Get Loud!

As a child, my parents threw me into every sport available on the planet. Soccer, baseball, volleyball, you name it; I’ve taken a crack at it. Throwing me into sports that I wasn’t any good at helped me in my, what seemed lifelong at the time, commitment to not exercising. I told myself that I didn’t need it and that gaining weight was a natural thing. However, there’s some point in all of our lives where the number on the scale needs to stop getting larger.

For those of you who’ve read my previous posts, you know that I’ve been through a weight loss journey, and that even though I could barley jog 5 steps in high school, I turned to running to help me lose weight as an adult. This isn’t the story that I want to retell. This is a summary of a new “triumph” that has taken place in my life recently that I think we can all learn from.

This past weekend, I ran a half marathon that I didn’t intend to run. I’ve ran half marathons before, but I trained for those races. This year, when my cousins asked me to run this particular half marathon, I told them, “no.” There really wasn’t a chance in hell that this would end well. For the past several months, I have been so preoccupied with other life happenings that I’ve let myself backslide into some unhealthy habits and limited exercise. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m not as motivated anymore.

A few days before the half marathon, I told my cousins, “you know, even though I’m not running, I’d still like to come and cheer you on the morning of.” One of my cousins, Samantha, mentioned that along with the half marathon course there was a 10K (6 mile) course happening at the same time. I thought to myself, well, maybe I am strong enough for the 6 mile course. Sure, I haven’t ran in 6 months, but I’ve done Pilates and a few strength training exercises, I think I’ll be fine.

Even though I had plenty of lead time, race day came sooner than expected. I was scheduled to pick Samantha up at her apartment the morning of. And, of course, she was running late. After she was finally ready, I looked down at the clock when we climbed into the car and realized that we wouldn’t make the start time. “Its fine,” she said, “we’ll just start our 10K race when the half marathon starts. We’ll still run the right course.”

The gun went off for the half marathon, and there we went. “I’ll stick with you so that we both don’t miss the 10K exit,” she exclaimed. Perfect, this chick, who is one of the fastest people I’ve ever ran with, has decided to move her run time to sloth pace, instead of the preferred gazelle, just to make sure poor little me doesn’t get left behind. Wow, how helpless am I?

As we reached the two mile mark, we realized that the exits for the 10K were blocked off. There was no way we were going to be able to do the 10K course. Fuck. At the five mile mark, Samantha ditched me. We both realized at that point that we were going to have to run the half marathon whether we wanted to or not, and she was not about to sloth pace through the rest of it.

***

Mile 7, about half way finished. I could smell the gasoline as I past the local Mobile station. And, I could smell the breakfast menu from the restaurant down the street. I felt disgusted. A man on the sidelines cheered, “Way to go, you’re half way there!” and I wanted to slap him. I couldn’t possibly continue. I felt like I could barely breathe.

As cops and paramedics whizzed by me on their bikes and in their golf carts, it took every ounce of resistance I had not to yell, “Officer, help! I’m on the wrong course. Can I get a lift to the finish line? I don’t feel well.”

***

I’ve made it to mile 8…after walking a majority of mile 7. I notice a pile of vomit on the course. Whoever did that, I get you. We are one in the same.

***

I’m on mile 10 and I can’t believe I’ve made it this far. And then, I realize that I have another 5K left to run before I cross home plate. There is a man running next to me. He’s probably in his late 60’s. He’s decided that he’s fed up too, so he begins to power walk. I have slowed my jog to a crawl…that is apparently as fast as this man’s power walking speed. What’s the point of life?

***

Finally! We’re in the home stretch! There’s a man in front of me who is clearly having issues with his calf. He’s jogging with a limp, and I still can’t seem to pass him with my run/walk/jog routine.

***

Here we are, the finish line. The man with the calf issue is now skipping and limping, but he finishes strong…at the same time I do.

