Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Wolf Within

A short while ago, I made a promise to myself that come hell or high water I would make the time to write every day.

Even when I feel like I have nothing to say.

Like today. 

However, I DID promise myself and a promise made is to be kept.  

Here's where I have to take a deep breath and shake off my fear of exposing my soft, vulnerable underbelly.

After a short but intense period of introspection, I came to realize that I am capable of writing beautiful prose.  I am capable of writing books.   I am a talented writer.   I can use many different 'voices' and breathe life into each character I create. 

But *drum roll for 'moment of truth' confession* I was afraid.  Afraid might be too namby-pamby a word: terrified.  I was terrified to truly let go and write.  I was terrified of my wolf within. 

Yeah - sounds crazy, doesn't it?   Wolf within?  What the hell does that mean?  Athletes talk about their edge being ‘the fire in their belly.’  Well, I have a wolf in my soul; a restless, prowling presence that stalks the corners of my unexpressed thoughts and ideas.  There lives in me a beast that gnaws at my throat until I surrender the blocked words of my heart.  He thrives in the cold, blue light of winter.  He relishes the hunt to ensure his survival but is merciful in his quick, clean kill. When he howls at the moon, his song is hauntingly clear and beautiful. 

I tried to tame him by writing pretty pablum stuff.  I tried to tamp him down by writing mainstream fiction.  I threw him a bone of chick-lit.  He sat on my heart and stared at the wasteland of my offerings.   

His strength and presence overwhelmed me.  I drew back whenever I sensed his presence; I covered the eyes my inspiration.  I dammed the river of creative energy from which he nightly drank.  My mind quivered in fear of my silent predator. 

Then one night, when the tempestuous weather matched the churning of my spirit, I realized he is me.  I am not him yet….He. Is. Me.  He is the part of me that’s free to roam those wide open fields of inspiration – to snuffle out the dark corners of ideas and thoughts and run with them to their natural conclusion.  He doesn’t care for ‘pretty’ or ‘safe.’  He doesn’t allow all the ‘what-ifs’ to get in the way of his sustenance. 

I realized that he is me and promised myself I would honor that part of me by writing daily, without fear, without over-thinking, without allowing the Greek ‘what will they think’ chorus to enter my head. 

My frightfully powerful wolf within trusts his instincts.  I trust me, now, as well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let's Keep This Our Little Secret

I'm addicted to The Biggest Loser. 

I have watched it since the very first show.  At first it was just a curiosity but after the first show, I was hooked.  The naked emotions shown by the contestants ripped my heart out week after week.  TBL, for me, was my weekly emotional release.  Then I really started paying attention to each individual's battle.  I learned that weight was not the underlying issue for their unhappiness - it was the hidden reasons for their massive weight gains.  I was not thin at this time but still at a very healthy and attractive weight.  Watching as an outside observer was more an exercise for my mind than anything else.

Then my marriage was suddenly over.  My ex found someone half his (and my) age and that was the end of me.  I was devestated.   While I have always tried to capture my emotions on paper, I'm really lousy at talking to others about them so I kept my hurt inside.  I needed comfort.  I turned to food. 

Me, a formerly confident, vibrant, funny woman turned into one of those people who would sit on the couch and eat potato chips while watching others deal with their disappointments and demons every Tuesday night on TBL.  I would get so mad at myself that I called myself all kinds of names and felt so bad about what I had just done that I'd go into my (formerly junk-stocked) kitchen and find something else to eat. I ended up gaining 40 pounds in a year and have been carrying that extra weight around for the last five years.

Like the contestants on TBL, I had to figure out why I kept myself fat.  It was hard, and I didn't like what I saw once I came to the truth about myself but I've come to accept that I have disappointments and demons inside me just like everyone else.  I don't need or care to share them here but suffice it to say that I've turned my soul inside out and it's much better being me now.

I've joined a gym and even contracted for a personal trainer.  I've learned all kinds of exercise methods but motivation had in the past been a problem for me.  One big thing I learned:  there are no shortcuts, you just have to exercise, and do it regularly.  So I do.  Monday is my trainer workout, Wednesday night is the kickboxing class, Thursday night it's weights and then the elliptical machine in the dark movie room, and Friday is usually a quick, lighter workout.    I do have one exercise secret that I'll share with you.  Tuesday night and the Biggest Loser.  Yep - join me at the gym every Tuesday night from 8:00-10:00 for a two hour workout on the treadmill.  Bring your water bottle!  Seriously, I walk at a fast pace and then run during every commercial break.  I hate running and truly dread when the commercials come on but I push myself through it and two minutes later, huffing and puffing, the show is back on.  Guess I should also remind you to bring your ear buds so you can watch the show for inspiration while you're walking. 

Next Tuesday, if you're at my gym from 8:00-10:00, look for me.  I'll be the one with TBL on the TV; the one with the red face, huffing and puffing but by-God doing it!  I'll look for you as well and if we notice we're watching the same show, let's nod and smile and acknowledge how good we are being to ourselves.  We know we are winning our battle of the bulge.  We know we are building our internal confidence with each step we take.  We know that like the contestants on The Biggest Loser, we will conquer our demons. 

Tuesday and The Biggest Loser is a wonderful motivator for me and and I hope it will be for you, too.  So there you go...I've shared my little secret with you.  Others will come to it when they are ready but I'll look for you next Tuesday!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chucky, My Washer, and Sam Champion

Something strange happened this morning. I mean r - e - a - l - l - y strange.

