Before and Later(?)

My brother mentioned for me to do a before and after photo of myself, to show how my future self has progressed physically from this new gym deal that my friend and I are doing.

My initial thought was a worried sort of, “No.”

I worried of having a photo exist that shows my current bodily state, up close and personal…I’m doing this exercise, because 1)I have a goal for my body fitness, and 2)I am not even comfortable anymore with how my body had engrossened, shall we say, lately.

If it were only the first reason, the photos would be great…, but the second reason is a big reason against the photos – I don’t want any more visual memory of my current state than I already will have in my mind from my own eyes’ direct and mirror viewing.

I considered that, perhaps, the gym could find it useful to share with people considering the workout, showing how drastic a positive change even my current body shaping could have.

I have people not understand why I feel so out of fitness – ‘You are Not fat,’ they regularly tell me.

I don’t disagree with them; I just mention that I have much more fat on my body than I want to have, and I also sometimes mention that I have much less muscle than I prefer having.

And then I see that I kind of want to be able to compare myself down the road, so I can be proud of my results, and even more so since I’d have side-by-side photos to show the progress…

But perhaps I could just measure things, have a brief written numbers account of how body parts are…

I don’t know… there are faults with that, too… ideally, I would do numbers and photos…

But I also don’t feel like hassling with it…. neither for the physical effort of actually doing it nor for the mental effort and strain of constantly thinking about how the numbers might have changed (probably every single day, at least a couple times a day, if I know myself… which, I do)…

So, perhaps I’ll just leave it… I’m already a week at six workouts into it, anyway, so this wouldn’t even be from the very beginning if I did a photo now…

We’ll see… I need to make sure I do or do not for the reason of what I want, and not for a reason based on fear… you know?

Yeah… we’ll see how I feel about it tomorrow…

Post-a-day 2019

Advertisements

More than just a physical workout

Today was my second day as a member of this CrossFit gym. My friend and I – we signed up together – have schedules that don’t align for workouts today and tomorrow, so we’re going to separate classes on both days, as will be the case going forward, whenever our schedules don’t align (that is, we both must and will go on the same day, at least three days a week, just not always at the same time… sure, there will be times where this doesn’t work out, but it is our strong intention to stick with it as absolutely best as is possible). Therefore, I went to the midday class on my own today. It was hot out, in the eighties, and I was tired… I had helped this same friend put together her new television stand and television last night after our late dinner together after class, and then I had to be up rather early this morning. Plus, of course, I had done the actual workout yesterday evening in the first place, and I was still a bit sore from the test class we’d done on Thursday evening. Altogether, I was hot, tired, and alone on my own. But I was there, and I knew it was exactly where I wanted and needed to be – everything was perfect in this. I was even nervous, because I’m new at it and don’t quite know how things work at least half the time; I’d even said we felt like lost puppies the other evening, as we tried figuring out what was going on in the middle of the class. 😛 Anyway, continuing onward…

So, I’m there on my own. I also happen to be rather un-strong right now – not that I’m weak, but I’m nowhere near as strong as I have been much accustomed to being throughout my life. And I have a good amount of fat on my body that I want to go away. In fact, I have wanted it to go away for years, but it has, instead, increased ever so slowly these past few years or so, with the occasional drop of most of it, and then the returning slow increase. You see, I can’t ever stick with it… I always hit a point where I can’t stand the fat an low fitness level, and so I do something about it. Whenever I hit a certain level of fitness and fat reduction, I always end up stopping… not from exhaustion or annoyance or anything, but from a thought that comes up of, “That’s (good) enough for now,” with a hint of something like fear behind it.

I shall return to this thought after explaining more from the class today (that is, you will figure out its relevance in just a bit).

Pushing through the workout, doing all that I could, my body shaking throughout about half of the workout, due to the struggle, I found myself in almost constant tears. I methodically reassured myself (when I was alone on the running section each time) both inside my head and aloud, that this is perfect that I am here… I can’t do this, and that is why I am here… I am meant to be here… This is perfect… This is exactly where I belong… This is where I need to be right now… This is where I need to be… This is perfect…

Over and over again, I repeated the varying versions of the idea that I was exactly where I needed to be, while acknowledging that it was difficult to do the workout (without degrading in any way), all the while crying.

