Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who am I?

How existential of me to ask that.  And really, if I were philosophizing on my true meaning - my true reason for existence - then I think it would take up an entire book and not a blog entry.

No, the question is much simpler than that.

One of the ways I know to make money when I depart for my "epic journey of lateness" and explore the US in a motorhome (est.2015) is to write.  Yay! Writing.

Easy enough.

But how do you make money at it?  I don't mean $25 here and there, I mean $1000/month. Or more.  Well, I understand I need to establish myself as a writer in a freelance world.  I need to have stories and an angle and a friend in the publishing business.


I actually need to work at this.

So where to start?  What do I know?  Always write about what you know.  Easy.

But what do I know?  Really know?

And that's where the problem seems to exist for me.

Here's what I know...REALLY know:
How to persevere
How to raise a child
How to be a single mom
How to live (or not live) with someone who has a terrible addiction
How to juggle life - not always successfully
I know what it's like to be withdrawn, what it's like to hide.  I know what it's like to pretend you are someone else.
I know the experience of acting - from a chorus role to the lead in a musical - and everything behind the scenes.
How to have a successful marriage
How to have a successful and angst-free divorce
How to be honest

But beyond that - I'm not an expert in anything.  I have my passions, but I don't consider myself to be an expert in any field.  I can tell stories and have a sardonic wit.  I can see the humor in just about everything.  I am the first to laugh at myself.  And I find myself a little afraid of everything around me.

Insecurity is a bitch.  If I were to look at myself on paper, without knowing it was me, I would be mightily impress with the strength of that woman.  But knowing it's me - I just know that I did what every other person in this world does - I put one foot in front of the other and move forward.  Sometimes through mud or windstorms, or blizzards, or floods.  Sometimes through the most beautiful of sunny days.

I am no different than anyone else.

Except I have a way to find my voice and the voice of others.  I have the talent to put that voice out there and allow my experiences to be heard.

Is that voice publishable?

Is there anything I can say that hasn't already been said? That someone wants to hear?

I have no idea.

And I don't think I will really ever know the answer to that unless I start to write from the heart.  Not a blog - but something more marketable. An article. An opinion column. Something to sell to a small paper or two or twenty or more.

Maybe a weekly piece would be enough to carry me forward as a writer and as a way to finance my adventure through space.  Maybe those stories on the road will become a future book (yes! even with pictures!), or at the very least, a small voice heard by a few souls who still read.

I understand that today is the day I need to figure it all out.  I can't wait until I'm on the road to test the waters.  The time is now...

The first step is always the most frightening. From my experience, the next few steps after that aren't so easy either...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My First Thanksgiving Turkey! (reprinted here for your pleasure!)

Back in the dark ages of my youth...I was about 20 and had my first "real" job. Well, they gave us a gift certificate at Thanksgiving time "for a turkey." It was really a $25 gift certificate to Safeway - but I thought I had to buy a turkey with I did. It was 1980 and I bought a $25 turkey. 

I was single at the time. 

Didn't dawn on me to give it to a I was going to cook my first turkey for me and my friend! Yeppers! 

So there we are in this tiny apartment kitchen opening this turkey...okay, I remembered my mom sticking her hands in the turkey and taking stuff I did.

GROSS! I thought everything would be in a bag or something - I have no idea why. Then I didn't know what to do with the stuff I took out, so we put it in a dish then stuck it in the fridge. 

Step two. Stuff the turkey. 

Okay. This should be simple enough. We opened the box of Stovetop stuffing and poured it into the turkey cavity. Do you know how much Stovetop stuffing fits in the cavity of a $25 turkey? Lots!!! So we kept filling the cavity until it was full. YAY! Now let's cook the turkey!

It took forever. We thought we were suppose to baste the turkey with it's own juices...but there really wasn't any juice coming out, so we didn't. Somewhere...I probably should have called my mom...but no. I was 20 and living on my own. Why call mom????

Sometime around Christmas I think the turkey finally popped it's little red timer thingy...and so it was done.

Yum! We couldn't wait! 

Did you know you're suppose to let the turkey sit before you slice into it? I didn't. So we fired up the electric knife and butchered the hell out of that turkey. Oops! Forgot to remove the stuffing...I guess we'll just serve it from the turkey...YEA!!! Turkey and Stuffing!!!! WOOHOO!!! Let's eat!!!

Have you ever had cottonmouth? 

Have you ever shoved like an entire pack of crackers into your mouth and tried to chew them and swallow? Have you ever had all your bodies' moisture sucked right out of you?

Yeah. we did. Remember when I said we poured the Stovetop stuffing into the turkey's cavity? Did you know you're supposed to first mix the stuffing with water? 

We didn't. 

Wonder where all that turkey juice went that we were supposed to baste the turkey with? Yep. into the cavity. The wads of dried breading was sucking the literal life juice out of the turkey.

