Your Worst Nightmare

It was a long week. I lay awake at 3am Wednesday morning. I wept on my drive home. I was so angry my fingers shook. I sobbed in my upstairs hallway.

But Thursday was different.

I realized yesterday that I’m your worst nightmare.

  • A woman
  • Well-educated, with multiple degrees
  • Minority
  • Non-religious
  • Feminist
  • Pro-Choice
  • Liberal
  • Anti-racist, equality seeker
  • Opinionated
  • LGBT ally
  • Informed
  • Voter
  • Unafraid
  • (and what the heck let’s add this one, too) Animal loving vegetarian

And I am your child’s teacher.

I am that list (and more) and I get up every day and teach your kids how to question, think, and read. I don’t tell anyone about the list of things that I am. I demonstrate a lot of it without saying a word. I am teaching your children how to write well and research but I’m also teaching them how to respect and understand people, to be a kind and tolerant human, because that’s what I demonstrate every day, quietly, in my classroom.

Some of your kids will grow up and adopt your same dying and narrow-minded beliefs. But just as many will learn from the kindness, love, and tolerance of teachers, mentors, friends, and communities and then, and this is the scary part for you, I know, there will be more people who have a list just like mine. I know that’s why this is happening now, this week, and for the next 4 years. I know that’s why you made the choices you did, voted the way you did, even if you don’t know it yourself.

But the truth is: You can’t change my list of things. You can’t stop me from being what I am. I can’t be scrubbed out. I don’t have to be loud to make a difference. I’ll still be teaching your kids in a year, in 5 years, 10, 20, and 30 years. There will always be hatred and intolerance but, just the same, there will always be people like me.

I’m your worst nightmare and I’m not going anywhere.

Portion Control, Your Sassy Half Friend

I recently stood in the chip aisle at target debating between buying a family size bag of Cheetos and the smaller, but still a horrible decision size bag of Cheetos. To set the scene further: I also had a bag of peanut m&ms in my hands. On this particular

The sweet nectar of life, salt and fat.

The sweet nectar of life, salt and fat.

day in the Target chip aisle I was suffering form the worst and most off-balance hormones that I have experienced in recent memory. I’d wept multiple times for silly reasons. I’d become raging angry at a mosquito. And I’d been starving for 4 days. By that I mean, to my core insatiable hungry. For 4 days. Nothing could fill that gaping maw. It went to my bones, back through generations, a hormonal hunger not seen in eons. No matter how much protein I ate or water I drank I was starving. Which led me to the Target chip aisle. Which led to hormonal gorge fest 2015.

Good news: the hormones are leveling out and I am not hungry (like that any way) anymore. Bad news: I could still easily eat all that food again right now if it was in front of me. Because no matter how healthy I do eat (and enjoy eating), there’s nothing like a freaking Dorito. For that reason, I never buy junk food. Ever. Because I can, as has been previously stated, annihilate a bag of chips, cookies, pretzels, etc. without a second thought. No kidding, the higher order thinking in my brain shuts down and I inhale. I can’t even indulge in it even once in a while because of Portion Control.

Eff that guy, right? He’s there for you, kind of, like “oooh, great job you ate a super food salad and everything was perfectly measured. I’m so proud of you. See? This is how you get a thigh gap!” and you’re forlornly staring into your salad all, “But I don’t want a thigh gap…” and then! When you do find yourself elbow deep in a Doritos bag he’s the one who reminds you “At least you didn’t want a thigh gap” . Thanks so very much. I had no idea that one handful was 9,000 calories. Buzz. Kill.

Portion Control and I go way, way back. I’m pretty sure we’ve been locked in a struggle that predates the Jurassic Era. I’m sure there is some far removed Nancy ancestor whose one job in the community was to count the berries that the women and children had to fight off a saber tooth for. And while she was counting berries she was murmuring some early human version of “one for me, one for you”. Nancy ancestor passed on two genetic traits, I’m sure, one of them being a complicated relationship with food and the other being a hot head. These two traits have only become more concentrated through the generations. I can dominate both a bag of Doritos and my enemies in the Thunderdome.

Oh, yeah.Here’s an example: we went to a grill out at the beginning of summer. At one point during dinner I realized I was standing in front of the Doritos, preventing even the children from eating them. Is that not a thing? Does no other adult do this? No?