***

I surprisingly crossed the finish line and was only 12 minutes worse than the time I had the year before. I felt so low and disgusted with myself. How could I let all these people pass me? Why did I stop to walk? I never stop to walk! But, with “tragedy” comes a bit of clarity. I realized why I kept up with running when I started a few years ago. Throughout my younger years, I hated running because I always wanted to be faster than the people around me. It wasn’t until I realized that the only person you truly need to compete with while you run is yourself. Push yourself to finish, take it at your own pace. You don’t have to be better than the others around you, you just need to be louder than the negative voices in your head telling you to stop or that you can’t do it. There are so many people out there who don’t run because they think they’ll look stupid, or that you have to be an all-star athlete to run a mile. I’m living proof that you don’t have to. You just have to take it slow, and push yourself to be better than what you were yesterday.

It’s time to start getting louder than the voices in your head, because you’re worth it.

Granny Smith – over and out

The Fall of Man

They found him. Gunshot wound to the chest on his birthday. Although, it makes sense, his heart was what hurt the most. His wife passed away four years ago in a car accident. He was the one driving the car… He had sold his house two weeks before he took his life. He wanted to move out of the city and on with his life. But, with no job prospects and no real friends anywhere else, he must have lost all hope. Deep down, we all knew this day would come; we just thought it would have happened shortly after she died, not now.

My uncle Steve is was an introverted, angry man. He didn’t like the outside world. When he met and married my aunt, his second wife, new life was pumped into his veins. He turned himself around, started going to parties, meeting people, and he even thought about having children! He said and did things he, and we, never thought he would do. But, when he accidently hit the other car that caused her death; he also died. The spark she implanted in him was gone; he went back to his old ways, hating the world and everyone in it. Each year that he remained alive, we considered ourselves lucky.

The last time I saw him was the day before his birthday. We were at a family gathering at my grandmothers. It was to celebrate her birthday, as well as his. He retreated to the living room for most of his time there, and when he was in the kitchen, he wouldn’t talk to anyone. All he wanted to do was play with his smart phone. When my grandmother talked to him, he answered her with a strong tongue and boiling anger in his eyes. No one could say or do anything to please him at this point.

I didn’t even bother trying to talk to him for fear that he would lash out at me. In fact, in all the years that we’ve been family, I’ve never said more than a few sentences to him. He wasn’t the type of uncle to show up at your high school play, take you out for ice cream, or make small talk. He was a man who just wanted to be left alone.

Sure, I could cry my heart out, take off of work for a few weeks, and preach to everyone about how you need to, “hold you loved ones close.” But, I can’t. I’ve never loved this man. To me, this isn’t a heartbreaking loss.

In fact, this isn’t a loss at all. My uncle did not die; he’s very much alive. Today he turns another year older…and colder, that is true. And, as I sat near him the other day, not speaking a word, I was reminded of how awful of a person I truly am. I realized in that moment that the man sitting near me is a man I’ve known my whole life; but he’s been nothing but a stranger. I realized that if he died tomorrow, even from suicide, it would not have a major impact on me. Sure, I would feel awful. No one deserves to die, no matter what the cause! And, no one deserves to feel alone. But, to me, it wouldn’t feel like a major loss. I can honestly say that it would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away.

Four years ago, this was where my family found themselves; on suicide watch for my uncle. It’s awful to admit that someone who is supposed to be such a huge part of your life doesn’t matter to you. Writing those words, “It would hurt more if my dog died than if he passed away” makes me feel like a terrible person, but I know deep down that I’m being true to myself. Although, sometimes, we have to admit that even those people in our lives who are supposed to be family and the closest humans to us, mean zilch. That is why we all must create our own “families.” “Families” that are made up of blood relations, friends, acquaintances, dogs, cats, etc. “Plant your own seeds and grown your own garden because you have the power to choose who you become and who is allowed to influence you along the way.”

Granny Smith – over and out

Losing My Religion

I grew up with very Catholic grandparents and not so Catholic parents. When I was in elementary school, in an effort to make my grandparents happy, my parents sent me to Sunday school. There are only two memories I have of Sunday school. The first is that there was a lot of coloring, and you were given a piece of candy if you got a question about Jesus right. The second was the singing. At the end of every session, each grade would gather into the main hallway, and an old woman would sit in the middle with her guitar and make us sing songs about Jesus.

I didn’t understand anything that was happening, and I often asked my teachers for proof of the history of Jesus (artifacts, anything), so my parents promptly removed me from classes.

