Tag Archives: fear

And then…one day… she got on with her life

Once upon a time, a girl newly relinquished from her undergraduate career started a blog in which she rambled about the piteous happenings of her small and empty existence. She had no career, no credit, no future, and very little hope of changing her situation, but goddammit she had a place to bitch about it. And because she had a modicum of humor and a rather wide lexicon, people read her writing. And she would write a lot and then not write at all for months, and then return here and there to comment passionately, albeit shallowly, about some little tidbit of her little world. And people would read it.And she’d think, “gee, why don’t I do this all the time?” But inevitably, she’d fall off the map again.

Well, the last time she fell off the map, it was because she was FINALLY GETTING HER FUCKING SHIT TOGETHER.

Yes, my friends. I, Pamela, have decided I do not wish to stay eternally condemned to a life in limbo and have gotten on with my life. I am no longer a nanny. I am no longer living with my parents hating every moment of my existence. I am no longer dating someone who I feel little to no real connection with. I am thrilled to report that I have–dare I even say it?–the beginnings of a LIFE.

This week, I started law school. For the first time in nearly three years, I am feeding my mind, bettering myself, electing to live up to my potential. Good lord, does it feel good to have a purpose again! To get up early and gogogogogogogogogogogogo until late at night! To feel, at the end of the day, that I have earned a beer or some chocolate or–gasp!–some wonderful, glorious rest!

I feel alive again.

Praise EVERYTHING.

I’m not saying this isn’t limbo. I’m not saying I have everything figured out. Nor am I saying watch-out-world-because-Pamela-is-coming-for-you-and-she’s-got-her-ass-kicking-shoes-on. But I am saying, that things are changing.

Also, I’m done beating myself up for the last few years of aimlessness and depression and spending too much time watching the days pass; I’ve chosen to love myself enough to accept my later-than-I’d-hoped development. I think I needed those years of aimlessness to get me here. I think I was chronologically an adult but mentally still an adolescent. I think we all grow and change and evolve at our own pace, and, maybe, I just evolve in fits and starts, leaps and bounds, rather than gradually and steadily. One day, the sun set and I was afraid of everything and imprisoned by my own inertia, and when the sun rose the next day I was done being afraid and ready to build some momentum.

And now, here I am, gaining speed.

I just might one day get out of Limbo after all. What a feeling.

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The Writing on this Wall

This evening I had a very brief but very meaningful exchange with a dear friend. He said, “I’m not a secretive guy, so it’s hard for me when everyone is secretive.” And in a fit of unexpected honesty I replied, “I’ve always had issues with owning my life. Like, I’d rather not apologize for it, so I hide it, which ends up sucking for me and, more importantly, for those around me. I should grow up.” And while he kindly made excuses for me, I realized that what I said was so so right and something I had thought for a long time, but never said. And in saying it, I felt it–I felt ashamed.

I have, too often, been incapable of owning up to my own choices. Even when I feel not at all misguided or unwise in my decisions, even when I would have no problem defending my path should I be confronted, I go to great lengths to avoid such a confrontation. Like, when I decided to move in with my significant other (*cough* in hindsight maybe that was a misguided decision, but at the time it seemed like a good plan. Sue me. *cough*) all those years ago, I tried to keep it from my very Catholic family for a long time. As a 21 year old woman who had willingly entered into an adult relationship, I shuddered at the thought of my family judging me for it. Judging me for what? Being human? Being *gasp!* normal?! I felt that there was nothing wrong with my actions, yet, because someone else might, I tried to keep my life under wraps.

How. Fucking. Pathetic.

I admire so much the people I know who are unapologetically and unabashedly up front about their lives (like her, and her). Having the confidence and the courage to say, “Yeah, this is me. This is my life. Not everyone is going to be OK with all of it. So-the-fuck-what?” is so incredible to me. I want to be that awesome. And I am going to be that awesome. Starting now.

I have wanted to write this blog for months, but I kept talking myself out of it with really weak ass excuses. So I am done.

This…finally…is the story of my tattoo.

