Saturday, October 20, 2018

I Feel Pretty and My ADD Self-Confidence

I just came back from a 4 day trip to Paris on Tuesday. Yes, I know, that in itself is a whole other blog on its own. I'll be writing one about my favorite travel tips next. This blog is about the two movies that I watched on my flight home- "I Feel Pretty" and "Book Club." These are two totally different movies but they both deal with one similar theme, a woman's self esteem, whether she's single and in her 30s or a 65+ empty-nester. Even a federal judge, played by Candice Bergen in "Book Club," can feel insecure and unattractive sometimes. (Small "I Feel Pretty" spoilers.)

Me at my biggest in 2006 on the left and recently this year on the right. 

The truth is we are all our worst critic. I think that’s what “I Feel Pretty” was about. Amy Schumer’s character is her worst critic and when she hits her head she gets this total self-confidence. The interesting thing is that we never see what she sees in the mirror. We all assume she sees a super fit woman from the things that she says, but unlike other movies that play with this theme, they don’t show her point of view. Which really emphasizes the fact that we all have our own idea of what the ideal woman looks like in our head.

What I loved about the movie was the message that if we just love ourselves and have self-confidence we can achieve so much more. Unfortunately, the character does become a bit obnoxious and full of herself, so I think there was a message there too. Despite it getting a little corny and Amy Schumer exaggerating things a bit, for the sake of comedy, I loved the over-all message of believing in yourself and that realization that she had that self-confidence all along. We all do!

When I recently posted this old photo on Facebook my sister said she didn't even remember me that size on the left. I do remember being this size and I remember thinking that I needed to lose weight. However, I don’t think I realized how I looked in that dress. I look at this picture now and I think I look self-confident and like I don't seem to care that you can see the outline of my stomach or that it does nothing to camouflage the size of my boobs. I know I did have some feelings of insecurity sometimes, like anybody else, but I don’t think it was that bad. For god’s sake look at that dress I’m wearing! 


I remember a friend telling me one day when I was talking about my weight, around this same time period, that she didn’t think that my weight bothered me because I didn’t act like it did. I probably just hid it very well or forgot that it bothered me. Sometimes I'm ADD like that! Seriously though, I know that part of the reason I made a drastic change in my life to lose weight was for appearances. I did have times that I looked in the mirror and wished I looked different but part of me hated conforming to society's idea of what we should look like.  However the most important reason I did it was for my health. That's not to say I don't still struggle with my weight daily. A lap band is not the end all cure all. All it does is keep me from weighing 300 pounds and having diabetic complications.

As I've written here lately, I've recently been working out a lot more and I've been doing the Peloton bike. I know I've lost weight, the scale tells me and my clothes tell me I have. But when I look at pictures that were taken of me recently by other people, and standing next to thin fit people, I think I look sooo fat. When I was recently traveling I was sitting up high on a bar stool at the airport and I looked over at my reflection in the window and thought I looked huge. 

The funny part is that when I see these images of myself I think, "That's not how I see myself in my head!"  I remember thinking that same thing ten years ago when I initially started losing weight and I saw a picture of myself and it actually discouraged me. I remember thinking, "If I still look that big after losing thirty pounds, what did I look like before?" I thought the same thing this time. As funny as it sounds it's like I struggle between feeling self-confident and good about myself and then seeing pictures of myself and getting knocked down a notch. 

Then on the flight back from Paris I saw "I Look Pretty." I know, I know! It shouldn't take a movie to tell me what I already know. All I'm saying is that I'm not letting my own insecurity discourage me this time. I need to remember that self-confidence of the woman in the photo above, yeah the one of the left. She don't give no Fs what she looks like in that close-fitting dress. 

I write so candidly about all this- about my body issues, my insecurities, my thinking I look good and then not- because I know that there are a lot of people out there that can relate. I hope that my writing about it makes it real and okay to feel that way. I hope it makes someone feel better about themselves and to realize that like Amy Schumer's character Renee, we do have that self-confidence inside of us all the time. 

(This blog became all about "I Look Pretty," so I didn't get to talk about "Book Club." It's a great movie about growing older and not losing our sexuality after 65. It gave me hope for the future as I'm getting older and closer to becoming an empty-nester. I want to have the self-confidence of Jane Fonda's character when I'm 80! Hell! I want that self-confidence now.)

