Saturday, March 23, 2024

Oprah Is At It Again And Other Disappointments

I've seen a lot of talk online lately about normalizing ideas and behaviors, mostly when it comes to mental health. It used to be that people equated normalizing with removing the stigma around a topic, and, in most cases, it’s beneficial to avoid negative stereotypes that tend to come up when this type of approach isn't used. Normalizing when it comes to talking about mental health is generally seen as beneficial. It helps people feel less ashamed and less alone for struggling with any kind of disorder or illness.

Because of the way social media and the media have evolved, normalizing now has both pros and cons but probably more cons than pros. It should be obvious that normalizing violence is not constructive while helping an individual who perceives emotions as negative or bad normalize his or her feelings can be helpful. 

The problem these days is that frauds, extremists, and insincere individuals attempt to gaslight others into thinking that certain actions they're engaging in are OK when these actions could be dangerous, deadly even. Trying to rationalize continuing a risky behavior under the guise of normalizing this particular conduct is despicable, yet influencers and actors do it all the time. There's a not-so-fine line between sharing struggles and promoting a soothing yet unsound coping strategy. More and more, individuals are crossing this line in order to rationalize their unhealthy obsessions.  

I see this type of conduct a lot in eating disorder communities. Allie Ostrander is a good example of someone crossing the line from sharing to self-indulgence. I have to preface this by admitting I lost any respect for her when she was outed as a liar and cheater. What a disappointment she turned out to be. 

For anyone who doesn't know, Allie is a runner who was busted and served a four-month ban for using canrenone. In her failed, "It's my acne medication! I didn't know!" defense, she admitted googling the drug to see if it had an effect on performance. It doesn’t, but sometimes it’s best to shut the fuck up if you want others to believe you. In trying to cover her tracks, Allie accidentally over-explained and outed herself as a liar. 

You see, when you google this drug in relation to performance or anything remotely sports-related, the very first thing that pops up is that it's a banned substance. There is no way she didn’t know about canrenone being on the banned list, absolutely no way. There’s a reason why she didn’t elect to get a therapeutic use exemption, and it’s not because this drug doesn’t improve performance. Canrenone is actually used as a masking agent, so god knows what else she was and probably still is taking. There’s no doubt in my mind that she’s a flat-out fraud, and any coach who would take her on as a client at this point is suspect, too.

Cheating in sports aside, Allie is also blasting her audience with questionable content under the facade of promoting eating disorder recovery. In one of her cringe-worthy videos that I won't link to because it truly is upsetting, her boyfriend suggests that the content she’s putting out might be triggering, but Allie doesn't give a fuck about other people. This is about HER. She's part of the ME ME ME ME ME! generation after all. 

I have to ask, though, what good does it do others if she mentions the crazy calorie totals she's consuming for a particular video take? Who, exactly, does it help when she shoves what she eats in a day in her viewers' faces, many of whom are struggling with eating disorders of their own, and what good comes of her posting videos of herself training hard while admitting she's not fully recovered from bulimia? The answer is that it benefits her. Her YouTube channel and social media accounts are for profit. She's creating content, and it doesn't matter who might be affected negatively as long as she gets paid. 

I'm all for honesty when it comes to recovery, but what Allie is doing isn't honest. This is narcissism on full display. And it helps no one. Anyone claiming the videos and posts she creates benefit others probably thinks other fads and online scams are helpful. There is a big difference, a huge one, between admitting you're struggling and going into the gory details that can traumatize and negatively influence others. If she wants to pretend she's edgy and post garbage like that without offering much, if anything, in terms of actual recovery, she should stop lying about promoting recovery. She’s posting content to continue her sponsorships and to attract rubberneckers and those who will be fans no matter what she does. She's posting for money at her followers' expense is what she's doing.

I’ve written about Oprah Winfrey being a huge disappointment before, and this year, she has proven herself to be even more of a scumbag. Back in 2015 when I created a blog post detailing her shenanigans with Weight Watchers, I didn’t think she would stoop any lower, but her recent actions only prove how obsessed this woman is with being thin. You would think that someone as accomplished and successful as Oprah, a billionaire and the owner of her own production company, would focus on other things or at least leave other people out of her neurosis, but she can’t seem to be OK unless she lets everyone else in on her rationalizations and excuses. 

In 2023, Oprah was still a board member of Weight Watchers, a company she bought stock in before she joined. In 2024, she admitted that she started using a drug to help lose weight, and by the time she made this confession, she had been taking it for several months. Oprah didn’t step down from her position on the board of Weight Watchers back in 2023 when she started taking the drug; she waited until this year to do so. Once she was outed, she threw some money at the problem by donating to charity, a common action frauds take to make themselves look less corrupt. 

That was bad enough, deceiving individuals by losing weight on a drug without disclosing this to any Weight Watchers members, but because, underneath all that sham confidence and real success, she’s an insecure woman, she decided to host a dishonest television special called “An Oprah Special: Shame, Blame, and the Weight Loss Revolution." She claimed this special was about normalizing talking about weight loss. What she should have titled it is, “An Oprah Special: I Want to be Adored.” Oprah doesn’t want to normalize talk about weight loss; she wants approval from her audience to take drugs in order to look a certain way, though she will probably tell you the drugs are for health. 

I didn’t watch the full special and have no desire to do so. Watching Oprah justify taking these kinds of drugs is like watching an active anorexic talk about the benefits of taking speed. These drugs she's taking and promoting are prescription drugs designed and approved by the FDA to treat diabetes. Some doctors provide them to individuals who are obese or who meet other criteria. The drugs were not meant to be given to people who simply want to lose weight and have money to buy them, but some shady healthcare professionals will sell them to willing customers

In a lot of ways, I feel sorry for Oprah. To be that much of a powerhouse and still be caught up in an illusionary beauty image that's circulating in her own head is depressing. In her special, she stated, "I come to this conversation with the hope that we can start releasing the stigma and the shame and the judgment, to stop shaming other people for being overweight or how they choose to lose -- or not lose -- weight, and most importantly, to stop shaming ourselves." But how is taking a potentially dangerous drug in order to lose weight and conform to society’s warped beauty stereotypes removing the shame around anything? 

For obvious reasons, Oprah didn't go too deeply into the side effects and dangers of these drugs in her little special. From what I gather, Ozempic and other related drugs are medications used primarily for Type 2 diabetes. They’re used off-label for weight loss as well, meaning this isn’t the suggested usage. The common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, belching, stomach pain, fast heartbeat, and constipation, to name a few. Severe side effects of these prescription drugs include gastroparesis, allergic reactions, changes in vision, kidney failure, gallbladder issues, and pancreatitis. Also, Ozempic carries an FDA warning on the box for the risk of thyroid C-cell tumors.

