*A quick disclaimer: While I know that my feelings are valid, I would like to acknowledge my privilege. I am grateful every day to be able-bodied. I also acknowledge that I still fit into the traditional clothing size charts, and that my health hasn’t been impacted by my weight. These are all great gifts. I don’t want to gloss over my physical entitlement, but more to focus on my deep-rooted self esteem issues brought on by a stigmatized society, and the transformation of my body over the last year.
The restrictions of quarantine and the trauma of the pandemic affected everyone’s physical and mental health differently. While some people channeled their stress into peloton rides and meal prep, I was on the other end of the spectrum: I spent the last year and a half expanding. Glued to my couch by terror and state-ordered mandates, I numbed my anxiety with wine, and shoved down my feelings with butter on top. I grew from a size medium to an extra large (I don’t use scales, but I believe it to be in the 20-30 pound range.) In retrospect, I knew it was slowly happening, but I didn’t realize to what extent until things started opening up in the world and I was forced to face the reality that only a single pair of pants still fit.
As the promise of actually seeing people again felt tangible, I started melting down. I could no longer ignore the change in my shape. When I should have felt nothing but excitement to finally see my friends and family, instead I was hyper-focused on fear and shame. I worried people would be horrified at how I’d “let myself go.” I was embarrassed that I hadn’t taken better care of myself. I was supremely conscious of losing some imagined competition in my head – one where there was some kind of winner in all of this. Instead of being grateful for the body that had kept me alive and healthy DURING A DEADLY PANDEMIC, I was filled with contempt for it.
On a particularly low therapy call, sitting on a curb sobbing uncontrollably, I said out loud some of the meanest things I’ve ever thought about myself. Things about how disappointing I was and how ugly I felt. After listing out my copious flaws, I started manically detailing how I needed to change my entire lifestyle to get the weight down. Tons of exercise, calorie counting, whatever it took. I would fit into those vintage Levis again from summer 2018. People would think I looked great and admire how I’d handled the pandemic with such discipline and grace. I would force myself to shrink.
My therapist was quiet for a moment, then said something that stopped my racing mind in it’s tracks: “why would you go through so much painstaking effort to lose weight for someone you don’t seem to like very much?”
Holy shit. I didn’t like myself? This was new information.
^ That’s it, that’s kind of the whole point. I obviously would like for you to keep reading, but essentially that headline is the TLDR version of the previously titled article “My Mini-Mantra and Goals for the Semi-New Year.”
And while I’m well aware that Valentine’s has already come and gone, and I’m still over here thinking about “New Year” resolutions, I figure that time doesn’t actually exist anymore, we can agree this is fine. Better not best, the journey not the destination, and all that.
For very obvious reasons, 2021 is off to a different start from any other year we’ve experienced. Staring knowingly down the barrel at what could realistically be another six to ten to twelve months of isolating or at the very least distancing, with the activities from our past lives non-existent, we are required to pivot. With my options limited and emotional bandwidth depleted, I’ve decided to do something with my goals that I’ve never done before…. be realistic. No snowballing, no building ambition upon ambition, not letting perfectionism get the best of me. I’ve got no European adventures to plan or TV shows to pitch, and if 2020 taught us anything, I hope the lasting lesson is to be gentle with ourselves. Sometimes surviving is all that needs to happen.
When setting annual intentions the past, I’ve chosen a single word to channel for each year – balance, clarity, drive. This year instead, I chose a mantra: Small Steps Lead to Big Things, which to say is what I am actually focusing on is consistency. Doing at least one thing, no matter how small, each day, to get me to a different personal elevation by this point next year. Within this mantra I set just a couple more tangible goals…
Here I am, having blown out the candles on another new year, sharing another one of my birthday goal lists. I’m feeling guilty that I’ve posted so little to this blog as of late that last year’s list is still on the front page, but I can at least take some comfort looking down the list and noting all the other things that have kept me busy during 31.
If you’re new to my lineup of intentions, when I was 25 I started compiling a numbered list of annual goals in accordance with how old was turning. They range from micro (learn to do a cartwheel) to macro (sell a book), and tangible (renew my passport) to the more expansive (work on being comfortable being alone.)
Well, it’s time for Mother’s Day, and as you might imagine I’m not in the best mood about it. I’ve been depressed for a minute and couldn’t figure out why until my therapist suggested maybe it was the imminent maternal celebration bumming me out. It immediately made all the crying in the shower this week make sense.
This is year two without her and I gotta tell you, it doesn’t really feel any better. The pain has numbed for sure, but there’s not a day of my life I don’t feel the deep, looming sadness. There’s not a week that goes by without crying. Not a beat of my life that doesn’t result in frustration that she’s not here.
Bad days are made worse because I can’t call her. Happy moments are immediately faded because I can’t tell her about them. It’s having a broken light meter on your mental camera and every shot of your life is just a little bit off, no matter how hard you work.
OK, so I’m aware that we’re 3 weeks into 2019 and that’s not standard greeting at this point, but as far as we – you and I, writer and reader, blogger and bloggee? – are concerned, this is our first meeting of the new year – so just roll with it, ok?
I hope this new year finds you well, because, not to blow my own horn, but I’m kind of killing it. In a time where everyone is doing celery juice cleanses and joining gyms and signing contracts in blood to Marie Kondo, I am at the front of the parade. I’m steering the float, conducting the band, and doing other metaphors for leadership that I don’t know because clearly I’ve never captained anything. I should basically just purchase a sandwich board with NEW YEAR NEW ME painted on it in letterpress calligraphy.
About five years ago, I started an annual tradition of making a list of goals to accomplish by my next birthday. I prefer this to resolutions (for New Years I pick a word I want the year to embody as opposed to a list of things), because I feel like there’s less universal pressure and I tailor it more to my age than the year itself.
Each year the number of goals correlates to how old I am – IE: 25 things to do by 26, 26 before 27, and so forth. If you’re interested, you can see 25, 26 & 27 HERE. (I realize I’m going to have to cap the number at some point, because anything more than 30 already seems excessive, so we’ll see…)
I love checking in throughout the year with a reminder of things I want to accomplish, then being able to look back and see what was important to me and how I’ve grown and changed. In the wake of my recent birthday, Im sharing this year’s list of goals with you, accompanied by how I did in terms of accomplishing them.
My birthday is in exactly five days and, right on cue, the annual feelings of melancholy, anxiety and introspection are sinking in. I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t like acknowledging my birthday – lets be honest, I’m a glutton for most any kind of attention – but the event always tends to bring out a bit of unease. And nothing brings this existential angst to the forefront more than the act of finding the perfect birthday outfit.
The outfit that sets the tone for the new year, the one you look back on and immediately remember who you were at that moment in time.
Earlier this week TBVS Inc. announced the official launch of the latest update in their line of Personality Operating Systems: Tarreyn 3.0.
A generally accessible and well-liked identity OS program, T3.0 is available to most users in Southern California who can offer it friendship and decent red wine. Below is a further look at what the system has to offer.
About: Tarreyn 3.0 is the third major OS release developed by CEO Tarreyn Van Slyke since the original TBVS founders lost exclusive control of the personality advancements in the early 1990s. The successor to Tarreyn 2.9, T3.0 was announced by Van Slyke to approximately 0-50 people anywhere in her vicinity during the spring of 2018. (Exact dates of the initial statement are unclear as Van Slyke is permanently talking.)