Death by Optimism

I am so positive it's killing me. No, really. I believe that I will always have more time, perform more perfectly, make changes more easily, and basically transform myself into the best me. Even when I break things down into simple goals and pursue them for teeny tiny short periods of time, I fail. Because I believe I am way more productive, focused, and busy than I actually am.
So here's to a super duper reality check.
Writing only happens if you set aside time and don't find one million other legitimate things to do.
Being prepared for things, like teaching classes with A PLAN instead of winging it, knowing what I'm cooking for dinner, and having a list to shop by MAKE MY LIFE BETTER. But for some reason, that reward isn't enough for me to be prepared more than a few times a week.
Watching TV is DEATH. Super waste of time. At least until Parenthood comes back on. Or I figure out a way to download So You Think You Can Dance. Because that's life-giving TV right there.
Believing that half an hour is not enough time to accomplish something is stupid and lazy. I can get a lot of stuff done in five minutes. I just have to start. Like this post. I started it. (Finishing is still up in the air.)
So I want to begin to operate within the boundaries of my limitations instead of somehow tricking myself into imagining they don't exist. I'm not a loser, just a procrastinator with a generous imagination. Time to reign in the fantasy and GET. TO. WORK.

Look at that. I finished something. 


100 Days

Hello all! I am on Day 5 of a 100 Day Project that I started last week. I wanted to tell you about it, mainly because it's the first time I've committed to something like this for so long and I think it's the first time I've done it properly, in a way that I can succeed.
I started with 3 simple main goals with a few more tiny personal goals penciled in here and there. But my main focus is this:
Walk: I try to walk for at least an hour everyday. We have a lovely riverside park that spans our entire city and the weather has been perfect these past few days. Granted, it was raining on Saturday night, but I didn't let that stop me. While I'm walking, I usually listen to podcasts. So far, I'm just catching up on This American Life, but I'm taking suggestions!
Words: I'm memorizing five new Korean vocabulary words every day. And then after learning the new ones, I review all the others. I am using a handy app for this one called StudyBlue. I highly recommend it. It allows you to make flashcards and to mark if you got them correct or not. Then, each time you study it gives you the percentage you got correct, remembers the ones you got wrong, and keeps track of how many times you've studied. There are many ways to flip through your flashcards. You can look at them in order, shuffled, from easiest to hardest, the least studied, or study just the ones you got wrong. I keep adding the new words to the same set of cards so I have to go through all of them everytime. I'm having a lot of fun speaking Korean these days, and my main weakness is vocabulary since I've mastered enough grammar to have a decent, but elementary conversation. So, words!
Write: I'm journaling this 100 Day project in a paper journal and although my hand keeps cramping, it's so nice and I'm remembering what that pen-to-paper addiction feels like. Turns out journaling churns out a lot more than just keeping a record of my goals. It's prompted me to start writing here again. And without making excuses for my absence, or making up a bunch of rules for myself to follow about posting here. It's my space. I'm back for now and happy about it. I hope you are, too!

I'm using the Lift app to keep track of these simple daily goals. I have two others there (feed cats, make the bed) that I'm constantly needing to remember. This app is helpful if you have certain things you want to get done everyday. It feels so good pushing that big check button. You can also see others who are pursuing the same goals as you and it tells you how many times you've checked in and if you're on a roll or not.

Making the time to walk has made me way more productive in the mornings and afternoons before I get Jude from daycare. I drop him off between 9 and 10 in the morning (9 on the dot this morning since he decided to wake up 7 times last night and to get up for good at 6:30 am!) and then leave for my walk. I come back excited to get things done and energized and usually with a ton of good ideas rolling around in my head. I've been thinking about walking for a long time and how it's related to writing and all the writers I know and have read of who had the habit of walking everyday. Eventually, maybe the walking will turn into running, but I think I'm going to leave it for a while.

I have one rule about this project: If I miss a day, IT IS OKAY. I will not give up. I will not stop just because I won't have a perfect 100 days of whatever. I will have a great 100 days of doing my best and I'm sure some mistakes and it will be beautiful anyway because it's my life and I've begun living it again!

