Every New Beginning…

Comes from some other beginning’s end…

You guys, I’m a mere eight weeks away from finishing nursing school.

I just…wow.  The last two years have flown by at times and other times, well, not so much.  The minutes felt like torture.  I’m in the home stretch now, though, and I’m a mixed bag of emotions.  I’m happy and excited and freaked the hell out and terrified and anxious to “get started” on my future.  I hate not knowing what is up ahead and I love the adventure of blazing new trails.

All of this is to say, I’m a mess.  But a good mess!  Well…like 95% good and 5% cah-razy.


Believe It Or Not, Nothing Is New

I guess that probably isn’t that hard to believe.  I lead a pretty boring life.  School, work, repeat.

Although, I’ve thrown the gym in there more often than in the past.  And whaddya know…it works.  Stress is relieved, scale is happy, pants fit better, life is all puppies and sunshine, etc etc etc.  I hope this is the last time I have to learn that lesson.

However, this week I haven’t been feeling it.  I don’t consider myself off the proverbial wagon, but instead I just consider that, dude, I’ve been working really damn hard in every area of my life.  It’s okay to take a breath every now and again.  Hats off to those warriors and idols that can GOGOGO without a few days rest.  I’m not one of them.  🙂  My tank gets empty and the battery needs to be recharged every six weeks or so.  And sometimes?  The battery and tank require a lot of cheese.

I’m okay with it. You be, too.

You do it your way, I’ll do it mine, and we’ll both make ourselves happy.

I read Portia De Rossi’s memoir a few weeks ago.  I loved every single word of it, right up until the end.  She lost me when she claimed to have all the answers for living a healthful life.  She said something about how she never sees thin people on a treadmill but she frequently sees them out walking their dogs.  This was her example of how exercising for fitness wasn’t the answer, but that exercising for fun was the only way to go.  I’m sure she doesn’t actually think in these polar terms.  She’s a brilliant woman with excellent taste in people and life philosophy.  I’m sure she was just trying to make a point.  But still, it was off-putting.  She also wrote that restricting food doesn’t work and dieting is a miserable way to live.

I’m sure it is.  When you’re striving to weigh 80 pounds.

But for those of us who are on the other end of the spectrum, those of us who actually DO weigh too much and actually ARE addicted to food, restricting and dieting is necessary to save our lives.  And having a thin and beautiful person poo-poo that necessity was a slap to the face.  It was like I was reading this book and the whole time thinking that this woman gets it!  And then I got to the end and was excited for the big reveal only to find that she doesn’t understand my end of the spectrum afterall.  And why would she?  She has never been a big girl.

At any rate, I’d still recommend the book.  She’s an incredibly gifted writer and her craft is flawless.  I just wish there was a book out there about someone that’s had my experience.  I guess I’m looking for a manual of what to do.  Or a book that will show me what to expect once the weight is off.

I’ve been big for so long…I don’t know how to be any other way.

It’s scary to let go of the protective layers, ya know?

99 Days

I’ve been tracking what I’ve been eating for each day and it takes the total of about two minutes.  It has led to a 17 pound weight loss during the last 99 days.  It’s simple and it works.  No one even knows I do it.  Well, besides you.

Also, I love sushi!  I need to thank Ben for putting the fishy bug in my ear. (Dear lord, that sounds disgusting…)  Anyway, sushi = AWESOMESAUCE.  It was a great night out and a delicious study break.

My attitude regarding school has held on strong.  So strong, in fact, that this morning I had to sit down with myself and question if I was getting bitten again by my former angry demons.  When I told Dawn about my fear of The Crazy coming back, she assured me that I had made a conscious decision at the end of last semester to RELAX this term.  I guess I’m just surprised that I was actually able to do that.  I won at the Relax Jen Challenge and I was just a little taken off guard that it was so super easy to chill out.

I’m having much more fun now, guys.  I mean, I met friends for dinner on the evening before a test!  What’s next?  Tequila shots for breakfast?!

Thanks for reading.

Oh!  But before you go, I have to direct you to my friend John’s weblog.  Dude did a TRIATHALON with only a couple of months training.  Couch to 5K program has got nothing on him!  He should start a Couch to Tri program.  I’m proud of him and I’m grateful to call him “hombre”.  Although I never do.  I mostly just call him John.

No Take Backs!

