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Healthy Life

It’s What is on the Outside That Counts

My mood is determined approximately 93% by what I’m wearing at a given time.

It started from infancy, with comfort being a priority. Think: soft cotton onesies and dry diapers. As I grew into toddlerhood and through my early years of schooling, comfort flew by the wayside in favor of glamor (at least what was considered “glamor” in the 80s).

When I was in 4th grade, my parents received a call from the teacher asking if they were aware that I was sporting high heels at school each day.

Apparently my mother’s adult-sized shoes on my kid-sized feet clued Mrs. Smith in that these were not my pre-arranged footwear.

This was not the first contact from school regarding my fashion choices, however. A few years prior, the teacher had asked during a conference if any changes were going on at home. After mulling this over for a while, my mom couldn’t come up with anything:

“I-I was on a business trip last week. Why? Is everything okay?”

“Aha! That must’ve been it, then!” the teacher proclaimed. “Academically she’s been fine, but wore velvet and taffeta dresses with dirty running sneakers to class all week. It was just rather strange.”

Apparently my dad was indifferent about the “homeless-chic” ensemble choices that his child determined were appropriate for kindergarten.

I was lucky enough to have a mom who didn’t fret over the details of my get-ups, unless it compromised the integrity of my family. For the most part 90s-fashion was pretty low-key, anyway, though I sometimes looked with envy on the kids who identified themselves as goth.

Long black dresses and capes, pale faces with dark lipstick;

I wanted to try it, but didn’t think I’d be able to pull off the “too-cool” countenance that seemed so effortless to that crowd.

So I decidedly blended in through high school and college. I kept up with the trends (platform foam flip-flops, tank tops atop other tank tops, risqué mini-skirts, wool sweaters from J. Crew), but didn’t really try anything new during that period of my life.

Upon leaving school and joining the work force, I needed to maintain a sense of decorum, so I dressed preppy and older. My glasses and “teacher-bun” (complete with writing implement jabbed through the center) rounded out the “she’s such a professional” look.

As long as my job was as a professional hot mess, I realize when I look back.

The only thing that set my wardrobe apart were my shoes:

My collection was vast; enviable. Every color and shade was represented, from fuchsia to forest green. But what they all had in common? Height. Towering peep-toes and the tallest wedges took me from pocket-sized to altitudinous amazonian. I was able to walk long stretches, run a marathon if needed, and- most importantly- stand sternly eye-to-eye with my eighth-grade students who had hit growth spurts over the winter break.

I stood straighter and more confidently in my heels, but the moment I switched to flat shoes, I rolled my shoulders forward and waddled like a mallard. Every footfall brought a sense of woe. It’s fascinating how an item of clothing can influence temperament to such a degree.

When I was more than 7 months pregnant with my daughter, I recall slipping my feet into a pair of 4-inch pumps before a night out. I specifically remember that feeling of pleasure I had, to be able to put something on my body that actually fit- that felt GOOD even- was so satisfying. Though it was only 8 years ago, it feels like a lifetime has passed.

I actually can’t pinpoint when I began wobbling.

Looking back I can remember starting to lack confidence in my ability to get up from the table in a restaurant and walk to the restroom. I felt like all eyes were on me: had I drank too much wine with dinner? I could never remember.

During my second pregnancy, I kept falling, especially as my belly grew bigger and threw off my center of gravity. I took precautions to help me balance for the little guy’s safety. After all, I was supposed to be his protector, and it was only a few months that remained. I sat for longer stretches, I gave up exercise, and I stopped wearing heels. I remember that time of my life as being very dark.

After he was born, I was (perhaps a bit selfishly) excited to get my body back.

Falling was more infrequent, but my balance issues were still there. All of a sudden putting on taller shoes was difficult- not because they hurt or didn’t fit, but I genuinely began tottering and weaving awkwardly, as though I was heavily intoxicated. It was a slow progression, but eventually I had to phase out my beautiful high-heeled shoes.