First, if you don’t either know me personally or have never read this blog before, you might want to brush up real quick and read this post. But long story short, last fall my asshole father told me to get the fuck out of his house. So I did. It was really really scary to grab my purse and walk out the front door with no idea where I was planning on going or what I was going to do the next day…and the day after…and the day after…but I did it. I left. When, after several weeks, my father ate crow and said, for the first time in my life, “I’m sorry,” I was a little surprised but not impressed or moved, as he had so clearly expected me to feel. So when he said, “Just come home. Do it for your mother,” I surprised both of us by saying, “Don’t you dare tell me what to do for my mother. You want to do something for her? Quit drinking.” It was the bravest and the most self-assured I had ever felt in my entire life. And, needless to say, I didn’t move back in.

It is quite nerve-wracking to turn down a roof over your head and free food for uncertainty and homelessness, but, in that moment, the truly frightening thing would have been to be back under the roof of the man who tormented me most of my life. In that moment, I was fearless. And as I rode the high from that burst of bravery over the following weeks, I wanted nothing more than to feel that sense of sheer unstoppable courage in every aspect of my life. So, though I had not ever really thought of myself as the type to get a tattoo, I decided that that was just what I needed: a permanent and tangible something to remind me, every single day, of the bold, unafraid person I can be.

So I had “without fear” inked into my left ribcage…right next to my heart.

Every day, when I get out of the shower, I see those words on my skin, and they remind me that I don’t have to be intimidated by life. Life leaves its scars (I have 98 visible ones so far, and many more invisible), but worrying about the pain that’s to come hurts just as much–if not more–than the actual pain when it happens. I will live a much fuller life if I hope and love and experience as much as I can without fear.

Now, I am in no way saying I am fearless. LORD, no. But I am a less fearful work in progress. When I start shying away from good things, simply because they might go away at some point, I give myself a shake or a slap and say, “HEY! You’re wasting time being afraid. Knock it off!” and then I try to forge ahead with a little more courage and a slightly higher held head. And when I step outside myself and do things that are foolish or risky and then suddenly feel a little more alive, I know I am becoming the kind of person I want to be: the kind of person who has “without fear” scrawled across her ribs.

Have a problem with what I just told you? Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

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Shins don’t fail me now

For the first time in…god, easily over a month, I went for a run tonight. The humidity finally took a chill pill, so once the sun got a little low in the sky it was prime conditions for lacing up my cross-trainers, and I actually had the drive to just effing do it, and so I did.

And my goodness gracious, was it wonderful.

I forget time and time again how much I love running. I forget how the rhythm of my shoes against the pavement can clear my head unlike anything else. I forget how the strain in my lungs is actually wildly refreshing, like a challenge presented to me by my own body to push on. I forget all these things, so I end up going without running for weeks on end, and then when I finally get my butt out the front door, I find myself wondering what took me so fucking long.

So, in the hopes that I won’t have yet another workout dry spell, I’m enumerating my How I’m Gonna Get My Track Legs Back (Sans Shin Splints) plan here for all to see, so that maybe I will actually hold myself to it.

1. Use and abuse the nearby stadium: One of the perks to living with my ‘rents is that I am literally 45 seconds from my old high school, which, gloriously, comes equipped with a track and a stadium just begging to be used by yours truly. I enjoy a nice long run now and then, but I was and will always be a sprinter at heart, so I LOVE a good ol’ fashioned speed workout: running 400M at 80%, sprinting full out 100M, walking till my heart rate returns to normal; jogging the stairs of the stadium until my quads burn; timing myself in the races I used to run as a teenager. The track is right there and I am still small enough to squeeze through the gap in the fence, so why the fuck shouldn’t I use it, right?

2. Something is better than nothing: Back in college when I had ready and willing running buddies coming out my ears, it was easy to find the drive to go for a run. But now, it’s just me, all by my lonesome. And sometimes going for even an easy 2 miles seems daunting. But why should I force myself to do even 2 miles? Isn’t it preferable that I get outside, get my heart pumping, get a quick burst of endorphins, if only for 10 minutes? One pathetic mile is still a mile. It’s still calories burned, fresh air breathed, mind cleared. So even on those days when it’s hot or rainy or I feel lousy, I need to remember that I can dress, run one mile, and be home in 12 minutes. A little rain or heat won’t kill me in 12 minutes.

