Dear Former Self,
You are 30 and more importantly alive.
I know there were many times in High School, College and even after graduation where you thought about ending it all. Just slipping away because you thought no one would ever notice.
Well, people would have.
So thank you.
Thank you for not taking away the time I now have with the wife, friends, family and the world.
YOU are making a difference.
YOU are now brave enough to share your journey, your happiness, your sadness, your self doubts and your strengths with the masses.
And people appreciate that.
They appreciate you.
And you know what?
You are staring to appreciate yourself as well.
Now, I’m not going to tell you it is all rainbows and unicorns.
Okay – there are some rainbows – I mean you are gay after all.
But, seriously … there is actual joy in your life. There are smiles that aren’t forced. There are some serious kick ass accomplishments you are achieving.
Hello! Running The Boston Marathon in less than two weeks. I think we can classify that under Bad Ass and something we NEVER thought would happen.
But it is.
None of this could be happening if you hadn’t made that decision in 2009 to walk through the doors of Weight Watchers and change your life forever.
Over the past four years, layers and layers of fat, insecurity, pain, self-doubt and self-loathing have slowly but surely been stripped away. There are little chunks lying around here and there, but they too will be shed over time.
You didn’t have to think for all those years that you weren’t worthy of true happiness because you were.
Why did you doubt yourself? Why did you put yourself down SO much? Why did you think you were so unworthy of being alive?
I don’t know the answers. Maybe over time we will figure them out. But for now, we are happy to be moving past those.
The self-deprecating humor you used for so long as a shield is still here … but now more out of habit. A habit that we are working on changing. The hatred behind it is lessening.
Someday it will go away completely, but we save that for a letter from our Future Self.
For now, in the current state, things are pretty awesome. Just know that all the pain you went through and held on to for so long is clearing … it is being released and freed.
The heart is opening to the love of family, friends and even complete strangers you have come to meet – and love – online. The world is embracing you flaws and all and you are FINALLY embracing it back. You are sharing things with people you never thought you would.
And I have to say it feels GOOD.
So former self, thank you again for allowing me to be here … for allowing me to feel … for allowing me to live!
Your Current Self
I cannot even begin to tell you how awesome my weekend was. Okay I can. But the main reason it was so great was because we had NOTHING planned. The wife and I took our first weekend away – weekend away ALONE – since moving to Boston … and didn’t make any plans for it … besides getting out of the city.
We used this last weekend as a belated Birthday celebration for Tori (she turned 32 on July 18) and headed to Camden, Maine. It is about three hours from Boston We rented a nice little cottage for a couple days – thank you LivingSocial … and it was
We both had wicked stressful weeks so we were so looking forward to some downtime.
We were able to sneak out of town before noon on Friday (July 27) and headed North.
Camden is about 3 hours from Boston, but we took our time getting there. Camden is a cute little coastal town so I knew Tori would love it.
We got to our cottage and was greeted with this lovely view:
After getting settled we headed down to explore the downtown … and of course hit Happy Hour. It is vacation!
After enjoying the local cuisine, it was time to get back to the cottage and call it an early night … but not before testing out the jacuzzi, catching the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics and enjoying an adult juice box.
I was wicked excited to sleep in on Saturday – but ooohhh no! My body woke me up before 6am. Why thank you internal clock – way to kick in on my off days. Sheesh!
Saturday was a nice – take it as it came – kind of day.
It started off by me kicking some booty at mini golf! Don’t knock the stance, I got not one, but TWO Hole-in-Ones during the 18 hole course.
After grabbing some freakin’ awesome lunch at a local establishment (I had ribs for the first time in ages and they were finger lickin’ good!!), we went off to try some local vino.
We ended up at Cellardoor Winery and took part in a tasting. We were able to try six different types of wine … and NONE disappointed.
We left the winery with 6 bottles of wine … shocker! :O)
After the winery, I took a nap. I cannot tell you the last time I took a nap … and it was GLORIOUS!!
