Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

On Happiness

Once upon a time, I was a gangly, skinny little kid that played outdoors all day long, rough-housed with the boys, and loved to be active. I was even in the “Joggers Club” in 3rd grade.

Obviously, my active beginnings didn’t stick, and puberty brought pounds. It got out of control enough that I turned to gastric bypass surgery. It wasn’t that I didn’t like activity; it was more that the heavier I got, the harder it got to be active, and the less active I was, the more the pounds piled on. It is exactly this cycle of chronic pain = weight gain that convinced me that surgery was my best hope.

Surgery is not a panacea. They do not remove any part of your brain; not even the part that helped get you fat in the first place. That is all on the patient to fix. Surgery did not bring me instant happiness. How could it? I am the only one who can control my happiness. What my surgery has done is helped me reverse years of damage to my body and my psyche. At this point, it has helped me lose sixty pounds and find my toes (“Why hello there!”).

More importantly, I am beginning to reclaim the “me” that I knew was in there all along, lost under layers of fat and self-abuse. That “me” who was a skinny bit of nothing who liked to jog with the kids at school, who could roller skate non-stop for two hours at the rink, whose favorite games were Tag and Red Rover, and who could swim for hours at the beach.

My beginnings have been humble. Walking. Walk a little more. Take some time off for bad weather. Walk again. I told myself I would begin jogging again when I hit 225 lbs. I love jogging. Love it. I hate wasting time and I have always felt I could do double the work in half the time when I compared walking and jogging. Well, I hit 225 pounds back in March, but I wasn’t ready yet. I was a little scared of remembered pain and the weather was not exactly inviting.

So it was the week before last when I weighed 210 pounds that it sunk in that I could make all the excuses I wanted, but I would never be less scared of pain, the weather would never be perfect enough, I would never be light enough, and it was time to go strap on my brand new tennies bought exactly for this purpose and go make strides on the pavement.

I am jogging again.

No really. Did you hear that? I am jogging again.

Fat chicks don’t jog. Do they? No, they make excuses for all the reasons they can’t or shouldn’t. (“Fat Chick” is a state of mind; I know a handful of rail-thin Fat Chicks.)

Joy of joys, I am jogging.

I would not dare call myself a jogger yet. I am a walker who jogs for 2 minute intervals right now. Yet in only a short time, I can now make those two minutes before needing a walking breather. That is up from the roughly 30 seconds I managed in 2006 when we had a firefighting roommate who wanted to help me get in shape. That is in fact up from the just barely a minute of jogging I started out at. I haven’t been doing anything more specific than just increasing the length of time I make my jogging intervals each week, but I think starting next week, I will really try and conform to the C25K program. Though I have done really well on my own thus far, I think I am going to need some structure here soon to help me stay on target and get over some of the big training hurdles (like five straight minutes of jogging!).

If you found this blog because you googled “gastric bypass happiness” because you are trying to figure out if this is the right thing for you, then I want you to know this: surgery will not fix you. It will not excise whatever it is in your brain that made you fat. It will not make you into a Cinderella story and it is definitely not your Fairy Godmother. It is hard. In fact, those first few weeks were outright hell.

The surgery is designed to do one thing and that is make you drop pounds in a hurry. It will not fail at that in the first few months. But you can fail the surgery if you do not do “surgery” of your own on your brain and all the other things or people in your life that are helping make you fat. So my wish for you, Oh Googler, is that you decide for yourself if you are ready and willing to make the same hard cuts on your brain that your surgeon is prepared to make to your guts. My other wish is that you do not go into the operating room with too much hope banked on those cuts your surgeon makes; go in knowing exactly what part your surgery can do to help you, and also knowing exactly how much water you are going to carry on your own.

I believe the secret to happiness is knowing who you are, doing what you love, and accepting that you really have to fight for some of the best things in your life. For me, the fight is really worth it.

Warm Dreams on a Cold Day

I stepped on the scale we have (a nice professional sliding scale one) and went to slide the weight to the 250 mark as I have every time I have used that scale in the past 2 years. The scale bottomed out. I am officially below 250 pounds.

I have lost 23 pounds in the past month. That is the miracle of modern medicine. I took my most athletic walk yet today; thirty minutes spent on the inclines and declines of our building’s parking deck. When I was more myself, even though I was heavier, I could manage 2 laps, top of the deck to the bottom, in about 45 minutes. That will come again; I cannot overstate how tired I am between the surgery and the reduced caloric intake. Even though I am back at work full time, I have come home after work and napped both days. I likely will do so again tonight.

So, as noted, it is February. Aside from knitting, I also enjoy gardening, though not as passionately as knitting, and February is the time of year many Mid-Atlantic gardeners start gearing up for the coming season.

