2015 Recap – 2016 Goals

IMG_56396246643012015 was a banner year for growth. For me, for my son, for my family. I’m happy to attribute so much of this growth to really thinking about what I wanted my year to look like. Here is my Recap/Scorecard of my 2015 Resolutions:

My Son:

-I will focus on having positive interactions with my son: I would actually say this was a real success. My husband and I both have worked hard to find ways we can get into our son’s world. 

-I will focus on supporting my son’s therapeutic goals at home: Maybe, not so much. This year has been about making his home his sanctuary, and a place to be who he is. 

-I will work on incorporating at least one-hour of non-screen time into our routine: Something we are still working on, but we have definitely focuses on this throughout the year. 

-I will work on providing my son with more time outside everyday: I have absolutely gotten more comfortable with taking him outside, especially by myself. When we have good weather, we do a pretty good job of getting out to a park at least 2 to 3 times a week. I’m having a tough time with this when the weather is poopy, but I think most parents do. 

-I will work on getting my son potty trained: Ha! Hahahahaha! Maybe next year. 

-I will work on getting my son to eat at the table: I call this a no, but it’s not for lack of traying. 

20150909_181618I will continue to eliminate “sippy cups”, replacing them with real cups for every meal: I completely forgot we were still using sippy cups last year. We’ve been sippy cup free for what feels like ever!!!! 

-I will continue the Family Park Tour with hopes to complete in 2015: We did get some parks done. Unfortunately, most of the parks we have left on our tour were closed to the public for most of the spring/summer. This should be completed in 2016. 

Home Life:

-I will find ways to create new, positive memories, with my husband at least once a week: I was better at this in the beginning of the year, and fizzled out after a while. I think the biggest problem I have is I’m stuck trying to do what society considers dates and alone time. This doesn’t really work for us. We don’t get a lot of alone time. We have to make due with what we have, and what money we can spare. 

-I will work on making my work at home a higher priority: This ebbs and flows for me. Certainly something I could stand to work on. 

20151101_155233-I will continue to learn how to fuel my body, and my family’s body, in a more nutritious way: I will call this one a success. I have really gotten better at getting away from processed food and incorporating more fresh things into my family’s diet. 

-I will put more effort in learning how to cook, by cooking a new meal from scratch at least once a week: I feel like I have mastered this step, for sure. I feels weird if I’m not cooking dinner at night now. 

Personal:

-I will continue to explore the concept of being body positive: Duh! I love my BoPo journey. 

-I will continue to find ways to be active every day: Not so much. I did get a lot better about participating in “active” activities. I no longer assume whether I can or can’t do something. 

-I will attempt to battle my uneasiness with traditional exercise: Wait, I was suppose to do this? Oops. 

-I will continue to seek out new experiences that challenge my beliefs of what I am capable of and what I may or may not enjoy: Absolutely! I’ve really grown into myself this year. 

-I will continue my goal of seeing every accessible waterfall in Oregon: Of course this happened. I only have two waterfalls left in my close vicinity. They definitely are getting checked off my list in 2016! 

-I will try to do an open mic comedy at least once this year: I wrote about this briefly. Though, there was a development right after posting. They have brought Open Mic back! So, this will be added to my 2016 goals, and will be checked off on January 5th. Yay me.

-I will focus on staying in contact with friends, making plans with them, and not putting meeting new people ahead of my current friends: This is another one of those that I could probably have done better. But, I also did a pretty decent job of not putting new connections ahead of current friends, either. 

-I will work on expressive more positive thoughts and opinions, while suppressing my desire to express negative ones: I feel like I do a relatively decent job here. I’m sure I have room to grow. I am certainly guarded who I speak negatively to, and even more selective when it comes to what I’m negative about. I think being involved in the Body Positive community helped me with this quite a bit.

-I will continue quit smoking: I think the majority of the year I was smoke free. Though, I can’t say that about myself right now. 

-I will find ways to put money into a savings account: Ha! Wait, what? 

Hobbies:

-I will find a way to monetize at least one of my hobbies (open an etsy store/participate in craft fairs, tutor people in line dancing, create and monetize a line dance youtube channel, do social media work for companies, ect.): Didn’t happen. Not even close. I love my hobbies, and what I do. I do want to try to branch out into youtube videos though. It is time. 

-I will continue to line dance at least two nights a week: Do you even know me? I think I maybe missed a handful of evenings. 

cropped-ipockolypse-e1440388096419.png-I will attempt to choreograph a new line dance once a month: This didn’t happen much. I’m still trying to evaluate where I went sideways on this one. 

