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happiness

Back on the Bandwagon

Who knew life could be this normal? This is not normal in a bad or boring way, no, quite the opposite; normal in an amazing, satisfying, happy and fulfilling way. A life I thought I did not deserve has found me.  Love, joy, laughter, family, friends, even just a daily routine… life is good, very good.  Some might argue that everyone (well almost everyone) deserves some basic happiness.  Maybe this is true. Life is neither always fair, nor are we capable of understanding why things happen or don’t happen the way we might like them to. Given the aforementioned, I will neither question nor attempt to understand how or why my life is good – it just is, and I am very grateful for it.20160815_064810

Romance has put a few pounds back on – yes… I haven’t been careful enough.  A lot of eating out and a lot of simply enjoying myself. I know how to take it off and my intentions are to do so. My journey however has taught me personal joy apart from the weight I carry, or the size clothing I wear.

I have embraced my role as a survivor and a voice for sexually abused women, but I am no longer a loud lone voice. Thirty years later I have an army of women and men behind me.  I am not fighting the battle on my own.  I am standing with thousands of others who now hear me, whose voices resound with strength and power. I have passed the torch to those with the power and strength I can no longer afford to offer.

For me happiness is not about settling or acceptance. It is about savoring joy, passion, feeling content and connected. The “pursuit” of happiness now seems somewhat futile. I feel happiness comes when you are meant to have it simply because you now understand it, and can appropriately appreciate it.

So once again I embark on weight loss and fitness training.  I am very happy, but I am aware that sustaining a healthy BMI and staying in shape will enable me to remain happy, and physically and emotionally strong for a long long time.

I am embarrassed to say I have put on about 15+ pounds and I haven’t been exercising with any regularity.  Back on the bandwagon for me.  But like my tattoo reminds me each and every day – PERSEVERE. The 15 will drop off and I will regain my physical strength again. I love my family, my partner, my friends, my home, San Diego, my job, my garden, my writing, etc., but I must love me more and put my health, and ultimately long term happiness first.  I know how great I feel when I am healthy and satisfied with my appearance. I am healthy and satisfied with my appearance, but I feel it slipping and it scares me after everything I went through to get where I am.20161018_08280320161018_082716

With the support and love of everyone around me I will get back to the best me I can be.

OK I am BACK!!! One Foot In Front of the Other!

It has been a full year since I lost all  my weight and I am now an ENTIRELY different person. Stronger physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually.  By making decisions from the heart I have benefited in the long run.  I may have struggled and not seen the benefit upfront, but upon reflection I can see where following my heart brought both goodness and peace into my life.

286 lbs of self hatred.
286 lbs of self hatred.
146 lbs of self love.
146 lbs of self love.

I am back to exercising three to four times a week. Mostly just cardio, but my move (hauling boxes, etc.) seriously increased my upper body muscle tone.  It takes effort when you are alone to get out of the house, to walk or sometimes to just move.  But those four aspects of your life change positively when you push yourself to do so. The physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual being grows and strengthens.

The endorphins released, the pride you can take, the peace you can find, the thoughts you can process all seem to emerge and come into focus when you push yourself to move in one way or another. Take a walk, a stroll even, walk the dog, ride a bike, do some gardening, sweep the porch -the easy stuff that doesn’t feel  like exercising is the stuff that you need to incorporate into your everyday life.

Each and everyday is a struggle when you are learning to live on your own for the first time. It is a very personal journey filled with tears of sadness and joy as you find yourself again. Learning who you really are and accepting and loving that person is not always easy.  BUT it IS obtainable.  It is a reachable goal when you do not set a time limit.  Commend yourself for every moment spent content and at peace.  Do not beat yourself up for the moments you find yourself sad and lonely – that is to be expected and is going to happen.  Let it happen the emotions will pass. You can choose joy when you wake up each morning.  Start your day in a place of happiness – find something when you wake up that brings you peace.

Choose to be optimistic, chose to be positive, choose to smile, choose to forgive, choose to be kind. When you consciously make these positive choices again, like physically moving, you grow physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually whether  you realize it or not.  The parts of who you are begin to sync.  By working on all four parts either individually or simultaneously will show you positive growth and strength in all aspects because intrinsically they overlap.

Some days will be good and others not so good.  When you start seeing the good outweigh the bad actualization begins.  “Wow! I did it – I can make it through the bad days.  I can use healthy coping mechanisms.  I can choose a happy, healthy lifestyle!” When these realizations are made, accepting and loving who you are as a human being starts to become easier.