It was overcast on Saturday night, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying a Sunset Cruise. Well, we didn’t end up seeing a sunset, but it was so serene and peaceful on the boat that I was okay with not seeing one. Plus, being on a boat makes the wife so happy that the trip was worth it just for that.
We went out on the Schooner Olad, which normally holds 22 people – but thankfully our trip had just six people on it – so it was nice and calming.
We got back to land at about 9pm so we just found a local pizza joint to hit up – the guy legit sounded like Mario from Super Mario Brothers – which entertained Tori to no end.
I of course had to try the jacuzzi out again before heading out on Sunday.
Once again my internal body clock woke me up before 7am on Sunday … so we were off early.
We grabbed our Dunkin Donuts, played some Phase 10 and packed up since we had to check out by 11am.
The great thing about driving home was that we could stop off anywhere we wanted on the way back.
So as we left Camden just before 11am – and the rain that was predicted for the whole weekend finally started to fall – we decided to make a pit stop in Ogunquit on the ride home.
Ogunquit is one of my favorite spots in Maine … and quickly becoming one of Tori’s as well.
So we stopped there for lunch and a quick walk on the beach – we also called this “delaying the end of vacation.”
It was finally time to head home. Despite some traffic, we made it home before 5pm. Thank goodness. When we got home from Chicago, it was almost midnight.
The pups were excited to see us when we got home and in a snuggly mood, which made coming home just a little easier.
Even though our vacation was about 48 hours along, it was EXACTLY what we needed. Just a weekend for the two of us to get away and hang out with each other … and RELAX!!
I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to do these sorts of adventures now … and having built-in puppy sitters in the house!!
Yesterday during my run I was being a complete Negative Nancy and Debbie Downer. I’m really not sure why. I think it I was sad to be running alone. I really love solo runs, but there are just times that you want someone by your side – to chat with, rant with or to just keep the pace going. But, since leaving Chicago, I haven’t found a consistent running partner for my weekday morning runs. Thankfully there have been people to go to 5ks with – meet up before and after. But, the training runs are a different story.
It really made me miss my old running partner-therapist-hair stylist-friend Ellie. She was a huge motivator and thankfully still is. We still compete running wise even though we are over 1,000 miles away.
But, I digress…
As I was running, I was letting all the negative thoughts about myself creep back in. Not sure why. I tried to banish them away. I kept coming back with some positives. But, I was just in a negative place.
Hey, it happens. I know we have all been there before.
So then I tried to think about where all my negative thoughts stemmed from. Since for me, negative self talk has been around since I can remember.
Then it hit me … the first time I remember becoming conscious about my body and my body image.
(I don’t think I have shared this story with you before, but if I have – sorry, but it bears repeating)
It was 1995. Summer. I was in seventh grade. I was ROCKIN’ my Notre Dame football jersey and some shorts. I know. Epitomy of style. Also, not sure how I didn’t know then that I was gay.
But, I was standing with my mom waiting for the bus and a car of like four guys drove by … and “moo”-ed at me.
Yup, that’s right.
They actually “moo”-ed at me.
I thought this was something that only happened in the movies or something, but nope. There it was.
And that memory has stuck with me ever since.
Whenever I get upset with myself over “messing up” and going over my points for the day or gaining on the scale or not tracking or not going to the gym – it is the first thing I think about.
I think that instance dropped the little negativity seed in the back of my mind that I let grow. Any other negative comment that someone made about me, just watered the little seed and let it grow. Until, after years, it became this huge living creature all in my brain.
Thankfully with the help of Weight Watchers and one kick ass support system, I’ve started – for lack of a better word – pruning the negativity plant in my brain down. Little by little, I’m becoming more confident and more impressed with who I am and who I am becoming.
So there isn’t a huge moral to this story but just a glimpse into how one action can cause a serious reaction to one person’s life. And I’m not talking about externally, but rather internally.
I allowed this one moment in my life to shape how I thought about myself for years to come. The ramifications can’t be fully understood.
But, as I said. I will take each day and work to cut that negativity tree back until it’s nothing…
The motivation that keeps me going every day…
Me cheersing my WW guru, Suzi Storm, in the new Weight Watchers commercial that premiered NYE!
