To M, with love.

The Top 10 Reasons I love M:

1. In my mind, food is complicated. Food is often anxiety, boredom or sadness. But M has taught me that food is sometimes just food. The first time we went to the grocery store together I circled the ice cream aisle three times, all the while filling my cart with food I didn't actually enjoy eating. M saw what I was doing and minutes later, I left with the ice cream. Now I eat vegetables and tofu, tortilla chips and chocolate. And when Grandma Katsy serves sloppy joes and tells you to eat, you eat. Because sometimes food is love too.

2. M shows me how to be a better person, every day. One time M and I witnessed a drunk homeless man at the library fighting with the security guard. M held his door for him on the way out and called him sir. When we went out to eat last week, M offered our seats to an older couple who'd just walked in the door. When we volunteer with people with disabilities at the Humane Society, M is beyond patient, showing them how to hold a leash or pet one of the dogs. To some, it might seem like he's just well-mannered. And he is. But to me, his actions are daily reminders of the person I want to be.

3. M sings to me in the car and hums around the house. It's adorable.

4. He also talks in his sleep. We've been known to have full conversations with me fully awake and him fully asleep! It's a great time to ask for things or to just cheese at him full on. Most of the time he asks me nonsensical questions about beer, Tom and Jerry or a story I had told him earlier. He usually doesn't remember it in the morning, but I never get tired of his late night antics.

5. He's an old man. Dating an older guy is always interesting. There are the movie references I just plain don't get (M, exasperated: "You mean you haven't seen Stripes? What about Christmas Vacation?"). Then there's the argument about what decade of music can be considered "Oldies" (for me it's the 70's and 80's for him it's the 50's). The gray hairs in his beard. The way he stretches when he wakes up in the morning. And the fact that every day M likes to remind me that he'll only get hotter with age.

6. M is forever surprising me. The other day he said I should buy fake bacon for a recipe. Sometimes he'll bring home chocolate (just when I'm about to run out). Another time he asked for a vegan recipe (this from a man who used to eat meat three times a day!). And last week he reminded me that we "really need to go to church. It's been a minute."

7. M comes with a never ending stream of "M-isms". The gas station on the corner? M calls it a "stop-and-rob." When he's flustered during Sunday worship: "I'm sweatin' like a whore in church." His colloquialisms always keep me laughing, even during church.

8. We all know that I'm as uptight as a "long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs" (See #7)... but M is exactly the opposite:

When making social plans: "Just tell me where to be and when to be there."

When discussing future (okay wedding related) details: "It's your show darlin'"

When deciding anything: "You're the boss, Boss"

It's not that I'm ever really in control. M gets as much of a say if not more than I do. But it's the illusion of control that M gives me. And really, that's all I need.

9. M is the common sense I lack. When it's a 100 degrees outside and I'm set on cooking homemade soup for dinner in our un air-conditioned apartment, M convinces me to go out for dinner. When I want to have 10 jobs and lead 3 church groups and work out every day for at least an hour, M reminds me to slow down and figure out what I really want. When I'm anxious about x,y,z M tells me that it will all work out, and it always does.

10. And best of all, M makes me laugh. All day long. Every. Single. Day.



good mojo, please.

I had another doozy of a day today. Work felt so overwhelming that by lunch time I was ready to cry. But then slowly, things turned around. I got a surprise visit from my sister who brought me a diet coke and a ginger cookie. We laughed so loudly I finally had to kick her out so that I could hold it together enough to finish out my work day. After work I went to the gym. I wasn't feeling my normal 5:30pm spinning class so I walked on the treadmill with the latest issue of InStyle magazine. All the while I got to thinking: "I feel fine. I feel good actually. Let's keep this up!"

Here's how I plan on keeping the good mojo flowin':

1. Focus on the micro, not the macro. This may seem counter intuitive when having a meltdown over an Excel spreadsheet of event attendees or when ridiculously overwhelmed by a three page to-do list. But I tend to be a worrier (M would feign surprise right now) and whenever I'm feeling anxious about one thing my thought process usually goes like this: "Oh my gosh, I can NOT get this printer to work. I'll probably end up having to work in an office for the rest of my life. I want to go freelance but then I won't have money for my kid's college. Man, I really should start investing in a Roth IRA.... ugh, I think I'm getting sick. That bump on my shin is probably NOT from running into the coffee table last night. With my luck, it's probably cancerous. I wonder if I should make a doctor's appointment..." Well, you get the idea! By focusing on the micro, my ONE task, I can be more productive than were I to continue down that rabbit hole of anxiety. By focusing on the micro, the way I feel RIGHT now, instead of worrying about my 10 year career goals I can ensure that I keep feeling well enough to eventually accomplish those goals.

2. Think like you're in college. I must preface this by saying that I was definitely not the life of the party in college. In fact, I didn't drink at all. But when I was in college, I remember feeling like the world really was my oyster. I invested time in researching Latina/o studies and planning events to raise awareness about Violence Against Women. I was bold and motivated and passionate. And it didn't seem like anyone or anything wanted to stop me. So often when we get to the "real world" we forget what it's like to explore our options and believe that anything is possible.

3. On that note, Live like you're in college. In college I took social risks, attended lectures on a myriad of topics, danced salsa at the Canopy Club and took kickboxing classes at the gym, all because I could. While working full time post college, it's easy to overlook hobbies and forgo leisure for all of the "shoulds." That's a dangerous route though, because how else will we determine our life's direction if we don't nurture our life's passions?

4. Embrace your inner single lady. Now that I have a live-in bf I don't have a ton of alone time. Since M is in class on Monday nights and working late Wednesdays, I dedicate one or both of those nights to living it up, single girl style. I eat popcorn or cereal for dinner, watch trashy tv shows, paint my nails over and over again until I decide on a color and sit around with my hair a mess and my face makeup free. It's not that I couldn't do those things around M; in fact, I have. It's just that there's something so luxurious about really letting my hair down on my nights alone.

