The Beginning

On this date four years ago, my then four-year-old niece sat on my lap while we watched their town’s (very impressive) fireworks display.

She kept squirming to get comfortable. She pointed out her favorites and tried to guess  mine. Finally, we were both still, and silent. And then:
Meggie, will you live forever?
Hmm…no, honey. Not forever. Nobody lives forever.
Well…will you live to be 100?
Oh, I don’t know. But I’ll be a very, very old lady.
Okay, good.

And that was it. Tears sprang up in my eyes; they rolled down my cheeks. I thought…100? At this rate, what will 60 even look like?

I was in awful shape and it no longer mattered how it had happened. Any number of factors – regardless of how many of them weren’t “my fault” – didn’t matter.

I’d received what I’ve come to call my final whisper, and it instantly became a shout. Quinn asked a question that she’d meant nothing by, as kids that age do (all day). But that noise in my mind was telling me that I wanted to live as happy of a life for as long as I could with the people who love me most. And, back then, I was NOT on track to do so, and it was solely up to me to make it happen. No one was going to save me, which was overwhelming, but it was up to me, which was empowering.

I see more doctors/specialists than most of my friends, yet not one doctor in the years since my weight had ballooned had given me any indication that my weight was a concern (shame on them), or that my life wouldn’t be as long and healthy as anyone else’s (yet) – but it already wasn’t as happy. I was tired, stressed, very overweight, constantly needing to buy new clothes that I hated/couldn’t afford/didn’t recognize myself in, and had become inactive outside of my slightly active commute and job. So would I even want to live to 100? (No, but honestly, I still don’t. That’s way too old for my liking. But I digress.) So that was that. And there was no looking back.

When people ask what I’ve done, as many have and continue to do in person and through private messages, I don’t really know what to say – not because I don’t know what I’ve done, but because I know what a lot of them are looking for: a much faster fix. Sadly, I have nothing to sell, but more power to anyone who does. No, I didn’t have any type of weight-loss-related surgery, but more power to anyone who has.

Simply put, I started doing the stuff that I hope to still be doing when I’m 60 – exercising, trying new things with my body, keeping up with the young people in my life. And my Tuesdays look and feel the same as my Fridays. And I have a completely different relationship with food, although it doesn’t look like it to anyone but me. And I watch my mouth -okay, not really – meaning I don’t talk about and don’t think about things as cheats or excuses or rewards or what I’m allowed to do/have/skip, but rather…life, because that’s what works for my brain – and also because there could always be someone listening and learning from you, young or old. And I’m as nice to myself as I can possibly be for someone who is, ya know…not always perfectly nice to anyone, really, because I’m an imperfect human and a New Yorker and a redhead and still tired and stressed sometimes.

I never had a “goal” other than to just feel completely differently than I did right then, and that was a LOT harder than putting a number in my mind or a goal dress in my closet. But it was also far more realistic, healthy, and purposeful. Looking differently was a byproduct of wanting to feel better and move more easily – which was all I was focused on. I could’ve gotten here faster, sure, but not as happily or as healthily, and certainly not as successfully.

Yes, there are more specific details, and ones I’m happy to share with people who need them and want them, but so many people are crestfallen when I tell them there’s no name for it, like the ____________ diet or __________ shakes/bars or the just omit ___________ trick or __________ delivery service. No counting, no shaking, no fasting, NO omiting, but please no freaking kale. There ya go – there’s the name. Here comes the book deal.

A lot of things we are each up against are really, really, seemingly impossibly hard – and many of us have more than one of those things on our shoulders. A lot of those are things are invisible and heavy or dark and we would never, in a million years, want to share those struggles with other people. So don’t – or do! Do you. There are too many options out there in an age when we constantly carry a computer in our hands to not find a way to be as happy as possible – if not for yourself, for the people who love you as much as that former four-year-old loves me.

Just listen for and celebrate the shouts & whispers that tell us which are actually worth working for and table the rest for now. That’s my unsolicited advice which, as I always say, is my specialty.

A final note: Life is short, and summer is shorter. No one interesting cares what you look like in a bathing suit but you. And yes, I adopted that philosophy four summers ago when I felt my absolute worst, and that made a world of difference in a summer when I was doing a lot of stuff on my own, much of it in just my busy, loud mind. Happy summer, whatever that looks like for you. You can have my kale.

Here Goes Nothing.

I don’t know how to get this all started, so here goes nothing. I am going to avoid posting the names and phone numbers of senators you should be calling in this post (is that what these things are called?) but there are no promises about that moving forward. But at least I’m not selling you anything. In all seriousness, whenever I speak with anyone and we attempt to avoid talking about what is going on in our country and world, we cannot help but talk about an awful lot of it, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But that’s not what I’m here for, at least today. Well, at least not for this current stream of consciousness.

Alrighty then.

For now, I just want to share things and see how it goes and what this feels like and then maybe go throw up. Some/a lot of things I tend to recommend are things that have already been shared with me, so I’m kind of paying it forward…or totally just ripping other people off. (Total youngest child move.) But hey, at least my intentions are good.

This time, you’re getting two different pairs of topics and I’ll let you all guess which one I’m actually better at when it comes to the first pair. I have no idea what I’ll ever write about in the future, but it won’t be this. Or maybe it will be. Or maybe I’ll never do this again. Cheers.

