I have voted in every presidential election since I turned 18. Of those seven times, I have only voted early twice. Both of those times were for history making candidates. Both times I felt a sense of joy that I can’t explain.
Wednesday, October 12th, I had weight loss surgery.
That’s kind of a big statement. Maybe it seems out of the blue if you aren’t friends with me on Facebook and weren’t forewarned. You might have a few questions. Let’s see if I can answer some of them.
Why weight loss surgery?
Well… Because. I know that isn’t the best answer.
You know, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, that I have struggled with losing weight. I’ve tried to lose weight more times than I can remember, starting in my mid-twenties. I’ve done low fat, low carb, Atkins, plans prescribed by my doctor, Medifast, SlimFast, Nutrisystems, Weight Watchers, Deal-a-Meal… All of these at least twice and several of them many, many more times than that and many other plans that I can’t even remember. On average, I’ve probably dieted once a year for the last 20 years. Nothing ever stuck.
I started off great, lost a little (the most I’ve ever lost on any plan was 35 pounds), then gained it all back, and it brought friends. (Uninvited guests are totally the worst.) Then I tried again. And I failed again. Tried again. Failed Again.
I’m tired of being a failure. I want to lose weight. To do that, I knew that I needed to do something drastic and permanent.
Okay, I hear you, but what makes you think this will work?
That is an excellent question, and harder to answer because it gives voice to that nasty little person in the back of mind who tells me that I will never be successful. (Thanks for that. She loves attention. Please don’t give her anymore. It makes it easier to keep her quiet).
First, I’ve seen the results of other people who have been successful after having weight loss surgery. They were right where I was. Failure after failure, nothing ever worked, but this did. I know that if it worked for them, then I can make it work for me too.
Second, there are some pretty nasty results if you don’t follow the prescribed plan after surgery. Like losing your hair and vomiting when you overeat. I don’t know about you, but those are two things I have no interest in happening. I MUST follow the rules.
Third, I believe that it will. I’m not sure I’ve ever been able to say that about anything else I’ve tried. I believe. I have faith in this and it is giving me faith in myself.
So why weight loss surgery NOW?
I know this probably seems sudden to a lot of people. For me, it isn’t. I’ve actually been thinking about having weight loss surgery for five or six years. I know that advancements have been made with the types of surgery. More and more people I know are having it done and are having huge successes with it.
What nudged me to go for it now? For the last year or two, I’ve dealt with a lot of pain. I had tendonitis in my foot that took over a year to correct. My back and hips have given me tons of problems. Months of visiting the chiropractor offered temporary relief, but no fix. My knees are getting to the point that I was sure I would need a knee replacement within the next few years. All in all, I had a legitimate fear that I would be disabled by the time I was 50. I don’t want to be in a wheelchair.
I’m tired of not being able to walk or bike around my neighborhood with my kids. I’m tired of not being able to walk up a flight of stairs (forget more than one flight). I’m tired of that feeling of panic when I sit in an airplane seat. I’m tired of not being able to participate in activities because of my size or my health or pain. I’m tired of being afraid that I will drop dead from a heart attack or a stroke or that I’ll develop Type 2 Diabetes. I’m tired of being unable. I’m tired of being tired.
I don’t want to be tired anymore.
Those are the reasons I decided to have weight loss surgery.
I’m slowly trying to get back into writing. The last year (or two) has been rough for me. Maybe I’ll talk more about that later in this space. Right now, I just want to share something. Anything. Thanks to Mama Kat and her writing prompts that is pretty easy to do. Check her out if you need a little inspiration.
1. List 7 things you would do this summer if you had the time and money to do them.
1. Sleep – Remember those days as a teenager when you slept in until one in the afternoon. Well, I didn’t have many of those because I had to babysit my little brother during the summer, but there were a few. I miss those days. My summer is pretty much like my school year, up every morning to get ready for work. I will say that I have slept in an extra
fifteen thirty minutes every morning. When school starts next week, it is going to be rough.
2. Disney World – We went last summer and it was fantastic. I would love for us to be able to go back, but that is not in the cards anytime soon unless I fall into buckets of money.
3. Second Honeymoon – David and I NEVER seem to be able to get away to do things just for the two of us. Part of that is money. The other part is we are exhausted from working all the time and being 47/almost 45. Don’t judge us for our oldish ways.
4. The Lake – I can’t remember the last time we went for a lake trip. It has been awhile. I love to go there. It is peaceful. There is something about nature that makes you feel like everything is going to be okay.
5. Epic Road Trip – I would love to take the kids on a road trip across the country. We could visit all the landmarks and stop in and visit friends who live all over the country.