5. Talk it out, work it out. The first things that usually go when I'm stressed are social time and working out. Well no wonder I'm so stressed out! I went out with one of my best friends last night and came home feeling a million times better. I cooked dinner and nuggsed with M while reading a good book. All was well. The same goes for working out. Afterwards I have this feeling of accomplishment that is totally different from the feeling I get after crossing items off a to-do list at work. I plan on penciling in workouts and social time at the beginning of the week so that they don't get lost under a pile of to-do's.

6. Treat yourself like a free agent. I have a confession. I don't DO regular employment. I have an awfully hard time having a boss (even one as amazing as my boss now) and I struggle daily at sitting at a desk all day when there's so much happening on the outside. And while I appreciate the perks of steady employment: hello consistent paychecks, benefits galore and scheduled raises, a part of me knows deep down it's all temporary. In order to keep my chin up while "working for the man" I treat myself like a free agent. I imagine my work to be contract and the money I receive as fair compensation for the employment of my small business (myself!). By looking at it that way, I'm no longer paid for hours spent at a desk, but compensated for a specific job, or event. I also tell myself daily that this job is enabling me to pay off my car loan and save money for the day when I'm finally ready to open Laura Jean Kathleen Enterprises (in M's words!).

Here's hoping that these little strategies will help me feel better while at work. It can't hurt to try!



red flag, moving on.

I've been feeling a bit OFF lately. It's not a guilty feeling, or an afraid feeling, or an unhappy feeling (although I suppose I would feel those things were this imbalanced feeling to continue). It's just a little voice I've been hearing that says, "Something isn't right here."

And then there's the chocolate. The bag AND A HALF of Dove chocolate that I've gone through in just one week. One week!

I called my little sister today. As in, my personal guru, my life coach, my supplier of good energies. She said, "I'm definitely sensing that something is off. You've definitely been more stressed out since starting your new job." That's an understatement! Still, it calmed me that she could see it too. M keeps telling me, "Give the new job time." It's been a month since I started but something is just plain OFF.

And then, I went to the doctor today. The nurse weighed me and while normally I turn my back to the scale this time I looked. I'm up three pounds. In one month. And three pounds is a lot on my normally small frame. My first inclination was to blame the aforementioned chocolate. I wanted to chalk it up to PMS or poor eating habits or not making it to the gym as normally as I like to. But having recovered (mostly) from a ten year eating disorder I know any fluctuation from my "happy weight" to be a red flag. So I consulted the Bible. Well, the Bible for recovered disordered eaters, Intuitive Eating. Here's what Evelyn and Elyse had to say (and yes we're on a first name basis. I consider them within my circle of soul friends):

You may go a long time without using food to cope, when all of a sudden emotional eating catches you by surprise. If this occurs, it's not a sign of failure or that you've lost ground; instead it's a strange gift. Overeating [or under-eating!] is simply a sign that stresses in your life at that moment surpass the coping mechanisms that you have developed . . . Overeating can also recur when your lifestyle becomes unbalanced with too many responsibilities and obligations, with too little time for pleasure and relaxation. Consequently, food is used to indulge, escape and relax (albeit briefly). In both of these situations we've described, overeating becomes a red flag that lets you know that something isn't right in your life. Once you truly appreciate this, eating will not feel out of control -- rather it's an early warning system (162).

See! They know their stuff. The truth is, my new job is stressful. As in, sometimes I go to the lesser used stairwell in the museum just to soak up the quiet in a place that is never without commotion. As in, at the end of the day I'm nearly catatonic from being "on" for 10 hours straight. As in, that one time last week when I was running around in a LBD and high heels managing a team of 30 and setting up an event for 500. Yes, that was me, the girl with a walkie talkie stealing a bacon wrapped date off of the server's tray before the VIP's arrived. Don't get me wrong, I love the events, the excitement, the drama. But there's a little TOO much of it. All of it. Last week I worked 45 hours, when I'm only salaried for 30. And while I try to make up for my time by taking long weekends I feel like I can never quite catch up. And then there are the days that I answer emails. All. Morning. Long. I never knew event planning required so much correspondence, even from people who are just two offices over from mine.

All of this is not to say that I regret taking the job. Or that I don't feel grateful every single day for this opportunity. But something's got to give. The chocolate. The three pounds. I don't want them.

I used to think weight was just fat, excess calories, sugar, whatever. Now I think of weight as a metaphysical weight. Those 3 pounds don't just come from chocolate, rather they are the physical representation of worries that aren't addressed, stress that I can't leave at work, feelings of unworthiness and fears that I'm not doing what God put me on this earth to do. (I miss speaking Spanish and reading and cooking and just BEING, for Pete's sake!)

After reading Geneen Roth's book Women, Food and God I practically forced it into my mother's hands. She read the first half and proclaimed, "I don't get it. It's a bunch of women crying into pieces of chocolate cake. Why do they have to be so dramatic about food?"

The thing is, for those of us recovering from disordered eating, food is the manifestation of our feelings about ourselves and the world around us. It's the way I used to measure my daily success or failure rate and it's still the way I can tell when something's off. And what a blessing that is.

I'm still not sure what to do about work, although I do have some ideas. I'd like to maybe go in to work later, "paying" myself first by taking time for my own pursuits in the early morning hours. A part of me isn't ready to sacrifice my personal commitments to work ones, and I don't think I should have to. But something does have to give. Thanks to my early warning signals, the physical and metaphysical weight gain, I'm now prepared to figure it all out, before I reach for the chocolate.