Category Archives: facebook

The Dreaded High School Reunion

What a scary thought, right?  A High School Reunion?  Where you voluntarily get together with the group of people who single-handedly tormented you and made the supposed best years of your life the period of time you’ve spent the rest of your life overcoming.

They were our best friends and worst enemies.

Sophomore hs

Sophomore hs

Why would any sane person do this to themselves?

I know we have all dreamed that we would one day have some kind of Romy & Michelle moment, where we go to our reunion, show our tormentors they have not destroyed us, that we have embraced our inner freak, succeed in life beyond our wildest dreams, (and theirs), leaving them in the dust.  Our true friends will cheer and celebrate us and everyone will know we turned out the better for it.

I particularly like what Romy says at minute 1:52 of this video.

The truth is, however, that for many of us, our lives are quite ordinary and uneventful.  For many years, I was ashamed of what my life had become.  I was not successful in my professional life.  I’m not rich.  I was horribly overweight and sick.  I never married and I do not have kids.  I felt as if I was a complete and total failure.

But that was the before Colleen.

OK, some things have not changed.  I’m not rich.  I’m still not married.  And I still have no kids.

But my whole outlook on my life has changed.

I changed my job.  Still, not a high-powered, high-paying career, but I am enjoying it.  I have lost 127 pounds, and although I’m 46 pounds heavier than I was in high school, I feel great about myself.

The truth is, I have “friended” some of my old high school friends on Facebook, and many of them have been following my blog and my story of change.  They have been some of my biggest cheerleaders and supporters over this last year and a half.  I really would like to see them.  Hug them.  Thank them.

So, when one of my friends started bemoaning that our class never has reunions, or that only the popular kids get invited to the reunions we may have had over the years, I was the one who suggested that we have an alternate “anti-reunion.” Let the popular kids have their little private get together of the select few while the rest of us meet up for drinks or whatever and just have fun.

People jumped on the idea.  I know.  What on earth was I thinking?

Now there is a get together planned for the weekend before Christmas, and I am going.

Of course, I am going to buy a fantastic outfit, get my hair done, and make sure that I look absolutely fabulous.  Still, I cannot wait to see my old friends and see how their lives turned out.  As for the rest of it, who really cares?

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A B-e-a-utiful Day in the Neighborhood

Today is a gorgeous day and I just could not sit at home.  I found that I could not sit at home last night either.  I came home from work, changed my clothes, and walked down to the village to have some tea and read for a bit.  Shortly after I arrived and started reading, my friend Andy sent me a FB message asking me to watch his cat while he is out of town.

A bush of azaleas I walk by on my way to Shirlington Village.

A bush of azaleas I walk by on my way to Shirlington Village.

I let him know that I would be happy to feed and water his cat while he was gone, and by the way, I’m at the coffee shop, come meet me now.  He did and we sat and talked for quite a bit.  It took me a long time to actually work up an appetite to eat.  My work had catered lunch from a barbecue restaurant (Rocklands OMG yum!) and I was not hungry for a good long time afterwards.  When I could eat, I made my friend walk down to a local restaurant, which was just a block away.  I had chicken salad and fruit.  After another long talk, I finally paid my bill and we walked back over to where he had parked.  I then made the short trek back up the hill to my apartment.  He would have given me a ride, but I made it clear that I wanted to walk, especially since I had just eaten.

This morning, I was actually very lazy.  I had breakfast in bed, cheese and fruit.  I watched romance movie after romance movie.  That was such a bad idea.  I actually woke up at about 5:00 am and turned on the tv.  Never a good idea.  Out of Africa was on and I immediately tuned to that channel.  I just love that movie.  I fell back asleep with that show in the background.  I allowed the romance between Karen and Denys to influence my dreams and I awoke again to Karen reading a poem at his funeral, but in my dream, the poem did not have the heavy, bittersweet feeling of loss portrayed in the movie.  Dreams are strange that way.  Then, just before I was fully awake, I dreamed that I heard a knock on my door.  Three quick raps.  It was 7:00 am.  I went over to the door and peeked outside and of course no one was there, but now I was up.  The day began with a strange sense of hope and possibility.

I took my time getting ready.  I watched the last half of Sense and Sensibility as I had my breakfast and then showered.  I read a little bit.  Then put on another movie.  I did my hair and carefully picked out my clothes for the day.  I tried on a new pair of shorts that I bought at a second-hand store.  They are a size large.  They are snug, but they fit.  I was elated.  I’m not sure where “large” fits into the size-scale.  Does that make them a 14 or a 16?  I think they might be in the 14 range.  My size 18 jeans were practically falling off of me yesterday.  I think I’m solidly in the 16 size because my size 14 jeans do not quite fit me yet.  It’s hard for me to tell since I do not actually own pants that are a size 16.  I’m not going to worry about it though, as I will probably be a size 14 soon enough.