So there we were...CRAVING turkey and dressing with a frickin' huge turkey as dry as the sahara desert surrounded by piles of semi-moist turkey-fied breadcrumbs.

I didn't prepare another Thanksgiving meal until I was in my 40's...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Interesting insight into a friend and weight loss...

A male friend of mine took me to dinner last night to celebrate my birthday. Anyone who has followed my blogs, etc, may recognize "said friend" as the man I was infatuated with for the past 4 years. He started dating a woman last February and I met her for the first time about 6 weeks ago. 

Obviously, the conversation drifted toward her and their relationship. (warning...I may get a tad snippy in this blog!) 

She had gastric bypass surgery about 3 years ago and has lost over 120 pounds. She has also had a tummy tuck and a boob job. Duh. At least my eyes could tell it was obvious. Now don't misunderstand me - I have six friends who have gone the gastric bypass route (not lapband) and one who had the cosmetic surgery. I understand. However, I also know that you can lose weight the old fashioned way - through hardwork, dietary changes and exercise. 

Here's the best part of doing it the old-fashioned can still eat food. I don't mean pick at it, or avoid certain things - I mean you can flipping eat food. 

I proved that last night. I have lost 40 pounds this year. Last night I had no difficulty having a petite filet, broccoli, and a blue cheese/pecan salad with a sangria to wash it all down. Will I eat like that again today? No. And that's okay. But I can eat it. 

His girlfriend cannot. But she's "skinny" and has perky boobs. Yeah for her. I would love to be skinny and perky again. But I'm 52. Perky is not part of my body image anymore. 

And that's okay too. 

Last night, my friend told me how wonderful I was looking. How had I lost the weight? What was I doing differently? He complimented me on my hair and even thought it was time I bought a new wardrobe to reflect the changes I've made. Instead, I told him I was moving forward with my life and planning a way to travel the country in a RV - my 5 year plan. I was ready to live for me...FINALLY. He seemed surprised that I was willing to venture out - cut my roots and live by "chance." 

He thought I should live a more stable life. I should date and maybe even settle down. Find a nice man who appreciates the eclectic person I am. Like he does - but one that isn't involved with another woman. WHAT? 

The worst part was his confession that he would not have dated his current girlfriend 3 years ago before her weightloss, yet today he is considering it as a long-term relationship. She's the same person she was 3 years ago except with a ton of surgery. How shallow is that? 

Starts to make sense why he and I never dated. That saddens me. Not because we didn't date - but because of the idea that he didn't date me because of my weight. 

I'm sure I was a tad catty when he mentioned she "had" to have the surgery for health reasons. No she didn't. She lost a ton of weight and was saggy. That doesn't affect your physical health. It affects your vanity. It's okay to admit vanity - but call it what it is. Don't say it was for health issues. The weight loss was for health issues...not the boob job. 

The funniest part was when I found out how old she is. My friend is 47, and I'm 52. He can never remember how old I am because I don't look like I'm 52. I look younger. I act younger. Call it good genes - but the fact I don't look 50. I'm thankful for that. But when I met her last month I was sure she was older than me. I based that on her skin, wrinkles, attitude, the way she carried herself, oh, and the fact that she has a grown and married son. Nope. She's 43. SERIOUSLY??? When he told me that I physically choked on my drink. How embarrassing. I couldn't even hide my shock. 

Last night, he didn't seem to understand my surprise. He tried to write it off and say it was because she's had some difficult years (Really? Difficult? I can compare lives and I bet I can match her difficulty for difficulty and then some.) Well he emailed me today and here is his direct quote: "It *was* interesting after your comment about XXX's age, to see you and her standing next to each other. Not sure if it’s genes, or life, or that red-heads don’t age as well. But yes- just take it as a compliment that you DO look a LOT younger than XXX. Oh well." 

I've got 30 - 40 more pounds to lose. I will manage that in the coming year. When I'm done, I'll be saggy. But I will have done it on my own - no invasive surgery. I will be able to eat Creme Brulee if I want without throwing up. I can go to a party and not pick at my food. I will have learned what creates a proper diet and will be able to maintain a healthy outlook on food and how to eat. I will be able to move and workout. I will know the importance of a healthy life - and not bypass the efforts because I was in the medical field and had someone offer a quick fix. 

And when my friend is comfortably ensconced in a relationship built upon her vanity and his shallowness - I will be long gone, thankful my guardian angels were keeping my heart protected when all I wanted was to be loved. What I wanted he couldn't give me. Last night, it all came together so clearly. 

And all because I have lost weight. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The sigh of relief

Biopsy's are scary things.

Just being told you need to have one can strike fear in the best of us.  For me, it became a flood of "what if's" and a constant reminder to breathe until the results are in my hand.