Ultimately, Oprah is and already was free to do whatever the fuck she wants. She’s so desperate for approval that it’s mind-boggling, though. The fact that she had to hold this televised rationalization fest shows how stuck she is in obsessing about her weight. I agree in part that society did this to her. The public has never been kind when it comes to her or anyone else's weight, but maybe if she hadn’t made it such an issue by promoting fad diets like Slim Fast and flaunting her slim body and then hiding it when she gained weight, people would have lost interest. I don’t blame her for being a product of our society, but I will call her out on inflicting her unhealthy obsessions and behaviors on all of us. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Why Breaking Bad Is An Outstanding Series

I've been MIA for longer than I realized. It's not that I haven't had the intent or desire to create a blog post -- I've thought about many topics and even started to jot down some notes a few times only to delete what I’ve written -- it’s that I’m lacking the tenacity to complete what I barely start. Sometimes my efforts immediately feel pointless, so I get rid of what I've written. Other times, I get overwhelmed and tell myself I don’t have the time, talent, or energy for writing and erase the few words I attempted to assemble. I continually compare myself to any author I've just read, most recently Stephen King and Karin Slaughter, and then get discouraged at my lack of creativity when it comes to word assembly. But, despite my excuses that my schedule is tight, guess who finds time to tune out the world and watch Netflix? 

Recently, I started watching The Walking Dead. I'm about six seasons into it, but I ended up taking a break, something I pretty much never do when binge-watching a specific production, and, instead, gorged on Breaking Bad for the sixth or seventh time. Oddly, no matter how many times I watch it, I never tire of observing Breaking Bad's incredibly well-developed characters. In fact, I once watched all five seasons back-to-back in probably record time and, once I got to the end, immediately rewatched the show in its entirety. When I first saw the pilot on actual television back in 2008, I was instantly intrigued. 

Based on that single viewing, I had a feeling the series was going to be exceptional and was hooked right from the start. A small group of individuals started posting about the show on social media, so I followed along, curious to know what people were thinking and glad I wasn't the only one excited about watching. Imagine how hard it was to have to wait a week for resolution with some of the cliffhangers! 

It's not that I dislike The Walking Dead. It's actually a great horror drama. You can see the comic book influence with its over-the-top gore and grand superhero-like moments. A lot of it is entertaining and visually shocking, and there are profoundly emotional moments, too. I just prefer the style of Breaking Bad which has its own approach to visuals and cinematography. The decision to temporarily stop binging one show in favor of another got me wondering why Breaking Bad is such a masterpiece. Below is what I came up with plus a few additional thoughts on the topic. None of this is groundbreaking, but I put some thought into this post:

Even those who don’t necessarily like Breaking Bad overall will agree that the character development is exceptional. Developing characters doesn’t need to present a long storyline about the individual’s childhood or excessive deep dives into a person’s past. The brilliance of Breaking Bad is the way viewers get to know the cast quickly by how they look, act, and think. Their mannerisms, wardrobes, music choices, and conversations provide a deeper look into who they are and why they act the way they do. 

A good example of character development is the progression of Walter White. Despite his transformation from a humble science teacher with cancer to an overbearing, manipulative, and dangerous drug kingpin, Walter is a likable character. Throughout the seasons, Walt’s appearance gradually changed. Initially, he wore lighter clothing and looked like a stereotypical high school teacher, but over time, he wore darker or more vivid attire to reflect his criminal tendencies. Even his expression changed from bewildered to stern as he gained confidence, arrogance even, and power. Eventually, the hardened version of Walt was dominant. Underneath it, though, there was still a kernel of the softer man. 

Walt, season 1
Walt season 5

In earlier episodes, Walt would alter between the two personas rather rapidly, one minute the tough killer and the next the timid father of two trying to make up excuses to cover his tracks, but toward the end, the original Walt was hard to spot, until the final episode. It’s in this last show that Walt sacrifices everything, including himself, for those he loves. While I compare the two versions, I don't want to make it sound like I think Walt didn't make the choices he did. He is not a victim, but, just as with Tony Soprano who did awful things and murdered people, there's still something likable about the guy.


A lot of people I know claim to prefer Saul, Walt's shady lawyer, over Walt. In the spinoff Better Call Saul, it becomes more apparent that Saul, while having some good qualities, was born the way he is while Walt developed into what he is. 

In the series finale of Better Call Saul, Saul “Slippin’ Jimmy” and Walt talk about time travel and regrets while waiting in a bunker for Ed Galbraith to help them escape to different locations with new identities. Walt eventually says he would go back in time to the period before he was pushed out of the company he helped found, Gray Matter. The assumption is that if he had stayed, he would have been wealthy enough to avoid becoming a criminal. Saul confesses that his big regret is that he slipped and hurt his knee while scamming someone. At this revelation, Walt understands that Saul was always a greedy scammer. His desire to go back in time has nothing to do with being a better person or helping others or avoiding a terrible outcome; it’s about pulling off a scam without hurting himself. It’s about greed. 

Breaking Bad showcased individuals who made you feel, truly, madly, deeply. In contrast, Saul, the main character in Better Call Saul, was largely unfeeling, though he had a few tender moments. As a result, the show relied more on side characters to bring emotional content to the production. 

 Let’s face it, though, Better Call Saul wouldn’t have been a show without Breaking Bad. Jimmy may be funny and sly, but he lacks depth. 

It’s not that Saul didn’t have the capacity to feel or lacked the ability to be selfless -- he did have a few kind moments, especially with his partner and eventual wife and then ex, Kim -- but, deep down, he’s a fraud. Overall, it was difficult for him to do the right thing, even when the right path was clear. I’m not saying Walt is the better person with the murders and outrageous things he did, but the characters in Breaking Bad were often caught between right and wrong with their paths much more muddy. In the same way the Mafia can be dedicated to family and The Family, Walt and Jesse were fiercely loyal to a few select individuals and, for the most part, each other. 

In the end, both Walt and Saul end up mostly alone, but only Walt is fulfilled looking back on his life. As he admitted, he liked what he was doing. For him, it wasn’t just making money that mattered; it ended up being more about creating the perfect product. And he was good at what he did. For that, he was proud, even though his job as a criminal eventually came at the expense of his family, the one thing he was so desperately trying to protect. Still, he went out knowing they would be taken care of while Saul went out king schyster of the prison, a hero to other prisoners only. 

Bill and Saul before Saul is sent to prison.

One could argue that Saul’s confession at the end before he was locked up helped Kim avoid further investigation, but what Saul said was already known to the authorities and everyone involved. It’s possible that with Saul taking a heavier sentence, Howard Hamlin’s widow wouldn’t feel the need to go after Kim, but that’s not a given. Ultimately, Saul didn’t really rescue Kim, even if he thought his confession might help.

