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Posted on Dec 18, 2012 in Dear Diary | 29 comments

Bracing Myself

So in case you hadn’t noticed it from the heartfelt announcement last week, or the 80,000 references I’ve made since, I wrote a book. And I published that book, effectively marking the single most exciting event of my life to date. (Yes, even eclipsing both my Harry Potter birthday party and that time that I spoke to Daniel Radcliffe.)

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Everyone who’s offered feedback on the book so far has been amazingly positive and encouraging! Terra even has 11 5-star reviews on Amazon so far, which is seriously amazing (thank you to those of you who have already read and reviewed the book!) — like, mindbogglingly so. Of course, I know that this ego-inflating love will only last so long. Eventually, somebody is going to pick up Terra and decide it’s really not their cup of tea. They will dislike it–maybe even hate it–and that’s okay! No book is for everyone, and I even know people that (gasp!) don’t like Harry Potter or really didn’t like The Hunger Games, and they are totally entitled to that opinion. Regardless of how misguided it may be. πŸ˜‰

So ultimately, someone is going to dislike my book enough that they feel compelled to leave a negative review on Amazon or Goodreads or their blog or whatever. And maybe it’ll be really thoughtful and well-articulated and make some very valid points that I can use to improve my writing/the story in future books. Or, maybe it’ll be an all-caps trollfest of a comment that’s like, “THIS BOOK TOTALLY SUCKS FOR SOME UNSPECIFIED REASON! DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! THIS AUTHOR IS THE WORST WRITER EVER, AND SHE’S UGLY, AND I WANT THOSE HOURS OF MY LIFE BACK!” And if it is, well, it is. I’ll have to learn how to deal with that.

See, I am a self-proclaimed wimp when it comes to criticism. I have skin like vellum, I’m super sensitive, I take EVERYTHING personally (seriously, just ask my family). Or, at least, that’s how I used to be. I really do think that writing this blog has helped toughen me up a little bit. Even though I’ve never really experienced the brunt of an internet movement’s backlash, or even had too many vocal haters on GOMI, there are definitely people out there who don’t like my blog, or don’t think I’m doing a good job with my weight loss/food choices/general attempts to grow up, or simply just don’t like me, period. And that’s valid too, because everyone has the right to their own opinion. Plus, there are definitely people out there that I don’t particularly adore, so how could I possibly expect myself to be immune from the same feelings? So, yes, despite my all-encompassing desire to have everyone ever in the whole wide world be in love with me, I really am finally starting to get to a place where I’m okay with knowing there are people out there who won’t.

So, while, yes, it is nice to bask in the glow of rave reviews from my wonderful readers thus far, in the back of my mind there’s always a little spark–like the pilot light of my self-protection gas fireplace–reminding me not to get too swept away. Because when I do get that first 1-star review, or stumble across that scathing blog post, and my family finds me cradling myself in the fetal position in the corner of my living room, I’m going to need to find the wherewithal to eventually pick myself back up again. Because even after I burst into tears and declare to the Twittersphere world that I’m never going to write again, that is not the truth. I will keep writing. Of course I will.

I always knew that even if this book only sold a dozen copies to people that are related to me by blood, I would keep going. Finish the story, finish the series, continue to try. Because nothing that was ever worth having ever came easy… or something like that. And because this is what I want to do. Like, really do, you know? And I know this post is starting to creep into the borders of Cheesyland, but I don’t care. πŸ™‚

ANYWAY. The bottom line is that I’m really trying very hard to keep a level head now, so that when I do have to face the inevitable bad review music, I don’t go tailspinning into the doldrums so hard that I can’t pull myself back out again. Of course, this is a lot easier said now than I’m sure it will be to actually handle later. As The Oatmeal so brilliantly put it:

How I feel after reading 1,000 insightful, positive comments about my work: The whole internet loves me.
How I feel after reading 1,000 insightful, positive comments about my work and ONE negative one: The whole internet hates me. πŸ™

Do you consider yourself to be someone with a thick skin? Or are you a super sensitive special snowflake like me? Ahahahaha. πŸ˜€

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Posted on Aug 2, 2012 in Dear Diary | 6 comments

August Rush

Okay, let me be clear up front that I am not really going to be discussing the movie “August Rush” today, delightful though it may have been (though let’s be honest, I pretty much watched that entire movie solely for glimpses of Jonathan Rhys Meyers). No, this is more of an homage to the general feeling I have today which is along the lines of:

HOLY CRAP IT’S AUGUST?!?!?!!!??

