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The air conditioner kicked on, its slight rattle either from her poor installation or just its standard machinery awakening. The air conditioner would only be needed for a few weeks longer. Summer passed like that, by degrees and the reduced layers of clothing; in moments that somehow seemed emphatic when bathed in sun.

Summer was nearly over. She thought about what summer had come to mean, as an adult.

Your days still go on; you’re still following nearly the same schedule. If there are children, you try to find more time for them when it’s available, yet realize too late that you haven’t.

This summer seemed lost to her in a way. A blur of confusion, choices, fear, laughs, reassurance, stress and aimlessness.

She had survived, she had fought, taken a chance. Yet, somewhere along the way, she felt sad.

Sad that she hadn’t done enough. Diminished in her ability to be the parent she wanted to be. Hell. The person she wanted to be. Worried that she had worried too much. Certain she’d continued patterns she’d hopefully outgrown.

At an age where it all felt in the balance. You keep learning as you go, but the more lessons you encounter, the more chances you’re hampered by the weight of experience.

She spun in the chair, where she had sat far too long; yet was too tired to do otherwise. Worn out by her thoughts and her days. Thoughts whirling enough to just bump against each other at this point. Somehow summer’s vigorous energy felt as stunning yet cloying as the chilly air ahead.

For some reason she identified this as a pinnacle summer. No rhyme or reason. No inclinations how that would even be defined. But the same patterns, the same choices had led here. To a point where she wanted to ensure the experience was rewarding.

She knew she could potentially feel that way for the rest of her summers and maybe that was the idea. She wondered if she was missing the point.

Closing her eyes, she thought about what she wanted. She only knew the basics. To love and be loved. To be happy and know kindness. She wanted to know her children knew how important they were even if her skills in showing it were less than fine-tuned.

She wanted habits that haunted her to diminish in their hold; yet wondered sometimes if that’s what her identity stood on. She sought to feel content in a human way instead of constantly dissecting the flaws, real and perceived. Knowledge that it had started to get better because it was supposed to.

The fatigue from this many summers was catching up. Time doing its diligent best to tick down. She found she was focusing on the fears instead of relishing what emotions and experiences can inspire fear. Sometimes they’re not negative; just so your gut knows the difference between wanting to fight or finding flight away from what’s in front of you.

She sighed as she realized she’d always known, there would just come a point where she took ownership of the knowledge. How she could possibly have been missing the story, when she was the story.

Yet it all still made little sense. What seemed like it should be a somehow tangible thought was no more able to be held than the humid air outside.

So here she sat. Wondering how the answers were supposed to come to her when she was too afraid of actually looking for them. Too tired to pursue accomplishment and satisfaction.

Realizing she’d sat out the summer. With no self-pity for doing so; in that she wouldn’t wallow. What remained was what she would take with her to each season that followed.

She stood and opened the door.

 

2015

Resolutions, intentions, whatever. It’s merely a day to correct where you think you went wrong this past year and continue what you think went right. So 2015 can be a total jerk, but my plan is as folllows:

1. If I want to play karate in the garage, I’m going to.
(Can I borrow someone’s garage?)
2. I’m never going to lose my dinosaur.
3. Haters gonna hate. But they’re only gonna end up being the sad ones. So hate away, but I’d still hug you.
4. Speaking of, even more hugs! Because I love hugs! Free hugs all year!
5. Just keep being nice. Sometimes you get burned doing it. But sometimes you get hugs. And see above. I’ll take the burns for the hugs. Because at least I tried!

Intentions

Thanks to Facebook timeline for reminding me of these, especially when I’m working on new ones.