-I will let go of my desire to manage COG and the sub-groups alone, and will find someone interested in being an admin as well: Not only did I this, I managed to pass on the responsibilities to someone who is amazing. 


 

Truth be told, I feel like there was quite a bit learned about goal setting in general for 2015. When your looking at goals for an entire year, it can be hard to keep track of them. The goals that were broken up into more accessible, measurable, pieces stuck in my mind better. 

I also had a wonderful light bulb moment thanks to Power, Peace, and the Porch Gym. Her approach to habit goals is almost revolutionary. I’m excited to use her method for 2016. I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about my goals, and how I format them to fit this model. I’m excited for what I have come up with.

2016 Goals

 

The numbers are based on thinking about the year as 10 months (instead of 12) or 50 weeks (instead of 52.) I have a couple one and done goals, but the rest of the are measurable and track-able.

I also started using Habitica. It’s a web & phone app that “Gamifies” your life. I love playing games on my phone. I love RPG’s. I love anything that rewards me for adulting. I feel like this is a real step up from the boring To-Do lists and trackers I’ve been using. I will be using a Google Drive spreadsheet for my long term goals as well. (And I made myself a daily for that, so I get points for it. Yay!) I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s on your goal/resolution list for 2016? Do you have a plan?

 

The Sibling Connection

I was listening to an amazing podcast, Dear Sugar Radio. One of the episodes was all about sibling relationships. The expert shared her own experience with sibling relationships as well as some of her research. Dr. Jeanne Safer said something that was incredibly profound, that our relationships with our siblings form our patterns for peer relationships in the future.

This brought tears to my eyes.

I know I spend a lot of time talking about Body Positivity. It’s my favorite cause to champion. It would be naive of me to assume that the only work I have ahead of me is on my body image. As much as I want to believe that becoming body positive will change every negative thing in my life, it is not the magic wand.

I don’t have many aspects of my life that still vex and sadden me, but I’ve never really understand why I am so horrible at reaching out to friends. On the one hand I absolutely crave having friends that I see all the time, and talk to you every day. On the other hand I fail to follow through.

The list of excuses for my, admittedly shitty, friend behavior is long. I have a child with special needs. We only have one car, and I’m not incredibly comfortable driving it. The amount of time I have to give to my friendships are limited.

As I was sitting on my couch, crying to the sound of Dr. Safer’s voice, I suddenly found the missing piece of my puzzle. I was never close with my siblings. They were them. And I was “the other.” Maybe it was because of age (my biological siblings are 8 and 12 years older) or circumstance, but there never seemed to be desire on anyone’s part to make a connection.

2ndMy purpose in their lives was either to be a bother or a point of ridicule. At least that how it seemed. Now that I’m an adult, I fully admit that when we see situations as children we don’t always see everything. Even now, my siblings and I barely say one word to each other, and it feels natural. We don’t call. We don’t text. We reach out when we need something. Beyond that, we operate purely on the idea that “no news is good news.”

It makes sense that I’m always so paranoid about bothering people. I’m afraid to text, to call, to make plans because I feel like they have something more important to do, and I will just be an unwanted distraction.

I really have a hard time opening up to people. I know that sounds silly, with all the vulnerable moments I’ve had with you. But, when it comes to my friendships, I keep them very one sided. (I just realized this today.) I am quick and open to listening to other people’s problems, being there for venting and sharing and support. But, when it comes to my turn to do the same, to allow someone else to be there for me, I really struggle. I end up asking 5,000 questions of my friends (when I talk to them) about every aspect of their lives, because I feel so incredibly uncomfortable talking about any aspect of mine. And, when I do talk about it, I’m realizing now that I minimize it, make fun of it, or immediate provide a reason why whatever I am going through is not that big of a deal. Any story about my life I share is covered in layers of humor.

Maybe now that I have started this journey of body positivity, and freed myself from the weight of the guilt and shame, I have created the space to work on some of the other parts of my life. I no longer feel unworthy because of my appearance. In the last year I have learned that I have value as a human being. Now, perhaps it’s time to learn my value as a friend.

12313576_934377866615255_5393670197344542289_nI think the first part of that is forgiveness. It’s not about assigning blame, or even saying that anyone did anything wrong.

Maybe the word I should use is release. Much like learning to release the shame and guilt I’ve carried because of my body, I need to release the same feelings about how I am as a friend. Then, can I really find the space to let people in.