I finally drove over to my sister’s house.  By the time I arrived there, it was probably 1:00 pm and we went to lunch.  I insisted on sitting outside because the day is so beautiful.  I had salad with warm goat cheese and pecans.  So delicious.  Unlike me, my sister spent the morning digging and planting in her yard.  I don’t have a yard, just an apartment.  Once she ate, she was exhausted.  I took her back home and came here to Starbucks to write.

When my sister first saw me, she said she could not believe how small I was.  I looked in the full length mirror at her house and I was stunned.  I do look small.  “I look almost like a normal person,” I told her.  “Yeah, but you’re anything but normal, Colleen!”  Aren’t sister’s great?

me 4-27-13

I had her take this picture of me outside the restaurant.

I am not sure what other events this day will bring, but I am so happy the weather is finally warm enough to enjoy some outside time.

 

Owning Your Own Body Image

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I saw this image on Facebook today and it really started me thinking about body image.  Well, I was kind of already thinking about it, really since weight loss, bariatric surgery, food, my own body image, etc are really all I seem to think about any more.

I look at this image, and I automatically start thinking, “Gee, they forgot a few descriptors for each of these women.”  I mean, seriously, there are endless lists stereotypes to describe both of these women.  All of us make judgements every day about the people we see. 

For the woman on the left you could also add:  Beautiful, Blonde, Air-head, Dumb, Tall, Pretty, Anorexic, Skinny, Popular, Slut.

For the woman on the right you could add: Fat, Chubby, Stupid, Ashamed, Loser, Un-loveable, Lonely.

I’m a woman.  I’m a feminist.  I’m overweight.  I have poor self-image.  And these are the thoughts that go through MY head when I see this image.  I’m certainly not proud of myself for admitting this.  Clearly, on a certain level, I have bought into negative stereotyping.  I also recognize that these identification tags have more about how I see myself than how I view them.  When I look at the woman on the right, I see her as a reflection of how I see myself.  When I look at the woman on the left, I see everything I think I am not.

Can you imagine what someone who much more judgemental thinks?

I know nothing about either of these women.  For all I know, this is a completely computer generated image.  These women may not even exist.  They could be models.  They could be just average women making a point.  But that does not matter.  What matters is what we think about when we look at them.

Women judge themselves as much or more harshly than they judge other women.  My questions then are when do we stop buying into the negativity and false stereotypes foisted on us by a judgemental society that thinks they have the right to own, judge, and define us?  When do we own our bodies?  When do we own our own self-image?  When do we decide who we are?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start today.

I am smart.  I am pretty.  I am capable.  I am attractive.  I am independent.  I am proud.  I am happy.  I am a woman.  I am strong.  I am likeable.  I am loveable.  I am healthy.

How about you?

Commuting in DC

metro

So, now that I am able to walk some more, commuting to DC is not the hassle it was a year ago.

When I used to work in DC at a client site, my office was located about a block and a half from the nearest Metro station.  I also had to walk across the street from my apartment building to catch a bus.  I did not have to walk a lot, but it was still more than I could handle.  I had to sit when I arrived at the bus stop.  After I got off the Metro in DC, I had to stop at least twice to rest my back before getting to the office.  It was awful.

Now, I am back to working in DC and no longer working from home.  My office is nowhere near a Metro station.  It is at least 5.5 blocks from the nearest station. Well, OK that’s not entirely true.  There are two stops that are about 4 blocks from the office, but then I have to go two stops out of my way and take another train, and the stop where I change trains is still adds another two stops to my trip.  It’s worth the extra block to not have to change trains and keep my metro stops down to three stations.

Five blocks are really not that far.  Normal people walk this much all of the time without even a thought.  I used to before I became so morbidly obese.  Now that I have lost 81 pounds, (OMG 81!!!!!), walking this much is easy.

I am also standing pretty much from the minute I leave my apartment until I get to the office.  I stand out in front of my building to wait for the bus…OK that’s not true.  I sometimes sit at the bus stop.  But once I get on the bus, I stand until I get to the metro station because there is often not a seat.  Then the metro train is so full, I stand for the three whole stops until I can pry myself out of the train.  There is not even time or quite frankly the room to read anything on my kindle app.  Seriously, some days you need a shoe horn to get people out of there we are packed in so tightly.  Then I fight to get up the escalators and out of the station before I begin my hike to the office.