One of the kids said, “You’re eating a lot of Doritos.”

To which I said, “Yes.”

He said, “You must be stressed.”

I said, “What are you a therapist?” No, I didn’t, but I did think: “Listen kid, when you grow up, someday you too can shamelessly emotionally eat in front of an 8-year-old.”

Not a few weeks later, we went out to dinner with several couples and I noticed all the gals had only eaten half of their burgers. I asked my friend, “Why aren’t you finishing your burger? It’s delicious.”

She said, “I’m full.”

To which I replied, “Well, I am too but that’s not stopping me from achieving my dreams!”

While eating what the experts say is “the right amount of food” (pshhhhh!) has become less of a struggle the older I’ve become, it’s not easy! Sometimes during periods of stress or hormones it’s like a horror movie. I feel like there’s another presence here. It’s in my house. I notice that the bread has mysteriously moved closer to the front of the fridge. The buttery popcorn that I forgot about falls out of the pantry. A small secret candy bar appears from behind a bag of rice. I hear whispers. Maybe from the attic? Nope. Definitely in the kitchen. The disembodied voice is saying, “eat the pie”. It whispers to me for 30 minutes, a roundelay of “if we don’t have pie just eat some bread or that can of icing you forgot about”. It leaves a trail of cinnamon crumbs to the refrigerator. Am I insane? Do I need a doctor? A priest to rid me of these demons? Now I’m stressed. I’ll have this piece of pie to manage my anxieties.

And then as soon as the fork is down Portion Control starts tsk-ing and saying “You know that’s going directly to your thighs right?”

Dammit.

Eating and food really shouldn’t be this complicated. But sometimes it is. See, right here would be a good place for me to put a positive affirmation quote and say something about how all this has taught me a valuable lesson and now I have it all figured out. Oh, no. Not true. I just personified Portion Control as a sassy half-friend. I have nothing figured out. What I do know though is that most of my friends have this same complicated relationship with food and portion control and I’d rather be eating than afraid to eat. You know, we are all (probably) just doing the best we can to be healthy and not give ourselves stomach cancer from eating too much Red Dye #88. That’s not too, shabby really.

I also figure, if you can find the humor in something difficult it makes it a more manageable load to bear. It’s easy to get pissed ahang-in-theret yourself when you fall off the wagon, don’t see the results you want, eat a bag of Cheetos, etc. Hey, it’s life. These things happen. I say this because as a near professional level negative self talker, it’s just the truth. It’s ok. Portion Control might be laughing at how clumsily you slipped off the wagon and brained yourself on the way down, but, it’s going to be fine if you decide to let it be. Laugh at it, dust yourself off, and climb back up. And give Portion Control a good swift kick in the shins once you’re up there. It will feel really great to watch that guy suffer a little bit.

Damn. That did pretty much end as a motivational poster, didn’t it?

Exercise? I Thought You Said Extra Fries

Uhg. I saw a picture on pinterest the other day that said “Exercise? I thought you said extra fries.” If that ain’t the truth I don’t know what is. If I wasn’t meant to eat salt and potatoes then why the hell are they so delicious? The greatest invention of the modern age was Red Robin’s bottomless fries. Now, I’ve only ever been there once because if I went back that would be my grave. I would eat those fries until I died. I just love food. And by food I do mean all food. I know the popular and right thing is to say I love whole organic farm to table foods blessed by the pope and Dali Lama. Well, I do love those foods. I also love and can annihilate a bag of Doritos before you can say “But think of your heart!”

The other day my friend texted me the picture below and said “I finally understand why you work out so much”. Uh, yeah. Because one fry becomes the whole bottomless bowl. One Dorito becomes the whole bag. Hey, kids, here’s a math problem for you: How many bowls of bottomless fries can Ms. Nancy eat? The answer is obesity because America.

everything is on fire

Diets are the worst. But when your pants don’t fit– that’s also kind of the worst. Last year I lost upwards of 25 lbs and felt awesome. And then I went back to work. Have you ever heard  that roughly 25% of being a teacher is resisting the horrible food that shows up out of nowhere multiple times a week? Yeah, I hadn’t either. But there it is, the teacher’s lounge inexplicably packed with doughnuts and muffins. Randomly. On a Tuesday. When you least expect it. Had I known there would be treats I would have picked up my cheeto chain mail or my +1 muffin defense shield. Or you know, avoided the teacher’s lounge. If that’s not bad enough, then let’s not forget when kids bring you whole homemade apple pies. Yes. I received a whole pie in May.