Sunday, September 30, 2018

How the Peloton Bike is Changing My Life

Almost two months ago I made the best drunken purchase I've ever made. It's one thing to buy too much silver in Mexico while drinking and shopping. It's another thing when you've had a few too many drinks and you're home and targeted for the 100th time with a Peloton bike ad. There's a billboard by my house, I received a direct mail postcard, saw digital ads, my boss has one, and finally I was served up a TV ad while watching Hulu. I clicked through to the ad and they had a very good call to action: (this is so the advertising person talking here) Zero down and ZERO INTEREST. That caught my attention and this ended up happening. I blogged about it and how it had become the catalayst for me to get stuff done.


I'm coming up on my two month anniversary and I'm taking my body measurements again at that time, although people are constantly asking me if I'm losing weight. Then there's social media of course. I'm posting photos about my work-outs, probably to the point of being obnoxious, and photos of my progress. Friends keep commenting that they can see the difference.

Side note to this. I like to think that I'm motivating people because I've had so many friends ask me about the bike and they are thinking about buying it. I had one friend who actually did buy it and Peloton sent me a gift card for referring her. I like what she said the best. She said that I'm a real person, not someone who was athletic and already active prior to this. I'm a busy working mom raising two teenagers, about 60 pounds overweight and I have to find the time to exercise. I like that my friends see me as a "real person" who they know, embarking on this exercise journey.

The thing is this. I have always exercised off and on for the better part of my life. I was on the swim team and track team, throwing the shot, in middle school and then I started doing aerobics every day after school in high school. I belonged to a gym in my early twenties and then later when I had kids I belonged to 24 Hour Fitness for a few years. I've gained weight and lost weight over the years, but I've mostly gained. Even after getting the lap band eleven years ago my weight is higher than it was at my lowest post-lap band weight. (Thank goodness I've never gotten up to my highest weight that I was at in 2007 before getting the lap band.)  I've started and stopped so many diets over the years. I've started and stopped exercising. I've tried running off and on, but never stuck to it.

The Peloton has been different. First of all I'm paying for it right now. Yes, I am financing the bike until I pay it off, so that's one payment. (no interest and no catches) The second payment is the subscription to the absolutely awesome program that I love. I see this like a gym membership. Not only do I follow live and on demand cycling classes on my bike, I can also do floor exercises from arms, to core, to yoga. The best part is that you can have up to five profiles on your subscription, so my two kids can use it too. So really I'm getting three gym memberships for the price of one subscription.

I downloaded the Peloton app to my phone and I can do any of the floor exercises using my phone. Today I went on a beginner walk/run using my app for the first time. I had a trainer in my ear the whole time leading the run.

Maybe I'm especially motivated right now because it's all so brand new and because I'm paying for it, but I'd like to think that this bike has changed the way I exercise. It sits in the middle of my living room and there's no avoiding it. I can jump on it whenever it's convenient and I don't have to get dressed up, except for wearing my padded shorts and cycling shoes. I can get on at 10 p.m. at night if I want to, cycle for half an hour, and then jump in the shower before bed.

It's not like any other stationary bike because of the classes and the instructors. So far Jess King is my favorite because she is so motivating. I did my first live class this weekend and I chose to do it with her. So far I had only done pre-recorded on demand classes and I was working my way up to a live class. I also like Jennifer Jacobs for the arms but I'm sure that as I do more classes I'll have more favorites. I must admit that watching the leaderboard when I was doing the live class was really motivating too. It shows you how you rank with all the other people doing the same class.

The Peloton bike is changing my life and reshaping my body and my mind in the process. I feel stronger than I have in a long time and like I can do so much more. I'm even more aware of what I'm putting in my body for fuel, rather than just eating for the pleasure of eating.

On today's run the instructor said something powerful. He said don't exercise because you "have to." Exercise because you can. You GET TO exercise because you have that privelege. I don't live in a war torn country where we have to stay inside. I have legs that allow me to cycle and run and there are people who wish they could. So I get to exercise and I don't take that for granted. This will be an exciting journey and I can't wait to update you all on the progress. (Not a sponsored post.)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Building My Own Personal Brand as a Writer

I've been blogging here since November of 2004 when my youngest was seven months old. So much has happened to me since then. I started the blog as a writing outlet and somewhere to be an accountable for my writing. My goal then was to get my novel written and I talk about it in that first post.  I did get my novel written, and even edited a few years ago, but in the almost 14 years since I started this blog not much has happened with the novel. But a lot has happened with me and this blog became the  chronicle of my life.

