I learned today that an old friend and colleague, Craig Pfaff, passed away back in May. He had had a stroke in 2015/2016 and his health was never quite the same after that. I knew when I got a “non holiday” card from his wife that it would likely be bearing bad news.
A little about Craig and me. When we first started working together, I was 26/27 and in the middle of my marriage ending. Craig would have been probably around 45 at that time. We were not so much friends as work colleagues, but when I showed up at the office one morning without my wedding band and nothing but heartbreak in my eyes, he stood up and said we were going to breakfast. I don’t recall anything in particular that he said or didn’t say, but it was exactly the right thing to do.
Later that same winter the power was out at my apartment for 4 or 5 days. At first I slept under a mile-high pile of blankets at home, but once Craig found out, he called his wife Robyn and they set me up that night on their hide-a-bed. No big to-do about it, but it simply was not acceptable to him for me to continue (like the young idiot that I was) to keep staying at home.
Craig was both a friendly back-slapping salesman and often an openly cantankerous fellow. He decided to leave the company where we worked but told no one of his plans. I saw him, briefcase in hand, and he said he was leaving. Not in two weeks or the end of the day, but right then and there. He also said he didn’t ever trying to keep in touch with work colleagues because it never works out. I was in a total state of shock as he walked out the door, presumably never to be seen again.
Fortunately for me, the salesman side of him over-rode his melodramatic declaration of never being in contact. He kept track of everyone’s birthdays and I would get emails each year wishing me well.
Fast forward to 2007 when I made my own departure from that company. As fate would have it, we happened to be unemployed at the same time. We would meet for coffee to compare stories about interviews gone wrong or potential opportunities. I was contacted by a partner to our old company about a possible business venture and Craig and I hashed out the pros and cons and discussed making it a business partnership. That ultimately fell through, but I have to say there is nothing that makes the ego-killing experience of being unemployed more bearable than having a co-conspirator. Ultimately, we both got jobs, but ever after Craig was one of my go-to people and mentors for work-related challenges.
Over the years, our contact waxed and waned, but the coffee dates continued. When I broke my foot, he came and picked me up. After his first stroke, I gave him the ride. Meet ups became fewer and farther between as his health struggles increased. Finally, he sent me a note and said he could no longer could keep up with trying to stay in touch with people and this time he meant it. I did not hear from him again after that, in spite of occasional reach-out attempts on my part.
Ours was not a deep or really even particularly close relationship. We did not share much about our personal lives, other than maybe an update on his son Michael’s career (so still, work related). It was much more akin to mentorship, but I guess you just never know the lasting impact someone’s kindness can have on your life. I have had meet-ups with lots of other folks over the years who are on their own job hunts and I did not put two and two together until now that my coffee dates with Craig were largely the inspiration.
So, for Craig, I encourage all of you to take someone to breakfast or coffee and in a low-key and maybe even slightly cranky way, spread a little kindness to someone who needs it.
This post was originally written in October 2012 when I was working for LexBlog. It was posted on the Client Services team blog, Please Advise, and can can now be viewed on LXBN. Re-posted here with permission by @kevinokeefe.
I was out of the office for the better part of two days this week, having been summoned for jury duty. I have always believed that jury duty is a civic responsibility and I made arrangements to be there, but I was not exactly excited at the prospect of having to find non-existent time in my already packed schedule to serve. In the end, I was excused from having to sit on a jury, but regardless, I must say that I discovered a new found respect for our judicial system through my experience.
As someone who is immersed daily in conversations with our clients regarding how they conduct the business of law, it can be easy to forget that everything we do here at LexBlog ultimately supports the practice of law. When I first joined LexBlog (exactly 2 years ago, Sunday), I noticed how much it helped me to actually go visit law firms and see their actual day-to-day goings on. Spending a couple of days in the midst of the legal system only served to deepen that appreciation even more.