A New Study, A New Excuse To Shame

katy1A study came out of England and has swept the feeds of all of us, thanks to to the article in the Daily Telegraph. The study supposedly concludes that it is better to be “skinny and lazy” that “fat but fit.” 

I feel like this contradicts many studies that have been saying the exact opposite. I refuse to be one of those people who ignore science because it negates my beliefs. If this study truly shows that it is better to be skinny and lazy, than so be it. I’m holding out judgement until I can do more research.

That being said, articles like this are dangerous. The rhetoric of the posts around this article are disturbing. I can understand wanting to help people live their best, healthiest lives. I also understand, and believe that the duty of our scientific community is to discover the answers to all of our questions and concerns, whether those answers make us uncomfortable or not.

Saying that obesity is akin to terrorism only creates an environment for fat people to continue to be abused and bullied. It doesn’t really matter what this study says. There have been plenty of studies that say that shaming people for their body type does not help anyone become healthier. So, please, keep this in mind. Fat or not, the people in this study (and those they represent) are still human beings. Please don’t use studies like this as an excuse to malign and degrade.

In the meantime, I don’t see this as a reason to change what I’m doing. I still contend that becoming “body positive” has led me to the healthiest lifestyle I’ve had so far in my journey. Not that it really matters to me, but I am down 2 pant sizes and at least 20 pounds. (I have not stepped on scale outside of my doctor’s office in almost six months.) It may not be rapid weight loss, but it has been done in a healthy way that has created sustainable lifestyle changes. My Yo-Yo days are over, thanks to loving myself.

Articles like this can be disheartening. It gives ammunition to those people who are just “worried about our health.” It will give opportunities for more attention hungry Nicole Arbors to jump in and add more fuel to the hate fire. I imagine in the next few days there will be a lot of rhetoric on the topic. I hope you remember, as I hope to remind myself, that this study doesn’t change a basic principle. No matter what we look like, or what our health status is, we are deserving of basic decency and dignity. As a fat person, I still have just as much of a right to be in public and happy. I am deserving of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (wherever that pursuit takes me).

I am not a terrorist because I am unwilling to conform to an unattainable standard of beauty.

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Why You Should Take The Picture

katy1We are in the midst of party season. As someone battling with the weight of body shame, this season is both fantastic and frightful. My nightmare before Christmas is always the pictures. Yes, I’m admitting that even as a proud voice for Body Positivity, I still struggle with taking pictures. I’ve almost lost my fear of the selfie, but I’ll admit that I tend to only post the images where I look a certain way. It’s the group pictures that I can’t really control that still bring anxiety.

The thing about pictures, especially at this time of year, is they really aren’t about what anyone looks like. I know that seems silly, given that we are creating a permanent record of appearances. But, truly, it has nothing to do with how anyone looks. Taking a picture is a really futile attempt to freeze a moment in time. It’s about trying to use the magic and sorcery of modern technology to place a moment into a bottle and keep it with us for the rest of time.

12313576_934377866615255_5393670197344542289_nWhen I look back on pictures, I’m not looking at what the other people look like. I’m not picking apart my imperfections. A picture is a jumping off point, the spark that ignites a memory. As we move farther and farther from that point in time, we need that spark to remind us of the amazing moment we had in our lives, and importantly who we shared it with.

I know it’s scary to get in front of a camera. I understand the sweaty palms, the raised heartbeat and the heaviness that body shame brings to the picture. But, I also know that when I am older and far away from that moment, I won’t see or remember any of that. I will embrace the sorcery, and let the picture spark the memory. I will remember the joke that shared minutes before, and the loving exchange of hugs moments later. It will bring back to life the people in the room with me, even when life takes them far away. family

Pictures aren’t about being perfectly posed, impeccably dressed, or aesthetically pleasing. They only capture the best of us if we let them, and the best of us has nothing to do with how we look. So, smile and let the love of the moment shine through you. Remember you are creating a spark, for yourself and for others. Let them see you shine.

Why I Don’t Comment on Fat Shaming on Facebook Anymore

20151101_155613Yesterday was a rough day for my Facebook Feed in terms of Body Positivity.