This year has been flying by. I know how cliche that must sound for me to say (write?) out loud, but it’s true! I cannot believe that the year is already almost 3/4 of the way done. They say time flies when you’re having fun so… way to go, 2012! August is a particularly important milestone month for me because lots of stuff tends to happen to me in August. Par example, in August of 2010 I started this blog. And last August, I started my new (day)job. The fact that yet another anniversary is about to pass for the first thing and my first anniversary is impending for the second really puts into perspective how much time has passed over this last year.

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Pensive Daxter is pensive. Also, I have since trimmed his ears.

I’ve mentioned before that the fact that I can easily look back on exactly what I was doing/saying/thinking/eating (heh) a year ago is one of the things that I love most about this blog. While I may not always want to remember everything, keeping this blog is like keeping a scrapbook of my life… that anyone can see at any time. Okay, so it’s not perfect, hahaha. But what can I say? I’m a bit of an emotional exhibitionist, so sharing my formative years (er, if you consider 22 – 24+ formative) with the interwebs is really okay with me. This is why I feel like I would make a really good celebrity. I just really like it when people pay attention to me. πŸ˜›

In case you were interested, by the way, here is the post from this day last year. It includes puppy pictures (look at how TINY my sister’s dog Oreo is!) as well as sushi. So clearly, not that much has actually changed.

Originally when I started thinking about the fact that a year has already passed, and I’m about to celebrate HISTG’s second birthday, I started to get a little sad. After all, I’m still not at “goal” weight. In fact, I haven’t really lost any significant weight all year. But then I smacked myself in the face (true story) and told myself to get over it. After all, who cares if I meet some arbitrary deadline? I’m still much healthier now than I was two years ago, and my relationship with my body, my weight, and myself is still growing and evolving. I am confident that I will get to place where I am truly satisfied with my weight and appearance (I hope, at least!) so I don’t need to be apologetic for it taking a little longer for me to get there than I had originally planned, right?

I don’t want to have to apologize for doing things my way, in my own time. Two years ago, did I think that I would ever get to a point where I could run in a 200-mile relay across the state of Massachussetts? Did I think that I would be able to make regular exercise part of my routine? Absolutely not! And that is progress, my friends, as I’ve said time and time again.

I’ll reiterate, just so no doubt or confusion circulates, that I do still have goals and intentions to lose more weight. You know, to find that true “happy” weight of mine, because I still am above the threshold. I still don’t completely LOVE my body right now. I would like to tone up, flatten out, and maybe drop just one more elusive size. But just because you don’t actively see it here doesn’t mean that I’m not still making an effort (even if it’s a slightly less focused effort at present moment, admittedly). It will all come in time.

I feel like in the past, I’ve spent every self-reflective, anniversary-ish post pretending to celebrate my accomplishments but in reality, I’ve been regretting the things that I wasn’t able to accomplish. “If only I had gotten my act together sooner, I’d already have long since been at my goal weight!” “I wish I hadn’t ever done X, or gone to Y, or wasted my time with Z!” Well, no more! There is absolutely no point in regretting my past – it’s what has shaped me into the (totally awesome and modest) person that I am today. Every year has brought me something new, something to grow from, something to celebrate. And I can’t wait to see what’s in store for this next one.