3. A day off is good; 12 days off is bad: I always read about how giving your body a chance to repair is paramount to being fit; your muscles need time to recover. But what I tend to do is take a day or two off and then…never go back. Or I get on a roll and run as many days in a row as possible and burnout. I gotta stick with 2 days on, one off. Or Day 1, long run; Day 2, a quickie; Day 3, a hard interval workout; Day 4, rest like god did on the 7th day.

4. There is pain and then there is PAIN; know the difference: When aiming for a good 4-5 mile day, I usually wimp out around the 3rd mile. Either I get a stitch in my side, or my breathing is haggard, or my feet are hot, or my mouth is dry, and I make excuses to myself about why I am allowed to give up and go home. THAT MUST CEASE. Tight calves or tired lungs come with the goddamn territory: I will NEVER get into better shape if I cave in to a little pain. I need to use my mind to work my way through the pain; as my father always says, “MENTAL TOUGHNESS!” I hate to quote him, but the man has a point. There is a big difference between discomfort and, “Holy shit, I just tore my ACL.” I’ve had migraines my whole life, I can deal with a little pain to achieve the pride that comes with running your entire pre-planned course and then getting home and realizing, “Hey, I can keep going.” C’mon, Pamela. Suck it up, bitch.

Alright, that’s all I’ve got so far. But you get to hold me to this. I ran today and it was wonderful and the endorphins coursing through me right now are demanding that I keep it up. But tomorrow, when my little natural opiates have faded away, this post is going to be my reminder that I have goals, and for once, I’d like to actually meet them. Any words of encouragement or advice (or trash talk) you, my readers, can offer, would only serve to spur me on all the more, so comment comment comment. Please.

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Allow me to introduce…Amp

You may recall, if you’ve ever been bored enough to browse this website before, that I have been working very hard to ban fear from my life. My mantra of “Be Brave” has led me to make a myriad of decisions that have proved to have been EXCELLENT choices, because they have made me feel alive  for the first time in years. It’s like I was sleepwalking through my life. I was so afraid of experiencing anything remotely negative that I missed a lot of experiences that could have enriched my life.

Well, no more.

A dear friend of mine said just last night, “If only the Pammy I met could see the person sitting in front of me right now. She’d be like, ‘That’s not me.'” And she is 100% correct. The girl I was when I went away to school in 2006 claimed to want to find herself and have some fun but…that didn’t really happen. I was too fucked up from the less-than-healthy homelife I was leaving to get anywhere close to having fun. I had to play it safe for a while, recuperate for a while, and find a little sanity-come-boredom. But while I know at that time I needed that, now, as I’m finally, finally, bursting free I can’t help but think, “What a waste, what a waste, what a waste.” I think of all the friends I didn’t make, the parties I didn’t crash, the boys I didn’t hook-up with, the recreational drugs I didn’t try, and I just shake my head. Did I even go to college? I may be a logical girl who knows that, just maybe, not experimenting with drugs wasn’t the worst thing, but seriously, I kept myself so sheltered. It’s like I was still living with my parents, afraid to come home late for curfew. I got one hickey in three and a half years, and I was mortified. Now I’m like, “Hey, it was FUN getting that goddamn hickey.” Fuck.

So now, a couple years late, I’m finally wanting to be a little…adventurous. I don’t want to be a slut or a druggie, I just…want to live. But every once in a while I step back from myself and that shy, fearful girl I used to be takes over and I have to ask, “Who IS this woman?” Well, I’ve decided to dub this new brave, fiery person I’m allowing myself to be my alter-ego…and I’ve named her Amp.

My fantastic and inspirational cousin Stef once mistyped her name in an email to me as “Fest,” and it was such a cool moniker that I looked to my own name for a fun anagram. For a split second I thought, “Oh man, all I have is ‘map.’ Boring.” But then I stopped being stupid and saw that my name comes equipped with a rad nickname that embodies everything I am hoping to be. I want to turn the volume up on my life, I want to be and see and do simply more: I want to open-mouth laugh more, dance all the more ridiculously, sing louder and more off-key, and just…ROCK. I want to rock. And thus, Amp was born.