I got rid of most, because I couldn’t bear to let my beautiful shoes see me like this, a shell of my former self, but I presently have a couple of pairs that I’ll slip on- if just for a moment- and let them electrify my soul and uplift my mood.

Then I take them off my feet carefully in favor of some sensible tangerine-and-aqua-floral-patterned flats.

 

*******************************************************************************

Story was in response to the prompt:

“What do your clothes say about you?”

From the wonderful podcast Writing Class Radio

What do your clothes say about you
“There’s no better way to understand ourselves and each other than by writing and sharing our stories.”

Fear: Does Writing Scare Me?

Fear, that coward; that bully who frightens his victim into resignation.
Defeat this oppressor with action, simple as it may be, for it is in the stagnation that he performs best.

I haven’t sat down to write like I used to. This presents a considerable problem (not to the outside world necessarily) but to my own psyche that thrives on the outpouring of my soul onto paper.

There are a slew of reasons why: excuses, some of the legitimate, some of them not so much. Time being one of these justifications: who has the time? There just isn’t enough time. Maybe tomorrow, next week, when things slow down, someday…

It becomes scary when “too much” time has gone by. All of a sudden, the blank page faces me and I find myself in the grungy hands of fear. I need to make a change.

In my spiritual quest as of late, I’ve been reflecting on time, specifically “time dysfunction” as Deepak Chopra describes it. I consider what is most important to me, in the now:

  • Spending meaningful moments with my family
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
  • Writing

I ask: How can I arrange my now, my present life, to care for and nourish those things that are most important?

Faced fearI think of those things that I’m already doing, and I give myself a gold star before moving on. Then, I begin to-politely- ask fear to leave, as he is no longer welcome. My behaviors require constant reinforcement:
You’re doing great, Kirsten!
Keep up the good work!
This is for yourself, and you’ll be a better person for it. Promise. Swear. Girl Scout’s honor.

“When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.”  
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

So I will not be, as Mr. Emerson says, a timid adventurer, and write I shall.
The time is now!

I am resolute; I will not fear.

I Quit

The time has come; I just have to quit.

Drinking has become a chore. Finding the alcohol in every situation…

quit mimosas

There’s no drink service on this plane/in this comedy club/at this tapas joint? How can I possibly deal?
Will I be able to sneak a bottle into that festival/concert/cruise ship?
How will I function without alcohol at this holiday party/high school reunion/completely random social gathering?

 

Perhaps there is a comfort in knowing exactly where to go (the bar!) and what to do (get a drink!) when entering a potentially awkward situation, but hopefully this is something that a mature (kinda) adult can deal with.

I’m not a person who has some amazing blackout-rode-a-llama-home-from-the-bar-and-there-are-3-people-who-I-don’t-know-sleeping-on-my-kitchen-floor-and-how-did-I-end-up-with-MORE-money-in-my-wallet-than-I-started-out-with-? story, but I’ve definitely had periods in my life during which I imbibed a little more than I should: when I was dealing with my diagnosis, coming to terms with my separation, that time(s) that my kids just would NOT STOP (okay, so that’s daily).

And my interest has just not been where it used to be. I truly feel that sometimes I’ll have a cocktail out of habit, not enjoyment.

quit alcohol

And health!
Of course it’s better for your body to stay away from alcohol. As per WebMD, drinking, even moderately, boosts one’s risk for several types of cancer (but, let’s be honest, that site is infamous for diagnosing everyone, even someone with the slightest swollen glands, with the big C).

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism discusses the horrific effects of drinking on most of one’s anatomy, including the brain (shocker: it’s harder to think clearly when you’ve been consuming alcohol), the heart (stroke, among other issues), the liver (I think we were all aware of this one), the pancreas (dangerous inflammation and swelling), and the immune system (maybe get 2 flu shots this year?).

Further research discusses how the chronic abuse of ethanol (alcohol) can have permanent effects of brain function.

And of course my health in particular, which has taken a turn for the worse as of late. I know drinking alcohol is disproved of among the medical community in regards to autoimmune diseases, so this is precisely directed toward my goal of taking MS down!