If you know of any podcasts that you're loving, or anything that you do that helps you reach your goals, let me know! You can follow my progress on Twitter, where I post daily updates. It's so good to be back. This post is not a magnificent, moving manifesto of anything. But it is something. And I'm learning to appreciate even the little somethings. I also appreciate you, and you are a Big Something. Here's to Day 5 (two goals already met) and another 95 attempts!


Ho Hey

I have been guilty, particularly this year, of allowing myself to wallow in discontent. I have too often denied myself the simplicity of accepting where I am in life, and instead decide I wish I were elsewhere.

This pertains to motherhood for me as well. I wanted Jude more than I had allowed myself to admit before he was born. But over the past year, I found journal entries and random unfinished blog posts mentioning kids again and again. The theme was subtle because I was surprised how often I had written about wanting to be a mother without really noticing that it was quite an intense desire.
But when Jude got here, I lost myself. I found myself several times as well, but I mostly assigned myself ridiculous guidelines of when I should "have my shit together" and I kept missing them. I kept not being able to do the things that other mothers were getting to do. I couldn't enjoy long or healthy walks with Jude because he wouldn't stay in a stroller. I couldn't shower while he napped and take time for myself because he napped irregularly and sometimes not at all. I couldn't make my life look like a picture in a magazine, I guess. And I just couldn't stop hating myself for being so undone by motherhood. I wanted people to look at me and believe I was meant for this. But all I felt was that people pitied me and felt sorry for me, and perhaps even for Jude by proxy, because his mom was a whacko.
I'm still tempted to be disappointed in myself for ALLOWING the monster of perfectionism and comparison to steal so much of the joy I could have harbored inside my crooked little heart. Instead, I let criticism and self-doubt build a kingdom there. I'm still tempted to make all sorts of excuses for why I am a crazy pants Momma. But I think I will turn off the shame generator for a moment and stop justifying my every decision.

I was driving today, BY MYSELF, miracle of miracles and listening to The Lumineers. And when they sang, "I belong with you, you belong with me, you're my sweetheart," I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be, neuroses and all.

I turned 30 yesterday. And when I look at my life I can see where there is room for disappointment. I don't have any kind of career. I haven't produced anything well-written in a context outside blogging. I haven't even taken all those month-by-month pictures of Jude where he is in the same place with a little number next to him. I am only slightly less gigantic than I was before I gave birth. There are just so many things I could choose to dwell on, to choose to mourn my lack of.

But I'm not. I'm happy with my 30 years. The 29th was definitely a roller coaster, but what a thrill. I'd say I'm well over my 30 year quota for being loved, feeling treasured, and truly known by my husband and my family and friends. Over the travel-the-world quota, too. I've already seen a lot more than many people twice my age have or people younger ever will. And I've busted the meter that measures the precious, cute, overwhelmingly adorable factors for offspring. Seriously. Jude just broke that meter into a million pieces. There is no measure.

So however often I've felt out of place, behind, out of my mind, and undone, I've always been exactly where I should be. I belong here, with my husband and my son. And my crazy, over-analytical, under-exercised, highly caffeinated, beautifully imperfect self. Ho hey.


It's a Wonder Tall Trees Ain't Layin' Down

Jude sleeps with me.

It's not a happy cuddly family bed like you read about in those parenting books and on blogs where both parents are just so pleased to sleep with their child and they can't imagine not having those little commas punctuating the sentence of their sheets. It's not like that.

It's like a bad dream where you know you're dreaming and you try to wake yourself up and so you wake up but then weird stuff is happening and you realize that you simply dreamed that you woke up but are in fact still smack in the middle of your bad dream. I used to have a recurring dream like that. I would wake up within the dream within the dream within the dream. And it gets so OLD because you open your eyes and you know you didn't really open your eyes, but you want to so badly.

Sleeping with Jude also reminds me of this other dream I used to have. I had it from grade school into college. Same dream every time. My sister and I are standing at the end of our long driveway and we are kidnapped by the mailman. He takes us to the post office, only the post office is a maze and it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to navigate this damn maze and we finally get back to our driveway, house within shouting distance when that mailman just scoops us right back up again and deposits us back at the post office where once again we must work to escape, similar to the way you are now trying to find the end of this sentence.

