18 Months

I woke up this morning with the anxiety-laden realization that, as of May 1, I am exactly eighteen months away from turning forty years old.

Sure, I’m anxious about this, which is a mix of social training and pressures from external forces, but in reality, I’m also anxious about it on the inside.  My body is not that of a twenty-year-old anymore, and hasn’t been for exactly that amount of time.  I have been rather abusive towards the flesh I’m in, bouncing up and down in weight and size repeatedly over those years.  I’ve flung myself from calm repose to panicked insanity more times than I can count, and through all of that, my body has taken on the scars – externally and internally.

This morning, as the weight of all of this pressed down on my flabby, fatty, man-boob chest, I decided to face it down with a walk.  I needed to clear the air, clear my mind, and just get out there and press the pavement for a bit.  Walking, as always, seems to have helped me clean out the cobwebs and set me up for some productive thoughts, increasing with each stride and milepost I passed.

I am going to set up a personal fitness challenge for each month.  For the month of May, to mark the start of my eighteen months of crunch time, I’ve set a goal to walk at least 100 miles.  Walk, run, skip, hike, or whatever movement with my feet underneath me – but a 100 miles by May 31.  I did some quick math, and that works out to twenty-five miles a week, and if today’s walk is any indication of the speed and time that will require, I can do a five-mile walk in just over an hour.  I now, as of today, have a loop that is measured out for me, and that I can do, and add in variables such as taking different side-streets, adding in a stop for coffee or the bathroom, or even run at parts.  What I need to do now, though, is commit to doing this five times a week.  My days off, Monday through Thursday, will allow for this to be a morning ritual.  What I do need to do, though, is pick a day during my work period – Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, to complete one more loop.

I can do this.  I can fight back the urge to just collapse at the end of a day and say goodbye to the world in it’s entirety.

Alongside this walking goal, I’m going to pay closer attention to what and how much I eat.  Right now, even though I’ve had spurts of “healthy clean eating,” basically, it all breaks down at least once or twice a week and I reach for the pizza, peanut butter, or beer/liquor.  While I could promise myself that I’m going to not do those things, the reality is I’m not going to give them up.  I enjoy them too much.  What I can do, though, is mitigate them and their caloric grandiosity by countering those richer days with leaner days.

What I don’t need to do, though, is make this whole experiment stressful.  The other night, while Ray and I were having a “reset conversation” about the state of things in our relationship, he called me out on my obsession with my weight and size.  It bugs him that do it.  It bugs him to hear me go on and on about how fat I am or how weak I’ve become.  The fact is, he loves me in all of my various states and shapes.  He is supportive of me and my efforts without castigating me when I slip and fall.  He’s the first person to offer a glass of wine after a long, awful day, and while I know it’s not the most healthy way to deal with that kind of stress, I will not deny the deliciousness that is a fine red wine.

I can do this.  I can find a balance.  I can make the next eighteen months count.  I can make them as enjoyable as I dare.  I can’t wait to see where this takes me.

February Was

Last month was a slog.  I didn’t really post much here, or anywhere, that was of any consequence.  For the most part, I was sequestered to sitting down, to remaining still, as my knee was dealt with in due time.  The stir-craze was real, and my thoughts were racing.  As you all know, I tend to deal with my feelings and thoughts through movement, and since that was impeded by my aging and breakable body, it was really hard to get a focus on what I was supposed to be doing.

I did, however, get to spend a great deal of time writing.  Specifically, I got to bust through a few more chapters on this sixth rewrite of my memoir.  My writing group, a fantastic bunch of gals here in Portland, have been super helpful in getting my motivation back to where it should be, and through their cheerleading, I feel like this book has taken on a new and renewed life.  It’s cutting deeper than I’ve ever been brave enough to let it, and I’m getting down the words that I’ve struggled to write for almost two decades.  It’s been good.  I can’t wait to share more about that here, to be honest.

