I Might be Afraid of Therapy

Do I need therapy? I don’t know.

In many ways I’m feeling really great and my life is going really well– my marriage feels solid, we’ve made a lot of financial goals that we’re either meeting or on track to meet, I’m feeling relatively stable at work so I’m not feeling like i’m moments away from getting fired (and therefore moments away from poverty). I’ve been feeling many moments of pride over being able to save my money and I’m beginning to relax about money because I feel like we’re being more fiscally responsible and we’re able to plan for our future! It’s a little overwhelming to think that in the last year we’ve gone from living paycheck to paycheck to planning on having a kid (!!!) next year because holy cow we can actually afford one! We’ve been talking about getting a car because WE CAN AFFORD ONE. We’ve been talking about renting a new apartment because WE CAN AFFORD IT. And we want it!

So to recap– my marriage, my finances, my work life (and most of my relationships in general) are great. I’m feeling super stable.

AND YET….. Continue reading

Times for Prayer

I have a ritual for when I travel by plane. I’m usually pretty relaxed as I’m waiting in the airport (I’m always 2 hours early even though I know an hour would probably suffice), and I’ll eat a snack or watch a movie on Netflix, chat with my wife or play the ABC game (My name is Alice, my wife’s name is Arlene, we live in Albany and we like to eat Almonds!). I wait patiently to board, hand the attendant my ticket, find a good seat and get comfortable. And then before we take off, before we’re asked to put our phones in airplane mode, before the attendants go over the safety procedures, I clothes my eyes and I pray. I pray to whoever is listening, whoever is out there keeping watch. I pray for a safe flight and a peaceful vacation. I pray for my family, that they stay safe while we’re apart, and I pray that we all are blessed with long and meaningful lives. I know that it might not change anything and that even with my prayer we could still crash or someone in my family could get hurt while I’m away, but I don’t feel safe on a plane if I don’t do this ritual before we take off.

Prayer helps to reduce my anxiety. It’s like, if I push my fears and my hopes out into the universe that maybe the Divine will hear it and maybe decide I’m worth saving or protecting. Or maybe if I pray for courage or wisdom or patience that by simply putting that out in the universe I will be more mindful and remember patience when I’m stressed or courage when I’m scared. Sometimes I pray for answers, like when I first started to realize my senior year that I had a crush on Kourtney and I didn’t know what to do about it. I prayed for months and was looking for a certain answer that I never got. I was certain that the answer to my prayers would be stay where you are, what you’re feeling isn’t real. But every time, the answer I got was Go! This is your chance! Do not squander my gift to you. It took me awhile to really receive that message and take it to heart. Nine years later and we’re married and getting ready to start a family. But I’m not always looking for the Divine to give me an answer to a question– most of the time I ask for peace or protection. There have been many times when I’ve been suddenly very anxious about dying, usually right before I fall asleep, and I feel the panic begin to rise within me. When I was little I used to get out of bed and knock on my parent’s bedroom door, crying about death and what ifs and my parents would tell me that when we die we go to heaven. I would be skeptical but would accept this answer because all I really needed was assurance that death wasn’t scary so I could fall asleep peacefully. I still get panicked about death as an adult but instead of calling up my parents I pray. My prayer is simple: Please god, don’t let me die scared, and don’t let me die alone.

And believe it or not, it makes me feel better.

2017 Resolutions

Every year around this time I make a long list of resolutions for the following year. Sometimes I make a long list (like I did on my previous blog for 2012), and sometimes it’s just one thing (this year it was saving 10k by January 1 2017). I don’t really have a middle ground, it’s one thing or all the things! Anyway, I figured this year I’d do another resolutions list, shorter than the one in 2012 but with what I consider pretty big goals. Here’s the list:

  1. Eliminate credit card debt by December 31
  2. Eliminate refined sugars from my diet
  3. IF I can maintain my protein goals, become a vegetarian
  4. Get pregnant
  5. Only weigh myself ONCE a week
  6. Convert to Judaism (just do it already!)

 

I’ve already begun working on the first two– watching my credit score improve as my debt decreases has been quite exciting for me, and I’m slowly craving sugar less and less so I think the transition will be easier than I thought– but the rest all begin on January 1. I’ll keep this blog up to date on my progress. I might also add some additional resolutions before January rolls around. We’ll see!