Sleeping with Jude was beautiful for about two minutes AND an accident. I did not mean to bring my boy into my bed. But nursing while lying down was a solution for us and then I fell asleep. I didn't bother to move him between nursings. Now I cannot get him off my breast. It has escalated into misery particularly since we've been back in Korea.

So. It's time to wean the child. And I don't want to and I want to. I most definitely want my bed back. And I most days want my boobs back.

There comes a time.


All of Them Matter, None of Them Matter.

I'm writing how I feel because I should have been doing so all along. I believe if I had validated my feelings by giving them a voice and giving myself a place to meet them, deal with them, actually FEEL them, I may not have struggled so much during this first year.

Instead of writing, I've been whittling my time into nothing. I have been feeling guilty for feeling angry or upset or discontent or frustrated instead of asking myself why I feel that way and what I could do to fix it.

I am angry and I often feel cheated. I guess I feel cheated because I think I have done so many things wrong with Jude, and every time he doesn't act in exact accordance with my wishes, I seem to imagine this makes my life terrible, over, and every bump "all my fault." My child is not a machine. Neither is he a pet that can be trained to do things that only please me. He is a being with his own will and very intense little soul. So whenever my baby refuses to robotically conform to my whims, I believe that no other mother is possibly suffering this way. And of course, when they do suffer in this way, they handle it much more gracefully.

My son is not an interruption, but so often I find that my reactions toward his behavior or needs indicate that I do feel he is a disruption to my otherwise blissful existence.

And here I am tempted to go all woe-is-me and ask how a good mother could ever feel these things. But whatever. If you haven't felt that children are the ultimate inconvenience, you're not a parent yet, or you're a liar.

I feel all these negative things. And I can get lost in them. Except that Jude keeps me coming back for more. He is so lovely and curious and sweet and cuddly. So Jude.

I think my main issue is that life is not Instagram. It's not a collection of perfectly framed, filtered, and captioned moments. Heck, life is nowhere on the Internet. It's in the minutes I spend wrestling a new diaper onto my rolling alligator of a baby. It's found in the bathroom, where I have resorted to using the tub like a playpen because I really have to poop and no, he won't be okay without me for five minutes. It's here, in my dark bedroom, where I am sitting on the floor because my son is asleep on my bed and five and a half attempts to get him in his crib later, I've resigned myself to another night of sleeping with a baby on my boob. This is life. And sometimes it hurts.

And sometimes it's too good to be true. That's just how it is. Most of my despair stems from unrealistic expectations. I don't know why I continue to believe I have a right to an entire episode of Parenthood with my husband and a pack of Oreos. Someday, that will be my reality. But right now, my reality is a baby who doesn't sleep through the night, or in his own bed, who doesn't nap regularly, and who apparently inherited his mother's capacity for dramatic breakdowns and loud protest of injustice.

In THIS MOMENT, I must embrace the moments of reading every book in his room with him on my lap. And yes, he really does look at every page while I read it and he knows what "turn the page means" and he does. I must embrace every moment of nursing, when he is almost still but not quite because he has to rub my belly or have a finger twisting in my bellybutton. (Jude should cherish these moments too because I am OVER the breastfeeding. For reals.)

Anyway, I should be hanging out with my husband because he just got home from work and I have things to say and I want to hear about his day. But instead I'm nursing Jude back to sleep for the fifty-hundredth time. Everything is okay.

I get angry and frustrated and feel like my life is over. And maybe part of it is. I have to face that. I NEED to face that. Jude needs me to face that. So we can start living. Instead of waiting for things to get easy so we can start living. Everything is okay. Whatever happens, sleep or no sleep, uninterrupted meal or no meal at all, pooping accompanied or solo. Everything is all right.

I had to write this on my phone. I had to stop writing this to nurse. I will sleep with my son instead of my husband tonight. I will do so many things. All of them matter. None of them matter. Everything is all right.


With a Little Help from my Friends

I know that I usually save the Beatles lyrics and titles for Jude's letters, but really, who are we kidding? The Beatles wrote the soundtrack to my life, so I'd be an idiot not to use it whenever I can. And because I've been blessed with a few precious gems from a few precious friends lately, I had to share. Although this is for you, it's also for me. I need this. I need these reminders. 