As I got older, my family and I started going to church less and less, and pretty soon, all I knew about being a Catholic was that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter and that his birthday is what we call, “Christmas.” As we were pulling away from God, I questioned everything spiritual more and more, year after year. Eventually, when I was nearing the end of high school and beginning college, I decided that I didn’t believe in the afterlife, heaven, hell, God, anything. I had no proof, therefore, it was not real.

I didn’t think about anything regarding religion until I watched an episode of “Long Island Medium” with Theresa Caputo. I had watched other mediums perform before like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, and James Van Praagh, but they were always positioned in front of a large audience, and everything about it seemed so staged. Theresa, on the other hand, was stopping people in grocery stores, doing private readings, going on cruises and reading groups, and walking in to someone’s home and reading a group of 10 people. She did it all. Every situation she was put in, she came out with a victory. How could you not believe her? But, I still wondered, was it a sham? Were these cameras set up? So, when she came out with her book, There’s More to Life Than This, I bought and read it. Then, my life changed forever.

I started believing again when I watched Theresa on TV, but her book really won me over. She talked about experiences that people have in their everyday lives that are signs from spirit, instances that you can’t write or verbally explain to anyone else. It was as though someone had gotten into my head and described everything I’ve never been able to tell anyone else in perfectly strung sentences. I finally felt normal.

In fact, so normal that I recently began working at a Christian college. Everyone that I work with is obviously religious, and they have been their whole lives…Unfortunately, this is where I fall short. I know hardly anything about being a Christian, and I can safely say that I’m not one. At least, not the type of Christian I’ve come in contact with. Yes, I like everyone that I work with. But, I also believe in gay marriage, the fact that homosexuality is not a sin, that swearing is a part of human nature, and being edgy is what makes you real. I love Lady Gaga! Of course, all of these things are generally not celebrated in Christian faith, and that is why I can’t be a true follower.

Theresa Caputo has stated multiple times that all too often individuals use religion to pull themselves apart from others or as an excuse to “hate” someone. When, really, we should be using religion to spread love, kindness, and compassion. They use God as a symbol of fear, instead of a symbol of understanding. Like the GOP, once Christians can wake up and modernize, then maybe I’ll jump on their bandwagon to Bethlehem. I’m not trying to say that all Christians are bad people, most of them are the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever met, but, it’s time to embrace the new world and remind ourselves that Jesus was friends with a prostitute. So, seriously, is being gay really that awful?

Granny Smith – over and out

We Are Getting Back Together

I heard a quote once that said, “Getting back together with your ex is like taking a shower, getting out, and putting on yesterday’s dirty underwear.” Mind you, the first time I heard this, I had recently gotten back together with my ex, and I wasn’t sure we would survive the second round. My whole life, I had heard stories of individuals getting together, falling apart, and then coming back to one another and thought, how stupid. You obviously must have left this buffoon for a good reason. Why are you rehashing old wounds? Find someone who you actually want to stick with! But, like many other times in my life, my opinion came back to bite me in the ass, and I found myself involved in a situation that I had been judging others for. I loved my ex, and we didn’t break up because one person was physically or emotionally abusive. We broke up because we both needed to find out who we were without the other person around.  I spent a lot of time as a single lady figuring out what I was capable of and what I wanted. I had a lot more time on my hands and reconnected with old friends and past hobbies. I loved it, but I also hated it. I realized that life was more exciting and challenging (in a good way) with my ex. And, I realized that I was completely selfish. I didn’t want anyone else to be able to enjoy him. I wanted him back for myself. He was/is such a giving, caring, and funny person. I wanted those moments back. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life with just anyone. I wanted him. That’s when I realized that being stubborn and sticking with your old ideas isn’t always the best policy. Of course, like with anything, it depends on the situation and circumstances. However, what we had was good. I just needed to fight harder to keep it going. There have been many instances in my life where I’ve started something (ice skating, learning a foreign language, etc.) and quit half-way through because I realized the amount of time I was putting into it wasn’t worth the investment. However, he is worth the investment. And, bringing him back was one of the hardest things I’ve ever worked for. It took me 18 months to get him to realize that we could do this. We could be together and make it work. And, that time invested was certainly well spent. So, next time you’re offered a second chance…think about it first, of course…but, more importantly, think about all of the positive things that could happen if you said “yes!” Granny Smith – over and out

