Swimsuits, Stomachs, Stations… Renegades & Resolutions

This weight-loss-surgery-life-event has been a long lesson in introspection.  If you know me, you know I’m often ‘in my head’. So part of the constant KFKD station that runs in my head is the ridiculous negative body image station that plays over and over again.   I’ve always hated my stomach, probably since elementary school, maybe 1st or 2nd grade.  That’s over 30 years of self-loathing! After losing 85 pounds, my stomach is smaller and saggier.  My stomach will never be ‘perfect’. My stomach is sad that it can’t live up to my expectations.  It just wants love.  I’m going to try to love you. I’ve been trying for a long time, stomach. Don’t take it personally.

I was reading a book called Bread and Wine today.  One of the chapters was called, swimsuit, ready or not.  I’m never ready to put on a swimsuit.  I know I’m not the only one. This is the dreaded time of year where we start absorbing Slimfast, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nordic Track and 24 Hour Fitness commercials ad nauseam.  I was at Chili’s today, with my girls, and I was bombarded with advertisements of hard bodied women perfectly tanned, glossed, and oiled.  While getting gas at Sam’s Club there was an advertisement on the credit card screen for, you guessed it, SlimFast. Gah!

“This is what shame does, though. It whispers to us that everyone is as obsessed with our failings as we are.  I want to dare to exist and, more than that, to live audaciously, in all my imperfect, lumpy, scarred glory, because the alternative is letting shame win.  I’m not going to give in to the cultural pressure that says that women’s bodies are only beautiful when they’re very, very small.  I’m not going to bow to the voice inside my head that says that I should be ashamed of myself for being so unruly and wild.” Bread and Wine, 230-231.

So in an effort to push back and ignore the many messages that bombard me this time of year, I was reminded of Anne Lamott’s Resolution Post. I read it every year and it makes me feel better.  Here’s a small excerpt, “Maybe some of us can try to eat a bit less, and walk a bit more, and make sure to wear pants that do not hurt our thighs or our feelings.”

Anne Lamott’s ‘Aunties’-Excerpt from Traveling Mercies   Read the whole piece, the Aunties is a comical way of thinking about the parts of ourselves we hate.  “I was not wearing a cover-up, not even a T-shirt. I had decided I was going to take my thighs and butt with me proudly whenever I went. I decided, in fact, on the way to the beach, that I would treat them as if they were beloved elderly aunties, the kind who did embarrassing things at the beach, like roll their stockings into tubes around their ankles, but whom I was proud of because they were so great in every real and important way.”

It’s not about the back fat!  This excerpt on body image from Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, forced me to think about the male perspective too.  It’s easy to get trapped in thinking about body image from a female perspective because I am a female, but there are other points of view.  This is one that resonated with me.

At first view of this video, you may think you’ve stumbled upon the wrong link.  Keep watching.

Every time I’ve heard this song by X Ambassador, there is so much heart, it makes me emotional.  As I was walking this week, I made a screenshot of the song as it was playing so I wouldn’t forget to include it in this post.  As I researched a bit about this band,  Casey Harris, the keyboardist for X Ambassadors is blind.  I’ve often thought that being blind in this world might be a huge blessing.  I know it may sound blasphemous and dismissive, but so much of my judgment of others if filtered through my eyes.  Watching the heartfelt video, it made me feel hopeful and challenged to have more courage.  I don’t often feel this way after watching a music video.  All hail the underdogs. I love this phrase. If you feel like an underdog, as I often have, I salute you.  Hang in.

Renegades by the X Ambassadors

Run away with me
Lost souls and reverie
Running wild and running free
Two kids, you and me

And I say
Hey, hey hey hey
Living like we’re renegades
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey
Living like we’re renegades
Renegades, renegades

Long live the pioneers
Rebels and mutineers
Go forth and have no fear
Come close the end is near

And I say hey, hey hey hey
Living like we’re renegades
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey
Living like we’re renegades
Renegades, renegades

All hail the underdogs
All hail the new kids
All hail the outlaws
Spielberg’s and Kubrick’s

It’s our time to make a move
It’s our time to make amends
It’s our time to break the rules
Let’s begin

And I say hey, hey hey hey
Living like we’re renegades
Hey hey hey
Hey hey hey
Leaving like we’re renegades
Renegades, renegades

So my resolution is a simple and not-so-simple one:  Go forth and have no fear.  What would 2017 be like without fear?