Splurge:

  1. Luxardo Maraschino Cherries – You need these cherries – and no, not for ice cream sundaes. They raise the bar on my already bad ass Perfect Manhattan game ten-fold (slight overstatement). They taste pretty nasty on their own which is why you don’t want to put them on your ice cream, but if you take one down after it’s been soaking in bourbon (or rye, should you choose), you will feel like it’s okay that you just spent $25 on a jar of cherries. Yes, $25. Hence the “splurge” title. [Shoutout to N.M. for the introduction. I think of you every single time I have them and raise a glass to you, teach.]
  2. M-61 PowerGlow & Go -Warning: for a moment, these things may feel like they are burning your freaking face off. I only bought a pack of five because I was convinced I’d look like Samantha on Sex & the City after she had that one facial peel (I didn’t). I’m a cynical optimist when it comes to skin care/nearly everything in life, but these make me look and feel better after I use them. They should just write on the packaging: “Yes, it costs two dollars per treatment, but we will burn NYC and Long Island Railroad out of your pores.” (Plus, you only need to use them every few days or so.)

Save:

Disclaimer: The thought of me telling anyone how to *save* money is laughable. But here is some stuff I bought and used where I didn’t feel like I should lie about what I paid.

  1. Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water: Whatever else you’re using to get makeup and anything else off your face, toss it. This is cheap and effective and gentle on your skin. Plus, you can get it at CVS and we all know they are the coupon kings. Throw it on your cotton thingy of choice, swipe away, moisturize, and go to bed. Well, that is, on the nights you aren’t burning your face off with those expensive pad things.
  2. Mario Badescu Seaweed Night Cream: The fact that it’s green makes me feel like I’m cool and trying hard to take care of my skin when I’m probably just rubbing a bunch of food coloring on my face. The little tub is small (one ounce) and since it’s winter and my skin often tries to act as though I haven’t had a sip of water since 1992, I use it in the morning and at night. A little goes a VERY long way; I’ve had this bad boy for about six weeks and it’s still half-full. At $22, I consider that a “save.” You can tell me I’m wrong and tell me what you use for $12, and I’ll probably agree with you and then roll my eyes because you’re right, but mine is green.
  3. M-61 Hydraboost Body Butter – I can’t handle greasy lotions and have zero tolerance for any type of fragrance. This stuff comes in several sizes – a biggie for daily use and a small one for my desk/make up bag. Still a whole lot of winter left, people. Let’s get our reptile skin through it somehow.

Read:

  1. In Pursuit of All the Good Stuff: My friend Tara Kali’s blog. She is funny, smart, and so much of the Good Stuff in so many of our lives. I’ve posted it several times, so hopefully you’ve read it before, but if not, start. Plus, she’ll feed you with her awesome recipes and get you buzzed with her tips for great cocktails. Here’s the link: http://www.inpursuitofallthegoodstuff.com/
  2. News & Guts: If you’re not following News & Guts on Facebook yet, I recommend that you do. It’s Dan Rather’s team, so it’s not fake news or alternative facts (wait…you’re following Dan Rather, right? And Robert Reich? Okay, good. You may not like what they post, but there’s not a lot I can do about that.)

Heed:

Somewhat related to the topic of shouts and whispers, I need to get back to Trying New Things like I did in 2015. That pretty much resulted in me eating a lot of stuff I really didn’t want to eat, maxing out by August, and calling the whole thing a success (otherwise known as calling the whole thing off.) I told myself I’d start again in 2016, but BOY did 2016 start off as a disaster for me (I know, I know, everyone hated 2016…blah blah blah) and by the time I got back on my feet in the spring, I decided I’d earned a pass and just kept eating the same three things and got better about running regularly as my One New Thing. So…2017? New stuff? New food? If you have suggestions of things I should do or eat or you’d like to join me in, let me know. Just don’t bankrupt me, because I’m already doing a pretty good job of that on my own.

Let’s wrap this up with a Pro Tip.

Unrelated Pro Tip: Strangers, stop talking to other people’s kids when they make eye contact with you in public. Is that offensive? It’s really not meant to be. But isn’t it awkward for you when the parent reprimands the kid to “Be polite to her!” and “Answer him!” after you ask the kid questions? A smile, or “Hi,” or MAYBE a somewhat rhetorical “How are you?” will suffice. Beyond that, you’re setting this kid up for disaster and yourself up for major awkwardness for however much longer you’re near one another. If you’re lucky, you can just cross the street, but if you’re stuck on LIRR, you know that train is being held in Jamaica due to police activity (like mine was yesterday – TWICE.)
Parents are just trying to raise adults who aren’t jerks, and jerks ignore questions asked of them by friendly people, which is why said parents then scold the kid for ignoring you. Now the kid hates the parents AND you. So, if anything, let the kid be the annoying one asking you questions, put in your ear buds, and let yourself be the jerk.

Well, if that was super boring, I’m sorry. But maybe it was less depressing than everything Out There. And maybe I’ve helped you hop onto Amazon to do some emotional shopping or you’re enjoying Tara’s incredible blog, in which case, you’re welcome.

Until next time, or never again.