I overslept. No, that's not the strange thing but I have to start there and go back to last night for the story to make sense.

Exhaustion apparently got the best of me after my workout last night. Intense, sweaty: it was a great workout and I left the gym about 7:30pm with all my muscles quivering like the last leaf on an oak tree as Winter gives Autumn the cold shoulder.

From there, my endorphins and I happily drove to my local library and I picked up a few writing reference books and some new romances (my eye candy).

Last stop before heading home…the grocery store. Still feeling the natural high from my workout, I asked the deli lady for a quarter pound of turkey breast (for today’s lunch) then quickly added some wheat tortillas, red globe grapes, apples and celery to my cart. It was a record for me: in and out of the grocery store in less than 10 minutes!

On very shaky legs - sadly, my endorphins and I were starting to part ways - I slowly, painfully, lugged my purse, gym bag with my clothes and heels from work, library books and groceries up the three flights of stairs to my apartment.

Once safely inside, I made a quick chicken salad. This isn't important to my story but it really came out well. I chopped up the ¾ of a roasted chicken I had left over from the day before then rough chopped an apple and three ribs of celery (yes, I really like celery). I have some fresh pecans in my freezer so I grabbed half a handful and threw them in the bowl. My Jello underarm wingy-thingys are flapping like crazy as I rush to get dinner done because using these muscles now really hurts LOL. I hate mayo, plus it’s incredibly unhealthy, so I mixed up a dab of horseradish, a pinch of celery seed and a small blop of mustard in a dollop of fat free sour cream. I stirred everything together and put some of the mixture in a cabbage leaf with a lemon slice for garnish ~ I’m trying to control my portion size and I find that really dressing up my food presentation helps. Besides, just because I live alone doesn't mean I don't deserve to eat 'pretty food.' Right? Anyway.....

After I ate, it was almost 9:00pm so I gingerly sat down: oohing and ouching because of my sore hamstrings as I lowered myself on my couch to watch the second hour of the premier of ‘Dancing With the Stars.’

At this point, everything is fine. Everything is normal. I’m tired, but it’s the ‘good’ tired that comes from a successful workout. As I wiggle and burrow into the most comfortable position I can find on my squishy couch, I make a plan to watch the rest of DWTS and then work on some of my writing pieces for an hour or so before I go to bed. When my endorphins depart, they always leave me feeling virtuous and tonight was no exception. I had worked out and eaten a healthy dinner. I was happy with myself for the moment.

BURR-ACK BURR-ACK BURR-ACK! My head jerks up from its unnatural position centered somewhere between my left shoulder and the back of the couch. Daylight streams in my eyes, forcing me to squint. I'm really confused as to where I am. I fell asleep and stayed asleep sitting up on the couch. My first thought as I snapped my cotton-mouth closed: Is that my heater coming on? I thought I turned it off last Thursday when the weather changed.

I force my stiff neck muscles to turn so I can glance at my grandmother clock on the wall behind me. Holy crap!!!! It’s 7:35am. The initial fear from that alien sound is immediately replaced by the gut churning OMG-I-overslept adrenaline rush.

As I leapt to my feet - oh dear Lord did that ever hurt everything everywhere on my body! - I heard it again: BURR-ACK BURR-ACK BURR-ACK! Loud, rapid fire rat-a-tat-tat noise is coming fast and furious now and I’m terrified that my heater is going to explode at any moment.

Wait! That’s not my heater. That’s my washing machine!

The darn thing came on by itself!

“Right hand to God” (to quote the Kardashian clan) - it just came on by itself.

I tripped over the shoes I had kicked off the night before, knocked my shins on my coffee table and cursing like the U.S. Navy Sailor I used to be, stumbled the few steps to the cubby that houses my washer and dryer. One of the doors was moving! I yanked it open and couldn’t believe what I was seeing! The washer was roaring its unhappiness with being off balance and was literally 'walking' itself out of the closet.

It was the strangest thing.…I mean, how does this happen? My heart is racing, bosom is heaving (I told you I read romances) and I can feel the fear coursing through my body. I pushed the knob forward to the Off position and took a step back. Nothing happened.

It still kept running. BURR-ACK BURR-ACK BURR-ACK! Now my fear is compounded by concern that my downstairs neighbor, a 'screamer' who is sleeping with the apartment manager by the way, would hear this god-awful clunking and thunking and report me for a noise violation. I pulled the knob back out and this time used the new muscles in my arm to SMACK that sucker back in to Off.

Silence. Beautiful, wonderful silence except for the galloping of my heartbeat in my ears and Sam Champion's happy voice - I adore Sam Champion - doing the weather on Good Morning, America.

Good Morning, America? Good Morning to me! What the heck just happened here?

My coffee-deprived-aching-body couldn’t quite take in the events of the last minute and half that felt like an eternity so I just stood there, looking at my washing machine.

Not quite knowing what to do next, I slowly raised the lid and looked inside.

I did the “I coulda had a V-8” head slap.

Usually, I throw in a load of clothes in the morning as I’m leaving for the office and pray that I remember to transfer them to the dryer at day’s end. Following my normal pattern, I had thrown in a bunch of towels at 7:30 yesterday morning then, yeah - you guessed it - promptly forgot about them.

Apparently, the towels had become unbalanced during the spin cycle and the belt or drum mechanism thingy froze in place. My guess is that my evil possessed washer, now named "Chucky" for obvious reasons, picked 7:35am today – 24 hours after I had put the load of towels in – to swing back into action.

What a way to start my day.