6. Blockbusters – I would love to take a Friday every week of the summer to see the latest blockbuster. So far this summer we’ve seen Ghostbusters (which is totally freaking awesome), Finding Dory (loved!), the Jungle Book (was that summer?), and Alice Through the Looking Glass (I think I liked the first one better, Cady liked this one). I would have loved to see a few more, like The Secret Life of Pets and the new Star Trek movie and the new Bourne movie and probably a few others.
7. Snuggle – One of the hardest thing about being a working mom in the summer is seeing everyone on Facebook get to do things with their kids (although the best is knowing that not everything is at it appears on Facebook). I miss them more in the summer than I do during the school year. I like to daydream about this idyllic setting in a blanket fort with the three of us snuggled up and watching a movie. In reality I know that Cady would be in her room skyping with her friends, James would be watching something on YouTube, I would be watching Netflix, and I would veto the blanket fort because of the mess. I guess daydreams will have to do.
I don’t consider myself to be a good friend. I am dreadful at keeping in touch. I don’t remember birthdays or anniversaries or kids’ ages. Sometimes I even get their names confused.
I forget to call and email and send birthday cards. I have a LOT of unmailed cards at my house.
I don’t visit and rarely invite people over to my house. Even though I would love to do both.
I always have great intentions, but end up forgetting to make dinner when someone is sick or to put baby gifts in the mail. Then all of the sudden the “baby” is a preschooler and the gift is inappropriate. I find it stuck under a pile of mail or five other projects I started and didn’t finish.
This is why it amazes me that I have such great friends, who all put up with me and my shortcomings. But I guess that is what makes true friends. They are the people who love you in spite of all your faults. They are the people who choose to be there.
Most of my close friends are online. Sometimes it is hard to be so far away from all of them, to not be able to be there when you want to be. Although considering my track record with local friends this may be a good thing.
The week before last I had the opportunity to go to LA for BlogHer and spend time with some of them. It was glorious. I love my family, but there is nothing like being with people who have zero expectations of you.
They don’t care if you have bedhead. Or if you fall asleep and wake up crying because a friend’s father passed away and it welcomed grief into your life right when you were supposed to be anything but sad. They just give you a hug and tell you it will be okay. And get you coffee when you obviously need it.
They answer your stupidest questions and give you a well-deserved side eye when you need it. They laugh at you for your love of Buffy, but high five you when you get to meet her. They listen to your deepest secrets and offer sage advice.
They laugh and forgive and brave the freezing Pacific ocean with you. Even when it requires driving an hour in LA traffic.
I love them and they love me and that is all that matters. Those are all the things that make a good friend. And maybe, just maybe, I’m good at those things.
Thank you all so much for filling me up with love. I miss you all.
My amazing roommates, Elaine, Jasmine, and Erin.
My very best dance partner, Arnebya.
My sobbing over a movie sisters, Kristin, Angela, and Tonya.
My perfectly curly-haired angel, Leigh Ann.
My social media maven and capturer of amazing images, Melisa Wells.
I always come home from conferences thinking that I should do more of this or more of that, but the truth is I should do more of me. That is what has been missing from the last year or so. Me.
I fell into a hole that was dark. Slowly, I am rising into the light.
I think what will bring me fully out is re-finding those things that make me whole. Those things like words.
Words that describe the beauty and ugliness of life. The hilarious and the painful. The joy and the sadness. And sharing those words without the intention of anyone caring or noticing.
I know they are all here inside of me, waiting to burst through the surface. To take a deep breath. To bask in the light. To be free.
The other day David was driving Cady and her friend (both 11) to Girl Scouts when James spoke up from the backseat.
The girls giggled.
David paused. “Where did you hear that Bud?”
“I don’t know. On a video I was watching. They said something about puberty.”
I have no idea what he was watching at the time. We do monitor his YouTube channels and they all seem fairly appropriate. Of course, puberty is not a bad word. It was just a new word for him.
David waited until the girls were out of the car to answer. He explained it in way that a seven-year-old understands. “It’s when hair starts growing on different parts of your body.” This answer seemed to satisfy James. For now.
This is the thing about parenting. You never know what is going to happen. One minute you are driving down the road, jamming out to some cool-to-you tunes and the next you are having a discussion about puberty or death or what “gay” means.
Every day is an adventure filled with twists and turns and mountains and valleys that you never see coming. And let me tell you, there is NO road map. You have to learn to adapt and take things as they come.
That’s what makes it fun.
This month Netflix is featuring The Croods, a family that knows all about adventure.
What are you watching this month?