Everyday I put one foot in front of the other – literally and figuratively.  As long as I am committed to this I know I will continue to grow stronger in every aspect of my life and find my path to understanding and fulfillment.

On Being Happy

The more interactions you have with other human beings the more you learn how important it is to surround yourself with individuals who bring you joy, lift you up, support your dreams and see you for who you really are. Most people learn this the hard way. Never feel guilty about removing the toxic people from your life. These toxic people not only make your life unbearable, but they will sabotage any effort you make towards being happy and improving yourself. By ridding your life of toxic relationships you are protecting your spirit. Once you have found who you really are, are comfortable in your own skin, can nurture your dreams and the dreams of those you love, protect that at all costs. Ferociously guard it. Coming to this place spiritually, intellectually and emotionally can take years of self-reflection. Don’t waste your efforts on toxic people – life is too short.

toxic people

Your past is just that, the past. And although there may have been many painful experiences in your life, it is those experiences that have led you to where you are today, and have helped you grow as a person. You have learned from both the negative and the positive. Use what you have learned and try not to repeat prior mistakes. This is not an easy task. We tend to gravitate towards the same type of people again and again in order to resolve something possibly entirely subconscious. These relationships can be wonderful, or they can be toxic. They can bring about enlightenment, or continued suffering. They can appear as relationships with friends, family, significant others, co-workers, employers…anywhere. Assess your relationships carefully. Are they toxic or are they a positive influence in your journey? Do not waste your energy giving your best self to those who do not give their best selves in return. Your spirit cannot afford to maintain toxic relationships if it is going to grow, flourish, and be a positive energy in the world.

Surround yourself with support and love – learn to both give and receive support and love. Help others, and be a light in all the relationships you have chosen to cultivate. All these things can help you achieve whatever goals you may set for yourself – weight loss, a career change, realizing a dream, raising a family, exploring your spirituality…happyholidays

As I will be busy with a variety of holiday and wedding preparations, I may not post till after the weekend. For everyone who celebrates Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by positive people who bring you joy.

Past, Present and Future

Pull it all together and move forward!

New York was amazing. It’s my home, my city, where I feel alive and where I belong. When I am there I never want to leave, and maybe someday that dream will be a reality. All the things we did exceeded expectations. For me of course it was the performance of The Color Purple that once again changed my life. I don’t think I stopped crying from start to finish. Alternating between happy and sad tears; relating to the play, the performances, the music, missing regular opportunities to see this quality of production, and my own personal aching for being on the stage. Emotions are crazy things. This show was unbelievable on every level. I didn’t want it to end. If you have the opportunity to see this performance, go. It will change your life.

Catching up with old friends on this trip was wonderful. It’s so amazing to hear peoples’ stories when you haven’t connected in 25-30 years. It’s also good to know that the good memories you share are still there for the both of you. If New York is ever home again there will still be friends to connect with and that feels great.

We did MACY’s, THE tree, Coney Island (fiancée had never been), the holiday windows, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the Star Wars Costume Discovery Exhibit and more. Here are some pics from our trip that came and went too fast.

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When I took my fiancée to Coney Island we road the train along the same line I road when I lived at the home of Mordechai Winiarz/Marc Gafni. I was clammy and very uncomfortable as we pulled into the stop where I would get on and off the train in Brooklyn. It is amazing that 30 years later I can still feel the fear. I am not that kid anymore, I am older, stronger, and have a wonderful support network. Again, emotions are crazy things. I met one of his other victims on our trip. This is the first time we met face to face. We had spoken on the phone, and emailed but seeing one another was a bit surreal. Sharing mutual pain with someone is not the same as sharing joy, or gratitude, or some random experience. It’s very bonding. Even before I met her I felt very protective, almost a motherly instinct, although I am younger by just a few years. I know what it is like to be hurt by this man, as does she. Having this in common with someone is not pleasant, if you are a good person you don’t want others to hurt or be hurt especially when you know the level of pain involved. I may be naive, but I still believe in a time when he will no longer hurt anyone else.

Now its on to Christmas preparations, wedding preparations, and preparations for our yearly crazy community Seder. I need to throw myself into the preparation phase for all of these happy occasions, and block out the newly erupting interest in my victimization that seems to be cropping up more and more each day.