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve managed to maintain my current weight during the holidays, even though I’ve been eating more chocolate than usual.  Thank you for the coffee nut M&Ms, and not just 1 lb, but 2lb, thanks for thinking of me my Middle, you always take good notes on what I love. (Oh gosh, what could be better than peanut M&Ms? Ones that have coffee flavor…)  I’ve decided that completely abstaining from all-things-chocolate, isn’t healthy for anyone, and abstaining is certainly not moderation, right?  I need to moderately engage in a chocolate indulgence, thank you very much.  That’s just what I’m doing.

Another thing I’ve discovered recently, my temperature gauge has changed.  I am now cold, all the time.  I’ve always felt like I run at least 10 degrees hotter than everyone else in the room, and now, I’m 10 degrees cooler.  The true test will be summer.  Will I sweat when temperatures reach 80 degrees?  Tune in again in July.





When Courtesy Isn’t Common

In the crazy rainy weather that we southern Californians are not accustomed to, I hurriedly drop off Little at school.  As I pull in to the DRIVE-THRU drop off lane, I notice the truck two vehicles in front of me appears to be parked. If you know anything about school drop- off lanes, you know there is an etiquette, a set of expectations and rules that must be followed so that students arrive at school on time.  Someone, that shall remain nameless, simply because I don’t know his name, did not follow the rules this week.  See, the drop-off lane at Allen Avenue Elementary School is about 20 feet from the stop light, and if anyone doesn’t follow the set of undefined procedures, then it throws the whole morning drop-off routine into chaos.

So, I realize shortly after stopping behind a vehicle, that the truck ahead of it was not planning to move.  Meanwhile, I’m trapped in the red zone and have to drive around to the open space in the drop-off area, whilst cars are passing on the left through the traffic signal.  I finally get around the parked truck and give him the hairy eyeball as I pass, and then drop off Little.  (See above, that’s my best hairy eyeball pose.  Take it from me, wild & crazy bedhead helps with the hairy eyeball pose.) As I turn left make a U-turn and go back in the same direction I had my opportunity; I rolled down my window to speak to the man in the truck who had his window rolled down and was staring at his cell phone.

Me:”Uh, excuse me!  The lane you’re in is a drive-thru lane. When you don’t pull forward it backs up all the traffic into the red zone and the stop light.”

Truck Man:  “My truck’s broke! I’m on the phone trying to get someone to come out and fix it.”

Me:  “Turn your hazard lights on, so the people behind you know to pass.”

Truck Man: “My truck’s broke.”

<<<Deep breath, Joy.  Saying to self: Yes, you said that Truck Man, but the people behind you just think you’re texting on your cell phone and being extremely rude.  Do I HAVE to spell it out for you?  You are inconveniencing all of us this morning!  Turn your hazards on, for goodness sake!>>>

Courtesy isn’t common to some people.  This bums me out, ticks me off, and makes me want to go into law enforcement (for about 2 minutes, just so I can give him a ticket for stupidity). I would have tutted at him if I had known what tutting was yesterday morning.  I will explain tutting soon.  Tutting is British. My reaction in this situation was very American and confrontational.

To make myself feel better today, I started Netflix binging a show called Very British Problems.  I had no idea, that, as a culture, they have so many specific awkward social problems.  I assumed that these kinds of problems were more specific to introverts, but it seems that, it’s a problem for a whole group of people.  This is brilliant.  Tutting is when “we want to show you that we’re annoyed or we don’t like something, but we don’t want to tell you, we’ll just make this noise, which, is made to be like a happy medium.”  The British have been tutting since the early 16th Century.  It’s a sound you make with your mouth, like a naughty scolding sound.  See below.


I avoid conversations with people I know, in public.  I don’t pretend to be on my cell phone, although this isn’t a bad idea.  I love you all, but I will go to great lengths to avoid you, if I’m not in the mood to have small talk or if I’m in a hurry.  Don’t hate me.

