Weight obsessed: an observation

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Have you heard the reports lately about how, in spite of all the information that’s been given to Americans about how to stay fit, we’ve been getting bigger? Are you surprised?

As a fellow American woman (I’ll speak hear for women, but I’m sure many men feel the same way), who does not have a weight problem to speak of, all the rhetoric about losing weight and “being fit” that we are bombarded with over the radio or on television is offensive and, well, irritating. Whether you have an issue with your weight or not, you probably feel like you do, or that you should after hearing all these messages. I think even thin women feel like they should lose a few pounds simply because our culture seems to insist upon it. I do not know a single woman (and I’ll admit nearly all my friends are thin/fit women) who is satisfied with her body or weight. Nearly all of them would be happy to lose a few (or more) pounds.

I’ve begun to think we believe we have to lose weight in the same way we need to eat, sleep, breathe and so on. It’s nuts. And I am as much a “victim” in all this as anyone else. At 5′ 9″ tall I’ve always been thin with a long torso and thin waist. But I’ve never been satisfied, deciding my thighs must then be the problem. On a scale, I was always a good, if not low, weight, but it didn’t matter. In the back of my mind, there was always room for improvement. Not until now, as a 40 something woman approaching menopause, have I become aware of how ridiculous our country has become about weight and body shape.

Every time I think I’m fine, I’m healthy, I exercise regularly, I’m a good weight/shape for my age (It’s not good to be too thin as we age for health reasons, not to mention a little weight helps hide wrinkles-lol), I hear or see a commercial or program about the best way to lose weight. Lose weight, lose weight, lose weight is a message we hear every day, several times a day. Most of the time we don’t realize it any more, but if you pay close attention you’ll likely be mortified at how often that message is put out there. Our culture has become a bully, threatening our self esteem and acceptance if we don’t comply.

Remember the old wisdom, don’t hound someone about their weight or they’ll likely gain more? Or something along those lines. Well, I think that’s exactly what is happening in American. We may not have as much of a problem with people being overweight as we do with people hounding people about it. I am not an advocate for being overweight in the least; in fact I’m a huge proponent of health and fitness. I feel, however, our focus has gotten out of hand, thus changing the message to a negative one.

The message started out innocent enough, the emphasis on getting (and staying) healthy with information centered on what kinds of foods to feed our bodies for optimum health as well as exercises to benefit not only body, but mind and spirit, too. But that original message seems to have, like so many  things in life, spiraled into something negative. Now the message behind the message is clearly LOSE WEIGHT you slug. Well, maybe not exactly that message, but you get it.

Even when I didn’t need to lose weight, I’d hear this message and think I was wrong, that maybe I DO need to lose weight. It’s horrible, and I’m not at all surprised that Americans are reported as getting bigger, not smaller. I fall into the category of middle-aged women who feel they need to lose a good 10-15 pounds. Maybe it’s true I need to drop a few, maybe not, but I do know that the more pressure there is on us, both men and women, the least likely we are to healthily and safely reach and maintain our goal.

My advice? Healthy foods should be less expensive than junk food (imagine that concept!!), but that’s another discussion. Teach us all how to eat healthy and what to eat to obtain that goal as well as how to exercise (and there are sooo many ways to get exercise), and weight loss will follow.

At this point, I believe we DO know how and what to do and eat to be healthy, for the most part; we just need to take the focus off of it and let it happen. Would you agree? Shouldn’t the dominant message on the airwaves be focused on living a life filled with good friends, joy, family, following our passions, being kind to others and so on? Wouldn’t that do more to help us each reach individual goals of being fit and healthy in body AND mind, not to mention the all important spirit? Health will follow. Weight loss (where needed) will follow. Let’s all try to get off the weight shaming treadmill (see what I did there? lol).

Our body will tell us when/if we need to lose weight. We just need to listen to it. If we have any weight-related issues such as bad knees, bad back, diabetes, inability to walk far and so much more, then yes, we need to take off some weight until those things clear up. But if we are in good health, we need to remember that there are all different shapes and sizes, not one ideal to attain.

Whatever our body type is, it needs to be allowed to find its healthy, not be turned into a clone of someone else’s image. With all the hype on weight loss and being skinny, we’ve lost sight of what healthy really is.

