Our Daily Thanks – Day 19

Today would have been an incredibly easy day to just give up and wallow in misery and/or self pity. After a night spent tossing and turning, unable to sleep because of the drainage burning my throat or all of the lovely coughing my lungs were insisting on doing or the fever that kept sending me back and forth between chills and sweats, I was not a happy camper. Couple that with a 2 hour wait at the doctor’s office and the day was a recipe for a very, very grumpy Rebecca.

But one thing that I’ve learned over the past few years is that a thing doesn’t have to be some big, grand gesture for it to be good. My friend Shannan always says that every day there is at least one thing that you do that can be called great. Some days that great thing is simply getting out of bed; on others, it’s something a little grander like volunteering. Regardless, if you can focus on that one great thing that you did, you can use that to guide your day and remember the positivity.

I think that being thankful for things works in kind of the same way. You don’t have to make some huge gesture of thankfulness with a speech extolling the virtues of your partner or how grateful you are for the virtues of the first amendment (though those things are certainly things worth mentioning and worth being thankful for) to experience a moment of thanks. So, today, despite the smallness of this moment, I can say that I am simply thankful that after two hours at the doctor’s office, after the rude receptionist, after the woman who forgot to input my appointment into the system and thereby making my wait time even longer–after all this, I do not have the flu. And for that I am quite grateful.

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Our Daily Thanks – Days 17 & 18

Our Daily Thanks – Day 17

Today I was incredibly thankful for the blossoming friendships that Andrew and I are establishing with some people here in town. After a glorious, if a tad strenuous, 4 mile run this morning, we texted our friends and asked them to meet for lunch.  Lunch turned into seeing the site where our house is being built turned into movies and beer and playing with the Wee Baby C. It was a wonderful afternoon, and I was so grateful to spend time with these lovely people and explore new friendships.

Our Daily Thanks – Day 18

Today I am insanely thankful for my pjs and my ratty old oversized sweatshirt. At about ten o’clock last night, I started to feel that scratch in my throat. That, oh God, oh no, oh please no, sort of scratch. So I popped some Zicam and hoped that would be the end of it. Unfortunately, I had no such luck. I spent most of the night tossing and turning because of my burning throat, and I woke up congested, aching, and feverish. After my parents and nephew, who were visiting for a few hours, hit the road for home, I crawled into my baggy-in-no-way-attractive comfort clothes and crashed. Now I feel cuddly and cozy–though that could, of course, just be the fever.

And in the spirit of Real Simple magazine’s #WomenIRL (women in real life) campaign, here’s a glimpse at what the sick Rebecca wardrobe looks like.

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Our Daily Thanks – Days 13, 14, 15, & 16

I had some trouble posting from my phone, so I got a little backed up. Here’s a recap of this week’s moments of thanks.

Our Daily Thanks – Day 13

So I was thinking over the day and trying to decide on what to write about, and as I was ruminating, I had a sort of unusual revelation: I was incredibly thankful for the super thin, super fit woman who was killing it next to me at the gym.

Like most women, I’m not super happy with my post-pregnancy body. Things are droopier or softer or much flabbier than I had left them, and with the body image problems I had struggled with pre-pregnancy, it’s been difficult to reconcile my frustrations. To combat those issues, I joined a 10k training program and have several 5k events lined up to help motivate me to get out and get back to running like I was before I got pregnant.

So there I am at the gym, feeling, let’s face it, a little sorry for myself and trying to focus solely on my form in the mirrored walls and not my body, and there’s this woman beside me just killing it on an ab routine, a lifting set, a cardio burst. Cue me feeling even worse about my body and even more frustrated–until I realized that she was sweating bullets, working hard, and possibly even doubting herself the way that I have. And as I worked on my sets, I became increasingly grateful for her because she reminded me that a healthful life is one that requires hard work and determination. Even if I’m starting over with my fitness goals, even if I’m happy with my current body, I have the power to make make changes and create a better self.

Our Daily Thanks – Day 14

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Today was an easy one. Despite a year of looking, I still haven’t found a full time job in my career field, which means that my husband is currently our primary breadwinner. Without him, I don’t know where I’d be. Today he worked late, just like yesterday and the day before–and as he will in the coming months because he has a big set of drawings due at work. I’m so grateful to have someone who is truly a partner, who supports me, supports our family and does so out of kindness and a willingness to sacrifice for others. There isn’t much more I could ask for.

Day 15

Today I’m thankful for the kindness of strangers and that a woman reached out to help me out of the genuine goodness of her heart.

Day 16

I am so, so thankful for our pediatrician, who never seems to mind our constant rather frequent calls with questions and who has gone out of her way to help us. I’m equally thankful for every person who staffs that office; they’ve given us a safe space where we feel welcome and comfortable. After my struggles with medical care during pregnancy (let’s just say that I didn’t feel respected), I’m incredibly grateful that we have such a wonderful medical practitioner.

