Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mastery: Quantative vs. Qualtative and Living In the Gray

Ok, bear with me on this one.

Today in our morning meeting with the teacher leadership and Administration group, we had a good conversation about what in edu speak we call Mastery Based Skills or Content. We discussed what "mastery" should represent in the context of student learning.  My understanding from the work we had done in August was that skills are mastered or they are not. You know or don't know. You can do or not do. For example: the student demonstrates mastery of the five rules of improv or not. You catch my drift.  There is quantifiable evidence collected and a grade can be given.

The conversation that evolved is that there are in fact "levels of mastery"... The gray...and it is not so black or white. 

Stay with me, I'm getting there...

I went back to read the comments on Facebook from friends who had read this mornings blog post about feeling successful and confident and all the complications that go with it. The incomparable Deborah offered a good reminder: that much of the WLS journey is a mind game and comparisons are inevitable.  It is a tough head space to be in but we all go there from time to time and it is simply a place of gray where we may need to flounder for a bit until we regain our footing. In addition, each person is so different from the next. Height, starting weight, co-morbidities, size of new sleeve, age....you name it and it is another variable in the equation that equals success. 

Who can say among us that we have mastered WLS? My guess is that even those that have reached goal and are in maintenance would say they have not mastered their sleeve. This process is not black and white. It is as gray as it comes. Our level of mastery will differ depending on all the variables that make up each of our unique equations.

Does not being the most successful, demonstrating the greatest level of mastery (losing the most weight the fastest) mean that we have failed or that the success we have had is not valid or simply enough?  This is where quantitate vs. qualitative comes into play.  While the number of pounds lost is quantitative as is my BMI, lower blood pressure, number of medications I take, rate with which I have lost, and average intake of calories per day or even grams or protein I eat the real mastery of this journey is the qualitative.  They are the things that can't be measured.
  • The feelings I had the first time I walked up the subway steps in Union Square and my knees didn't hurt.
  • Feeling beautiful at Tes's wedding in June when for the first time I was not ashamed to stand up in front of a crowd and be looked at.
  • Telling the girl at The Gap in July that it was the first time I had shopped off the rack in 17 years and how she told me how proud she was of me.
  • The experience of flying on a plane and not having to ask for a seatbelt extender.
  • Feeling confident enough to want to do a pin-up photo shoot.
  • Writing this blog.
It has opened up so many conversations and I have been able to answer countless questions and support others on the same journey, and many who are not because I have been able to live in the gray.  

I will say this: the person whom I referenced and the comments that were made is an amazing person and has been there for me in countless ways.  I simply needed to process my own feelings and this blog is my forum and I share it publicly.

My friend Sara called tonight and we had a wonderful visit.  She raised a great point that she didn't see what the person had said as negative but as a cheering on- which I am sure is how it was intended.  The reality is, that labels are powerful and I have worked so hard to shift to a new way of thinking about myself, trying to move as far from that label as possible. Easier said than done.  

I will keep writing and keep challenging myself and my thinking and encouraging dialogue and questions. Thank you for reading.

Dresses or The Great Impostor

Something I desperately want to feel comfortable in but every time I work up the nerve to wear one to work, I always end up chickening out and changing my clothes before I leave.
Today, I even put tights on! They are super cute and I got them on clearance for .97 cents thinking the usual, "If they don't fit now, they eventually will. "  In truth, they did fit and looked great and were comfortable.

What stopped me? What led me to a last minute wardrobe change that now has me running 20 minutes late (not the fact that I was up too late, over slept, tossed out the protein shake I had made because the consistency was too "sticky"...)?

One memory comes to mind. 

I had been teaching, 5 or 6 years ago, and the back of my dress got caught in the top of my spanks and my rear was revealed. The parent coordinator just happened to be walking past my room at that moment  and pulled the back of my dress down.

This moment and all the feelings that go with it are with me every time I dawn a dress for work.  Embarrassment, shame, discomfort, feeling like an impostor...who was I to think I could wear something like that. Something that my THIN coworkers wear. (Yes, they are ALL thin. Every single one. And some days it is still really hard.)