Writing for an Audience of One

Two years ago I discovered NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, and I was super stoked about it. I made an account on their website, filled out my profile, and prepared to write a whole novel in a month (NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days). Before I began blogging, I used to spend a lot of my free time writing for myself– poetry, short stories, novels that I never really finished. I remember my parents had received this totally ancient PC from a friend and let me use it– it wasn’t connected to the internet, but it didn’t matter– and I would sit down in front of the computer, turn on some music (usually the Beatles or the Shins) and write for hours, creating alternate realities where kids had power and parents didn’t really exist and magic was everywhere (you know, kid stuff). As I got older I found livejournal and greatjournal (remember livejournal?!) and that really exposed me to the catharsis that can come with online journaling and blogging, but even then I still made time for something beyond my own experience, something creative and outside my own life. It was nice to be creative and fantastical, to write about anything I wanted, to have my characters do whatever I wanted them to, to play out what-ifs or if-onlys in Microsoft Word. I continued to write through high school and into college, but eventually I stopped devoting time to fiction and spent more time writing midterm papers and blogging.  Continue reading

Happy Halloween!

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Halloween and Samhain today (or tomorrow, depending on your traditions), Dia de los Muertos and All Saints Day tomorrow. Then All Souls Day the following day. Safe to say that it is pretty hallowed few days in store for us! Happy autumn holy days for all who are celebrating. Here’s to many more!

I can’t see the future but I think it will be bright

I’m a planner. My present is total chaos (you should see my room right now, it’s as if hurricane Matthew made it all the way to my bedroom), but when it comes to my future, I like to plan for as much as possible. I create my own budget through excel which includes budget projections based on differences in pay, a savings tab to keep track of our 10k savings goal, and a debt tab that shows not only how much we owe but also how long it will take to get under a 30% debt ratio. Every time we go to Disneyland I make an excel spreadsheet that details all of our reservations, park hours, schedules for entertainment we might want to see, and a budget for the week we go. So yeah, I’m a bit of planner. Continue reading

Beyond Coping

It’s been awhile. After my last few posts I got some comments from people, mostly people concerned about my welfare because I was really honest about how I was feeling at the time. If you haven’t read those posts, here’s the short version: everything is shit, this process is shit, I’m shit, we’re all shit. Basically everyone was like whoa, are you okay? TOO HONEST, REWIND. I really didn’t mean to sound like such a debbie downer, but I was also just feeling really low and didn’t want to lie about it. This is my blog, of of course– if  I can’t be honest here, then where? I was quite taken aback by the responses. Many people suggested I see a therapist, some people tried to convince me that what I was feeling was only temporary, a few people tried to compliment me and tell me I’m a good person. Most of it felt really intrusive which I know is stupid because this is a PUBLIC blog and I share intimate details so of course people are going to be intimate in their response. But I felt a bit intruded upon and embarrassed because I got to vulnerable, too open.  Continue reading

Thoughts On Being Fat

I’m a member of a couple of wls groups on Facebook, I have an Instagram account that’s dedicated to my wls journey (I only follow wls accounts there, so it’s all weight loss pretty much all the time). I spend most of my screen time reading about weight loss stories, looking at before and “after” photos, bombarding my mind with images and narratives around losing weight. Most of the time (I would say probably 99% of the time) people talk about how happy they are being thinner than they were when they were fat. I understand that, I see why people want to put that message out there because there’s this idea that all fat people are (besides lazy and gross) totally miserable because they’re fat. If you’re depressed and fat, it’s not because you have a shitty job, or because you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, or because you’re going  through a rough patch in a relationship. It’s not because you just lost a loved one, or because people treat you like shit (because of aforementioned fatness) or because you’ve suffered trauma of some kind.

It’s because you’re fat, and you know it, and you hate it and hate yourself. So, the solution to that is to be thin. When you get thin, the depression will go away. And sure, some people (probably a small percentage) are depressed specifically about being fat and losing weight helps them feel better. But it’s not a cure all for all your woes. Also, not all fat people are depressed in general or depressed about being fat specifically, and that idea totally oversimplifies depression. I don’t know if you can tell, but the whole thing really grinds my gears. Continue reading

Today I’m 26

I wrote this post on my birthday last Wednesday. 

Today is my birthday. I’m 26 years old. It’s funny, I’ve been feeling 26 all year, so this birthday feels a bit redundant.

Last April I developed an ear infection in both ears. I suffered for the first few days, working and pretending that it didn’t hurt but it got worse and worse until I was unable to work anymore. I made a doctor’s appointment with the first available doctor at the Alameda kaiser, which was a huge mistake. The doctor I met with basically told me that he didn’t see an infection, that I was fine but how many times a week did I exercise? Asshole. despite the fact that you could see my ears were swollen, he gave me a prescription for some Tylenol for the pain he didn’t believe I really had and sent me on my way.

