• Current Reading List

    Peaceful Action, Open Heart - Thich Nhat Hanh*** Eat, Pray, Love*** Peaceful Living - Mary Mackenzie(daily reader)*** The Vein of Gold - Julia Cameron (this is a read a chapter a week type book)*** Dubliners - James Joyce*** Nursing: The Philosophy and Science of Caring - Jean Watson*** The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Volume I***
  • Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I, I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.
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too much to say

My thoughts are like little bumper cars today….careening wildly around the enclosure of my mind and smashing into each other with reckless abandon. Unlike bumper cars, whom do not generate progeny with each collision, my thoughts crash against each other and form new little thoughtlets that quickly grow and yearn for new avenues of thought… “follow me here”, “no, no I am the one you want to follow”, “pick me me MEEE”. As soon as I mentally turn to follow one train of thought, there is another demanding equal attention. I want to write about my body and health, about running, about the clothes I wear when running (and wondering if there is a running line out there for overweight women’s bodies)…I want to write about my spirituality and this sense of being led and guided, but at the same time feeling so very blind and frightened as all these changes are happening in my life. I want to write about nursing and my thoughts on being a nurse, my personal philosophies about the practice of nursing and how I am forced to look harder at myself and my practice during this time of looking for new job possibilities (what do I really want to do? and why?)

Ah me, so many thoughtlets. I also want to start getting together thoughts for this book I want to write. I mentally write paragraphs and start new chapters just about every day…but the getting onto paper is a challenge. I actually think I want to “write” this book, or at least start that way until my thoughts are more cogent. So I bought a pretty little journal to get started on this process about two weeks ago. And there it sits on my coffee table, its pristine pages quite neglected.

I think it is no coincidence that I am stirred into movement (both mentally and physically) today and the sun is shining. Well, most of the time anyway…there are quite a few puffy white clouds and some even have ominous dark linings…but they are scattered enough to let that marvelous sunshine through. As I type, I am sitting on my front steps and reveling in the feeloing of the sun on my face. I am like a bear coming out of hibernation , a long and cold and sickly hibernation at that (still dealing with the vestiges [i.e. mucus and snot that have taken up residence in my upper bronchioles and sinuses]) of that darned bronchitis …and I yearn for activity. Well at least I did make a “writing date” and I finally ran (still hacking) today. Its a start.

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Officially Overweight

This is a good thing. I have been obese for a very very long time. Then I was morbidly obese for longer than I care to admit. Blech. Those words “obese” and “morbidly obese” are so defeating. labeling. demeaning. hurtful. sad. stigmatizing. They say nothing about the reality of who I am as a woman. They say nothing about the challenges and pain and often bittersweet joy that I have struggled through during this “battle” against being obese. I am learning the true meaning of such phrases as “hate only generates hate” and “violence begets violence”. For in this “battle” I was waging against obesity, I had declared war against myself. 

About a year ago, I held up the white flag of truce and since then have embraced the dove of peace. I am learning what it means to love myself. To love the parts of myself that I thought were unloveable. The jiggley places, the dimply places, the places of lumps and bumps and sags and drags. I am transforming. I am no longer battling myself. The war against my obesity is over and peace has taken its place. I still don’t always like what I see in the mirror – and I am much kinder to myself when I have clothes on…but this transition to peace hasn’t happened overnight. When you have hated for so long, it takes time to return fully to love. I am transforming and the fruits of my labors are very sweet.

One of these fruits is that I can no longer be called obese! Yippee!! The unfortunate events of the past week have officially dropped me into the overweight category (according to my BMI and height which of course doesn’t take into account these rocking hard muscles that I have developed). I am merely overweight. Once again, this word, this term doesn’t define who I am. I am a simple conundrum of complexities and contradictions. I have a history – a past full of joy and pain. That past doesn’t define me but it helped shape me and I love and embrace all of it for that. But I no longer hold on to that past or use it to define me.  I am defined by my present; who and how I am right now. And I love my present shape. Watch out “normal”  here I come! 

ahem. In that last statement I was referring to a “normal BMI”. I fully resist “normalcy” in every other way shape and form except of course for how I define normal for me.