I realize everything I’ve said here has exceptions, but I believe this generalization fits a lot of people and I hope does some good. And for those of you who are the exceptions, keep up the excellent work and spread your positive body image message. 😉

 

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want vs. WANT

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You know the expression or saying, “you can do anything you want to do”, or variations of that statement? How do you feel about the validity of that statement? I think, in case you were wondering, it is spot on correct, but only if you fully understand the value and parameters of the key word: want.

You can want something or you can WANT something. Yes, all caps, because that is the want that will achieve.

I may (and do!) want to be able to go running for great periods of time, over all types of terrain without getting out of breath. But I want it in that way where we want something only under the condition it magically happens to us. I don’t want it to the degree I will spend hours training my body for this form of punishment. Ahem, I mean exercise. I will allow any and all obstacles to derail my progress, sending me back to square one, exercising but not pushing. I must be happy there or I would WANT with more passion and vigor, right?

Another example, I want to play the violin and speak several languages. What have I done to make either of these wants come to fruition? Nothing. Oh, I poke around here and there, trying my hand at self-taught Italian, or daydreaming about the 3 ½ years of Spanish classes I had years ago and never use. I simply want them, would accept them in a heartbeat.  I don’t, however, want them bad enough to make them happen. See what I mean? I want not WANT.

As for the WANTING, that’s the kind that almost guarantees you’ll achieve what you WANT.  I have that, too. I WANT to be a successful writer down to my bones, my soul. So I do what is necessary to make that happen. That means not allowing obstacles (and there are many) stop me or derail my progress. When I “fall off the horse”, I’m back on without hesitation. A lot of people (and I mean a LOT) like to say they would love to be a writer, or they want to be a writer, but less than a quarter of those people really WANT that. Lay it at their feet, and they’ll happily scoop it up, but require they work tirelessly every day, charge past rejections on different levels and never stop writing and you are asking too much. They don’t feel it deep in their bones where not going after a thing isn’t an option.

So you see, you have to WANT something enough to stick with it no matter what stands in your way. That is the common denominator you will find with every individual who has found success in what they WANTED. It’s not just a desire, it’s almost a need. If you do the work, plow the field, forge your path, you will achieve what you WANT.

What do you WANT? Listen to your heart and soul then hold on to what you WANT with an unyielding grip and watch what happens.

Fear and Worry – breaking the grip

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Fear is not a shield. Fear is a hammer to the nail of pain. And worry is a completely useless activity.

Think about this: The intended function of fear is to cause us to stop and think before we do something; it is not necessarily meant to stop us from doing it. Yes, fear has a function, but a limited one. Worry, on the other hand, is pointless.

As someone who has fallen victim to the false belief that worrying about something (anything, everything) will somehow provide a protection against whatever happens, I have spent far too much of my time in fear and I’m tired of it. I’ve recently focused my attention on figuring out why I tend to fall prey to worry and fear so easily and so often, and I believe I’ve uncovered the answer (or at least an answer) as well as a solution, and I’d like to share my findings (or epiphany) with fellow worriers in hopes of freeing all of us.

Think about the act of worrying. What does it really accomplish? I’ve been living under the false belief that if I worry about things that might happen then I’ll somehow be armed and ready when or if they do come to fruition. But after thinking about it, and I mean really digging into the truth of it, I see how worry has never acted as any kind of shield against the pain of a situation when it hits. And worse than that, worry is a total waste of energy and time as most of the things we worry about NEVER EVEN HAPPEN.

Without digging into my past or life story, I can tell you that I decided as a young girl if I kept my guard up at all times (worry), nothing would be able to surprise me. I have been living under the assumption that if I’m not caught off guard or surprised by a thing, somehow it won’t hurt so much. I was wrong. An “epiphany”. Whether I’m caught off guard by an event, or holding my position of so-called readiness (like an outfielder always waiting for a ball, glove ready, knees bent, even when there is no ball in sight), the event and my reaction to it is the same. Worry failed to accomplish anything.

When something unfortunate does happen, we all have to do the same thing: deal with the situation at hand until it’s over. Sometimes we can “fix” or “change” what we are experiencing, and sometimes we cannot, but either way, worry does nothing to help. It’s an impotent emotion or a dull sword that serves only to add unnecessary stress to our lives thus affecting our health and robbing us from regularly experiencing joy.

