Sunday, July 31, 2011

Step one: Workin' it and why I do it

Okay, this is brutal to write. It's brutal because once I thought of the idea to write it down, my will-power flew out the window... But I'm getting ahead of myself. Okay.

I can WORK IT. And by WORK IT I mean that I can make my humanly-flawed body do what the heck I tell it to do!!! Dangit.

When I was little I was good-naturedly teased by family that I ran like a duck which was "so cute." No big deal. But to my overly sensitive 10-year-old self I was devastated and mortified. I thought "I'll show them," and just not run. If we had to run to the car because we were late? I'd walk briskly at most. Playing sports? MMmm... nah.

Although I grew out of this mindset fairly quickly, in the back of my head I remained self-conscious about the way I ran. Even in college I would usually skip activities with friends that involved sports and running, and when I did participate I would have to battle inhibitions to not slow to a trot in embarrassment.

The second week of May in 2011 I began a running program. A beginners running program. For two months, three days a week, I would run, gradually feeling the difference as my body grew in strength and I grew in confidence. I played soccer with my friends and only thought about the sun being in my eyes and getting the ball from between the feet of my friends and into the net. How incredible!

My goal with all of this running and such nonsense is to run a marathon, or a half-marathon, when I'm 25. So next year. No big deal.

I'm going to increase difficulty levels every six weeks until I can push myself further.

Okay, now to the real embarrassing part. Agghhhhh..... So when I first started thinking of writing this particular blog post at the beginning of the month I was instantly hit with the lazies. Instead of running? I would take a LOOOONG nap. And that hasn't changed. Though, my goal is that tomorrow it will, it's a new month after all! I'll have to work up a little to where I was but I feel okay with that. As long as I keep going, it doesn't matter. I have great support in a long-distance dear friend who happens to have her certification in Personal Training and who will also be running with me in said marathon. I can WORK IT.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Illusionist

I've recently watched the French film "The Illusionist". The story of a simple magician who travels around Europe to mixed reviews.

At one particular stop he picks up a stowaway in a young girl who has every faith in his acts of trickery and slight of hand. Though they are not overly familiar with each other the magician finds little ways to please the girl and through his influence she becomes a graceful and confident young woman.

This made me wonder, how much of what we feel has changed us, or improves us, is actually an illusion? When we are changed for the worse, can we point to an event in our lives or just on our handling of that event? When we feel more confident, or feel that we have matured in some way, is it something real? A change that cannot be removed? Or does it just have to do with the opinion of those around us and the clothes that we are wearing?

Does any of this matter?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Learning how to be alone...

Sometimes with change, comes new opportunities to be alone. When you move to a new city it can take time to find a niche that is comfortable, with others, or even with yourself. When school ends and friends move away. When a relationship is over and you are now acutely aware of how much of your time you didn't have to account for. Being alone can just be time to you set aside to relax. To watch a movie on your own. To soak. To ponder.

In my own life, I've gone through waves and bursts of sociability. When I was young and the tide would eddy I was perfectly content with picking up a book for a few hours, doing a project, or just being on my own in whatever capacity. In college, and even for a time after while living in the same town, every night there was something going on. I went through my day knowing that, even if there were no plans being made, at around 7 or 8, 10 or even 11 at night someone would have something to do.

The hardest adjustment though is going from that high level of activity, down to a sudden lull that was not at all what you had in mind. Learning to be alone again can be a difficult thing. Lately for me, as I plan out my next move and am in the ever painful waiting game of hearing from a possible new job in a possible new city, being alone is being faced with doubts and insecurities. I'm apart from my wingman, old roommate, bestfriend and sister and have to learn what it is I want to do and how to do it without these people.

Step one was going to a concert last night and staying after the one or two people I was friends with left. A small step. Okay, kind of a cheating step since I showed up with people, and the band members were also some acquaintances of mine. But, consider, I didn't like to get gas by myself.

Today I spent mostly on my own, some moments were good, and some were a struggle. But as I was picking up the pieces of myself I let fall on my carpet, one of the band members had something to do. I would not have had company tonight if I wasn't alone yesterday. Just a thought.

Also, check out the Dorfman and Davis video below...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Laundry change

I'm not going to be releasing any press-stopping news by saying that I love clothes, I love to shop, I love to get new things, and I love fashion. I'm a girl and I'm not ashamed of it.

My problem comes when I buy an article of clothing that I have been coveting in the stores for weeks, and I finally bring it home, wear it once or twice, eventually hang it up in my closet even. Then one day, I open my closet, and that amazing sparkling jewel of a top is sitting next to my navy cardigan, and some other obscure top that was once loved and I realize that the spark has faded. It's not from a store, it's not new, it's just mine. Like all the other things in that closet.

Another problem I have is that I hate laundry. I hate that the machines in my apartment building cost money and make my clothes smell like mildew. I hate piling my clothes in my car and driving them to the laundromat, sitting on hard benches for an hour just to shove them back in my car. So I put it off as long as possible. For two days I end up wearing a skirt with a athletic t-shirt, or sweats and a blouse. It becomes a desperate situation. All joy in clothes disappears as my options shrink.

Yesterday I did three giant loads of laundry, and as I was hanging the same old clothes up in my closet I felt as though I had options. Wait, this navy cardigan, that obscure top with this cami, ooooh and the belt from that dress from last summer!

Sometimes it's hard to see that we can work with what we've got to make change in our lives. Hopefully next time it won't take me so long to do laundry to see that I have options.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Speaking of...

