Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Love of Family

Yesterday I returned from visiting my family in Georgia for the Christmas holiday. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I had a wonderful time. It was actually one of the best times I've had with my family in a very long time. It was very low stress. There were no blow-ups or arguments with anyone. All in all it was very pleasant. There was lots of loving energy in my parents' home. That hasn't always been the case, but there's no need to dwell on it. The most important thing is that we all came together at a time when families are meant to be together and we shared the holiday.

On Tuesday I begin my yoga teacher training. I think my commitment to yoga has shifted my perception and my perspective in the best possible way. It's given me more of an ability to look at the big picture. Don't get me wrong. I've always been a "big picture" kind of person, but I don't think I truly understood how to recognize what was significant and what was insignificant with regard to my big picture. While I was at my parents' house I mentioned something about being poor, and my dad stopped me. He said, "As long as you have a job, a place to live, and food to eat you're not poor." In the past, my dad would've agreed with me and maybe even said that he was poor, too. But when I look at my big picture, I know that my dad is right. I have a good job, and I'm in the process of training for another one. That good job pays decent money, which allows me to provide a roof over my head and food in my stomach. The most important thing of all is that I have a family who loves me and are willing to help me in any way they can. Me, poor? Nah. Just because I'm not rich monetarily doesn't mean that I'm not rich in the way that truly counts.

This is an old picture, but I still like it :-).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ring's Not the Thing

As the holiday season is coming to a close, I know there are a lot of disappointed women out there who were expecting an engagement ring as a Christmas gift. When my ex and I were together any time Valentine's Day, my birthday, or Christmas rolled around there was a woman in my office who would always ask me if I got a ring. She was like "What did Bryan get you? Did you get a diamond?" First of all I don't like diamonds. Second of all getting a ring on one of those three days is such a cliche.

It's amazing that the female mentality has evolved greatly in every aspect except this one. Women have high-powered jobs, buy their own homes, and adopt or have babies on their own. When it comes to a committed relationship with a man, many females revert right back to that 1950s mentality of waiting (im)patiently for that ring. Songs like Beyonce's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) reinforce that mentality. The diamond industry is constantly touting the fact that a man should spend three months' salary on an engagement right. Say what?

When a man does come up with the ring, it's gotta be the right ring. If it's too small, then she gets all upset. My ex told me that he was once willing to buy a ring for a girl, but it was going to be a small one. He asked her if she'd be willing to accept that ring until he was able to buy her a bigger one, but she said no. Since when is the ring more important that the relationship? Ladies, get your priorities straight. Don't lose the man you love just because your diamond isn't big enough. This isn't some effin' Hollywood movie. This is real life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Instant Gratification Generation

Last week my younger brother and I were talking about love and marriage. He's currently waiting for his divorce to be finalized, and has already started another relationship with someone else he feels he would like to marry. Personally I think that he should take the time to get himself centered and grounded before he decides to jump headlong into another committed relationship. During our conversation I told him that I'm not sure if marriage works for our generation. We are the first of the instant gratification generations. We live in very much of a throw-away society. If it's not working for us, we get rid of it and get another one. Although you should never treat people like that, we do. Of course I mean "we" in the metaphorical sense. I, personally, am someone who will stay until the bitter end as long as I have someone to hang in there with me.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries' 72 day marriage is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. They knew each other for all of two seconds and then decided to make the biggest commitment that two people can make to each other. "I barely know anything about you, yet I'll pledge to spend the rest of my life with you until death do us part. Or at least until we have our first major disagreement." My parents have been married for 44 years and I think there are very few couples from my generation that will be able to say the same years from now. I've said it before and I'll say it again, people don't take marriage vows seriously anymore. They're just the words that people have to say in order to get married. They've lost their meaning. Most people think I'm anti-marriage because I don't rhapsodize about getting married someday. I'm not anti-marriage. I'm anti-bullshit. There's a huge difference.

My younger brother is someone that jumps into a situation with both feet, and sees the situation as being colored with sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns. When the clouds, rain, and unicorn shit show up he always tries to find an excuse to bolt. We live a life of duality, and must take the good with the bad because without the bad the good would be nowhere near as good. How boring would it be if things were good all the time? I'm not saying that there should always be tragic or dramatic circumstances in your life, but a little adversity shows us what we're truly made of.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lying Bastard Strikes Again!

Last week I was contemplating calling my scale something else besides lying bastard because of its two weeks of accuracy with regard to my weigh-in, but apparently it likes the name because it was off by a whole two pounds this week. Luckily that only meant that I was up 0.2. I can just imagine him laughing to himself as he gives me the false hope of a big loss. He will indeed be getting a name change, but not in his favor. From now on he will be known as my lying ass bastard scale. Next week I'll be leaving to visit my mom, who has the sweetest scale ever. That girl is always right on the money when it comes to my weight :-).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thrifty Gifty Thursday

Since Christmas is a week from Sunday, this is my last Thrifty Gifty Thursday post for 2011. I think it would be helpful to do Thrifty Gifty Thursday posts for every holiday, so I'll start again at the end of January so you can have some gift ideas for Valentine's Day :-). Today I'd like to focus on websites with a charitable slant. The first one I'd like to talk about is the Great Good Network: http://www.greatergoodnetwork.com/. It links you to different advocacy sites for different causes such as breast cancer, animal rescue, literacy, and hunger. A portion of the proceeds from the products that are sold on these sites benefit the causes that they advocate.


Another great organization is the Nothing but Nets program: http://www.nothingbutnets.net/. For a donation of $10 you can provide a family in Africa and other malaria-stricken areas with a bed net to protect them from mosquitoes. My boy Gavin DeGraw is an ambassador and has travelled to Africa to personally deliver bed nets. For those who don't want a physical Christmas gift, a donation in their name is the perfect gift.


I hope I've given you some good ideas over the past few weeks. Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Satisfying Curiosity

Yesterday's blog post elicited a question or two about my French II teacher. Although she's from Germany she was in Georgia teaching French. She also taught English. Unlike us lazy Americans, many Europeans are not only fluent in their own language, but in English, as well as one or two others. I think they start learning foreign languages at a very young age. Studies have shown that it's easier to learn and become fluent in a foreign language as a child than it is as an adolescent or an adult. Madame Teaver spoke French with a perfect French accent. She could've taught us so much more than Madame Turner did if the other students had been willing to learn from her. I heard that in one of her other classes a student asked her if her grandfather was a Nazi. Rude little bastard!

As far as her teaching English, she once told me about a student of hers (a black student) that did really well in her class until she got pregnant. When Madame Teaver approached another teacher in the English department about it, the teacher told her that it's impossible for black students to do well in English because proper English isn't spoken in their homes. Well ain't that a load of bullshit?! Depending on my surroundings I may occasionally lapse into the vernacular, but English was one of my best subjects in school, and I still do well with it as an adult, hence my certificate in copyediting. That was just one more example of the racist thinking that pervaded the institution where I received my secondary education.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Junior Year, Time for Something New

My junior year in high school means that I'm almost at the finish line. The previous year I had started my required foreign language study by taking French. I did pretty well and was looking forward to advancing my knowledge. Unfortunately I was in a classroom of lazy asses! That year we had a new French teacher, Madame Teaver. The previous teacher, Madame Turner didn't come back that year. Madame Teaver was from Germany. What she was doing in Georgia is beyond me! Anyway, because she was A. a new teacher, and B. from Germany, the majority of the class decided to act like we didn't learn the basics in French I. Because of that fact, French II was just a rehash of French I. Of course it was an easy A for me, but I didn't want an easy A. I wanted to continue to add to my knowledge base, but that's just another example of the substandard education I had to deal with.

That was also the year that I decided what college I wanted to go to. Because of its music program, I wanted to go to DePaul University. I figured I'd major in Music Business so that someday I could have my own record label. My best friend in high school was an artist and she decided that she wanted to go to the Art Institute in Chicago. It would've been the perfect set-up. We could've been in Chicago together. Also, she has family that lives right by the Indiana/Illinois border, near Chicago. As luck would have it, I got to go with her to visit them during spring break of junior year. Her mom and her mom's boyfriend drove us from Georgia to Indiana and we all stayed with her grandparents. They were the nicest people. I really enjoyed my time there. We went to Chicago twice while I was there and that cemented my desire to want to attend college at DePaul. Ever since I was a small child I always knew that I would leave rural Georgia to see what another part of the US had to offer.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Make Up Your Mind!

