Category Archives: Personal

An Uneasy Observation

The TikTok I made about this interested me.

The original post from the wife I mentioned, it garnered the usual amount of teeth-gnashing; mainly from those who got irritated about the therapist’s quote:

“…your phone is YOU… the stuff you interact with…the words you share…your pictures…and most people keep that hidden for a reason…and it usually has nothing to do with privacy…it’s about controlling whether people know the real you.” (“Even your partner,” it should have said.)

Reading that smacks you in the face with the truth. It’s like if your browsing history were published in the newspaper or if a list of all the people you’ve texted, DMed, or interacted with were published for the world to see. Our phones are a great reflection of the totality of us, especially when juxtaposed with our relationships.

As Dave Worthen preaches: “You share your bodies, you brush your teeth together, you have children, you spend most of your lives connected, but lord help you if someone wants to share your phone, even with the best of intentions.”

I’m not saying I have all the answers, but reading and hearing all the commentary about this anecdote really gave me further insight into just how big of a problem this is for most of the modern world. Our ancestors didn’t have to worry about this: most behaviors were direct and observable, and privacy/secrecy were not issues ideal partners had to confront.

Love, X

A 1,700 Day

The other day was an odd day. I woke up at 12:55 a.m. with something I was struggling to remember suddenly clear in my mind. I started my day like any other. Coffee, cat petting, and play. Because I was up earlier, I started doing pushups. For whatever reason, I felt like my body was lighter than air. Most mornings, I am burning with energy. It’s been that way since October 2020, when I began to transform my body. 100, 200, then my daily limit. I’d kept my promise to keep it reasonable for a long, long time. Going into work, I continued to do sets at odd moments. It wasn’t as if I were thinking about doing them. I’d be on the floor, wherever I was inside the buildings or out, doing pushups again. By the end of the day, I’d done more than 1,700. I’m sure I forgot to count some. (Just realized how many times I typed “I” in this post!)

The law of increments helped me to realize that while I can’t do 500 pushups at once without tearing something, I can do multiples of that amount if I do them in smaller groups. Whether it’s weights, walking, running, or pushups. That’s part of why I encourage people to use their day to their advantage. They might not be able to set aside 45 minutes in a block, but they certainly can spare 1-2 minutes several times a day. If you harness that realization, you can make amazing gains toward whatever goal you’re aiming for.

It was an odd day to blow past my intentional record. Not planned, not even really trying. It reminded me again that most numbers and obstacles for this sort of thing are mentally anchored and not connected to real limits.

I was a little sort the next day, but not unusually so. If I deliberately pushed myself to do so many on a given day, I’m certain I would be unable to move the next day. Pushups once served me as an anti-anxiety tool. I used physical fatigue to beat down the anxious moments. Counting them out worked as meditation for me. Before my emergency surgery, I decided to do far fewer of them, recognizing that I’d taken an effective tool and gone too far with it. That’s usually the case with anything; we adopt behavior and find it helps. And sometimes, we use that effective way to overcome feelings or behavior incorrectly. For most, it is a glass of wine each evening, then two, then a bottle over time.

Having a FitBit is a luxury that helps me. Over time, the analytics pop up and remind me of correlations between sleep, mood, heart rate, and activity. Every once in a while, I have a day when my brain is in a zone of both activity and disconnectedness. And on those days, it correlates to my body feeling like I’m tapped into hidden energy.

For the days when I’m not feeling it, I go ahead and do my thing anyway. Because motivation follows action. If you get moving even when you might not want to, over time, that becomes the new normal to you and you can understand that it’s your own mind causing you problems. Not your tiredness or schedule.

Love, X

The Farthing Place

I wish I had coined this phrase.

It’s a psychology label for our tendency to go to the wildest possible scenario in our minds when we don’t have adequate information.

Some people might refer to it as the grandmother tendency. If we’re traveling and don’t let them know we made it home safe, they might actually convince themselves we’re in a ditch upside down while the car is on fire.

Most of us do it, especially the overthinkers.

I will defend the tendency slightly. As someone who literally had a plane crash on my residence, among other surprises and tragedies, I’m not foolish enough to believe that the worst-case scenario does not, in fact, happen with some frequency.