The question for a teacher who receives a whole home made apple pie then becomes: Do I eat this pie because it’s f*cking May and I need something, some sort of metaphorical arm floatie to get me through the deep end that is the last three weeks of school? Or do I munch on an apple and get a cramp and drown in this train wreck pool metaphor because obviously PIE ALWAYS WINS.

Fun fact: I ate most of a whole pie in May!

You’d think pies and doughnuts and my love of the sweet, sweet nectar of life, potatoes, would surely have unraveled my weight loss from last year. Despite how much this post makes it seem like I have zero self control (False. I have at least 10% self control) I didn’t gain much weight back. Which, you know what? I’ll count that as a win because I had to go to work everyday where doughnuts were just handed out for free all willy nilly! I mean, who just brings free food to people who work with kids all day? Are you insane? Are you trying to kill me? Have you no respect for emotional eaters? We teach 12-year-olds. It’s lucky that we don’t all walk around with a flask and a side satchel full of cheetos and those mini chocolate covered doughnuts.

Luckily, though, I didn’t descend into flask/ doughnut satchel and since getting back on the logging food wagon (Blech. Nobody wants to know how many calories are in a vegan cookie. It’s vegan. Obviously it’s made from plants, the sweat of protesting feminists, and free range macrobiotic chocolate. See nutritional information: zero calories, your daily intake of the strength of a thousand men) three weeks ago my skinny shorts are not only fitting comfortably but loose. The download said

Take that, pie, you sucker!

I’m sorry I said that. Never leave me.

Anyway, my healthy eating/body transformation (oh my god sorry. Body and transformation should never be used together in a sentence.) isn’t over. I’ve wrangled myself some new goals that started on Friday. Let’s rehash it together, shall we?

Dumb bells, check. Yoga mat, check. Dog who thinks  jumping around and swinging shit means play time, check. Begin lifting, not so ba- Oh, Christ I should have started with 5 lb weights. Have I torn my arm off? No. Arm is still attached. Am I sure? Yes, ok, arm is still there. Move on to core work. Small tiny crunch and then yelling to husband in the next room, “If this is what it takes to stay in shape then I DON’T WANT IT.” Continue to exercise/weep intermittently. Try some squat roll back jump up thing, discover that even though I’ve been standing since I was wee I can’t seem to get off the floor. Anger. Punch the floor. How many reps of angry Nancy am I supposed to do? None? Damn it. Husband tries to calm me down, succeeds in demonstrating squat roll back jump up thing which of course only makes me more angry because I AM NOT A TURTLE SO WHY CAN’T I GET OFF MY BACK.

True Life: Fries. All of them. … I never did get off my back with that exercise but the others were marginally more successful. I think I already see a difference. Or, the overworked muscles have been spasming so much that I’ve given myself muscle definition by way of pure undiluted pain. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have a six pack soon (snort) like all those gals on youtube and pinterest who do one thousand squats while smiling and not sweating. If I smile during a work out look again because it’s probably a grimace used to swallow a sob because no matter how much I work out it is never a breeze. But I guess pushing yourself is how you get all those nicely defined muscles. Maybe after that you get the smiling and not sweating? I don’t know how MollyFitness (TM) and Holly Squatsalot are so ripped, and keep a clean house, and even have children, but damn do they seem able to easily crush a can with their abs while applying makeup, smiling, and not sweating. I try really hard not to compare myself to people who have already achieved maximum sweatless fitness. Hell, I try not to compare myself to anybody because I do actually like who I am and what I look like. So I’m not going to. Instead, this will be my mentality: You can always set new goals, which is where I’m at this summer.

Last year I proved to myself that I could change the way I ate. This past school year, despite eating one too many pies, I proved to myself that I can keep the weight off. I also showed myself that if the weight comes back on, even just a bit, all I have to do is realign and get back to what works. It took me until this month to fully realize that, but sometimes you’ve got to live it, you know? Jesus. Sorry. The pinterest quote is really strong with me today.