Sometimes you end up in a magazine and it is surreal… Thanks again TimeOut Chicago!
Hard work pays off! 0.6 lbs from 60 gone and 3 lbs from goal… I Believe!
Enjoy your Wednesdays everyone!!
I still can’t believe we actually, ok finally, were able to take our honeymoon … a mere year in the making. We headed to Hawaii - the island of Oahu and more specifically the Honolulu/Waikiki area. As I had mentioned before it had been a looong time since I last had an entire week off from work so I was more nervous about getting this whole “taking a vacation” and “relaxing” thing down. I can tell you honestly it took me until Day Four to finally feel relaxed.
The wife fell so in love with Hawaii that I thought I would be returning to Chicago alone on Friday. I enjoyed the area as well, but a lack of Dunkin Donuts, missing the pups and being frustrated with having to eat out every meal – I was ready to come back!!
The travel was brutal. We left on November 18 at 9am. Well, we were supposed to leave at 9am, but finally let about an hour after that – thank you delays. As a result we ended up having about 30 min between flights in Los Angeles. Overall, we survived and arrived in Hawaii just before 6pm. That is right. It took us in total about 12 hours to travel from Chicago to Honolulu. Whoa! My back was not a big fan of having a 4.5 hour flight then right into another 5 hour flight. Thankfully, a couple glasses of wine and a snack on the second flight and I was feeling better.
We picked up our bags (ours were actually the first two off the flight), headed to pick up our rental car and proceeded to sit in horrendous bumper to bumper traffic en route to our hotel. Gotta love Friday afternoon rush hour, right? Anyway, we finally made it to the hotel, went up to our room and realized they gave us 2 double beds. Let me tell you, NOTHING says romantic honeymoon like double beds. The front desk person was sweet and was able to move us the next morning to a room with a king size bed. It was late, I needed a drink so we took it. We had a snack and a couple drinks before crashing since I was still on Chicago time (four hours later than Honolulu time).
Saturday morning I proceeded to wake up at 2am. Yay time differences! (I can tell you this crash early/wake up early lasted the entire trip for me – I never got used to the change). We decided to take this day in stride: got breakfast, took a walk around Honolulu, window shopped, stopped by the beach and was out by about 8pm. Aren’t I a wonderful travel companion?
Sunday was our day of relaxation … I got up and did a nice 10k (6.2 miles) run along the beach at 5:30 (why not, I was up ). The wife and I decided to pamper ourselves. We went to the fancy Spa at a hotel nearby, got a pedicure and an 80 min lomi-lomi couples massage. Wow! It was awesome!! I felt completely relaxed. It was also great to just play the rest of the day by ear … enjoy some lunch, some drinks and some sun before hitting the “tourist” ground running.
We kicked off our tourist spots with Pearl Harbor. It was a truly overwhelming experience and I am so happy we took the time to go there. We saw the USS Arizona Memorial and went aboard the Battleship Missouri. While on the USS Arizona Memorial, it was just crazy to wrap my head around that 1,177 people were trapped/died inside the boat below where I was standing. Powerful.
Thankfully once we got back from the bus tour, the wife let me watch the Patriots play Monday Night Football. BUT, it was even better since MNF started at 3:30 in Hawaii so it was over before dinner. Amazing. Nothing like multi-tasking between a Patriots win and an amazing sunset. Rough day, I know.
We finally put the rental car to good use on Tuesday. We headed to to the North Shore of the Island (we stayed in the South Shore) to take in Turtle Bay. I heard so many people talk about it that i needed to see it for myself. It is a stretch of beach where all the turtles congregate. My friend in February saw 8-9 turtles on the beach itself, but we didn’t have that luck. We saw maybe 3 turtles in the water, including a little baby. But, hey seeing three is better than none. Especially after driving around searching for the “off the beaten patch” entrance to the beach.
On the way back, we hit up a bakery that a friend recommend – Liliha Bakery. People, it was lifechanging. They are known for their coco puffs and they did not disappoint. Yummy!