Catching UP: the running and weight loss journey

There really is no way to do that. Not fully. So much has been going on. I decided a few days after my last post that I wanted to write a book. I even came up with a title. Since then, I have been unable to write a single word. Writer’s block I suppose. Whatever, I am scared to death about the venture, but I keep formulating paragraphs in my head. Here’s to the hopes that I will at some point, get those paragraphs to paper.

For now, catching up on my life. I just emerged out of hell. Seriously, hell. This hell occurred over a period of 60 hours and involved 4 airplanes, much money I didn’t need to part with, 3 trips to the ED and a reduction in weight of 10lbs in three days. Oh, and two of those ED visits were in a rinky dink (well not really it was actually very nice for a community hospital) jip-joint hospital in NM.Damn them to hell. Oh wait, that was hell. So this sick puppy had to fly back to TN and cut short my visit to my mom and grandparents (well, since I was sick, the visit never started, so I technically just called the whole thing off).  And one more visit to the  ED (damn DFW and their delays which made me get home too late to go to my regular doctor) upon return to TN. Anyhoo, I am fine and better and all is well. I am pleased about the new number on the scale of course, but I will be damned if I ever want to go through something like that again to have those results again.  Notice I am purposefully being vague about details. It is enough to know that it was hell, and that I still feel as weak as a kitten.

 I am worried about what this convalescence will do to my running. Today I started to feel like I might just be an eentsy bit better (no extreme dizziness upon standing), so I decided to go for a run. Now, you must understand that when I am sick I always doubt the reality of my symptoms. I don’t think I have a proclivity for somatization, but like a good psych nurse I do worry about the possibility, because the doubt is always there. “Do I really feel this bad or am I just imagining?”, “Wouldn’t I feel better if I just got moving?”, “Am I just pretending so I can stay in bed?” “Am I just being lazy?”….these are some of the questions I ask myself, and plus I am worried about “getting behind” on my training schedule. So I ignored the fact that my legs felt like quivering jelly and out the door I stepped. I did run one mile and walk 2/3 of another mile before I decided that I truly don’t feel very well and back to semi-convalescense I head.

So anyhoo, even though I am worried at the moment about the possibility of lost muscle mass and lost training time, I overall think I am doing pretty good in my running. The going has been bumpy and I have had to overcome a lot of self-doubting, but I am everyday learning that I am indeed, officially a runner. Sunday before last, I ran 10 miles outside. I had been running on the treadmill, so this is quite an accomplishment. Also, last Sat (before full onset of above hell scenario) I ran a 5k with a friend. This was my 3rd race, and it felt amazing. I ran the entire way AND I was no where near the last of the runners. Okay, so I was also no where near the beginning runners either, but I am very content to be happily in the middle. My time was 37 minutes (by the race clock which is including the initial walking time as everyone gets moving). Oh, and this made 18 miles total for the week. The 1/2 marathon is just a little over 1 month away. i am going to be ready.

I am changing and I am learning more and more about who I am. Sometimes the changes are happening so fast that when I walk by a mirror I have to do a double take. “Who was that?….Oh yeah, its me…I like that girl.”

on being a half-drowned duck

That is what I felt like most of last week. Flailing legs, drooping head, glassy eyes. That was me as I strugged to get through another long and extremely gloomy week of days. I felt generally unwell last week…and although I tried to convince myself otherwise, I was actually pretty sick most of the week. I think I was just generally drained from the activity of the past month or so – and that is hell on the ole immune system. I feel like I missed all of January and here now half of February because my head was stuck in the sands of work and more work. I didn’t do a long run last week, which makes me sad…but my energy level was virtually nil. I must say I gave it a good go – and did run a total of 11 miles for the week. But I want you to really get the image of the half-drowned duck – soggy feathers and all – flailing about on the treadmill. I am certain that is what I looked like. It is absolutely what I felt like.