When I finished the last bit, I stayed lying on the bench for about thirty seconds or so, because the tears were so strong, my body was even convulsing with a few hearty sobs as I rested my arms on top of me in a sort of relaxed hug… I let it out, so I could let it go.

And then I wiped off my tears, got up, and started cleaning up everything that I had used, reminding myself that this is perfect.

I didn’t talk to anyone initially… just the bare minimum of how long it took me, and then nods to say that I was, in fact, okay… avoiding the part where I didn’t know what I even could say, let alone would say, if talking were required.

As I put away the last thing, the bar I had used, the girl (lady) I’d met at the beginning said something to me. I don’t remember if it was a question about the workout, or merely encouragement, but there eventually came a point at which I went ahead and shared a little with her. Taking it slowly, and eventually having the tears start pouring out (but not as badly as they could have been had I not taken it slowly), I told her how a lot was coming up for me in this… My having always been one of the top performers in almost any and every sport I did growing up and as a younger adult, and suddenly being on the other end of it all, I felt like the fat kid – this workout was hard for me in places that things had never before been hard for me… My life direction and style and goals having begun and finally done a sort of plunge into a drastically different direction, terrifying me ever so slightly but intensely… The regular stresses of life, combined with the raccoons and the fleas… and, most importantly and intensely, that I am actually taking on for real getting my body to the physical fitness level and look I so long to have.

This last one may not seem like much, but it is. I told her how I had kind of hit a point of being afraid of being a beautiful female body, and that I started to shy away from the idea, aiming for the less feminine versions of clothing and such. She (appropriately) asked if something happened to me, and (appropriately) acknowledged that it wasn’t that something had to have happened to me – she just wondered if any incident had played a role in that, since it so often does, especially for women.

And, surprisingly, – but also not surprisingly, since I’ve been working on being my true self and being self-expressed truly – I told her that Yeah, I kind of did. It wasn’t exactly the catalyst of it all, – I had already started feeling uncomfortable with being womanly and all. But it did act as a strong encouragement that I was right, and that it is bad to be womanly and sexy. I even shared a bit of details that were relevant, remaining comfortable and confident in myself the whole time.

I recently had a long and tough and beautiful conversation with my best friend about my own incident, and I completed what I needed through that conversation – whatever I needed addressed or said or acknowledge, happened, and my feeling of being trapped by the incident was, after years of avoidance and mental pain and struggle hiding in the back of my mind, finally disappeared… I could see it as something that happened, and was able to talk about it fully at last. I don’t mean each and every detail, of course, but the experience itself and anything that was particularly heavy on me suddenly lost their power and weight in my mind. And my recent efforts to find the kind of exercise I want to do, and then finding the right gym to do it once I’d found the exercise, all came out of this conversation I’d had with my best friend near the end of last year.

And today, all on my own, knowing fully that I am in this at least through September – already paid of through then, essentially – and that I am guaranteed spectacular results by then (especially since it usually only takes about three months to see massive results, anyway, here), was a somewhat terrifying experience and feeling. I’ve spent so long, so many years, convinced to my core that I must avoid these exact results I am not actively seeking. I must not become an object that might be desired sexually… But my recent experiences of wanting to be able (eventually, anyway) to have that experience of not only wanting to desire a man, but of wanting that man to desire me… now those already have been huge, and were formerly unthinkable… but now they actually have a chance to happen one day soon…, and that is so scary to the terrified girl I had grown so accustomed to being inside my head.

But I want this. And I can finally see clearly enough to believe that it truly is okay for me to want it. I want my partner in life to want me in every way, and vice versa…and physically is one of those ways. And I shared this all with her.

And then she shared about her own miserable incident… and how she struggled to get to where she is today – happily married and comfortable with her body and going after amazing fitness, even showing off her body in her workout clothes (not inappropriately at all, but quite flatteringly and tastefully, I dare say) – and that she agrees with me that this is the perfect place for me to be with this. The community is wonderful at this gym – yes, there are physical beasts of men, but not one of them is anything less than a wonderful human being. And, by the way, ‘I didn’t dress like this when I first started coming here,’ she told me, smiling knowingly as I smiled and chuckled in my loose and somewhat baggy t-shirt and shorts. A hint of her midriff was showing, her top was sleeveless, and her shorts were mid-thigh and exercise style snug… it looked great and showed off her muscles modestly, but well.