I’ve often been disturbed by the filler phrase, “Have a nice day!”  It’s such a relief to know that I’m not the only one.  “Have a nice day!” has evolved to “Have a good one.” What the hell does that mean?  Have a good what?  I don’t have to have a good anything if I don’t want to.

I can totally relate to the social awkwardness of my British friends.

Share your favorite or most unfavorite adherences to social courtesies.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

A couple of snacks that are my go-to fillers are the Enlightened Roasted Broad Beans (fava beans) with 7 grams of protein per serving & the Bai Coconut drinks all variations.  I eat and drink these every day.  Just thought you’d like to know and if you come over for a social visit, I might just offer you either of these snacks because I love them so much.  I won’t tell you to “Have a nice day!”


The Most Wonderful Time

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” <<<sarcasm>>> as one Kohl’s associate said to another at the Returns counter.  It was as if I wasn’t there.  I wasn’t offended or put off by their conversation, but more, empathetic.  I would HATE working retail this time of year. Customers can be so demanding and angry when the right size Tony Hawk shirt isn’t in stock, or when the bathroom doesn’t have paper towels, or when the lines go longer than 2 person in length.  I pretty much avoid serious shopping in store during the holidays because I just can’t handle the pressure.  Black Friday? Fuggettaboutit.  I’m a Cyber Monday Girl.

So, I’m taking some time to look at some of these traditions we have with a bit more clarity and hopefully some humor.

Christmas Cards

Every year, just after Thanksgiving, the cards start arriving.  You’ve got the uber-early- over-achieving-Christmas-card-givers, whose cards arrive the weekend after Thanksgiving.  These card-givers exist so you can feel like the Christmas alarm went off.  I press the snooze button and give myself until I open the next Christmas card to be reminded that yes, indeed, Christmas is coming.  Then you’ve got the angelic-family-photo-Christmas-card-givers, with that perfectly designed photo backdrop, hairs curled just right and matchy-matchy outfits that compliment the Shutterfly matte-finished card stock.  Next, the world- traveler-Christmas-card-givers, those that take a ton of to-die-for trips and make the rest of us drip with envy at the fantastic backdrop that is not a green screen, it’s the real deal, the Taj Mahal or the Grand Canyon.  (Yeah, my backdrop will be the side of my house.)  The fun-loving-“our-family-never-argues”-Christmas-card-givers, you know the ones, where the family just looks like they absolutely love being together, and bless their hearts, they’ve never said an unkind word to each other. Are families really like this?  Ugh, press the Christmas snooze button again. Then there are the old-schooler-Christmas-card-givers, who JUST send a card.

Just don’t send a card like this.  You’ll frighten everybody.

What?  Just a card?  I know, sounds ridiculous, JUST a card, I mean, that’s how the tradition started until Costco got involved and screwed it up for everyone.  I blame Costco.  Then there’s me, the slacker-wanna-be-like-all-of-the-above-Christmas-card-givers.  Actually, I kinda don’t want to be like any of the previous Christmas-card-givers, I want my card to be different, original, memorable, but I’m so paralyzed by the previous descriptors, that I just decide to press the snooze button on the whole Christmas card idea.  So, you may or may not get a Christmas card from me, but I still like you and wish you a Merry Christmas.  If you need permission NOT to make a Christmas card this year, press the snooze button on the whole idea, it’s okay. Really.

Christmas Lights

I love love love going for my evening walks right now because the Christmas lights are amazing.  I see how much work all the San Dimas neighborhood friends put into their decorations. Blow-up snowmen, Mickey Mouses, presents, candy canes, Santas, reindeer, and the lights, so many light variations- icicle lights, colored bulbs, white bulbs, flashy bulbs, lights around all the frames of the windows and awnings of the home, lights on every bush and tree in the yard.  I look at all of it and adore it, and press the snoo49132675ze button. Actually though, I admired this light pattern that shone on the wall of a house that did a mesmerizing light extravaganza.  I went home and researched this type of light show, and instead of searching, ‘Christmas lights for lazy people’ I searched for ‘laser christmas lights’ and lo, and behold, there it was, The As Seen on TV Star Shower Laser Light
. (Can you shorten that name for me As Seen on TV people, it’s a mouthful.)  I think Christmas Lights for Lazy People is a better name.  What about you?  Chant with me, “If only I had thought of that, I’d be a millionaire.”  *Sigh.*