I am hopeful for an increase in energy this week, but suffer twinges of doubt as to its liklihood.  My workload is less, but the sky is overcast and I seriously feel I need strong, regular doses of direct sunlight to restore me to some semblance of my pre-winter self. I think if I lived somewhere with even the slightest increase in cloudiness, I would never emerge from the depths of warm and toasty bedcovers.Never.  As it is here, it is quite a struggle each morning to get my limbs to reinquish their toasty nest. And if I am home, the outcome of the battle to overcome the urge to dive back into the safety and warmth of lovely quilts is never certain.  I am seriously contemplating relocating to a sunnier clime, just to avoid this end-winter doldrum. It is that time where spring is just around the corner, or so the pages of the calendar lead me to believe, yet it feels so very very far away that I wonder if I can survive until its arrival. Yes, this sounds very dramatic – but this is serious stuff! It feels as though I am slogging through mud the majority of the time – thick and cold mud at that, and I want nothing more than to stay inside under lots and lots of layers and drown myself in episodes of mind-numbing television series (most currently Torchwood – just finished Season 2). So perhaps I am a cross between an almost dead duck and a bear.

On another note, I have finished Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway. The book is genius. It must be, because I couldn’t understand what was going on half the time. Truly it made me feel like a half-wit. Woolf’s liquid sentences were the same – so full of life and description that I would get lost in her words – so lost that I couldn’t figure out what was happening as she jumped from character to character. I finally felt that I had a pretty good sense of what was going on…right before the book ended unexpectedly and without the closure that I find so comforting. The problem is likely that I tend to read very fast. I jump into my reading and plow through like I am tearing up sod – eager to get from the tough dried surface layer into the moist rich loam of the interior. I think that Woolf’s writing requires more delicacy, a a much slower pace than I was able to give Mrs. Dalloway at the present time.  I believe it needs a re-read to do it justice, but I just can’t bear to right now.

For  now it is time to drag this dead duck into a semblance of life and get about the work-day.

Chasing my tail

That is definitely what I feel like I have been doing lately. Running in circles. Once again, life is going to fast and I am spinning trying to catch up. Unfortunately much of the time I feel like I am going in circles and not really getting anywhere. I am currently lecturing (I team teach) and trying to cram 20 odd chapters of disease process information into a mere month of lectures (6 hours a week) is a tad bit cramping. And of course I procrastinated till the last minute to work on these lectures. That combined with the assignments pouring in from my online class to grade, Oh, and the fact that my husband had knee surgery and needs a good bit of help (and can’t drive) is making for long days and tired Jennifer. Clinicals also start tomorrow and for some insane reason, momentary loss of consciousness it must have been…I signed on for 16 hour clinical days. Poke Poke Poke goes the pen in the eyeballs.

Enough grousing. Its not really that bad, and it is going to get better soon….I just feel a little thin and wanted to provide lots of good excuses why I haven’t been blogging. I have wanted to…I think about it daily…but I haven’t.

On a positive note, I finished The Artist’s Way and absolutely loved it. I really wasn’t ready to give it up and was dragging the last few weeks out…so I decided to get another book by Julia Cameron that has a very similar concept – lots of stimulating activities and general guidance to increasing my creativity and my spiritual connection. It is called The Vein of Gold. So far I am enjoying very much – it is spiritual fodder that I desperately need right now. I would like to talk more about my experiences with these books, but my time is up…perhaps I will later. Likely I will intend to and won’t.

aspiring to write like VW

I typically start off the morning journaling my “morning pages” as dubbed by Julia Cameron of “The Artist’s Way”. Yesterday morning instead of immediately journaling, I started off by reading up the rest of “A Room of One’s Own“, as my bookclub met yesterday afternoon to discuss it in all its splendour. Reading first thing in the morning really set me in a bit of a tizzy and threw off my desire to write because I want so badly to be able to write in some semblance of VW’s style. That feeling continues into today and will probably continue to haunt me for some time. VW has me spellbound. Her words are like liquid music that she has somehow made concrete, yet upon reading the words are transformed and rise up and fly about my head like so many magnificient butterflies. One woman yesterday had difficulty with VW’s long long sentences. I hadn’t noticed the length (and truly they tend towards ridiculous length), because I love the flow and brilliant imagery of her prose-like sentences. Perhaps it is because I too tend toward longer sentences that I can so appreciate hers – although they do tend to go on without a period in site a little bit longer than my own rambling run-ons. Her sentences are so very delightful, profound, sarcastic, witty, and full of life.