Our Daily Thanks Day 10

Yesterday (because I’m running a tad behind!) we went to a nearby city to spend time with some good friends of mine. I was so excited to see them and spend time with them, and we had so much fun just seeing each other, eating lunch, and playing nerdy board games. I am so thankful to have those four people as friends. They are wonderful, kind, lovely people who I have the privilege of knowing. Here are two of them holding Little Sir.

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Our Daily Thanks Days 8 & 9

So last night I definitely fell asleep before I could post my daily moment of thanks. To top it off, I don’t have a nifty photo to go with it, but for Day 7 I’m thankful for new friends and relationships. A new friend of mine joined my running group, and we had so much fun last night! So glad to have her as a running buddy and misery-sharer.

For Day 8 of Our Daily Thanks, I’m so thankful for the staff at Gateway Academy that have taken such excellent care of Cody this week. It’s hard to take your child to daycare and have someone else care for them, but the women at Gateway have made Cody and me both feel welcome and comfortable with leaving him there.

In a Pinch

Last night Casa de Croskey featured a popular conversation among co-habitors:

     Co-habitor A: What do you want to do about dinner? 

     Co-habitor R: Not sure. Eat out? Pizza? (thinking: I’d really love to tell YOU to come up with something, but potato chips really don’t make a suitable dinner.) 

But the more I thought about pizza, the more I thought about how eating it would undo all of the hard work we’d done tonight at the gym. Between the calories and the expense, eating out just didn’t seem appealing, but neither did the thought of cooking. So that left….cereal? 

Honey Nut Cheerios really just didn’t get my fire going, and the more I thought about it, the more I came back to pizza. With it’s delicious, carbohydrate-filled crusts and gooey puddles of cheese, the fat kid in me was having a field day. The intelligent, health conscious part of me decided to compromise with a quick pizza-like substitute. 

Okay, so big deal. Why should we care, Rebecca? 

To which I respond with: because I have somehow stumbled upon one of the easiest and most delicious fly by the seat of your pants sort of meals I’ve come up with in a long time. 

Knowing that we had a jar of marinara at the house, as well as the usual veggies and some good mozzarella cheese, I swung by the grocery store and grabbed a loaf of ciabatta bread. Slice that puppy down the middle and voila! Instant pizza. 

Okay, so I’m not the first person to have ever thought of this, but it was damned delicious–more so because it was easy and didn’t delay my evening too significantly. So if you’re looking for a few dinner ideas, here’s what we worked up: 

Andrew’s Pizza: 

  • Half of a ciabatta loaf
  • Bacon
  • Red onion
  • Fresh basil
  • Olives
  • Garlic
  • Fresh mozzarella
  • Drizzle of pepper-infused olive oil

Yield: 3 servings or 2 Andrew-sized servings

Rebecca’s Pizza (WW 8pp):

Ingredients

  • thinly sliced red onion
  • applewood smoked bacon, torn to small pieces (so that the total weight comes to just a few grams when sprinkled on the pizza)
  • basil-infued olive oil
  • good balsamic vinegar (I used Lucini, Dark-Cherry infused) 
  • olives, finely chopped
  • garlic, finely chopped
  • fresh basil, minced or sliced in ribbons

Yield: 3 servings

Cook in the oven on broil until the cheese has reached your desired level of gooeyness. 

Confessions of a Former Fattie

Today we finally topped 90 degrees on the thermometer and that means just one thing: Spring is clawing desperately at the edge of the cliff while Summer stomps mercilessly on every finger.

It also means that it’s time to start busting out all of those frothy sundresses and thinly strapped shirts, to start baring shoulders and browning skin.

Yeah, Rebecca, we know. So what?

So today I pulled out a very favorite dress of mine. Six dollars on clearance, and just the right level of monochrome for me to pull off my favorite fashion style: the pop of color. It looks a little something like this:

Little Black Dress

Despite my love of this little number, today was only the second time I’ve worn it since I bought it more than two years ago. And of the two times that I’ve worn it, today was the only time I’ve looked in the mirror and felt moderately at peace with what I saw.

Let me back up a minute.

About four years ago my life couldn’t have been more different. I was just finishing my Bachelor’s degree, heading out into the big blue world, counting down the minutes to graduate school, to meeting new people–and men, especially men (my first school was a women’s college. Sort of puts the whammy on dating for some of us)–to having all of those life experiences that I kept hearing about.

So in the midst of planning how amazing this next phase of my life was going to be, I made sure to stop by my doctor’s office to get a check up before I made the big move out to Kansas. Routine stuff, you know. And there was that moment that so many of us dread, when the nurse calls your name and you disappear into the bowels of the office, following her left, then right, then left again until you are standing in front of that stupid, ridiculous, terrifying lump of plastic: the scale.