My toes hurt a bit after all the walking, but I am also very thankful that I had the opportunity to walk after all the eating we did. We had one day of rain, and the day we left was freezing cold, but we had amazing weather for December in New York. After all that walking I know I am ready to get back to exercising, still slowly, but definitely ready.

My past, present and future all came together on this trip. Visualizing what you want, and thinking about all the positive outcomes, helps create your reality. So as I move forward I see myself happy, with my wife by my side, bustling about the streets of Manhattan, being involved in creative endeavors, having good friends, loving and being loved, being authentic; and life being exactly as it is meant to be – absolutely wonderful.

Setbacks and Excuses

At this juncture I feel the need to talk about setbacks and excuses. Although I was called back for a roll in Four Weddings and an Elvis I was notified last night that I did not get cast in the production. This had me saddened and disappointed. In the past I would have turned to chocolate to brighten my mood using this setback as an excuse to eat. But I talked my way through this one with family and friends. I know the arts are full of constant rejection, and there is someone always just a bit more talented, or better for the part, or just simply better at their art than you. But that one time out of 100 that you do get to shine can make the disappointment worth it. Like losing all the weight, it’s all about perseverance. Little steps (I was reminded – you didn’t drop 135 pounds all at once!) – at least there was a callback this time!

I am moving forward and working on my next audition – gotta keep moving forward. I am also looking at a variety of other ways to stay involved in the theatre on a full time basis

fear failureWeight can be an excuse for not following your dreams, so can money, so can life’s circumstances – there is ALWAYS an excuse to turn away or freeze – from the fear of failure. But failure is inevitable sometimes. No one always gets it right! Failure is necessary for growth. I think the weight loss, and not being a kid anymore has helped me realize that with perseverance finding joy is possible. You may never be a millionaire (unless of course you are under the false assumption that money brings joy and persevere towards that goal), but you can be happy.

For me the weight loss came first, but maybe for you it’s the guts to follow your heart. When you are in a place of joy EVERYTHING gets easier; including the ability to make healthy choices.

I find it interesting that since I started on my “journey of joy” a lot of weird coincidences, circumstances and connections fell into place. I had job offers (granted not in my field of choice), made new friends who are now more like family and reconnected with some VERY old ones…all the way back to preschool! Yes this is me at 5 in preschool. I am actually friends on Facebook with more than one of my classmates here!

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Who knows it may just be one of these connections that enable me to continue following my dreams, or even just be the extra encouragement I will need during moments of doubt – and there will always be those moments. With my inner conviction, and all this support; both old and new, the decision to not turn to food at those moments will be easier – not simple, but easier.

Take some time to think about what your excuses are to not start on your journey, or to stop mid-journey, or to take a U-turn after coming a long long way. Once you realize that you are rationalizing your way into failure reach out to someone for help. Shoot me an email through my “About Me” page, and I can try to be supportive from a distance.

On being “CRAZY”

It’s fairly well documented that us left brained creative type tend toward bipolar disorder more than the general population. I was diagnosed 15 years ago with bipolar disorder, adult ADHD and generalized anxiety disorder. I am fairly certain this all went undiagnosed for many years prior. It has not been easy being me, but most of the time I wouldn’t change it for anything. Having a bipolar brain is complicated and frustrating but can also be enthralling and invigorating for the individuals and for all those who love them.

I certainly have had my extreme manias and depressions. I’ve gone through the typical thinking that my medication has now made me better so I no longer need it. I’ve stabilized and destabilized. I’ve rapid cycled and stayed down for months on end. All of my experiences albeit difficult have helped me grow and make me who I am. Primarily the deep understanding that this trip here on earth needs to be the best I can make it – which means for me being happy, healthy, loving and being loved. Those things are essential to my being. Physical health has helped my mental health, and has motivated me to stay on my medication. I must admit however that even medicated I still cycle – not at the extremes, but certainly definitive ups and downs. Rebirthing my creative being has helped me stay grounded and happy which also stabilizes my mood.

My behavior changes can be very subtle or very noticeable. I try very hard to let those who know me best know when I feel a change coming on – and I can feel it. I am willing to answer people’s questions about bipolar disorder, but my perspective is mine alone and although I may share some experiences with other individuals, everybody feels things differently.

Possibly my bipolar disorder helped me lose the weight because I was able to exercise at a heightened level and stay super focused on my food – a 10 month mania of sorts. But I have to take some credit for all the work I did to get where I am; it wasn’t entirely my misfiring brain!