In the Breaking Bad finale, viewers see that Walt came around and proved his loyalty to his family but also to Jesse. He left this world knowing Jesse was alive because of him, and even though there was an incredible amount of resentment and even hate between the two, a fondness still existed. Despite his transformation from a bumbling science teacher with cancer to an overbearing, manipulative, and dangerous drug kingpin, Walter is a character with a heart, capable of understanding and forgiveness, and Jesse always had heart, even in his worst moments. 

In contrast to Saul’s confession, Walt’s false confession to his wife Skyler on the phone he knew was tapped absolved her of most of her wrongdoing. He silently cries as he implies, for the sake of Marie, Skyler’s sister, and the authorities that Skyler would have been in trouble had she not gone along with his plan, even though she very willingly got involved once she knew what Walt was up to. With this admission, everyone would think that Walt’s poor wife was the victim, forced to do as Walt said. 

And to give the family closure, he admits that Hank, Marie’s husband who was a DEA agent, is not coming back, though he doesn’t tell the truth about who killed him. In many ways, Walt is the more likable anti-hero despite the brutal things he did. Perhaps because, at some point or another, we all resort to doing something we feel is awful, we can relate to and maybe even secretly admire the bad guy. Walt just took his wrongdoings to a level most of us couldn’t or wouldn’t want to imagine for ourselves. 

Throughout the show, Walt got into the habit of telling himself or trying to convince himself that he was cooking meth to make money for his family before he died from lung cancer. In the beginning, this was true, but he later admits that he liked his manufacturing role. 

Skyler was in a similar boat. After she was dragged into the mess and made aware, it was her choice to go along. She could have had her first lawyer call the cops, but she told the lawyer she didn’t want her son to know his dad was a criminal. In that, she accepted her role as an accomplice. Walt’s phone call at the end and him sneaking the coordinates of where authorities could find Hank’s body to Skyler were moments when Walt really did take huge risks to help those he loved. 

Obviously, even with the great writing, none of the storyline would have played out as brilliantly had the acting not been phenomenal. There’s a reason why Breaking Bad has 92 wins in various television award categories and several wins for supporting and lead actor. In 2014, the cast won the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for best ensemble in a drama series. And really, the entire cast was outstanding for all five seasons. The characters are some of the most memorable individuals ever assebmbled for an acting endeavor. Even the lesser characters like Wendy, Skinny Pete, Badger, and Jane were remarkable. 

Breaking Bad Cast -SAG Awards

What really made the show great, though, was, indeed, the writing. The plot twists, the stories within stories, the subtle and not so subtle humor, the symbolism, and the life lessons are all wrapped up into a thoughtful, sometimes poetic script. 

The writers had a way of bringing nostalgia into a very modern and evergreen show, and the soundtrack mirrored this genius delivery. When, after Walt endures a harrowing night that included being forced to witness a murder and almost losing his life, Skyler asks him if he’s OK, and Walt replies with a smirk, “Right as rain,” it’s as if Stephen King himself had his hand in the script. 

Those who claim Breaking Bad is boring probably do so because the show relies heavily on dialogue more than action-packed spectacles. It’s an incredibly quotable series, yet there are some great nail-biting, action-packed moments. 

Some also feel the flashforwards don't give as much of a punch once the storyline is played out, but foreshadowing is usually more for intrigue in the moment than an overly shocking reveal. Besides, nearly every episode or every couple of episodes eventually comes full circle. 

Another criticism is the anti-woman angle, however, both Skyler and Marie, the two main female roles, were career women and showed strength and courage throughout the series. There were other examples of women in powerful positions, but, just like in reality, Griselda Blanco being the more obvious exception, there aren’t a lot of female drug lords, runners, or manufacturers. The drug and criminal world will generally attract anti-feminists.

Vince Gilligan, the creator, writer, producer, and director of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, said that he was inspired by The Godfather when he came up with the idea for the show, but there are moments that are reminiscent of movies and series such as Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, The Wire, Trainspotting, and The Sopranos, to name a few. Ultimately, I will always think of Breaking Bad as the GOAT television series and the episode "One Minute" as the best episode in television history. I have great admiration for people who created shows like The Walking Dead, The Sopranos, and The Wire, and the spinoff Better Call Saul was excellent, too, even with its depressing ending. It’s just that Breaking Bad is in a league all its own. 

Vince Gilligan

Top 10 Breaking Bad Quotes 

1. Just because you shot Jesse James, don't make you Jesse James (Mike to Walt)
2. I am the Danger (Walt to Skyler)
3. La Familia es todo (Hector to the cousins)
4. You’re an insane, degenerate piece of filth, and you deserve to die (Walt to Tuco)
5. Say my name (Walt to Declan)
6. No more half-measures (Mike to Walt)
7. Say you want this (Jesse to Walt)
8. Well, then why should we do anything more than once? (Jane to Jesse)
9. I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really — I was alive. (Walt to Skyler)
10. A man provides (Gustavo to Walt)
Honorable Mention: All life comes with a death sentence (Walt to another cancer patient)


Monday, November 13, 2023

Good Intentions Don't Always Equal Good Outcomes

**Possible Triggering Content***

The body positivity movement started out as a campaign with good intentions. For years before anyone took a stand, even slightly overweight individuals were mocked, ridiculed, and discriminated against, but in the 60s, a group of fed-up residents in New York held a sit-in to promote fat acceptance. In the 70s, fat became a feminist issue, meaning female writers like Susie Orbach and later Geneen Roth were letting their followers know that body size is less about food and more about protection, power, hidden emotions, sexuality, and even politics. These concepts helped many people of all sizes feel more comfortable in their own skin and more at ease being themselves. It also helped a lot of them lose weight, once they better understood the root cause of their overeating. 

At the time of this great fat-acceptance awakening, the movement wasn't outright ignoring men or lean individuals who supported the cause. In fact, many men were part of the crusade, but by 2012, with the founding of the actual Body Positive movement, there was a shift to celebrate specifically fat women and later fat women of color. All of this seemed like a necessary and even good outcome, a backlash to the years of suppression and discrimination fat women, especially fat African American women, had endured, but sometime after 2012, the entire body-positive movement jumped the shark. 

In more recent years, advocates for body positivity have gone past the concept of acceptance into the arena of defiance, which sounds somewhat reasonable but not when it's more of a "I'll cut off my nose to spite my face" gesture. This also includes members of the movement excluding anyone who's not fat, even those who were formally fat because that just means those now thin creatures have sold out and must be shunned. 

