The Purple Haired Seattle Bus Driver

When I was in high school one of my dreams was to move to Seattle, dye my hair purple, pierce my nose and eyebrow, and become a bus driver.  You probably wouldn’t guess that if you met me today.  As a teenager growing up in the era of grunge I was obsessed with individuality, creativity, and uniqueness.

I idolized characters in movies like “Reality Bites”, “Empire Records”, and “Singles”.

I wanted to be Leilana trying to figure out her life while ignoring her feelings for Troy or Janet pining over Cliff while also starting to find her own self-worth or most importantly Cory realizing Rex Manning is not so sexy and that she really loves AJ, although I was actually crushing on Mark.

It’s interesting how our dreams and priorities shift.  Bus driver is not on my list of career choices right now.  As an adult that sounds terrifying but as a teenager I romanticized the idea as a way to meet cool people and drive around the best city in the world all day.  When you’re younger it’s easy to ignore reality especially if your parents are trying to tell you about those realities because as a teenager the last thing you want to do is listen to your parents.

I would tell my mom I could do whatever I wanted even if I did have piercings and purple hair.  People shouldn’t judge me on my appearance……then I started working and realized yes, the world is going to judge on appearance.  I still don’t think it should be that way and the world is more accepting but the reality is in certain professions extreme hair colors, piercings, and tattoos are not going to be accepted.

When I reflect on the past I feel like some part of me has betrayed the 16-year-old version of myself.  Yesterday as I was doing the dishes after dinner I had some thoughts and wrote them down:

“I sometimes feel like a contradiction because I want to be unique but I also want to be normal.  Growing up, be the free spirit and the responsible adult.  Stability.”

I think I’ve always felt the contradiction between what I perceived as unique and normal.  I wore crazy clothes but was a cheerleader.  I played softball but also did musical theater.  After being a bus driver my other dream was to play softball in college and become a prison psychologist.

I’ve kind of always struggled with feeling like I had to make a choice between creative and conservative, like they were two separate paths that never merged.  I either had to be responsible or a free spirit.

I think I’ve finally found a place where I have a bit of both.

I still want to dye my hair purple but I also want to get a job (so I’m thinking a really dark can’t tell if it’s really purple color). My style is more conservative but I mix it up with unique pieces.  I still want to live in Seattle but I realize I might not be living right in the middle of the city.  My life is not filled with crazy, movie-style shenanigans and romances but it is filled with great moments and great friends.

Becoming an adult can sometimes feel like you’re losing a part of yourself but I’m starting to realize I’m still me.  I’m finally coming to accept that changing up my style or pursuing new dreams is not betraying my former self because she’s still there just a bit more toned down.

I’m learning to accept all the parts of me, the free spirit and the conservative, although I am going to let go of the bus driver part 😉

Image from Flickr

Thursday Confessional

I don’t always like to delve too deeply into the past because you can’t change the past and I believe forward momentum is best; however, I also think sometimes you have to look back to appreciate where you’re going.

Sometimes it’s easy to lie to ourselves.  Most of the time the lies we tell ourselves are like the lies we tell to other people, simple white lies meant to do more good than harm.

The lie I told myself yesterday was not a simple white lie but a lie built out of denial of my own behavior.  Yesterday there was a part of me that lied and said I was celebrating but I know there was another part of me trying to drink away some of my stress and worry.

It didn’t work.  Stress and worry was still there when I woke up on the couch at 5am but now along with the stress and worry I also had a terrible hangover.

I followed the dark path of alcoholism many years ago and it was some of the worst times of my life.  I went from a party girl with friends to a woman sitting alone in her apartment drinking her life away.  I was functioning mostly.  I had a job.  I paid my bills until I couldn’t anymore because I’d drowned myself in not only alcohol but debt.  Thankfully with the help of my family I was able to get back to a place of normalcy but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I finally felt like everything was under control.

I limit my drinking to mostly social occasions but even then I have a tendency to go above and beyond everyone else.  If I drink at home it’s wine or beer, maybe one or two drinks but I try to avoid keeping liquor around.  Sometimes I do okay but most of the time if I know it’s there I’m going to drink it, usually all of it within a couple days or less.  My binges are sporadic, maybe one every couple months, but I know how easy it is for me to pick up old habits, especially when I’m not working and feeling a little down.

Today I didn’t make it to the gym, can’t get rid of my headache, all I want to eat is french fries and pizza (french fries on pizza maybe?), I’m exhausted, I barely even left my house today, and accomplished next to nothing.  I genuinely hate feeling like this but I can’t be too whiny because I did it to myself.

