well then THAT happened - 2017

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2017 started out pretty quiet. no travel. no plans. no deaths. nothing. this is my speed. this is where i thrive. when it’s quiet and there is room to breathe.

2016 ended with a disappointing “detox” diet thing that was pretty much framed like every singe diet i’ve ever been on. no sugar. low carb. i went into it with gusto and within a week I was feeling pretty dumb.

it’s the same. it’s always the same.

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So I said fuck it and went about my way into the new year trying to make peace with the fact that my war with my body needed to be put on the back burner. I had too many other things to do.

Like meeting my cousin’s new little baby.

 he's now roughly 10x larger than this with a head the size of a honeydew.

he's now roughly 10x larger than this with a head the size of a honeydew.

 See many many drag shows

See many many drag shows

dealing with the odd portland snowpocalypse that had the city shut down for weeks

 i dug charlie a dog run because he is my child

i dug charlie a dog run because he is my child

i took a break from the gym. i stopped working out. it felt like i was punishing myself and i didn't understand why. nothing felt good anymore. especially cardio.

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2017 was a shitshow for politics, for brown people, for LGBTQ people, for most people really.

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but i tried to remain compassionate and understanding.

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but mostly i was tired.

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like, seriously tired.

 dogs > humans

dogs > humans

it took a lot of energy to just get through the day so i did the bare minimum hoping i would figure out what was going on with me.

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I started blogging again. I had seemed to have forgotten that writing helps and I had done so little writing in the past couple of years that I lost myself.

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winter eventually melted and when I finally got out of bed and stepped into a late spring I contemplated if it was my first bout of seasonal affective disorder.  

I stepped out of the vat of misery goo that was 7 months of winter gloom in Portland into a sunny spring that included walking around our neighborhood finding gems

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and fostering a shy and fearful little dog who came to us named Harry.

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that we eventually realized we could not give up.

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we named him bean.  he is my little white shadow.  he will do almost anything for food and will sleep 80% of the day.  He is definitely the dog version of me.

 

I had started to work out again but made the conscious decision try and approach fitness like a different person.  I couldn’t make it the center of my life anymore.  I needed to be more gentle with myself.  I needed to be nice to me which apparently is really hard when you genuinely hate your body.

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I started taking selfies first thing in the morning to see if I could really look at myself exactly as I was and find things I liked.  It’s a process that doesn’t always work.

 artwork by Lucie Larouse  http://petitesaretes.tumblr.com/

artwork by Lucie Larouse http://petitesaretes.tumblr.com/

I put up reminders in my office

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I changed my social media feeds.  I removed all “fitspo” & “health” oriented posts and hid anyone who talked about diet, about “lifestyle changes” about weight.  I made room for people who looked like me and not people I wanted to look like. 

 jessamyn stanley, powells 2017

jessamyn stanley, powells 2017

i made cakes and I actually ate them. I found myself eating pasta on a fairly regularly basis. It was still riddled with guilt and a plethora of voices telling me I was a failure at life for being unable to eat salad and be happy about it.  I knew this was a problem but I didn’t know what to do about it yet or how to deal with it.  I chucked it up to being normal.  All “overweight” people feel this way.  I knew I wasn’t alone in the struggle and a part of me felt like this was ok because it’s the norm.

I felt like being public and writing about your food and body woes was “basic”.  No one wants to read this crap. No one cares that you can’t eat a meal without having an hour long conversation with yourself about what you are eating and if it’s wrong or right.  No one cares that what you have for dinner feels like it’s a reflection of who you are as a person.  You make this choice and people will praise you for being “healthy”.  You make this choice and people will think, “Oh, so that’s why you’re fat.”  

My plate had become a battleground for morality. 

I had been knee deep in healthism for a very long time that I believed all of this.

It’s painful to think about how much time I’ve dedicated to something that has never served me.

 the amazing Cheyenne Gill,  https://www.cheyennegil.com/

the amazing Cheyenne Gill,  https://www.cheyennegil.com/

I found out one of my favorite photographers was going to be doing mini shoots in Portland and I booked one as a birthday present to myself.

 

  sometimes it takes seeing yourself through someone else's lens to realize you are beautiful.


sometimes it takes seeing yourself through someone else's lens to realize you are beautiful.

This summer my parents came to visit and did their cute parent like things

 the new camera for old folks is an ipad

the new camera for old folks is an ipad

I started a body positive weightlifting course that made me excited about exercise again.

 the body positive lifting course is offered at http://liberationbarbell.com/

the body positive lifting course is offered at http://liberationbarbell.com/

I went back to physical therapy for my left knee which still was not straight. I also started seeing an acupuncturist on the regular. 

 cupping is sort of insane in the good feeling way.

cupping is sort of insane in the good feeling way.

with the extreme winter we ended up having an extreme summer.  i spent a lot of time in here

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weightlifting became helpful when I had to help the husband carry the 100 lb portable AC unit up the steps.  it was like many mini deadlifts.  my body had started to feel useful and capable again.

I kept taking selfies to remind myself this is what i look like. somedays i felt like i looked awful.

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other days i felt like i looked strong. 

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while i felt very selfish this year, spending my time trying to put myself back together, my husband continued to be the most selfless loving person i know.

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while walking the dogs he came across this injured baby squirrel with no mama in sight.  he carried this little guy home on the brim of his hat and we managed to get him to a squirrel rescue.  yes, portland has a squirrel specific rescue.  http://squirrelrefuge.org/

 

i went to a workshop that made me realize what i had normalized as  “just being a woman in this society” was actually an eating disorder.

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and through this i found community and a therapist.

i started nanowrimo.

 

and i finished nanowrimo in bali.

 uluwatu temple - kecak

uluwatu temple - kecak

bali, the land of offerings and beauty and humidity and volcanos.

i spent thanksgiving with two of my favorite people and survived an active volcano.

i spent christmas on the east coast.  i rode a magical carousel that gave me all the feels, like maybe things were going to be ok

 

and while the beginning of the year felt like:

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and a little like this,

I’m ready for 2018 which feels very much like:

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and while i don’t feel like i’m prepared for anything, i’m just a little bit more sure of who i am and what is important to me.  i’m just a little bit more ok with my body, what it can do, what it can’t do and learning that all of it is ok.  i’m just a little bit more in love with  jeff, with bean and charlie, with portland and with that amazing banana cake from new seasons which exceeds all expectations on what banana cake sounds like (and trust me, I’m not the biggest fan of cake that isn’t chocolate).

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here’s to more cake, more freedom, more openness, more forgiveness, more care, more gentleness in 2018.  here’s to radical new ways to love. it’s the only way.  it’s the only way.