I still think and feel like a fat person. Last week when I posted the the blog post and photos from my pin up shoot someone said to me...something to the tune of... "Imagine how you will feel a year from now? Not plus size..." and so on... It took the wind out of my sails. It made me feel like crap. (I didn't say anything in that moment and I realize they may read this and I'm sorry for not speaking to you directly about it. It just really hurt.) I can't shop in the plus size sections any more. I am not as thin as the person who made the comment and frankly that is ok. But it hurt that they still saw me as fat. Everyone else in my life was able to truly celebrate THAT moment along with me with out caveats. The, "she would be so pretty if only..." kinds of comments that plague so many of us.

So I am still not in dresses. I'm still thinking like a fat person. I am still second guessing my 150 pounds in 11 months weight loss.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dynamite Dames Pin Up Tour with Tess Munster 2014- NYC

I knew today was going to be one of those experience that were benchmark in my life.  I knew I was going to be stepping out of my comfort zone.  I stepped out, way out.

Last night I went and got a blow out- because natural curl never really works- at least not for pin up.  The nice ladies kept telling me how sweet I was.  Amazing wash (with head rub) and blow out.  14.00 Toally worth it.  May do it every Friday. :-)
Waiting for the blow out...
Sometimes I wish I had straight hair.
This morning, I got myself up and decided to take a car to middle of no where Brooklyn.  Traffic was horrible and I should have just taken the train.  I have to admit, I was having some anxiety.  The driver who took me was sweet and apologetic (like it was his fault) and got me there - 5 minutes late.  It was fine though. 
On the way there, trying to not get nervous.
 I made my way up to the third floor of a loft studio space.  It was a bit spare, but it was fine.  I didn't have many expectations so most things were fine.  There were three women there when I arrived who were at some point in the process of photo land.  Tess came over and greeted me with a hug (she hugged everyone as they arrived).  She is little and striking.  Flawless and comfortable.  She navigated between people easily and seemed a bit of an introvert dealing with the requirements of an extroverted event.  

Sarah and Jolene from Dynamite Dames Photography and  @charliegirl28 makeup kept things moving.  While one woman was photographed another was getting into hair and makeup and a third into wardrobe.  I picked out a couple looks- one more boudoir and one more playful, sweet.  
My second look-inbetween shots.
Jolene tied me into the under-bust corset you see in the picture below.  I have never had a steel boned corset on and boy did that baby pull me in.  I didn't get to see what I looked like until I got home later- and looked through all the untouched photos.  The one here is one of my favorites.  Tess took a series of pictures with everyone.  They were all pretty cute. :-)
Tess Munster, Model and yours truly.  Pin Up style
©Dynamite Dames Photography/ Sarah Hardcastle

It was an adventure and a great experience.  I felt beautiful and for the first time in a long time I didn't feel invisible in NYC as I took the L train back to Union Square or as Laura and I walked though the city together.  Thank you to the Tess and Sarah and to all the beautiful, curvy women who said, "Eff Your Beauty Standards" and did something that was just for them.

The Head Work

I am 11 months out on the 25th. Last year this time I was already starting to replace solid food with shakes. I was still jumping through the pre Op hoops and waiting to hear if I had been approved by my insurance company. All the feelings that go with that time are still so close to the surface. Will I be able to do this? Will I be able to live with out carbonated drinks? Will I ever eat bread again? What if I fail? What if I'm a failure? What if...? the list goes on and on.

As you all know, I have not failed by any stretch. I'm down 150 lbs. 12 clothing sizes and countless inches. This week though I was confronted with all the feelings that I had those weeks leading up to my surgery.  The possibility that I will have to change therapists has emerged.  If/when it happens, it won't be until after the new year.  There are many components to the situation including my LCSW no longer taking my insurance and not being able to afford the only one she is going to take.  Im angry and frustrated.  I have done so much work over the last 11 months and in the two years before this, with her.  There are moments that it feels all for nothing.  The reality is, that I am not the same Meredith I was last October.  I have done the "head work" that is essential to weight loss surgery.  I know I have the physical and mental tools to continue making progress and working towards my goal.  I am scared though, that with out the support that I have become accustomed to that I won't be successful.  I potentially would have to cut back my care after 1/1 to less than a 1/4 of what I have now if I want to continue with my therapist.  So the bigger question is, do I need that continued level of support?

I don't know the answers to any of the bigger questions right now.  I know that I do feel stronger, physically and emotionally but there is still so much fear of failure, a new feeling.