I do believe in all my years of blogging, which is 7 by the way (I had a blogiversary while I was out wandering around in the real world), I have never not put up first day of school photos. Until this year. I know that I’m about 10 or 11 weeks overdue, but let me rectify that situation. Here are my beautiful babies on their first day of fifth and first grade.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Really written. At least that’s what it feels like to me. Almost like I’ve forgotten how to blog. I mean blogging like it used to be. Sitting down and sharing snippets of my life. I miss it.
This year has been hard for me. And for no particular reason. It just has been. It has been one of those times when you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, but you don’t know where to look to find it, the missing piece.
Slowly, the last month or so, maybe the last few weeks, I feel like I’m coming back to who I am. I’m asking myself questions and searching for answers and I’ve noticed a blockage inside of me that has made it impossible to feel like the real me again. Writing has always helped with that. But whatever the blockage was stopped the writing.
At the beginning of the year I talked about doubling down on love. About tearing down walls and opening myself up to the world. I did a really good job of that. The problem was that I thought I had built a wall. What I had really built was a dam. When you tear down a dam, you cause a flood.
So maybe I haven’t been blocked. Maybe I’ve been underwater. I needed a life raft. I think I finally found one. I talked to friends about what was happening. I quit denying what was going on inside of me. I asked for help. And I may not have had a life raft, but pretty much everyone I know threw me a life preserver. I grabbed on.
And I realize that whole analogy just made it seem a lot worse than it was. I was never at risk. I never wanted to do anything bad to myself. I was just adrift. Now, I’m slowly coming back to land. I think.
But I think I may have forgotten how to blog. How to tell stories about my life. But I’m going to try. I’ve committed to blog every day this month. Will I? I don’t know. But it is something I’ve told myself I will do. An intention. A way to navigate the flood waters. So that’s what I’m doing today, November 1st. Blogging. Like the very first time I ever sat down at my computer, clueless about what blogging was or how to do it. I’m starting over. From the beginning.
What is your favorite Halloween candy?
Butterfingers. And Milk Duds. And those little fruit flavored Tootsie Rolls. And the mini Baby Ruth.
What is one of the worst “treats” you ever received in your candy bag?
I don’t know. Smarties maybe. But I guess kids like them. And I have this super cute craft you can make with them.
What was one of your favorite costumes you wore when you were a kid?
My mom wasn’t big on Halloween so my costume was something that was usually thrown together at the last minute. My favorite was the year I was seven and she dressed me as a business lady. She took one of her skirts and cinched it up with safety pins. She did the same with a button down shirt. We topped that with the matching suit jacket. She teased up my hair and let me wear makeup. I clomped around in a pair of her heels and carried my dad’s briefcase. It was awesome.
How about your favorite costume as an adult?
My kids LOVE for me to wear a costume. Me? Not so much. One year I was Mabel from Gravity Falls.
Last year I threw together a “cranky old lady” costume at the last minute (seriously, like 10 minutes before it was time to start trick or treating). Everyone seemed to think it was awesome. And seriously the most comfortable costume ever. Who doesn’t want to walk around in their nightgown all the time?
What scares you most on Halloween? Spiders? Zombies? Axe murderers? Eyeballs in a jar… (or something else)?
I think Jana’s son is going to dress up as Michael Myers. That would scare the bejeezus out of me for sure.
So then, what is your favorite scary movie??
Um, Halloween. But I usually don’t watch those types of slasher movies. I like the suspenseful type of scare more, like The Others or The Sixth Sense or Stir of Echoes (<--- best movie ever, Netflix doesn't have it streaming, but they do have the DVD).
What is you favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?
The eating part. Obviously. But I also like the early morning part. The being in the kitchen with my mom chopping and cooking and laughing. That part is pretty awesome too.
What is your favorite piece of clothing or accessory to wear in the Fall?
Boots. By far the best part. I hate long sleeves and turtle necks and stuffy clothes. But I love boots.
What is your favorite pie? If you do not like pie I will forgive you but then what is your favorite Fall dessert?
Pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It has always and forever been my favorite. But if you are looking for something, I do have 31 Days of Pies from last year. I bet you can find a favorite there. Just sayin’.
Do you live where there are four seasons? If so, where is your favorite place to see the fall colors?
No. The Texas Gulf Coast is not really known for fall colors. Or seasons. BUT if you drive a little bit north of us up to the lakes you can see some trees changing colors. It is always beautiful up there this time of year.
What is your favorite fall tradition?
The holidays. It seems like this time of year is spent with family. I love that. So many things we get to do together. Also, if I’m being honest with myself, I really love making Cady’s Halloween costume
every most years. I guess that has become kind of a tradition. I can’t wait to show you what I made her this year.
Is there anything else special about the Fall to you?
The way the air smells. I love when that breeze starts blowing in from the west and the north. It carries a different scent. Something clean and fresh and new. I love it.