Yesterday was my weigh-in and I knew that I'd be up because I was feeling bloated and I also overindulged over the past week. When I stepped on my lying bastard scale yesterday morning I was indeed up. After work when I went to WW, I was mentally prepared to find out my weight. Funnily enough, my lying bastard scale was right on the money with regard to my weight. That has actually happened for two weeks in a row. I was up, but I didn't let it bother me because WW introduced a new phase of its plan and I know that it'll help me get back on track. Also, I got on my scale this morning and I was more than 2lbs lighter than I was yesterday. Since my belly doesn't feel as bloated I know the scale is somewhere in the realm of correctness. Now if my scale is right for three weeks in a row, I'll have to come up with a new name for it. Lying bastard would no longer be appropriate ;-).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thrifty Gifty Thursday

Once again it's time for me to recommend another lovely affordable site for your holiday gift-giving needs. Many of my Twitter friends have their own products or crafts that they sell. Last week I told you about @haileysgarden's site and today I'd like to talk about a site associated with @BustertheBeagle. Buster is a therapy dog for a young lady named Abby, who has autism. Abby and her mother, Bonnie have an Etsy shop where they sell handmade crafts: http://www.aidforabby.etsy.com/. Abby and Bonnie make them together. Many of them are simple, but very beautiful. There are notecards, paintings, and collages. Below is a picture of a Christmas card available in her shop.


Because insurance doesn't cover Abby's care, and she wasn't approved for Medicaid, her mom, who is physically disabled, set up this shop to help pay for Abby's care. By making a purchase here, you're not only supporting an artist, you're also contributing to that artist's well-being. Through my many conversations with her mother on Twitter, I've learned that Abby is a sweet girl, who is doing her best to play the hand that life has dealt her. Her mom is a very nice lady, and I'm glad we became friends on Twitter.





Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Moving on to 10th Grade

In my previous autobiographical entry I told you about the whole frog dissection debacle in biology class, and how because of that my biology teacher tried to keep me out of the advanced chemistry class. Well, there were lots of people that considered that chemistry class a joke because so many people cheated. Apparently, they didn't cheat very well because I ended up receiving the chemistry award at the end of the school year. For me, chemistry was very easy. I have a good memory, so that if I see something a few times, I tend to remember it. The periodic chart was a breeze because of that. Also, if you demonstrate something for me once, I'm usually able to get the hang of it. Anyone that's ever taken a chemistry class knows that it's all about formulas. As long as you know how to plug the numbers in, you can't go wrong.

My chemistry teacher was not a native Georgian. She was actually from Pennsylvania. I think that's why she didn't buy into a lot of the bullshit that went on in my high school. One day I was discussing the dissection debacle with her. Her reponse was "No wonder, Mrs. Kent doesn't like you." And I was like "What do you mean?" She said, "You're the reason why we had to come up with the alternate assignment." I wasn't even aware until that moment that an alternative to dissection was being offered by the science department. It makes me feel good to know that in that regard I was a force for change.

That was also the year that I started studying a foreign language, if you could call it studying...Anyway, I decided to take French because of its connections to North Africa. I know that the North Africans learning French was a result of oppression more than anything else, but it's still a part of the African experience. To say that my French class was a joke is understating quite a bit. Hearing French spoken with a Southern accent is horrible! I can actually speak with a decent French accent because I have a good ear. Singing in choirs helped me to be able to mimic the sounds that I hear. I did very well in my first year French class, but there's no way I would've been able to converse with anyone. I was very much looking forward to the following year, so that I could broaden my knowledge of the French language. Little did I know that it would be somewhat of a retread of the first year's class.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Take That, Thanksgiving Holiday!

Last Thursday it was Thanksgiving here in the United States. Of course Thanksgiving is a lot like Christmas in that there's lots of food to be eaten on that day, which produces lots of leftovers. It's also usually a time spent with family. Because my family lives out-of-state, I spent Thanksgiving on my own with my cat, Topaz. The great thing about spending Thanksgiving alone when you're on the Weight Watchers plan is that you have complete and total control over the food that enters your orbit. You don't have to worry about someone pushing Grandma's sweet potato pie or Aunt Mary's green bean casserole on you. For the record, it amazes me how French's has single-handedly made green bean casserole an annual Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition.

Well that's neither here nor there. The important thing is that I made my own food that day, following my own timetable. Normally Thanksgiving dinner is served around 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon, but I ate dinner during my regular mealtime, which I think helped tremendously. As for leftovers, I only ate them for one meal for the next two days. One day I had them for lunch and then I had them for dinner. Then I skipped a day of leftovers and had the last of my turkey the following day. Today I will be having the last of my baked mac 'n' cheese, which I baked in individual ramekins to facilitate portion control. Thanks to that careful planning and execution, I was down a pound when I weighed in. The fact that I got in a good deal of exercise helped, too. I'm proud of myself for having a loss for the second week in a row. For a while now I've been alternating my weeks with a loss and a gain. Here's hoping I'm starting a new trend! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thrifty, Gifty Thursday

Since today is the first day of December and I know that many of us need to do our Chritmas shopping, I will dedicate Thursdays of this month to blogging about websites where you can get handcrafted gifts for a reasonable price. First up I'd like to talk about one of my all-time favorites. I've mentioned this site several times in my blog because I really love the products. Of course I'm talking about Hailey's Dragonfly Garden. You can check it out here: http://www.haileysdragonflygarden.com/. This site offers all natural bath and body care at an affordable price. I especially like the clear body washes. Because they're all natural, they smell heavenly and the scent lasts all day. There are also many different types of soaps, and even products for babies. In these tough economic times when all big businesses are doing is taking our money and giving us subpar products, wouldn't you rather support a small business that not only has heart, but great products, too?

Monday, November 28, 2011

So...Ninth Grade...

As I've mentioned so many times before, I spent five years in high school, beginning with eighth grade. That first year was filled with a few bumps and a few life lessons, which I took with me into ninth grade. Any of you who are female, or who have ever lived in a household with females knows that teenage girls go through a "bitch phase". Some women never outgrow it, hahaha!!! Luckily, I did. Now I only engage in selective bitchery ;-). Back then, I thought I knew everything. I also thought it was funny to talk smack about fat people and people that weren't particularly attractive. Although I would never say anything to these people's faces, my friends and I would still say things behind their backs. Thinking back on it now, I'm very ashamed of my misguided attempts to fit in. You would think that after I was picked on in eighth grade for not being "black enough" that I would be more tolerant, but no, the ignorance of youth won out.

There is one major thing that happened when I was in ninth grade that set a precedent at my high school. In ninth grade I took a biology class. Of course biology always involves the dissection of something. Since it was ninth grade biology, we had to dissect a frog. Now I'm someone who doesn't believe in that sort of thing. I don't see the point of killing a bunch of little frogs just so they can be cut open by high school kids. Initially there was someone else besides me who objected. Her parents are very big on the environment and they worked toward going green before it was cool. Because that girl didn't want to dissect, she was told that an alternate assignment would be provided. Once three other students, all black females (one of whom was me), decided they didn't want to dissect the frog, the offer of an alternate assignment was rescinded and we had to go to the principal's office. That trip to the principal's office was an interesting one. She tried to make us feel guilty because we were the advanced students and didn't want to do the assignment. She also told us that if we didn't do the dissection, we wouldn't get a college preparatory seal on our diplomas. Of course we were too young and unworldly to know that in the grand scheme of things a college prep seal didn't mean  jack shit, but adults in positions of authority know how to get over on kids.

Once we returned to the classroom, we were told that we'd each have to join one of the groups that was performing the dissection and participate. I joined the group of two guys that I knew, and was crying the whole time I sat there watching them. One asked me if I was okay and of course my response was no. After that incident, it was mandatory for the curriculum for ninth grade biology to include an alternative to dissection. I was a pioneer and didn't even know it. I actually didn't find out until the following year when my 10th grade chemistry teacher told me. And on a side note: To this day I love frogs. I buy and wear frog jewelry :-).

I know for a fact that my ninth grade biology teacher was a racist. As I said before, she offered the white girl an alternate assignment, but as soon as there was a black contingent, she wasn't having it. As further proof that she didn't like me in particular, toward the end of the school year we had to pre-register for the next year's classes. The only chemistry class that fit into my schedule was the advanced one. Of course that's the one I should've been taking anyway, but she tried to keep me out of the class. Her exact words were "There are certain people that I  have  to give this class to." That's complete and total bullshit! She just didn't want to give that class to me. Eventually, she had to put it on my schedule, but I know it really ate her up to do so.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wonderful Weigh-in

Since today is Thanksgiving Day Weight Watchers was closed. To make sure that I was in fine form for Turkey Day, I weighed in yesterday. I'm happy to report that I was down 2lbs.Yeah, baby! To top it off, last night was my first Wednesday night doing workstudy at the yoga studio that I go to. In exchange for free unlimited classes I come in on Wednesdays to help out in the studio. Wednesday is when the community class is offered for the discounted price of $7.00. It's usually a full house and afterwards whoever was there checking in people needs to straighten up and clean the studio. Although the community class ends at 8:30 in the evening, sometimes the person working wouldn't get out of there until 10:00 because of all the cleaning that needs to be done. I very much appreciate the opportunity. I eventually want to do the yoga teacher training program there, and the unlimited classes give me the chance to advance my practice.