A while back, I wrote a desperate self-immolating post and got so many caring responses. One of them was from my dear friend, Ruth, whom I've loved since elementary school. She is one of the wisest, kindest, brightest souls I've had the pleasure to know. She is also a mother to two seriously beautiful children. She gave me the gift of this comment about that post:

...I also know very few moms of babies who don't consume in some way to make themselves feel better. The thing with those little people is that they just take so much. If you're like me (and every other mom I know), you feel like you've lost yourself somewhere in it all, and you need to find some way to give back to yourself, a little portion of the day that is your own. A little treat that gives the day some forward momentum when the lows come...as they do often, at least in my experience. And I sympathise that it is hard to find healthy ways of replenishing yourself, but you can do it. I do believe that it will require addressing the need to replenish yourself. You cannot just take away your self-comfort, you will have to find other, frequent, healthy, soul-addressing replacements for it.

This is the truth. I so often feel that Jude is taking something from me and I must give back to myself in some way so that I don't feel like I've completely lost myself in this child. I'm still working on giving up watching a TV show all the way through or finishing books in any semblance of a timely manner, or ever feeling well-rested when I wake up. But I'm working on it. Because I find the less I covet those things, the less angry or upset or annoyed I become when I don't get them. So I'm working on it. But really, I'm still making excuses for my daily 200-300 calorie, $5 coffee habit. I've been making excuses and I think I'm ready to stop wishing for a different me. I have to find the "other, frequent, healthy, soul-addressing replacement" for shoving food in my face every time things don't go my way. And hiding in the bathroom with my phone for some uninterrupted Internet time doesn't count, either. 

Lately I've been feeling really positive about the possibilities in my life. I'm in a strange waiting room and there are so many doors I could walk through. I just have to make the decision and do it. And that's what this week is going to be for me. I'm going to sit down and decide which goals to pursue and I'm going to plan small steps I can take to get there. I'm excited and I'm ignoring that fear of failure that keeps me from so many good things in my life. One of those things I'm excited about is feeling like I'm taking control of the small things. So often I just allow things to roll over me and then complain that I couldn't help it. This is rarely the case. Small decisions can make such a difference and I must finally be willing to accord small things their due significance. I've been denying it and this small denial has become a major factor of unhappiness and a false sense of helplessness in my life. 

So. Small Things Matter. Done.

I also find myself complaining because I'm so alone. Especially when it comes to my faith. I do feel isolated here because the way Kenny's family practices their faith is a bit different from mine. I attend church weekly, but I don't understand much of what goes on, even though I'm taking Jude to children's church. There's so much "holy vocabulary" I just don't get yet, so it's really hard to derive any kind of spiritual meaning (or any meaning at all) from my attendance. I often don't feel God is there. I know there are many ways to approach Him and I am the one doing the limiting here. Anyway, I mentioned this feeling of isolation and desire for fellowship and discipleship to a friend in an email. And she was so wise to reply in this manner:

The good news is that the only one we truly need is Christ. His fellowship can and will be enough to fill you up. Strive to spend time seeking Him, thanking Him, rejoicing in Him. Fellowship with others is important too, but maybe you're in a weird, isolated phase because He wants your undivided attention.

And I realized that this is also true. Perhaps I have been called here into this confusion of another language because when I'm alone, in this spiritual dry place, I see what my faith is made of. And it seems it's not made of much these days. So I'm refocusing on the simple truths that I know. I'm asking help and giving thanks. I'm daily aware of the examples I have before me in the selflessness and joy of my mother-in-law and the quiet, dutiful life of my father-in-law. I'm hoping to close my mouth a little more often, and to listen with my heart rather than my super-critical mind. I'm reminded of a time early in my relationship with Kenny where he wouldn't tell me he loved me. He said that he was uncomfortable with the way people so blithely said it, just spouted it out at any time. It seemed to him that the words had lost a bit of their meaning. He would rather never be told he was loved. Instead, he would rather be shown without a doubt that he was loved. And he did this for me. I never had to wonder if he cared for me. And the same is true for the Lord at this point. He has decided for some reason beyond my understanding and infinitely beyond my just desserts, to simply show me I'm loved. And that's the reason I'm out here in the wilderness alone. So I can hear that tiny voice and feel the smallest gestures of kindness and forgiveness from Him. 