2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

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Posted on Jun 26, 2012 in Dear Diary | 20 comments

Modesty, Validation, and Acknowledging Our Strengths

Talent. Strengths. Passion. Career. I know I’ve been waxing on and on about this stuff for a while, so depending on how you’ve felt about it in the past, I imagine you will be either delighted or disappointed to read the following. See, in my current quest to figure out not only WHAT I want to do (which, as you will probably be shocked to hear, is NOT to be stuck in a cubicle for the rest of my natural-born-life), but also HOW I’m supposed to do the things I want to do in a fiscally responsible, not-gonna-move-back-in-with-my-parents kinda way, I’ve done some thinking. Go figure. And while my recent revelations may cause some of you to be like, “Uh, duh?”, I’m going to talk about them anyway. Probably in a fairly nonsensical and stream-of-consciousness kind of way. Because I can. Thbbbt. πŸ˜‰

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It actually all started when I attended the Kristin Chenoweth concert a couple weeks ago. In between beautifully-sung songs and anecdotes about how her mom accidentally (but continuously) calls Fuddrucker’s “Mudf*cker’s”, she also told us quite a few stories from her pre-celebrity days. She talked about what it was like to be little and to have her first solo in church, performing and getting her first role on Broadway and as she spoke, there was no false modesty. She didn’t fish for complements, or underplay her talent. She is, and apparently always was, an absolutely incredible singer. We know it. She knows it. And why wouldn’t she? I mean, how annoying would it be if she were to say something like, “Well, I can sing fairly well, I guess…”? I’d want to smack all 4’11” of her. Hearing her talk about herself that way didn’t make me think she was conceited or immodest, even though in everyday life, my first instinct would be to mark someone as such if they were doing the same thing.

So obviously the rules that apply to celebrities don’t necessarily apply to us regular folk, it’s true. I mean, hello? Lindsay Lohan is still getting work. Wtf. Regardless, the whole experience still sparked something that I thought deserved a little thought. Our society of polite interaction and political-correctness puts a premium on modesty. You might be extremely talented, but you’re not supposed to be the one saying “I’m a gifted artist!” or “I’m a great writer!” or “I’ve got a fantastic voice!” No, that would be bragging. Society tells us that validation is supposed to come from other people. And eventually, even if we start out believing in our own abilities, it is still discouraging not to be able to tout our own strengths. Having to rely on the validation of others’ opinions gives self-doubt a lot of wiggle room.

I feel like that doubt is what ultimately prevents us from pursuing the things that we really want. Take me, for example: I want to write. I think I know that I’m a good writer. With drive and perseverance, I might even be great someday. But I don’t feel like I can really say that. What I CAN say is, “I love to write,” or “I’m passionate about writing.” It feels conceited to even think, let alone say, otherwise. Even if my intentions are correct (though, let’s be honest, when are they ever really? Haha), it still feels like bragging. So I rely on other people instead. And when their comments don’t come, or when they’re not what I want to hear, or when I’m not constantly showered with reassurance, the doubt crawls back in. I start to think, “I’ll never make it as a writer, why bother trying?” And then the mental battle ensues once again.

This applies to more than just creative talent, of course. How many of us that are on the weight loss track didn’t really feel like you were making any progress until you started to get comments and compliments from others? I lost THIRTY pounds before I started getting regular comments from people I knew, and thus it wasn’t until I was thirty pounds into my weight loss that I felt that I had succeeded. But before I lost 30, I had lost 25. And before that, I had lost 20. And so on, and so forth. Shouldn’t I have felt proud about those accomplishments, too? That thought never even occurred to me. It was only “Well, I guess I need to keep going because nobody’s noticing.” I probably fall victim to this line of thinking more than the average person, I’m sure, because I have a long and sordid history with my self-esteem. Some of you might be reading this and want to roll your eyes, chalking up my feelings to my own self-worth issues. That’s a fair reaction, although I do honestly think it goes beyond that. I can’t possibly be the only one who feels this way, after all.

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I don’t have an answer for how to really fight against this way of thinking. I’d like to be able to say it’s as simple as coming up with a mantra that you repeat as you fall asleep, or sticking a Post-It to your computer screen, or writing on your mirror in lipstick, all to remind yourself that you’re awesome! You’re amazing! You’re a rockstar! But c’mon. That doesn’t exactly tackle the root of the problem, does it? I want to be able to get to a place where I don’t NEED a constant visual reminder to acknowledge that I’m good at something. That I’m possibly — GASP! — fantastic at something. And, perhaps most importantly, I don’t want to feel guilty about thinking that way when I do.