In the past, any form of eating that caused harm or was done out of sheer emotion such as spite, anger, sadness, or even joy was seen as an issue that needed to be addressed. Yes, accept yourself, but work on understanding what drives a potentially unhealthy or excessive behavior and try to modify it in order to move toward one that's healthier to truly honor your body and its needs. That was considered a healthy approach to understanding food and its effects on the human body. Eating to satisfy an emotional craving is OK, healthy to a degree even, if you're aware you're doing it and doing it within the realm of what's reasonable. Now, eating to excess or as a rebellion is celebrated. It truly has nothing to do with health anymore and is all about protest or pouting, really.  

Before I move forward, I want to make it very, very clear that this post is not about how fat people aren't athletic or "shouldn't" eat as much or anything even close to that. Obviously, fat shaming can be as damaging as supporting eating in defiance. I'm 100 percent not here to shame anyone. The individuals who are promoting a healthy lifestyle no matter their size really are inspirational, and I fully support them and their efforts to reach others. I'm addressing more a concept of eating or overeating in response to "haters" or to anyone who makes a comment not fully in line with what an influencer wants to hear. That's unhealthy and tends towards disordered eating.

I always try to look at this from the opposite standpoint. What if, for example, I promoted compulsive exercise and restrictive eating, and then claimed I was content with my body. Then, if anyone called me out on putting my unhealthy habits on display, I told the world I was going to skip even more calories throughout the day. Imagine if my readers encouraged me, cheered me on, and claimed I was heroic for taking a stand against all these bullies. That's the Internet. You can find examples similar to this in any arena. The eating disorder world is rife with them.

The Internet has a way of making certain behaviors and even some extreme forms of mental illness seem acceptable, even when these disorders cause harm. Pretty much anyone can find support and the wrong kind of encouragement for destructive or self-destructive conduct. There are pro-ana groups, support for people who want to be over 500 lbs, and online communities that encourage participants to believe in group or gang stalking. There's actually a podcast episode on Sword and Scale about a man who was in such a group, believed he was being gang-stalked, got validation from other unwell individuals, and then ended up murdering several people because the Internet fed his paranoid delusions. 

When it comes to echo chambers online, I look at the absurdities, lies, and misleading content some liberal running journalists have promoted, especially regarding both transgender athletes and DSD athletes, and feel disgusted I ever associated myself with both running and the left. It's funny how quiet most of them have been regarding Caster Semenya's recent comments about her testes. If you want to listen to a very good analysis of Caster's situation, one that's fair, respectful of her, and honest, The Real Science of Sport addressed the issue in this episode

What I've noticed is that at some point, encouraging self-expression became supporting a new form of women's oppression. Women on the left, race directors, and anyone afraid of being canceled were so worried about hurting anyone's feelings, they didn't think or care that they were degrading women's sport by insisting biological men compete against them. 

They also didn't think about how it would look to offer influencers, some who run 22+ minutes per mile, prime spots in the elite corral at major marathons. Hey, as long as they look good to their peers for supporting this mess, keep at it, right? Fortunately, I see that the majority of women on both sides are in agreement that biological men competing in women's sport is, indeed, unfair, and most people are like me in that they support anyone at all running a marathon but prefer elite corrals stay reserved for those running elite times. Honoring excellence does not mean disregarding everyone else. 

At no point do I expect to see any of these so-called journalists or loud pundits on the left admit they might have been wrong or offer any new commentary. That's typically the way cowards operate: ignore any confrontation or even civil conversation, and keep the blinders on as much as possible. 

In news closer to home, I was relieved to see that in a local election, a certain individual didn't get elected to city council. I specifically voted, just so that I could vote against Waylon Lewis. I didn't care who won seats in his stead; I just didn't want him in charge of or anywhere near any policies for this city. 

One of the reasons I was so adamant that this individual not be voted into office is because I've heard and read too many off-putting stories about him. There have been rumors about his alleged abuse and mistreatment of women - I met a lady who worked for him and heard some shit - and blog posts detailing his online abuse of them. My own interactions with him are limited. I reached out to him once regarding an interview for a radio station and got an arrogant reply that made me decide to drop the whole thing. I had a feeling, one of those gut instincts that told me to stay away, and I'm relieved I did. 

But the very concrete reason why I don't like the guy is because of the way he treated his older dog. I may have told this story once before, but for those who don't know it, I was walking to work one day and noticed he was ahead of me with his dog. The dog appeared to be old and wasn't walking fast. As I got closer, the unleashed dog veered slowly toward the street. Mr. Lewis, not aware I was behind him, growled, "GET BACK HERE,' and with a grand gesture, raising his hand up first, swung his whole arm down and grabbed the dog's collar and some of the scruff of his neck, and then yanked the dog toward the sidewalk. I let out a gasp so loud (I really was shocked) Mr. Lewis turned slightly and, I'm sure, noticed me, at which point he loosened his grip on the dog and acted like nothing had happened. 

I kept thinking if this asshole does this in public, what must go on behind closed doors? But maybe it was just a bad moment. Who knows, but given the rumors, the outright accusations, and the incident with his dog, I simply can't find any reason to like the guy. Hooray that he didn't get the votes and is not on Boulder's city council. He lost, he lost hard.

Since I haven't been writing creatively much lately, I'm afraid it shows. But after a long layoff, I have to start somewhere. Maybe this post is a bit disjointed, but I felt compelled to write, something I haven't felt the urge to do in a while. On the other hand, I got this bizarre idea even more recently to write a book of short horror stories. The novel will have to continue waiting, even though I'm coming closer to formulating an interesting ending in my head. I'm just not there yet and have many thousands of words yet to write. God, I'm lazy when it comes to that. 

As far as running, I haven't been doing a lot of it. Just when I have a fun, harder workout, my hamstring/butt tears again, and I have to back off for a while. So I'm doing a little jogging here and there and trying to accept it. Work is still hard, but my coworkers are incredible and very, very inspiring. At times I'm completely overwhelmed, but each day I make it to the closing hour is a victory. And, fortunately, there are some very competent people there to guide me. 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Time Slips Away

It looks like I've neglected this blog again. Actually, I've neglected writing in general. Occasionally, I write or edit a few lines in the novel I will probably never finish, but I haven't put much energy into arranging words on a computer screen unless it's documenting daily logs at work, a requirement for all employees, from veterinarians to customer service representatives. 

Because I'm not working as many hours as I was previously, I've been taking on pet-sitting gigs and other odd jobs. So far, it's going pretty well. I also started a non-profit but haven't really gotten into fundraising yet. Twice a month, I take pet food to pet owners in need, and I've also helped with veterinary bills. At some point, I will run out of my own money, so I'll have to start asking others for donations. 