It is easy to be cynical about the US justice system and of course it is not without it’s flaws, but I was struck by the efforts we go to in this country to ensure folks are given as fair a trial as possible. Serving jury duty is basically the Constitutional right to a trial by a jury of your peers come to life. I was also moved by just how human and emotional the jury selection process can be. In the day and a half I sat through the voir dire process, there were tears, laughter, confusion, anger, and respect all represented amongst the potential jurors. Some folks were glad to be there, others wanted any excuse to leave, but yet all took the responsibility to appear seriously, whether they wanted to be there or not.
It also occurred to me that the ability to have a jury of your peers requires the expertise of those educated in the law. Without lawyers to translate our complex rules and regulations into something any of us can understand (and, too, without judges to keep order in the proceedings), the process might as well be relegated to the type of vigilante justice sometimes seen in the court of social media. To those of our clients who serve our courts in this capacity, I thank you.
And, what ran through my mind more than anything else as I contemplated being called to serve on a jury was how I might feel if I was on the other side of the table. None of us can know what events in the future might put us in the position of needing a jury of our peers to decide our fate. I can only hope should that day ever come for me, that the people summoned will show the same respect for the process that I endeavored to show.
“If you divert over to the other block, you will be able to finish the marathon and get your medals. No one will know the difference.” That was the message delivered to us somewhere after Mile 19 this past Saturday at the Fargo Marathon. My running partner, Duana, and I shared a knowing look with each other, but we needed a moment to sort out the options that had just been made available to us before making our decision official. We could accept the diversion, cut something along the lines of 1.5 miles from the race, but maintain course support (water stops, mileage signs, volunteers directing us at corners and turns, and traffic support from local police at intersections). Or, we could take the paper map in the volunteer’s hand, move to the sidewalk and guide ourselves to the finish without any support or signage in an unfamiliar city as they were starting to erase the course in front of us. We would get in the requisite 26.2 miles, but there wasn’t a guarantee that there would be a finish line when we got to the end. There wasn’t really any decision to make. We took the diversion. We heard one last “no one will even know” as we turned right instead of going forward and Duana found her voice and said what we were both thinking, “but we will know.”
However, I was surprised to find that I was not nearly as upset as I thought I might have been at this situation. We had gotten off our pacing, (or more accurately, I had gotten us off our pacing) many miles back. It wasn’t really any surprise when the volunteer jumped out of her jeep to tell us we were starting to ‘time out.’ I had been fearing for some distance that we would be swept off the course and delivered to the end via this same jeep, so the option to continue on under our own volition was the far lesser evil of the possible bad outcomes we were facing. I did have a few moments when I thought Duana would be disappointed and mad/sad that I had lost our collective mojo and she told me she was worried that I would be emotionally bereft that we were cut short, but once we settled that neither of us was going to have a break down or try to break-up our friendship over what we were in agreement was the right decision, we commenced marching forward. Maybe it helped that both of us have successfully completed 26.2 miles in the past, or maybe we were just too tired to think of anything other than the rest of the race in front of us.
So, what happened? There was no big drama, no weather issues (in fact, it was perfect cool and overcast running conditions), no race-related injury; not even a huge marathon-style bonk – just a gradual loss of momentum that finally took over the pace we needed to sustain to finish within the allotted time limit. There are a thousand tiny little things that go into the success or failure of any endurance race, but I can point to two main challenges that grew over the miles and literally and figuratively slowed us down.
From the moment we started the race, we were in last place. I am used to being at the back of the pack and those other slowbees are ‘my people,’ but none of them showed up to this race. There was a woman in a white shirt who was within eyesight for most of the race until she dropped out and another gal walking on crutches who was just ahead of her until she dropped or was pulled, but otherwise it was very lonely back there at the end. I was not mentally prepared to be in a class by ourselves, all by ourselves. There were two volunteers (a mother and daughter) who took turns tailing us on bicycles and/or in the aforementioned jeep, and occasionally a motorcycle police officer (we learned later the husband/father to the volunteers), but we were often on the course all by ourselves. At one point our bike escort peeled off for a quick bio break and directed us to follow the bike path into the woods and she would catch up. There was no one around us, we couldn’t even see girl-with-crutches or white-shirt-girl and started to wonder if we were lost. Finally, we spotted an empty runner’s gel on the ground and were relieved to see a clue that we were still on the race course. All along the way, bands that were playing for the front of the race were packing up or gone. We saw empty lawn chairs where locals had been greeting racers. At this point, we were still easily maintaining our pace, but being alone in what is normally energetic and full of people can definitely mess with your head. At least it messed with mine and I started asking myself why there was no one else in this race in our pace group. You need all the energy you can muster to focus on what you are doing, so that mental distraction was the opposite of helpful.