One reason I like this term and label is that it allows me to tag it mentally when I get a feedback loop in my head and can’t shake it. Identifying that it’ś happening is the first step toward managing it.

Love X

Let’s Go Crazy Through Authenticity

Of all the messages out there in the world, the luminous one is that if we could permit each other be as ridiculously inconsistent and weird as we need to be, we all might benefit. I’m not fooled. I’ve seen behind enough curtains to know that most people have some outrageous behavior and ideas. Most keep them tightly closeted. The Golden Rule applies to letting people be themselves if that’s the way they choose to be. We tend to ridicule or shout them down, even with our silence. And then, POOF! We all reach the point when the realization that time is indeed limited swoops down and makes just about everything seem utterly stupid.

Love, X

Last Morning

I left a homemade bottle light on the huge deck at the Airbnb house. In the deep dark of the valley, it shone like a beacon, looking down on the valley floor where the pond rests. Erika and I left my last Jackie cup up near the ridiculously distant game room/building. I took a picture of the very first part of the driveway. Words can’t describe how steep, serpentine and long it is. Attempting to walk up it is a cardiac stress test even for the fittest. Don’t forget to ask Erika how much she enjoyed the attempt. 🙂 The house is beautiful, especially at night. But if towering windows and isolation give you the heebiejeebies, you would have to sleep in one of the closets here. All of the bedrooms on different levels have uncovered sliding glass doors with a deck that defines description of size. If you’re a fan of light, the huge living area is flooded during the day. The last picture is of camera- shy Erika’s silhouette.

Airbnb Modesty Test

Modesty test. Erika found a mid-century Airbnb house on the fringe of Fayetteville. 12 acres, encompassing an entire deep valley, complete with a meandering stream. It’s an aging, gargantuan beauty, a multi-level labyrinth. Lots of eccentricities. Towering glass, no shades or curtains. The light-flooded interior recedes to the enveloping darkness in the valley at sunset. I’m certain the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, although just on the fringe of the city, would run some people’s imagination into weird quarters. I climbed onto the apex of the roof, with a long view of the sloping property, stream, and emerald pond on the opposite side. I felt like I was 12. The master bedroom and accompanying bathroom is not for the timid soul.  If you bathe or shower, if any wandering soul were to jaunt down the long serpentine driveway to the house, they could easily see what God gave you. When I showered, it evoked a laugh. I felt like Chris Farley in his infamous Chippendale dancer skit with Patrick Swayze. I’ll leave it to you to capriciously decide which character I felt like.

I used one picture of Erika from a bird’s eye perspective after I descended from the roof. As always, she’s reluctant to let people see her the way I do. Her hair was illuminated like soft fire in several of the pictures I took surreptitiously. She reluctantly stood next to me and let me take a picture of her with a backward view of the valley and pond below.

The sun finally made its way above the towering valley ridge. Everything is backlit with it and amber orange bloom.

I would describe it as beautiful, but it’s a fragile cliché compared to being present and witnessing it.

Love, X

Fun With Appliances

Erika got a new water heater today. I couldn’t help but notice that it would be an ideal place to hide a body. Since I helped the handyman this afternoon move this 400 lb monstrosity outside so it could drain, it seemed appropriate to label the contents as a surprise.

PS draining it properly what have taken a day, given the amount of sediment and deterioration. I just know that somebody’s going to point that out to me.

Words of Encouragement

I’m posting this because I get frustrated with people. It’s not because they want to see me fail (though some do); rather, it’s because I see them complicate the issue of being the weight they want to be. “Accepting and loving yourself as you are is the best. If you can’t, then DO something. Forget the gym. It’s all on the what-you-put-in-your-mouth side of the equation.”

I LOVE this picture of me. First, it was a fantastic moment in 2005 with my nephew and his friend. It’s not photoshopped. I weighed around 253. They gave me hell and laughter for challenging them to a balloon stomach challenge. Obviously, I won.

I didn’t add any exercise to my life when I dropped almost all my weight. I realized that I was fooling myself by eating way more than I imagined. The math (and results) proved it. I did add exercise because I was afraid my cousin would bludgeon me for not doing so. She was right. Exercise has its own benefits. But I continue to remind people that the best way to lose weight without upending your life is to control what you put in your mouth. It’s a lifelong commitment rather than a sprint. And it can be tough. Food is freaking amazing.