Amp, dancing as if everyone is watching and she DOESN'T GIVE A FUCK

When I start to shrink away from a new experience, I have to ask myself:  What Would Amp Do? During my recent trip to Chicago (so much more on that to follow in future posts), I was considering not venturing into downtown and just hanging out at the hotel. And, you know, I would have enjoyed the peace and solace of time alone in a king-sized bed, but I also would have been very disappointed in myself. So my alter-ego took over, and was all, “Get the fuck up and get the fuck out. You’re in CHICAGO  bitch.” And so I did. And then, when a long long lost friend suggested we meet up, my mousier self sort of hesitated: “I don’t really know him anymore, it could be awkward, and I have to get up early tomorrow.” Lame.  But again, the fearless girl in me came out and I took a leap and got dinner with a guy I haven’t seen in 5 years. And guess what? It ended up being an incredibly fun night; some people, it turns out, still know how to party.

I was beyond pleasantly surprised, but, frankly, I should just start expecting happy surprises around each corner. You take a chance, good things follow. I have to start believing this with my whole heart, because life has been revealing to me that it is so so true.

So, I don’t even need my mantra so much anymore. Now I simply have a split personality: the sorry excuse for a young woman I was before who just won’t die, and the new, vibrant, lively girl I am becoming more and more each day. You can still call me Pam if you wish, but, these days, I prefer Amp.

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That Familiar Old Itch

For a few weeks now, my self-confidence has been on the rise. Skyrocketing, even. Ever since adopting my new mantra (Be Brave) I’ve just been finding more and more reasons to believe that I’m AWESOME. And let me tell you, I spent a very large portion of my life being my own worst critic. So thinking positively about myself is still a bit new for me, but lordy, does it feel good! I am happy.

I like it.

This feeling of self-contentment is why I am so puzzled by the creeping on of another feeling: the urge to flee. This isn’t the first time I’ve just wanted to pack my bags and change up my life in a big way, but usually thoughts of flying the coop come along when I am MISERABLE, not happier than I have been in a LONG TIME.

I look at my life, and, frankly, there is nothing bad about it. I may not make much money, but what would I do with more money? I may not have my dream job, but my dream job is writing, and seeing as I’ve posted here more in the last week than I did in the first 2 months of this blog’s existence, clearly I am writing. I may not have a beautiful home but I have a homey home, and that’s what’s really important. I’m getting healthier and fitter by the day. And I’m loving myself. I have no complaints.

And yet.

And yet I am once again yearning to live in a studio apartment in a big city; or to backpack through Europe staying in dingy little hostels; or to just drive my car as far as I can until I almost pass out behind the wheel, and then wherever I end up I camp out there for a week or two, and then move on. I am simply itching to shake up my life, even though my life has finally become such a contented little snowglobe.

Why? Why am I considering give up something so good? I don’t know that I’m even considering it, but the thoughts are coming and going as they please with greater frequency these days. I find myself day-dreaming about moving to Chicago and marching into every company that has a position I wouldn’t suck at and demanding that they hire me until someone finally breaks down and does, and then I find a cute little loft and I buy really chic business clothes and I make new friends and I get to spread my cramped, sore wings. This day-dream is also becoming a night dream, by the way.

So again, I wonder, why? Why do I feel suffocated and smothered now? Here’s my guess: Because of that stupid self-confidence. Because I am feeling so goddamn good about myself, I’m wondering how far I can push myself? I’m curious about how I would do on my own in a new place surrounded by strangers? Would I shrink back into the self-doubting little shell of a person I was even a few months ago, or would I continue thriving?

Or, and this is the really BIG question: Could I possibly become even happier with myself if I was doing something else?

I don’t want to answer that question just now. Because if I do, and the answer is yes, then everything will change. Everything. And as brave as I’ve been trying to be, I don’t think I have the courage to push myself out of my entire comfort zone all at once.

Maybe the itch will go away. Or maybe I can give it a little scratch by taking a brief trip. Road trip, anyone?

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Going all the way

As an intellectual, reasonable individual, I know that Paleo living is most likely my best bet towards being physically and mentally healthy. I know that the pros—increased energy; the mental clarity; the reduced risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, and a slew of other illnesses; plenty of shallow appearance-related perks—far outweigh the cons. I know why I should go Paleo. But I am only human, and jumping into this new lifestyle with two feat is intimidating.