I woke up the next day in so much pain I began to cry in  that uncontrollable, please-gods-just-end-the-pain kind of way where it’s hard to even speak because the tears and the sobbing come out in bursts; you’ve broken the dam that holds you together and everything is falling out all at once and your body can’t decide whether or not your words or your sobs are more important. Not that it matters because they just flow out of you without your permission or control. This was the condition I was in as I went back  to the doctor’s office, this time meeting a different doctor who may have thought I was having an emotional breakdown. It was hard to even get to the office– all I could feel was the throbbing in my ears, which felt like it spread to the rest of my head. It was constant pain, even with the Tylenol it had raged on through the night, so I was exhausted and in pain and incredibly frustrated by the time I’d gotten to my second appointment. at this point I was so swollen my ears were sticking out, and there was no way any sane doctor could look at me and think there wasn’t an infection. I could barely handle the examination because it hurt to much to be touched, and obviously  the whole time I’m trying to fight back tears and failing.

This doctor agrees that there is indeed an infection, but he’s not going to give me antibiotics. Instead he’s going to give me a vinegar solution (something that I could probably have done at home and could have saved myself a trip) and some extra strength tylenol. I felt defeated. When were these doctors going to take me seriously? Could they not see that I was obviously in pain? Where did they get their degrees? Did Kaiser just find these men on the street and think, yeah they’ll be fine. Just stick them in the office and hopefully no one dies.

I sobbed all the way down to the pharmacy and continued as I waited to see my name pop up on the screen on the wall, you know, the one that lets you know your prescription is ready. I sat there, out in the open, and cried like a baby, unashamed and a little bit unaware of who was around me. I didn’t care that I was a grown ass adult. I was hurt, physically and emotionally. And those doctors made me feel like my pain didn’t matter,  that I didn’t matter. I was just another faceless patient to them, and they couldn’t be bothered to provide me with quality medical care.

And then, out of nowhere, this older black lady walks up to me. She doesn’t know me, in fact we’ve never met before. She doesn’t ask me what’s wrong or even ask me my name. She looks me in the eye and tells me that everything is going to be okay. I think I may have mustered up a thank you through the crying.

She asks me if her prayer group can pray for me, and I say yes. Can you imagine that? She asks me if it’s okay if she and her friends pray for me! At the time I was to inward to really care, and I of course said yes because I knew in that moment that I really needed support and I was gonna take whatever I could get. But her small act of kindness…. I’m not sure if she knows how much it meant to me, even a year later. She saw me when I felt invisible. She saw my pain and validated it. That didn’t make the pain go away, but it made it slightly easier to bear. It was a reminder that the pain was only temporary and I wasn’t going to feel this way forever. And I appreciated her asking if it was okay for her to pray for me because it was her recognizing that even if she is connected with the Divine in a certain way, I might not be– I mean, she didn’t know me or my personal beliefs and she didn’t make assumptions. She made me feel like a person.

Today, I turn 26. And I feel invisible. So I’m remembering this woman, this moment when a stranger came up to me and said I see you, and you matter.

Why Aren’t You Pagan Anymore?

My mom asked me that the other day. Why aren’t you pagan anymore?

And I just kinda made a noncommittal grunt in response, mostly because I have a hard time discussing my spiritual beliefs with my parents in general but also because my mom is pretty against organized religion (which includes Judaism) so although she has attempted to be supportive, she’s made her opinions on the matter pretty clear. That makes it hard to share my journey with her. However, the bigger issue in that moment was that I didn’t really know how to answer her because the answer is kind of confusing and if you’re a black and white thinker it’s actually not possible.

I’m not NOT pagan. I think my pagan/hippie/liberal leanings can coexist in harmony with my Jewish ones. But I don’t know how to explain that to anyone, really. I know most people won’t be okay with it, many people will not agree that it’s possible to be both. But here I am, being both. The biggest barrier for most people about the combination of pagan and Jewish is that Judaism makes it pretty clear that there is ONE God, capital G, who you should worship “above all others”, and people take that to mean that there’s only one god that exists and that’s the omnipotent Man Upstairs guy who is full of both wrath and mercy. And for many people who are not really acquainted with paganism(s) believe that all pagans worship and believe in many gods all equally.

The problem is, those are two misinformed assumptions about Judaism and Paganism. The more your research, the more you realize how overly-simplified and wrong those two statements are. As the saying goes, ask two Jews what Judaism is about and you’ll get three answers. Ask two pagans what paganism is about and you’ll get probably 50 answers. There are not only different movements within Judaism which have institutionalized differences in “how to be a good Jew” but within those movements you have many individuals with personal connections to their religion that differ from one another. Yes, there are plenty of Jews out there that believe in the One God, the only one out there, masculine father. But there are also Jews out there who make space for multiple faces of God, including the feminine. And others (a much smaller group, I’m sure) who worship God “above all others”, but believe in those others and have relationships with them while still following the letter of the law. And of course there are those who make a case for themselves around being both an observant Jew AND an atheist or agnostic.