My intentions (resolutions) from 2008…

by Jessica Rand McLean on Monday, December 21, 2009 at 8:24pm
Since I said I’d publish my resolutions for the coming year so I felt accountable, I thought I’d find the ones I wrote for the 2008 (Written December 31, 2007). Funny thing is, some of them are similar to the ones I was planning last year. My update that I wrote in August of 2008 is also included
I’m not going to make these resolutions as much as I’m going to make statements of intention. I think firm “I must do this or my year will be terrible” type resolutions only start the year on a negative note. Hopefully, ambition withstanding and still maintaining a MySpace relationship I’ll update everyone when we’re starting 2009 on how the intentions did. Maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll do a six-month update.
I intend to continue working out on a daily basis. This is tough because sometimes I’m not certain it’s really doing a whole lot. After three months I expected more results than what I see. I’ll keep doing it knowing it’s a positive thing and it makes me feel a little better to know I’ve worked out.
I intend to maintain the “when it happens” mindset. I feel as though this is a healthy way to not only approach trying to get pregnant, but also a way to approach life in general. My impatience is something I bring up often, usually because it’s back-fired on me. Hopefully this year I can get a little more perspective on waiting.
I intend to stop letting behaviors and actions of others affect me or upset me. I can’t dictate other people’s lives and no matter how much I hope they’ll change, they probably won’t. I will continue to realize that each and every person in my life (or out of my life) is to be dealt with in his or her own unique way and simply because I feel a certain way doesn’t mean they do or will understand me when I wonder why they don’t.
This one isn’t an intention. It’s a statement. I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and be bold with my emotions. I spent a lot of time with emotional walls up and once I pushed past them, I was totally fine with letting people know how I feel as uncomfortable or blunt as it might be. Too many people hide their feelings, either because they’re afraid to face them or they’re afraid to create touchy situations with those around them. I’m not. And I’m okay with that. Honesty is best in the end and being truthful about how you feel is the best kind of honesty.
I intend to live like it’s always summer. For me, summer releases a kind of freedom; an openness that makes me carefree and relaxed. An attitude of sitting in the backyard watching Frisbees and having a tasty beverage, whether it be beer or iced tea. No coat, no shoes, just the crazy hippy skirt I only bust out when I can wear it with a tank top. I think I retreat into myself when winter hits, hiding in the cocoon that is blizzards and winter driving. I avoid leaving the house as often and I think that restricts living. I don’t think fall does the same, but it does cause me to let go of summer and wave longingly to the relaxation I felt in the sun. Spring is a tease. Half cold, half warm, always wet and muddy and I think I get too caught up in letting go of winter and anticipating summer that I forget to notice that the birds came back and flowers are coming out. I’m going to open myself to feeling the freedom summer breezes bring.
I intend to stop worrying about people liking me and compromising my integrity to be sure they do. I know who my friends are and I know why they are my friends. I have some pretty great friends at that. But as strong as I can appear, I sometimes have a fear that people don’t like me. I’m too strong a personality to mold myself in different ways for different people to like me, but every once in a while I find myself thinking of compromising my true opinions in order to match someone else’s. I know exactly where this weakness stems from, but my blog is not a couch in a therapist’s office, so I don’t think I need to go into that. But I need to realize that part of knowing who I am is acknowledging that I’m different and that people like me for who I am; not who they think I should be, and if they don’t, they’re not meant to be an integral part of my life. My ultimate goal with this intention is allow me to trust. Fear of not being accepted has given me an iron-clad resistance to trust completely. While I’ll never let that barrier down completely, I’ll hopefully reach a point where I’ll stop thinking the worst of each situation.
And the update: So, I said I’d update these about six months in and see how I was doing… well, more than six months later I’m determining the status of my intentions. Which ones worked, which ones might not have been well through out and which ones are still 50/50. I’m deleting the full explanations, just using the main point. If you want to re-read them, you can go a few blogs back to the original. That being said, here we go…
I intend to continue working out on a daily basis. I honestly thought this one would fizzle out. I’ve always hated working out, but I had also reached a point where I hated how I looked and knew I was unhealthy. Rather than resort to short-term or unhealthy solutions I decided it was time I resist my stubborn stance against sweating for extended periods of time. We bought an elliptical for a reason. So, I’ve started working out every day and have continued to the day I am writing this. I’m having some motivation problems in the morning lately, but I’ve been exhausted from work travel (okay, not a good excuse), but I’m still making the effort and making sure I complete a full work out every day.
The results are slow (especially for someone who is impatient and still working on that as you’ll see next…) and I’m of the body type that packs on muscle, so it’s tough knowing that while I’m getting healthy, I’ll never reach waifdom in my drive to modify my body in a healthy way. I tried to determine what body type I am and decided I’m somewhere between endomorph, mesomorph and construction worker. I’m sturdy, not willowy. Incredibly frustrating in dressing rooms. I’ve cycled through a lot of body ups and downs, but this habit of strengthening my body is one I hope hangs on and sticks around for while.