One of my favorite blogs online is The Art of Manliness. They go through so many applicable lessons for today's Gentlemen from Relationships & Family, Manly Skills, and Dress & Grooming.

The latest entry I read was on The Law of Sacrifice. This article explains that attaining goals, and effectively changing one's self requires a price. As I continue through this project of recording my changes it was very helpful to be reminded of this law that this undertaking takes real work and fortitude. So I'm taking a card from the Gentleman's deck on this one.

Owning who I am, who I was, and who I will become

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a close friend and she was telling me that after talking to her sister she was realizing how disconnected she felt. She said "I don't feel like I have a history anymore. It's just a little heartbreaking. I just feel like my life has no continuity. I don't want to claim anything I can remember some days. I think I disassociate myself from the disappointing aspects of my life." Specifically, she mentioned, times in high school when she felt she didn't have friends, or when a relationship in college suddenly spiraled to unhealthy and ultimate destruction.

I tried to be empathetic and understand where this friend was coming from. I've had similar experiences in my life; I did not want to remember times when I let myself down, or embarrassing moments, or hurtful relationships. Isn't it part of moving on, of getting closure? Forgetting who we were to make room for becoming someone new.

When I've had to move on from someone I've been close to (friend, flirt, boyfriend, whatever), the only effective way was to do my best to cut that person out. It's painful, it can drag on, I go through a whirlwind of blaming that person, feeling sad or angry, and hoping that someday it ends. And eventually, most of the time, it does end. That person is a distant thought that can be looked on with mild disinterest, the bad parts gone, glazed over, or just a joke. That association is gone.

But now, moving on from when we change, should we feel connected or disconnected? Relieved, or sad?

Who I was: When faced with the past I often bring my palm to my forehead. "Oh, GIRL." I exasperate. I was chubby, had a distinct style of long vests, peasant tops, and flowing skirts... oh and don't forget the combat boots. I didn't wear makeup and when I did, it usually wasn't where makeup should be worn. I had a crush on my best guy-friend who never saw me "that way." I read a lot of books (and still do), wrote stories about fantasy lands (not so much now), and was fiercely curious about the lives of the more popular girls. I loved to draw, and wanted to get a Bachelor's degree. I jumped off of cliffs. I loved roller coasters. I had never been to a concert. I was confident in being an individual, being different, yet painfully shy and unsure of everything that came out of my mouth.

Who I am: Today I am a little more streamlined. The hair is considerably shorter, make-up in consistent modest proportions, style over all is unique but classic. No more combat boots. I still have a thing for unrequited loves but now they seem to have gained some complexity. Best-guy-friends will always be the most attractive. I have switched from fantasy and classic literature to contemporary and creative non-fiction. I no longer care about the popular girls. I have a Bachelor’s degree. I cannot bring myself to jump off a cliff. I love roller coasters. I need at least three hands to keep track of the concerts I’ve been to. I’m confident in who I am, I’m excited for change, I’m an observer, I can be outgoing... sometimes.

Who I will be: I will have long hair again. I will jump off a bridge, or a cliff, maybe. I will write more. I will read more. I will run. I will volunteer. I will have a job I can enjoy. I will be me, but a better me. I will have a better sense of who exactly I want to become.

This is not a goal setting post. This is just a further explanation of who I am, whether this is read by anyone else than me doesn’t matter. I believe that to move on from ourselves we have to be okay with who we are, not change because we want to be different, but change because we want to be better. Stronger. More comfortable with ourselves.

Change takes sacrifice to become something better. Sometimes we lose things we once cherished for things we cherish more. We move on from parts of our lives, from memories, people even, to have more life experiences. I do not want to be stagnant. I will not be tied down to who I have been, and who I have failed to become.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hello, my name is...

We've all heard it. When rejected by a would-be loved one, or when a friend spirals into destruction. "You can't change a person." I've also been told that "people change" when someone you thought you had everything in common with seems to come from a different planet, or when someone from Mars suddenly has the ability to keep you engaged in conversation for hours. I've come to the conclusion that the influence of change is held in the person doing the changing.

So why would someone want to change their life? 

There are many reality TV shows that follow the course of someone changing their life. We follow people losing weight, getting rid of collections of wine bottles, and there are at least four too many "finding love" shows featuring rock stars or just regular Joes. We can all relate to wanting to change the way we look, or improve our health through losing weight, or feeling bogged down by too many possessions, or maybe even wanting to find THE ONE. So we make lists, start a twelve step program, and a new grocery list. Sometimes while hanging out with friends and listening to toxic self-pity and negativity we are left with the overwhelming urge to get up and change our scenery and associations, even if it's just for a night. We change, we read a book, or go to a motivational speaker.

Other reasons people up and change being stuck in a rut, their job is unsatisfying, their routine has become monotonous; relationships come or go and change needs to come, the exciting euphoria that comes with a change to be with that person, or the necessary catharsis from changing your life when one is over.

The exact reasons why I want to change are not important for this specific post, there's plenty more time for specifics. I'm writing this blog as a... a focus, maybe I've been watching too much Sex and the City and think my daily life should be narrated too, but this is what it is.

I'm going to recount my progress of improving my life, cause that's what this is, an improvement. I'll remember  the ol' times and acknowledge how I've changed throughout my life, giving homage to the 35 different SarahJo's I've been.
Here I'll keep track of plans and goals and how I want to change.

This is my banner to follow.