I don’t want to make a whole big thing out of it, but I feel like I’m ready to share something here.  Again.  Krissie wrote about how tiring and emotionally exhausting it is to keep writing and lamenting about the stupid cycle a lot of people are trapped in.  I feel that way, too.  Which is why I didn’t even want to mention it.  But I know I have a few readers who used to come here for a very specific purpose.  They came here to read about how I was doing in the world of weight and health.

It’s hard to write about that all of the time because, like everything else in life, there are good days and un-good days.  Sharing the un-good days makes me feel like I’ve let people down.  Sharing the good days almost feels like pressure to keep having ONLY high points.

It’s like my academic performance.  Maintaining a 4.0 is extremely uncomfortable and angst riddled.  It’s stressful and awful and, frankly, the returns aren’t worth it.  A scholarship is nice but I’ve decided that my sanity and emotional/physical health are much nicer.  So I’m approaching this semester with a new attitude.  I just want to be comfortable.  Not too perfect, not struggling to maintain that perfection.  4.0 will be nice if it happens but I’m not going to kill myself to get there.  I’d rather earn my degree and be healthy and happy instead of popping pills to ease headaches and help me sleep.  I’d rather be smiling instead of dealing with backaches and piling on twenty pounds of emotional comfort food.

Anyway.  This is all a really long way of telling you that I went ahead and lost fifteen pounds on my summer vacation.  That’s an average of five pounds a month.  Back in the day, that wouldn’t have been enough for me.  I would have been frustrated that the weight was coming off so slowly.  But I realize that if I would have just kept going and been satisfied with even the tiniest losses all of those other times before, I wouldn’t have a weight problem now.  Basically, I’m comfortable with the rate, comfortable with the pace, loving the peace of mind that I’m doing something right, even if I’m doing it slowly.

I was afraid to write about it here because I illogically thought that I would jinx my progress.  Because every time I went on and on about what I’d lost or how I’d been doing well, I inevitably would struggle the next few days/weeks.  So I kept quiet for most of the summer.  I went for bike rides** and tracked my food and ate birthday cake and had dinners out with my family.  I went to a concert and had weekends away.  I lived offline and it was good.

And really, there is no jinx here.  I am the one in control.  No head games this time.  I’m doing it right, publicly or not.

** By the way, I’ve reached the top of that ONE MILE hill at least four times since that post.  I just have neglected to tote the camera along.  And then I decided that the full glory of it would probably best be seen when the leaves are changing colors.  The pictures are still coming…they’ll just be a little later than originally planned.  But believe me, you’ll love them!

But Who’s Counting?

I wanted to do something visual as a countdown until I graduate.  Folks, I have many many days until I get to walk across that stage.  So I needed something light and colorful and fun.  I wanted a gesture at the end of the day that would ease my mind as I went to bed.  I wanted to be able to take a deep breath at the end of anticipated frustrating and tiring school days and remind myself to just keep moving onward and upward.

A construction paper chain was pretty much at the top of the list.  I thought about how satisfying it would be to rip the date to shreds at the end of a bad day.  I thought how nice it would be to see the chain get progressively smaller even if I was having a great time in school and life.  A visual representation that I’m working toward a significant goal.

But, you see, I have this Henry problem.

And a paper chain would be downright cruel because OHMYGODINEEDTOGETIT!  And he’d drive me insane while he tried to get it.  And he’d make me angry once he DID get it.  Even if it was up way high to the sky, that boy would find a way to leap up and tear all the days to shreds.

Finally, Dawn and I decided to get a jar.  And some candy.  We painstakingly counted every single piece, allowing ourselves to eat two pieces at the end of every day.


If you can guess how many candies are in the jar I’ll send you a surprise!


I’m going to yet again extol the virtues of my small town.  It’s, in a word, magnificent.  When I was a teenager and lived in the next town over, this place was considered “the big city”.  (And now everyone that knows where I live is laughing just a little.)

A few years ago there was a big push to build a bike trail that surrounds the city limits.  All of the money was either granted by government or donated by the people of this town.  I think the tally is somewhere around a couple of million dollars.  I’m not going to even pretend that is accurate.  It might actually be a little more than that.  Anyway…

My apartment is right across the road from a trail access point.  About four miles down the path is this hill that will be nearly impossible to explain.  It twists and turns and goes up and up for about one hundred years.  Back in the beginning of June, I promised myself that I would climb that whole thing on my bike without stopping.