I went from the low 250s to the low 140s. It felt amazing. Now, my setpoint is 165. I’m not self-conscious at all. Because I finally learned that IF I want or need to, I can change the things about myself that are under my control. The rest? IDGAF. Being 55 has its privileges, and I’m so glad to be still alive. I’m not sure that this would be true had a lightning bolt not smacked me in the head a couple of years ago. The same bolt had unintended consequences, that’s true. But not being alive makes enjoying things a bit impossible.

People constantly talk about their weight. Or they needlessly feel self-conscious about it. It’s easy to know when they’ve hit their own fulcrum point because they finally try something different. Talk shifts to behavior. And that makes me happy.

So many beautiful people stress about their weight or how they look. Most of them don’t need to. We have them in our lives because we love them. We don’t see them as they see themselves. People are beautiful because of who they are. If they are unhappy, we want them to find a way to look and feel the way they want to.

Nothing is more astounding than watching someone do the things that give them success. I watch them get confidence – and invariably, they get their huge smile back. This is true about weight, and it’s true when they change their lives in other ways.

While I’m on the soapbox, I wish people would stop being timid about how they look. Especially when it comes to people seeing them or seeing their own pictures. Some of y’all are such tremendously beautiful people the way you are. Most of us do not care if there are extra pounds. We don’t see pounds or focus on the imperfections y’all perceive.

It’s in the eye of the beholder. If you’re not happy, then you can do something. Otherwise, don’t worry about how the rest of us see you. If you’re in our lives, believe me, you’re awesome enough.

Meanwhile, if you feel bad, just look at my picture from 2005 and imagine how many years I continued to make bad choices. And laugh!

Love, X

PS I welcome smack talk if you want to be snarky. I’m being serious.

One Of My Nutrition Habits…

I’ve made several of these in the last few months. When I got this absurdly large baking sheet, it was obvious I had to up my game in terms of volume. This one is 20 pieces made on a 16×21 deep baking sheet.
Each piece has 30+ grams of protein, fiber, and vitamins, and even though it seems impossible, two or three servings of fruit per square. I experiment with different kinds each time I make it. I’ve discovered that I can omit the oil if I want to. Breaking the alleged rules for baking is half the fun. This one also has raisins, various nuts, high-fiber Cheerios, oats, and probably the kitchen sink. I know my taste buds are wildly weird, but my coworker Carlos absolutely loved them. The first day he ate one, he said it filled him up so much that he didn’t even eat supper that night. And he ate another piece the next two days. Sometimes these nutrition concoctions have unexpected things, such as vegetables you wouldn’t normally expect. I pack mine and freeze them. Yes, I eat them frozen too. I might be biased, but when I eat them every day, there is no doubt that I eat a lot less crap and have even more energy than I normally do. Don’t get me wrong, I like eating even raw protein powder. These squares I make saturate my taste buds and make me feel full. When I first started making them again, they were much sweeter. Now I make them Latino style and could care less whether they are sweet or not.

Most people don’t eat enough fiber. Which is why they should sneak it into ice cream and Doritos. And Taco Bell, not that it would need additional fiber to keep your system moving at high velocity.


Random Saturday…

I thought the job of Cat Sitter was something else entirely. Erika took the picture. It’s one of the best pictures of her cat Acorn I’ve seen.

The second picture is of Güino frolicking in the snow. I let him play quite a while yesterday.

The third picture is Güino taking a rest in the cat castle after a hard day’s play.

This morning, I stood on the landing watching the moon. I heard arguing and shouting approaching. Even though it was 3:30 in the morning, two people were staggering down the sidewalk after a night’s festivities. Their conversation was so nonsensical that it reminded me of a presidential debate. They finally made it past and their voices faded. Güino was sitting at my feet. I could have sworn that even he shook his head in disapproval.

Even though it was cold and windy, I had to take a walk. This is a coffee and beer place next to the trail. The colors are stunning.

This is a picture heading back to my apartments. There’s color everywhere if you know where to look. We all need more of it in the winter.

Love, X