Somewhere along the way, I started hobbling outside again. What I do is so far from running, but I think I could safely call it a jog without being too far off the mark. I can't really do anything too fast or too hard, but I'm grateful I'm able to move about with at least a little less pain. 

Work is going well, but I'm still really insecure. There is a lot to learn, and the fast-paced environment is a switch. It's overwhelming at times. My co-workers are all really nice, though, and they have been very encouraging. I worry that I'm not catching on quickly enough, but my manager keeps reassuring me that I'm doing fine. I wish I could believe her! 

Normally, I wouldn't bring up particular incidents from work, but I think enough time has passed to feel OK with discussing some of the details of a particular episode. Obviously, I would never name names or go into too many fine points, but, as I often point out, writing helps me process. Also, if what I write can help anyone else process events in his or her life, then jotting down thoughts here will have been worth it. 

I will mention that what I'm about to bring up is upsetting and involves animals, so if you're looking for something more uplifting, you might want to stop at this point and head over to The Dodo

Sometimes at work, things can get a little bit hectic. In fact, the other night, I was working alone, and I had four people on hold, two people waiting for service, and a few open notes to finish from previous calls. Fortunately, my new job isn't usually that crazy, but it can be a little stressful at times, especially when it's just one of us at the front desk. 

Not necessarily related to work, there are days when I swear you can feel something in the air, something almost a little ominous or energetically off. I had that feeling strongly when the shooting at King Soopers occurred and twice before I came upon two separate accidents on the road. I don't want to get into woo-woo territory, but I do believe people who are sensitive can tap into some sort of sixth sense. It's not that I had a vision of something terrible about to happen on the day I'm about to describe, more that I felt some kind of nervous worry, more so than I usually do. I worry a lot. This was different. 

My job is always easier when there are two of us at the front desk, but my co-worker had just gone to lunch, something I'm relieved we are offered, an actual lunch break with no work-related interruptions. In the end, my fellow employee not being there initially was probably a good thing, because she had a very difficult time emotionally with the incident, understandably. I had recently taken a call from someone who wanted to schedule an appointment, and I hadn't even had time to fill in the details for the medical staff regarding that call when the phone rang again. When I answered, I had no idea that this one call would flip the day upside down and affect the lives of every employee and, of course, the pet's family so drastically.  

Because this is such a difficult topic, I want to preface that I write this with no judgment. Humans make mistakes. Sometimes good people make terrible, life-altering mistakes. The reason why I'm bringing this up is more to observe my own reactions and to try to let go of some of the heaviness I'm feeling around all of it. We all err from time to time, and sometimes the mistakes we make cause a great deal of suffering, either to ourselves or others, sometimes both. 

The gentleman who called was clearly distressed. He was crying and said he was on his way to the clinic. I got the name of the pet, a dog, and said that I needed to check with the medical staff to see if they had time to see the animal. In emergency situations, if the medical staff doesn't have time, we refer the client to an actual ER veterinarian. The owner said that he was nearly there and that he thought his pet might be dead, so I told him we would figure it all out when he got there. Then I ran to tell the medical staff so that they could prepare for the emergency. I wasn't able to get any details, only that the dog would be arriving in less than five minutes and that it may have already passed. 

Despite the afternoon being booked, enough of the medical staff were able to jump into action without leaving other clients unattended. Someone opened the door as the gentleman who had called rushed in carrying his dog. I still had no idea what had happened, but the scene did not look good. The dog was limp in its owner's arms. At this time, I had some hope that the dog was still alive, but there it was, that uneasy feeling lingering in the air. Moments later, my heart sank before I heard the news. 

Indeed, the medical staff determined that the pet had passed, and the anguish conveyed in the owner's sobs was palpable. It turns out the dog got heat stroke after its owner accidentally left it in his car. 

Every time I write a blog post, I get about halfway through or so and feel like quitting. I question why I'm even writing and start getting critical of my writing style, forgetting the big picture. I wonder if it's worth pushing through to the finish. After the last line in the paragraph above, it's hard to know what to say anyway. I suppose this is partly why it generally takes me so long to finish a post. 

After a tragedy like this, there are so many questions that come up, but how, why, and where couldn't be fully addressed in real-time when there was still the matter of tending to other family members who would be arriving soon as well as the clients who were already there. Even before the family members entered the building, there was an aura of sadness and stress in the area that would bleed into the coming days. In that moment, I knew I needed to keep my shit together, but I heard a quiver in my voice on the third call I took. Seeing others in pain will always affect me on some level, and when grief is so raw, it's impossible to ignore, impossible not to feel. 

It got harder to go through the motions after the rest of the family was present. Still, I shoved the emotions down as best I could, as I'm reasonably good at doing, and continued trying to focus on my job, even though my mind was foggy. My attention kept drifting to the room where the deceased dog lay resting on a towel on the floor while the young couple lying next to it cried and spoke to their sweet pet behind the closed door. The gentleman's parents, both with tears in their eyes, paced the lobby. By this time, my co-worker had returned and both of us were fed bits of information about the incident. She needed to excuse herself for a moment. I heard her crying in the bathroom and wished so badly that I could ease everyone's pain. The air was thick with emotion.

Once the owner and his family and girlfriend had all said their goodbyes to their furry friend and left, and the initial shock of what had happened eased, it was nice that employees and employers checked in with each other. It was a rough day for everyone, and it wasn't over yet. There was still a euthanasia appointment on the schedule for an older dog later that evening. Though arranged euthanasia for older or unwell animals is less traumatic, it's still painful and sad to lose a pet, no matter the age. 

It took me and several other employees a few days to come to terms with all that had happened that day. One thing was clear, the gentleman was feeling tremendous guilt, and I wish I could have found a way to help him somehow. I think all of us felt for him. I don't know how I would feel in that or a similar situation, but I can't even imagine how awful it must be. He loved his dog, and while it's hard for me to understand how anyone could forget pets or children in cars, I know he's not the first and won't be the last to do so. I assume it happens more frequently the more humans are distracted by all they need to get done during the day as well as the constant bombardment by whatever is happening on their electronic devices. 

Any emotions I swallowed during the turmoil have yet to resurface. I don't know where unexpressed difficult feelings go, but I assume they linger somewhere inside. Maybe they pop up at unexpected or inappropriate times or are processed and changed into different feelings that are easier to manage. 

Two of the hardest emotions to process are grief and anger. Oddly, happiness can be a challenge, only because there's often a dip into sadness after moments of being elated, the body's weird way of attempting homeostasis. Probably the best way to manage emotions of any kind is to vent, through art, writing, music, talking, exercise, or expressing the emotion (crying, yelling, etc.) As long as the expression is done in a healthy way, let it out, they say. But for some of us, it's not easy. However, sometimes even just acknowledging how you're feeling can be helpful. A really wonderful coach used to have me describe "tired" when I was struggling in a workout. Where did I feel it, and how did it manifest? The act of describing the sensation will often ease any discomfort associated with the feeling. I believe it can be true of emotions, too. 