The other challenge was nutrition. It is not unusual to feel a little nauseous during a race and that is usually my clue that I actually need more fuel or electrolytes. I was getting nauseous and occasionally a little lightheaded, but I would eat a little something or take a hit off my electrolytes and feel better. However, at the end of the race it was clear I was not keeping up with my body’s demands as I ate less in this longest of runs than I had in our shorter ‘longest training run’ a few weeks prior. To combat the nausea, we switched around our run/walk intervals and that helped for awhile, but somewhere around Mile 16, both my body and my spirit weren’t in the run anymore and we dropped to all walking. At least that resolved the nausea, but as I watched our splits get slower and slower I knew we were running into danger of exceeding the course limit. I wanted to ask our ever-present bicycle escort whether we would get swept, but I was afraid of the answer, so I just kept going with the specter of not being able to finish joining us for the journey. If I am being honest, there was also a part of me that would not have been disappointed to just go ahead and give up, and quit the race.
Somehow, we didn’t. We pushed on at a dangerously slow pace and kept putting one foot in front of the other. When offered the diversion, we took it and kept going. I even managed to make a joke when we magically arrived at the next mile marker without having to go past the previous one that “that last mile really flew by.” Duana snorted and we continued on. At this point, she was about 20 paces ahead of me, but routinely stopping to let me catch up or at least making sure I was still tagging along. After Mile 23, it was clear that both of us were starting to feel the pain of all those accumulated miles in our hips and feet. At Mile 25, Duana’s right hip was starting to get the better of her and she picked up a small limp. She looked at me and said she had 3 words for me, “Thank ‘effing God” and I knew she was talking about the wisdom of taking the diversion. We plodded past the last band on the course singing out “you have 3/4 of a mile to go” on a repeat loop. We made our way into the Fargodome under sheer force of will. Our tailgate party/family cheered us on the last few steps where the announcer butchered our names and Brian and my friend Lee ran out to greet us. Once past the finish line, we tromped on down to the end of the stadium to collect our medals.
How far did we go? Upon consulting our separate GPS devices and eyeballing the course map, we know it was somewhere north of 24 miles – 24.something, there was some consensus around 24.7 miles although we don’t really know for sure. Less than 26.2, in any case. Did we deserve to get medals for our not-quite-a-marathon? I suppose that is debatable, but when I look at my medal it is a reminder to me of everything I pushed through to find my way to the finish line. Just like in life, the journey is rarely (ever?) as expected. And I am not pretending that we did the full race, so I’ll take the medal and the accompanying disclaimer that goes with it.
Other than that, how was the play, Mrs Lincoln? It was not all doom and gloom by any stretch. I became fond of our traveling family of escorts – especially when the daughter told me that she and her mom rode with the final finishers every year. It takes a special kind of kindness to choose year over year to be with those who are guaranteed to be struggling (and probably in less than stellar moods). Back around Mile 11 when things were still going well, we encountered a water stop with a DJ playing and we danced and jogged our way through, singing along to “We Built This City.” At one point where a band had closed up shop, a man ran along beside us playing music from his iPhone to make sure we had some tunes. We got high fives and well wishes from the small handful of folks who hung out along their sidelines to make sure they were there until the bitter end passed. One of my best friends, Lee, flew out to North Dakota to be there for us. Showing up for people is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. Brian even tracked down a Tibetan gift shop so he could bring Nepalese prayer flags to Fargo, which he hung on the porch of our Airbnb house. Plus there is no greater (or louder, seriously) cheerleader on the course than my husband. We saw Lee and Brian numerous times throughout the race and we always heard his whoops and hollers long before we got to them. We raised more than a few bucks to fight blood cancer and honor Duana’s Pop-Pop. Not to mention the texts, emails, and Facebook posts of support and encouragement we received as well. We are both truly lucky to have such amazing friends and fans in our lives.