I’m not talking about the dude that has a couple of beers on Saturday night with his buddies then calls it a night, and I’m not implicating that woman who meets her co-worker for a drink after work.

I’m also not talking about that guy who needs a couple of shots of vodka in his orange juice in order to function for the rest of the day or the lady who carries around a flask of rum to work to pour into her coffee. The chemically-dependent individual is on a whole different level.

I’m talking about ME. I am not a binge drinker. I wouldn’t even consider myself an abuser, but I do drink.

I’m just a girl, standing in front of a bordeaux, saying “No thank you.”

I just don’t need another “thing.”

I remember quitting smoking. How it seemed completely impossible in the beginning. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around the concept of going to a bar and NOT smoking.

  • Being in my car and NOT smoking.
  • Eating a meal and afterward NOT smoking.
  • Taking a smoke-break at work and NOT smoking.

Now, however, I feel so completely free of the burden of cigarettes: of buying them, of having them in supply at all times, of smelling like them (in retrospect, eww!), and of having to go outside in the middle of January to have one.

Will I feel more unburdened without having alcohol in my life?

Let’s find out.

Paint Your Way to Health

My new book has arrived! I’m super-excited to present “Paint Your Way to Health: Using Art as Therapy for Patients Living with Neurological Illness.”

Please check it out on Amazon– it’s free for Prime members, 99 cents if you’re not.

If you don’t use an e-reader, you can easily take a gander using your computer; it’s really short. Please leave feedback for me on Amazon. I’d love to hear your thoughts, as I am working on the second publication in the series right now.

I’m really excited to see my name in print  🙂

Love to all! xoxo

 

Art Therapy
It’s here!

Rain Before Rainbows

Maybe if I try…

Maybe if I try: Rain before rainbows
Rain, rain, go away…

 

Part of becoming a grown up is accepting the fact that you can no longer accomplish “anything you want to do.”

No, I’ll never explore Mars.

No, I’ll never discover that I’m actually a princess, mixed at birth.

No, I probably won’t even inherit millions of dollars from a dear uncle who I don’t recall ever meeting.

And apparently I won’t be able to work outside the home either.

I had argued this fact on two occasions without an actual trial:

  • After my daughter’s birth, I stayed home, with the intent to return back to teaching after the kids were in school full time. Just after my son was born, I was diagnosed with MS. After much deliberation, it was decided (with nearly no input from me) that my career, for which I’d gone to undergraduate and graduate school, as well as countless workshops, seminars, and symposiums, blah, blah, blah was no longer an option. I would be unable to return. I mourned, but still upheld hope: maybe if I tried…
  • During my divorce deliberations it was decided (with, once again, nearly no input from yours truly) that I COULD work; that I was just being lazy by saying otherwise. I rejoiced: maybe if I tried…

And try I did… I uploaded my resume to one of those online-job-recruitment-site-thingies on a Wednesday night, and my first call came in on Thursday morning. With no preparation at all, I started interviewing. I was not quite as nervous as I normally would be, because I wasn’t actually planning on going back until the following year, when my little one was in kindergarten. This was just practice, I told myself. I hadn’t even updated my certifications!

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Hot Mess

**Disclaimer: Poor language choices to follow. Perhaps it shows the extremities of my messiness**

 

I am a hot fucking mess.

There is sand stuck to my exposed skin, laced between my toes, and caught in my windblown hair from yoga class this morning, held on the beach on this cold and damp and EARLY morning.

A freshly penned speeding ticket sits in the passenger side of my Prius. I mean, come on, isn’t the trooper aware that my car is unable to maintain speeds past 65 mph without beginning to tremble? I’m not exactly a threat on the road.

I had no time to put on makeup before, so my blonde eyelashes look like the white falsies that a drag-queen might wear to a diva competition and my brows, almost the same overly-milked-oatmealish color as my skin, look nonexistent. I must’ve scratched the side of my face while I slept, because I noticed a red gash stretching across my cheek. I squeeze my eyes tightly, trying to recall the dream from the night before that caused my abrasiveness. No memories though.