Shedding whatever excess weight I could–shoes, sweater, purse, I would have shaved my head if  I thought it would have made a difference–I stepped up to the plate. 239. No amount of closing my eyes and opening them again would make that number go away. I had hit 239 pounds.

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For a while I put the number out of my mind, determined not to dwell on it. You see, for most of my life I had assumed that this was my fate, my destiny: I would always be fat. I would grow fatter and fatter every year until I died prematurely of a heart attack or cholesterol-choked artery, and that would be that. In the realm of my macabre, imaginary life, this fatness and eventual death was part and parcel with a few other key points. Namely that the hideousness of my body would so repulse others that I would never be loved by anyone, that I would die alone without ever having felt beautiful, having kissed someone who wanted to kiss me back, and it was okay because that’s how it was supposed to be.

I realize how melodramatic and overblown this sounds, but I promise you that I’m not kidding. This is legitimately what my brain had conceived for me. Some kids dream of being astronauts, I dreamed of becoming large enough for other, smaller people to go into geo-synchronous orbit around me.

And then my brain, perhaps tired of all that self-pity, put on a pair of steel-toed boots, kicked me in the butt, and said Get the hell over it. After twenty-two years I finally realized that if I wanted things to change, then I had to be the one to change them. I had to stop gorging on brownies and cookie dough and things so fried into oblivion that they surely must have achieved a state of  negative nutritional value and actually take the steps to alter the course of my fate.

First step: I joined Weight Watchers*. After that it was baby steps. Weaning myself down from whole milk (which, I’ll be honest, I utterly adored) to non-fat, replacing my beloved cherry cola with diet versions, purchasing a food scale so that I knew exactly what a serving of things looked like.

Then it was time to start exercising. When I first started–I kid you not–I would get on the elliptical machine for 10 minutes at a time. That was all I could handle, so that’s where I started. Most of the time, I was making this face on the inside:

Oh the pain and burning in my muscles!!

Oh the pain and burning in my muscles!!

Eventually I knew that I needed to do more, so I joined my local YMCA–a decision I’ve never regretted. With my new membership, I was given a few complimentary sessions with a trainer as part of a program designed to help health seekers create a plan to achieve their goals. That’s when I met Shannan, who has not only been my trainer ever since, but who has also become a very good friend and strong source of support as I continue working toward my health and fitness goals.

Since that moment three years ago, a lot about me has changed. I’m proud to say that I’ve accomplished what was once unthinkable and lost 50 pounds. I’m equally proud to say that two weeks ago I ran in my first half marathon and am resting up so that I can tackle another one come the Fall. I’ve been hiking and skiing and become a volunteer at my gym (anytime you need someone to cheer you on during a triathlon, I’m your woman).

So when I say that today I had a moment–one of the very few in my twenty-six years of life–where I actually looked at myself in the mirror and felt okay with what I saw, it’s a pretty big deal. Maybe it’s selfish, prideful, supremely arrogant–maybe it’s all of those things and more, but it felt like a moment worth sharing.

*Disclaimer: No compensation has been made to me for referencing the Weight Watchers corporation, though if they wanted to throw in a year’s free subscription to the eTools, I sure wouldn’t say no! In all serious, legal mumblings, though, I’m mentioning them here only because they are a legitimate part of the above story. 

Oz the (Not So) Great and (Nowhere Near) Powerful

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This weekend Andrew and I indulged ourselves in a rare treat: a trip to the movies. Though we’re both movie lovers, the outrageous ticket prices and lackluster blockbuster offerings have had us abstaining more often than not. Typically we wait until a few weeks after a film has been released–reading reviews online and talking with friends–before we pony up. And shows like Wreck It Ralph and the first installation of The Hobbit were pleasant surprises that far exceeded their hype, so you can imagine our disappointment when, after months of waiting for another good title, Oz the Great and Powerful was about as satisfying as trying to take a nap with a wet blanket.

Let me back up for a second. Andrew and I live in Kansas. Though neither of us is originally from the Sunflower state, it’s where we currently hail from, and there are certain expectations when it comes to anything related to the land of Oz. Most people here–at least the ones we’ve met–have a love-hate relationship with all things Wizard. Despite being one of our country’s largest suppliers of wheat and being, therefore, intrinsic to the success of the food industry and people’s ability to eat anything with grains in it, the only thing that most people seem to know about Kansas is that you can fly over it on your way to somewhere else and that it’s where Dorothy and her little dog got caught up in a twister that tossed them into a technicolor dreamland. So as we settled ourselves into our theatre’s plush red seats, I was looking forward to hearing what my friends and colleagues would have to say about the film.

But by the end of the movie, I was ready to fall asleep.