Christmas Gifts

Oh my, I am an overachiever.  Gift giving is my love language.  Any of you who know me well know I LOVE to shop for that special item that fits you perfectly.  However, excluding Christmas time, I’m buying a gift for 1 person at at time, which means I can think about that person extensively and hone in on the details of the gift.  During Christmas, it’s like, uh, “Dammit, I forgot to add ____ to the list.”  So, I’ve learned to have several backup gift cards, just in case I need one in a pinch.  I can always use that spare Starbucks card later.  And I want to give EVERYONE a gift, because I don’t want anyone to feel overlooked or left out, but that gets a bit expensive, so I have to pare down my list.  This year, I’m going to make a batch of lip balms, because its handmade, but finding the time is the tricky part.  It looks like I’m going to be burning the midnight oil several nights over the next few weeks.

Christmas Parties, Events & Gatherings

I can stress out easily when I get overcommitted and these next few weeks are packed with social events.  I love getting together with friends and family, but I just wish it wasn’t all packed in to a 3 week period.  (Couldn’t we extend the month of December for the introverts?  I mean, just askin’.  That would make it a little easier for me.) I’m prepared with my festive “Joy” ugly sweatshirt and bulbalicious red earrings for the staff holiday party.

I didn’t buy this one, but I thought it was hilarious, considering my name and all.

I’ve purchased a few red items of clothing so I don’t feel totally unfestive (so not-a-word, but I don’t care.)  I’ve purchased the tickets for the choir show and volunTold the family that we will all be helping at the Journey to Bethlehem event all weekend.  (The people need to be fed, kababs, rice, lentil stew, and Bethlehem brownies. Because you know Jesus’ family ate brownies. We laugh about this every year.)  

So there are just a few of my reflections on the traditions we observe.  It’s okay if you don’t feel spirited about Christmas hustle and bustle.  There’s someone else who feels the same way.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

Just keep on walkin’, that’s what I’m doing.  I’m down 80 pounds.  80 is a good number. I’m feelin’ good.  I have had my blood work doctor’s order sitting on my desk for about…2 months.  I just can’t make the time to fast and get over there early in the morning.  I’ll wait until after Christmas, for obvious reasons.





After weeks of coding with my students, we are finally almost ready to showcase our epic build projects in Scratch, a computer programming language that is more kid-friendly.  My brain is about to explode.  (Can I just say, if I had $1 for the times children have said, Mrs. Guiles! and mom!, I’d be a millionaire twice over.  Can I get an Amen from my teacher mamas?)

Anytime teachers have a deadline, like an Open House type event, there are always students in our classes that literally make us want to pull our hair out and go home screamin’ and runnin’ for the hills.  I mean, that wouldn’t actually happen, but that’s how we FEEL.  There are always at least 5 students sometimes 10-15 at any given moment, who ARE NOT paying attention to directions.  Their sense of urgency is practically non-existent and mine is well, on steroids, or to be honest, my sense of urgency is facilitated by a boatload of caffeine.  (I know I’m stressed when I start making more frequent visits to Starbucks. Oh, and also, I have this throbbing knot on the right side of my neck, where my shoulder and back meet.  It’s a lovely little rock that reminds me that, uh, Joy, you’ve been spending too much time staring at your computer and the computers of your students.)  What’s a girl to do?

Anyway, back to that sense of urgency.  I know how much time we have to complete our projects.  I know when the parents and community members are going to come and view these projects. And yet, though they’ve all been informed of this deadline, a few of my little darlins just decide they’re gonna chillax and pretend it’s a day on the beach.  They’ll just relax and take their time. I swear some of them look like they’re loungin’ in their beach chair, cold beverage in hand, staring at the ocean.  (Hey, maybe that’s not such a bad idea kid.  I’ll go with ya.) Then there are those that would rather do anything but the directions I’ve given, because their projects will be different and SO much better than the instructions I’ve given.  Both of these scenarios have crawled up my feisty fast typin’ fingertips and embedded themselves in my neck.  (Now I know where the phrase pain-in-the-neck comes from.)

