The Fat Chick Sings Has MOVED!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dear friends.  The Fat Chick Sings has MOVED.  It is now found at  Come on over and see what's new!

The Fat Chick

The Playground Pecking Order

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I've had a recent experience which has really shaken me up and brought back a lot of drama and stuff that I thought I had vanquished in adolescence.  Yeah right.  We all like to believe that we've exorcised our demons until they come screaming out at us and bite off our heads.  And for an extra special grownup bonus, I've been allowed to see this drama from both sides.

Let me explain.  I am involved with various groups and companies in my life.  My experience with one of these left me feeling bitter, resentful, deeply hurt and very, very angry.  I'm not talking about little feelings here.  I'm talking about deep, depressing, stay up all night and can't sleep kind of hurt.  I'm talking about the kind of hurt that makes me lash out at those closest to me.  Which led me to ask myself, "What is going on here?  Why is this hurt this big?  Why do these people and this situation matter SO much to me?"

Eventually, in the middle of the night, it came to me.  I was back in the cafeteria being told I couldn't sit at the lunch table with the cool kids.  I was back on the playground being excluded from the fun because I wasn't one of the "in crowd".  And as a 43-year-old woman, I was pissed off.

I carefully evaluated the situation to see if I was making it up.  And I realized that no, I wasn't.  Rules applied differently depending on whether or not you were one of the cool kids.  If you were one of the inner circle, you were trusted and complimented and if your feelings were hurt, the cool kids rallied around you.  If you weren't one of the cool kids, you were dangerously "other".  Sure, you could be used--everybody needs minions--but not trusted.  What's more, the leadership of the group at large were no longer the same as the leadership of the clique.  The "in-group" began reflexively trying to protect it's supremacy against the outside leadership and the conflict began to tear the group apart.

I had my first "aha" moment.  I was amazed that all these years later, I could get so freaked out because I was picked last for dodge ball.  But you know what?  There was more to it than that.  I realized that in my desire for acceptance from this group, I was willing to work incredibly hard.  I gave and gave of myself in the hope that they would accept me and decide I could join the cool kids.  But here's the thing.  It didn't work when I was a kid, and it didn't work now.  And being excluded hurt all the more, because I had tried so hard.

At nearly the same time, there was a ripple in the size acceptance movement.  Many of you know about the amazing and awesome I Stand campaign created by Marilyn Wann.  Although the facebook program was totally open and anyone could join, some people objected to the campaign saying it wasn't inclusive enough of groups that are often underrepresented in the size acceptance movement.  My first reaction was, "Don't they know how awesome this thing was?  Why are they fighting something that makes things better for people of size?"

And then, last night, I had my second major "aha" moment.  I had been following a thread about this issue on facebook and a commenter said it brilliantly.  "In a movement where many of us have found acceptance for the first time, it is troubling that some of us still haven't found it."  And that's when I realized just how easy it is to slip into the role of one of the "cool kids" myself.  My first instinct when being called on privilege was to deny that it referred to me.  And I might have stayed in that wonderful little cocoon of denial had I not just recently been the one on the edge of the playground with nobody to play with me.  Granted I only got a very small taste of what those disenfranchised by the size acceptance movement were experiencing, but I can tell you, it didn't taste good.

So here's what I'm learning here:

1.  It's not fun to be in the "out" crowd.  No matter how old you are, it hurts when you don't feel included.
2.  Working harder is not likely to make those in the "in crowd" accept you more.
3.  Those in the inner circle may be blissfully unaware that there is an inner circle and they are in it.  They aren't doing it on purpose.  They are just quietly enjoying their privilege.
4.  I need to learn to recognize when I am feeling left out and that it hurts.  Then I need go find somewhere to belong or start my own darn group.
5.  Recognize that I have felt left out in the past, it can be very tempting to create my own special cliques.  It feels good to be the top dog for a change, but I we really want to soothe my hurt feelings by hurting someone else?

My dear chicklettes, this is a VERY long post.  But I've done a lot of learnin' that I mean to share.  So I'm headed out to the playground to look around the edges to find somebody to play with.  Hope you do too.