I don't know if writing this will stop the tape that keeps playing in my head or the thoughts that keep coming up regarding the incident, but I think writing will help in some way. If nothing more, it has made me feel at least a little bit productive when my tendency is to languish or shut down completely. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The New “Beauty” Standard *Trigger Warning

Recently, Dylan Mulvaney, an American actress, Tik Tok personality, and Instagram influencer, made quite a stir when several companies offered paid partnerships and endorsement deals with the transgender activist, giving her a wider audience, various products, and, of course, money. In the case of Anheuser-Busch, the marketing strategy for Bud Light backfired, and many called for a boycott after seeing the rising star in a promo spot, leaving the beer company in a tizzy as share prices initially fell. It's hard to say what the lasting effects will be, but the higher-ups issued an immediate apology after the boycott began and hoped for a turnaround as they featured one of their Clydesdale horses in a brand new pro-America ad. 

I don’t drink much alcohol and don’t really care who promotes mediocre beer, so none of this really concerns me, but both those on the left and right were involved in the boycott. I understand why people were upset and also why others were in support of the trans actress. My goal here isn't to offend anyone, and in this particular case, I honestly don't care one way or another who drinks or doesn't drink Bud Light or who promotes or boycotts the company. What concerns me more is how this particular transgender individual is influencing her audience. 

It should be noted that Mulvaney is considered a comedian, though some may question her ability to be funny, and, despite having several types of facial surgeries, she has yet to have bottom surgery as part of transitioning. In fact, she seems to enjoy drawing attention to her crotch and was called out for her behavior when she ask her Tik Tok audience to "normalize the bulge" while wearing "shopping shorts," clearly aware that her dick was noticeable while sporting tight shorts. That's a sentence I never thought I would type. Sorry if I sound prudish, but this has more to do with how adult influencers potentially target children than being offended by particular body parts. 

Mulvaney shows off her bulge

This doesn't seem normal or appropriate for young audiences, yet I didn’t see any age restriction on the content. Both she and Jeffrey Marsh have directly addressed children in their videos, though Marsh in particular has tried to deny it and eventually changed the content settings after facing a severe backlash. In the linked video, it might sound like Mulvaney is giving out good advice, but both she and Marsh have been accused of guiding kids away from parents and family and toward other support systems, even though Mulvaney's family has, according to her uncle, always loved and supported her. 

Some of the more controversial or perplexing partnerships with Mulvaney include Kate Spade, Instacart, Aritzia, KitchenAid, and, of course, Anheuser-Busch. Apparently, there are a lot of partnerships, but the one with Nike caught more people's attention, including mine, although I thought her Tampax performance, which may not have been an actual partnership, just some free product in exchange for a little online advertising, was a slap in the face of women and girls. These skits parody and mock women, not support them. 

Do you know how many women and girls are in need of these kinds of products around the world? I'm not sure handing out free tampons to someone who claims to identify as a girl (why not a woman at her age?) but doesn't always act the part (and much of what she does is acting no matter how she identifies) as opposed to hiring or giving out free tampons to an actual girl or woman was the best move, but again, large companies don’t really care about individuals. They care about making a profit and getting the name of their company circulating in the public sphere. 

As someone put it, "My womanhood is not your costume." But businesses are jumping at the chance to work with Mulvaney, even if there’s a risk of alienating potential customers and the outcome might not be desirable. The potential interest or even controversy is what draws in these businesses. No press is bad press if it gets your name out there, in theory anyway. Whatever the reason, Mulvsney is the it girl, but it's becoming more and more obvious that not everyone is happy about her increasing fame. 

Tampax has been a misogynistic mess on Twitter long before the company offered a trans person free schwag to promote its products, but after the little performance with Mulvaney, it became obvious that their primary interest is being seen, most obviously in this case. I know they are involved in some useful programs that assist young girls with menstrual start-up kits, but that doesn't erase their more questionable actions. Back in 2022, their official Twitter account posted inappropriate content, but before I share the tweet, keep in mind that girls start menstruating on average around 11-12 years old, meaning some start well before becoming a teenager. That said, the post isn't even well-suited or funny for adults and seems to be directed at men more than women. It's all kinds of cringe: 

You're in their DMs. We're in them.
We are not the same.

Back to Nike, another reason to cringe. I've already brought up the giant shitty shoe company before, and while I don't personally have an issue with any trans individuals being selected for advertising purposes when appropriate, I am adamantly opposed to transgender women mocking and belittling women while displacing them and taking away opportunities in the same way I am when it comes to transgender women competing in female categories in athletics. At least back in 2021, Nike hired an actual transgender female athlete to star in its Play New campaign, and the same can be said of its 2016 ad featuring a transgender man, Chris Mosier.

This year, when Nike invited Mulvaney to prance around in a sports bra and leggings in an effort to promote women's sportswear, female athletes took notice. Some pointed out that Nike doesn't exactly have the best history when it comes to how the company treats women, so hiring a biological male who identifies as a girl and isn't athletic in place of a female athlete shouldn't really surprise anyone. What is surprising is that any business, especially one supposedly dedicated to promoting athletes, would use images fit for a pro-ana group as a selling point. 

Sharron Davies, a former Olympic swimmer had this to say about the new Nike ad:

The ad feels like a parody of what women are. In the past it was always seen as an insult to say, "run like a girl" and here we've got someone behaving in a way that's very un-sporty and very unathletic and it's so frustrating when only one percent of USA sponsorship dollar goes to females in sport. That Nike would do this feels like a kick in the teeth.

Because I know anyone who reads this blog could potentially be triggered by what looks like thinspiration content, I'm going to add a second warning here.  

Back in 2015, France and several other countries took a stand by banning models who were deemed too thin when it was revealed that images of underweight women and girls contribute to the development of eating disorders. Back then, the health ministry in France said its aim was to "fight eating disorders and inaccessible ideals of beauty," a take that was celebrated as a step forward in an industry that had previously showcased not just thin models but dangerously thin models, like Luisel and Eliana Ramos and Isabelle Caro who eventually died from complications related to anorexia. 

Enter Nike, 2023. 

Mulvaney has always been petite, but through her transition, it appears that she may have become even leaner. Because of her biology, it's easier for her to maintain lean body mass than it is for those with XX chromosomes. Over time, hormone replacement therapy can have some effect on body fat, but estrogen treatment won't drastically change an individual's physique unless the treatment is combined with lifestyle and dietary changes as well. Several studies show that the lean body mass of trans women remains above that of cisgender women, even after over a year of treatment. 