In spite of all of this, the lack of urgency and neck pain, I am grateful that my students are able to learn about coding at a young age.  It’s hard to believe that I am teaching them how to code.  It’s complex and exhausting teaching it, but when their projects work, and their faces light up, boy, that sure is rewarding.  So, this teaching thing, as I’ve learned over the pasresiliencet 18 years, is all about resilience.  You gotta keep rising up and facing what seems like daunting obstacles for students, academically and personally.  But it’s all worth it.  I don’t feel like that every day, especially in those pain-in-the-neck moments, but I can see the forest through trees, today.

The Baby, Vaping Daddy, and Rice and Beans

So, tonight, I’m a-thinkin’ this tired mama ain’t no way, no how, gonna make no dinner. So, what’s a tired mama to do?  Buy beans and rice.  Yup.  Family favorite.

My oldest was waiting in the car as I went in the strip mall Mexican food stop, which I normally never go to, but it was right on the corner when I was driving and this was a spontaneous and desperate idea.  Right at dusk as the sky was turning dark and the temperatures started to drop, I returned to my van, rice and beans in hand.  As I returned, I noticed a Crown Victoria parked on my driver’s side.  All the windows were rolled down and when I looked in the backseat I saw a what looked like 6-month-old baby in the car seat, alone.

I said to my Boy, “Uh, there’s a baby in that car.”  Boy: “Yeah, one of the guys seemed kinda mad and he kept looking in the car at me before he went in the Vape shop.”  Me: “Uh, he’s not supposed to leave a baby in the car.”

Then as I thought for another 30 seconds, the welfare of that little baby getting to me, I decided to call the San Dimas Sheriff.  Just as I found their number, neck tatted Vaping Daddy walked out of the shop.

I rolled down my window, “Dooooddddde, you can’t leave your baby in the car like that.”

Vaping Daddy: “I just went in for a few minutes.”

Me: “Next time, take your baby in with you.”

Vaping Daddy, exasperated: “I can’t do that, it’s a Vaping Shop!”

Me: “Well then, maybe you shouldn’t bring your baby to a f__ing Vape Shop.” (Yup, I said that.)

Vaping Daddy: “It’s none of your f__ing business.”

Me: “When you leave your baby in the car, someone is going to call the police.”

Vaping Daddy: “I’ll be gone by the time they get here.”

Nice, dude, nice.  It sounded to me like, he’d had a little practice at conveniently leaving when the police were around.  And there it ended.  I verbally spanked him.  He needed a spankin’.  As I left, he stayed outside near the car and his friend handed him the loot at the door.  Later, I explained to my Boy, my audience, that it wasn’t okay to leave his baby in the car.  Boy didn’t want me to get involved, mostly because Vaping Daddy had seemed so aggressive and angry as he entered the shop.  We talked about how it went okay even though the words were aggressive.  At least he didn’t pull out a gun or knife or get physically violent.  (I was trying to look at the bright side.)

imagesSo, what do I do with this story?  I’m thinking about how I made a lot of judgments based on his behavior, his demeanor, his looks, and his words.  He was a 20-something white male, tatted heavily on his neck, and his vaping habit seemed more important than his baby.  I don’t have issues with the tats or the vaping, but I do have issues with leaving a baby in the car while he went in the shop.  Then I thought about that baby, how that baby is learning from the adults in his or her life.  I’m not sure what to think or do with that.  One thing I do know is, that I hope that baby has a lot of resilience.  I hope that baby can grow and love and be productive in this crazy world.  I hope Vaping Daddy gets his shit together and can become more resilient.  Hopefully he’ll just let his friend go in the shop next time and stay in the car with his baby.  But sometimes common sense doesn’t occur to people.  Can I get another Amen?

imgres-1Be resilient this week.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.


Gastric bypass update:

I’ve managed to continue walking even though I’m super stressed and exhausted right now.  In the past, I might not have bounced back as easily.  I think that might be resilience. 🙂