Rather than taking one giant leap I’ve been making baby steps. The first one was EATING ANIMALS, and I’m pretty much there. But sometimes I just forget that I eat animals. I’ll go to the store, spend $50 on groceries, and then get home and realize I forgot to buy my MAIN INGREDIENTS. Ugh. It’s happening less and less, but just this week I ran to Kroger for a few things, number one on the list being a lovely flank steak to grill and I just…spazed. Not that I don’t feel thin after a meal consisting of solely roasted cauliflower and a few boiled redskins, I just know it isn’t feeding my body what it really needs.

Other steps I’ve taken is cutting out bread and rice almost completely. It’s not hard considering I don’t particularly like those foods—bread, really? It’s bread. Gimme a well-seasoned, perfectly cooked salmon fillet. Gimme grilled asparagus with lemon butter—and they make me feel less than great after eating them (carbs expand, leaving me feeling too full). But every once and a while I feel a little lost. No sandwiches? I don’t mind rolling ingredients in lettuce leaves, but there’s a texture thing that’s amiss. And eating spicy Szechuan stir-fry without rice? How do I even attempt that?

This Italian girl who love, Love, LOVES pasta has cut her pasta intake to once a week. That is sucking less and less. But that was always my fallback food. No time to make a real meal, or not ingredients? Pasta. Easy. But now I always have to have ingredients on-hand.

And I’m still banning sugary things. I’ve had a few ugly binges (I’ll get to that post next), and Easter’s arrival meant that I have a whole basket full of temptation thanks to my mo—I mean the “Easter Bunny,” but for the most part, I’m trying to limit myself to three sweet treats a week. And that includes the usual suspects like candy, cookies, ice cream, but also under-the-radar sugar demons like sweetened coffee or tea, non-homemade salad dressing (there is SO MUCH sugar in bottled salad dressing), and yogurt.

I haven’t yet started to worry about my omega-6 intake (vegetable oils, nuts, etc.) or eating the sugar that is in fruit. And I eat dairy, which, to my understanding, is neither a friend nor foe when it comes to Paleo—it simply is. I have also decided that due to my seriously low potassium intake as well as my remaining carbohydrate desires, potatoes are totally fine. For now.

I’d like to go all the way. I really would. You see, nothing frightens me more than losing my mind. My grandmother has full-blown Alzheimer’s. If you don’t know, Alzheimer’s doesn’t just mean forgetting things: it means making up things, mistaking dreams for reality; it means aggressive angry outbursts and some violence; it means sometimes drinking dishsoap and eating whole sticks of butter in the middle of the night, then other times not eating or drinking anything at all. It’s terrifying. I don’t love the woman my grandmother is now, but I loved the woman she was, so I do my best to see her occasionally and be patient with her when I do see her. But it is work, real work, just being in the same room with her. And my mom, well, I am so afraid sometimes when she calls me several days in a row to have the exact same conversation with me that we had the day before that she is following in her mother’s shoes. I NEVER want to be a burden on my family. I will NOT go the way of my relatives. I want my sanity until the very end, and the way to ensure that is to forgo all grains, sugar, and other toxic foods and feed my body only the things that keep it in the best possible working condition. The way to ensure that is going Paleo all the way.

But I don’t know if I’m ready.

I know these things shouldn’t matter, but here’s all the things I’d be giving up:

• Ever making my grandma’s monkey bread.
• Bruschetta
• Sushi (My God, I fucking LOVE sushi!)
• Ben and Jerry’s Karmel Sutra Ice Cream (It’s orgasmic.)
• Hot dog buns
• Hamburger buns
• Cinnamon buns
• Chai tea lattes with honey
• Triscuit crackers
• Popcorn
• Lasagna
• ALL CEREAL (my FAVORITE food group, by the by)

I could go on forever, but you see what’s standing in my way? A lifetime of weaknesses and cravings. A lifetime of little morsels to which I look forward. I’m having trouble letting go.

I know I’d be gaining so much by giving this stuff up, I just need some time.

I’m doing my best to make that amount of time small.

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