Day 6 of Year 40: Things Are Looking Up From Here

In the interest of keeping this blog space for reals, I’m going to be honest and say that the last week has really sucked. Starting with my job-related meltdown during a supposedly romantic walk with my wife through the second I’m-all-alone-on-my-40th-birthday meltdown and ending with my third I’m-a-big-baby-and-nobody-loves-me-because-I’m-fat-and-work-at-Caribou-Coffee meltdown Saturday morning, this past week has been a giant crap sandwich of self-pity and self-loathing. Cue the Marilyn Manson soundtrack, or maybe the Smiths for those of you who kick it old school.

Let me go back a bit. Since March, when we knew we were moving to Minnesota, I’ve been praying for a job that will allow me to relax, have fun, get my smile back, and let me have my home time be home time. This is not a teaching job. I prayed specifically for a job in a bar or a coffee shop. I preferred one that was close to home. When I got to Minnesota, I started my job search by applying for teaching jobs, and not getting any, I started looking at other options. I applied at Trader Joe’s (not cool enough to work there after two interviews), I applied at a local brewery (not cool enough to even get an interview), and I applied at Caribou Coffee (where I was hired on the spot). For $8 an hour.

For $8 an hour. This simply wouldn’t do. I needed money. For those of you who know me, this probably seems quite strange, because I am the woman who sees money as green pieces of paper that float in and out of my life like snow. But I need to be able to pay the bills I’ve accrued while attaining my Oh, So Valuable Education. So I balked at this gift I’d been given. A space to relax, to make coffee, to be myself. See I thwarted the desires of my heart from the get go. Somehow working in a coffee shop or a bar seemed beneath my dignity. After all, I do have numerous graduate degrees. Somehow my own self-worth came only through a professional job; we do, here in the US of A, value people based on their livelihood. And I was now a coffee maker, a job I could’ve done straight out of high school. I had bought into all the classist assumptions I’d been taught to deconstruct. Apparently, I thought myself too cool to be working class, and too entitled as well. I deserve to teach because I have the degrees. I bought the system and all the hype I’ve always critiqued. Apparently, I bought into the capitalist machine. My job, whichever cog I was in the machine, determined my value. And I wasn’t a very valuable cog.

But wait.

My value does not come from which cog in the machine I am.

My value does not come from any external source.

My value comes from who I am and how I treat other people.

But I didn’t just get there from my pit of despair. It took some scratching and clawing, some chatting with friends, and some serious soul searching. God had just given me the desire of my heart: a job that doesn’t define me and that doesn’t follow me home. And I told [Them] to piss off about it. Seriously, God had given me what I asked for, and I was more than pissed about it. So, on the romantic walk with my wife, I was upset to the point of emitting a guttural cry. I couldn’t contain it, the tears poured, the sobs surged forth, and my body shook. I was hyperventilating in sadness. The system had betrayed me: I had multiple graduate degrees and I couldn’t find a job. I had played the game, and it screwed me. But wait. I had prayed for this job and gotten it.

So then, on my birthday, which was the day after the Great Deluge, I was all alone. In my house. In Minnesota. And I was turning 40. By myself. Did I mention that I was by myself? And, again, I was pissed and sad, and felt betrayed. I could have gone out and made a day of it by myself. I’m not afraid to be alone, and I’m not afraid to explore on my own. But I chose, instead, to sit in my living room and wallow in my own self-pity. I chose it. Willfully. By the time Bec got home from work to take me out, I was a basket case, and them we went to my favorite restaurant, and it was lovely and the funk started to reside. I made an effort to open my heart on our walk we took after dinner. And it helped.

So then, again, on Saturday when the funk came back, I wasn’t expecting it to manifest in an angry tear against the woman I love, but it did. I was angry at her for bringing me here. And I was angry with her for everything, basically, and it wasn’t her fault. But I said it was. And I was mean and ungrateful. You know, your typical self-centered asshole. And everything fell out: “I am fat, fifty pounds fatter than this time last year. I work for minimum wage at a fucking coffee shop. Do you even want me here? Do you even want to be with me?” Only instead of it coming out like that, it came out all accusatory and ugly and horrible. And we both cried. And it was awful.

But something clicked in me through the day yesterday. And kept clicking. It said to look at the beauty in my life. To focus on what is good and beautiful and wonder-filled.

My value does not come from which cog in the machine I am.

My value does not come from any external source.

My value comes from who I am and how I treat other people.