Sometimes, I go to the little French café (where they play middle eastern music, btw…not that I mind middle eastern music, it’s just that Americans have fanciful notions that every French café should be playing Edith Piaf singing Non Je Ne Regrette Rien all day long, but I digress), that is next to my office to get a cup of decaf.  There I sit and enjoy my last moments of solitude before entering the snake pit.

Honestly, the three stops are not bad.  Even the 5.5 block walk to the office is not bad.  I just hate being crammed on the train with about 10,000 other people with nowhere to move or breathe.  I am convinced with every jerk of the train that I will lose my balance and fall into the person next to me.  There is no real room to fall, so I would probably just body slam into the person next to me and cause people to tumble into one another like dominos.  Then there is the constant stopping and waiting for no reason without explanation.  And I haven’t even mentioned the broken escalators and elevators.  The train ride is stressful.  I thank God I only have to go three stops.

I am also thankful that I can do it relatively pain-free.  I still have some pain in my feet.  And occasionally my knees and back hurt a little.  But for the most part, I am enjoying the fact that I can do this.

Two other points…I lost 81 pounds!!!!  Omg I can hardly believe it!

The other thing I wanted to mention, I kind of put on my Facebook Page yesterday.  Yesterday, upon exiting the Metro station in DC, I ran into a friend of mine whom I have not seen in about two years.  She had a gastric by-pass 9 years ago.  We used to work together.  She looks great.  I also did not know her before the surgery.  She told me over and over again that she has no regrets.  I thought about her often before and since my surgery.

Well, I saw her and walked right up to her and made eye contact and she looked at me like she has never seen me before.  Then I told her who I was and seriously, her jaw dropped.  She asked me what I had been up to so I told her that I had the surgery.  We only had a moment to talk because we were both in the mad-commuter-rush-to-work mindset, but she told me that I looked great.  I have her email address, so I am going to send her an email.  I need to tell her how her experience really helped me make my decision when I reached my breaking point.  I may not have been ready to do it when she and I talked in the past, but I thought of her often through everything I have experienced.

C-c-c-changes

OK, so yeah, I stole from David Bowie right there with the title of the post.  I have not written in a while because I have been afraid that I would spill the beans about something before I was actually able to talk about it.

I have been going through so many changes since the surgery.  I have lost 78 pounds. and I am creeping up on the momentous 80 pound mark.  I am now able to wear clothes that I have not been able to fit in for years.  I had my hair done, cut and colored.

You never know though what one little change in your life can bring about once you get started.  Yes, I have lost a lot of weight.  I have made big changes in my personal lifestyle.  I am walking more, breathing easier.  All of these things I just love.  I had also anticipated a lot of these changes.

There is a lot that will happen that you may not expect once you start making changes in your life.  Friends of mine have told me that I am much more energetic, that I am happier and bubblier and more confident than before.  One of my writer friends at my writer’s group told me that when I critiqued someone else’s work, I was much more confident than I had been in the past.

But the biggest change of all happened a couple of weeks ago…I got a new job!

I can hardly believe it myself. I have not put this on Facebook, my blog, or any other social media because I wanted to make sure that I had left my old job and given them the appropriate notice before announcing it to the rest of the world.  I have no hard feelings about my old employer.  They were very good to me.  But this new job a big promotion for me.

I was not actively looking for a new job.  I found this job through a friend of mine who recommended me.  Then the company pretty actively recruited me for the job.  That is a nice feeling.  I went in to the interview completely relaxed and really not even that sure if I wanted the job.  The more they told me about the job and the company, the more excited I became.   They made me a pretty good offer.  I thought about it for a long time before accepting, at least a couple of days.

I had a lot to consider.  I was with my old company for eight years.  I had accrued a lot of vacation time.  But I did not see a lot of advancement opportunities.  I would not say I was unhappy with my old job, but I was starting to get kind of bored with it.  If this job did not seek me out, I could see myself in that job in another year, maybe, before I started looking around if things had not changed.

I am convinced that the 78 pound weight loss had a lot to do with my getting this new job.  If I had not had the surgery, I might not be looking at this new opportunity.  Well, that and the new hairdo…obviously!

Another thing I have changed recently is my closet.  I have finally decided to get rid of all of my clothes that are a size 26 and above.  Most of the pants I had before the surgery were a size 26.  Some tops ranged from 26-32.  I had only kept the clothes that were in good condition in my pre-surgery closet purge.  So the clothes I have decided to get rid of this time are in really good shape.  I am currently looking for a place or person to give them to.  I reached out to a friend of mine to see if she has suggestions.  If that does not pan out I may just give them to Goodwill or a women’s shelter or something.