We continued back towards our hotel to get ready to attend an actual luau. We hit up Germaine’s Luau, which is one of the best in the area. It was amazing. Man, can those girls move their hips. I respectfully declined getting up on stage to take a hula lesson and instead took advantage of my 3 free drinks included in the price of my ticket.
Of course we put our late night right before our earliest morning. On Wednesday, we had to meet our bus tour at 6am to head to a dolphin tour/snorkeling. By far, this was the coolest thing we did. We actually got to swim through the schools of fish – all which reminded me of fish from Finding Nemo. Yes, the entire time we snorkeled (about an hour) I quoted Finding Nemo in my head. Especially, when we saw three giant sea turtles. They were sooo cool. I totally geeked out during this part. I was the last girl to get out of the water and third to last person overall. I didn’t want to leave.
We even saw about 20 or so dolphins. At one point, they even surrounded our boat. It was just an out of this world experience for me to be so close to these amazing creatures. The boat also served on delicious spread: pulled pork, rice, terriyaki chicken, strawberries and some adult beverages of course.
I think this was the first time on the trip that I was in my bathing suit (only second time I had put it on) and didn’t feel so self-conscious in it. I was really just enjoying the experience.
After realizing that I had missed the Honolulu Half Marathon on Sunday, I decided to sign up for the Turkey Trot 10-Miler on Thanksgiving. It was a great experience. The views, colors and atmosphere were great. I even shaved seven minutes off my time and ran into an old friend.
Following the run, the wife and I had decided to climb Diamond Head Crater. That turned out to be a little tougher for me since I hurt my knee during the morning’s run, but I pushed through the pain. And I am sure glad I did, I cannot put into words how awesome the views were from up there. There aren’t any active volcanos on the island of Oahu so this old Volcano crater was the closest we could do. We had planned to hike a waterfall after that, but my knee was not having it!
We decided to take Thursday evening easy since we knew Friday would be a loooong day of traveling (left at 2pm Hawaii time on Friday and got to Chicago at 5am on Saturday). But, we did manage to finally catch a full sunset from the beach. All week other things had come up: clouds, being on a tour, etc so it was great to see just one in full before we left.
I was proud of myself for being as active as I was, but I know I should’ve done more/eaten better. But, I enjoyed my time and am back in healthly life mode now.
It seemed as if as soon as the vacation started, it was over. It was an amazing week and actually the first time the wife and I had spent that much time together straight without work or the pups. Maybe we should do it more often…
I will leave you with some final pictures of Paradise:
What a wonderful weekend it was. Thankfully the weather was 10 times better than it was last year in Iowa when we had our ceremony.
It was freakin’ cold that day … and windy … and rainy! But, thankfully Jessica got some great pics.
This year, we kicked off the one year anniversary with a nice little 10k. Being the healthier people we were than a year ago (I have lost 26 lbs since that day and the wife has lost about 10 lbs), I thought it would be a great way to start the day. It would also help to slightly offset what we would be eating that day.
I finished in 54:30 and the wife finished in 1:12.43. Go us!! We even got medals … I heart medals!
Since the race was at 7am that meant we had to get up at 5am so we definitely headed home from the run to relax for awhile. We hit up Ann Sather for a cinnamon roll each and headed home to indulge in some chillin’… We caught up on some DVR and enjoyed the deliciousness of the cinnamon roll.
We decided to head to a 12:25 showing of Puss In Boots in 3D. Yes, my wife married a 5 year old, but I don’t care. The movie was awesome, funny, adorable and just overall great. We split a small movie popcorn to help the calorie count a little.
Afterwards, it was time to do something more adult-esque … so we headed to Rock Bottom for a couple drinks and some wings.
Since we are parents, we couldn’t just stay out all afternoon and head straight to dinner. Nope. Had to head home to take care of the pups. After taking care of the four-legged critters, we headed out to an early dinner (6:30) at The Weber Grill. Mannn do I love that place. Now you know why I had almost all my Weekly Points and my Activity Points stored up for this day! There was pretzel rolls, butter, steak skewers, onion strings, mashed potatoes, steak and of course Sangria. I want to give The Weber Grill a special thank you for the amazing dessert they gave us! Yummmm…
The food was delicious as always. It was nice to just kick back with some yummy steaks and some sangria and just reflect back on the last year.