Now, my solution to this “affliction” of being a worrier may not be the same as your solution, and that’s okay. I’m not reaching out to fellow worriers to get you to do things my way, I’m reaching out with hopes of helping you identify what worry really is and put it out of your life. For me, that means taking my fears and worries to God, placing them at his feet and believing he will take care of things. That isn’t to say nothing will ever go “wrong” in life, but when it does, I find comfort in knowing God is in control since I have put him there. However things play out, I hold tight to God’s hand, trusting that he will (by his word) provide the best outcome as well as comfort along the way. I can worry about something I don’t really have any control over, or I can give it to someone (God) who actually does have the power of control. And I know that does not mean everything always goes the way I (or any of us) intend or expect, but it does mean that whatever the outcome, it will be okay.

The other “epiphany” to dealing with the element of worry is to focus my mind in other areas. Going to God is number one, but taking action is second. By action I mean purposefully redirecting my thoughts; not focusing on what I’m worried about.

The biggest fears (for me) are of course the loss of a child or my husband, or anything destructive happening to them. In that case, I honestly don’t know how I would deal with it, but I do know now that worrying about it will not change anything or equip me for dealing any better. And the worry itself is more destructive in both the short-run and the long-run.

When something does happen, we do what we CAN do and, in my case, pray and believe through it. There is no such thing as preparing oneself for, or shielding against unfortunate things happening in life. They can and they will. But there is comfort and joy to be experienced from releasing fear and worry, and focusing only on what IS happening in life, not what MIGHT happen.

And there is great comfort to be found in knowing that when something DOES happen, there is a higher power ready and willing to take our hand and walk us through. We won’t be doing it alone or without power. Worry will continue to poke it’s ugly head up, but it only means we hammer it back down by whatever means we’ve found works for us (remember the Whack-A-Mole game?). The key is not to embrace the worry.

However you choose to break free from the bondage of worry, follow it through. We all have plenty of challenges to deal with daily, don’t let worry make the load heavier.

I wish you all the best!

Introvert or Extrovert

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So many times I hear (or read) descriptions of introverts and extroverts and how people fall into one camp or the other. It always struck me as strange that I seemed to fall somewhere in the middle of these two camps. Was I just a weirdo? Well, that may be so, but as it turns out, most people fall somewhere in the middle. So these so-called quizzes that place you in one camp or another are simply not accurate. Phew! Here is an article/blog I found that supports this very observation.http://www.fastcompany.com/3016031/leadership-now/are-you-an-introvert-or-an-extrovert-and-what-it-means-for-your-career

I think most of us will find we lean towards one of those personality descriptions a bit more than the other, but we also take a few traits from the “other side”. For example, I can lean towards the extrovert description in that I feel recharged in some social situations (usually with 1-3 people tops), but like introverts, I also need time alone to recharge. It depends on my particular mood at that particular time.

The extrovert side of me can also be quite outgoing (if the moon is aligned properly), but true to my introvert half, I am slow to build friendships (real friendships, not the easily acquired acquaintances).

Bottom line, none of us can be summed up quite so easily as one of only two options of personality. Each of us has a specific, unique personality that can be described in many ways on any given day.

Would you agree, or do you find yourself planted firmly in either the introvert or extrovert camp? There is no wrong answer.

Whether you land on one side or the other, or somewhere in the middle, your personality is uniquely you.

Image result for image of extrovert and introvert

Then there is Ambivert. A third option that fits neatly into everything stated above. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/24/both-introvert-and-extravert-ambivert_n_6177854.html

So, try to understand who you are then embrace it. 😉

Summer Vacation Brain Funk

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Some people forget to pack their shorts or extra underwear or hairspray when they go on vacation, but this summer I forgot to pack my brain.

My “brain funk” began to show its ugly face in full force when I paid for parking at a meter that did not need to be paid after 7 p.m. Yes, it was indeed past 7 p.m. Although I will share only half of that blame as the meter should be rigged NOT to accept payment during the free hours. I’m just saying…

On another night, I left a restaurant with friends, having forgotten to A) sign for my bill and B) take my credit card with me. I’d never done such a thing before and it, quite frankly, scared me a little. I’m not sure who was more relieved when I re-entered the restaurant- me for finding my card safe and sound, or the waiter who likely wanted a tip for his work.

Later, when settling down to read a book (The Girl on the Train), I was disappointed when I couldn’t find my reading glasses. After an intensive search of all my bags and around my mother’s house where I was staying, I spun into full panic, realizing I’d actually lost my glasses. My new glasses!