As we were leaving, she told me that she regularly attends that class, clearly encouraging me to return and to see her as a willing friend of sorts. It felt good. And in a way I’m not sure I’ve known in quite a long time.

Post-a-day 2019

Passion for Fashion

Located at 227 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, is a little shop by the name of St. Hrouda.  Walking inside, one will find a combination boutique / art gallery, managed by the fashion extraordinaire Nicole Bell.  St. Hrouda’s walls are chicly lined with art and clothing from local artists and brands, including, my particular favorite, those made and designed by Nicole Bell herself.

Though I was in Brooklyn this past July, I have not yet seen this wonderful boutique/art gallery, because it has only recently opened its doors.  When Nicole first took over the space this fall, it was a somewhat drab and old-looking little shop.  Within weeks, she and her father, through their combined genius, had put together one of the most classy spaces I’ve ever seen (even in photographs).  The before and after photos of the space showed how true a transformation had taken place, and they actually had me wanting to jump up and down to celebrate the amazing results.  It is now the bea-U-tiful space of St. Hrouda, named for Nicole’s grandmother, and housing brands from New York, Australia, Denmark, Mexico, Paris, London, and LA, while featuring, of course, Nicole Bell.  And the gallery portion of St. Hrouda displays art by local New York artists (including, again, art by Nicole Bell herself), all for sale.

49900386_834904630185769_5367168287597658112_n

On a regular basis, Nicole hosts a ladies’ night at St. Hrouda – from which I always see photos of wine and fabulous personal styling sessions (Think of what Becky Bloomwood does with her customers in the Sophie Kinsella novels) – as well as a variety of other events and pop-up shops/parties to help integrate St. Hrouda into the beautiful community surrounding it.

fullsizeoutput_46b2
Photos of the Grandmother Hrouda who inspired the name, along one of the walls of St. Hrouda

Now, let’s talk for just a minute about the amazing, spectacularly inspired fashionista behind it all: Nicole Bell.  I recently had the opportunity to visit and interview Nicole in her work studio in Brooklyn, just weeks before she began work on opening St. Hrouda.  Nicole is From Houston, Texas, and, only a handful of years ago, founded her fashion brand Nicole Bell.  Nicole herself is a goofy yet stylishly sassy woman who is taking on the world with long legs and big, brave strides.  She never fails to put a smile on my face when I am with her, and her determined outer self never hides the truth of what it really takes to be successful in fashion – life is hard, and making it in fashion is even harder.

SONY DSC
Nicole Bell of Nicole Bell and St. Hrouda

Nevertheless, fashion is her passion, and so she is going for it with all she’s got (and then some she’s still figuring out)!

Every time I see a Nicole Bell outfit, my inner Lady Gaga whoops with joy and longing – Ooooh! I want! I want! it always seems to shout, over and over, not unlike a little kid begging for ice cream.  Nicole’s designs are impeccable and utterly breathtaking on the powerhouse female front.  When I picture my BA* self taking on the world in heels, she’s wearing Nicole Bell.  And the world is looking on in awestruck astonishment. 🙂

Do yourself a favor, and give my interview with Nicole Bell a listen.  I learned so much about the fashion world, as well as how Nicole comes up with her individual designs and collections/lines.  Her sense of gratitude to those who have contributed to her journey thus far – as well as those who continue to contribute and show their support – is clear, as well as her almost unreal dedication to sharing her eye and inspiration with the world through fashion, despite the many, many hardships that have come with her endeavors and that still lie ahead.  Nicole does not have it all figured out, and that is just part of the beauty of exploration involved in furthering her passion for fashion.

Screen Shot 2019-02-06 at 2.41.33 PM.png
Nicole and Khaleesi, her baby boxer, @st.hrouda

The talk these days is all about getting to know the people behind our food and our clothing  – Buy local is a regular mantra (alongside Know your farmer and Made in the USA, in efforts to support quality products and fair trade, respectively).  The woman behind this shop and clothing line is definitely worth getting to know.  Especially if you’re in the New York area, give Nicole Bell a solid look – she is local and well worth the visit.  And, even if you aren’t in the area, look her up anyway – she’s that good.