Now it’s your turn. Copy the questions, blog your answers, and go link them up at Elaine’s place. And happy fall y’all!
We had an avocado green rotary dial phone that hung on the wall in our kitchen next to the stove. It had a long cord that could be stretched to allow my mom to sit in the living room while talking. One night when I was in second grade, the phone rang. My dad, who was sitting at the kitchen table, answered.
His side of the conversation consisted of short sentences. “Yes. No. What happened. I’ll take care of it.” I didn’t know who was on the other end of the line, but when he hung up, I knew that I was in trouble. I didn’t get in trouble often, especially with my dad, but all kids know the look a parent gets when they are upset about something you’ve done.
“That was Stacie’s mother. She said Stacie came home crying from school today because you said some mean things to her. Did you say these things?”
Never one to lie, I confirmed what Stacie’s mother said.
“Go to your room. I’ll be there in a minute.”
That was one of only two spankings I ever got from my dad. I don’t remember what I said to Stacie to hurt her feelings, but I do remember what my dad told me afterward. “You are the same as everyone else. You treat everyone the same. And you don’t hurt people on purpose.”
That lesson stuck. Those words became my principles.
Sometimes I wonder what dad would think about things that are happening in America today. He grew up in a small East Texas town where his family had lived for generations. He went to school during desegregation and was a young man during the civil rights movement. If you asked him if he was a racist or hated black people, he would have told you no. Everyone is the same.
Still, he (and I) grew up in a time and place where the n-word was just a word. No one ever thought about the negative connotations or the hate that was laced into its meaning. He was taught there are “good” blacks and “bad” blacks and that was something he taught me, along with other racial stereotypes, through his words and his actions. Not because he harbored any hate in his heart, but because that was all he knew. Another perspective was never offered. That was the way it was.
When I graduated from college, I was offered a job in Houston and accepted. I didn’t realize the difference in the level of cultural diversity I experienced until I moved back home after Cady was born and returned to work. I was shocked to see so many white people. It seemed like everyone was white.
During a meeting at work, someone asked what changes or improvements we could make. I looked around the room of white people and responded, “Well we could start by hiring some people of color.” Everyone looked at me confused.
“But we have those Asian guys over in engineering.”
I was stunned. I had no idea how to respond. I also didn’t realize that was my first eye-opening moment of what it might be like to be a person of color. After that, I started paying attention at different places I worked and different businesses I went into. How many people of color were employed there? How many were in positions of leadership? How open were companies in their attitudes, not publically, but behind closed doors?
I didn’t know the seeds of change had been placed in my heart, but they were there, diligently working away and making me question everything I ever thought I knew.
A few years later, I was talking to a black friend about local accounting firms. “I interviewed there, but they don’t hire black people.”
I was stunned when she told me that. “Are you serious?”
“Jennifer…” And then she gave me a look.
I started thinking about the people that worked there and realized she was 100% right. I was so offended for her. I was outraged.
“Why didn’t you file a complaint? Why didn’t you do something about it?”
“What’s the point? I got a better job and it wouldn’t have changed them anyway.”
The planted seeds started to sprout. Racial inequality was never far from my mind. I started noticing things I would have never noticed 10 years before and started seriously self-examining my thoughts and reactions. Why did I think they way I did? What were my knee jerk reactions? Where was that rooted? Did I really treat everyone as an equal?
And then Trayvon Martin was murdered.
The seeds that had sprouted burst into full blooms inside my heart. I read and I read and I read. And I asked questions. And I witnessed. And I believed. And I changed.
And since then I’ve continued to grow and learn and empathize and grow and learn some more.
Racism isn’t based on the individual feelings of one man or one woman. It isn’t about being a good or a bad person. It is a system of thinking that has been passed down through generations of families. This system has such far reaching implications that I, as a white person, will never completely understand it. But I know that it exists. And I know that if we do not address the sins of our fathers and their fathers and their fathers… then this system will continue to exist.
It hurts. It is painful. I feel shamed. It is hard. Telling these truths. Writing these words. It isn’t easy. It shouldn’t be. But most of the time the right thing is not the easy thing.
I know some people who read this will not want to agree with me. That awfulness they feel when this subject is brought up makes them pull away. It makes us want to hide. “But I’m a good person. I don’t hate anyone.” I’m not saying that isn’t true. But I am saying that we have lived too long behind the veil of a system that allows bad things to happen to people of color. We have ignored that veil for too long. It is time to pull it aside and cast light on the darkness. Because that is how we drive it away.
This post has been on my mind for awhile, but I wasn’t sure how to put it together. Thanks to a prompt from Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop it all came together.