Since the surgery – a mere two weeks ago – I’ve been absolutely astounded by the recovery that has occurred.  Honestly, I thought I’d be lamed up for quite some time, but not two days after the cuts and bandages, I was up and walking around without the use of my crutches or any of the mega-strong pain pills that the doctor prescribed me.  In the past two weeks, I’ve managed to go on some decent walks, get back to the gym (THANK ALL THAT IS HOLY FOR THAT MIRACLE), and actually go out on a short hike with Ray to a part of Oregon we’ve never visited before.  I was still able to take the jeep out for drives while my knee wasn’t up to par, so I was able to get out, technically, but to feel the movement of the ground beneath my feet, the crunch of gravel, or the contours of terra firma beneath the pads of my feet meant the world to me.

I remember back to a strange and lovely poetry/literature class I took in my undergrad, where the professor took us outdoors and had us just walk around in a mindful manner.  Feeling and experience each step on the soft grass of the land surrounding the old brick English department meant slowing down, taking one’s time, and tracing the energy threads and movement of the ground beneath our feet and up through our legs.  It was a lesson in slowing down and noticing details, and for me, that’s what hiking and walking and any other movement of my body has become.  To have that faculty back, to be able to walk again and feel every step, has meant a return to some sort of balance for me.  I’m not feeling broken or trapped, lost or misplaced.  My anxiety about all things has subsided a bit, and the fresh air has been so damn good for me, especially on the rare spring days up here where the sun shines.

February was also a good month for Ray and I to sit and talk about what we actually want to be doing over the next few years.  For his part, he’s decided to make some real steps towards life beyond serving tables.  For my part, I’ve realized that my skills and resume need a brush-up.  I’ve taken a few steps towards getting back into the classroom as a student, and as of just a few days ago, my FAFSA was approved and I’m looking at taking classes at my local community college, with an eye towards learning Computer Information Systems, possibly a degree in Computer Science.  Being adept on the computer, and not just as a user of the technology, has always been a curiosity of mine, and I’d like to see what I can do with that going forward.  Having done a little research online for the kind of pay and positions that exist – especially in the rural areas where we might end up living – I’ve learned that I can make it a thing.  I can make a decent salary while taking onboard the rural life that Ray and I want for ourselves.  What that means, though, is I need to build a bridge from here to there, and that means more education.  It means shaking up my brain a bit, and challenging myself.

First up will be a revisit to math.  I squeaked by in my college math course, but it’s been two decades since I’ve actively sat and did mathematics as homework or to study for an exam.  Beyond that, my first semester would be exploratory.  I kind of know what I want to study, but I don’t know if I’ve got the aptitude to really dive into it the way I should.  I don’t really know where to begin, so I’m hoping that, with an academic advisor’s guidance along with a network of friends who are already in the field I’m considering, that I can figure it out.

Now that March is here, I’m ready for adventure.  I went to the gym last night and was happy to experience a pain-free workout, even with a teeny-tiny bit of running on the treadmill.  My weight and size remain an issue for me, but now that I can get back at the program I was on (and seeing some real results), I plan to stick to it and see where it takes me.  We’re taking off to Seattle, WA next week for a little mini-vacation, and plans are already in play for major summer travels.  Victoria Island, BC is one destination.  I still need to make my way back east, back to see my family.  I do have a week-long vacation coming up around the end of May, and I still only work three days a week, so there are almost limitless possibilities.  Ray is as adventurous as ever, and now that he’s finally looking forward in his own life, the conversations between us while we are out and about have become quite deep and meaningful.  It’s as if our relationship has grown up too, and that, to me, is really exciting and energizing.  I can’t wait to see where we go over the next year or so.

Spring Renewal

Spring is definitely in the air out here in Portland, Oregon, and as is usual, this time of year has spurned a lot of changes and transformations outside and inside.  While I’m still trying to keep up with everything in my own head, I thought it would be a good idea to write some of it down.

I’ve had most of the month of February off, but not intentionally.