Last summer I posted a list of things I wanted to achieve before I went back to work. I checked many of those things off so I’m going to do the same again this year. Here goes:

  • Lose those last lbs
  • Tone up with weights, hiit workouts
  • Continue healthy eating
  • blog more about life, food, workouts
  • read at least 12 more books
  • work on the house
  • take time to express gratitude
  • proofread more because half of this list is not properly capitalized

So, before I put up a motivational quote, I’m going to go work out.

Be Good and Kind and Drink A Beer

We had dinner with two friends last week. They are married and I work with the wife. We are both teachers. We have many things in common with this couple including a love of food, beer, England, travel, good music, and corgis. This is nothing to write a blog post about of course, except one thing keeps striking me about our friendship with them. Neither my husband nor I are religious (I’m actually more on the atheist end of the spectrum with a good dash of humanism on top but that’s for yet another post) and our friends are you could say, very religious. In fact, the husband is a pastor at one of the largest churches in

Eat food and be merry!

Eat food and be merry!

the area.

Again, nothing to write a whole blog post about. After all, I have many friends who believe in something and take part in organized religion. They are all good and kind to everyone, even me, the godless atheist. This is true of our pastor friends as well.

But what really strikes me about our two friends is how simple and honest their view of god and religion is. “We just want to love people,” my teacher friend said to me once in passing. And do you know what, faceless internet readers? They actually mean it. No judgement. No dogma. No shame over enjoying a beer or cursing or asking hard questions. You’re not a bad person if you’re gay. You still deserve to have people who love you.

I try really hard not to be an angry non-believer. Speaking only of my personal experiences, it can be difficult when you see a consistent pattern of people behaving poorly and using god and religion as an excuse. Because of my experiences, especially those in the last several years, I have so much more respect for our two friends. Though I am not a Christian, or at all religious, these two people are probably the best example of what a good Christian should be. That, I think is what life should be about and if you ascribe to a religion or a set of beliefs then, yes, that’s what your god should be about: Being good to people. Having dinner. Laughing. Loving people.

Ultimately, I think our friends and my husband and I  believe in the same fundamental ideals. We just approach these ideals from two different ends of a spectrum. Our friends ask the same questions and even see the same issues with religion and church that we do– and man is that refreshing.God and Beer. Two things that go pretty ok together if handled correctly.

I guess I keep thinking about this because neither my husband nor I talk much to anyone about what we don’t believe. It tends to start fistfights and make people uncomfortable. And, it’s deeply personal. In the right and respectful circumstances, I love talking about what people believe and why. But rarely is there a right and safe circumstance. I just keep thinking, how awesome is it that four people –two, for all intents and purposes, atheists, and a pastor and his wife– can sit down at dinner and have the same views of the big picture.

You don’t have to believe in each other’s religion. You don’t even have to have one. But if you do, be good and kind and eat bread and drink a beer. As just one atheist with a sprinkling or humanism, I will appreciate and respect you for it.

I feel kind of silly saying this because I already knew it, but we aren’t, all of us, so different after all. I guess it’s nice to be reminded that people can be good. And that, we can all agree on, is worth a raised glass of beer.

I Forgive You

This is a toy Ferrari. Because I am a small person.

This is a toy Ferrari. Because I am a small person.

What do Ferraris, cake, and a Liam Neesen reference have in common you might ask? Nothing, actually. Except me. I happen to bind these unalike things to each other in one strange shaped forgiveness metaphor. Because that’s what it takes to forgive a horrible person sometimes- a certain set of skills, a fast car, and a whole lot of cosmic justice.

So, here’s the thing: I can get angry. When I say angry I mean smoldering rage angry. My emotional scale is basically the speedometer on a Ferrari. Zero to 12,000 and crashed into a tree in under 2 seconds. I’m usually at a low boil… all of the time. It’s my default setting. So, I’m that rich jerk next door that revs his Ferrari’s engine at every stop light. In a suburban neighborhood. Every day. Because I can. Ferrari.

For the record,  I don’t actually like being angry. I’m just really good at it. Blessed and cursed with a high sense of justice, it has always infuriated me when someone lies, misleads, or does wrong for their own gain.