I decided with my shifting moods, anxiety about the future, and past history it might be time to give up alcohol for awhile. Even though it was just one drunken night (plus last weekend) out of months of not binge drinking I’m not taking any chances. Plus if I’m really trying to improve my health drinking three-quarters of a bottle of vodka at night isn’t going to do much for my healthy endeavors.  Empty calories and killer hangovers will easily cancel out all my healthy eating and workouts plus giving up alcohol will be good for my mental health.

Despite the fact I just bought a bottle of wine I wanted to drink this weekend (it’ll still be there for me later) I’m going to give up alcohol for the next 45 days.  I will be alcohol free until June 1st.

It was one binge last night plus last weekend drinking with friends so I’m not at rock bottom or anything.  I just want to go without for awhile and see how it feels.  In my pursuit of a healthier lifestyle this is a good choice.

I don’t think it will be too bad, other than the warm days when I crave a cold beer or the long days when I want a glass of wine but after spending the day with this hangover I’m actually thinking this will be a good experience.

Changing my Body & my Mindset

I knew losing my job would change me but I didn’t realize just how much.  Perhaps I’m on some kind of high from working out but in the last week or two I’m genuinely opening myself up to ALL the possibilities in my life.  Through deciding to improve my health and share this journey with the world something in me clicked.

It’s been a slow process but at 35 I’m finally starting to feel like I’m coming into my own.  I struggle with my age from time to time as I’m sure other people do.  Many of my friends are younger but sometimes give into dramatics, proclaiming all is lost because they aren’t where they thought they would be when they reached their mid-20’s.  I love my friends but I want to say “How do you think this makes me feel?”  If your life is over at 25 then I might as well start checking out retirement homes 😉  Ha Ha

I’m unemployed, unmarried, childless, living in an apartment, and only have a hazy idea of my future.  When I was in my 20’s I certainly envisioned my 30’s to be much different but life doesn’t always follow your timeline of expectations and honestly I’m starting to realize this way might be more interesting. I’ve always had this idea of who I wanted to be, of the things I wanted to do, of the accomplishments I wanted in my life but I was holding back.

The two main things holding me back were my job and my weight.

The job is out of the picture.  I allowed myself to be stuck in my job for about 5-6 years too long. I loved it in the beginning but toward the end I stayed because it was comfortable. Do I regret some of my career choices?  Yes but who doesn’t?

The weight is more challenging because that has been plaguing me for years and years and years.  I’m one of those people who looks back at pictures and thinks “I can’t believe I thought I was fat” but I also look back and realize one of my biggest issues with my body was comparison (This is before my biggest issue became eating too much and not working out).

I was constantly comparing myself to women with body types that were so different from mine that my expectations were unrealistic.  In high school I stayed around 130-140 but was striving for 110-120 because I held 120 as ideal so 110 would be even better.  I know now my body was actually pretty amazing back then (and will be again 😉 )  because it was strong.  I was playing softball, cheerleading, and participating in theater so I was always working out.  I wasn’t happy with my body though because I didn’t have long, thin limbs or a flat stomach.  I had broad shoulders, a flabby stomach, and big calves, all of which I hated.

The unfortunate part is that it’s taken me 20 years to get here but thankfully I’ve arrived….to this place where I’m learning once again how to make my body strong but more than that I’m learning to love my broad  powerful shoulders, my flabby tummy strong core, and my big muscular calves.

My confidence is climbing because (please excuse the cheesy sports analogy) I finally feel like I’m getting in the game instead of waiting on the sidelines.  When you’re overweight and not doing anything to change or simply not putting yourself out there it’s easy to rationalize why you’re holding yourself back.

The main ones for me were “I don’t want people to make fun of me” or “I’m too fat to *insert activity here* ”

Do I still feel self-conscious?
Do I still doubt myself?
Do I still have regrets?

Yes to all of the above; however, I’m going to explore the world without restricting myself because of my weight.  I’m still fat but I know I’m working on it.  Some will disagree with my use of the word fat but from my own personal perspective fat is not a bad word or a defining word but a descriptive word.  It describes the current state of my body and it’s truth but fat is not what’s going to define me or my choices.

I’m still learning to accept myself but these are some of the things I know:
I know that I’m in better shape than I was 2 months ago.
I know I would choose going outside to do something over sitting in front of the TV.
I know that I’m an amazing, awesome person who is no longer going to define herself or how she lives her life based on her weight.