When you find yourself interested in learning about the glories, trials, and tribulations of pursuing a love of and passion for fashion, give our interview a listen.  If you missed the link above, click here to listen to the interview I did with Nicole!

Definitely check out (and follow) her Instagram accounts for St. Hrouda (@st.hrouda) and Nicole Bell (@nicolebelldesigns) – the photos and videos on there inspire me just about every day.

fullsizeoutput_46b1

Notes from the interview:

The photographer Nicole really loved from the skate park is Nico Nordström, found at http://www.niconordstrom.com/

If you prefer regular websites (or want to buy something), check out www.sthrouda.com and www.nicolebell.co.

Check out Nicole’s 2018 New York Fashion Week show here – it’s awesome.  Just scroll down a bit on the page that opens for the video.

*Bad-a**, for those who don’t know

Post-a-day 2019

Not enough

Sometimes I wonder why I consider myself ‘not worth it’ for myself…

There are many wonderful meals I could prepare at any time, and yet I almost always wait for company actually to make any of them…

There are loads of beautiful and exciting and wonderful spots to visit in my area, and yet I rarely pursue any of them without an accomplice…

Yes, it is wonderful to share things and experiences with others, the good- and the bad-feeling events…, but why do I never measure up as being worth going to do those wonderful things, to see those things that I want to see in the first place?

I declare confidently to the world that I am worth it, whatever the situation, and yet my actions show that something within me believes that I am only worth it when it comes to other people… never for myself.

But why?

I don’t have an answer or solution… and I’m not sure I need one, either… I just wonder about it sometimes…

Post-a-day 2018

True to your heart

Guy: ‘C—, you know, there are people over here you could be serving, instead of just hanging out here,’ he says teasingly.

Hannah: ‘Uh, she is absolutely doing her job.  She is giving us, the guests, exactly what we want, and, right now, that is her attention.’

Guy: ‘Well, is there anything I can do for you?’

Hannah: ‘That depends.  What are you offering?’

Guy: ‘I’m offering whatever you’re thinking.  What would you like for me to offer?’

Hannah: ‘…We could discuss it.’

[laughter from both]

………………………………………………….

How’s that for silly flirtatious conversation in the wine garden?  It’s amazing how wonderful life seems to go when I just let things be and rest calmly within myself.  That was a brief glimpse into the many wonderful conversations that occurred the other day/evening/night in my life, when I was comfortable and at ease with and within myself.  I love being me/myself.  🙂

Post-a-day 2018

In the raw… not

Sometimes I wonder if my OCD isn’t the only thing I have.  I had a sort of episode today, which is what called to mind this idea (though I have had it regularly for years).

I had just showered, and was using the bathroom briefly before dressing.  My mom had just shown me a dress she was considering for my cousin’s upcoming wedding, while I had been wrapped in my towel.  When she came back toward my bathroom a minute or so later, telling me to look at another outfit, I told her to wait a minute, because I was peeing.  She, in good humor, and not thinking much into it, said, ‘No, look at it now.  I have it on already,’ and began to open my bathroom door, to show me the outfit.

Without having my chance to think anything through, I had thrown my arms around me protectively, and was almost yelling – not actual yelling, but much louder and more panicky than regular speech – to tell her to shut the door, and saying that she doesn’t ‘get it’; I was serious about waiting a minute.

I was almost in tears.  My mind was able to view the situation with sanity – What on Earth, girl?  It really is okay that your mother see you naked and/or on the pot.  What just happened in here, darling?  My reaction, however, had been instantaneous and automatic, leaving no attempt to consult with my brain on the matter before responding to the situation.

I went to talk to my mom about it afterward, and my eyes teared while we hugged.  It had taken me a while to go see her outfit, because something had me feel a need to be fully dressed before going to see her, as opposed to my usual comfort level of a bra and underwear being just fine.  It was like an odd means of making up for having felt exposed – compensating by over-dressing.