I'd like to close this post by thanking everyone who stops by to read my blog. I'm grateful for all of you. At this time last year things weren't particularly great, but the love and support of friends and family helped me make it through to the other side. Happy Thanksgiving, me lovelies. Be well and treat each other well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My First Year of High School

As you may remember, because of restructing of the schools (as well as renovations), I was in high school for five years, starting in eighth grade. My first year of high school was actually my older brother's last year. Although he's only three years older than me, he was four grades ahead of me because I started school late. I got to know some of his friends, and they didn't treat me like some little kid just tagging along. By that time I was 14. As a matter of fact, none of the older kids treated us any differently, which was nice.

In elementary school, I encountered the occasional spate of racism from students, but high school was different. White students didn't have a problem with me. Other black students did. Because my friends had always been white, that's who I hung out with for the most part. A few of my cousins were in the same grade that I was in so sometimes I hung out with them, but whenever all of us were with other black students, they made fun of me. They picked on me for the way that I talked (they said I talked white, i.e. intelligently) and they called me an Oreo (black on the outside and white on the inside). I remember crying about this and going to the school counselor. I couldn't understand why they would do such a thing. I was just minding my own business, not bothering anyone. I chose not to hang out with them because they used the excuse of being black for very ignorant behavior. My mama raised me better than that. Luckily, as my eighth grade year progressed, the bullying stopped, but to this day it still hurts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aww Screw It

Yesterday was my weigh-in day, but I also had a doctor's appointment early in the morning. All of you know that I've had a cold for basically three weeks now. On Monday that cold morphed into a sinus infection. The way I knew that is from the pain and pressure I felt above my right eyebrow and behind my right eye. I also felt like something was squeezing the top of my head. Tuesday it moved to my cheekbones. By Wednesday I couldn't take anymore. So I went to see the doctor at 7:45 yesterday morning. She prescribed a 10-day course of antibiotics, as well as nasal spray.

After all of the pain I've been through this week, I really don't care that I was up when I got on the scale last night. It's been a tough week and sweets were my friend in my time of need. Also, sinus pain and pressure isn't conducive to exercise. I plan to be back on track this week, so it's all good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Come off it Already!

As the whole Penn State thing continues to unfold, I become more and more disgusted. First of all I want to address the issue of Penn State students, faculty, and alumni getting all up in arms about the termination of Joe Paterno. He is just as culpable for the damage done to those children as Jerry Sandusky. He may not have physically put his hands on any of them, but he had knowledge of the goings-on that were taking place. For that he deserves more than termination from the job that made him a household name in Pennsylvania. He doesn't get a free pass for building one of the best collegiate football legacies in recent history. Fuck football! We are talking about children who trusted an adult in a position of great power. This is a person who was supposed to be making their lives better. Instead, he scarred them for life and continually acted out a nightmare that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Speaking of Jerry Sandusky, he's now back out in the open, giving stumbling, bumbling responses to the accusations against him. When asked in a phone interview by Bob Costas if he was sexually attracted to young boys, he hesitated and then repeated the question. Anyone that knows anything about speech patterns knows that's the classic move of someone that's about to lie to you. After repeating the question he was like "No, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys." I know I'm not the only one to call bullshit on that answer. Another one of his statements made me wish I could hunt his ass down and beat the shit out of him. He was like "I realize now that showering with them was wrong." He also admitted to acting inappropriately but denied sexually abusing young boys over a 15-year period. There's no way in this world to explain away child rape witnessed by another person. He's trying to come across as a pitiful and pitiable old man that "really loves kids and loves being around them", who crossed the line just a little bit. Seriously?! He told Bob Costas that he's not a pedophile. The medical diagnosis of pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in adults or adolescents typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children. If that doesn't describe what good ol' Jerry's been up to, I don't know what does.

The thing that really gets me is that a lot of parents don't want their sons around gay men for fear of something like this happening. For the most part, gay men don't prey on little boys. Straight men with wives, children, and fine upstanding lives usually do. Or in the case of the Catholic Church scandal, men of the cloth who are supposed to be above reproach. Gay people don't want to mess with your sons. They got other issues to deal with without putting themselves in the line of fire for something like that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One Last Thing about Middle School

As I told you before, I only spent one year in middle school. Talking with someone on Twitter earlier this morning brought back a memory from middle school. I grew up in the rural South where racism always bubbles just under the surface. Right down the street from my middle and high schools lived a man who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan is nowhere near as powerful as it was during the civil rights movement, but to this day they still have a presence in the South. This man was a redneck of the first order. He lived in a raggedy house with lawn jockeys out front and an old boat with a sign on it. The sign said that the boat was for sending all of the niggers back to Africa.

Well this guy's daughter is the same age I am, and I actually went to middle school with her. Although her father was an ignorant bastard, I never had any problems with her. You would think that with a father like that she'd be carrying a banner for the cause, so to speak, but she seemed all right. She was actually friends with a friend of mine. In the mornings before classes started, if you got to school early, you had to sit in the lunchroom. I remember sitting near her in the lunchroom and she was relatively nice. I found out years later that she was dating a black guy. I'm sure that her daddy was really pleased about that. He actually moved out of that house years ago and the boat is no longer there, but whenever I drive by that house I see the lawn jockeys and the boat in my mind's eye.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Steady as She Goes

Yesterday was weigh-in day, and let me tell you, was it ever a miserable one! I'm speaking weather-wise. It rained all day, and because of the time change it was basically completely dark when I left the office. Because a lot of the streets in Boston tilt, any time it rains there is standing water on the side of the street, right near the sidewalk. If you don't know any better, you think that where you are about to step is flat with only a very shallow puddle of water, but in reality you end up pluging your foot ankle-deep into cold water. Because I wore flats yesterday, the hems of my pants were pretty much dragging the ground so that by the time I got home my pants legs were soaked.

Enough about the weather. Let's talk about my weigh-in. When I stepped on the scale I found that my weight was exactly the same as it was last week. That's what the bastard scale at home told me, too, but you know how untrustworthy it has proven itself to be. I'm glad that my lack of significant exercise didn't cause me to gain. This cold that I have has been hanging on to me with a death grip, but I think I'm almost out of the woods. I'm planning to go to yoga class tomorrow morning to kick-start my exercise again and also to continue to rid myself of toxins.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pretty Isn't All You Are

The media bombards us with images of women that trade on their looks. When young girls see this they figure that the only way they're going to get anywhere in life is by looking pretty. Every time I see a story about that 17 year old girl who married that 51 year old actor (at her mother's urging), I'm like "For real?" Now that the two of them are married she spends her time posting provocative pictures of herself on Face Book in low-cut tops and short shorts. Cleavage abounds up top and down below. If that's the way this mother wants her child to live her life, then that's fine. Those escapades don't need to be laid out for public consumption.

Of course one of the biggest pop culture headlines of the moment has to do with Kim Kardashian's 72 day marriage. The backlash is monumental. During a period in our economic history when a large part of the population can't keep their homes and there's a man trying to rob Burger King with a sock http://consumerist.com/2011/11/man-tries-to-rob-burger-king-with-a-sock.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter, the last thing this world needed was the gross display of conspicuous consumption that constituted her wedding to Kris Humphries. This isn't the effin' 1980s! To spend all of that money and have all of that hoopla, and then to turn around and say "I'm divorcing him." flies in the face of everything that many people hold dear.

If either of the women that I mentioned above were homely, with no sex appeal, do you think we'd even know anything about their stories? Of course not! The media is teaching our young women that if they want to get anywhere they have to be beautiful and willing to exploit that beauty for all it's worth. In a bid to measure up, eating disorders continue to be on the rise, and bullying seems to be at an all time high.

The only way to completely insulate your daughters against this would be to ban all forms of media from your household. Not only is that drastic, it's nearly impossible. A more effective way to combat these harmful messages is to sit your girls down and talk to them. Let them know that looks fade. Unless they're willing to spend their whole lives chasing youth (which I consider a waste of a good life), there's always going to be someone younger and prettier. If a woman doesn't base who and what she is on her looks, that's not going to matter to her. There's a whole world out there that needs fixing. Women have the intuition, listening skills, and nurturing nature to bring this world back around to what it needs to be. There's no law that says we can't look good while we're doing it, but let's not make looking good our sole purpose in life.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Moving into the Teen Years

I made it through the rest of the elementary period of my education without any major mishaps. Back then elementary school consisted of kindergarten through sixth grade. Because I was born a few weeks after Labor Day, I started school late, so that by the time I was done with elementary school I was 12. Because of the restructuring of the school system, my sixth grade class was the last one that would be considered part of elementary education. The following year, middle school would consist of sixth and seventh grades, while eighth grade would be in the high school.

My one year in middle school was fun. That's where I initially got into music. I sang in the seventh grade chorus. I even tried out for a solo, but I was so nervous that my leg shook like crazy while I was auditioning. There was that shyness again! 