First, was the new viral thread of “Wal*Mart Shaming” pictures. This bothered me for two reasons:

  1. If you are a fat person of limited means, it’s not easy to find clothes that fit well. You can get kinda lucky if you are 2x or smaller. If you are over 2x, it is almost impossible to find clothes that would not get your shamed in pictures, even at Wal*Mart. So, laughing at what these people are wearing is really acknowledging and finding humor in what is a real social problem for people of different body types.
  2. The fat people or not, the rest of the posts are people who are dressing to their particular style, which may or may not conform to societal norms. I get it that for people who have not “woken up” to an enlightened mindset that a man in denim shorts and pink heels could be funny. Do I find this funny? Absolutely not.

Secondly, there was a meme that has started making the rounds. It is of a fat couple, laying face down, cuddling in a bed. When I first saw this picture, I smiled. It reminded me of my husband and I, and how blissful we are after we… yea…..

But, then I saw the caption, “This could be us, but we don’t get enough food stamps.”

  1. I’m not sure I can articulately explain why I am incredibly offended by the connection between being fat and being on social assistance. I feel like this hit at the heart of the misconception that being fat is all about being lazy, and unwilling to do any hard work. I don’t know. It just really pissed me off.
  2. Why does an image of two fat people doing something that straight sized people do everyday have to come with a negative connotation? I’m really tempted to remake this meme, into something more positive.

The biggest frustration I had with both of these posts were the comments. There was one or two people standing up for why these might not be funny. It’s amazing the reaction of people to this.

“I’m fat. I’m on food stamps. This is hilarious.”

“Being fat is gross. People should just stop.”

“Come on, just get a sense of humor.”

“No one should be wearing THAT.”

The problem, is there is no way to change the minds of people commenting on posts like this on the internet. There’s no point in getting into a keyboard war with people anymore.

The greatest thing we, as Social Justice Warriors, can do is not share or comment on such degrading material. When you comment on something, even to say how wrong it is, it only increases the posting stats of post and increases it’s visibility. If we, as a society, stopped reacting to such material, pages would stop posting it.

If pages, blogs, and companies got more interaction from positive posts, and no interaction from negative posts like these, they would stop putting stuff like this on the internet.

wp-1448999148219.jpgI can’t control the sense of humor of others. I probably find situations funny that other people wouldn’t. Is it really anyone place to police humor? Probably not. But, I’m beginning to realize the best the I can do, for my own self-care, is not put myself in a position to see stuff like this. It’s not funny to me. That doesn’t mean I need to comment, or argue about it. I can just remove it from my digital life, and seek out more positive messages to share with the world.

The best way we can make the internet, and the world, a better place would be to put more energy into promoting content that help make a more positive world.

 

The Intersection of “Health” Management and Body Positivity

IMG_5639624664301It seems like most of us are on two separate paths, or streets if you will.

Health Management Freeway: Diets, workouts, the general rat race of “weight loss.” It’s packed, crowded, and you get some rush hour traffic in January. Everyone has been on this freeway in one way or another their whole lives. Some people are on it for their entire lives.

Body Positive Way: This street is certainly not as crowded. It’s definitely the path less traveled. Body positivity is all about loving yourself for who you are, believing that all bodies are good bodies, and not stressing diet and exercise.

You would think these are two roads that are headed in opposite directions.

Yet, I think everyone who even considers becoming body positive eventually comes to the intersection of health management and body positivity. Just because I love and accept my body for what it is doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that it is still an organic machine. It needs specific foods to function. It needs activity to keep it strong. I have many different health problems that run in my family, that necessitate me keeping track of my food choices. But, I also have a disordered relationship with my body image, that necessitates me detaching my self worth from my outward appearance. (Though, let’s be honest. Everyone should be doing this anyway.)

So, what do you do when you build a house at the corner of the Health Management Freeway and Body Positive Way? How can anyone both focus and strive for any sort of health goal (weight or otherwise) without falling into the unhealthy traps of disordered eating and self-hate?

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I have all the answers. I’ve heard a couple different programs and books being suggested through the small sect of the BoPo community that I am connected with. (Health at Every Size, Mindful Eating, Intuitive Eating.) I’ll be honest, I haven’t really looked into any of them. I tend to be one of those “I need to do it on my own” types. It must be an ego thing.

20150614_114923What I can tell you, having set up shop on this confusing corner myself, and I’m constantly monitoring my motivations. I’m grateful I’ve had over a year to practice listening to what my inner voice says, and learning to change it to a more positive mindset.

So, when I think about the health goals I have, I refuse to think about my outward appearance. Should it come up in my brain, I let it go and replace it with a more constructive thought.