Growing up, I never was very comfortable with nudity of my own body.  My female family members were all incredibly comfortable with being nude around the house.  I’m not sure I went a week at any given point in my childhood without seeing at least one of them walking around naked.  And it never disturbed me.  I even marveled at how comfortable they were with being nude, and respected it.  I think I even thought that I would be so comfortable by the time I was around their then-ages (college-aged).

It never happened, though. College came and went, and here I stand totally uncomfortable with my own nudity around others.  In college, I was surprised that more girls in the dorm didn’t walk around more often in their towels.  I had just learned so well from my sisters how to make a towel stay in place wrapped around my body, that I spent plenty of time down the hall with friends, their constantly wondering and asking how my towel stayed up.  I didn’t even have to consider if I were comfortable in a towel – I just was.  In the same way, I suppose, I never even considered the idea of being comfortable nude – I just wasn’t.

And I imagine that all of that is somewhat normal for a good chunk of my society.  Some girls strip down entirely in the locker rooms after water polo practice, and some just don’t.  I have actively pursued being comfortable with my own nudity, just in my own presence, over the years, in hopes of 1) learning to appreciate my own body, and 2) being comfortable with certain close family and friends being around when I’m changing or have to use the bathroom.  (There are just certain scenarios that are part of life, and I can’t seem to see myself possibly functioning in them.)

But, just to throw in a sort of curve ball, let’s talk about how I am fine with other cultures and my own nudity.  I specify: Bath houses in Japan and a topless beach in Spain all had my full participation.  I was slightly nervous initially, but the social acceptance of the behavior allowed me to accept mentally the task.  I even appreciated the ease and comfort of the accepted nudity.  For the topless beach, I wasn’t with friends, so that made it loads easier. But the bath houses in Japan were easy enough to do with multiple friends, after my initial exposure to how the whole thing worked.  So, social context makes a huge difference in my comfort levels, it seems.  In my apartment in Japan, with the same friend with whom I had hung out naked in an onsen, I would not be found nude… take away the bath house, and the comfort disappears with it.

So, sometimes I seem to be in good shape and totally normal.  I changed at the YMCA the other week after swimming, and I did it in a way that was much more exposed and easy-going than I ever would have done in the past.  Perhaps, despite the fact that the general social context has changed (not Japan anymore), since it is a changing area at the gym, I still can grasp the behavior mentally, and participate to a certain degree, after my experiences in Japan.  However, since it is not Japan, and the general social context has changed in terms of nudity acceptability, I am only okay with it, because no one I know is around to notice me.  Add a family member to the equation, and I’d bet that I would be wrapped up or in a bathroom stall while changing clothes.

And I think all of that is somewhat normal, too.  However, when something like today happens, where it is not just a matter of my being uncomfortable, but a matter of my having a panicked, immediate reaction to the situation, I wonder if there is something more to it.

Post-a-day 2017

Glee

Can I just have GLEE for my life?  I mean it.  Real life Glee Club.

Get together with friends, say once a week, and each prepare a little song to perform for the group.  We can do themes, and even mashups, and maybe even just copy themes from the show at times (the ones we like, anyway).

I can only see this as a beautiful idea – it will help boost our confidence in performing in front of others (as well as being vulnerable in front of them), improve our musical skills, keep our creativity working in various ways (song selection, how specifically to perform the song in terms of instrumentation and speed and key, how to express ourselves through it, music (duh), etc.), bring more music into our lives, get a taste of music that our close friends like, get to know one another better, build beautiful bonds of trust between one another, and just plain bring joy to us all via music and welcoming camaraderie.  It’s fabulous.  And it’s totally terrifying.  But I still want to do it!  Yes, I do.

…I was thinking that I only wanted to start it once back home, when with friends with whom it is easy to communicate (my ideas in general, as well as just speaking the same language fluently), but I am now thinking that this might be something worth attempting here.  Even if it is only with one friend (I have one in particular in mind for it), I think it would be a good step for me, both on the I want to go home level and the musical creativity and confidence level.  : )

I’m not decided yet, but I think I want to do it with her.  I know for sure that I am creating this club once back in the US.  However, I’m leaning towards trying it out here first…  Maybe I’ll be able to work out some kinks over these next six months, making it all the better in the Fall.  😀

 

Post-a-day 2017