On February 1, I decided to lace up and go out for a run.  I’d been feeling a bit panicked, a bit anxious about the fact that the scale hadn’t shifted for me in a while, even while my measurements were going in the right direction otherwise – muscle growth, reduced waistline happening (slowly – but happening).  The sun was bright and the air was cool and damp.  It was a perfect day for a jog.  I set off with a basic idea of where I wanted to go, but because I wasn’t 100% sure I’d make a loop or just a straight line to a distant point and need the bus or light rail home, I stuck my bus pass in my pocket alongside my phone.

I stretched for a bit, and then took intentional time warming up with a little bit of brisk walking.  I wanted to activate all of the things needed inside.  My feet felt good, and as my breathing went up, I could feel that drive to move faster building, as it always does.  Soon I was doing a slow lope, kind of a fat-man-running movement that lives just above a walk, but not a full on jog, and about two or three steps beneath a full-out dash.  I am, after all, just getting back into the saddle of putting pavement under my feet again, and I don’t want to hurt myself.

I made a right turn, and proceeded up a street I hadn’t gone running on before.  I love taking side streets that I’ve not been on because it keeps my interest piqued – and keeps me from focusing too much on the pace of my breath or my body’s natural tendency to want to stop.  Up the street, there was a piece of sidewalk that was closed off to foot traffic – a very, very common occurrence here with all of the new construction and rebuilding that our housing market is fueling.  So, like I good pedestrian, I crossed the street, ran up the half of a block or so past the construction, and then went back to my side of the road.  As I hopped back up onto the curb and sidewalk, I also pivoted left.  In that moment, in that act of taking a step and then attempting to turn on the ball of my foot – something we all do unconsciously when we walk – a huge pop sounded off in my knee, followed by a flush of raw agony that spread down to my foot and up my thigh.  Immediately, I stopped, almost falling over.  “Shit!” was my first word.

I could bear a little weight on it, but something was really, really wrong.  I started to panic and called Ray, but I knew he was busy picking up our roommate from the airport.  I remembered my bus pass, thankful that I’d stuck that little jewel in my pocket, and set off towards the nearest bus stop.  About a half-hour later, I was home, on the couch, leg elevated along with my heartbeat and anxiety level, so damn mad at myself.

That started off the medical journey that culminated in yesterday’s arthroscopic surgery to remove a piece of torn cartilage in my knee – a corner of the medial meniscus – three weeks after the injury occurred.

In the down-time between the injury and the surgery, I’ve been plagued with frustration, a heightened sense of anxiety, shame, and rage all surrounding the way my body looks and how I still feel like such a blob in my own skin.  I had more than one moment with Ray, crying, admitting how mad I was at myself for pushing myself too hard because I’m so angry at getting so out of shape since he’s come into my life.  I’m mad at getting old.  I’m mad at my wrinkles, baldness, and waistline.  He, being the angel that he is, has more than once reminded me that he’s not with me just because of my looks, and while he still finds me exceedingly handsome, he knows that beneath this messy outside, I am a decent man within.  Him telling me this directly, and holding me close, really has done a number to soothe my nerves.

His support has also led me to using my downtime pretty effectively with regards to my writing.  I have been able to work my way through a redraft of about four chapters of my memoir.  This time around, it’s really up-close-and-personal, first-person, blow-by-blow.  My writing groupies have praised this massive turn around in my words, and I’ve even sent off a couple of query letters to possible agents regarding their interest in my story.  I haven’t felt this confident about any of my writing in a long time.  The words now are coming from an authentic, unhidden place.  I roar onto the page in very detailed and intimate flashbacks coming straight from my point of view.  The act of putting the reader right there, in that moment of time, has such power, and is *exactly* what I wanted to produce for a story.

Now that the surgery on my knee is over and I’m feeling like I can get back on both feet again, things will resume their normal course of events.  At least for a little while.