For example, I want to incorporate some sort of home work out into my routine this winter. I want to do this because I have a goal of visiting every waterfall in my state, and I’m starting to run out of the easy ones. Soon, I’m going to have to do more difficult hikes, and in a year or two I will have to start doing backpacking trips. So, I need to build of my stamina and my core strength. Do I care if it changes how my body looks? Absolutely not. Do I care if I end up losing weight? No.

I want to incorporate more fruits and vegetables in my diet. I want to do this because I know too much processed food is bad for me. I’m starting to think that, as I get older, my body is not a huge fan of cheese. Also, diabetes and heart disease run in my family. And, now that I’m… older… I am starting to realize I really should pay attention to these things. Am I focused on how a change in my diet will change my weight? Nope. Do I care? Absolutely not.

Dance SelfieHere’s my theory. My focus should be on what makes me feel fulfilled and content. My mind, and my body, feel better when I treat them both with respect. Every body is different. It’s about listening to what MY body wants. What MY body craves. I can tell you, it doesn’t crave crossfit. It does, however, absolutely love a good hike. Heck, even a good 2-3 mile hike in the wilderness does wonders for my mood. My body does not crave brussel sprouts. Nope. But, it is enjoying Spaghetti Squash, Cauliflower popcorn, and the occasional Zucchini noddle. It also enjoys a snickers bar and the seldom made homemade cupcakes. My goal is to do things that make my body happy. Dancing makes my body happy. Long showers makes it happy. Cuddling with my family, and reading under blankets, and watching star trek while knitting, also make it happy.

Will my body composition change as I get more in tune with what MY body needs? Perhaps. But that is up to my “physical transportation vessel”. Whether it changes or not doesn’t modify who I am as a person. Whether I lose weight, or gain weight, has little to no barring on my goals and life. So, I refuse to pay attention to it. I’m not sure the last time I stepped on a scale at home, but it’s been over six months. I certainly don’t plan to break that anytime soon.

So, that’s how I plan to be happy at the intersection of health management and body positivity. I don’t have to join the rush hour traffic of self hatred. Honestly, I think true body positivity leads to health more quickly and efficiently than the freeway does anyway. It’s all about loving and accepting yourself. Our goals should always be to learn to listen to what our bodies want, not what other people think our bodies need. There is no healthier lifestyle than that.

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Give Yourself The Gift Of Self-Love

wp-1448999133321.jpgI used to spend the month of December in self-reflection hell. It meant I only had a month to get everything on my resolutions list done (remember that thing from January you’ve forgotten about?) It also meant having a month to think about everything I wanted to change about myself.

This year is different. I don’t need self-hate to motivate me into the new year. I don’t have to fight my body composition to win my self worth.

I know that putting pressure on myself doesn’t help me deal with my nervous habits.

I know that I will never fit the narrow definition of perfect. No one does.

Though, I’m disappointed I put off trying Stand Up Comedy. By the time I got the courage to try it, there was no longer open mic comedy nights. Either I’m going to have to travel to a bigger city (which I suppose is an option) or release this goal into the nether. It was one of the many lessons I learned this year: Some challenges in life you are never ready for. You have face them now, or never get the chance.

IMG951083I don’t need a new year to create new goals for myself. I have spent 12 months working on the goals that matter. I continue to work on my journey towards becoming fully body positive. I saw some new waterfalls. We did a couple parks for our park tour. I’ve even learned how to cook some great, healthy food. (This time last year, I was still slightly afraid of raw meat and my slow cooker.) 2016 will be another year full of loving myself as I am, and embracing all the wonderful thing I can, and already, do.

I can love and support without reservation, because I am worthy. I can befriend without fear, because I am a good person. Radical Self Love isn’t just about being able to love how you look in the mirror. It’s about letting go of any negative thoughts about yourself. It’s about believe you are a decent person worthy of the space (no matter how much) you take in this world.

If I could give my friends any gift this holiday, it would be radical self love. They deserve to see themselves how I see them: Beautiful, amazing human beings who light up this world. I wish they knew the differences they make in peoples lives, and how perfect they really are.

wp-1448999148219.jpgUnfortunately, radical self love isn’t purchased in a store, put in box, and wrapped up with a gorgeous bow. Radical self love is a gift you truly give yourself everyday, all day. When you look in the mirror, when you chase your passion, and when you give unyielding love to those around you.

Give your self the gift of freedom. Pamper yourself with the gift of radical self love this season. You are wanted. You are loved. You are worthy.