The Fat Chick

Independence Hall--A Declaration of Body Independence

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Fat Chick in front of Independence Hall

So on my recent trip to Philadelphia, I saw Independence Hall.  Besides being a gorgeous building, this was a site where some pretty amazingly radical things happened.  For one, the Constitution was created here.  For another, the Declaration of Independence was both written and signed here.  This along with an excellent blog post by ASDAH Secretary, Fall Ferguson, JD, MA.

All of this together got me thinking about the notion of body independence and how our current national obsession with the size and situation of bodies is so very antithetical to the ideas the founding fathers scribbled down in this building.  And being the type of person who will follow an idea to its furthest reaches, beyond all reason, and with a preemptive request for forgiveness from our founding fathers, I've decided to lay out a draft of a

Declaration of Body Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all bodies are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

My body is my own to care for in whatever way I wish.   No one has the right to tell me what to eat or how to move.  If I want a cookie, I shall have one.  If I want broccoli, I shall have it.  I shall boogie down with my bad self, or not as I choose.

I have the right to compassionate, competent and equitable health care.  This includes physical, mental, emotional and spiritual care.  Whenever any Form of Medicine becomes destructive of these ends, it is my right to alter or abolish it and institute a new form of medical care--seeking a form that will seem most likely to effect my Safety and Happiness.

I have the right to look the way I look.  I may wear tiny prints or vertical stripes.  I may expose my fleshy arms as I embrace my freedom.  Fashion shall dictate no law that keeps me from dressing and expressing myself as I darn well please.

I am endowed with the unalienable Right to walk down the street unmolested by individuals (well-meaning or not) wishing to ply me with "cures" purported to change the size of my body to meet their ideal.

I am allowed to create my own definition of health and seek it (or not) as I see fit.

When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce me under the absolute Despotism of size oppression, it is my right, it is my duty, to throw off such Forces, and to provide new Guards for my future happiness.

So, my little chicklettes, cast off the chains of oppression!  Launch a body revolution!  Viva la resistance!

The Fat Chick 

Getting Ready for Swimsuit Season

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

 Now that we're through the resolution craze of New Years and the thwarted crazy expectations of Valentine's Day (alas no Lexus with a giant red bow on top for ME) we're headed towards the insanity of the media telling us to "get ready for swimsuit season".  Seriously.  They're talking to us months in advance because "preparing for swimsuit season" is mediaspeak for getting a body that meets societal expectations about how it should look in a swimsuit.  Meaning tall, blonde, white, tanned and thin, thin, thin. 

According to many in the media landscape, getting ready for swimsuit season needs to start months in advance, while it's still snowing  in many parts of the country.  This is because getting ready for swimsuit season requires a lot of preparation.  Like THIS GUY who suggests putting on your suit from last year and standing in front of a full-length mirror and also stepping on a scale.  His regimen includes joining a gym, lifting barbells in front of the TV and walking around in skimpy gym wear so you aren't accidentally, blissfully unaware of just how awful you look.

Here's the thing, in my book you can get ready for swimsuit season in about 2 minutes.  Just follow these simple steps:
1.  Put on a swimsuit.

Well, I guess it's just one step.  So for all you procrastinator chicklettes out there, worry not.  In my book, you've got quite a while before you need to worry about "getting ready for swimsuit season."

The Fat Chick

Heavenly Bodies: The Joy of Being a Rock Star!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

This past weekend, I did my new "Divaluscious" workout (honoring the academy awards) at the Operation Fitness Expo at the Century City Mall near Beverly Hills, CA.  I was so very lucky and honored to have some very, very special women with me from NAAFA-LA including Coral, Julianne, Anita and Terry.  We all donned our feather boas, big blingy sparkly rings and strutted on to the stage.  We boogied down to some great size-positive tunes and rocked the crowd of several hundred people that were hanging about.  Perhaps the best part is for minutes after we finished, brightly colored feathers continued to swirl about in the breeze like a super-awesome technicolor snow.  Yup, we were so powerful we changed the WEATHER.  That's just the way we roll.  The event producer called the next day to say how much he loved watching us.  "You guys were ROCK STARS!" he exclaimed.