And in turn, I will show up every Sunday morning, with my baby in tow, to sing songs I don't understand and spend a few hours with people I can't entirely relate to. I will happily tithe and give my offerings to a church who has accepted me and my son without reservation, despite our inability to communicate fully. I will gladly wake early on Sunday, thankful that I have an entire congregation of people who will support me and my family (who do, in fact, support us in many ways since my father-in-law is the pastor of that church). And in these small acts of devotion and my efforts at discipline, I will show Him that I love him. So that he doesn't doubt it when I say it. This is love. 

I'm thankful to my friend, Lyn, for reminding me of this. In a few sentences, she turned my head and heart upside down and refreshed my spirit. And I'm thankful to Ruth for reminding me of how important it is to love myself in a healthy way. To also show that I respect myself enough to be careful with what I give myself, what I allow myself, and what I take from myself. 

So, dear reading friends, I share my friends with you and hope this post does a bit of the same in turn. 


Sometimes It Goes Like This

I was walking from the coffee shop, crossing the road to the academy where I teach part-time, when I noticed it. I was in the middle of the crosswalk, and I felt good. I smiled.

I was lighter. I had just sat in a coffee shop and written steadily for an hour. I had worked on an article. I had tried to write this particular article last Friday night after Jude went to bed. But when I got to the last paragraph, it seemed I had two different pieces fighting each other and neither of them was quite on topic. All the editing in the world wasn't going to write a brand new piece. So I put it away. I reviewed my initial pitch for the article and re-centered my intention and most importantly, left it alone. I know many writers don't have the luxury of time, but in this case, I am glad I did.

As I was running down the stairs to the car this afternoon a sentence jumped into my head. I hadn't been thinking about the article at that moment, but had set today as the due date for finishing and emailing it. And as I started the car, this one sentence sprouted into a rough structure. And that's the moment I knew I could write it.

And I did. After I had written it and rewritten it and reread and reorganized and rewritten and reread once more, it was done. Writing is always hard work. Every time.

Today I put something on the page and it left me. The physical sensation of the loss was strong. But it was a positive feeling. My body experienced less resistance as I moved. My feet were tempted to skip down the sidewalk and it was hard to keep from singing.

Maybe when I write, I am somehow tapping into the very essence of what I am meant to do and who I am meant to be. So after I spend time with words, I have dug out a comfortable little hollow in the world, a snug place that is exactly me-shaped. It feels right.

Not everything I write is like that. Often it takes more time. Sometimes I give up. Most of the time the struggle to figure out what I'm writing isn't so easily resolved. Usually it doesn't all come together so neatly. But today it did.

And when it does, it's beautiful.


Falling for Fall

Sometimes I see another blog post that is a list of "things I love about (fill in the blank)" and I think, "Well, that's what happens when you post anyway, without anything to say." But for 3 days now I've been hit in the head with several things I am loving about the sudden fall weather in Seoul. And I thought a bit more about my knee-jerk reaction to lists of lovable things and I have changed my mind! Why not make a list of things I love about fall? Because everyone has an inexhaustible list of things that annoy the crap out of them and it's easy to harp about that shit. But sometimes i am trudging through a rough day, and a list of things to throw my heart's lasso around serves as a great pick-me-up. Also, when reading a list of things other people like, sometimes I am able to expand my own list by realizing Why, yes! That IS a great whatever and I've now added yet another dimension of appreciation to whatever.

So, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet, I present a list. Feel free to adopt my items and add more of your own in the comments!

1. I love the crisp bite of autumn air. It means that instead of sweating and sticking to my son, I finally get to bundle him up in the Moby wrap and tote him around like my own personal heat source. (have you used a Moby wrap in summer humidity? Don't bring that crazy near me.)

2. Big, loose sweaters over leggings. Like, please, Fashion, decide that it's awesome to cover my bumpy bits and show off my legs WITHOUT having to shave. Don't mind if I do.

3. I don't sweat all day every day! I find that living without central air conditioning makes me angry. I get angry so easily when I'm hot. I'll find myself storming around the house in a rage and stop to wonder what got me so worked up and I'll realize, heck! I'm just hot! Well, no more! The end of the mad melts! (And exclamation points. Sorry.)