I intend to maintain the “when it happens” mindset. Uh, yeah, about that whole statement tying virtue to patience that I’ve attempted to remind myself many times? I’m still working on that. Someone made a statement recently, not about me, but in general  that implied that anyone who was an only child will tend to have less patience in life. They never had to wait on a sibling to use the bathroom, never had to wait for their parent’s attention. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m pretty sure there’s a short circuit among the lobes of my brain that prevents me from waiting longer than five minutes for whatever I decide I want. If I could pinpoint what drives me to have to have everything right now, I think it would help. I just know that I seem to skip a step in the process. There’s thinking about what I want, deciding what I want and having to have it RIGHT NOW. The step of understanding that some things take time, that some results are slow-going and I’m not owed whatever I desire is disjointed and lacking.  It’s one of those personality characteristics I can recognize, I know when I’m doing it, but I’m observing my behavior in a way that I’m somehow impeded from stepping in and re-adjusting my thinking. I just plow forward in my drive to get what I want without waiting, only to find myself angry, sad, frustrated, etc. when it’s not there immediately. I’m obsessive and addictive and will focus on something to a point of overtaking common sense. Which can have it’s positive connotations. This motivates me to achieve goals and be forward thinking in accomplishing tasks. But more often than not, it just works me up and makes me stress about things out of my control. And I’m still working on how to fix that. Or at least modify it.
I intend to stop letting behaviors and actions of others affect me or upset me. The road to everywhere is paved with good intentions. And this intention had whole-hearted enthusiasm behind it. I can be stone cold in many situations, but I can also be sensitive in a most volatile manner. I’ll either keep you at arm’s length or let you in too far. And when I cross the line of letting you in, I have expectations. Not always, but I forget that we all think in different ways and just because I think a situation or behavior is the best, I don’t run other people’s brains and they’re going to make choices I don’t agree with or understand. I’m easily hurt by others and my temper is easily triggered by insensitivity. I’m still trying to find that point where I realize that it’s my choices that make me who I am and those around me do the same with every choice they make. But their choices don’t necessarily mean that I can question them or wish I could help them. Easy to say, harder to remember. I know I’m still justified in crying if someone hurts my feelings or momentarily writing someone off when they piss me off. It’s how far I take it. It’s how long they freely rent space in my head that I need to amend. I’ve made progress with this one, but it takes reminding myself of the above. I’ll honestly admit I’ve had some tenants (squatters?) in my head since I made this intention, but it’s been somewhat easier for me to get them out sooner than I usually would have. I just have to acknowledge why they’ve bothered me and try to figure out if I even need to worry about it.  And actually, this intention is tied to my next one.
This one isn’t an intention. It’s a statement. I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve and be bold with my emotions. You know why I prefer to be bold with my emotions? Because when someone pisses me off or hurts my feelings or anything else, as mentioned above, I’d much rather get it out in the open so they know where I’m coming from. I’m well aware that many people don’t want to hear it and many don’t want to talk about touchy situations. But I’m still going to put it out there. I had forgotten about this for a while and realized that I was suppressing my honesty and censoring myself too much. (Some censoring is necessary, especially when I’m mad). I do know that I realized that I need to work on being bold with my emotions in a diplomatic and calm way. Screaming anger and crying pain are a little over emotional to be taken seriously. So I know that to be bold with my emotions, I need to make sure I understand them before I share. I need to know if I was feeling betrayed or just annoyed. Hurt or confused.  If I can explain myself better, others will understand me better and conveying the message will go much better. So, I’ve done pretty well with this one (example, I’m writing a blog that bares a lot about myself and I’m comfortable with that), but I do have some interruptions and it comes in the form of the intention below…
I intend to stop worrying about people liking me and compromising my integrity to be sure they do. No need for psycho-babble about why acceptance is so important to me (or anyone, really), but I realize that my drive for it can still have a tendency to make me question my integrity. I find that I tend to hesitate in sharing my emotions (and compromising my drive to be blunt about how I feel), to avoid someone not liking me. It doesn’t stop me from doing so, but that thought is still there and I’ll be concerned about the after effects and worry about someone being angry with me. But as I write this, I realize that’s what keeps me human. It’s important to think of the feelings of others, just not crossing the line of letting them dictate your next step. I think people respect you more if you are who you are and you share how you feel. You don’t have to agree with everyone for them to like you. Your personality can show and it should because that’s how you mesh with others. If everyone agreed on all points, life would be pretty boring. My openness makes me sassy and sometimes I realize sassy can mean obnoxious, but it’s up to me to know how far to go and not be concerned so much with worrying how others perceive it. I’m pretty content with who I am and acknowledge that I’m always a work in progress, but I know progress should come from me, not what I think others want to see in me.
I intend to live like it’s always summer. You know what? Summer is hot. Easy to forget when it’s January and you’re writing a list of intentions while watching out your window at the snowplow racing down your street. Granted, this intention had more idea behind it than the actual weather  but I just want to acknowledge that summer is not my favorite season. But the carefree aspect of this intention is something I’ve tried to embrace. I’ve always been somewhat laidback, yet maintaining a tendency to get easily wound up in under five seconds. It’s the even keel feeling of summertime that was important to me to reflect. But it’s hard when you have no patience. In the end, I feel pretty positive about this one and I feel like I have done what I set out to do when I expressed this intention. No need to add detail, but this one I feel positive about. (Except that patience thing…)