I’m Poor

“I’m poor” is a phrase that I’ve been hearing a lot lately from friends, especially when I’m trying to plan a nice evening for us outside of our apartments. Every time I hear that phrase, I cringe and hold my tongue. For many individuals my age, it can seem like we have no money. Student loans, renting our first apartment, car insurance, renters insurance, pets, cell phone bills; it all escalates quickly. But, are we really “poor?”

Different images can pop into our minds when we think of the word “poor” or “rich.” When I think of “poor,” I think about a homeless person sitting on the side of the street, or a single parent who only works a few hours a week and is about to lose his or her house…and possibly their child(ren). When I think of poor, I don’t think of people in their early-mid twenties. Sure, we don’t have a lot, and we haven’t even started thinking about saving for retirement, but most of us have an amazing support system, like friends or family, or other financial resources (financial counselors) that can help push us in the right direction.

When I think of poor, I think of individuals whose family members left them to fend for themselves, put them into foster care, went to jail, died without saving a single penny to give to their children (who are already homeless with nothing), the list goes on. When I think of rich, sure I think about individuals that have mansions in California, nice cars, wear Gucci, etc. However, I also think of people who have enough money to pay for their own car, provide food for themselves (and possibly another family member), have a pet or multiple, go out to eat with friends, but most importantly, I think about myself. When I thought I had nothing, whenever I’ve felt like the world is falling apart around me, I have my family, friends, significant other, and my dog. I have a plan B; I have a backup system. This helps me know that even if I don’t have much in the end, everything will work out.

I used to be the type of person who took on everything, who thought she could figure it out on her own, who was afraid to ask for help, and who was used to having other adults “taking care of” it for her when it was physically apparent that she was struggling. Now, I’ve learned to say “no.” I’ve learned to ask for help directly and from multiple resources. I ask for help because I am rich. I am rich because I have a strong support system. I have a strong support system because I’m attracted to people who know what it means to care. I am not poor. I am the opposite of poor.

Granny Smith – over and out

Taking the ‘Thanks’ out of Thanksgiving

So, now that Thanksgiving has been out of our minds for two weeks and Christmas is two weeks away, let’s take a step back, shall we? Black Friday. It’s a topic that many of us think about every year during the Thanksgiving season, and it always sparks a great debate. Around this time, I’ll see posts from my Facebook friends about how “if you camp outside for a deal on a cell phone, it’s called being a good consumer. But, if you camp outside for your rights, you’re a dirty hippy.” I also see posts that say, “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving! Share if you won’t either!” These days, I see fewer and fewer people posting about their Black Friday shopping experience and more and more people in the opposition.

Personally, I hate Black Friday. Hell, I hate the fact that stores, restaurants, gas stations, ect. are open on Sundays! We don’t give people a break anymore. Years and years ago, everything was closed on Sundays to give people at least one day to catch up on life. Now, if you’re not open for at least 12 hours a day seven days a week, consumers start to bitch and they think there is something wrong with you. “Don’t they want to make money?” “Why are they closed when their competition is open?”

Our society has become more concerned with getting the next best thing and making more money than we know what to do with rather than spending time with our family members, reading a book, playing a card game, and taking things back to a “simpler time.”

However, in some ways, it makes sense. Take it from me; I was fired from my full-time job almost a full year ago. I was making $48,000 a year. I had health insurance, too many vacation days to know what to do with, dental, vision; everything I ever wanted! Fast forward to today and I work 15 hours a week (if I’m lucky) at a job where I make $8 an hour. I have no benefits, no vacation days, no insurance, nothing. For me, finding the best deals, and saving what money I make is essential. I had hopes and dreams before I lost my job of moving out of my parent’s house, getting my own place, adopting a dog, helping my significant other pay for every day expenses. Now, I look forward to that check so that I can pay for gas and a meal at a restaurant.