Once, in 2nd grade, a girl stole a slice of cake out of my backpack. My mom and I had baked it, the day before, from a recipe we found at the back of a library book we read together. I was so infuriated that this girl blatantly stole from me that I brought 2nd grade in Mrs. Nachbar’s class to a stand still. I remember my teacher’s tenuous grasp on patience. Couldn’t I just let this go? This one time? This isn’t a fight I have to fight is it?

But it was. It is. I’m a sink my teeth into the neck, shake it until it’s dead justice seeker. And I’ve got a lot of rage for a lady who’s grown up in a loving, middle class suburban home (I think it comes from the chemical mix of my heritage:  Irish- fly off the handle passion and Hispanic – cool, bide your time rage).

So the answer was no, Mrs. Nachbar, I won’t let this go. I didn’t relent until that poor little 2nd grader admitted she lied. I ate my cake smugly over lunch.

Not much has changed about that little cake eating vengeance swearer. I didn’t get much taller and I’m still undeniably angered by things that aren’t fair. I no longer bring immediate situations to a standstill though, even when I want to. Thanks, maturity and adulthood!

Vengeance will find you and kill you. Liam Neesen style.

Vengeance has a certain set of skills Liam Neesen style.

In the past several months I’ve experienced a new to me phenomenon: Grown adults who make horrible, terrible, no good choices and then blame the fallout of their actions on other people. I went through high school and teach middle school so I am well equipped for immaturity. This is next level, though, even for me. Sometimes people just aren’t who you think they are. They make choices and become someone different. Or rather, they show you who they really were all along. They reinvent themselves and tell a different narrative because they can’t accept responsibility for themselves. I’m finding these types of people can’t hide from who they are for very long, which is why, eventually life catches up with and then implodes on them. I’ve been weirdly zen about this pattern even though it infuriates me that these bad choice making adults hurt the people in my life.

I’ve realized something though, as a few lives around me have caved in. As mad as I can get about injustice and as much as I might want to have a personal hand in seeing someone get their comeuppance, the universe just seems to have a way of taking care of things itself. I’ve come to believe that what you send out into the universe you will get back tenfold. I like to convince myself that this is more Buddhist than ‘Liam Neesen in Taken Seeking Revenge’ but, no, let’s be honest- it’s exactly that. Most of the time, people get what’s coming to them (that sounds a little Buddhist, doesn’t it? Maybe? Angry Buddhist?) because if you’re the kind of person who has to lie, rewrite the narrative of your life, pin the blame of your decisions on someone else– Well, you’ve already got your recompense, don’t you?

You have to wake up every day and be you. The kind of person who lies, is the perpetual victim of their own making, hurts others. That is how you spend your life

What a miserable existence.

That understanding -that this is the way some people live their lives (their entire lives!) – helped me figure out the thing/person I was most angry at and squash them, their words and speeches down into something amusing and ridiculous and just plain sad.

So. Now that I (finally) have your attention, I’m going to leave my very last thought on you right here. Maybe someday you’ll read it. Maybe not. In any case, I wrote this for you:

I am truly sorry for you. Some people do not possess the strength or integrity to accept their worst decisions and parts of themselves. I’ve learned a lot about those kinds of people this year and I think I finally understand why you continue to make the choices you do. I know now that you can’t accept yourself and be happy and so, I feel you should know, I’m not angry any more. In fact, I forgive you for the insinuations, for bending the truth, misrepresenting, lying.

I forgive you. I forgive you. I forgive you.

I have already forgiven you. Because really, at the end of the day? The only person you’re lying to is you, and if that’s what you need to do to live with yourself, well, you can have my cake and eat it too.

From the bottom of my little prone to rage heart:  I forgive you. And I wish you luck. You’re going to need it.

 

Spring

MayEvery year I am surprised when the sun begins to rise a little earlier and my morning commute isn’t quite as dark as it was the day before. I’m surprised when, at the end of February, the it’s 6 o clock and I can still see the sun setting.

Spring is my favorite season. The anticipation of spring is my second favorite. I love 4th quarter with my students, wearing dresses, pulling out flip flops, and cracking windows to let the breeze in. I love the sound of the rain and waiting for the first flowers to come up and the leaves to on the trees to grow big enough to rustle in in the wind.

I don’t know how spring manages to come back every year, but I am so glad it does. It makes me feel alive.

Spring

Why do Evangelical Christians care about “showing christ” to the world?