I can describe mania for you, and deep depression, but it still comes nowhere close to actually experiencing it. I hope the articles in this section of the blog will help someone – anyone; someone who is bipolar, suffering from anxiety or someone who is loving someone who is.

Body Shaming

I think it takes a strong person to ignore the opinions of others, especially when you are young. Body shaming needs to stop – some people are just not built to be Twiggy. Kids do not need to be bullied to the point of suicide because they don’t fit today’s mold of “beautiful” – I am sure these teens are all beautiful inside and out. Being overweight is not ugly, some people can’t help their size due to medical issues and those people need to focus on being healthy. Others are overweight for a variety of reasons: emotional eating is obviously at the top of the list. This is hard to overcome but I hope to help those of you in this position realize that there are other things to make you happy and being healthy will help with being happy.

At this point in my life (because I know what makes me happy and how to pursue that) I really don’t care what others may or may not say about me, the way I dress, the way I do or do not wear make-up, etc. I suppose that is why I posted my before pictures and had it put up on national television without thinking twice.

After all this weight loss I have quite a bit of excess skin hanging around (particularly around my abdomen). I can’t afford the surgery to remove it – and although I would do it if I could afford it, I’m okay with it being there and when I want to hide it for some reason or another (i.e. an audition, a date night, etc.) that’s why I own spanks. I’m so okay with it, here is a pic:

my belly
Yes pretty panties make me feel good, LOL!

People are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. Its part of what makes us unique. And what matters is that you are confident and comfortable in your body but most of all are HEALTHY and HAPPY.

It’s not about being “skinny” or about wearing certain clothes (although a new wardrobe is a really nice benefit), its about feeling good and taking care of yourself for you and your family. Don’t let your goal to be as skinny or thin as so-and-so – set your goal to be the best you you can be. Take into account your height, your bone structure, whether or not you have had children, etc. Be realistic and strive to be your best self. After children your abdominal muscles are the most difficult to return to pre-pregnancy. And those of you who know me, know I have 5 children all of whom I am very proud of, and all of whom took a toll on my body. I nursed them all and my boobs look a lot like my abdomen (another surgery I have no money for)! I wouldn’t let anyone cut on my face, but I know a flat belly and some larger boobs would make me feel even better. I am happy now and those things do not determine my happiness I just think they may enhance it – LOL!

I NEVER thought I would be a size 6. Even though I weighed less pre-pregnancy than I do now, I was an 8. I’m sure the fashion industry has changed the sizes a bit to make us all feel better about ourselves, but my dress size does not define me. I never set a goal to be a 6. I set a realistic weight goal and when I achieved it was going to be satisfied with whatever “size” I was. I will admit it is nice not having to shop in stores tailored to larger women because the stylish things have still not completely caught up with the average woman (unless you have a small fortune to spend). I no longer ONLY wear black but it is still one of may favorite go to-s, it’s a hard habit to break and I guess I really enjoy wearing black as well – it goes with everything. And for me ORANGE is NOT the new BLACK (although the show is great – from what I have seen of it). Orange, like yellow makes this pale chick look a bit jaundice.

I can wear heals again – which is a double-edged sword. I don’t’ really like to wear them, but they do complete a nice outfit and according to my future wife they are very sexy (even though I tower over her in them). I don’t wear them often as they are not great for your feet, but with the musical theatre dancing I have had to wear character shoes quite a bit. Still uncoordinated and falling over, but the shoes don’t really make much of a difference with that tendency.

About make-up: I don’t wear it everyday. I likely never will. Probably because growing up I heard things from my mother that I interpreted negatively whether or not they truly were meant that way. Every time I wore make-up I was told the same thing: “You look so beautiful when you wear make-up!” or “You look so nice you should wear make-up more often.” I internalized this to mean basically I was ugly unless I had make-up on. Well I’ve over come that sort of. I wear make-up now if I think it’s going to make me feel good that day, or if I need to for an audition or performance. I know someone who hasn’t even let her husband see her without a full face of make-up and they have been married for close to 10 years. I personally think that is a bit extreme, but to each his own… again do what makes YOU happy for YOU – not for others. If she is applying make-up every morning because it makes her feel good about herself, then why not? Here is a pic of me without make-up, and one with. I like both!

Just keep moving forward.

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