Me reading part of my novel at a Nuestra Palabra showcase at MECA, March, 2004, 8 months pregnant.
The reason I'm going down memory lane like this is because for a long time now I've been beating myself up about this blog. I beat myself up when I don't write often enough. I beat myself up when I forget to promote it. I beat myself up because it doesn't have one set theme. For a while I was told that I had to have one main subject, like shoes or make-up or one of those other subjects that people blog about and make money selling ads or getting sponsorships. I stressed because I never took the blog to the next level, I never put it on it's own website. I own the name shoegirlcorner.com but it redirects to Blogger.  I finally got over all of that. I had an AHA! moment.

Last Friday I attended Houston Social Media Breakfast, a monthly breakfast that always discusses a a different social media topic. I learn so much at these breakfasts and it's a great place to network. The speaker was Mila Clarke Buckley, AKA "Hangry Woman." and she said so many things that resonated with me. The topic was "When Building Your Personal Brand Isn't Your Day Job."

So to keep it short and sweet these were my main takeaways and part of my AHA! moment.

I don't necessarily have to blog to build my brand. As long as I'm creating content online on a social media channel and creating a following. Her social media channel of choice is Instagram. I'm not sure if that's exactly what Mila said, but that's what I decided from what I heard.

Instagram is all about these 30 hashtags and if you have good hashtags you can gain more followers. So I came up with these 30+ hashtags that may change from time to time, depending on my post. (Instagram only allows 30 hashtags.) Why are these hashtags important? Because these are the topics  I write about on my blog and when people see them on Instagram, and they are something they are interested in too, they are more likely to follow me and get to know me as a writer.

#shoegirlcorner #shoegirl1970 #loveHipHouston #workingMama #coparenting #momofteens #singlemom  #writer #pelotonmom #lacrossemom #booksandcocktails  #healthynotskinny #myinnerjourney #newspaper #publiceducationadvocate #HoustonCemeteries #typewriters  #traveler #alchemy #recommit #evolve #gratitude #fashionmom #almost50 #artlover #innercityliving #oldarchitecture #nativeTexan #80smusic #4yearplan #sacredhearts #swatchwatch #vodkaconnoisseur

And most importantly I finally came to terms with my blog being about all these things. It just is. This blog is all about my life and the many things that make me who I am. So I may blog about getting a Peloton, about gratitude, old architecture, being a single mom and so many other topics. The goal of my blog and of building my personal brand is to build a following and readers, not to sell advertising or sponsorships or to promote a brand. So when I finally publish my book I'll have a community of people who will want to read my books. 

It's that simple and it goes back to the original reason I started this blog. It was to help me write my novel and to keep me accountable. Technology has changed a lot in the past 14 years since I started this blog and social media has been a big part of that. So it's only natural that my blog has had to change too. I'll probably only blog once a month and I'm okay with that. As long as I keep promoting myself and my writing on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter it's all good. Follow me and read my book!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sometimes You Just Have to Calm the F Down and Go Back to School

I've been stressed. Like really stressed or as I like to say, "EXTRA stressed." I'm not going to lie, that damn City of Houston violation has been a big part of it. Of course it couldn't have come at a worse time. Back to School is always stressful for me. This year I opted out of school shopping and I ordered everything online. SO MUCH easier! But an expense none-the-less and I also had to pay someone to cut the grass and weeds in my ditch. I have to pay him to do some other things in the yard later this week too.

The Kids in 5th and 2nd Grade at Oak Forest Elementary

It's hard to believe that the kids are going to be a freshman and a senior at DeBakey HS this year. They were just in elementary school. Miranda was in her last year of elementary in this picture and now she's going to her last year of high school! I was just doing all the applications for Vanguard for them and now here they are, they are almost done. Four years of school left for Seth and one for Miranda. Now it's time for college applications.

This past week was extra stressful with all the things that have to get done before they start school. They had to go pick up their laptops and of course on different days, Seth on Tuesday and Miranda on Friday. They had their yearly physicals and Miranda had her doctor's visit, follow up to her surgery. She's all clear! Seth wasn't as lucky. We have to have some follow up x-rays for something they saw in his back.