Plus, we had each other. I can’t begin to imagine what this day would have looked like without Duana at my side. At one point when I was having a minor pity party, I told her she would have finished the full 26.2 if I weren’t there slowing us down. Without missing a beat, she replied that she wasn’t there to run a full marathon by herself. She was there so we could do this event together and whatever happened it would be a collective effort. That by itself made the event special, even if it wasn’t quite the end we had envisioned. Also, the main reason I set out to do this crazy thing was to prove to myself that I could rebound from my broken foot. That those dark times did not define my future outlook. Maybe I didn’t get the 26.2 mile prize, but I managed months of training and 24.whatever miles on my feet on Saturday. That feels like success in my book.
A couple of people have asked me when I was going to write about the election. Frankly, my mind has been too jangled up lately to say anything remotely coherent. While I certainly don’t have my feelings and thoughts all sorted out yet, a few have come into focus of late.
Like so many of us, my immediate reaction was complete shock, followed shortly thereafter by profound heartache. I never thought Hillary was perfect, but some small piece of me did think that perhaps the day had come when we would have a woman president. I did not realize just how important that was to me until she lost. (There is a throw-away line in the movie Strictly Ballroom where Scott Hastings’ mother laments, “It was our year! It was our year!” That was me on the Wednesday after the election.)
I spent the next few days in kind of a haze watching posts on Facebook get angrier and seeing people who supposedly were on the same side spew vitriol at each other. Comments from those on the right were at first confused, then annoyed, and then occasionally a little cruel. Everyone was furiously posting articles to prove their point. Like a hideous car wreck on the highway, I could barely stand it and at the same time I couldn’t look away. Meanwhile in “real life,” my friends and I talked and talked and talked about nothing but the election and what it meant for the future of our country. Questions were aplenty, answers were few.
I started wondering if my friends were still my friends, on the left or on the right. Was I going to be an activist enough for the left? Was I now too radical for the right? It was as if the country cracked in half on November 9 and you had to pick a side and immediately jump over to your selected edge of the cliff before falling into the chasm.
But my personal beliefs did not change between “before” and “after” the election. I am fortunate to have friends from all walks of life. There are plenty of things we didn’t agree on, but somehow we managed to coexist. In some cases, they were mere differences of opinion. In other cases, my feelings were profoundly opposed to theirs – in which case, we agreed to leave those subjects alone. Why, if we weren’t any less different today than we were a week ago were these people now supposed to be the enemy?
I am uncomfortable with blanket-labeling anyone I knew who voted for Trump as a racist, misogynist, xenophobe. On the other hand, I see the genuine fear in the eyes of my LGBTQ friends and my heart has simply broken in half on their behalf. How can anyone reconcile those two realities? The truth is that you can’t.
But here is the realization that came to me today. How does pointing and screaming “Other!” help anything? Will it convince the other side of your side’s “right-ness?” (Not if Facebook posts are any indication…) From my perspective, all that kind of thing does is reinforce the rhetoric that we need to be divided. It serves Washington, DC’s interests, not yours or mine.
And can we really divide ourselves neatly down the middle? I am very much against a Muslim registry, but I am also for women’s rights and the Muslim faith is not always so kind to women (although, then again, neither are the Southern Baptists). I am currently a Methodist and they are not so friendly to the LGBTQ community. And I can’t know what it is like to be pulled over for driving-or walking-while black, but I also abhor the idea of people running around randomly shooting at the police. Do I have to be anti-police if I am pro black lives?
Perhaps I am naive, but I have to believe there can be a world in which we have different ideas and ideals and can still figure out how to live with each other. And I’m not so sure I am all that naive. I went to high school in Memphis (aka The South) and watched a woman tell her daughter after a basketball game at an all-black school, “at least we are the WHITE minority.” I had a boss tell me “maybe you don’t think you are smart enough to get a MBA” and watched this same boss come to town and take my male colleagues to strip clubs. I have always known it’s a messy world out there.