And right at those moments, my value was swirling around the bottom of the toilet bowl. I’ve been an asshole. You see, I think most people think that moving has been the biggest stress for me, leaving behind family and friends and familiar things. While that has been stressful, my biggest stress has been figuring out who I am again. I have been given this beautiful opportunity to rebuild myself from the ground up and I almost blew it on building myself into the same bitter jackass I was for the past couple of years in Muncie.

So who am I?

I am Corby. I hope to be a triathlete. I hope to be an excellent Caribou employee. I hope to love deeply. I hope to give grace. I hope to show much compassion. And I hope to be able to receive and recognize all the blessings in my life.

In accordance with my goals, I have quit smoking (okay, I had two on Friday Cheat Day); I have quit drinking (okay, I had three beers on Friday Cheat Day); I have a job at the ‘Bou; I went for a bike ride, and I went for a run, and we take a walk every night; and I’m working on the quiet time…

Here’s to love and life and beauty.

Day 364 of Being 39

Today my friend Teresa finished Racine 70.3 a full 45 minutes faster than she finished Muncie 70.3 last year. I am so proud of her, but I am also very jealous of her accomplishment. I was supposed to be there with her, finishing with her, improving my time from last year, too. But I wasn’t. We all know what I’ve been up to, which is not much in the way of physical activity.

I’m not beating myself up about this, but I am setting one goal for a race for this year: I will compete at the Muncie 70.3 next July 11, and I will improve my time from last summer. I have almost one full year to train for it.

Tomorrow is day one. Today is done and cannot be lamented. Tomorrow is a new opportunity.

I have a job at Caribou that starts this week.

I have two cigarettes left in my pack, but I’m throwing those away when I go in the house.

I have no beer or cider in the house.

Bec and I have a plan to get ourselves healthy again: no beer, a nice 3.3 mile walk every night to decompress, and healthy eating.

I also plan to start running, biking, and swimming again. Running and biking will be easy to pick back up, but swimming will have to come when we can afford a Y membership, or if I get this media specialist job I’m applying for and can join in with their community wellness program that includes open swim in the high school pool.

I interview tomorrow at 8:30, and we’ll go from there.

A new day is dawning.

How Did I Let This Happen . . . AGAIN?!

This time last year I had just finished the Muncie 70.3 Half Ironman, and I weighed 190 pounds.

This time this year, I just finished a 3.3 mile walk that felt like a Half Ironman, and I weigh 240 pounds.

In November of 2011 when I changed my diet to paleo for the first time, I felt so good I swore I’d never stop it. But I did; in fact, I sort of reversed it, making up for all the time I’d lost for eating bread and other things that aren’t so good for me. Then in November of 2013 when I got plantar fasciitis in my left foot, I stopped running. Then in May 2014 when I hurt my knee running at the Mounds, I stopped running again.

In the process I made myself back into a woman who takes an hour to walk 3 miles and who weighs 240 pounds.

Here I am again. Right back where I didn’t want to be. Super fat and not so sassy.

I’m hurt by and angry with and disappointed in no one but myself. What now? I do what I do when I am faced with the consequences of my own bad decisions: I give myself grace.

Here I am today, July 17 at 240 pounds and way out of shape:

Mug Shot Side View

Mug Shot Front View

Here is the route I walked today.

They say that whatever you’re doing, whatever your fitness and diet patterns are, whatever is important for you, and whatever your mind set is on your 40th birthday are all good indicators of how you’ll live out the rest of your life. My 40th birthday is next Tuesday, and I want to live well.

Here’s to a successful recovery. Again.

Minnesota Minute

On July 11, I moved to Newport, Minnesota, famous for railroads, an oil refinery, a red rock, an early Methodist Church, and two parades a year, the Fireman’s parade and the Pioneer Days parade, which stops at the park right next to our new house. I have no job, no money, and no network, so to say I feel a bit lost is an understatement. What I do have is a supportive wife, lots of friends who love me, pets that are happy, an education and some experiences that surely someone will find worthwhile, and a little bat that lives outside the window of my tiny attic writing and art studio. At least, I hope the little bat lives there. She was there yesterday, but there was no sign of her tonight. I hope she comes back.

I spent the first day I was here sleeping all day long, because I was thoroughly exhausted from the drive, the stress of moving, and the joyful three-week-long sendoff my friends back home gave to me. The second day I spent at Starbucks using their free internet connection to fill out an application for a job that I found out has already been filled, and I drove all over picking up applications from places whose applications are not yet online. The third day I spent driving all over (again) to buy groceries, a grill, and other necessary items. Both Bec and I were so tired when we got home, we ate dinner, put in a movie and relaxed.