During my third week of seventh grade I turned 13. Anyone that has ever been or raised a 13-year old girl knows how fraught with turmoil that age is. There's the question of wearing makeup--yes, no, and if so, how much. My mother never wore makeup so she wasn't sure how to approach that situation. I will say that she let me start wearing it at 13, and that I wore lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow, and mascara. Looking back, I know I was way too heavy-handed with the eye makeup. If I had it to do over again, there's no way I would've started wearing makeup at 13. I go through phases in my adult life where I wear none at all and I know that my face looks perfectly fine without it. Most days you'll see me with eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss on. I wear foundation during the winter because the New England weather is so harsh on the skin, but it's not something I feel like I need to wear.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Hey There Scale. How You Doin'?

Yesterday was weigh-in day. My bastard scale at home said I was down a little bit, so I figured I could trust it. I could tell by the way that my clothes were fitting that I hadn't gained anything, and if I had, I knew it would be less than a pound.When I got to my meeting after work and stepped on the scale I saw that I had lost the little bit of weight that I put on last week. Not bad considering my cold hasn't gone away yet. Because of that fact I haven't been exercising much. I think I'll try to do a little bit of yoga every day this upcoming week to rinse some of the toxins out of my system.

During every meeting we talk about celebrations and challenges. Of course celebrations are usually scale-related. Someone loses their first five pounds, five or ten percent of their body weight, or they lose that first 10lbs. Last night there was a girl who saw a loss on the scale but felt like she didn't deserve it because she didn't follow the plan to the letter. She said that it had been a stressful week, which caused her to make bad food choices. She said at one point she felt as if the "Weight Watchers gods" were going to strike her down. When she saw the loss on the scale, she felt guilty. Her mentality is definitely a clue that she hasn't be on the plan for very long. I asked her if her food choices were really that bad. She said one of the things she did was eat a lot of chips, directly from the bag. Anyone that knows anything about portion control knows that eating straight from the bag is a no-no, because that means you have no idea how much you ate; and therefore, can't track it. I told her that not every week is going to be her perfect week, and that she needs to stop being afraid of what might go wrong. I also told her that she needs to give herself permission to not be perfect. She can't let that fear rule her or she's going to drive herself crazy.

If you've got something in your life that you're working on or trying to accomplish, just remember that life throws you some curve balls. If you don't knock it out of the park each time, that's okay. You may get a piece of it and hit it into foul territory, or you may even swing and miss. Regardless of what's happens, that was just one day in a long line of days in which you will have an opportunity to do better.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

All Done with School

Last night I went to my final copyediting class. I'm happy to say that I'm done with school, for the time being. I will explain what I mean by that later, but first, let's talk about my last class. It had to do with proofreading and during most of the class period  we practiced proofreading articles so that we could make sure we knew how to mark the text. If any of the you know anything at all about professional proofreading, you know that this is one of the most boring things you can do as a class. We'd do the work in our workbooks and then the professor would project the marked up copy on a screen for us to compare ours to. In some instances she would ask people to come up and put their marks on the board. If anyone asked her about something, she'd dither until she gave a non-answer.

Luckily, two professors alternated teaching the classes because I don't know if I could've handled this woman more than once a week. She honestly seemed like she smoked a joint before class. That's how scatter-brained and dithery she was. There was one other Michelle in the copyediting program, and the professor always used the attendance sheet to call on people for answers to homework or practice quizzes. Unless she used the last name, we had no idea which Michelle she was talking to. Any time that she meant me, and I asked her if she did, she would assume I was trying to get out of answering the question. She did it again last night, and the girl beside me said, "We go through this every class!"

After we went over homework, she asked for volunteers to go to the board and mark some sentences she had put up. Because no one wanted to be there (last class syndrome), they were all looking around at each other. I figured since no one else was volunteering, I might as well get the ball rolling. That was also my way of showing the professor that I wasn't trying to avoid answering questions ;-). My volunteering had the desired effect. She didn't call on me for the rest of class, although when she would ask for suggested changes to what someone else had already done, I would chime in. Once the class finally ended we were all very relieved. Upon receiving my certificate, I will officially be certified as a copyeditor.

As for being done with school for the time being, I found out that one of the colleges in Cambridge offers an online Bachelor's in psychology. That's something else I plan to do within the next year or two. Those who know me well know that I like helping people. I think I could do really well as a counselor or a therapist. Also, I think the knowledge that I acquire could be put to good use when I become a Weight Watchers leader. Many of the reasons why a lot of people overeat are psychological. My quest for knowledge continues!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Growing Up

In one of last week's blog entries I mentioned that I was very shy when I was younger. I was very introverted and introspective. There were many things that I would've love to have done that might've alleviated some of the shyness (ballet, Girl Scouts, baton lessons), but my parents couldn't afford any of those things. Instead, books are where I had my adventures. I remember reading a biography about Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts. If I couldn't be a Girl Scout, at least I could learn their origins.

Of course I would talk to my friends when we were together, but for the most part I was that skinny little girl with the big eyes who never said much. If we ever had to do class projects I always volunteered to take notes or write up the report. This was how I acted in school, but around my immediate family I was a motormouth. If I knew you well, I'd talk to you without hesitation.

I think my shyness was brought on by being in such a different environment than my family's home. I also think my lack of self-confidence was a big factor. Once in second grade we were playing Twister on a rainy day, and the teacher called out a move that would've been hard for me to achieve. I remember saying to her "I can't do it." Of course she encouraged me and said I could, but I didn't believe that I could. I always wanted to do things right, so I figured if I couldn't do it right, I shouldn't try at all. On either my next progress report or my next report card my second grade teacher made a notation that I needed to work on my self-confidence.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Slight Gain

Yesterday was my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-in. Regardless of what the scale was gonna say, I like the way my pants are fitting, so I didn't sweat it. When I got on the lying bastard that is my scale at home, it said I had gained just a little bit. I thought to myself "So be it." My pants didn't feel binding in all the wrong places, so I thought "I'm good." Also, I caught another cold this week, so I wasn't able to exercise much.

After work yesteday I had to slog through the pouring rain. Added to that rain was the cold. It was very raw out there. By the time I got to my meeting my hands were starting to feel numb. I walked in, got on the scale, and saw that I did have a slight gain. It was less than a pound, so I wasn't bothered by it at all. Although the weather was craptacular, I even stayed for the meeting. Of course it was about strategies for coping with Halloween. I don't anticipate having trick-or-treaters, but it was a good meeting, nonetheless. I'm hoping that during this upcoming week I'll be able to exercise more so that I'll see a loss the next time I step on the scale.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Love Learning

From some of my previous posts some of you might remember that I'm taking classes to earn a certificate in copyediting. I can honestly say, without one iota of smugness, that words are my forte. The last installment of my background story told you that I practically lived at the library during summer vacation. Books were my escape to new and interesting places. Because I love words so much, I decided to steer my education in that direction a bit to try to incorporate my love of words into my life's work.

Last night I had a class, and the first part of the class was spent in the library putting together information for a five-minute presentation. I have a knack for gathering material and synthesizing it so that the necessary points are presented, yet it's not dull and dry. I'll touch on this in my next installment of my background, but I've always been a shy person. As I've gone out and done different things and taken more chances, that shyness has abated, but it's still there. Once upon a time I would've hated standing in front of a group of people I didn't know and talking about something they might not be interested in, but now I'm okay with it. I'm actually more than okay with it. I like it.

The title of this post is I Love Learning, but it doesn't only refer to learning in a classroom setting. Everything I do and every person I meet is an opportunity for me to learn something new. It may sound strange, but I like knowing stuff. The old Schoolhouse Rock shorts said that knowledge is power and I definitely believe it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Early Days, Continued

Kindergarten brought my first experience with a racial slur, but it would be nowhere near the last time that I experienced racism in school. When I was in the first grade and we'd have to line up in alphabetical order, there was a girl who stood in front of me by the name of Dana. Apparently she and her family didn't like black people because whenever we'd be standing in line to go to lunch she would always say in a sharp tone "Don't touch me!" Mind you, there was a normal amount of distance between the two of us and I wasn't even paying attention to her half the time. I guess the fear that one day I might actually touch her influenced her parents' decision to move her to another school, because after a couple of weeks I never saw her again. I often wonder what happened to her...

The rest of my elementary school career was fairly uneventful as far as my encounters with racism were concerned. I got invited to birthday parties and sleepovers, where I was always the only black child, but it never really phased me. I think it bothered white people more than it bothered me. A girl that I was friends with was going to invite me for a sleepover that she was having, but her mother said I might be uncomfortable being the only black person there. Seeing as I interacted with white people five days a week during the school year, I think the issue was more hers than mine. Looking back, I regret the fact that I couldn't reciprocate the invitations I received, but logically speaking there's no way a bunch of white parents would've let their daughters stay the night in a black household.