Ray and I have been also discussing the shifts in his life, especially with regards to his future job plans, and what that means in terms of our living situation.  Later this year, in July, he’s going to be taking his Level 1 Master Sommelier exam up in Victoria, BC.  It’s the kind of test and certification that will bump up his resume, especially as he also starts to transition away from table-side serving of food and wine as he currently does, and moves into tasting room/vineyard work out in wine country.  The Oregon wine industry is growing in leaps and bounds these days, and will continue to do so as the climate shifts and wine production done in central and southern California has to divest of cooler-climate grapes – grapes that will do extraordinarily well up here.  Ray wants in on it, as it is a huge passion of his.  He’s also working to incorporate his skills in design, with an eye to work on label and marketing material for vineyards throughout the Willamette region and around the Pacific Northwest.

All of this, for us as a couple, translates into moments of transition, possibly out of Portland, Oregon.  We both have dreamed about having our little spot somewhere, where we could raise a garden, chickens, and have a dog or two.  Right now, in the current state of Portland proper, those kinds of things are way out of our reach.  The average home price here is up in the $300k range, and rentals on single-bedroom spots (most without any outdoor access or pet options) is over $1500 for anything comfortable.   Given our love for the outdoors and access to the stars and trails and mountains and ocean, we are keeping our eyes out for spaces that would accommodate us both better without being too much of a burden on our wallets.  This year will see us both focusing on getting our credit card debts down, getting our finances in further order, and figuring out our next move forward, as a couple.

The fact that I have him in my life, to share in his exploration of self, watching as he comes into his adult form, is amazing.  I saw great potential in him when we first met, but now, two years in, it’s clear that we’re sliding into a far greater, stronger place as a couple.  His friends have started ribbing him about marriage, and it’s adorable to see him squirm about it a little.  I’m not driving that conversation at all, and have told him it’s all in his court – I’ve been there and done that and I know that if we do get married, it’s going to be unlike anything either of us has ever experience.  He’s making grown-up decisions about his career, and is deliberately seeking a balance between making the money to pay the bills and having a life that brings him joy daily, where he doesn’t always feel like he’s just feeding into a machine, but taking an active role in growing and shaping in cooperation with a team of like-minded people.

So, yeah.  2016 has started with a lot of shake-down, a lot of shifting away from the old and transitioning into the new.  While I loathe that I’m older and can’t beat up on my body like I always have, I know that this month to reflect and change gears has done me a lot of good.  Ray has also had to shake off some of his own doubts and fears and is making some earnest moves towards the life he envisions for himself.  The daffodils are blooming.  The crabapple trees are too.  Spring’s renewal is a welcome thing this time around.

Grief

This is a direct copy-paste from my off-line journal.  It’s fractious and broken.  I offer no apologies for this fact.

___

I got a Facebook message from my brother’s wife, Charlotte.  She let me know that my grandmother Palmer had been moved to hospice care.  I knew just what that meant.  “Hospice” is a nice, padded, sanitary way to say that someone is dying and medical care is at its limit.  “Hospice” is where hope has gone to die, life is fading away like the last flames off a bed of white-hot coals.  “Hospice” was the word that punched me in the gut, caused the clench in my jaw, and I fired off a message to Raymond.

I came home to find Raymond on his laptop.  The airfare website he loves use was up in front of him on the screen.

“I found this,” he said, showing me a flight package.

Flying around the holidays is usually accompanied by Black Out dates on airlines.  This means you can’t use your rewards points, and you need to pay a premium – something that is in direct relation to the volume of people trying to access and take those flights.

Raymond had found a deal in a field of horrifically high numbers.  $400, round trip, from Portland, OR to Boston, MA.  I had told him that getting to Maine from Boston was not an issue – I’ve navigated those roads many, many times before.  The trick with the flight was the dates.  I was to land on a Tuesday, make my way to Maine, and see my grandmother for such a short period of time.  I also wanted to talk to my dad and my aunt, and my mother.  I then had to be up early on that following day, Wednesday, and make my way back to Boston for a 1p flight back to Portland, OR via Atlanta, GA.  In less than forty-eight hours, I needed to fling myself across the lower-forty-eight, and find a way to tell my dying grandmother just how much she means to me, just how influential she’s been in my life, and how much I wish her a sweet, peaceful crossing into the life beyond this one.