Unfortunately, I didn’t stop there; I also suffered bouts of direction amnesia. Twice I went to my cousin’s house, passing her street both times, turning down a different road each time, losing my way. Honestly, it was as though my mind had been removed the minute I crossed state lines.

I did go back to the restaurant to retrieve my credit card (and actually pay my bill!); I found my cousin’s house AND took the correct route without incident upon my third trip there; and I did indeed find my “lost” glasses in my suitcase when I returned home from the trip. This “brain recovery” gave me some solace that I hadn’t totally lost my mind, but I’m still a little shaken from so many incidents. The good news is that there is a cure for vacation brain funk: arriving back home and diving into familiar routines. Simply getting back to work on daily work projects has settled my brain back into my head and strapped it in place. Well…as in place as It ever can be.

I hope I pull off my next vacation without incident. I shall put brain at the top of my packing list! One should, in my humble opinion, not leave home without it. Though, admittedly, doing so can lead to some interesting adventures. But…I’m not sure I want to take my chances as interesting could easily be replaced with horrifying, or just plain frustrating. 😉

Help marketing your book

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As an Indie author I’m fully aware of the difficulties of getting your book noticed. I’d just like to create stories and have the marketing end of things fall magically into place. Is that so much to ask? I’m guessing yes. Unfortunately, to get readers to gravitate to your book, you need to be “known” or have excellent marketing skills. I can assure you, I don’t claim either point. But I do what I can, learning as I go, and I like to share what I know.

Here is a link to an article about a site where you can place your book and get more eyes on it. It’s free, which is a good thing for many of us, and very simple. The site is called Bookchoice4you. Take a look. I hope it’s something you find useful. I know I have. All the host asks of us (authors) is that we share information about the site with others. That’s a good thing for us as well as the host of the site.

Here is the article (nice and short, too!):http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2015/05/13/30511/

If you are aware of any other helpful marketing tools, please feel free to share that information here.

Thank you so much, and happy writing (and reading!).

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Okay, I’ve written yet another short story. A “real” short story, not a short, short for a contest entry. But I’m not going to print the story here or say what it’s about (Ooh! How mysterious, right?). I’m mentioning it because as I take baby steps and sometimes giant, scary leaps into this “side adventure” of writing short stories while still working on my second novel, I hope and plan to share with you what I discover on my journey.

So if you have any interest in venturing into the world of writing (and hopefully selling) short stories, stay tuned. Or at least check in every now and again for tips and even some possible (probable?) stories of me tripping over a crack in the “sidewalk” as I follow this new path. But don’t despair, I will also share with you how I pick myself up and continue forward. Because I’m crazy like that. Optimism and hope fuel me, so I can assure you I do pick myself up.

Here is what I’ve learned so far:

1- Writing short stories is like writing novels only shorter. The writing is tighter.

2- I love writing tight.

3- Writing is “easy”; marketing is the hard part.

4- The more you read, the more you learn about the craft of writing and the business of writing.

5- Short stories CAN have happy endings!

6- Blogging does not come easy for me.

Okay, so I’ve learned a lot more things (thankfully!), but sharing 1-6 is a good place to start.

What you’ll notice if you check in on my blog now and again is that I prefer to write for inspiration and encouragement (giving those things, that is) more so than instructional or what have you. But I’ll do my best to supply a mix of all those things.

I haven’t been a fan of reading short stories in the past, but when I found myself drawn to writing some, I needed to venture out and educate myself on the process. What I found pleased me. There are a LOT of short stories and a myriad different ways to write them. The only rule is to keep it tight and, of course, short. Or at least shorter than most novels. Even the length varies! But mostly I was thrilled to discover that any story is acceptable. Meaning, write what you want, what you like, what thrills and interests you. Make your story precise, interesting and short, and voila! You have yourself a short story.

I sum it up this way because, being someone who likes precise instruction, I read through books about how to write short stories only to find I already knew all that stuff. Not to say I’m a know-it-all, but to express that if you know how to form fiction into a story, you are ready to write a short story (or novel!). So get to it. Take on the task with confidence and knowledge that you already possess what it takes. And keep reading! Long or short, doesn’t matter. Reading is your teacher.

So, aspiring short-story writers, I leave you know with a book recommendation. An oldie but very goodie. Guy de Maupassant. His personal story is tragic, but his short story collections are wonderful. Read and learn. It’s better than any “how-to” you’ll read.

http://americanliterature.com/author/guy-de-maupassant/bio-books-stories

Enjoy!