Add on top of all the things that I had to do that my lap band is not adjusting well to a small fill that I had on the 16th. I hadn't had a fill in almost a year and I thought that I needed one so I went in. Apparently my body/stomach didn't think I needed one. It's been rejecting food, even liquid. It's been very frustrating and I can't see the nurse to fix it until mid week. So meanwhile I'll starve and take advantage of it for a weight loss boost. I hadn't even been feeling well enough to do the Peloton the last couple of days, but I felt better today and I did 50 minutes. It felt good!

So sometimes we just have to calm the F down and we make the best of a situation. There is nothing I can do about all the things coming at me at one time. Like the old grandma says in the movie "Parenthood," life is either a roller coaster or a merry-go-round. I'd rather have the roller coaster so I can learn patience and resilience. I think...

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

I Think the Universe is Trying to Send Me a Message

I have been on fire for a solid week now. I cleaned my house and I've kept it clean. I've been riding my Peloton bike. I started cleaning out and packing up my dad's things and I'm almost done. I've even cut my yard a couple of times, post injury.

I just cut my yard on Sunday night and last night I was finishing a piece when my daughter comes up to me with a sign that the City of Houston left in my yard. I don't mean one of those little yellow notes on my door. I'm talking about a big yellow legit sign with a wooden stake that they stuck in my front yard kind of sign. The kind that announces to the whole neighborhood and anybody driving by that you're a messy person, like they can't already see that for themselves.


My Half Cut Yard on Sunday Night

Apparently someone reported me because the weeds in the deep ditch that runs next to my house are too high. That same stupid ditch that I've told the City is too deep for me cut. It's a drainage ditch with a huge drain. They used to cut it and now they don't. There were some other things in my yard that I take full responsibility for, like a pile of branches. Those are me procrastinating and then cutting my ankle. I called the City of Houston today and discussed this all at length. The lady confirmed that a neighbor called it in.

My other theory is that the people who are always trying to buy my house think I'm poor and that they can bully me into selling by bogging me down with fees. I've heard that's a tactic. Or it could be the people trying to sell their house across the street. Whoever it was, the City is now involved and I guess I've been warned. I'm all out of time extensions in life to get this stuff done around my house.

As if all of that wasn't enough...when I went to help turn on the water for Miranda so she could take a shower (she had surgery on August 1 and she isn't at 100% yet) I found a mouse in the tub. Yes... a mouse.

Before you start totally judging me, since I just told you I got a City violation notice, and as if that isn't bad enough, I have an old house and it's Houston. My house was built in 1940 and it's on pier and beam. A mouse got in somehow and it found its way into my bath tub. Seth said the cats are just for show and I'm thinking of firing their asses. They did nothing when they saw the mouse and they ran out of the restroom.

It scurried around and around trying to get out to no avail. I freaked out and screamed. The kids came running with a bat and a golf club. We didn't want to bludgeon it or drown it, the only two possible options. We got the idea off the Internet to put glue across a cardboard. That didn't work. Finally I thought of emptying out my "Jar of Happiness" from 2017 and Miranda told me to put peanut butter in it.

It got so excited that it almost made the jump out of the tub and we didn't want it getting out and running around the house. Miranda thought of putting cooking oil around the inside of the tub. That way the mouse would slip when it tried running up the side again. That worked. We were at our wits end when the mouse finally got tired, or was trying to find a way to get away, and it ran into the jar. Miranda immediately covered the top with a piece of cardboard to keep it inside. She carried it outside and released it across the street.

The irony was not lost on me that we caught the mouse in the "Jar of Happiness." I thought about how we filled that jar in 2017, but once 2018 started off on the wrong foot I never started a new one. Maybe the Universe is sending me a message. Maybe that mouse was a sign and catching it in that specific jar was a sign that I need to start a new happiness jar to get on with this year.

I'm now halfway to 49, the last birthday in my 40s, and that in itself is significant. I need to stop keeping a list of all the bad things that have happened to me in 2018 and I need to keep a record of all the good things from now until my 49th birthday in February. I have literally been carrying a list around in my Franklin planner of all the bad things that have happened to me in the last 12 months. I pulled it out, ripped it up and threw it away today.  I need to hit the Reset button and put myself into a different mindset. Thank you City of Houston and mouse. Universe, I hear you loud and clear.