4. TEEEEVEEEE. Parenthood is back, yo. That is all.

5. Jude in this hat. Do you need any more reason than this?


Gratitude covers a Multitude

First. Thank you. Yes, YOU. Thank you for all your kind comments, amazing encouragement, thoughtful and supportive emails, and phone calls. I read them all, multiple times. I'm probably not finished rereading them, either, to tell you the truth.

Second. The previous post was a bit dark; it was admittedly rushed and feverish and severely unedited in every sense of the word. This post is also being hurried and largely remains true to its first draft aside from spelling errors, which drive me berserk.

I just want to say that for all the self-loathing I gave voice to, in equal measure there exists some sense of appreciation and gratitude for what I DO have. And I'd like to talk about those things for a moment, for the sake of balance.

There are several things I currently appreciate about my body. I have made peace with my face, except for the current double-side face that occurs, but that can easily be taken care of with a little exercise and a few less donuts. I like that one of my eyebrows makes its own decisions and follows its own will, especially when being photographed. I like the shape of my lips and the color of my eyes. Currently, I am admiring the way small tufts of new hair are growing back in after all my after-Jude hair loss. They are spiky, all right around my hairline, and many of them are glowing. Yep, that's right, my new hair is coming in grey and I. don't. mind. In fact, I kind of like it. I found my first grey hairs a few months after Jude was born and they don't bother me. I'm aging! I'm living life! I'm moving forward no matter how much I feel things are all backwards for me. So grey hair is a positive sign at the moment.

I like my wrists and ankles because they do not get fat. I like that my boobs have swollen beyond all reason to a size they will probably never recover from in order to nourish my child. I am proud of my strong legs that carried me and Jude around for 9 months and that still support us, just in a slightly different configuration. I like my rib cage, its size, the fact that it remains the same size no matter how much I try to hide it with layers of donuts and coffee. It gives me hope. I have a beautiful underneath. I just have to uncover it.

I enjoy my job these days. I have liked getting to know my students, seeing their progress, and having fun with them. I am completely in love with coming home from work these days, to a Jude who couldn't be more thrilled to see me. I love figuring out how to fit in a bit of reading every day, during naptimes (which are growing shorter and shorter. What is that about? Does anyone else have a 7 month old child who naps for like 20 minutes and then is back up and at 'em for the next 5 hours?), and after Jude goes to bed. I am no longer severely sleep-deprived as Jude sleeps through the night, with usually only one sleep-feeding. I am BEYOND DELIGHTED to still be mainly breast feeding my child. I'm so happy every time he refuses a bottle of supplementary formula while I'm at work and waits to nurse until I get home. I'm also so happy to feed him fresh, homemade baby food. He is so adorable opening his little birdy mouth and slurping up whatever veggie mush we've come up with that week.

In short, I could go on. Because there are so many good things in my life currently. But I'm so BIG, it's easy to lose sight of the little things, you know? Sometimes my body outweighs my brain. Ha. Okay, my body always "outweighs" my brain, among other things. I'm making small efforts to get back in shape. And hopefully those small efforts will turn into giant leaping strides towards feeling lighter and more free. That's the thing I dislike most- the feeling that I'm trapped inside this huge sandbag of a body. There is a woman inside me who might even give a second thought to the clothes she put on if she could just get to where buying clothes wasn't a reminder of everything she's doing wrong.

Anyway, thank you all for being here. For waiting out my long silences, pauses. For telling the truth. And for loving me anyway. My life would be worth so much less if you were subtracted from it. Honestly, sincerely, my gratitude is covering a multitude of insecurities and discontent. It also covers you. Can you feel it?


Figuring Things Out

I need to know why I can't stop eating. I mean, it's obviously some kind of emotional crutch in some way, but I'm just not sure how to explore this in a way that will help me be able to exercise a little self control. I'm really eager to be thin again. And not just that. I was watching these kids run the opposite way over the crosswalk the other day and I thought about moving my body like that, so carefree, with no thought given to it. It's like I conserve energy as a habit. I got angry playing badminton with Kenny the other day because I kept missing and having to bend over and pick up the shuttlecock. I mean, this was a serious rage I found myself in, with the fast breathing and inability to form complete coherent sentences because my brain was red.