When I wasn't in school my summers were spent at home, reading. My parents couldn't afford to send me to summer camp, although I would've love to have gone. Instead my dad would take me to the library every few weeks and I'd check out about 10-15 books. Reading was a great escape for me. It took me to far away places and taught me about things that I never knew of. I gained a lot of knowledge about life in general from those books, and to this day, I love to read.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Well Whaddaya Know?

Yesterday was my weigh-in day but I decided to dedicate my blog to a more serious issue. I'm thinking about only blogging about my weigh-in on Fridays so that you can feel the anticipation of the build-up and then receive the instant gratification of knowing how things went.

Yesterday when I stepped on my lying bastard of a scale, it said that I was down. Of course I was hesitant to believe it because he's told me that before and I've been up. One thing I did notice was a change in the way that my pants were fitting, and it was a change for the better.

So after work I went to my meeting, stepped on the scale, and found that I was down. I won't say by how much, but if you read my Twitter timeline, you'll see :-). Yesterday's meeting was a good one. We talked about anchors. In this instance an anchor is an object that you can look at or touch to remind you of something that you're working toward or have accomplished. The leader gave each of us a rubberband to put on our wrists and said that it was our magic weight-loss bracelet. She told us to look at it, touch it, or even snap it when we feel the need to do something that's not going to help us accomplish our goals or maintain the results of the goal that we've accomplished. I am currently wearing mine.

Here's hoping that it does the job, hahaha!!! Regardless, it's nice to have something tactile as a reminder of where I'm headed and what I need to do to get there.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Whatever Happened to Unconditional Love?

From the title you probably think I'm talking about romantic love, but you would be wrong. I'm talking about the love between a mother and her child. Earlier this week my sister-in-law's nephew committed suicide. He was gay, but his own mother refused to accept that fact. Being "different" is hard enough without your mother condemning you for something that you have no control over. I am so grateful that I was blessed with the mother that I have. She's nonjudgemental, but if you ask her for her opinion, she'll give it to you. If Mama sees that you're headed in the wrong direction, she gives you the space to make your mistakes and prays that you see where you're going wrong. Once your chickens have come home to roost, so to speak, she will listen to what you have to say about the lessons you've learned. She will also tell you that the power of prayer helped to get you back on track.

Whenever I hear of a child whose mother doesn't love them with all her heart, it hurts me. I've said that I don't plan on having children of my own, but that doesn't mean that I don't love children. I think I'd be a wonderful parent, but I don't see myself being in a position to take care of another human being anytime soon; especially not one that would be solely dependent on me.

Not one single one of us is perfect. We all have our flaws and foibles. If our mothers can't love us in spite of--or even because of--those flaws and foibles, what do we have left? The young man who took his life felt that he didn't have anything left. He was only 21. His whole life was ahead of him, but because he didn't have the safe and stable base of his mother's unconditional love, his potential will never be realized.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Early Days

As I mentioned before, I'm the middle child. I have an older brother and a younger brother. When I was little I used to always ask my mom when she was going to have me a sister. Since that never happened, I had to make do with two brothers. When we were little kids, we had the usual childish spats, but we also had lots of fun together. During the summer our time was spent playing with Tonka trucks or playing baseball and football. We would also ride our bikes through the woods and through my grandmother's yard because she lived next door. One thing I can say about my brothers is that they never treated me like someone who was weaker and couldn't do what they could do. Until I was about four or five, I actually thought I was a boy, too. Of course the whole anatomy thing never occurred to me. Luckily I caught on before I started school.

For me, school was a wonderful place. I loved to learn. Once I learned how to read, my time was spent with my nose in a book. I forgot to mention that I grew up in a predominately white area. Each year of my elementary schooling I was the only black child in my class. That would be pretty much impossible these days, but this was during the 1980s. My introduction to racism came when I was in kindergarten. It was recess time and we were all outside on the playground. A friend of mine and I were under a shade tree, by a fence playing in the dirt. A couple of feet away from us was a boy who was in another class. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it included the word "nigger". Because no one had ever told me otherwise, I didn't even know that "nigger" was a racial slur. I didn't know that I was supposed to be insulted. My friend, of course, knew what deal was and she told the teacher. The kid got a lecture about name-calling and that was that.

Even after that happened, I don't think I fully grasped the fact that I was supposed to be "different" from other people. When I watched TV, all I saw were people. I never even thought about the fact that some were black and some were white. Most shows during those days featured white casts, but I was never bothered by the fact that there was no one who looked like me on most of my favorite shows. One show that I identified with very much is Good Times. Although the Evans family lived in the projects of Chicago, I felt like my family was the country version of them. They lived in a two parent household with the father being the sole breadwinner. There were three children, two boys and a girl in the middle. The girl got the second bedroom while the boys slept on a foldout couch in the living room. The way that my life differed here is that I had the second largest bedroom in our trailer and my brothers had to share the smallest one. The similarities between my family and the Evans family were abundant. Although we were poor, I didn't realize just how poor until I was out on my own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who's that Girl?

A friend and fellow blogger of mine suggested that I write a bit more about myself because she'd like to get to know me better. I've given you glimpses of what it's like presently to be Michelle Stringer, but you haven't read much about what being Michelle Stringer has been like up until this point.

"I was born a poor black child." That's the opening line from the Steve Martin movie The Jerk. He played it for laughs, but I'm dead serious. I'm the middle child and only daughter born to poor parents in rural northeast Georgia. The land where I grew up used to be pasture land and it belonged to my maternal grandfather. He gifted it to my mother upon her marriage to my father. My parents put a single-wide trailer on that land. It had three bedrooms, the smallest of which my brothers had to share. We practically froze to death in winter and burned up in summer. People assume that because winters in the southern United States aren't as harsh as those in the midwest or the northeast, that we don't get cold down there, but it's not true. In the rural south, it's a different kind of cold. Behind and all around our trailer were woods and some open space. There were no big buildings to buffer the wind or to absorb heat from the sun during the day and radiate that heat in the evenings. Add to that the fact that it was an old trailer that was poorly insulated, and you'll understand why it would be hard to stay up past 10:00pm on the weekends watching TV during the winter.

My father was and is the sole breadwinner. My mom stopped working outside the home once she started having children. My parents got married young. My mom didn't have my older brother until they had been married almost five years, and had my younger brother just before she turned 30. It was great having young parents to grow up with. If I had chosen to have children, I would like to have done it in my 20s so that I'd be finished having them by the time I was 30, too. As fate would have it, that wasn't the path my life was meant to take.

This is just a first look at the environment and the people that have shaped me. I'm actually warming up to this so I will try to include at least one entry a week in the "Who's that Girl" series. Thanks for this suggestion, Anne. By the time I'm done, you might regret your request to get to know me better ;-).

I Was Right

Yesterday I told you that I knew I'd be up when I weighed in and I was right. Oh well, such is life. One thing I will say is that I stayed for the meeting this week and I really enjoyed myself. I got to see a fellow member that I haven't seen since I started attending meetings on Thursday evenings. She's a very sweet lady with special needs who has been a Weight Watcher for 10 years and has lost just over 180lbs. I've mentioned her before in one of my other entries. I need to remember her as a point of reference with regard to this journey. She's living proof that sticking with it pays off :-).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Here We Go Again

After work it will be time to face the scale. I realize that I've gotten to the point where I'm very hung up on numbers. Until I get to a point where I actually like the numbers I'm seeing you will not be reading about them in this blog. When I'm up, I'll tell you I'm up. When I'm down, I'll tell you I'm down. Once I'm happier with the direction that I'm moving in, I'll start to incorporate numbers again. I feel that relieves a bit of the pressure I've been putting on myself. By the way, I can guarantee you that I'll be up today ;-).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taking the Advice of a Good Friend

You've all been reading the saga that is my weight-loss and like any other human being, I continue to focus on what I haven't done as opposed to what I have done. A good friend of mine told me that whenever I get discouraged I should look at old pictures of what I used to look like pre-weight-loss. Today when I got to work I printed out two pictures that were taken the summer before I started Weight Watchers. It's always startling to see just how different I look. I keep forgetting how big my belly used to be, compared to how it is now. I also keep forgetting how chunky my face looked. I think the reason why I keep focusing on the negative is because I've been at or around my current weight for a while, so I'm starting to feel like I did before I started my weight-loss journey. For kicks take a look at me three years ago:
Now when I see that, I know that I've come a long way. I'm more than halfway there. I'm actually about two-thirds of the way there. The thing that most people don't realize is that weight-loss is more mental than anything else. Learning to quiet the chatter, or better yet to stop it before it starts is the key to success. Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. I really appreciate it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

No Big Deal

So yesterday's weigh-in showed that I was up 0.6. Not bad for being unable to work out due to being sick. The only thing that annoys me is the fact that the bastard scale lied!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Whatever Happens, It's All Good

Today is weigh-in day but I'm not expecting any earth-shattering results. I've had a head cold all week, so I haven't been exercising. Instead I've been coming home from work, having a bit to eat, and going straight to bed. In the back of my mind a voice kept saying to me "Michelle, you need to work out." Luckily I was able to drown out that voice by telling myself that I need to get better first, so that this cold doesn't linger for weeks and weeks. When I stepped up on that bastard scale of mine this morning it said that my weight is the same as it was last Thursday. Thank God for small favors. As long as I didn't gain I'm really not worried about it.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Weight Watchers, Because it Works

That's the new slogan for Weight Watchers that you hear Jennifer Hudson espousing in the commercials. There are lots of critics that keep saying she must've had weight loss surgery and that there's no way she's doing the Weight Watchers program. As someone who knows my area's regional Weight Watchers manager, I know that a person cannot endorse the program unless they've actually done it. Also, if she'd had weight loss surgery, she'd look like an old crone. Rapid weight loss ages you like nothing else ever will.

