers.

😦 Am not.

Luckily she played it off and didn’t even admit to having asked it once I readjusted my baggy t-shirt a little (WILL BE WEARING MORE CLOSELY FITTED ARTICLES OF CLOTHING ON WALKS NOW) and I shot the breeze with her. It was super duper awkward. My high from walking and feeling healthy was totally fizzling and she and I parted our conversation soon thereafter.

I am really sensitive about my midsection. Everyone has a part of their body they don’t like, and for me, that’s the area that, although I am not wealthy and if I were, I would hope I’d spend my money elsewhere, I would get some work done. I have very long arms and legs, but my torso? Totally short.  Because I am 5’2″, it’s especially short. Out of 5 feet, 2 inches, from the floor to my hip is exactly 3 feet. I realized that one day when I held a yard stick along the outside of my leg one day during a science class in high school. I was leaning against, waiting my turn to use the yard stick to measure something for a lab we were working on, and it hit me that the remaining 2 feet and 2 inches contained a whole lot of body – my torso, neck and head. It didn’t seem to me at the time to be an even distribution, and I’ve figured out over time that that’s because it isn’t.

That's me in the middle. Figuratively speaking.

I know, whine whine whine. I want to wear things meant for girls with no boobs and a long torso, but for me, when I try on clothes meant for girls like that, it looks like an ill-fitting couch cover over a sofa. In other words, disaster. It wouldn’t be so bad if my waist were smaller, but, alas, that’s where all the fat collects. And that’s why people think I am pregnant when in fact, I am just built to look dumpy if I am ten pounds overweight as I am now. It sucks.

Maybe I should go eat some pie on this Pi Day, wallow in my self-pity.

The thing that stinks about being mistaken as a carrier of a baby is that I would like to be carrying a baby. Or, even more simply-put, I would like to have the reason I look pregnant be that I am pregnant. It raises too much excitement for folks when they think I am pregnant.  It’s such a let down for both of us when I have to say, no, not yet. And it happens way more than I would like to have happen and it’s upsetting every time.  It’s funny how frequently I can spot another woman with my body type now and I know she must also get asked when her baby is due.

As usual, I try to cope with humor. A few years ago, Josef and I were at a garden center looking at daffodil bulbs to plant in our yard (where is this going???? you ask) and we came across a bulb named Big Middle. Josef, jokingly and unintentionally, held the bag up to my belly and poked my belly with the bag, proclaiming “Big Middle” in kind of a Green Giant voice. Horror quickly chased away the humor in his face when he realized that his joke may have caused me pain as he is fully aware of how sensitive I am about my torso. However, the whole thing just struck me a hilarious, and I even took the joke to as an opportunity to rename my “problem area.” From then on, any time I feel fat, I pat my own Big Middle and try to get over myself, even if just a little.

Hot and Cold

For Show and Tell today, here’s a video of me, singing one of my solos with my a cappella group. It’s an older video and my hair is really, really long, and I’ve improved vocally since (but it’s easy to be critical of one’s own singing) but, here it is all the same:

L-O-V-E

Still on fence with regard to continuing on with that group. Seven years is a loooooooong time to devote to a group. I love the girls in the group and I love singing with them all, but I just feel ready to move along. Even more so than before.  This is old news to you. I should just hush. I should have someone singing Katy Perry’s “Hot and Cold” to me as that’s how I feel, changing my mind like a girl changes clothes and all (and I do change clothes a lot!! Once in college I counted myself changing clothes 7 times, for no good reason – wasn’t a day when I had a sorority function or class presentation, just felt like changing clothes!!)

Oh, and I finally heard from my voice teacher today. As one of my guesses was that he’s been really busy, I was partially right in guessing why I hadn’t heard from him. And he had a bad thing happen, too, which prevented him from coming to the party. And he wants to start up lessons again. So I guess all is well, but I wish I could have heard from him sooner. Not that I’ve found a new voice teacher or anything, but it was a rough time not hearing anything at all from him after not being cast.

Okay, time to get off the topic of myself. Am sick of dwelling on self.

We’re renovating the bathroom, as you know, from reading posts down below. Or, if you haven’t, read down below and you’ll see that we’re renovating our master bathroom, changing out the floor in the guest bathroom, and changing out the floors in the master bedroom. We also have had a Squirrel Problem in the midst of our renovation starting up, and I think we finally may have resolved it. I can devote an entire, probably dull, post about the Squirrel Problem, but just know they are in our attic, we had the trees trimmed outside to deny their access, it wasn’t enough, we cut down another tree (I know. 😦 ) and now we’ve had professional squirrel removers come, which means their ultimate demise. I used to think squirrels were cute, but now I know how gross they are and that I don’t want them shackin’ up in our attic. With all their fleas and poop and diseases, probably. GROSS.

So, due to said Squirrel Problem (I have no idea why that bears capitalization, it Just Does, Okay?), we have spent some money we hadn’t intended to spend solving it. That money was SUPPOSED to be in our renovation budget, so to save a bit of dough (oh, and we’ve bought some pretty shiney things for the bathroom we hadn’t planned on either, furthering the need to save dough), Josef has started doing a bunch of the demo himself. And I’ve helped about 5% of the time he’s been working on it. He’s such a champ. And we get the dumpster on Saturday, and the contractor starts on Monday, so it’s really happening!!

(And, Twelvedaysold, all is good, he’s legit and has done work for people we know! Thank you for your advice!!)

We’re looking forward to a pretty, shiny bathroom in the near future. For now, our house looks like it belongs on one of those Hoarders shows. Man, it’s difficult living with stuff on top and beside of all the other stuff. Will go crazy if this lasts too long. Josef and I have a happy marriage now, but just wait until we have spent the next month in the tight confines of all our crap and fumes from the renovation and the barking dog (who just got a bath today, so he smells soooooo much better!) and the busting of the renovation budget (only kidding!)… yeah, it’s going to be a crazy month. But, it will all be so pretty and worthwhile and we’re really excited to see the progress once it gets started.

We’re also looking forward to life calming down eventually. My busy season at work is NOW, hence my ability to help Josef 5% of the time. 🙂 We’re hoping to make it to Helen, Georgia for a fun time there beyond Oktoberfest. We miss Germany (well, Bavaria/Munich) so much!

For now, I will get my European fix by watching House Hunters International on HGTV. (They are set up on the DVR, yes sir.) I love the city views, seeing how parts of Poland remind me of parts of Hungary, etc. How I could just pick up and go at a moment’s notice. As long as the new bathroom can come with us, of course. That’s not too much to ask, right?

Speaking of changing clothes, as I was saying several paragraphs ago, I am hoping any day to be in receipt of these, as given to me by Josef on my birthday. They were not available yet, as it takes a ridiculous 4-6 weeks of delivery to get them. Why? Are they made by magical elves on the Pajama Jean Island? Does Peggy make them and we have to save up enough reward points? Or, is it the free gray crew neck t-shirt that holds up the production line? Geez, I can get one of those at Old Navy any day of the week, just send me my freakin’ Pajama Jeans so I can start fooling everyone into thinking I’m wearing jeans while I am actually being totally lazy!!!! On the double!!! (Thanks, sweetie!)