 I wonder what VW would think if she could see how women experience life today and how very different that experience is from her own time.Would she be proud? Dismayed? Disgusted? Delighted?  Much of what she predicts in “A Room…” is true today. The majority of women are able to have a room of their own and support themselves with a sufficient income. So many women are writing about every subject – we are no longer limited to fiction and portraying ourselves within the context of the masculine. I wonder what she would think of women like Hiliary Clinton or Sarah Palin, who have perhaps, as she puts it ‘too much of the man’ in them. I wonder what she would think of women like myself – who yearn to write but are reticent to move beyond this easy format – who perhaps have ‘too much of the woman’ and are unable to write from the perspective of androgny that she believed enables the mind to be “resonant and porous; that it transmits emotion without impediment; that it is naturally creative, incandescent and undivided.” That is not me I fea,r for I love to write wholly as a woman, fully as a woman. But then VW also does go on to implore the reader (whom she assumes is a woman) to write fully as oneself; to write exactly as we think – that IS what I do and maybe to the detriment of my writing style. My writing certainly does not contain the eloquence or purity of thought that I think Woolf would have women writers strive for. However, I do believe that I am able to capture reality – my reality – to make real my experience and I hope express that in a believable way to those who read my little blog posts (which on a good day is more than two persons).

I am striving toward more eloquence, more continuity, etc. Perhaps the rambling practice of this blog will someday fertilize the seed of greater writings that will go out into the world, that I would be proud to hold up to the light of VW’s eyes if she were alive and so inclined. It is inspiring to know the struggles of female writers of the past and how those struggles have brought the world to a place where I can blog freely, write freely, without fear of any repercussions based solely on the fact that I am a woman and I dare to write what I think. Perhaps enough has changed in the eighty years since “A Room of One’s Own” was published that the female writer no longer needs to write from an androgyneous mind. Perhaps the collective consciousness of women now has developed enough independence and autonomy that women can write freely from the female perspective without being weighed down by the yoke of the stifling patriarchy. “We think through our mothers if we are women”, writes Woolf, bemoaning the fact that her mothers and foremothers were not writers, were not allowed the freedom, the space, the time to write freely and there was a scarcity of example for herself and her contemporaries. Today, women think back through amazing mothers of creativity like Woolf and many other brilliant women. We have that foundation that she longed for.

I do know that I love to write – to find just the right word for the thoughts tumbling around in my head (a search that is often fruitless and just the “right” word escapes me and I settle for an “okay” word instead…but I digress).. I long to write more often and more productively (meaning in a manner that I find beautiful and proficient and that other people would want to read) but I do feel held back. Unlike Woolf, I do not believe it is the fetters of gender repression that hold me back, but rather the shackles are of my own mind. Fear that tells me that any attempt to write more than a simple blog post on my very own small and unknown blog would be absurd and never ever stand a chance to be published or read by more than a random few (much less actually enjoyed). I perhaps can blame this fear somewhat on the patriarchy of my own family and maybe a smidge on the patriarchy still dominant in society. Truly there are so many amazing female writers, both notorious and relatively unknown, who stand before me as role models, who light the path for me and give me the hope of their experience. No, blame serves no purpose and I would rather blame no one, for blame is just another lock that keeps me victim of my own fears and shortcomings. My key to liberation lies in learning to believe in myself; learning to take chances and put myself out there; and learning that things (even my writings) do not have to be perfect.