I've said all of that to give my own example of "because it works". Last week I gained 4.6lbs because of a lovely sweets binge and a complete and total lack of tracking my food intake. After the passage of my 36th birthday and a nice pep talk to myself, I got back on plan. I tracked, ate sweets in moderation, and exercised which resulted in a loss of 3.6lbs. My intake of sweets in moderation included two (count 'em, two) slices of cheesecake on the day after my birthday. So for anyone who was holding on to skepticism about Weight Watchers, take that! Also, I didn't eat a single salad during the past week, so no, you don't need to eat rabbit food to lose weight.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moment of Truth Day

I'm sure you've all noticed that I haven't posted about my weigh-ins for a while. Frankly I've been annoyed with myself and the lack of progress. What I was doing is regressing. The cardinal rule of Weight Watchers is tracking what you eat and for two or three weeks I had been tracking in a very half-assed way and just stuffing my face. I knew I was going way beyond the points I was allowed, but my rationale was that anything extra could be subtracted from the extra weekly points that I have to work with. As I'm sure you can guess, that went over real well. Last week when I weighed in, I had gained 4.6lbs. Once again I told myself that I was cutting out sweets, so I decided to have a free-for-all before cutting them out completely, hence the large weight gain.

When it comes right down to it, the only one I was fooling is myself (and I wasn't doing a very good job). There's no way that I'm willing to omit sweets from my daily food intake. The way to manage my penchant for tearing into any sweets in the general vicinity is to buy one single serving-sized treat at a time. That's what I did this week, and I think it worked well for me. I can feel that I've lost weight. Also, that bastard scale of mine says I weigh less than I did last Thursday, so here's hoping.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Goodbye 35

Tomorrow is my 36th birthday. Each year around this time I evaluate my life to see where I am compared to where I want to be. I used to do it because I thought it was helpful with regard to motivating me to meet my goals, but I think it's become more of an albatross around my neck. This self-evaluation may be starting to overshadow my accomplishments. As human beings we spend a lot of time focusing on what we haven't done, without congratulating ourselves on what we have done. Over the past year, I've kept off a significant amount of weight. I haven't lost all that I want to lose (which I had hoped to do by now), but what I've done so far is nothing to sneeze at. I am still gainfully employed despite the fact that the economy is in the toilet and I spent almost five years of my life with one of the most apathetic men in the world. I'd much rather be doing a different job, and had planned on doing a different one by now, but all things in good time.

A while back I renamed this blog The Best Me That I Can Be. The only way I can be the best me is to recognize my accomplishments and appreciate them. I don't need to compare myself to anyone else because we all started our lives with different foundations, and over the years have been given different building blocks. I've tried to build on what I knew was unstable ground in the hopes that one day it might become stable. If it's weak or doesn't hold what I need it to hold without buckling, I should tear everything down and find steady ground. The past year has made me realize that the steadiest ground is within myself.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Album Review

Yesterday my favorite singer Gavin DeGraw released his fourth studio album entitled Sweeter. Because of the glut of shite music out there and Gavin's reluctance to pander to trends and gimmicks, there are still a lot of people that don't know who he is. Of the ones that do know of him, they only know him for his songs I Don't Want to Be, Follow Through, or Chariot. His repertoire contains much, much more. Since he plays both piano and guitar, he can write and sing in a wide variety of styles. I feel like this album is a lot like the "stripped" version of his first album, Chariot, in that you can really hear the nuances of his voice without all of the studio bells and whistles. He doesn't need all of that crap because he can actually sing. Take a listen to Sweeter right here: http://stream.gavindegraw.com/.

Overall, I think this album gives you more of a feel for Gavin's personality. He has a very tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and songs such as Sweeter, Candy, and Radiation play into that. Many see him as being all about a love song, which he delivers on with Soldier, You Know Where I'm At, and Where You Are. The first single, Not Over You is a nice, bouncy intro to the album. He cowrote it with Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. Although I don't listen to OneRepublic, I figured I'd throw that in for for those of you who might. If you actually listen to Gavin's lyrics on any of his albums, you'll know that he's not writing fluffy, meaningless music with a good beat that you can dance to. Saying this may cast me as a music snob, but I like some substance to what I'm listening to. Yeah, I like the fun stuff, but no amount of costumes, tricks, or passes through auto tune can overshadow genuine talent.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We All Got Troubles

Yesterday I went to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to get my driver's license renewed. Anyone who has ever had to do this knows that one encounters all kinds while waiting for one's number to be called. On this day there was a young man begging for $25 so that he could pay to get a state-issued ID. Apparently he lives in a homeless shelter and was about to sign the lease on a Section 8 apartment. For those of you who don't know what a Section 8 apartment is, it's public housing for low-income people. He claimed that in order to sign his lease he needed a birth certificate and an ID, otherwise he'd be back out on the street. He also added that the shelter wasn't willing to pay for his ID. Personally I really don't know how much truth there was to his story. There are a couple of things about this that nag at me. First of all, he must've known well in advance of his getting approved for the apartment that he'd need an ID. Also, you pretty much need an ID for everything these days, so why didn't he have one? As for the shelter not being willing to pay for it, I would think that they'd be happy to shell out $25 in order to get this guy out of their hair and off the streets.

Valid or not, his story made me think. Were this 10 or 15 years ago, I'm sure someone would've given him the money he needed. Hell, that someone may have even been me! In the past it seems as if we all felt a little more generous and were more willing to help our fellow man. Now the economy is so bad that many of us are only a paycheck or two away from being right where that guy is. We don't really have cash to spare anymore. The glut of con artists that has surfaced also makes us wary of just handing someone money. It's kind of sad, but it's what our existence has become. In general, I'm a sweet, giving, compassionate person; which would make it easy to be taken for a ride if I didn't harden my heart just that little bit. If the guy really was telling the truth and wasn't able to raise $25, I feel bad for him, but because he's a stranger, I couldn't risk giving him my hard-earned money.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Petsitter Update

A question from one of my Twitter friends made me realize that I hadn't done my follow-up post about the petsitter I hired to look after Topaz while I was in Georgia visiting my family. The petsitter was wonderful. I hired her to stop in once a day to feed Topaz, scoop her litterbox, and play with her a bit. During each visit she wrote down a brief description of Topaz's mood and eating habits. Prior to me leaving for my trip, she encouraged me to text her to check in. I did that around the midweek point and she was actually there with Topaz when I texted. They were having a great time.

When I got home, the little report of what took place each day was there, as well as a new toy for Topaz. The fact that the petsitter gave her a new toy was great, and totally unexpected. I'm so glad I brought the petsitter a magnet back from Georgia. She actually collects magnets, so I made a good choice :-). She told me that she enjoyed spending time with Topaz and that she'd be happy to look after her again anytime. Because Topaz immediately accepted her when they met, I knew they'd get on well. It was nice to see that things went so well. I will definitely be calling on her the next time I take a trip. For those who live in the suburbs north of Boston, here's her website, http://www.fur-you.com/index.html. For anyone else in need of petsitting services, the Petsitters International website is an excellent resource, http://www.petsit.com/.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Georgia on My Mind

I spent all of last week visiting my family in Georgia. I hadn't seen them since Christmas. That Christmas was the first one without my grandmother. No matter how much time passes, it's hard to come to grips with the fact that she and my uncle are dead. Because I lived next to them when I was growing up, they were a huge part of my life. Every time I went back, they were there. Now that theyre not, I feel like a huge part of me is missing.