Less than forty-eight.

We booked the flight.  Anything else that would have given me more time would have costed double, if not triple.  Fuck you, Christmas.

The flight was at 11p that night.  I told Raymond to book it, and took a deep breath, feeling the rush of suddenly needing to pack and pull myself together wash over me.  It was an adrenaline rush. I’d spent the better part of that day in a state of excitement over the purchase of a new-to-me vehicle.  I’d finally bought the jeep I’ve always wanted, finally crossed a massive adulthood bridge.  I wanted to celebrate.  I wanted to mark the occasion.  Instead, I was trying to figure out how cold it was going to be in Maine in December.  I couldn’t decide, so I packed too much, in a huff and hurry.

Raymond grabbed my hand and helped me keep my cool.  We relaxed for a bit, napped, cuddled.  He held me while my mind raced.  Eventually, though, the clock struck that time, and we needed to get to the airport.  I had an overnight flight that had one plane change in Detroit, MI.  I knew I wasn’t going to sleep, but I assured Ray that I’d try.

I stood in the security line at Portland Airport and realized in full-detail that these lines were how the bad guys won.  I had so much anxiety about what was to greet me on the other end of the flight that to stand in security for thirty minutes, among a throng of holiday travelers who, like me, chose the overnight option as a means of saving money at the expense of sleep and/or sanity, was a herculean effort.

Eventually, I made it to the gate, to the plane, and into my middle-seat at the back of the plane.  I hate the middle seat.

I tried to sleep on the way to Detroit.  The turbulence wasn’t too awful, and the plane was mostly full of adults – no screaming children who hadn’t figured out how to pop their ears at altitude.  I listened to podcasts, music, attempted to play some video games – but what I was really doing was distracting my mind.  I didn’t want to think about death.  I didn’t want to feel grim.  Who wants that?

The plane landed in Detroit.  I took a deep breath and made my way into the terminal.  I flicked over the switch on my phone from airplane mode to normal mode, wanting to check in on social media to alert those that needed to know where I was.  A voicemail came through.

It was my father in what I can only describe as the grimmest voice I’ve ever heard him make.

“Your grandmother passed away around 5:30 this morning.  She doesn’t want a service, so you don’t really need to make the trip back here, if you don’t want to, or cant.”

I texted my friend Andy who works overnights and would be awake.

“She died.  I’m in Detroit and didn’t make it in time.”

I kept my composure, and boarded my next plane.  It was nearly empty, and boarding was quick.  In my row, all by myself, I stared out the window and felt the tremor of a wail surge through my body.  My grandmother Palmer was dead.  I could feel the tears.  I could sense the tremble in my lips.  I called Raymond, woke him up from a deep sleep, and told him.

I shut down my phone and wiped my eyes.  I didn’t want the airline people to see me upset.  I didn’t want to get ejected from the plane.  The bad guys win because we can’t be emotional on airplanes.  I had to keep it together.

I landed back in Boston, back in what used to be my hometown.  I went into complete autopilot for the rest of the journey.  I’d done it so many times before.  Concord Trailways from Logan Airport to the Portland (Maine) Transportation Center.  $29, one way.  Booked and boarded.  I found my seat, made myself as comfortable as possible, and drifted in and out of sleep.  I felt defeated.

My mother and her husband picked me up once I got to Portland.  I remained awake, like some automaton, keeping my voice level, keeping my spirits level.  I wasn’t here for me.  I was here for them, to be supportive, to show them that I can be an adult and be a part of the family at a time of need.

I got to my grandmother’s house.  My father was there.  My aunt was there.  My brother was there.  My mom and dad hugged.  My mom and aunt hugged.  I hugged.  When asked how I was doing, I only replied “fine,” just like my grandmother would have done.  Nobody needed to know just how lost and upset I was on the inside.  I needed to shove that aside and be the good oldest member of my generation.  I had responsibilities.  I had to show strength.