What Mulvaney and the companies that use her images perpetuate are derogatory stereotypes and unattainable new "beauty" standards targeting young girls and women, and the trans community, too. The images shown below demonstrate an unrealistic body ideal for girls and most individuals, even if they engage in dieting and exercise. It would have to be excessive to reach such a lean look. People were so angry when fashion designers did this, but for some reason, Mulvaney gets praised. 

I'm not suggesting anything about Mulvaney's mental health, but I am aware of how these kinds of images can appear to others. Female athletes, even some who claim to be advocates of eating disorder recovery, are guilty of the same type of thing when they showcase images taken at angles that intentionally make their bodies look longer and much leaner, but the fat percentage of a female will never be as low as that of a man unless she starves herself into possibly unhealthy or even dangerous territory. 

Before transitioning

These are not images that inspire girls to be healthy

You might as well put these on a pro-ana website

Unfortunately, these kinds of images often inspire comments from young girls wanting to change their bodies

People should boycott Nike for all kinds of reasons. This latest stunt can be added to the ever-growing pile, but chances are little will change. Nike is too big, and exposing the shady things they have done in the past didn't put much of a dent in its success. 

I don't really know what the solution is when it comes to supporting transgender individuals while protecting vulnerable populations, but I can't bring myself to get behind anyone promoting a very clearly unhealthy beauty standard like the one Mulvaney is presenting. I just can't. Young girls and women have enough pressure on them to look a certain way, and now huge companies are shoving these kinds of images in our faces? No thank you. 

And fuck, I missed an opportunity for a "hold my beer" joke. sigh. 

Monday, April 10, 2023

Running and Identity

I've told this story before, but I still wrestle with my identity. Who am I? Why am I here? None of these questions are new. Running always gave me a sense of purpose. Few things in life have replaced that feeling since I gave up pushing myself in sport. 

An essay in two parts.

When I started running way back in junior high -- I'm giving away my age by admitting I went to junior high, not middle school -- I very quickly earned the nickname "the runner," and I certainly identified as such. It felt like running wasn't just something I did; it was part of me. The activity was who I was back then. I ran everywhere, to and from school, up and down the street, around the track, or up in the mountains, and it didn't matter if it was with or without company. I felt compelled to run. I had to run. More than a compulsion or maybe in addition to being a compulsion, it was a challenge. Whereas many people look at running as a chore or task they do at some point during the day, running was an event in which I partook because I both needed and, at least on some level, wanted to, at least for a time. 

Back then, I looked forward to running in a way and was excited to race. Despite the usual nerves that everyone faces before a big event, I had a hunger to compete, and I had the energy, even though I wasn't getting the nutrients my body needed. Grace period. It was nearly impossible to hold me back, though a few people tried with words of wisdom. 

There was some concern that I was doing too much too soon, but I felt like I had found my right path, my passion, and a sport in which I could excel, unlike so many activities I had tried in the past. I had dreams, big ones, but at every turn, there were my eating disorder and my compulsions that still plague me even today, though I'm no longer deep in the throes of it all, at least on the surface. Deep down, it's hard to tell. 

Eventually, it all fell to shit, but not all at once. The love for and eagerness to engage in the sport that I experienced would eventually give way to fear and then dread. At some point along my miserable journey, love turned to outright hate and remained that way for a long time, but I still laced up my shoes and got out the door to both train and race. 

Oddly and somehow, the identity of being a runner seemed separate from all the heavy baggage that landed on my shoulders later, at least somewhat. When I excelled at the sport, I was able to engage more fully in other activities, so while I was "the runner," I was also a student, a sister, and a daughter and had hobbies like baking, art, and reading. 

Once the injuries lined up one after the other, I felt more like "the former runner," and it became easier to spiral the more depression darkened my world. Same shit, different day now. I go through the motions with no real exercise goals or satisfaction but to get through an arbitrary routine. Outside of that, fear causes me to get almost like a form of paralysis, not fully able to accomplish much but several forms of distraction outside of the habitual activity, Netflix and such. It often takes me forever to write a simple blog post when darkness clouds the days.

After battling several major injuries over the last few years, a few so severe they required surgeries, and then coming down with an absolutely merciless case of long-lasting COVID (mentioned again below), I've been thinking more and more about running and identity. <--- one of the better Trail Runner articles.

For me, running hurts now. It's mostly unpleasant, and I don't feel like a runner, not even close. I can no longer say I have a passion for the sport and wonder why I even try most days. More often than not, I don't look forward to it; it's just something I attempt to do. I'm compelled, for whatever reason, to run/hobble/limp around, even if it's only for 10 minutes, like somehow if I do that little amount, I'm still hovering around the title of a runner and connected to other runners in some small way, even though I would never call myself one at the pace I propel myself forward these days. 

I miss it, being able to challenge myself on a more mental level when the physical limitations are so severe. It's hard not being able to run on trails or get lost in the moment and let my mind wander while I move outside for an hour. Biking isn't the same nor is walking, and lately, I'm just not able or willing to push myself all that hard like I used to, even on the bike.

It's such a strange experience to be this limited by my previous and current injuries. Little things like crossing the road when it's icy can be such a struggle. Last year or maybe it was the year before, I got stranded on an ice patch because my left foot can't feel how it touches the ground. This is due to several neurectomies. As a result, I'm unstable. Even if the road looks icy when it's not, like when it's wet, my brain tells me I'm slipping. This is not the same condition Kara Goucher has, but I can relate to what she's experiencing. 

In my case, it's more a lack of feeling that leads to uncertainty. My brain defaults to the worst-case scenario, and I end up feeling out of sorts, really like I am slipping, even if my foot is firmly planted on the ground. But the limitations aren't just related to feeling unsteady. I'm also dealing with physical imbalances, old injuries that didn't heal properly, and restrictions in my range of motion. Despite all this, I force myself to mix in some hobbling with my usual stationary bike routines. 

It seems impossible that I could find something else that calls me or makes my soul sing the way running once did. Horseback riding might, but it's too expensive and time-consuming, and it never reaches the same kind of intensity as running does when it comes to exercise. After my sister's recent fall from her horse that resulted in three fractures in her vertebrae, I'm not so sure I want to take any risks around a large animal anyway. 

Throughout this transition from athlete to someone who sort of exercises, it has been difficult to calm my critical mind, and because someone recently made a comment about my appearance, I’ve been feeling more insecure. 