She fell asleep and missed the first parade of our tenure here at 597 4th Avenue, or The Flop House and Diner Too. I nearly missed the parade, too, the Fireman’s Parade, as it is called, because I thought for sure someone’s house was burning down just down the block. I had wondered for several hours why our neighbors were sitting in chairs outside in their lawn, but then I heard sirens, the sirens of many firetrucks, ambulances, and police cars. This parade was unlike other parades I’ve seen with their slow, ambling caravans of cars, bands, and walking floats. In fact, there was not one part of the parade that was normal. The whole of the procession was moving way too quickly to be considered anything but a group of emergency vehicles driving from point A to point B.

Really, the only bit of it that made me think parade was my neighbor, who my brother says reminds him of a character in Orange is the New Black, and her husband sitting out in their chairs with bags to collect candy. Each time a vehicle that looked like a potential candy dispenser drove past she would wave and cheer and collect her treasures, jumping up and down like a small child. By the end of the thing, they had collected a sizeable bag of cheap candy and grins from ear to ear. The whole picture was pretty amusing. (This same neighbor brought us a bowl full of her delicious organically grown raspberries and blackberries tonight.)

Today seemed more like a normal day, in that we went to hang out with the twins. They used me as a jungle gym for about two hours, we played tornado and rocket jump, both games I made up, and then I spent the rest of the day at Starbucks filling out more applications, while Bec unpacked more stuff, cleaned up the downstairs odds and ends, and hung artwork on the walls. To end the day, I cooked jambalaya for Bec, Ann, and me, and we sat on the porch for a good long time.

This whole moving process is teaching me things about myself and about other people, and I am grateful for the learning experience. My focus is changing from being so inwardly focused to being more outwardly focused. Aside from getting a job, I have only five goals for myself in the next year: (1) quit smoking and drinking so much, (2) eat a healthy primal diet, (3) swim, bike, and run, (4) give myself quiet time to read (both books and the Bible), write, and do art, (5) be gentle with others, bring joy and grace into the world. I have to give my worries away and rely on God and other folks to get me through sometimes, a task that is no small feat for me.

It’s Tuesday, and My Wife Lives in MN

I haven’t really written anything (okay I’ve written things, but they are for my eyes only right now), since my beautiful wife moved to Minnesota to find a house and start a new job. I’m pleased to say that she loves her new job, and that the house she found up there is beautiful and super cool. Here’s a link to the listing. The coolest part about the house is the attic, which is finished, and which is the exact right size for a drawing and writing studio. I couldn’t be more pleased about the prospect of getting up in the night to climb a few stairs to go draw or paint. Now I need to somehow find a job or jobs to help pay my share of things. Anyone know of any good jobs in the Twin Cities that don’t require much intellectual thought or grading?

I’m going to spare you, the reader, of my past few months of darkness, though I mask it well, don’t you think? And, I’m just going to start afresh, like I have chosen to do, yet again, in my life. I’ve shared the questions, the doubts, the difficulties, and the pain with a few close friends, family, and my wife, so I think that’s enough wallowing in it. And, I’m just going to start afresh, like I have chosen to do, yet again, in my life.

Since last July 13, my weight has increased by 35 pounds, back up to 230 pounds on my 5’2″ frame. Yay, fun with fat! I checked my blood pressure the other day and it was 151/98 and my pulse was 65. For the past two months, I have been drinking at least two-three beers a night and smoking 4-5 cigarettes a day. I have consumed at least 32 ounces of caffeinated coffee each day, sometimes with extra shots of espresso in them. And, I haven’t run, swam, or biked pretty much at all. I feel like crap and I look like crap (and not because I’m fat; I’ve been fat my whole life, so I really don’t care about all that). I look blah and have dark circles under my eyes from eating things that I have intolerances for: wheat, corn, soy, and some dairy.

That being said, I ran two miles yesterday morning, and yesterday was the first day in a long time that I didn’t smoke, drink alcohol or caffeine, or eat those things I shouldn’t. I know. Big whoop. First day. But every day is the first day of the rest of your life, right? And, as they say in AA: “One day at a time, man, one day at a time.”

So, today, for the second day, I’m trying to stay the path of abstinence, movement, and clean eating. I walked the dogs for a mile this morning, took it easy and had a decaf cappuccino, then came to school. I ate good food for breakfast, and I have good food for lunch. I’m hoping to run a mile right after school, then walk the dogs for another mile before finishing up my portfolio for class.

Ah! What a life. Grace. Always grace. It’s how I even exist.