"Friend"Asking for a friend…

 Why do Evangelical Christians care about “showing christ” to the world? And by world I (think) I mean non believers and maybe people of other  denominations/faiths?

I grew up Catholic. Raised an eyebrow at that whole transubstantiation  thing. Gave a suspicious side eye to other beliefs that seemed just as  magical. Followed that line of thought to, hey, you know, I’ve never agreed that gay people are bad or wrong or shouldn’t fall in love and get married. Which led me to other revelations like: maybe there isn’t a sometimes mad, sometimes kind all being, all-seeing white man chilling in the cosmos watching us like a Sims game on high free will.

In the last 3 years I’ve become horrified? intrigued? both? by the proselytizing christian scene. Especially since learning about my husband’s background as a southern Baptist and hearing stories about his evangelical writer, blogger, speaker ex wife who doesn’t exactly practice what she preaches. I really have no framework for the beliefs and ideas I keep coming across. When I try to read or understand more I feel like I’m watching a bunch toddlers let loose in an empty room. No harm meant with that metaphor, really, it’s just the best way to describe the feeling.

I searched "crowd of toddlers" and this is what I got. Still scary so I think it works.

I searched “crowd of toddlers” and this is what I got. Still scary so I think it works.

Because I keep thinking, what are you doing? Why are you doing that? And now you’re fighting! Why are you fighting? Oh my god, why are you climbing on me now? Why are you forming a circle around me? No, no, don’t grab my nostrils! Please stop trying to choke me with your well-meaning love! HELP HELP HELP-

Sorry. Got carried away.

So, yeah. That’s my question: Why do Evangelical Christians care about “showing christ” to the world? 

Whim Whams

Having a conversation about something that creeped me out.
Nancy: That gives me the whim whams.
Chris: Are the whim whams a real thing or is that another Nancy-ism?
Nancy: Yes, they are real! They’re just like the jilly jallies. Or the burr bum tickles. Or the Icky icky stickies.
Chris: I’ve never heard of any of those!
Nancy: Of course you haven’t. I just made them up.

The Summer Of Not Doing Much– But In Reality, Accomplishing A Lot

An update on The Summer Of Not Doing Much– But In Reality, Accomplishing A Lot

This Summer: It’s been great. I’ve watched a lot of movies. I’ve spent lots of time cuddling and playing with the Beans. I’ve exercised just about 6 days a week. I’ve tried out lots of healthy new recipes that we both really enjoy. And! I’ve lost somewhere in the range of 15-20 lbs since late March.

Left -- in March. Right--- Last Week. A new haircut, too!

Left — in March. Right— Last Week. A new haircut, too!

 Yesterday I had my yearly health assessment for my insurance. I’ve lost 6.5 inches around my waist, although it’s probably more since I was doing a great imitation of a roller coaster with my poundage. I still have a little ways to go, but not much. For the first time in a three years ALL my clothes fit. Actually, many of them are bordering on too big now and I’d like to thank strength training and lean muscle for that one. I feel good. I want to eat healthy food. I don’t even want pizza. I know. Somebody slap me back to my senses! No, don’t, because I’d like to relish in this moment for a bit. This is pretty much the first time in my life where eating and exercising are a balanced part of my life.

When I was a kid/teenager, I never routinely exercised.  When I was 16ish, my family changed our eating habits and I lost 40+ lbs in the course of a year. It was great, but it all came back on with college stress and life changes. By the time I was a sophomore, I knew I had to do something. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. During a nutrition and health class required by my major, I realized the thing I had to change was the plod/sedentary pudge I had become. I started working out at the university’s high tech gym. Back then it took me 45 minutes to run 3 miles. And that was after working up to three miles. But I haven’t stopped working out since. Now, I have pretty awesome endurance. I love, love, love the mindlessness of cardio and regularly do an hour to an hour and a half of it. But even with all the exercise, when life got stressful about 3 years ago, a lot of the weight came back. Not all, thanks to massive amounts of cardio, but enough that I’ve been slowly yo-yoing back down for three years.

This year sucked. And all the weight I lost last year came back. I see now that I was on auto-pilot. I knew what I needed to do to lose and then maintain a healthy weight, but it was hard, and I didn’t care, and when I cared too much I became discouraged and if you’ve ever been discouraged you know that feeling tastes a lot like a box of cheeze-its. Which is where my hand would find itself on particularly bad days/weeks.