I visited with my dad and aunt and brother.  I recommitted to making more journeys home to see them.  I stayed over with my mom and her husband and their loving dog.  When asked how I was doing, I simply replied, “okay.”  I needed to be strong, be stalwart.

This is how the bad guys win.  We aren’t allowed to be emotional.  It’s a sign of weakness.

___

I’ve carried this grief with me for nearly a week now.  It’ll be a week as of tomorrow.  I’m tired of keeping up the good face.  The fact is, it’s coming out of me, through the cracks.  I’m sad.  I’m really sad.  My grandmother, a pillar of my life, has passed away.

I wish I could have stayed in Maine for a bit longer.  I needed to sit in that house, among her things, for a little while longer.  I wish I could have said my goodbyes on that soil, standing on that ground.

___

I loved you so much, Grammie.  I hope you know this.  I hope you knew this as you drew your last breath.  You made my life livable, and gave me shelter and support in the darkest parts.  You were a voice of reason and gravity when I needed it most.  You were an adventure buddy.  You were a champion of peace and calm.  You were a solid rock in our family.  I will not forget you, nor will I ever stop trying to make you proud.  I loved you.  I still love you.

A Little Catch Up

I don’t even know where to begin here.  There’s so much going on these days that it seems hardly possible to keep up with it all.  It has been a bit since I posted, but really I blame my friend Kevin for this.  He was able to crank out a post over at his site, so I thought I ought to do something similar.  Thanks, Kev. 😉

I’ve been quite successful with the non-smoking efforts here.  I had a moment, though, as I transitioned down from Step 1 to Step 2 of the Nicoderm patches, that pretty much underlined in as thick of a marker as you can find why I need to be done and over all of this malarky already.  I turned into a humongous monster towards Ray for about two days, being absolutely snarky, emotional, cranky, and all the rest, while my body adjusted to the new level of nicotine the patches were delivering to me.  I woke up mad for three days straight, and no matter what I did, nothing seemed to make me feel any better.  Well, except distraction, which, thankfully, Ray was able to help me find.  I couldn’t focus on anything for too long, but I could at least let my mind calm down for a minute and let my jaw relax.

It needs to be restated here:  I will never, ever, never go back to smoking again.  This quitting shit is for the birds.  I never, ever, never want to go through this again.

Now that some time has passed, and I’m about one week into my new level of drug delivery, I’ve been able to get on with my days.  Work is work, which is neither here nor there.  We start our Winter runs in a few weeks, and for me, that means I’ll be working a fixed schedule (Fri-Sat-Sun) for the first time in a number of months.  I’ll have “regulars” again, and I’ll have to get used to the quirks and needs of a set amount of people whose schedules align with my route.  It’ll be fine, if not a little boring on some level.  What it also means, though, is that I’m guaranteed set days off for twelve weeks straight, which are Mon-Thurs each week.  I can schedule workouts, writing, trips away from home, errand completion, and all of that, without needing to consult my calendar too much.

Speaking of the calendar, we’ve got a few things coming up that are pretty exciting.  First, we are starting the new year with a trip to Arizona together.  I’m meeting his mother and step-father in Prescott, AZ, and we are also taking time to explore his home state.  He’s going to show me some of the highlights, as well as some of the places he always wanted to visit as a kid, but either didn’t, or didn’t appreciate enough in his younger days.  Tucson, Flagstaff, and Sedona are all on the list, and maybe a view of the south rim of the Grand Canyon, depending on things.

After that trip, we are also planning a little adventure back east, with plans on seeing Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, and of course, Maine.  It’ll be my turn to show him where I’m from, what I grew up in and around, and explore the courses of my life when I was younger.  I’m not as nervous about doing this with him – I’ve done this before with other boyfriends, so I’ve had practice – but I am interested to hear his thoughts about New England specifically.  He’s never been there, and while it’s going to be a really, really cold time of year to visit, he will certainly have a better understanding of the kinds of things that shaped me.  Especially in the cold and dark of early March.  My only hope is that winter this year isn’t as awful as it was last year.  If it’s looking like another wallop of snow for the east/northeast, we will have to re-align our plans some.  Still, it’s important to show him where I’m from, especially as he and I get closer.