I have to admit, being referred to as a "Rock Star" feels pretty darn good.  I mean compared to all of the other things I've been called in the past few weeks, rock star is one that I'll take.  But it struck me what an amazing contrast this posed to the recently released (and subsequently unreleased, soon to be re-released) Habit Heroes exhibit at Disney's Epcot Center in Florida.  This exhibit was designed to help kids learn healthy habits by highlighting healthy heroes like "Will Power" and "Callie Stenics".  Unfortunately they also highlight some bad guys like, "Sweet Tooth" and "Lead Bottom" and "The Snacker" (pictures below) who look an awful lot like terrible caricatures of fat people in our country.  Amidst the epic poo storm of controversy over the potential for this exhibit to shame and harm children of all sizes, Disney has closed the exhibit and the accompanying website for "retooling".  (Which is Disney speak for rethinking the exhibit while the studio marketing folks retool their resumes).

Which leads us all back to the rock star thing.  Why can't we make healthy role models for kids who don't look like SI Swimsuit Models?  Why can't the health role models for kids be as diverse as, you know, the kids?  How can we help ALL kids feel like rock stars?  I humbly submit that there are some answers in the picture below:

This picture shows the NAAFA-LA girls strutting their stuff in all their boaed and bejeweled glory right along with some thin people.  Up front and center, you've got a little kid dancing along.  And what message is this kid learning?  That fat people are sad and should stay home and hide until they get skinny?  That fat people never exercise?  That fat people and thin people are different species from one another?  Nope!  She's learning that people of all sizes have the right and the ability to get out and shake their stuff!

This is why we women of ALL sizes need to let our inner rock stars shine through.  Not just because it feels awesome.  (And it CAN feel awesome!)  But because it gives kids of all sizes some REAL healthy heroes to admire and emulate.

So my dear chicklettes, I implore you.  Get yourself some bling, some righteous tunes, and go shake it like the rock star you are!

The Fat Chick

The supremacy of sweat pants

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dancing with Sandra Hull (Lolcatburglar) of Lolcat Fame in my super stretchy awesome clothes!

My dear friend Ragen and I were chatting on the phone the other day.  She was killing time and talking to me while she was people watching at the airport when she remarked, "that chick's wearing 4-inch heels at an airport.  What's up with that?"  I assured her that I had no idea.  And I further explained why I had decided to work in the fitness industry.  "Well I love to dance and I love to help people.  And fitness is fun!  But mostly I just wanted to work in a job where I can wear tennis shoes and sweat pants every day."  Ragen said, "That sounds like a blog post.  If you don't write it, I will."  So I did and here we are.

In fact, I've spent most of my adult life moving from the least comfortable clothes to the most.  Most of you are probably blissfully unaware that I studied opera in college.  Yup, you heard it right--opera.  That meant lots of costumes--often with big heavy wigs, lots of makeup, long skirts and corsets.  Oh, there were other compensations.  I also got to wear glittery jewelry and have a gig where I was often actually required to wear a tiara.  And sometimes I got to,  you know, sing and stuff.  But after a while, those clothes got pretty darn uncomfortable.  I couldn't wear it to Starbucks and I certainly couldn't nap in it.

Next I started working in corporate America.  The skirts were shorter, but the heels were higher.  8-10 hour-days in even medium-height pumps was agony. And while you could go order a Triple, Ventissimo, Frapalatte in this get up,  you certainly couldn't nap in it.  It was still stiff and confining.  After I while, I started my own business so I could at least wear jeans most days.

Then I started working in the fitness industry.  Now, I get to wear stretchy exercise pants, and super awesome sports bras and tennis shoes almost every day.  This is the career for me!  I'll never forget the first time I did a fitness trade show.  Not only was it not  a fashion crisis to wear the most comfortable stuff in my closet, but also it was what I was supposed to wear.  I was invited to wear clothes that passed both the "go get coffee" and  the "nap on the sofa" test.  Oh happy day!