In another ten pounds, I will start getting rid of the size 24 clothes as well.  I figure around 210-200 range, I should be looking solidly at size 18-20 clothes, if memory serves me right.  Once I get below 200, I will be moving into the 14-16 range.  After that, I will be in the strange limbo between fat girl clothes and skinny girl clothes.  Once I move beyond that, I will be in territory I have not been in since college.  Wish me luck!

The Dilemmas of Rapid Weight Loss

I do not know if this is a problem that everyone has or if this is specifically my problem, but it is serious.

I am running out of wearable pants.

I know, I know.  I bought two pair of jeans in a smaller size just last month.  Well, guess what?  They are becoming too big.  So, I have one pair of stretch pants that were originally too small, but I have had them for years and they are all stretched to the end of creation, two pairs of jeans that are bigger and bigger every day, and that is it.  I have several pair of shorts that work, but the temperature in DC is in the teens today, so they are not really helping me at all.

I bought a pair of yoga pants yesterday so that I have some exercise clothes.  They are stretchy so I bought them a size smaller since I know am still losing weight.  But that still does not really solve my problem.

I tried to go to my favorite fat chick store yesterday and that location was closed down.  I went to Target thinking I could get some cheap pants, but their collection sucked, except for the yoga pants.  They had one wall of plus size clothes and they were the ugliest clothes I have ever seen.  Well, except for one gorgeous purple cardigan that was more money than I wanted to spend for something I am only going to wear for the next two months and that still did not solve the fact that I have no bleeping pants!

I am going to do some searching online, but if all else fails, I will have to go to the mall.  I hate the mall.  Well, not hate exactly, but  I do not relish it.

There is also the financial impact of having to buy new pants ever month.  Clothes are expensive.  My sister suggested getting pants at the Goodwill for now until I get down to a stable weight. I might just do that.  I hate buying plus sized clothes at second-hand stores.  They do not always have the greatest selection of clothes for larger women.  In addition, I’m short.  It is hard enough finding plus sized clothes for short ladies in a regular store let alone second-hand.

Oh, in other news, I had to replenish my supply of panties.  I am sure everyone was dying to know that, but after losing 71 pounds, it was time.  I made sure to buy a pair smaller than I actually need so they will last me a couple of months before I have to restock again.

I am going to check Kohls and a couple of other places online to see if I can find some pants that see me though one or two more sizes.  If not, I think I will take my sister’s suggestion and try a second-hand store.  I will keep you posted.  Until then, the search for pants continues.

I have some updated photos of myself that I took yesterday.  I added a bunch more on my Facebook page.  Check them out.

Photo on 2013-01-21 at 21.09Photo on 2013-01-21 at 21.12Photo on 2013-01-21 at 21.36 #2

 

 

 

 

President Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., and My Father

Today we celebrate the second Inauguration of President Barack Obama.  This is a historic day for many reasons.  One because we are celebrating the second Inauguration of our country’s first black president.  Second, we are celebrating it on Martin Luther King Day, who led the civil rights movement that helped make Obama’s rise to the presidency possible.  This is truly a day worth celebrating.  But for me, January 21 will always be my father’s birthday.

My father passed away in October 1996.  Unfortunately, he never lived to see the election nor the re-election of our first black president.  I think he would have liked to see that.

He saw so many amazing historical events in his life.  He was just five years old when WWII ended.  He saw the beginning and end of the Vietnam war.  He saw the election and assassination of JFK.  The Civil Rights movement.  Martin Luther King’s March on Washington.  The resignation of Richard Nixon.  The rise and  fall of the Berlin Wall.  The collapse of the Soviet Union.  And the end of the Cold War.

He also saw the explosion of technology; everything from transistor radios and microwaves to supercomputers and home PCs.  He even had an email address before he died.  He would call me from Pittsburgh to Maryland every single time he sent me an email, but he had an email address nonetheless.

He was married, divorced, and married again.  He owned his own business at one time.  He witnessed the births of his four children and he watched them grow up.

I sometimes think about all that he’s missed since he died.  Monica Lewinsky. Clinton’s impeachment hearings.  September 11. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The election and re-election of Barack Obama. Laptops.  iPods.  Smart phones. Bloggers.  Facebook. Me and my sisters receiving post-secondary degrees. My sisters’ and my brother’s marriages.  The birth of his granddaughter.

Some of it I’m glad he did not live to see.  Some of it, I know he would not understand.  But when something momentous happens, I wish he were here to celebrate with us.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

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