Last week I had a major health scare.  I didn't tell many people...maybe only four because I didn't want to be seen as over-reacting.  I chose three of those four people carefully.  One is a friend who was diagnosed recently with cancer and has gone through treatment of varying stages throughout the past year and 1/2. Another was a stable...very grounded family member....someone I could depend on to get me through.  The third was my son.  I have never kept anything from him and this was something he needed to know - at the very least to understand why I was on edge.  The fourth was my ex-husband because he called right after I left the doctor.

I knew when I walked into the doctor's office what she was going to do. I hate pain and I knew the biopsy would hurt like a SOB.  It did. And I cried. I'm not sure how much was due to pain and how much was due to fear - but the tears leaked from my eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

When a person is faced with uncertainty, I believe they fall back and re-examine a lot of their lives.  I know I did.

If I were to die tomorrow, what would be my regrets? Would I even have any? Have I done what I want to do? Do I even like the person I am?

In short, I realized that I do like me and that my real regrets were for the future that may not be so real for me.  Understand, I've made a lot of mistakes in my life - but I'm not really sorry.  I've done alright.  I have an amazing son and have had some great adventures.

I still want to see Europe.

I still want to visit all 50 states.

I still want to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

But other than that, I've done okay.  My son said it best after he told me that he would stay within the moment and deal with the "worse-case scenario" only if that was our reality. He said - if he were to lose me today, he couldn't have asked for a better mother or a better upbringing. He has no regrets when it comes to his childhood.

I cried.

I've done that a lot in the last week...quietly in the dark after going to bed.  I'm not ready to leave this life.  I'm not done.  Damn it - I didn't see this possibility coming and I don't want to expend the effort to deal with it.

And that is as far as I allowed myself to go down that path.  No further.  Not until I had something tangible in my hands.

Today, I received my "unofficial" results.

There is no cancer.  No pre-cancerous cells.

Even the small pity-party journey I allowed myself to take was overkill and paranoia.  I'm going to be fine.  And while there is no definitive reason as to the condition I have - it is not cancer.  Whatever it is will not try to kill me.

I have survived to fight another day.

Today is NOT a good day to die, and for that I am thankful.

Friday, October 28, 2011

What do I want to do with my life?

In ten months, I will join the ranks of empty nesters.  As a single mom, it means something a little different for me when compared to couples or parents of multiple children.

Currently, in my world, there are two of us.  We travel as a pair. We laugh until we cry at things only the two of us may find funny.  We know each other better than a lot of couples.  But, in 10 months, we will split as we have always meant to.  Off he will go to become the man he is meant to be.

And I will start my own new adventure.

This one is for me.  Not for my parents. Not for my family. Not for my fiance/husband. Not for my son. Me. This time it is all about me.

What the hell do I do?

How many other people have experienced this?

Hundreds of thousands I expect.

I've promised my son I would "get a life" and not wallow in missing him...or become the hermit I'm so good at.  So I've been searching my brain for what I really have always wanted to do - and then figure out how to do it.

The answer came to me when I stumbled onto a auction show.  Someone was trying to auction of their old AirStream trailer.  It was from the 1970's and he wanted $10,000 for it. AirStreams are cool. Very cool.

I want one.

Wait a minute.

I really do want one.

How cool would it be to travel around the US? Go anywhere you want whenever you want? Drive your own home.

Right.  People with huge retirements do that.  Couples. People with more money than reasonable do that.

And then I thought to look into it.

The average full-time RV-er spends approximately $25,000 a year...some more, some less.  And you can join groups.  There are companies that will hire you seasonally - they will actually hire work-campers.

Okay...that would help.  But I'm also a writer. It's what I do and what I'm good at. So...why can't I find a job that allows me to telecommute from the road? Seriously?  Why not?  It's 2011 - the age of technology and instant communication.  With a cell phone, a computer and wifi (or hell, an aircard) I could be in immediate contact with anyone.

I could also write travel columns.  Or blogs. I'm pretty damned good with a camera too - so I would be able to submit pictures to go with the articles.

Dear God I could freelance.

I it really possible?  How long would it take to establish myself and guarantee and income of $20 - $30K a year in a combination of freelancing and working various jobs around the nation?  I couldn't expect much more than minimum to $10/hour ... but that would at least cover gas & food.

I would have to downsize.  Severely.  But I live in an apartment right now ... and have started to go through the remaining boxes in my garage.  I'm already getting rid of stuff. So why not just get rid of more?  Why not just keep stuff in storage?  I don't have that much anyway.  Very little furniture that I'm attached to.  Like 5 pieces and my bed. They rest can go away. My art is a different story.  I'm actually attached to 6 pieces and I'm not sure they would fit in an RV.

Then there's the idea of an RV.  The little research I've done tells me I need a class C no bigger than 27 feet. I'll be able to tow my car behind it.  I like my car and it would be the perfect vehicle for travel.