Me in a dress that I bought and never fit into. UNTIL NOW.

Me in a dress that I bought and never fit into. UNTIL NOW.

This summer I told myself we would do better. We owed it to ourselves. I really owed it to me (ok, pinterest quote, settle down). I wanted to actually reap the benefits of all the work I put into my workout. I also want to live for a long time but not as a sedentary cheeze-it pudge. So I stuck to my commitment and I’m glad I didn’t give up.

These are some of the things that really helped/ are helping to keep me going:

  • The Lose It! App – you can log everything you eat. Need to scan a bar code? No problem. Do most of your own cooking? Cool, you can input recipes and see how much you’re actually eating.
  • The South Beach Diet (but the vegetarian recipes, because animals)- This is the lifestyle change my family made when I was in high school. The hubs and I choose the best sounding/ my favorite old recipes. It’s simple, delicious, and healthy food.
  • Limiting carbs-  I love carbs. If I could hug every potato in the world, I totally would.  If you told me I could never have bread again, I’d punch you right in the mouth. But I hold these carbs so dear that I can actually eat a whole loaf of healthy bread by myself. And still have room for potatoes and pizza. So, I’ve tried to limit those favorite carbs. And it’s been pretty ok!
  • Vegan recipes- In the name of limiting carbs I had to find alternatives to those things that I love, those starchy, starchy things. I stumbled on vegan recipes like this one, and this one, and this one. While not all of those are a replacement for the love of my life, starch (Just kidding, Chris! I love you the most! Especially if you are cradling a potato!), it doesn’t matter because the food is so. damn. delicious.
  • Moderation- I can still have beer. I can still eat bread. I just can’t do these things every day. BUT THIS IS AMERICA! I SHOULD HAVE ALL THE BEER AND POTATO CHIPS I WANT. Yes, but, you turn into a catatonic salt and vinegar dipped in beer infused version of yourself, Nancy, and you don’t like that aftermath. I allow myself a “cheat day” or an occasional not as healthy treat during the week. It can’t be every day, but if we are at a friend’s house and they have pie? I am probably going to still have a small slice. And so help me if I ever have to give up beer. I can’t! But if I limit myself to 1-2 beers once a week, it’s a treat and not a part of my unbalanced diet.
  • Exercise- I already worked out a lot. I just wasn’t getting any benefit because I wasn’t paying attention to my diet because apathetic Nancy was apathetic. Even on the days that I don’t run for 8 hours, I can see/feel the difference it makes because I’ve finally balanced eating and exercise in a way that works for me.
  • Chris-  He signed on to eat better. He encourages me when I feel like a pudge (and makes sure to tell me I am emphatically not a pudge). He started exercising too. He lets me try all sorts of crazy/new vegan and vegetarian recipes. The hubs is pretty much the best person ever and this would have been many cheeze-it boxes harder if he wasn’t so helpful.

So that’s all really. It’s been a summer of loss and Netflix. I’d call that a success. I hope if you’re trying to push through your own healthy hurdle that you are seeing positive changes, too. If not, keep going. Avoid the cheeze-it aisle. You can do it (ok, motivational kitten poster, nobody takes you seriously)… (but really, you can do it.)

I Have Got a Husband! Look at Me Go.

My style may be vintage, but my marriage sure ain't!

My style may be vintage, but my marriage sure ain’t!

Recently, I’ve read a few articles by the “other side”. And by other side, I mean the religious side. I know, that’s mean. I don’t really mean it. I’m actually fascinated by religion and belief. I’m equally, if not more fascinated by the sociology and societal norms of religious communities. I totally don’t agree with most of it! And I’m absolutely enthralled!

Somehow, I found my way to some articles about marriage penned by individuals who lean in the general direction of god. Man! I was so baffled. And again, enthralled! I just did not- fundamentally did not– understand the views/expectations of marriage represented in these articles. This of course, got me thinking about my own marriage.

No one was more surprised than me when I got married. More surprising was that I was the first of my friends at the tender age of 25. Now that! That was surprising. I always thought that IF I met someone I’d be AT LEAST 30 before I even considered any sort of legally binding commitment. Well, life is funny,  I met a wonderful man, and we were all “hey, you’re cute” and then, “no, you’re cute” followed with “hey, wanna get married?”. No, not really. Well. Kind of. That’s the really simple version. ANYWAY.