Just google paganism and you get tons of sites talking about different pagan paths that vary widely not only in how they worship but WHO they worship. Paganism does not equal Wicca, with one god and one goddess, although Wicca is included under the umbrella term of paganism. Not only do they worship different gods and goddesses depending on their own path, their idea about how gods and goddesses exist also varies. Some believe in the idea that “all gods are one god”, that the many different gods we’ve come to know through research and personal experience are just different facets/personalities/manifestations of the same deity, one grand supreme being. Others, called hard polytheists, believe every deity is it’s own and that the gods and goddesses are independent of one another, and cannot be called upon interchangeably.

All this to say, religion in general isn’t black and white. And my own understanding of my spiritual path is complex, but I truly think that my beliefs taken from my pagan practice and my Jewish practice sit in harmony with one another within me. So while my rituals may have changed, and although my focus as of late has been on strengthening the rituals around Shabbat and Jewish prayer, I would not necessarily say I’m not pagan. I’m still partial to the term Jewitch, personally. That being said, there is still a lot of fear around using that term out in the real world. Being so new to Judaism, and wanting to find an accepting spiritual home, I am wary of stepping on toes or rocking the spiritual boat. I don’t want people to think I’m weird, and I certainly don’t want people to feel like I’m being blasphemous. I know in my heart I have to do this my way, regardless of what others think, but I also know that many people will want to force encourage me to do it the Right Way– the way it has always been done (whatever that means). I’m all for tradition (that’s why I love ritual so much), but I don’t want to live in a box. I want to worship how I see fit, because at the end of the day my relationship with Divinity is my own, and if I don’t worship in a way that is best for me then I’m doing myself a huge disservice, and weakening that relationship.

So…. that’s how I feel about that.

No More Pants

I’m done with pants.

I think I’ve said this before on my old blog, but I’m beginning to really get tired of pants and their tyranny. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last few years wearing pants almost exclusively because I have been so insecure about how I look in dresses and skirts, but I really hated it, sometimes taking off my pants the minute I got home. They’re itchy, they’re sometimes really constricting, and so fickle! You have to be just the right size to fit them– gain a few pounds and they suddenly try to cut off your circulation, lose a few pounds and they no longer want to stay on and you’re constantly pulling them up so you don’t show the world your undies. Dresses and skirts are a lot more forgiving and flexible (for the most part). Got a big booty? It’s okay, your a-line dress has got you covered (literally). Gained a few pounds around your middle? THE DRESS STILL FITS. Lost a few pounds? NO PROBLEM. Even if the dress is a little loose, you can just slap on a cardigan and go on with the rest of you day like a boss.

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Maybe I’m turning into Jessica Day (but WAY lazier). 

Continue reading

Rules That Make Sense to Me

New rules I’ve made for myself because I’m weird:

  • When listening to music while walking, I can’t check my steps until the song is over
  • When walking  at the end of an hour, I cannot stop walking until I reach the next hour (so if it’s 2:57pm I have to walk until 3:00pm, no exceptions).
  • I have to walk at least 250 steps an hour from 9am to 7pm.
  • If I don’t make my step goal before it gets dark out, I have to pace around my apartment until I reach/surpass it (I don’t like walking outside in the dark because I fear a raccoon will attack me).
  • I cannot eat breakfast until after 10am, and I cannot eat lunch until at least 4 hours after I finish breakfast.
  • I have to take at least 30 minutes to finish a meal.
  • I have to take no more than 1 bite of food per minute when eating until I reach 30 minutes.
  • I cannot drink Smooth Move tea during the week, only on weekends (for obvious reasons).
  • I try not to eat anything after 8pm (this is the hardest habit to establish for me at the moment).

I’m sure that my coworkers and clients think I’m a little nutty because you can find walking every hour to make my step goals, back and forth from one end of the hall to the other, sometimes reading a book and sometimes just walking with determination, counting steps under my breath to make sure I reach the goal.

It’s Not All Angst and Hard Times Here

I’ve been really focusing on a lot of the really difficult aspects of having weight loss surgery and just losing weight in general as a person who has an eating disorder history. This process is really hard and very triggering, and I’m not going to sugarcoat that. However, I had this surgery for a reason, and that was to improve my health, both so I can be healthy now and in the future. Although a lot of this process has been really hard on my body and mind, there are some things that have improved and I want to highlight them, both for my own sake and for the sake of those who are reading this, thinking about maybe having surgery and wondering what it’s like post-op.  Continue reading

Flowers and Fun Time

This year is going by so fast! It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating the winter holidays and now we’re like two weeks away from Beltane, and Passover starts this Friday! I feel like we’re only moments away from summer, which will hopefully mean some beach time and swimming for me. I figure it’s a good time for a spiritual update because I feel like I’ve really been focusing on my wls journey on here and although it is a big part of my life right now, I created this space to talk about my spiritual life so I want to kinda get back to that. Continue reading