I switched from all ornamental gardening to a mix of ornamental gardening and consumable gardening in the past year. We built boxes last year and had a moderately successful veggie garden as well as a few herbs.

This year, I am armed with more learning and experience. Last year, I underestimated just how important tomato cages or stakes are to the success of those plants. I will NOT make that mistake this year. I also have a better plan for planting and growing greens this year. They will be in containers on the back porch and I will probably plant those seeds in the middle of this month. The greens matured too late in the spring last year and I needed other plants in the ground they were using. Too much overlap there.

I know this year that three yellow squash plants are too many. Just two this year. I would like to have 4 tomato plants, 2 pepper plants, and maybe 2 cucumber plants. My mom makes amazing pickles. I will skip the carrots this year and probably the beans and peas as well. I really want to attempt another winter squash plant; I only got a single butternut squash off my plant last year, but it was so delicious!

If I can get a good crop of leafy greens, enough tomatoes to put up some as well as eat them fresh, and some pickles out of this garden, I will be overjoyed. I also hope to grow a cherry tomato plant out of a pot this year. I adore cherry tomatoes and last year’s plant, grown from purchased seed, failed. I do know they can be grown in pots and they would do well on my back porch if I treat them right.

I have written before of my dream of owning property, having small livestock (chickens anyway), and producing much of my own food, and every year, around February, as the evening sky stays just a tiny bit lighter, that dream flares back up in my mind. Right now, I am trying to learn what I can, improve with my experience, and keep hoping one day that my family might get to have our own little homestead somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of our busy suburban street.

I’ll keep practicing while I keep dreaming.
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Dreams

I am a wage slave. A gubment employee (state, not fed; the distinction is small but it matters to me).

This is what I am, but it is not what I dream of being. I don’t dream of being a famous actress, or a pop diva, or a runway model. I don’t dream of being the President, or an astronaut, or a jet pilot, or a race car driver.

You will not believe it, but I dream of being a small farmer.

I dream of tilling soil, of dirt under my fingernails, of the cooing sounds of happy hens, of the warm wool on a sheep, of green things growing under my care, of pounding fences, of moving hay, of caring for my animals, of harvesting my goods, and being far from most of the rest of the world.

I dream of serving my family a salad grown by my own hands, or bringing in eggs from my back yard to make the morning’s breakfast. I even dream of the dirty or distasteful parts; choosing an old hen for the pot who no longer lays eggs and dispatching her with care and thanks, but dispatching her nonetheless; cleaning animal waste up to put into the compost to help the garden; the sore back bent from weeding, the achy knees bent in damp dirt. I may have dreams but I have few illusions.

You don’t have to tell me there is no money in farming; especially on a small-holder scale like I dream of. I know that. You don’t have to tell me I would have to give up my annual pilgrimage to Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. I know that too. You don’t have to tell me I am too fat and lazy to do it. I would show you that I can.

But that is the joy of dreaming. I can imagine what my world would look like even if I am not able or willing (yet, or possibly ever) to follow through with my dreams. My husband shares none of these dreams (that I know of) and I could not, would not, embark on a path into my dreams unless he shared them as well.

I spent lots of time at the farm my grandparents lived on when I was a kid. No small hobby farm, but 500 acres of a larger farming system owned by family friends. A herd of cattle, fields of corn, soybeans, cotton, and peanuts. Huge machinery and vast stores of hay. I saw it and I loved it.

I worked in the gardens with my Papa (a little) and my Mother (a lot) and my Grandmother (as little as I could get away with), and I helped with sowing seeds, weeding, turning dirt (shovel not tiller), canning, shelling beans, shucking corn, and snapping peas. I don’t know if I loved it because I was a kid and didn’t know how much we depended on those activities, or because I was honestly born to love such things.

I was made heartily fun of in the 8th grade when we were given personality surveys to help us determine what types of jobs our personalities matched best with. My top rating, by a LONG shot, was a farmer. I was crestfallen back then. I had much greater ambitions.

As I have aged, spent time in the Cube Farm, working for the Gubment, and trekking into the city every day, I find that maybe my quiz wasn’t so far off. I have for years read homesteader’s (urban and rural) blogs, imagined owning a handful of hens in my back yard (Chesterfield allows hens, no roosters, fine with me), turning more and more of my yard into garden space and having an herb section, a glorious flower and rose garden, and a slew of delicious and nutritious vegetables growing.

This is what I dream of. What we do with our dreams says more about us than what clothes we wear, what car we drive, and what area we live in. Maybe one day, I really will do something with my dreams.

I hope so.