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Posted on Jun 20, 2012 in Dear Diary | 16 comments

Flake

There are many things that I’ve learned about myself since I’ve started this blog. Sure, it all began as a way to document my food intake, fitness, and subsequent weight loss, but I think we can all recognize that it’s become a lot more than that. The process of putting all my crazy thoughts into some semblance of order is not only incredibly cathartic, but eye-opening. It’s helped me to see patterns in my behavior, identify why I do the things that I do, and has helped me grow because of (or in spite of?) them.

In fact, insane though it may sound to some, I’ve come to depend on this blog quite a lot. Organizing my thoughts, writing these posts, and hearing feedback from you guys, I really value it. I don’t base major decisions in my life on what I write and read within the confines of this website, of course, but I do give a lot of weight to what I discover about myself here.

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I’m wishy-washy. I’m a flaky person. I don’t like to commit to things, and I don’t like to be held accountable for things. I don’t know if that’s because I’m young or lazy or just a brat, but it’s something that I know about myself now. And in knowing, I do my best to counteract that. I know that I tend to flake out on things, so I actively force myself to stay in them. That internal push is what made me complete the relay race when I didn’t think I would be able to, when I thought that my spot on the team would be better suited for someone else. Even on days when it feels like it might be easier to give up, it’s what makes me eventually come back to face the music when it comes to my stalled weight loss. It’s what keeps me from tossing in the towel and kicking the bucket when I know it would be easier just to give up.

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The only thing is, another thing that I know about myself is how I tend to get slightly overzealous. Things that start out with the best of intentions can easily be taken too far. I touched on this in my last post about trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life career-wise. I know that I tend to be wishy-washy and change my mind a lot and have a hard time finishing things, so in trying to counteract that, I just fail to pull the trigger at all. I tried to instigate some forward motion in starting to take classes in pursuit of an eventual teaching degree, but now I’m starting to doubt that, too. Which is stressing me out because now I’m not sure if I feel like I should continue down this path because I want to, or because I feel like I’d be good at it, or because I feel like I have to because I’ve already publicly declared my intentions. It makes me anxious to even voice these concerns, because I don’t want to add to my change-my-mind, wishy-washy tendencies any more than I already do!

I know that I never said for sure that I was definitely going to teach. I’ve never claimed that it’s my calling, that it’s my destiny, that I want to inspire a younger generation. Actually, I mostly hate the younger generations, haha. They’re punks. (YOUTHS!). No, I know better than to make broad, overly-committal statements like that anymore. I said that I would try taking some classes, seeing how they go, and seeing how I feel about it. Well, despite my very recent post about how much I’m enjoying being in class (true) and working towards something (also true), I’m not so sure that WHAT I’m working towards is really the right choice for me.

Teaching is a practical choice, and it’s a very, very respectable career, but given all the other factors in my life — how much I already live in a semi-public eye, how much I enjoy that aspect of my life, and how what I really want to do is write — is it for me? But if it isn’t, then what is? The job that I have is fine for now, but it’s not a career. What I really want is to just magically have enough money to not have a job, write my novel, take photographs, blog, and freelance. Ahhh, to dream.

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With all the questions still up in the air, and all the unknowns that are constantly looming over my head, however, all I want to do is follow suit with my furrier halves and hide under the covers until the answers become clear. Or until I start to care less. I think I’d take either at this point.

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Posted on Mar 28, 2012 in Dear Diary, Weigh Ins | 36 comments

Option Paralysis

Before I jump into things, I should mention that I’m fully aware I haven’t posted a weigh-in in the past two weeks, but that’s because I have literally been weighing in at exactly the same weight for the past two weeks (kind of a victory?), so there’s just not a whole lot going on there. ::shrug::

I’ve mentioned — on more than one occasion — that I’m a bit of a waffler. Wishy-washy, flaky, indecisive, whatever term you want to affix to it, I’ve never been very good at sticking with something. I tend to start something with enthusiasm, go full-throttle… and after a little while, totally lose interest.

It has been a big step for me to be able to recognize this tendency of mine. I think it’s a sign of growth, to be reflective enough to tell when I’m just following a lark versus pursuing something in a serious way. But in some ways, I feel that I’ve almost taken it to the opposite extreme at this point. I’ve convinced myself that I’m so waffley that no matter what I think I want to do, I *will* lose interest. That it *will* be a waste of time/money/etc. And therefore, I don’t actually do anything.