To be fair, Oz had a lot riding on its shoulders. Like or not, most viewers have certain expectations of how the movie should play out. That kind of stuff is just inescapable when you’re messing with something so iconic in American culture. And there are certainly some lovely visuals that do a lot for establishing the whimsical world of Oz. We paid to see a 3-D version of the film, and it was one of the first movies I’ve seen where the 3-D actually enhanced the experience. Beyond that, though, there was little else that I found appealing, and I think it really boils down to one thing: bad writing. There are a dozen things that I can rattle off about the film’s less than stellar debut–poor pacing, characters that are hard to relate to, a nonexistent narrative arc, a binary representation of good and evil, not to mention the awful representation of women–but what it really and truly comes down to is a weak screenplay. *Warning: spoilers below. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now.*

Think about it. There are a number of films where James Franco, Rachel Weisz, and Mila Kunis have given good, solid performances and created characters with whom we could connect on an emotional level. But those connections are nowhere to be found in Oz. Franco’s Oz and Kunis’s Theodora are utterly unlikable, though for different reasons. Oz is, quite frankly, a total dick, while Theodora’s transformation from simpering, wide-eyed naive girl to cackly, emotionless, hate-driven witch is unbelievable. None of the characters experience a transformative event or moment that substantiates their personality shift. Mostly things just seem to happen to them or around them. Even Glinda seems to just be waiting around for someone to come along and fix things (despite, we later learn, her inherent power and her ability to destroy the source of Evanora’s power). And this waiting is evidentiary of one of the most distasteful elements of the film: the representation of female characters.

oz-the-great-and-powerful-evanora Theodora Glinda

In the movie, women fall into one of three categories: good witch, bad witch, or child. Or, more accurately, Madonna, Whore, Infant. Significantly, the women who have power in the movie are the evil characters. That is, Evanora seized power from the former king, and she and Theodora take control of the kingdom. In light of the King’s death, one would assume that power would fall–by default–to Glinda, the King’s daughter. Instead, the people of Oz are waiting for a Great and Powerful Wizard to come and deliver them from the evil clutches of the wicked witches. In the meantime, it’s apparently Glinda’s responsibility to look sparkly, shiny, and virginal in her white robes and generally mother and protect the people until the real man arrives to take care of things. The cherry on this giant, anti-feminist sundae is Glinda’s reward when the battle is done–namely a kiss from (and it can be assumed) marriage to the Wizard. Please excuse me while I go throw up a little in my mouth.

China Girl

And when women aren’t behaving as virgins or whores, they’re children. The China Girl (who was, by the way, the only likable character other than Zach Braff’s Finnley) is the only other prominent female character who plays a role in the film. Surprisingly, she’s the only character who demonstrates any sense of agency and is the only female character who shows strength. When Glinda loses her wand, the China Girl retrieves it and sneaks into the Emerald City’s palace to return it to the good witch, eluding both the city’s guards and the witches themselves. In addition, though she begins the story as a broken, seemingly fragile creature, by the end of the movie she’s not only making demands and getting her way, but also helping rescue the other characters and, ultimately, thwarting the forces of evil. Curious, though, that this type of behavior could only be presented in the form of a child, who will, presumably, one day grow up and out of that sort of willful behavior.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite gender being one of my primary areas of research interest, I don’t go into every movie looking to analyze gender roles. I honestly went into this looking to have a nice like romp in fantasy-land, but the gender dynamics were so blatant–and so awful–that it sort of overshadowed everything else. And what’s equally problematic about these female characters is the way in which they place an equal amount of pressure on men to be valiant, handsome, and the savior of human- (or munchkin-)-kind. I’m pretty sure that guys are just as tired of that narrative as women are of being told that they need to remain virginal until their wedding night but somehow, with no prior experience, know how to be the sexiest thing between two sheets. All in all, it’s just freaking exhausting. So whether we attribute it to bad writing or just out and out bad movie-making, Oz was certainly one of the year’s biggest disappointments.

What about you? Did you see the movie? What are your thoughts on the film?

Image credits:
Movie Poster: http://www.nerdist.com/2013/03/review-oz-the-great-and-powerful-a-whirlwind-adventure/
Evanora: http://latino-review.com/2013/01/25/posters-oz-great-powerful/oz-the-great-and-powerful-evanora/
Theodora: http://www.heroesandhellions.com/daily-debriefing/new-character-posters-for-oz-the-great-and-powerful/attachment/oz-the-great-and-powerful-mila-kunis-as-theodora/
Glinda: http://www.sugarscape.com/main-topics/fashion-beauty/821199/michelle-williams-glinda-good-oz-great-powerful-get-makeup-look
China Girl: http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/the-reel-breakdown/oz-great-powerful-first-look-203157013.html