My finger nail polish is chipped: noticeably so. My toes too. Crap. I look like a hot fucking mess.

I focus on myself internally. That’s what really matters, right?

Continue Reading…

“Vacationing”

Lemtrada treatments don’t make for the best trips…

Mom and I walked along Main Street in Nyack, desperately trying to find the little Italian bistro that served the gluten-free penne where we had eaten the year before. The biggest challenge was that we didn’t even remember the name, just that it had outdoor dining tables and a loud fountain that made me have to pee when I sat too close to it.

After a few blocks, my mom asked the stranger, who I could hear softly padding behind us, if he was from around here and knew of the restaurant.

“No, sorry, I’m just visiting.” He must have seen the hunger-induced desperation in my eyes when I turned around to look at him, though, because he went on. “But why don’t you try me?” Our horrible explanation and lack of name or address wasn’t very helpful. “I’m really sorry, wish I could help.”

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Misconceptions

Life is a series of misconceptions.

When we are kids, this is more direct: the belief in a magical fairy who creeps into our bedrooms as we sleep to take our old canines and slip a couple dollars under our pillow; a 6-foot tall rabbA misconceptionit, who hops around laying chocolate eggs and leaving baskets of candy and fake plastic grass, wrapped in cellophane and a giant pink bow; an elf who flies from the family room curtain rod to the bookcase in the den at nighttime, surveying our behavior in December in order to report it to the big guy.

Okay, perhaps these are less misconceptions, more like lies.

 

But, as kids, we also have misconceptions about the people we are surrounded by. That our parents are always perfect. That everything will always turn out okay in the end. As a parent now, I have first-hand knowledge that the former is not true. Not even a little bit true. I am admittedly flawed, yet I try to live up to the conceptions that my children have of me.

And, perhaps it’s a little naïve of me to think so, but hopefully everything will turn out okay in the end, or, at least, how it’s supposed to.

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A Letter to One I Love

Hey you,

We have to talk (you hate clichéd phrases, I know, but in this case it just seems like the right thing to say). Simply put, I’m hurt. Irrevocable harm has been done; you seem to have turned your back on me completely. These flaws showed up about four and a half years ago, and, call it intuition: I knew, yet I was still dumbfounded.

I mean, how could you?

And, believe me, I know I’m no saint. I’ve made some poor choices in my life too: I smoked for a time (which, unfortunately did nothing to increase my coolness), I consume alcoholic beverages (my fair share, as well as the fair share of several others), I had a diet coke addiction for a while there (mmm… aspartame), but this, THIS is unforgivable!

I’ve changed, but unfortunately so have you. Some can blame time, blame age. I don’t know. It’s been nearly 37 years now, and you decided to revolt. I loved you… I love you. Please, PLEASE return to your normal, healthy state, and stop attacking yourself.

I promise to be good to you from here on in. You’re my one and only body, and I truly want you to be healthy.

Love always,
me

Christmas Past, Christmas Future **three**

The Conclusion

“Happy Thoughts”

**one**

**two**

The memory faded and my brain returned to the present, being crushed on both sides by my aggressive seatmates, both determined to be the emperor of the arm rest.

The seat in front of me reclined, making my space even smaller. Row 22, mine, didn’t move back. I suddenly felt as though the oxygen on the plane was getting more sparse, and I half-expected the masks to fall from the ceiling. I slowly filled my lungs with air and blew it out, realizing that I looked like a lunatic to the people seated next to me. Just a couple more hours…

Thinking happy thoughts

I picked up my magazine again, but it was mere moments before my eyes glazed over, and my thoughts began wandering yet again. Once more, it was Christmastime, but this memory was from a few years earlier.

Avery was in her infant swing, giggling as she stared at the colorful lights that adorned the tree. I looked around at the decorations that I had just put up, and silently congratulated myself. Now, to finish ironing the Christmas linens and put the meatloaf in the oven.

I was one housedress away from becoming my grandmother.

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