Seriously kids, the comfort and sheer awesomeness of exercise clothes is difficult to overstate.  You get to wear super comfortable shoes that come in awesome colors and even have sports detailing like race cars.  And the pants?  Even Margaret Cho waxes rhapsodic about yoga pants.  They are comfy, yes.  But they are also flexible.  They allow you to occupy and move through space like you own the joint.  They allow you to bend and stretch and reach and dance.  Exercise clothes allow you to just breathe.  So if you're looking for a reason to work out--here's one.  Exercising is a wonderful excuse to wear exercise clothes, which in turn allow you to move and stretch and dance and breathe. 

So my little chicklettes, why not don all your super awesome stretchy stuff and dance with me?  If you live near LA, you can join me for a Divaluscious Workout this Saturday.  Or you can always join me for my free live streaming workouts.  Or just listen in tomorrow night (Tuesday, February 21) when I'll be interviewed by Golda Poretsky along with Anna Guest-Jelley at the 2012 Body Love Revolutionaries Summit.  And whatever else you choose, just breathe.

The Fat Chick

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Further proof there is someone out there for every body!

It’s American Heart Month and  it’s Valentine’s Day so we’re gonna talk about hearts today.  I know that this cardiac cliché may seem a bit much (especially for those of you who HATE this holiday) but I’m going to ask you to just, you know, go with it.

First we’ll turn to an article recently released in Circulation, The Journal of the American Heart Association that contains very good news for all of us who are fit fatties.  The study referenced in the article followed 14,358 middle-aged men (median age 44) over 11.4 years indicates that fitness is much more important than fatness in terms of cardiac death and death overall.  It may seem a little morbid to talk about death on a day which is at least theoretically supposed to be about love (or maybe not—depending about how you feel about this holiday) but the message from the study is clear.  “There was no association between changes in body-mass index (BMI) and risk of mortality or death from cardiovascular disease.”  So we know that, regardless of your size, fitness improves the functioning of your heart and improves your chances of being around a long time.

As I’ve been saying for years and years, just get out there and shake your groove thing!  Don’t worry about winning Olympic medals or winning  a role on Dancing with the Stars.  Just get out there and move, moderately and joyously for a total of about 150 minutes per week.  It’s good for your body and your spirit, and your heart will thank you. 

Because, you know what else improves when you get out there and shake what God gave ya?  Fitness improves your self esteem.  Yup, getting out and getting a little exercise helps you feel better about yourself.  And improved self esteem is just one of the ways that fitness improves your love relationships and sex life.  Seriously, forget about magic pills.  A little exercise outside of the sheets can make your exercise between the sheets EVEN BETTER.  Woo Hoo!  Where do I sign up?

And speaking of signing up, fitness can also provide an awesome opportunity to meet other people to have love relationships and really great sex with.  You could try a new dance class or fitness class.  You could sign up for tennis lessons with a truly yummy looking instructor (and really rev that heart rate!)  You could join a walking or running club or go lift weights.  There are many forms of fitness that give you opportunities to widen your social circle and find some new friends and/or love interests.

So let’s review.  Fitness helps you find fabulous new people to hang out with and potentially fall in love with.  And once you’re in love, fitness helps you have better love relationships and better sex.  And fitness improves your cardiovascular health so you can love each other for a long, long time.  It does my heart good just thinking about it.

So my little chicklettes, this is my Valentine’s Day wish for you.  Get on your dancing shoes and go out and boogie!  Go for a walk outside in the fresh air.  Get yourself on down to the golf course and say hello to some folks.  And bless your little hearts!

The Fat Chick

The Power of Identification

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Out on the town with friends Ragen, Julianne and Rose

Stay tuned for a super special new project announcement at the conclusion of this blog post.  Thank you!

I remember when I was very first starting to accept my body.  When I was what size acceptance folks lovingly refer to as a "baby fat".  Somebody who is new to the notion that beauty and health happen at all sizes.  I had read some statistics that indicate that fat is not a death sentence, and that helped.  But something was missing.  Then I went to my first NAAFA convention and a whole lot of things changed in a hurry.  The reason was simple.  It's one thing to talk about size acceptance.  It's a whole other thing to be in a hotel with several hundred other fat people who are dancing, romancing, swimming, singing, exercising, sharing and generally having a heck of a good time.  I honestly never believed that health and happiness were possible at every size until I saw it, on a grand scale with my own eyes.  Finally I had found a group with which I could identify.

