Friday, May 14, 2010

Go me!

As I get ready to pack up my stuff here in the UK and head back home to Los Angeles, a few things occurred to me. This whole experience, as challenging as it was at times, was a "big f*cking deal," to quote VP Biden. Why? Let's see...

I moved to a foreign country by myself. Not just visiting or in transit. Up and MOVED. I wasn't moving with my family, fiance, or friends. By. My. Self. I was born in England and had been to the UK quite a few times up until I moved. But visiting a place and moving there to live are two very different things, and boy, was I in for a surprise, and it was also scary. I didn't know anyone in Newcastle, so really I was pretty much on my own.

I survived living in a foreign country by myself. I figured because I was pretty familiar with the UK, it wouldn't be too hard to live here. Um...yeah, not so much. It's only when I started living here that I noticed how many little things that I took for granted in the US are different here. Looking back, whining about these differences does seem kind of petty, but when you're far from home, it all adds up to missing home more. The biggest shock was having to drive in the UK: on the other side of the road in a stickshift - talk about trial by fire. Thankfully, my dad taught me to drive a manual car about 10 years ago, but that was also the last time I drove a stick. Then I had to deal with roundabouts, motorways, different traffic rules, narrow streets and tight parking spaces....but guess what? I DID IT. I didn't get into a crash or injure myself or someone else (well maybe the car got injured when I scraped a pillar in a parking garage, but that's it). I can definitively say that I know how to drive on both sides of the road, automatic or manual transmission, in two countries.

I didn't go broke or (God forbid) die living in a foreign country by myself. With the exchange rate between the dollar and pound fluctuating and me getting paid in dollars, this was a real concern. However, I lucked out by finding a room in a house where all utilities (including internet) were included in the rent, which was a lot cheaper than what I would've been paying for my own apartment. With the room in the house came amazing roommates, Charlotte and Ben, who, despite not knowing me before I landed at their doorstep, were always ready, with cup of tea in hand, to comfort me in the depths of my homesickness or physical sickness. I did get hit with some nasty cold viruses in February, one right after the other, and Ben even offered to go to the clinic with me when I became worried about not getting better. Their warmth, humor, and care is something I will always be grateful for...oh, Charlotte would randomly bake us cake or cookies! I also was here during the coldest winter in 30 years, which was a shock to someone who had lived in California for the past 20+ years, but I made it through the snow, slush, and storms.

I realized that I am a very capable adult living in a foreign country. Up until I turned 30, I was always plagued with this feeling that my adulthood was...delayed? I mean I had a job, bills to pay, a social life etc., but I was still living at home with my parents while my friends slowly got married, bought houses, became pregnant, etc. While I know that each of us has our own time and place for stuff like that to happen, you can't help but compare yourself a little. Sure, I missed my parents terribly and the places and people I knew. But I think I did come into my adulthood fully by living here and reminded myself that I am quite capable of taking care of myself. There were a lot of times when I questioned my decision to move to the UK because I felt so lonely and miserable, yet I think I gained a strength and confidence by persevering. I also realized my capabilities in professional and personal capacities, which I hope will translate into new and improved career opportunities and a fulfilling personal life. Also? I'm probably the only out of my friends who got to live abroad, and not as a student. Cross that off the life list :)

I am thrilled and ecstatic to be returning home, but grateful for this experience. Even though I joke that if I don't come back to the UK or hear a British accent for a while that would be fine with me, this place was sort of my desert walk part two. For that reason, it will hold a significant place in my memory.

That said, I am SO ready to wear t-shirts and sandals for the next five months.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I found him...

“Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot, who calls you back when you hang up on him, who will lie under the stars and listen to your heartbeat, or will stay awake just to watch you sleep ... Wait for the boy who kisses your forehead, who wants to show you off to the world when you are in sweats, who holds your hand in front of his friends, who thinks you’re just as pretty without makeup on. One who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares and how lucky his is to have you ... The one who turns to his friends and says, ‘That’s her.’”—Unknown

Stumbling Blocks

If you've read a few previous posts on my blog, it's clear I've been trying to lose weight for a while. I've been successful to some extent, losing about 30 pounds from my heaviest weight, which I will never ever let myself get back to. However, it still feels like there's something that's holding me back, so I've been trying to figure out what may be keeping me from achieving my weight loss goal. What is my block? Fear? Lack of control and self-discipline? Rebellion? An inability to visualize the end result? A self-defeatist attitude? What is it?

The fear I understand because what might happen after I lose all the weight I want to is a giant unknown. This body is what I've had my entire adult life -- I don't know anything different than this shape. How will my life change if -- no, when -- I lose the weight? Will I feel different? Will I be different? Will be treated differently by others? Will I get more attention from people? It seems like the fear has two facets: internally-based fear and externally-based fear. Part of me is terrified of the added attention I may get if I'm thinner and fitter...but is that attention bad? The other part of me is afraid that I'll somehow change as a person though, intellectually, I know I won't really change except for the better. I'll still be me, the same old Rabia, just in a nicer outer packaging. It probably links into my self-esteem issues, i.e., am I worthy of attention and feeling good about myself? Well, yes I am. I am awesome.

But where does my lack of control and self-discipline come from? Did that just never develop in me? I'm a terrible procrastinator and have been for a long time. If I don't like doing something, I won't do it, or I'll put it off for as long as I can. It's not like my parents were really enablers; certainly my dad isn't. Hmm...

That sort of brings me to rebellion. When I was younger, the rebellion aspect made sense -- parents tell me to watch what I eat, and I said, "To hell with that! I'll eat what I want. HA!" That only affected me, really, so that was a sucky way of rebelling. Now I don't have anything to rebel against. My relationship with my parents is great, and, for the most part, I'm happy with my life. So scratch rebellion off the list...unless it's rebellion against some societal definition of beauty? But no, that doesn't make sense either because why would I then pine for my body to become something like the beautiful female figures like those of Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, or Eva Mendes? Yeah, scratch rebellion off the list.

So that brings me to the inability to visualize my body at its ideal weight despite having Kim, Beyonce, Eva and other curvy ladies as paragons of beauty (kind of). They're healthy, not stick thin, and I definitely do not aspire to stick thin-ness. I even had a friend of mine Photoshop my face on to Kim Kardashian's body because she's my height and has a gorgeous body. The results were a bit hilarious, so even with that device, I couldn't visualize a fit, toned me. I do know that under my layers of extra fat is indeed a stunning body. I can sort of see its potential and strength, but I can't visualize the end result. What would really be awesome is getting my own body Photoshopped into a "final" version.

Even then, even after I get that great visual, will I still say to myself, "Oh that will never happen." Do I have a self-defeatist, I-give-up attitude? I like to think that I don't, and I have been quite successful in the past when I put my mind to and effort into eating healthily and working out regularly. What makes me fall off that wagon, and what makes it so hard to get back on when I know results are very possible?

Maybe it's laziness. Maybe it's physiological. Maybe my body is so used to being this way that it fights any process that wants to change it. Like I said, this body is all I can ever remember. But what's the reality of staying with what I know? A litany of possible afflictions -- heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver, depression, anxiety, reproductive system and fertility issues, bone frailty and depression as I get older...the list goes on with what can ail you if you're even slightly overweight. My body has been overweight since I was nine years old. All of my adult life, I've been overweight -- for 21 years I've been overweight. That is a really, really long time. It's time for that to change, face my fears, and visualize a healthier, fitter, and stronger me. In this, my 30th year of life, I made a promise to myself and vowed to become healthy. God willing, I've got another 2/3 of my life to live, and I want to live it well...

UPDATE: Shortly after writing this post, I saw a quote from someone I follow on Twitter, Omar Dhillon -- "If you want something in life that you never had before, then by simple rule of thumb you have to make an effort for it like you have never done before in life." So true.