Creatively, I’m really, really enjoying my new writing group.  After being cyber-introduced by my good friend Ren to this cadre of other writers here in Portland, I’ve met up with them a few times now, and am actually redrafting that damn memoir again.  It’s taken on a lot more life, gotten a lot more colorful and engaging as the editing has been happening.  The feedback has been really, really good, and it feels good to be putting down words that matter again.  I also get to read their work, and critique and edit their stories, which has also kept my brain moving in the right wavelengths.  It’s amazing how much I missed the interactivity that Goddard gave me with other writers.

Life is still pretty good here in Portland, OR for me, and I am truly thankful for it all. The beard is bushy, the rain has returned, and I’m finally feeling like my life is spinning in the right direction.  I’m ready for the demands of the holidays.  I’m ready to tuck in for a nice, dark winter, sink my teeth further into more books, and enjoy breathing.

Meeting a Goal

I’ve talked about my finances a few times on here, especially recently, but I wanted to revisit this today because it finally dawned on me what has just happened in my life.

For *years* I’ve been setting a personal goal of getting my fiscal house in order.  Years.  Literally since I’ve had a job and bills, I’ve always been messy about where my money goes.  I don’t know why this was the case, or where my spend-happy-self came from, but it seems that monster, grown out of a desire to be generous to others, and to myself, with limited foresight as to the consequences of spending X dollars here, when I needed to put that currency elsewhere, has finally been caged and tamed.

I have achieved a birthday goal of mine, and right now, it’s just sinking in.  I mean, really – I did this thing I set out to do.  I wanted to reduce the anxiety that money was constantly bringing into my life, and I’ve done it.  (A few pats on my own back).

Of course, I can’t just rest on this.  Not for one second.  I want to analyze how I got here, and what parts of that I can now apply to other goals that I keep setting and failing to meet.

It seems that, while I was paying attention to the small details, the smaller bits of responsibility along the way, the grand goal was playing out before me.  Time, patience, persistence – as well as being willing to allow for setbacks and restarts (many restarts) along the way also seems to be key.

This same principle and focus can also be turned onto my other big goals – especially overall health and fitness.  I know where I want to end up by the time I turn forty years old.  I have an idea of what kinds of things I want to be able to do and have the strength and energy for at that juncture in my life.  Getting there, from where I’m sitting now, seems like an impossibility.  There are so many things to learn and discover along the way that, right now, it’s all a bit overwhelming.  What do I eat, when do I eat it; how much is too much, too little; when should I sleep/rest, and when should I push myself to the limits?  All of these things are questions I don’t have answers to right now, but while I do what feels right today and in this minute – watching my sugars and making sure that I get my ass to the gym at least three or four times a week – might just amount to something.

I do wish, though, that I could set up a long-range fitness calendar – much like I did for my budget – that will give me milestones that I should expect to achieve at various points.  Like, I knew when my first credit card would be paid off because I knew where my budget would be at that point (and that milestone is coming in about a month, which is also pretty awesome).  I don’t know, though, if I’ll be able to bench press a certain amount of weight, or be able to see a weight on the scale that is at a certain place, or be able to bring my BMI down out of the rafters by a certain moment in time.  There isn’t the same sort of permanence and black-and-whiteness about fitness and health.  It’s a continuum, which leaves a lot of grey space, which isn’t exactly the kind of exactness I want.

Maybe I need to meet with a trainer and get help wrapping my head around goals and plan-making to get there.  I know there is a lot of ever-changing science around biochemistry and the effects of exercise on the body, so I could dive head-long into that world and find some real-life applicable things that I can do for myself.  I’m not sure.

Still, right now, I am realizing that it is possible for lumpy, little ol’ me to set a goal and meet it.  Even a big one.  I never really thought this was possible.