And today I did it.

Next time?  I’ll take a camera and you can suffer and marvel at the beauty right along with me.

And It’s Not Even ABOUT The iPod

This isn’t the first time.

No.  The first time was when I was nineteen and living in Ireland.  They got into my downtown Dublin flat and stole, of all things, my electricity converters.  They slipped in while the cleaning lady was in our kitchen and told her they were my friends.  And then they took something so ridiculous that when I think about it now I can’t help but giggle.  Obviously American.  Obviously in my small writer’s workshop at Trinity University.  However, obviously not my friends.  I never figured out who it was.  I moved on and forgave them anyway.

But I still felt violated.

This isn’t even the second time.  The second time happened after I had been living back in Iowa for a couple of years.  I secured an apartment for Cindy and I and life was good.  I parked my car in an extremely public parking lot full of bright lights to make the night not as scary.  I went out with a friend and when he dropped me off, nothing seemed amiss.  I unlocked my door, got in the driver’s seat and noticed glass shards everywhere.  As if in slow motion, I looked up to see that my passenger door’s window was gone.  Shattered with the pool ball that I later found on the floor.  They took my CD player, some music, and my jacket.

That time?  I was just totally pissed off.

But tonight is a lot like that first experience in Ireland.  I feel like a victim.  I feel like someone uninvited let themselves into my personal spaces and took me.

My car was parked in my garage.  I hadn’t been in or around my car for about twenty-four hours.  Dawn and I decided to go to dinner.  My car needed the brakes looked at so we were going to drive separately and I’d drop the Focus off at the mechanic on the way to the restaurant.

“This door’s open a little bit”, she said, and then opened and shut the passenger door.

“Weird”, I mused.  I got in the driver’s seat, started the engine, and reached for my iPod like a habit.

It was gone.  And so was the ’emergency ten bucks’ I had stuffed into the glove compartment.  Nothing else had been messed with.  My car is FULL of stuff.  But only the iPod, the docking station it sits in, and the ten dollars were taken.

Material things…no big deal at all.  Ever.  All replaceable.  No need to cry about it.

But the trust for my neighbors?  My sense of security?  Poof.

It seems so silly…but my iPod was so personal.  I listen to songs a lot of people have never heard of.  I listen to embarrassingly upbeat and funky stuff.  I like music from all over the spectrum.  I had a lot of lesbian music and old lady music and teenager music and heavy metal and country and rap.  I’m sure the person flicking through my playlists right now is thinking “What a waste of criminal activity.”  Also?  Did you know that you can only sync your iPod with a certain number of computers?  After that, it won’t open up on any other computer.  At least, my old beautiful red iPod Nano first generation was built that way.  She was maxed out.  The poor bastard who took it is stuck with an eclectic mix of tunes that they would never dare play in front of anyone.

The real issue isn’t the electricity converters or the electronic devices or even the cash.  The issue is that I feel robbed of a significant part of my person.  I feel like people generally suck and there isn’t anything I can do about it.  Except you, of course.  You are wonderful.  But you are also rare.  You are a sparkling diamond in a veritable solar system of crap.  I’m so glad you’re here.

Maybe you can make this better.  Tell me to lock my doors, even when my car is in my garage.  Even when I live among the elderly.  Especially because just down the street live the hoodlums.  LOCK THE DOORS, JEN.  Always.  Amen.

This makes me so sad.  In Dublin, the doors were always locked.  In that city with my Cindy?  Doors always locked.  Here?  In a town of a few thousand on a good day? It was a crapshoot.  My doors weren’t locked with any consistency.  And certainly never when my car was parked in its own little cubby.  Now, however…well, duh.

It’s just a bummer because I sometimes love living in this little bitty town.  It used to make me feel like parts of the world were still good.  Here, we are away from the bustle of the cities and every single person I meet when I’m out for a walk smile and say hello.  Every.  Single.  One.  Without fail.  It’s freaking Mayberry here!

It used to be.  Or maybe, I just thought it was.

It doesn’t matter.  The reality and the illusion are both shattered.  I’m going to bed now.  And you can bet I’m going to lock up tight.  Even if it breaks my heart that I have to.  I have no choice, you see.  They stole that choice.