Something I've never expressed to anyone except for Kenny: I want to be a yoga instructor. Like, that's what I want to do with my life. I want to figure out how to listen to my body, to stretch myself, and then to help others center themselves, too. I mean, obviously I want to be a writer, but I don't do much of that these days. I compose blog posts and letters and postcards to friends in my head, but rarely do they make it out of the "brain crack" stage, as Ze Frank so famously refers to it.

This post is insane because I am writing it as quickly as possible. I'm not editing, which is death to a writer like me because it's way too vulnerable. Not because I'll reveal something personal, but because you will see me without any filters- the filter of "that sounds stupid" or "too many adjectives" or "Oh God you're not David Foster Wallace, are you? Write a paragraph using more than one sentence, geez" kind of filter. The one that makes it comfortable for me to hit publish, even if I'm revealing something less than flattering about myself, because at least I have written in a somewhat coherent fashion and my style shows I'm worth something, gosh darn it, even if I am a neurotic mess and a repetition of all my past mistakes piling up over and over again without any progress. My lack of progress might be redeemed by grammar and clean Hemingway sentences. Or not. Maybe you all see through this anyway. Good for you. Welcome to my darkest corner, the "What if they think I'm ignorant" fear.

So I'm bypassing all that here. I'm just letting it all hang out. Which is impossible not to do when my back fat is constantly pressed into sections by my bra. I am thankful that my breasts have swollen to a size F because I am still breast feeding and that is one of the only things I'm happy doing these days. It's like a saving grace in my day. But I'm not happy about the swelling of everything else and I know I "just" had a baby, but Jude is like almost 7 months old and so I think we can retire the "just" and just call me fat now. Let's speak the truth. The truth about how I feel: I feel like an offense. When I walk down the street with my tiny head like a pimple on the top of this enormous bloated mid-section, I actually feel offensive, like people will cringe to look at me. When I buy shirts out of necessity (all the others had holes or are stained), I feel ashamed that I have to buy the biggest size. I feel ashamed of myself, just walking around with Jude. Because people can't see the excuse that I make for myself when I'm with him. I carry Jude most of the time in a carrier on the front of me. He protects me from judgement somehow. And whenever I am without him, I feel uncalled for, inexcusable, un- whatever. Just un, nil, naught. I feel like I don't count for anything.

Now, for the other half of this truth: I know all of that is bullshit. I know it deep down to my core, that these negative thoughts are not honest, that most of it stems from living in this tiny-worshipping country. But another truth is that I'm not fat by accident, you guys. I'm fat on purpose. Every time I refuse to exercise self-control, to use discipline and keep my spoon out of the Nutella jar, or pretend like "one more coffee can't hurt," I'm making a choice. I'm killing myself through a thousand tiny indulgences every day. I'm sitting in a bakery typing this now. And do you think I didn't have a 255 calorie chocolate dipped, baked thing? No, of course I ate it. And I drank a bottle of water to cancel it out. Ha.

In conclusion: I am a crazy person. I want to change everything. And yet I'm willing to give up nothing to get it. However, I am tired of having all of this stuff on the inside of my head and I'm tired of rehashing it with myself, and I'm tired of feeling like an utterly worthless piece of crap because I can't tell myself no.

Today I am saying no. No to keeping all this pent up. No to not writing. No to not moving. No to not pursuing my dreams. I'm clearly unhinged, mentally and physically. But I can make a choice today to work on it. To do better tomorrow. To prove that it's the one thousandth three hundred and thirtieth time that you start over that counts.

I'm pushing publish. And I'm starting over. And I will never not edit myself again. Because it's way too ugly. But I have proved that I can do it. I can strip everything bare, lay everything out. I have no choice. Not doing that has gotten me nowhere. We'll see where I end up.

Anyone out there? This place has been a tomb. But I am a phoenix today. Rising from the ashes. Damn, I'm lucky. Because the God of my father is one who deals in turning ashes into beauty. Beauty from ashes. It's my story. I've made ashes of this body, this life. I'm ready for the beauty. And it doesn't come free.

DO WORK, Danielle. Do the work. And drop the self-loathing. It's so counterproductive. And end this freaking post.

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