Oddly, when people describe me in unflattering ways, all it does is make me feel bad. It doesn’t encourage me to do anything differently, which is common for most people like me. In the past, I have been approached by friends in a very loving and supportive way, and I did manage to get help or make changes. For example, after one surgery, I was looking a little undernourished, and a friend of mine pulled me aside to ask if I was OK. We talked, and I ended up seeing a nutritionist. With some expert guidance, I was able to build back some muscle I had lost throughout the ordeal. I really do have some incredible friends. 


I wasn't going to write about this but changed my mind. 

The following is probably where this post should have started. I’m breaking it into two parts and, for several reasons, presenting it backward. 

I have actually written and deleted much of the content because I'm having a hard time expressing how I feel and don't want to go into too many details. I'm far from perfect and make mistakes. We all do, and when a situation that's incredibly upsetting unfolds, writing helps me process it. It helps me see my errors as well as the wrongdoings of others. 

Obviously, there are two sides to every situation. That being said, it's difficult to have any resolution when the world is full of people who project and manipulate, and I don't just mean in situations related to me. The world is a mess right now, but my personal journey is on my mind after an incident that occurred earlier this year left me floored. 

It was a long and brutal winter. After battling COVID and then some kind of Long Covid, I ended up with the flu that led to vertigo and pulsatile tinnitus in my right ear. When I went to urgent care for vertigo, the treatment nurse sent me to the ER, and just as I was beginning to feel a little bit better a few days after being in the hospital, I was fired from/quit (it was a case of mutual dissatisfaction) my job where I had worked for almost 20 years. This is all while suffering from issues related to a torn tendon in my hip area and dealing with some very intense family matters. In short, October - February sucked.

I'm not good with getting out of a routine. Not having a sense of control, even if it's a false sense of one, scares me, but now I see just how unhealthy an environment I landed in or perhaps put myself in for so many years. I'm not sure if it was a blessing in disguise (actually, I'm pretty sure it was) that I was pushed out of a stressful situation and into a different kind of stress, that of being jobless, but it happened and there's no turning back now. Lines were crosses that can never be uncrossed. 

The good news is that almost immediately after things ended in one area, I was offered a very part-time but ongoing position elsewhere, and this was followed by another, and shortly after that, something else opened up that actually excites me. I took this as a sign that getting away was meant to be, and the people close to me, thank whatever deity in the sky may or may not exist for these individuals, expressed relief and genuine happiness that I was trying something new. Sometimes you don't realize just how bad things are until change is forced upon you, be it exiting a relationship, moving to somewhere new, or altering a routine that no longer serves you. 

While I was applying for jobs during a period of almost a week of waiting for any sign of contact from my (now former) employer, I realized anew how shitty a lack of communication is, but this period gave me an opportunity to self-reflect and admit just how compulsive I still am and how my mental health inhibits progress forward. It wasn't until I got the more recent opportunity to do something in a field working with animals that I felt like I could even think about a different way of organizing my life. 

Struggling with OCD, there are very few instances in which I could see myself attempting to change, even though I have in the past to some extent, but working with animals is one of them. Every time I volunteer in a vet clinic, I think, "I wish I could be more a part of this kind of meaningful work." An article on Shannon Kopp came to mind as I was writing this. 

Previously, I had no real incentive to do things differently (I'm still not quite there yet but am attempting and on a different schedule, at least.) And while much of my winter weight loss was related to being sicker than ever -- even my boss admitted to losing a substantial amount of weight while he was sick with COVID and other illnesses shortly before I was. He also snapped at me and made unflattering comments about my looks and health in front of others right before I left, which was the final blow -- eating disorders along with ODC and other kinds of unhealthy coping mechanisms are often a way to take some kind of action when feeling depressed, overwhelmed, criticized, or unheard, something I have battled for years. 

Why is it that so many people just don’t listen or don’t hear? I'm probably guilty of this on some level, too, but not when it comes to the big picture. It's worse when individuals not only don't hear but then attempt to shove words in the mouths of others. That I really, really can't stand. 

I'm not sure how much my subconscious being aware of my distress could have played a role in things coming to such an ugly head, but there's more background to this story that I'm not sharing, except to say that it's much more difficult for me to take care of myself in certain environments. 

It might seem funny after reading the above complaints to know I actually loved my job, at least for the most part, and was very good at it, the top employee right up until the time I left, but the way I was treated the last few weeks or even months leading up to my departure, you would have thought I was stealing from the company or something. Seriously, I'm still reeling from the unsavory way things went down and probably won't come to terms with it for a while longer. And because individuals can be vindictive and you never really know what they will do, though I have an idea, I will reiterate that this is my perspective on a shitty situation. 

Obviously, I liked what I was doing and the people there well enough to stay a long time, but this last year was rough for all kinds of reasons. The bottom line is that I wasn't being heard and should have either found a way to address this or left a lot earlier. That's on me. I stayed because I was grateful to have a job and was dedicated to it, probably to a fault. 

I'll add that there were outside factors at play that also made being an employee over the last few years difficult. Maybe my perspective is somewhat skewed, but there's a difference between those who say they appreciate you and those who actually do. As the saying goes, actions always speak louder, and when you truly care about someone, you at least hear them out without projecting or making patronizing comments in front of others, even if it's just to end things, especially if it's to end things after so many years.

When it comes to the perhaps puzzling reasoning of those of us who deal with eating disorders or disordered eating patterns, the thought, "Why work on my health when I feel invisible and can't make a right move in the eyes of certain individuals?" is often at play, though I have to say that I was doing what I could to manage under the circumstances this winter. I was just really, really sick. Again, my problem, not anyone else's. But, on the other hand, because simply eating can lead to uncomfortable feelings for those of us who have lingering issues, being in a physically uncomfortable (cold, messy) or emotionally unpleasant (stressful, negative) environment makes taking steps to consume meals or snacks that much more difficult, and I say this as someone who has no problem munching on protein bars while volunteering (and soon to be working) in a vet clinic.

In the end, just like when ending an unhealthy relationship or a connection to a sport in which you can no longer participate, there's a grieving process to navigate. Things are never all good or all bad and I’m very grateful for the positives. I really am, but some endings are so rotten, so vile, they permanently taint any previous nicer moments. And, the worst part is that these types of messy and ugly situations shake a person's confidence. They really are awful and can so easily be avoided. In some cases, though, cutting ties completely is best for everyone involved. 

In a strange way, my fear and past hatred of running don't cloud my ability to see that way deep down inside, I still love it. It's like a friend or relationship with many ups and downs. Things will never be the same again regarding my former place of employment, but at least I'm not alone... in more ways than one if you catch my drift. The good news is that life has a funny way of working out if you can be open to it. I'm still learning.

I start my new job training tomorrow. I'm nervous and excited. I haven't felt this way since I was preparing for a big race. I'm so grateful to the people who supported me through this experience. Thank you doesn't seem like enough.