When I was checking in at the airport yesterday, the attendant at the counter asked if I was going home. I told him I was going to my "adult" home and that Georgia is my "childhood" home. I spent the first 19 years of my life in Georgia, which gave me the foundation to build my life on. My love, compassion, empathy, and intuition were born there. Upon moving to Massachusetts, I fine-tuned those things through life experience. It hasn't been easy, but I keep looking forward. My "childhood" home is a touchstone that helps me to regain my footing when I feel off-balance. I feel a certain peacefulness upon my return to my "adult"  home.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I'll Fly Away

Hey, guess what? I'm blogging from way above the clouds. I'm currently on my flight from Boston to Atlanta to visit my family. I really enjoy actual air travel, but I'm not fond of the things that now accompany the process. Don't even get me started about having to pay to check a bag! I'm glad that 10 years post-9/11 getting through security is relatively easy, but do we REALLY need the full-body scanner? Yep, I had to stand in that baby. I hope they like what they saw, hahaha!!!! Right now I'm enjoying my complimentary snacks. Lord knows I'm not going to pay Delta for a granola bar when I could've brought one from home...Anyway, I'm psyched to see my family after almost nine months and I'm ready to have some fun :-).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Gettin' Down with My Bad Self

Yesterday's blog entry indicated that my weigh-in should show a loss. There have been times, like last week, when the loss has been a tiny one. I was lucky enough for this week's loss to be not so tiny. I was down 2lbs. Once again I actually think that bastard scale of mine was correct down to the last tenth of a pound. It looks like it's only correct every other week. What's up with that? Regardless, I'm extremely psyched about the loss. Only 14.4 more pounds to go to get to goal :-).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Good Friend the Scale

Thursday has rolled around yet again. My plan week started out well, but got muddled in the middle. I'm hoping that I finished strong. I do better when I have something to do after work so that I don't focus on food. On Monday I met with Topaz's petsitter. On Tuesday I went to get my hair done and then hung out with a friend. Yesterday I was able to maintain that frame of mind by getting online after I got home, while watching the US Open. When I got on the scale this morning it said I was down at least a pound. As I said before, as long as I'm down, I'm moving in the right direction ;-).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Petsitter Hired

On Saturday morning I'm leaving for a trip to Georgia to visit my family. I haven't seen them since Christmas, so I'm definitely long overdue. Initially I was going to board my girl Topaz at the vet that's near my place, but my finances are a bit tight. A good friend of mine suggested that I get a petsitter, but I was kind of hesitant. I'm a very private person so I don't like just anyone coming into my apartment. Upon my friend's recommendation I checked out the website http://petsittersinternational.com. They have a database of petsitters from all over the world. On that site I found http://www.fur-you.com/index.html, which services the area where I live. Last week I made an appointment for a consultation, and the petsitter came over yesterday after work. When she showed up, she and Topaz had an insant rapport. Topaz was talking to her and letting the petsitter pet her. They definitely became fast friends. A lot of the time animals, especially cats, tend to hide if a stranger comes into their space, but Topaz was her usual playful self. I'm glad I decided to hire a petsitter so that my girl doesn't have to stay in a cage the whole time that I'm out of town. When I'm back from my trip, I'll give a full report on how things went :-).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunshine and Blue Skies

When I woke up this morning there was very little evidence of the storm (aka Hurricane Irene) that caused the MBTA to suspend bus, subway, and commuter rail service yesterday. The ground was wet and scattered with debris, but otherwise, everything was a-ok. The rain started early Saturday afternoon, which means I didn't get my laundry done. It continued through the night, into Sunday afternoon. Yesterday was the perfect opportunity for me to clean my apartment. I'm just glad I'm flying to GA this upcoming weekend instead of last weekend :-).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Scale Keeps Moving in the Right Direction

Yesterday's weigh-in reported a 0.2 loss. In my early days of WW I would've been very disappointed with that, but now that I'm an veteran I know that any loss is a good loss. Hopefully next week I can take off a whole pound. The following week I will be visiting my family in Georgia. Many might think that's a situation that has "weight gain" written all over it, but it's just the opposite. When I go to GA I usually lose. Maybe it's because I'm occupied with doing other things besides just sitting around. If I had a week off and I was at home the whole time, that might be a problem because I don't have a car so I couldn't drive places. Instead I'd probably sit around, watch tv, and feed my face. Anyway, I posted a loss this week, so I'm feeling good :-). Next week I'm getting ready for ya!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Proof is on the Scale

Today is my moment of truth day aka my weekly weigh-in. I always check myself on my digital scale at home just for the sake of comparison. Last week it got my weight correct right down to the last tenth of a pound. Previously it has been very incorrect, making my day seem like the moment of lies day. Not quite sure which way I'm leaning with my good friend the scale today. This morning before I got in the shower the scale read the same as it did last Thursday, but post-shower it said I weighed 1.1lbs less. Of course I won't know for sure until I step on the end all be all authority of my weight-loss progress. Until then, your guess is as good as mine ;-).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting Back into a Groove

Since I changed my weigh-in day to Thursday I feel a lot better about making it to my goal. For the first 11 months of my weight-loss journey I weighed in on Thursday. Then the Thursday meeting was cancelled and I moved to Wednesday. I actually weighed in on Wednesday for about a year and a half. That's much longer than I weighed in on Thursday, but for some reason Thursday just feels right. I'm now much happier devoting my Wednesday evenings to the community yoga class. I get a good workout and I feel fabulous afterward. Hopefully there will continue to be a Thursday evening meeting so that I can keep this groove going.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Hmm...

Contrary to what I thought I knew, weigh-in was a success. Not only was it a success, but my untrustworthy scale was correct down to the last tenth of a pound. I know the suspense is killing you, but I'll continue to build the anticipation. My bloated feeling didn't dissipate before I weighed in, so I figured I was doomed. As I stepped on the scale at WW I even said I didn't wanna know the damage. To my surprise there was no damage. I lost 1.4lbs. How did that happen? During the week leading up to weigh-in I had what many might consider a nodding acquaintance with the plan. Regardless, I recorded a loss, and that's the most important part. I'm motivated to recommit to my relationship with the plan :-).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moment of Truth Day

So today's the day. It has rolled around once again. This time I won't tell you what my scale at home said because it's a very unreliable SOB ;-). Instead I'll tell you what my gut (pun intended) is telling me. It's not feeling particularly trim today. I actually woke up this morning feeling a little bloated. I know, TMI, but I'm being real here. Unless that sensation disappears by around 5:00 today, it could totally affect my weigh-in. Regardless, it hasn't been a good plan week so I wouldn't be surprised if I gained a little.

On a more positive note. I went to the community yoga class last night. Yesterday while I was working I wasn't sure if I was going to go. I was really tired, had a bit of a headache, and didn't feel so great overall. Right after work I needed to stop by the grocery store for a few things, so by the time I got home it wasn't very long before it would've been time for me to leave for yoga class. After I put away my groceries I went and changed into my clothes for yoga. That helped keep the momentum going so that I could propel myself out the door for class. By the time I was on my way, I was glad I had decided to go. The fact that I have to walk to class is probably one of the demotivating factors. It's good exercise and better than waiting for the bus, which is rarely on schedule, but it's an hour roundtrip. Afterward I told my mom that I'm always fine once I get there, it's just getting there that's the problem ;-).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Got Flowers Today

So a few minutes ago I went to the ladies' room and when I returned there was an FTD box on my desk. I was really excited because I rarely ever get flowers and at the moment I don't have a boyfriend to send me flowers. When I opened the box and looked at the note, I saw that they were from a coworker. He's a consultant that's working on one of the job sites and whenever he comes to the office he comments on the fake plastic flowers that are always on my desk. The note said that the flowers were to brighten my day and bring some color to the reception area. I'm the only person in this office that doesn't have a clear view to a window. No matter how sunny it is outside, I'm in the darkness all day. The flowers were a nice touch. When I called him to thank him, he told me to tell the VP that I should have fresh flowers at my desk every week. My response was "You know that ain't happenin'!"

This is only the second time that I've had flowers delivered to me at work, and the first time was from him, too, to thank me for my help when he was working here in the office. On that day he also sent the office manager flowers. This nice gesture made me think about the fact that my ex, who was with me for almost five years, never sent me flowers at work. The first year we were together I sent him a cookie cake to his office for his birthday. Of course he gave me flowers when we were together, but having the person you love send flowers to your place of work is special. Also, my ex was such an arse that when he got the cookie cake he had one of his coworkers call and try to trick me into thinking I had given the wrong delivery address. Oh well, that's the way it goes. Regardless of who sent them, I now have some pretty flowers sitting on my desk that I can enjoy for the rest of the week :-).

Friday, August 12, 2011

Whew!