This is what is so very dangerous and damaging about fat hatred and fat bigotry.  We shame fat people into believing that they are dangerously other.  Like Frankenstein's monster, we fat folk are another species, incapable of blending with society.  It's bad enough when we do this to adults.  But it is especially damaging when we do this to children who may not be mature or sophisticated enough to understand that being shunned is a failing of the hater not the hated.  And we do this to children who may be in a somewhat sheltered environment, where they may feel they are the only fat kid in the class or even the whole town.

That is one of the reasons why groups like NAAFA and ASDAH are so very important.  I'm proud of my role as Vice President on the ASDAH board and for the work I'm doing with NAAFA-LA.  And I am deeply grateful that I have my amazing colleagues with whom I may work, dream and share.  And this is why the work that Marilyn Wann is doing with the "I STAND against weight bullying" project and Ragen Chastain is doing with the Support All Kids project is so important.  Imagine the impact that hundreds and hundreds of size positive people and messages can have on a child who feels isolated and alone.  What would it mean to a child to look up and see a billboard in their town depicting kids who look like them, and are healthy, happy and comfortable in their own skin.  You don't have to just imagine it.  We are very close to realizing it.  We need just over 200 people to donate to the Stand 4 Every Body project in order to unlock an amazing $5000 challenge grant from More of Me to Love.  Today is ask a friend day.  Ask a friend to donate just $1 to make this dream a reality for kids of size in Georgia.

And here's the super cool announcement I promised at the opening of this post.  Along with my super cool friends Ragen Chastain and Jayne Williams, I will be launching a new social web space called the Fit Fatties Forum on March 3.  This will be an amazing space where athletes of all sizes can gather, encourage one another, share photos, triumphs and war stories and learn from one another.  The "Ask a Fit Fatty" section will allow you to get answers to all your burning fitness questions.  And perhaps most importantly, we're creating a space where you can identify with other fathletes.  You may be the only fat aerobics instructor at the club, or fat runner in the 5K or fat scuba diver on the boat.  But my dear Chicklette, you are not alone--never alone.  Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

The Fat Chick

The futility of shame

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lately the Strong4Life campaign in Georgia has received a lot of publicity and a LOT of pushback.  For those of you who aren't familiar, this is a group of ads that depict fat children in black and white photography and seeks to convey how miserable it is to be a fat child.  They claim that this is a "wake up call" for parents who apparently don't know that their kids are fat and have somehow missed the message in our culture that being fat is "bad".  They insist their goal is not to make kids feel bad (even though the images look like shots of hardened criminals).  No, they claim, these messages are for the lousy parents who have somehow slept through the last 100 years of fat hatred and have negligently allowed their poor kids to get fat.

When confronted by critics with the ideas that these images could be extremely emotionally damaging and would increase stigma for fat children, Strong4Life supporters have suggested that the billboards are for parents and that the kids probably don't even see them.  But let's get real.  These billboards are about shame.  Shame for parents of fat kids and shame for fat kids.  How dare these parents allow these kids to become an unacceptable shape.  How dare these kids pollute the world with their visually unacceptable bodies?

Shame has been used for decades to help people lose weight.  But here's the thing about shame as a weight-loss tool, it doesn't work.  Just like virtually every other weight-loss tool in the universe (outside of amputation) it doesn't work in the long term.  And in the short term, the side effects are devastating.  Stigmatization of fat kids is getting worse.  And since the ads don't offer any helpful suggestions for how these fat kids are supposed to get skinny, it seems likely that many of them will take it on themselves.  And when these kids go on diets, starting as early as age 7, do they end up thinner in the long run?  Nope.  They end up both heavier and at greater risk for disordered eating.  Add this to the fact that kids of all sizes can be healthier by simply adding nutritious foods and regular and fun physical activities to their lives and you've gotta wonder--what are those Strong4Life people thinking?  How does THIS help kids?