New Year’s Un-Resolutions

Let me take a moment to diverge from the topic before I get started. I do have a tendency to veer off topic, so I figure why not just get it done with at the beginning and the the remainder of the post might have more of a chance of staying topic-focused. might.

So I really wanted to blog quite a bit while on break from school. I thought about blogging daily, but couldn’t get past the thought and into the action. Writers block? Fear? I joined an online community called “She Writes” with the intention of setting off my intention to write and providing myself with incentive, support, blah blah. I have danced around the edge of the website and around the edge of writing. I am definitely experiencing some fears, but they are amorphous at present. Just wanted to get that down.

Now, on to the topic! New Year’s Un-Resolutions. I had been calling them “hopes” or “goals”. Resolutions just seem so heavy. I mean, how many people do you hear talk about how they don’t set resolutions because they always break them OR they do set them and they always break them. Doesn’t sound like fun for me. My ego tends to feed on failure and that sure sounds like a perfect set up for it to feed like mad. Never good for my self-esteem.

Then my mom sent me an “un-birthday” card, which got me to thinking. Resolutions are kind of like birthdays – in that there is often a lot of lead up to, maybe you want to celebrate or you don’t. The day passes, and then you forget about it for a year. On the other hand, an “un-birthday” can happen at anytime. Un-birthdays can be everyday celebrations, and truly are virtually everyday. At least 363 of them. So why not “un-resolutions”. Instead of one-time a year high hopes that you have such good intentions about and then lay by the way-side – try on 363 days worth of hopes and plans for yourself. Its like a resolution but doesn’t carry all the negative connotations and there is no expectation that it will be broken. So Un-Resolutions it is for me this year.

I have felt rather ambivalent about my hopes for this year. No, that’s not right. I feel anxious and in limbo. So many things I want to do this year. So many possibilities. I see paths leading off in multiple directions… Where will I go? What will I do? It all depends on several factors that are out  of my control. And that royally sucks. A wonderful friend starting talking to me about her visin board. She makes a board for the year of things that she wants for herself. Some are definite and some are more vague or uncertain. Or perhaps better to say that they are possibilities. So we got together this weekend and began work on vision boards for the year. She brought along her board from last year and it was really beautiful. Lots of colors and images and drawings. A great deal of the content had come to fruition for her. Other things had changed and she no longer wanted them for herself. I wonder if perhaps putting it out there like that helped her to clarify what she really wanted.

So we set to work. I hadn’t really put into thought anything in particular I wanted for my board. I knew some things….others are less clear. As I pored through magazines looking for pictures, images of my year’s vision began to take form. Yes! I want to dance, to paint, to love, to laugh, to play, to write…..all these thoughts were madly dashing about saying “What about me, what about me!!!??” As I wrote them done on a scrap of paper and began collecting images priorities began to take shape.  I still have work to do on my board, but I love it. It is beautiful so far. I am looking forward to its completion and seeing myself blossom this year. Just a few major Un-Resolutions for this year:

  1. Run a half-marathon (that is 13 miles btw!!!)
  2. Be creative – this one is multitudinal. I want to draw and paint and make jewelry and possibly learn to sing.
  3. Write more. Specifically submit writing to a blog editor. (yikes there’s that big ugly fear monster’s head!)
  4. Get fit – reach my ideal body weight. shape my body. This one is related to #1 and perhaps should be #1. I don’t know what ideal is for me. I am looking forward to uncovering, releasing and finding out.
  5. Live in a home and neighborhood I love. We will most likely sell this year. There are a lot of things I love about living here – but some not so nice things too. If we don’t sell I want to love where I am. I am slowly moving in that direction now as we make our home more “me” and “us”.
  6. Feel well-compensated for what I do (career-wise). I don’t feel that way now and I don’t like it. I love what I do, but I don’t feel well compensated at all and it creates this negativity and resentment that just doesn’t feel good.

There is more, but I am expecting company and should try and pull myself together. Look presentable and all that.