Weigh-in was okay last night. I was only up 0.6. After eating all of that peanut butter, that's quite an accomplishment. I've pretty much had my peanut butter quota for the rest of the year, LOL! It's a funny thing because I'm not a big fan of peanut butter candy, but I love just plain peanut butter. That's similar for my dislike of banana flavored foods and my love of bananas. Anyway, I'm just happy that I didn't gain two or three pounds!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Moment of Truth Day

Because I changed my WW weigh-in day to Thursday I needed a new name for it. A very creative friend suggested I call it "Moment of Truth Day". Most of my week has been spent doing damage control after eating a whole jar of peanut better in two days. Why does peanut butter have to be so good?! Also, I'm one of those people who will eat it straight from the jar with a spoon. I need no other accompaniment. After the peanut butter meltdown I got myself together and got back on plan. I did a fair amount of exercise and according to my scale I'm the same weight I was last week. You and I both know that the scale lied to me last week, so it's entirely possible that it'll lie again. One thing I do know is that if I gained, I didn't gain as much as I could have. A day after I emptied the jar of peanut butter I stepped on the scale and saw that the scale had gone way up. That's what spurred me to get my ass in gear and exercise. Oh well, I'll find out my fate today between 5:00 and 5:30.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weigh-In Update

For those of you who might be curious, the result of my weigh-in was a gain of 1.4lbs. I knew my scale was lying, hahaha!!! I'm actually going to change my weigh-in day to Thursday so that I can do a cheap community yoga class. Guess I'll have to come up with another name for weigh-in day. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weigh-in Wednesday

It's that time again. Last week I didn't record my weigh-in via my blog because I figured I'd give you guys a break ;-). Just to update you, I was down 0.6. According to the scale at my house my weight stayed the same over the past week, but as usual, we'll see when I get to the meeting. Today I'm going to duck out of my meeting early and go to the community yoga class that the yoga studio I go to offers. The class is only $7 and I really need to return to my practice. I may start going to Weight Watchers on Thursdays so that I can go to the community yoga class and get the full benefit of a complete meeting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Solitary Existence

Pretty much from birth I've lead a very solitary life. My escape from solitude has invariably involved books of fiction, filled with stories of redemption for those characters who seemed to be on a slow road to nowhere. My tendency toward solitude is not readily visible to the untrained eye. Yes, I'm nice; friendly; happy; giving; helpful; etc., but the world around me is kept at a respectful distance. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who's not a member of my family who would be able to say that they know me well. Teetering on the precipice of my 36th birthday (September 24, write it down ;-)), I see myself as a lone figure looking into the distance. Currently there's a cat by my side, but I know that someday she'll be gone and it'll be just me...again...My lack of interest in getting married and having a family puts me in a corner that isn't inhabited by very many of the people that I know. I'm a believer that true love can exist outside the constraints of marriage, but after almost five years of being with someone that I knew in my heart I didn't belong with, I'm not sure if I can trust my judgement in that regard. I'll be perfectly fine if another opportunity for love doesn't present itself, but the financial drain that the last opportunity caused for me is putting a severe crimp in my ability to go out and have fun like I used to. I've spent the majority of the past year playing catch-up. I know that at some point this situation will right itself, but until then my life of solitude feels more like a prison than a conscious choice.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Results Thursday

I'm happy to report that when I stepped on the scale at Weight Watchers last night I was down 1.5lbs. My "controlled sweets" initiative was successful in its inaugural week. I just need to make sure that I continue with it. If I do, I should be at my goal in a few months. I'm really glad that I decided to pinpoint an area that needs work and actually commit to working on it. You and I both know that it's very easy to say you know some aspect of your life needs work, but to actually get off your duff and do something about it takes strength and motivation. In last night's meeting one of the members announced that she has lost 175lbs. She has been a member of Weight Watchers for 10 years. Some of you may be thinking "It's taken her that long to lose that much weight?" You may find it to be a bit discouraging, but you should turn your thought process around. That length of time says a lot about her dedication and perseverance. Had she not joined Weight Watchers 10 years ago, she might not be here today. If this woman (who is also a person with special needs) can commit herself to a weight-loss program and lose 175lbs in a 10-year period, what's stopping you from committing yourself to losing the 10, 15, or 20lbs you've been wanting to lose?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weigh-In Wednesday

Week One of "no sweets" is down. I can't say that I had no sweets at all because when I went to the laundromat on Sunday I got some Skittles out of the gumball machine. Maybe I should call it "controlled sweets". Anyway, according to my scale at home I should be down when I go to Weight Watchers after work. After only a week, my craving for sweets has pretty much subsided. The fruit I'm eating tastes almost as sweet as a piece of candy. I bought a whole pineapple last week when I went grocery shopping and it was so delicious. I think that as long as I don't have a bunch of ice cream, cookies, and candy in the house I'll be fine. The controlled approach seems like a good idea. If I really feel like I need something sweet, I can buy a single serving, enjoy it, and move on. Doing that a few times a week, while tracking it, staying on plan, and exercising should work very well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Yep, I Gained

I told you yesterday that I expected to gain because I had my "Farewell to Sweets" fest last week, and I was right. I was up 2.6lbs. When you think about it, that's actually not too bad considering how much I love sweets ;-). After the gym tonight I'll be going grocery shopping and picking up lots and lots of fresh fruit. A nice piece of sweet fruit is almost as good as, if not better than, candy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weigh-in Wednesday

Last weigh-in was a good one because I nipped my sweets overload in the bud and made food choices to compensate for it. Every week me and the sweets have a bit of a shaky truce that can be broken at any time. Well this past week I decided to say farewell to the sweets until my birthday, which is a little over two months away. What that entailed was having whatever sweets I wanted whenever I wanted them. Although I wasn't sitting around every night with a huge pile of goodies, stuffing my face, I did pick up some things here and there that I really like. Because I didn't do anything to compensate for my sweets-apalooza, I know that I gained this week and I'm fine with that. I think putting them aside for a while will help me in the long run. I used to be someone who loved fast food, especially French fries, but right now I can't actually remember the last time I had fast food and I don't feel deprived. Hopefully that's what will happen with regard to my love of all things sugary. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Nice Surprise

I had my Weight Watchers weigh-in yesterday, and when I stepped on my scale at home yesterday morning it read the same as it did the previous week. Yesterday after work when I went to my meeting I fully expected the receptionist to say my weight stayed the same. Lo and behold, I was down 1.6lbs! The damage control following my bout with the Skittles and ice cream worked really well. It's only day two of the current plan week, but I'm still on plan. That's actually a big deal because I normally go off the rails right after weigh-in or the day after. So far, so good. Let's see if I can keep it up!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wiping the Slate Clean

One of the great things about weigh-in day at Weight Watchers is that I get to wipe the slate clean. The fact that I may not have tracked everything that I ate between last Wednesday and yesterday doesn't matter. I now have a chance to do it all over again and get it right this time. Those few handfuls of Skittles that I didn't track on Sunday...a thing of the past. That yummy candy bar ice cream that I overindulged in...now a distant memory.

As I've told you before, my scale at home always says that I'm lighter than reality, so I use it as a gauge of whether I'm up or down. When I stepped on it this morning, it said the same thing that it did last Wednesday morning. Hopefully it's not lying to me :-).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Results Thursday

Yesterday when I went into my Weight Watchers meeting I was not really expecting much of a loss. As I mentioned yesterday, I didn't do very well with following the plan over the past week, so I didn't think there would be a positive result. Boy, was I wrong! After I stepped on the scale I was told that I lost 0.8lb. According to the the program you should lose between 0.5 and 2lbs per week if you follow it correctly. I didn't exactly follow it correctly, but I still had a decent loss. I think the thing that put me over the top is that I got a lot of exercise.

On the way home, I stopped by the grocery store and instead of buying my usual Skinny Cow ice cream cups, I decided to buy the little Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Dazs cups instead. After my evening meal, I had one of the Ben & Jerry's cups for dessert. It was Chocolate Fudge Brownie and I savored it much more than I ever savored the Skinny Cow ice cream cups. Normally, I'll have one of the Skinny Cow cups and then go have some cookies, and then maybe another Skinny Cow cup after I'm finished with the cookies. After the Ben & Jerry's cup, I felt completely satisfied; not only physically, but mentally. For those of us who tend to overeat, hunger definitely has a mental aspect.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Weigh-in Wednesday

Yesterday was the first dayof summer, and it was absolutely perfect weather. Today? Meh, not so much. It's rainy and gloomy, which makes me wanna go straight home after weigh-in instead of staying for my Weight Watchers meeting. Whether I stay for the meeting or not, here's hoping I lose something, even if it's 0.1lb. I didn't do as well with following the plan as I would've liked, but I did exercise a lot. Cross your fingers for me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Putting Pen to Paper

From about the age of 13 or so to the age of 28 I kept a journal. Of course it wasn't the same journal for 15 years, but a collection of blank books I filled. Whenever I went to a Hallmark store I'd pick up a new one because I knew it was only a matter of time before I filled one up and would need another. Over the past seven years my journalling has been very sporadic. Yesterday I decided that it was time for me to start committing my thoughts to paper on a regular basis again. I've always been a very introspective person, so I think that this will be very helpful to me with regard to working through my feelings as I continue my weight-loss journey and continue to rebuild my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Results Thursday

So yeah, those cookies and that ice cream stuck with me to the tune of 1.8lbs. I don't even know why I bother with my scale at home. It's correct that I'm up or down, but the numbers are never right. Oh well, that's the way it goes. Yesterday the slate got wiped clean, so we'll see what I can do. Do you think I can lose 18lbs by September 24th? That's my 36th birthday. I'd like to be at my goal by then. I was hoping to be there by my last birthday, but the universe conspired against me. To tell the truth, I conspired against me. Such is life.