It was tough that only a month after we got married I had my back injury. That darn back injury put me into a bad funk for about 6 months. Not a fun way to spend the first half of your marriage. But, thankfully, I am back to normal – nah, I would say better than normal now.
Overall, it was a great day. I got to just hang out with the wife (since when work is busy I rarely get to do that), enjoy the moments and get to bed early since we were up at 5am. I didn’t even worry over my Weight Watchers points, but I did take the time on Sunday to write down everything I ate – even if I didn’t calculate the point values.
Sunday was a nice relaxing day. It was time to get back on track eating. I did two workouts: a 10am Spinning class and a 2pm Hip Hop/Funk class to help combat some of the damage from Saturday.
I hope that this weekend gave me just a glimpse into how AWESOME our week in Hawaii will be … especially minus the pups!
This is not a post about being sad about being married or anything like that. I love my wife and happy with our little family. This is more about the actual wedding ceremony.
I am not sure how many of you know about my wedding. Tori proposed September 15, 2010. The night before my birthday. It was great. I was thrilled. We knew we had to get married in November or December because of my work schedule. Now, gay marriage is not legal inIllinoisso we knew we had to travel. On a weird note, the closest state toIllinoiswith legalized same-sex marriage isIowa. Yup, you read that right. So in order to have a legal marriage we were going to have to go toIowaat some point. Now we had originally decided on 11-12-11 for our wedding (I am a math major so I like the ring of the number). But, if we had done everything in 2011, we would’ve had two different wedding anniversaries: the legalIowadate and theIllinoisceremony date. That bugged me. So I came up with the idea that we would go toIowaand have the legal ceremony on 11-12-10 then have the bigChicagowedding 11-12-11 that way we kept the same anniversary. Also, we were worried it was going to be possibly taken away fromIowathen we wouldn’t have had any state close to us with legal gay marriage.
So we planned a great little ceremony inIowaand had three of our closest friends with us:
We set up to have the ceremony with an officiant I had found online in one of the conference rooms of the hotel:
Then we took some shots upstairs on the roof:
Well the day itself was lovely, I was so happy that El, Mel and Jessica were able to be a part of it. What was actually funny was as we crossed the border back toIllinois, Tori turned to me and said “And now the marriage certificate means nothing.” We both laughed at the absurdity, but it was true. This was beforeIllinoispassed Civil Unions. We crossed the border and had the same rights as we had before … none.
As life got back to normal after adding a little puppy to our happy family, we realized that we would not be able to afford to have the bigIllinoisceremony we wanted. One big thing that set us back was my back injury and subsequent back surgery in late 2010/early 2011. So we had to make the decision to cancel theIllinoisceremony.
This was so hard for me to do (as I tear up as I write this). I had always pictured the big wedding with tons of friends, the white dress, the flowers, the dancing, the joy! But, unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards for us. I know this is how life goes sometimes. It is something I still need to accept.
But, it is hard. As more and more of my friends get engaged or have their weddings (especially since it is the summer), I feel these constant pangs of jealousy and sadness. The pictures and planning updates online are hard to look at. I’ve stopped watching “Say Yes To The Dress.” They all get to plan the perfect day. They get to have exactly what they want. And I don’t. Sure, we can plan a ceremony down the road, but it won’t be the same. It just won’t be what I had imagined in my head for all those years.
Hopefully, while inHawaiiin November on our Honeymoon, we can have a small civil union ceremony on the beach. My wife has always wanted to get married on a beach. I would like, at least one of us, to have a wedding dream fulfilled. Especially since she had to sacrifice having it in November because of my work schedule.
So, now that I have written my feelings down, I want to move on and think about the Haves rather than the Have Nots. I have an amazingly incredible wife. I have loving little puppies. I have friends that continue to love and support me. I have my health. I have a roof over my head. I have a job.
It is time to stop being jealous of my friends and to support and share their happy moments…