I bring this up because for quite a while now, I’ve found myself facing that looming question that all twenty-somethings pose to themselves at one point or another: what should I do with my life? Starting this blog has helped me hone and define my interests so much more than I ever thought it would, and subjecting myself to this new world of people who are passionate about food, nutrition, health, fitness has been incredibly eye-opening to me. And because of how so many other bloggers that I follow — all women who truly inspire me — I really thought I needed to follow their example in terms of my career as well.

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I’ve spent a good year+ waffling, debating, and trying to decide between whether I should pursue nutrition or food as a career. Do I start the long, arduous, but ultimately rewarding task of going back to school to become a Registered Dietitian, like Anne? Or do I follow my passion for food and go to culinary school, like Emily has done, and Cassie is currently doing?

One path would lead me far from home (there are no ADA-accredited master’s programs in Nutrition in this area that I would be eligible for), and would cost a lot both in terms of money and time (since I have almost none of the necessary prerequisites). The other path would be an incredible experience, but could I ever really justify paying so much money and taking so much time for something that I simply *want* to do, since I have no desire to work as a restaurant chef? Neither were particularly practical for me, since the only thing that I knew I wanted either way was to give myself the credentials and experience to make myself a more effective blogger.

I was stuck between these two options for a long, long time. Both had their pros, both had their cons, and despite talking with family, friends, bloggers, and random strangers on the street (well, only that one time) I still found myself incapacitated by these two choices. Stuck in the space between them. As my clever coworker informed me, this state is aptly called “option paralysis”.

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Pulling on both ends with equal pressure doesn’t get you very far, my friends.

So I asked myself some questions: Why was this decision so difficult for me? Was it the equally tantalizing appeal of both options? Or my fear that pursuing one or the other would inevitably lead to my loss of interest? When I started out in college, my major was vocal performance. It took less than a semester for me to realize that making singing my career would only cause me to hate to sing, so I switched. And while that was fine and dandy as an undergrad, it would have a bigger impact on me financially if the same thing were to happen on a graduate level.

After living in this career-decision-limbo, I finally forced myself to take a step back. Reevaluate. Reassess. And I’ve realized that while I was (and am!) passionate about both food and nutrition in general, feeling the need to turn them into my career was coming more out of unspoken peer pressure than true desire. No, It was coming from a similar place as my previous (and at least temporarily, extinct) desire to be a long-distance runner: I am immersed in a world full of fantastic, inspiring women who are doing these things, so I wanted to do it too. But when it comes down to it, I’ve finally realized those aren’t even the things that I love most about this blog.

What I love most about writing this blog is exactly that. Writing it. I love to write, to know that I’m reaching people, maybe even helping inspire them on their own journeys. I love being able to impart the knowledge that I’ve picked up from my own experiences and pass it on. I love reading your questions, hearing about your struggles, and sharing in your experiences. So for a while now, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to a totally different path instead: teaching. Specifically, teaching secondary English and, subsequently, writing.

I know full well there are tons of pros and cons when it comes to teaching, that can probably be discussed ad nauseum. I’m passionate about writing, literature, and goodness knows I LOVE my young adult novels, hahaha. Not to sound like I’m bragging or anything, but I also feel I’m equipped with the enthusiasm and creativity to be an exciting teacher. But, of course, I’m also concerned about getting burnt out, being a disciplinarian, and all the general ethics and politics that are tied up with the world of education. So far, nothing is confirmed, nothing has been decided. Since I have a few English courses I need to complete before I’d be eligible to apply for the education graduate program I’m looking at, I’m starting there. Just a couple of classes on the side to see if the subject matter is even something I could really see myself doing.

We’ll see where things take me. I’m trying not to get too wrapped up in it, reminding myself that I am still young, and I do still have time (cliches are there for a reason!). I’m dipping my toe in the water instead of jumping in with both feet, but it finally feels good to have a little forward momentum. Something to work toward that’s my own, even if it’s just the slightest bit separate from my world here.

Have you ever gone through anything similar, with regard to your choice of career and interests?

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