A Weighty Subject

As I look at my post-pregnancy body, I realize a few things.

1) I have my work cut out for me.

2) I have a whole new level of envy (is hatred too strong of a word?) for celebrities and supermodels walking out of the maternity ward in lingerie with washboard abs.

3) I’ve read that during pregnancy (and even when not pregnant) your body may have some food cravings because you are in need of certain nutrients those foods offer. I probably should have realized that some cravings are just cravings and Taco Bell is probably not the equivalent of a multi-vitamin. (Nor is candy. Or ice cream. Or chili cheese nachos…)

I’m once more embarking on an attempt to lose weight (and be healthy, but for me the weight loss is what tends to take priority). I’ve been down this road before. Many, many times. This is my first time actually making an effort to do it properly. My very first attempt as a teenager started out well. Counting fat grams and watching portion sizes. It quickly spiraled into an eight-year eating disorder. I lost weight, for sure. I also ate packets of ketchup for lunch, ruined my metabolism and could have damaged every organ in my body. Being in recovery led my weight to yo-yo for years. Food has so many meanings to me and I can easily avoid it altogether or completely indulge and overeat. I love food. I loved food when I was starving. I just knew the levels of my willpower and allowing some meant going overboard and I couldn’t have that.

As strange as it sounds, my attempt to do it properly seems a little like I’m betraying myself. I know how to lose weight in a much easier way. But I know that’s not okay. I know if I weren’t breastfeeding it would be a much finer line to walk and I could fall into old habits with ease. I have chosen a responsibility to provide my child with nutrients from my own body and I know that if I’m not taking any in, he’s not going to get any. I know at the core of my eating disorder were emotional issues that I’m no longer dealing with, but I also know that baby blues and life changes have given me a new set I could easily bow to instead of figuring out how to manage them and work through in a healthy manner.

In a society where eating disorders are now becoming rampant with girls (and boys) as young as five, it frustrates me that my weight has always been more about how I look instead of being healthy. That if someone is too thin, my first emotion is jealousy (although closely followed by concern). I was frustrated recently by an uproar on Twitter over a guy (a wannabe celebrity whose claim to fame was appearing on Big Brother) who started a new stance on what he was calling managed anorexia. (This is actually a term, and many women “practice” it). He had thousands of followers and spouted many thinspirational sayings such as “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” (many thanks to Kate Moss for perpetuating that one) and claimed that anyone over a size zero was “gross”. For an interesting read on the guy, check out this article where he is essentially called out by the reporter and backpedals as fast as he can once he realizes she’s actually going to publish his idiocy. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/promoting-anorexia-an-int_b_807807.html?ir=Style). It infuriated me that hundreds (thousands) of girls were probably taking to heart what he was saying and beating themselves up further. In a time where girls and women are already battling so many messages about the importance of looks, this piece of crap was endorsing everything they are already trying to overcome and triumph over, no matter how they look.

But I digress, as usual. This is about my attempt to create a new way of thinking for myself. I’m attempting a completely different type of willpower now; one that requires figuring out the balance between excess and necessity, nutritionally. Not to mention making myself realize that my health should be the main priority. It’s an example I need to set for not only myself but for my children. I’m not trying any fad diets or any with short-term results, it’s more about understanding how to make proper food choices; not allowing the naughty stuff because “I’m already overweight, what’s it going to hurt at this point?” and that deprivation only causes overindulgence. I’m making an attempt to retrain my ways of thinking in how I make choices in general and paying attention to long-term results. I know I’ll come across some hurdles, myself being one of them, as well as mastering and maintaining a healthy diet on a limited budget. In addition, I have to figure out time management that will allow me to include a daily workout in my routine. I’m not sure I can use the elliptical while holding an infant, but I’ll figure it out because I have to. So in the end, here’s to changes and their success and learning to like me. More to come, I’m sure…