I never really thought wife would be a part of my identity before the age of 30. In fact, I never really expected wife to be a part of my identity at all.

And even now, married for a year and some months… it’s not.

Being married is a big thing, so I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of the institution or the consideration that we both put into the decision to say, yes, I like you enough to love you at your worst, I understand I am going to be with you from now until wrinkles, I forsake all others because you are way cute. That’s a horrible summary of the importance of marriage, so just pretend I said something eloquent and moving and just know that is what I mean about the bigness and importance of choosing one person forever.

So, marriage. Awesome, great, important, wonderful. I am married and it is all those things. But as far as considering “wife” as a part of my identity? As a part of what makes me, me? Not so much.

I am a lot of things and a wife is one of them, but when I think about the things that make me who I am– teacher, sassy, vegetarian, funny, animal lover, educated– when it comes to my marriage I think— lover of indie music, exercise, puppies, books, family and friend oriented, and partner to Chris.

That’s what I land on: partner.

Dammit, we're cute

Honestly, it really bugs me when women weave “wife” into a descriptor of who they are. I know this is because I’m assuming they mean it in a way that is antiquated and doesn’t jive with the way I think marriages and relationships should work. I try not to pass judgement on to those women. After all, they are allowed their own relationships and views. Because, duh. That’s the beauty of a modern world. You can be with who you want and hold the values that sit right with you. Certainly, I don’t pass judgement, but that doesn’t mean that I agree. I actually vehemently disagree.

I’m not religious. Being a wife is not something I consider to be otherworldly and spiritual. I’m speaking generally here about a large group of people, which everyone is always told do not do UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, but, I’m going to anyway. If you are religious (please read: religious, not spiritual) and hold what we describe as “conservative” views, being a wife is a part of your religion. Your spouse? A gift from god. Your marriage? Used for god. Or does god use your marriage? I don’t know. It’s all very confusing and I don’t understand.

I don’t have that kind of pressure riding on my marriage. In fact, I still feel weird sometimes when I say, “my husband” because my brain thinks, NO! YOU HAVEN’T GOT ONE OF THOSE, YOU’RE LIKE 17 AND STILL TERRIBLE AT DRIVING A STICK. Brain slowly turns over aaaaaaand there we are: Oh, right. Yes, I have got a husband. Look at me go! So, for me, being a partner is more important than being “a wife” and that’s how I think of us in my brain. Our relationship would, honestly, be the same if we had decided not to get married. When we met and fell in love (ew, gross) I decided that he was it and I was in. I never needed a piece of paper to have a serious, functioning, and committed relationship.

I’m sure  there are women who probably think the same thing when an atheist, feminist sassbot spouts off about equality and being partners. I’ve been online enough to know that there are women who are in households who clearly embody all the things I dislike about the word wife (hello, religious articles that made me say to my computer screen, “WHAT are you doing, gals!?”). Their lives and views of marriage, honestly, scare me. I couldn’t function in the kinds of marriages that I read about. Heck, I couldn’t even function in the early stages of a relationship with anyone who didn’t understand and recognize that just because I happen to be a women means I have to or am expected to x, y, z. Excuse me? I HAVE to do what? I’m EXPECTED to do what? Ahem. Let me introduce you to these two ladies, Sucker and Punch. Those are my fists. Do you really want to tell me what I HAVE to do? A good relationship is an equal one. No fists needed. That’s the crux, for me.

Perhaps the most important part of considering marriage as an equal partnership (there’s always give and take though, don’t get me wrong) is that it allows space for each person to be an individual. We are two separate people who chose to be together. Two people who will keep making choices to be together. Sometimes, I think, when the state of being a wife becomes a gal’s identity, she can lose who she is as a person. How can you be a great pair when you don’t know who are are as the solo act?

For the women who see being a wife as part of what makes them who they are, I hope that this is truly (really, I mean it) what makes them happy.

For me, being Nancy–teacher, sassy, vegetarian, funny, animal lover, educated, lover of indie music, exercise, puppies, books, family and friend oriented, and partner to Chris– is what works and makes me happy.