Look, I am a straight white woman with a good paying job and health insurance and I know I have won the birth lottery several times over, but I’m not totally ignorant of the ways in which people can be cruel to each other. I have made my own mistakes that caused others pain and I have not always been proud of every choice I have made in my life. My thinking on many subjects has also evolved over time as I have learned and lived more. None of us is perfect, but I think more of us than not at least strive to tip the scales more towards good than bad. The thing we often don’t agree on is how to get there.
I will still fight for what I believe is right, as I would expect anyone to do, and I will cherish the places where we agree. Whether you are a Liberal or a Conservative, I know each of you love your families, that you want your children to be healthy and safe, and that everyone who has lived long enough has suffered pain and loss. I know that being in community (whatever your community may be) is what gets us through this life and brings us laughter and joy. We run races, climb mountains, start businesses, or start families – all with hopes and dreams of success. We lose loved ones, fight cancer, fight fires – all with prayers that we’ll get through it.
Truthfully, we also hurt each other and fight each other and sometimes start wars. So what do we do? In spite of our human potential for darkness, I am choosing to stay true to myself and focus on our light. I am a lover of people. I love your stories, big and small – happy and sad; liberal and conservative. I seek to understand and to learn. I do not always agree with you, and I don’t expect you to always agree with me, but I, for one, hope we’ll keep talking.
Here are a few short steps to have a happy/healthy/successful/long/fulfilling life:
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night
- Take Naps – *NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN PEOPLE*
- Eat your vegetables
- Cut out sugar and alcohol, and saturated fat, oh and carbs. Pretty much don’t eat anything that tastes good.
- Eat real butter instead of margarine (now we’re talking!)
- Don’t drink cow’s milk, but also don’t drink soy milk if you are a woman
- Get plenty of vitamin D, but I guess not from milk. Get it from sunshine, yay, unless you live in the Pacific Northwest, in which case get used to having crappy vitamin D levels.
- On the 5 minutes the sun comes out, wear plenty of sunscreen so none of the vitamin D gets in. Also because skin cancer = sucks
- Ladies take your calcium with vitamin D, but calcium citrate – not calcium carbonate if you are prone to kidney stones otherwise you will end up in the ER with, well, kidney stones. Note: 99% of all calcium supplements will be calcium carbonate, except expensive name brand ones.
- Don’t go to urgent care or you might get misdiagnosed with diverticulitis and end up in the ER with kidney stones even though you told the urgent care doctor that this feels just like when you had a kidney infection in college. Also get a C. Diff infection from antibiotics prescribed for misdiagnosis. Learn the hard way about the importance of probiotics and a good primary care provider.
- Eat yogurt, because probiotics *ALSO NOT HAPPENING*
- Keep a food journal
- Keep a journal-journal (can I write about how much I hate keeping a food journal?)
- Socialize with friends (without sugar or alcohol..??)
- Spend time with family, but in real life not on social media, which is fun when they live all over the entire country and airfare to go visit your parents is more than airfare to go to Hawaii. Of course, fish and relatives get old in 3 days, so don’t stay in that place you just spent more money than Hawaii to go to for too long.
- Exercise regularly. And exercise includes the following:
- Aerobic activity
- Strength training
- Core fitness
- Getting 10,000 steps a day, even though days you work out with your trainer and you can barely sit on the toilet the next day you are so sore don’t count because that kind of torture does not equal steps
- Do something creative like look at pinterest to see exactly how much of a loser you are because you can’t make handmade pasta in the shape of chinese lanterns
- Turn off the TV (Is a life without binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix even worth living?)
- Drink red wine and eat dark chocolate (take that, #4! And, uh, does white wine count if you don’t like red wine?)
- Follow your passion
- Eliminate debt (if only my passion for giving unsolicited advice paid better, or at all).
- Meditate. Sit in a quiet place and calm your mind. Being a FOMO media loving American makes this very easy.