So, as consumers, in an economy where things might not be looking up just yet, is Black Friday really a bad idea? Is being open on Sundays to make more business essential? Can we ever go back to just saying what we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving instead of hitting the mall? Only time will tell.

Granny Smith – over and out

The Other Side Of Depression

In my last post, I talked a bit about my parents and their recent struggle with one another. That post made me think about a topic that I haven’t covered but semi-relates to the previous post; depression.

However, I’m not going to write an article that articulates the warning signs of depression, or what it’s like being depressed. Many of you have probably read those articles, or, if you have a family member or friend that’s experienced depression, you’ve witnessed everything first hand. What I am going to write about is what it’s like for those on the other side of depression; the family members and friends (such as some of you reading this) who sit in the emotional sidecar and get pulled every which way. I’ve been there, and I’m hoping that if there is anyone out there with depression that this piece can help demonstrate what it’s like for those that love them.

1. My Mother: I never knew that my mother was prescribed anti-depressants until about a year ago. If you’ve ever met my mother, you’d think she was one of the sweetest, nicest people in the world. When I found out about the anti-depressants, my heart sank. Thoughts of, “am I a good enough daughter?” ran through my mind constantly. I worried that if I caused her trouble or made a rude comment that she would have an awful day and rely on her medication even more.

I felt so lost and I didn’t know what to do to make it better. Should I be spending more time with her during the week and on weekends? What if I volunteered to cook a few family meals? Do the laundry? Wash the dishes a few times a week? Would any of these make her feel less burdened, happier, healthier?

When she retired to care for my brother and the house full-time, I knew she was happy at first, but her joy quickly faded. As if she didn’t think her life was exciting or meaningful before she quit, now, her daily routine consists of household chores and running errands. She was and is lost. She wants to go back to work, but she doesn’t think she has any skills. I constantly worry that one day she will just up and leave because she’s sick of doing the same thing day-in and day-out.

I try to get her out of the house and go on adventures as much as possible, but nothing changes. She’s still lost; I’m lost. I don’t know what to do to make it better. I don’t know how to help her, and every time I ask, I get the same response, “nothing.” But, she’s living in a state of ‘nothing,’ and ‘nothing’ can be a dangerous thing.

2. My Boyfriend: Meeting Matt, you would have no idea that he used to severely suffer from depression. He was a freshman in college and I was a senior in high school. We were living in different zip codes (something we’ve gotten used to) for the first time, and he wasn’t making as many friends at school as he would’ve liked. He had also lost contact with a lot of individuals from our high school, and he felt more alone than ever before.

Almost every night of my senior year was spent sitting by my computer with a TV tray off to the side. While I did my homework on the TV tray, I would be talking to Matt via MSN messenger. The conversations went back and forth for hours. But, the conversations were the same every day. Every day he told me that he had an ‘ok’ day and was feeling worthless. He felt that he didn’t have any friends and wasn’t good at what he was doing. He would then advise a plan to get more friends, or to reconnect with the old ones, and it would fail…miserably…for no good reason!

It was hard watching him struggle. I told him over and over again how much I loved him and gave him advice on what to do about his extreme sadness, or reassured him about his plans for the future. We saw each other almost every weekend, and I even tried bringing a few of my friends to visit him..but nothing worked. On multiple occasions, he brought up suicide. Even though he said he wouldn’t do it because he loved me, I stated that I was the only thing keeping him on Earth. How could I give up on him? What could I do? I thought I’d tried everything.

This pattern continued on into my first year of college, but it got better. I was still on messenger with him every night, but it was hard to see each other every weekend. Eventually, we broke up. But, when we did break up, he was at least on his feet. Of course, we’re back together now, and he’s doing much better.

For both of these beautiful people in my life, I had no idea what I could do to make it go away. I tested multiple ideas, did what I thought was right…what THEY wanted me to do…and no matter what, meds or not, I couldn’t get through to them. It’s something that they need to overcome on their own, but they need help just as much as the rest of us do with our daily lives. Talking to specialists or reading articles can work, but only so much. To those that are depressed, we love you, and we’re hurting because we see you hurting. Communicate with us, help us help you.

Granny Smith – over and out