So what can we do?  Well for one thing, we can work to counteract some of the negative side effects of the Georgia campaign.  Marilyn Wann has initiated an amazing campaign called "I stand against weight bullying".  In this campaign, Marilyn has created a design template that imitates the Strong4Life ads and invites people to submit pictures of themselves and statements to represent themselves.  These images are then submitted via facebook and an amazing tumblr feed.  My image is shown above.  Go to the facebook page and learn how to submit a picture of your very own!

In addition, the most awesome Ragen Chastain, worked with several other members of the size acceptance community to create a campaign to raise money for billboards that feature a size-positive response to the Strong4Life ads.  She's initiating a money bomb TOMORROW to get the ball rolling and raise money to meet an amazing $5,000 matching grant from More of Me to Love.  So dig through your change jars and make a contribution already!

You CAN be part of the solution for kids of size all over the world.  You can show them that they are, and will be okay.  You can demonstrate that healthy and happy life is possible at all sizes.  And  you can remind them that every BODY deserves love (including you my darling chicklettes).

The Fat Chick

Alter, Tweak, Modify, Tailor

Thursday, January 19, 2012

powered by Fotopedia

I got an email this week from a person who had bought my book.  She was super excited about getting going on the exercises, but she had gotten stuck.  One of the early exercises (exercise #2 in fact) was entitled rock the block.  This exercise (which is also available on my website) suggests that you walk around the block as many times as you can to determine an accurate starting point for your fitness efforts.  On the surface, this seems like a great idea.  You'll never be too far from your front door, you can just keep a water bottle on your front porch and you know the neighborhood.  All good except for one thing.  What if you can't do it?

What do you do when you come up against an exercise that you simply can't do--one that just doesn't fit?  Do you just give up?  No!  In the tradition of the best Academy Awards red-carpet gowns, you tailor it.  You alter the gown to fit the star, you don't alter the star to fit the gown.  It's the same thing with exercises.  If the exercise doesn't fit, just change it!

There's no law that requires you do a particular exercise.  Most of the time you can find a simple change or substitution that will get you past the roadblock and on your way.  Can't walk an entire block outside?  Okay, walk 1/2 or 1/4 of a block.  Or do laps inside your house from kitchen to living room to bedroom and back again.  Does walking hurt your ankles, knees, or hips?  Try walking laps in the local pool.  The water will remove most of the force of gravity off your joints while offering greater resistance than air.  You can get the same level of physical exertion walking slowly in the water as you can get walking much more quickly on land.

Sure, you say.  It's relatively easy to modify moves when you're all by yourself.  But what about when you're in a class?  The answer is the same.  Tailor the moves to you.  You're not a member of the Rockettes.  There will be no dire consequences for doing things differently than the other folks in the class.  If a particular move or exercise hurts, scares you, exhausts you or causes you to lose your balance, DON'T DO IT!  It's as simple as that.  Your teacher should be willing and able to help you figure out modifications for virtually any movement in your class.  If your teacher isn't friendly and accommodating about finding modifications, maybe you need a new teacher.  This is your class and YOUR exercise time.  You shouldn't feel exhausted, deeply frustrated, scared, unbalanced or in pain.

While there are specific modifications for nearly every kind of movement in the universe, there are some typical modification tools you can call on when you're having trouble:

1.  Slow down:  If a move is going by too quickly to do it properly and comfortably, just do it more slowly.  In a dance class you could do the move at "half-time" (meaning that you take twice as long to accomplish the move as those around you).  In yoga classes, you can also choose to flow more slowly from posture to posture.  Just make sure you have space around you so that you're not banging into other folks who are not quite in sync with your movements.

2.  Make movements smaller:  if you're finding that you can't quite keep up in class, you can simply make your moves a little bit more contained.  In dance class,  you can keep your feet closer together and closer to the ground.  If you're doing a step-touch, narrow your stance.  If you're doing kicks, just kick a little lower or do a point or a tap instead of a kick.  Also if you suffer from hypertension, you should probably keep your arms at shoulder height or lower most of the time.  It may raise your BP to work out for extended periods with your arms over your head.

3.  Simplify movements:  If you're finding yourself overtired in class, you can simply do the leg movements and drop the arms to your sides.  Or you can sit in a chair and just do the arm movements.   You can also use this strategy for pain management.  Legs hurt?  Just do the arms.  Do your arms hurt?  Just do the legs.  Is your right arm killing you?  Just use the left one.  You get the idea...