- Get an annual physical, and your eyes checked, get an annual mammogram, go to your dentist twice a year, and visit your various specialists that you have accumulated since you turned 45. Make sure all the various medical professionals mention that losing weight will solve all your problems but then don’t give you any guidance on how to do that. Get a colonoscopy before you are 50. Tell your husband terrifying stories about how he will never be able to handle the prep for your own amusement.
- Lose weight by calculating a mystery point system, journaling what you eat, and going to regular meetings. You will lose weight if you do these things. You will not lose weight if you do none of these things and just keep paying for your membership.
- Go to bed at the same time as your spouse. Unless your spouse routinely goes to bed before 8pm, in which case sit in the other room with the TV on ruining your brain with blue light and mock him from the sofa for his sleep weakness. Definitely wake him back up when you go to bed and tell him you are doing it for your marriage because you read an article on the internet once that couples should go to bed at the same time.
- Get off social media. (Well, then how am I supposed to know which friend of mine has some vague problem they are willing to post about but not say what it is.)
- Don’t smoke. Done. Never started. Super glad. If you have friends who smoke don’t ask them all the time if they are going to quit or tell them all about lung cancer. They will band together and plot your murder in which case your non-smoking life will be much shorter than theirs.
- Be married. I don’t necessarily recommend it to someone training for a long distance triathlon unless you like hearing about swimming, running, biking, bike parts, bikes in magazine, lifting up a bike with one hand to prove that yes it really is super lightweight. The only defense is to do your own endurance event and then you both talk about your events non-stop and effectively ignore each other together.
- Have a pet, especially one that eats too fast and promptly barfs their dinner on the carpet and then is hungry again. They will especially like to do this the morning you are having company over that night and just finished vacuuming.
- I have heard having children both makes you immortal and want to run in front of traffic, but I haven’t done that one so I can’t really comment. I can have fun getting “that” look from people when you told them you chose not to have kids, like, on purpose. It seems to be a mixture of pity and longing.
- Stop reading and making lists. They definitely make you depressed and feel bad about yourself. Hang out with your friends and family, drink a little wine, eat a little chocolate, run around the lake with your friend regularly enough to get some exercise and also not need to pay for actual therapy, and maybe eat some vegetables with those carbs. Hug your cat and your husband on a regular basis. Definitely watch Stranger Things on Netflix, but maybe not all at one time, just like 2-3 episodes a day.
I’m not particularly prone to depression. I have my moments of not wanting to get out of bed and face the world, just like any of us do from time to time, but fortunately those are few and far between and don’t generally last long. On the other hand, I’m not a 24-hour fun factory either. I go through moods and seasons of feeling more, and sometimes less, satisfied with myself. Right now is one of the “less” times. There are things I could point to like the damp and grey Seattle weather, the shorter days, being in the off season with my running, work frustrations, or <insert challenging thing here>. Those are probably contributing factors, but let’s face it, they are also constants and I can think of plenty of times I have had an equal list of annoyances in my life where my outlook was far more positive. Also, thankfully, I have no major life issues I’m dealing with right now. So I don’t really have any particular excuse for my recent general malaise.
But nonetheless, it is here with me and seems to have settled in for a leisurely visit. I feel bored and boring at the same time. I can think of all kinds of things I could do, or should do, but then I go “meh” and don’t do them. (Or I get fatalistic about how doing the dishes is a sisyphean task that I am doomed to repeat in a never ending cycle until I die…) I have been here before and I know well enough that “this too shall pass,” but I will admit that I struggle some to know how to function well with this malaise thing traipsing through the day with me. My mind wants to shake it off and get on with my normal life. Of course, it turns out thinking to yourself “shake it off, shake it off” is not especially effective.
I waffled on whether to even share this on my blog. I am not in a deep funk. I don’t need saving. I’m leery of the well-wishing I may get as a result of my post. I chose to share because, in my experience, any time we think we are alone in something we’re generally wrong. I know I am not the only person who has had a case of the blahs. There is comfort in community. If you are there now, I feel ya, friend. If you have been there, and done that in the past, I would love to hear how you have navigated the blah times.