So all I need to do is figure out how to afford an RV and finance my life on the road.

I can have a life.

I will become Terri the Nomad.

I may actually manage it by the time I'm 55.  That's 2015.

This may really be doable.

And that makes me happy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

day: I re-commit myself to me

I've been lost.

Some of you may have noticed, but I'm assuming the vast majority have not. Nor should anyone. Because I'm me and not you. Our focus should be on ourselves.

We - at least the females among us - tend to focus on everyone else other than ourselves and in doing so, forget the most important person in our lives.

I've done it the same as the rest of the women in this world.

I will always find a way to focus on others before myself. But I will make the effort to take care of me first.

And that is what I'm doing today.

Taking care of me.

This past May, I jumped into the 17 day diet with both feet and I managed to lose 30 pounds. This is incredible. This is amazing. I've always done in the past...I started to inch my way into self-sabotage. I made excuses and found ways to cheat albeit in very small ways. The whole time I knew what I was doing. At least I was completely aware.

And I reached out. I cried out. Everytime I felt myself starting to hide away from the world, I'd yank myself up and throw myself out there publicly. least I threw myself out there into SparkPeople world.

Thankfully some people reached back. Even though many were struggling with their own weight loss demons - people found a moment in their day to recognize me. I love you for that. I needed you and there were those who ... at the very least ... acknowledged my presence and predicament.

I knew I needed to get back on track. I knew the weight would creep back up if I didn't. Thankfully, I've gained less than 5 pounds back. This past weekend was like a free-for-all with Mexican food. In the past six weeks, I've "allowed" myself to reintroduce sugar back into my system. And alcohol. And though I've maintained an awareness of each addition...I caught myself starting to let it go.

I do that. I am the best damned pity-party thrower out there sometimes. I don't know why, but I will destroy my best intentions with feelings of being unworthy.

I know...I know...I am worthy. 99% of me knows that and will tell you that. I am strong and intelligent and accomplished. But there is that teeny tiny voice inside of me that says I'm lying. It tells me that I've been faking it all these years and someone will call my bluff. It tries to convince me that there is no substance behind the facade that is me.

Why that voice is easier to listen to doesn't make sense to me. But it is. It's like comfort food. It's like a warm, soft blanket on a blustery Autumn day. It's the crackling of a fireplace and the caress of a lover.

And it is trying to destroy me from the inside.

Not today.

Today I am pushing it back down - but only after I confront it head-on. I know it will always be there - but by acknowledging it and recognizing it is part of me - I will be able to keep it in check.

Today I am back to complete my goal for 2011. To reach that goal - a total of 40 pounds lost in 2011 - I have only 13 pounds to go. I can do it. It is completely possible. Not "if" but "when."

And in doing so - will be able to reach MY healthy weight in 2012.

Friday, September 30, 2011



I fess up.

Yesterday was a surprising mix of emotions...oddly enough I never really cried. True, my eyes "leaked" as I finally laid down to sleep...but it wasn't an overwhelming sadness...more like the closing of a chapter that I had closed a long time ago only to recognize it today.

I met "her." I did not like "her." I don't get why on earth she would be the "chosen one" over me. But she is and if that is truly the case, I never stood a chance in Hell with this man. I walked away realizing that I was the better woman.

For me to see that is huge.

For as insecure and afraid as I can be, I recognized yesterday that it is not who I outwardly portray. And why is that? Because I really am strong. I really am confident. I really am in control.

And I'm a hell of a lot of fun to be with.

Someone is out there that "gets" me and then I will be "her" for him.

So, yesterday, I walked away. Not from my friendship, but from my anchor.

Today, I am floating to the top...

As if to bolster that change, an opening appeared in a group's meetup that I've been interested in. The meeting is tonight and I'm actually going.

Now, for a lot of people, this isn't a big deal. But for me - the person who prefers to simply hide in my home - this is a huge step toward finding me again.

The meeting is only women (something I have avoided most of my life) and spiritual (not weighted down by Christianity - more overwhelming and all-accepting spirituality) something I've been drawn to for my entire life, but something I've always shied away from because of my Christian roots.

But the pull this time is very strong. Who am I to deny this at this stage in my life?

The changes are necessary for me to grow.

I've got the diet right (my huge splurge last night was very European! Bleu Cheese and wine!) and I'm starting to let go of dead weight (sorry John). I've spent the past 5 years trying to find my footing so I can move forward - and maybe, today, the time is now.

So - 30 pounds lighter and emotionally single, I step into the light of the universe and try to discover this mysterious world of women and earthly spiritualism. (sounds's not where this is least not yet...)

I will let everyone know how tonight's Water Elemental goes (that's the lesson for this evening) and I will keep ya'll posted on my attempts at coming out of my shell and stepping into the big and beautiful world surrounding us all.

"I watch the ripples change their size, but never leave the stream of warm impermanence..."