Shared Space Anxiety: An Understanding

Tomorrow, I begin the process of bringing stuff to my next address.  I will be officially moving in with Ray, and as of July 1, 2015, we will begin sharing a habitation together.  I have to say, though, the last month or so has been fraught with emotions, and I’ve not been able to pin down just why, until today.

I was out on a walk, a seven-mile journey around my side of town.  Over the last week, I’ve taken multiple multi-mile walks, and used the time both as a means to focus on myself and my body in motion, but also to avoid the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and nerves that this upcoming move has brought up in me.  It’s been nice to feel my muscles flex, to feel blood rushing through my veins and arteries, to focus on my breath, my pulse, my footfalls.  It’s been nice to take some of the mental machinations and let them flow through the rest of my body.  I’m built to deal with anxiety by taking out on the entirety of my body. It’s what I’ve always done. Still, I had no idea why I have been feeling so damned uptight. Moving in with my boyfriend has never been this hard.

As I shot a text to a friend, though, after I’d explained how I had a meltdown last night, and a little disagreement with Ray, and a few tears, it all came into focus. The reason I am so wound up about this new chapter in my life, and in my life with Ray, is because, for the first time ever, I’m able to do this kind of thing without compromising myself in the process.  What I mean is that, unlike every other time I’ve given up my independence and moved in under the same roof as the man who held my heart, this time I don’t have to give up a thing.  Ray has never, and will never, ask me to compromise myself for the sake of him or our relationship.  This was a foundational element when he and I started dating over a year ago, and in that time, it’s been underscored and underlined over and over again by him. He’s never required me to stop behaving in a certain way, or doing the things I like to do, or talking to the people I care for. He’s never required me to live in his shadows. Because of this, I get to walk into this new living arrangement with my eyes wide open. I get to experience this not just as an attachment and accessory to Ray’s life, but as moment in my own life, under my own steam, and in my own way. I get to feel and be and see thing through my own emotions and eyes unlike ever before.

My mother warned me, as she scooped me up out of Boston and brought me back to Maine after Nathaniel and I split, that, like her, I have a tendency to lose myself in the relationships I make. Whenever I’ve given over my heart to anyone, it came at a price – my identity. Suddenly, my needs and desires and thoughts took second place, or remained completely off-stage. I did this out of my own free will because it always meant that, as an exchange for my love and support, the person I was giving it up to would be in my life for as long as I could imagine. Or, so I thought. In every moment when this happened, when this dark and wordless exchange of self for something else occurred, I spent so much time and energy and effort justifying it. It was as if I knew what I was giving up, but had no words to express it.  Perhaps I found the entire idea of subjugating myself to the whims and needs of another so abhorrent that I flat-out refused to believe it was actually happening. In the end, with Thomas, Nathaniel, and Caleb, I always ended up on the losing end of things. Whenever I would step up and use my voice, or express a thing that would identify me as Thom and not just whoever’s boyfriend, I would be scolded, told to leave, and ended up hurt.  Every damned time.

Part of me is terrified of this happening again with regards to Ray, even though he has been adamant and forceful about me remaining the man he fell for, and not changing who I am to meet his needs.  Being who I am right now, and who I might change into in the future as a result of my own choices and activities, is exactly the man he wants me to be.  He’s never intoned or suggested otherwise.  When I feel frozen with fear about this next phase of my life, I need to remember this covenant between him and I that defines the kinds of boundaries we both require.  It is possible to remain true to who I am and still have infinite love for Ray – how he was when I met him, how he is today, and who he will become in the future.

I want to think that this anxiety, shared by both him and I, has come about because we are both present and accounted for while it’s occurring. It also, for me, gives a certain amount of gravity and weight to the entire process – something that never was there before. It’s intense, for certain, but perhaps that also comes from the fact that this is actually one of the most important choices we’ve made as a couple.  I have to respect that, all the while taking care of myself, and still remaining open to Ray’s needs and anxieties as well.  He’s never done this before, and I’ve always had a rotten experience when I’ve undertaken the act of sharing space. This time, though, is so much better, so much more energizing, so much more fulfilling.