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I am my own worst critic, A.K.A. who is that fat girl in the photo?

I am my own worst critic, A.K.A. who is that fat girl in the photo? (more info at palomacruz.com)

“Big.” “Chunky.” “Plus-sized.”┬áThese are all words my loved ones would use to describe my appearance. Others would just call me “fat.” The medical community would use the word “obese.”

Strangers and acquaintances alike take it upon themselves to try to shame me, to make me understand the way that I’m destroying the world by insisting on being fat. There’s an entire industry (several, in fact) dedicated to trying to solve this problem for me. And I’m told every day, in many many ways, that if I just stopped being fat I would be better, happier.

Most days I manage to drown out the external and internal voices that try incessantly to let me know that I’m a failure, that every “extra” pound is one more mark against me. Most days I’m just louder than the voices, so they don’t make an impact on my day. Some days I’m not.

I want to have the courage to wear a bright red fitted dress without thinking about the muffin top or the love handles. I want to have the boldness to have my photo taken without dreading the split second where I see just how fat I am compared to the others. I want to stop seeing myself, and judging myself, through the eyes of others. I want to stop it all … now.

And I don’t mean that I want to lose weight (though I want that too). And I don’t mean that I want better clothes (though I always want new clothes). I just want to love who I am, in my current size and shape, without having to work at it.

I guess when I achieve that I’ll know I’m actually, finally, a grown up.

In the meanwhile, I’ve challenged myself to try to take more selfies … and I’ve been failing at that too. But I will get better. And I will keep trying. At some point I’ll stop dreading the photo … eventually.

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I changed my life … now what?

I changed my life ... now what?

Have you ever wondered what happens the day after “happily ever after?” The day after the revolution? The day after you upend your entire life and change everything?

I did that a few weeks ago — changed my life. Well, sort of ripped it apart a little. Made a change that has an impact on everything. Now I’m wondering what I’m supposed to do next.

We identify ourselves a certain way — by our families, loved ones, careers, achievements, even by our looks — and we get attached to that way of thinking. I am the sum of those parts. When you take away one of them, what’s left?

Don’t mind me. This is middle-of-the-night rambling. I’ll make more sense with more sleep.

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What happens in the dim bar…

At some point in the conversation I realize that he’s been flirting with intent. I look at this man across the table from me, too young and too beautiful, and I smile at him. And then it dawns on me that he’s been waiting for me to make the next move.

We’re sitting in a fashionable but semi-deserted hotel bar where I’ve been been entertaining him for the past few hours with the unfiltered words that tend to color my conversations. Really, he’s just been my attentive audience for most of it. Nice scenery to look at while I talk out loud.

The dull roar that swirled around us at the beginning has dimmed to a quiet murmur as fewer people remain. We’ve been camped out in the same place since the business day ended, nursing the same drink for long enough that the waiter stopped coming by to check up on us. We’re both mellow and relaxed.

There’s this moment… a moment of delight as I realize that he’s looking at me with that kind of genuine appreciation that so rarely makes an appearance these days. It’s friendly, but with heat and without pressure. It’s an invitation.

I am shallow enough that I wallow in that look for a long few minutes as I contemplate the possibility of actually giving him a sign, making a move. My mind flits through different scenarios, the pros and cons, in a single second. And the moment holds on, and our smiles remain, and our eyes are still locked, and we’re still silent now.

And then I remember to breathe.

{{Yes, dear reader, that’s all you get.}}

image source: sharonang / Pixabay

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A mistaken sense of failure

Frog

A few years ago I started taking some graphic design classes at the local community college to get in touch with my creativity. The first semester was wonderful. I loved the classes, learned a lot. I’m still using some of the info and techniques I learned in that one semester.

The next semester was a disaster. The professor came into the classroom and read from the book for an hour. It. Was. Mind. Numbing.
It was boring and I hated it. I wasn’t engaged and wasn’t learning.

I was telling a friend over dinner about this horrendous experience and she gave me a very simple and, to me, astoundingly awesome insight: “Paloma, you signed up for the classes for fun. If you’re not enjoying it, drop it.”

And I sat there, awestruck with the simplicity of her solution. I could drop the class. It never occurred to me that I could actually drop the class and walk away.

I could drop the class!

My ability to focus on the end goal of a project has served me well. The tunnel vision I develop makes it possible for me to ensure that I will do what I set out to do. Unfortunately, it also means that I don’t see the simple things like when it’s a good idea to abandon something.

Walking away from this did not equal failure.

So I dropped the class and felt better. But I didn’t learn my lesson. This week has been a good example of the fact that I still haven’t learned when to walk away from horrendous situations. I’m still focusing on the end goal and not noticing the boiling water I’ve landed in in the meanwhile.

Fortunately, I still have wonderfully insightful friends who point out the obvious to me. “Paloma, stop being a dumb frog and get out of the boiling water.”

I think I’ll listen.

Image source: miniformat65 / Pixabay

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