We could go into a lot more detail about this, but here's the key point.  It's YOUR body.  Nobody knows more about how your body feels than YOU do.  So take charge!  Apply some simple modifications, ask for help, speak up, and be the boss of your own body.  Just make sure your fitness FITS you.

The Fat Chick

Surviving the Holidays: Making a List

Monday, January 9, 2012

So, I was making a list and checking it twice.  Wanted to find out if there's a Psychiatrist willing to prescribe emergency Xanax and trying not to hyperventilate.  Seriously at this time of the year the list gets a little long and out of control, right?  Last time I sat down to do my holiday to-do list, I got to page 3.5 and burst out into tears.

But after I blew my nose and medicated myself with a small amount of premium dark chocolate, I was able to address the list again.  And I realized something.  I really didn't NEED to do everything on the list.  The list was more a wish list than a highly prioritized, realistic list of the most important stuff I absolutely needed to get done.  So I took my list and put it through triage.  I sorted out the stuff that MUST get done, from the stuff that I really WANTED to get done and the stuff that would be NICE to get done.  And here's the thing about triage, you have to be brutal.  You have to make tough choices.  The stuff that MUST get done is the things that would result in severe consequences if you don't do them.  On my list this included: get medications refilled, get gas in the car, deposit check into the bank, pay bills that are due, get the food I promised to bring to Christmas dinner, find somebody to care for our dog while we're out of town and keep up with my client demands enough to keep my clients.  Then there are the things I really wanted to get done: send presents to out of town friends and family, do laundry, pack clean clothes for the trip, bake some cookies to bring to the party.  Then there was a long, long list of things that would be nice to get done: decorate the tree, clean the house, wash the car, look for new clients, find a new outfit to wear for Christmas, sort the garage, clean out the closets, send Holiday cards to acquaintances, and on and on and on.

The result of my holiday triage, is that less than 1/4 of my list counted as stuff I MUST get done.  Another 1/4 was things that I really wanted to get done, and half the list was in the would be nice category.  So I told myself: okay get through the must, then see how much time you have for the want and if you don't have time for the would be nice, then just don't sweat it.   I got through everything on the list that was absolutely necessary.  My suitcases were packed and near the door.  The food was organized and the cooler washed and standing by the door.  The car was gassed and ready to go.  Dog sitter standing by all before bedtime.  All I had to do was get up in the morning, put the stuff in the car, post this blog and GO. What a relief!  I went to bed with a smile on my face.

And then both me and my husband got violently ill with the flu.  At that point, I had to just throw the entire list out and start over.  I couldn't go to my parents on Friday or even Saturday.  Christmas Eve dinner was a few saltines and some ginger ale.  The food I assembled to bring to my family had to be stored in the freezer.  We finally managed to zip our suitcases and stagger to the car on Christmas Day. 

This is really an extension of the previous post about setting holiday expectations.  Our lists are so long because we are trying to be perfect or achieve a holiday story that is just not realistic.  What if we could stop spending so much time worrying about what other people will think about us at the holidays, and spend more time just being with them?  How many wonderful opportunities for love and communications have I missed because I was in the kitchen just whipping up one more thing or washing another dish or cleaning the house?  And here's the thing, the dirt always comes back, but sadly, our friends and family are only with us a limited amount of time.  And that's why I decided to focus on getting to my family on Christmas, and didn't sweat it that this blog post is about 2 weeks late.

Since then, we passed one of the great list making holidays of the year, New Years.  That's when we move away from our holiday lists and towards lists of resolutions for the whole freaking YEAR!  That's when we decide we're going to reorganize the house and only eat organic foods and run a marathon and run for Congress and heaven only knows what else.  And here again, I think a little list triage is in order.  In fact, let's not make a list.  Want a New Year's Resolution?  Okay, pick ONE.  Not 5, not 20, don't make a list.  Just pick one thing.  Close your eyes, listen to your heart and choose one thing that you think will make you happier and make your life better this year.  Got it?  Good!

And since it's technically not too late to say it: Happy New Years my little chickadees!

The Fat Chick