What gets me through? Movies are a great companion. I love more than I can say in words the places that movies can transport a person. I have all kinds of complicated emotions about Woody Allen the person, but The Purple Rose of Cairo is proof that he gets the power of film to take us away from the every day of our lives and it remains one of my all time favorites. Sometimes I need romantic comedies that make me smile and embrace their happily ever afters. Other times I seek out those heartfelt movies that tap into that place that needs to cry it out and I cry sloppily on my sofa with the cat cuddling at my side.
The other saving grace in my life are my friends. It is amazing how much laughing with a group of people burns off the fog. Or when Brian and I laugh about some absurd thing until we can barely breathe. Or how running or walking with a friend lightens my life with that powerful combination of talking and physical exertion. We are social creatures after all, but as a dyed in the wool extrovert, that social interaction is like water in the desert for me.
What gets you through the blah days?
P.S. Not sure how this bit from The Mary Tyler Moore Show has stayed with me all these years, but Ted Baxter pretty well sums it up! (From the start of the video to the 3:52 mark.)
It’s a good time to be plus size. At least the interwebs says it is. I have seen a plethora of stories about us larger ladies and all the amazing things we are doing these days like running marathons, modeling swimsuits, getting married, even making it to the cover of magazines. There is a big part of me (no pun intended) that thinks, “Finally!” Finally, people are noticing that the heavy-set does all kinds of things you normal-set people do. Heck, we might even (gasp) be normal people.
But I have to confess I feel somewhat conflicted about the isn’t-it-great-to-be-fat movement online. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, so I won’t pretend to know what it’s like to live in the skin of the women featured in the posts I referenced. Here’s the thing, I don’t want to be judged or ridiculed because of my body size. I don’t want my weight to be a measure of my intellect. And I think brides should feel beautiful, and sexy, and loved on their wedding day. If you want to wear a bikini in size 22, more power to you. And, as a runner myself, if you want to run ultra marathons at 250 pounds, I will be the first person to cheer you on. I want to be treated like a person.
However, I want to be treated like a whole person, and my weight is a piece of the puzzle that makes up who I am. I am an active person and generally in good health, but I could weigh less and be healthier. Losing weight would lower my risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer – or at least get rid of my chronic acid reflux… I don’t have a glandular problem, I don’t have some past trauma hanging over me. I simply eat too much. Some people smoke, or drink, or gamble. My personal challenge just happens to show on the outside more than other people’s problems.
I used to be very judgmental of people who smoked until I worked on a team filled with smokers. I watched them repeatedly try to quit. They would quit for their birthdays, make New Year’s resolutions to quit, quit on the Great American Smokeout day. They would make pacts to quit together. I saw smokers try Chantix or get nicotine patches, or gum, or e-cigarettes. I honestly never saw a group of folks try harder at anything over and over again. The experience was eye opening. Before, I thought they just didn’t want to stop that much, but I came to appreciate that the addiction of smoking is powerful and I was grateful I never happened to take it up in the first place.
That’s how it is with me and my weight. I have done any number of things to end my unhealthy eating habits. I buy fruits and vegetables (that I don’t finish and go bad in my fridge). I find new and interesting recipes. I train for half marathons. News Flash: you can train to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles and gain weight doing it. I make pacts with myself to cut out sugar, or alcohol, or processed food. I am a member of Weight Watchers and think I may have a record going for most years on the program without losing any weight. Sometimes I lose a few pounds. Generally, those pounds come back and bring a few friends along for the party. Maybe I don’t want it enough to make a lasting change, but please be rest assured I *try to lose weight* over and over again.
What do I want for my efforts? I sure don’t want to be tolerated. Tolerate means to “allow the existence.” I already exist and I don’t need anyone’s permission to keep on existing. Should I be celebrated? I love being the center of attention and who doesn’t love a good celebration. However, I don’t want to be celebrated for my plus-sizeness. Celebrate me for being smart, or a good friend, or maybe even (I hope) a good writer. That leaves acceptance. Accept me as a flawed human on this earth, just like all the other flawed humans – even the skinny ones.
Acceptance is not love. You love a person because he or she has lovable traits, but you accept everybody just because they’re alive and human. ~Albert Ellis