Lenny's Story {Fiction} #MusicMondays

Dear Readers,
This is a piece of fiction I've been working on for almost a year. It comes and goes but never really leaves. In an effort to write more and get the story out, I've decided to start linking up with My So Called Chaos and Music Mondays. That way I will have a goal of writing every week, and then you all can critique it every week since I don't have money for a proper editor as of now. I have some ideas on how I want it to go, but writing always takes me to different places. I hope you like it and as always, be honest. I'd love any and all feed back.
Thank you,
Megan

*********************************************************************************

Ah, look at all the lonely people…
-”Eleanor Rigby”, The Beatles


John Lennon died on my second birthday. For most people this wouldn’t be a big deal. For most people, the death of a music legend, would just be something cool about the day they were born. For me, John Lennon has never been just some guy who died on my birthday. You can’t be born to my parents and think that John Lennon was just a guy who made music. I’ve been listening to The Beatles since conception. My mother never sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, instead she sang Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. My father sent me birthday cards that were little more than the lyrics to Hey Jude and Yellow Submarine, until the year he actually sent me a model of a yellow submarine. You don’t just grow up, celebrating your birthday on December 8th, and think that John Lennon is just some guy. Especially if you name is Eleanor Lennon Estrada.


I don’t remember anything about my second birthday. My mother has never really liked to talk about it. My assumption is that it has more to do with my father’s absence and less to do with Lennon’s untimely death. I have one photo, and one story told to me by a very drunk Tia Carmen when I was nine. Carmen said that on the night of my second birthday, my mother was very distraught. Always holding high hopes that my father would surprise us all with his presence. Carmen said that my mother was late getting to Abuelita Esperanza’s house, and by the time she arrived with my birthday cake, we had finished dinner hours before. My mother had spend the day and part of the evening working at her important office job at the local hospital. My father, according to Carmen, was “on the road”, a term I had learned early on in my life really meant “no where to be found”. My mother brought the cake and the tears and by seven forty five, I was crying too. Tia Carmen says that she begged my mother to leave me with Abuelita and go to Herman’s bar around the corner to watch the end of the football game. Monday night football was a big draw in the tiny farming town apparently. My mother resisted saying that I needed my sleep and she needed a nice long bath. So Carmen walked us out, and while we drove home, Carmen sat at Herman’s with a whiskey sour as the news broke that Lennon was dead.


According to Tia Carmen, this was why my mother has cried every year on my birthday. Why she listens to Eleanor Rigby on the stereo while she drinking her morning coffee every December 8th. And while the tears fall silently down her cheeks that she still thinks of my father’s call that night, and how maybe, just maybe things could have been different.


Ahh… Look at all the lonely people…


On my fifteenth birthday, I sat down next to my mother on the couch with Eleanor Rigby playing in the background. I didn’t look at her, but just grabbed her hand in mine. Then, in a voice just loud enough to hear her, I asked her, tell me about that night. Tell me about the night he died. It was like I was asking about a relative, and though I wasn’t, somehow I was. Mom squeezed my hand, and said, “Your dad missed that too”.


Mom told me that the phone was ringing off the hook as she opened the apartment door. She knew who it was on the line. Benny, my father. Even though she had left messages for him for weeks, she knew he was going to miss my birthday. Like the year before when he sent a wagon, from the Sears catalog three weeks after my first birthday party with the words, “Sorry, I was on the road”, written in the card. This late night phone call was no surprise.


“She’s asleep Benny. You missed it”


“Mary Elizabeth. Lizzie. Liz. Turn on Monday Night Football”, Esteban “Benny” Estrada choked out through one too many Coors originals. “Just turn on the game”.


“Benny, what in the world..”


“Lizzie. He’s dead. Lennon. Is. Dead”.


I’ve never really known if my father knew it was my birthday. I don’t think he realized it right away. He was just calling my mother to break the terrible and awful news that something in their lives had died. A part of their childhood, their teenage years, perhaps even their love. In the years following, Benny’s calls were always short, and sometimes sweet. I never really knew if it was me that made him so sad, or Lennon. Still, he called, sometimes at three minutes to midnight, but he called.


The only picture from my second birthday, the evidence that it actually happened, I’m sitting in my mother’s lap. There is a cake, which for years I thought had a sad clown, but upon further investigation have found is actually a really ugly Santa Claus. It took years and my cousin Mando’s magnifying glass in fourth grade to figure that out. My mother still has on her trench coat that she wore every winter until I was thirteen and it literally fell apart. She looks very classy and business like in it, despite the hair that is escaping from her once pristine bun. I’m crying, my mouth open wide, saliva dripping from my chin. I’m wearing red overalls and a white turtle neck, my hair in pig tails. My mother is smiling so big, that the only conclusion I could draw was that she was trying to overcompensate for her crying child and absent fiance. It’s a smile that would repeat itself in many a picture for the rest of my life.


Now as an adult, my mother calls me on the morning of my birthday, her nose a little stuffed. Emotion clouding her voice. I know without asking that she has listened to Eleanor Rigby with her coffee. I also know that she has probably shed many of those tears for my father, who she will always love.


Ah, look at all the lonely people….


Sometimes I wish I had a different name.


It’s hard to grow up as Eleanor Lennon Estrada and not hate your name sometimes. My mother says that Benny begged her to name me Lennon whether I was a boy or a girl. She may have, except he was on the road when I was born. Photographing The Clark Hammond Experience. Today the “experience” is just a memory, but Pete Clark is a legend of rock and roll, and my father was his first photographer. How he landed that job I will never know, but my mom says it has something to do with “the right place at the right time”. Unfortunately that turned out to be the wrong time for my mother, since someone had to be responsible. My mother left her life in San Francisco, returned home to a sleepy little farming town in California and had me. She will tell you that she had a good life too, that I was all she ever needed, but I think that’s only true because I was Benny’s daughter, and he was the absolute love of her life.


Mary Elizabeth Shaw met Esteban “Benny” Estrada when she was sixteen at the bowling alley. She wasn’t supposed to be there, not on that side of town. Her father was a farmer, with acres of lettuce, among other things, and Benny was a Mexican, who spent his summers working in those fields. Benny was also the younger brother of my mother’s best friend Carmen Estrada. So when Carmen invited Mary Elizabeth to tag along to her cousin Frank’s fourteenth birthday, my mother accepted. She liked Carmen, and Carmen liked The Beatles, which I think made them instant best friends. My mother had no idea she would meet a boy like Benny. So sure of himself and his camera, that he had gotten for Christmas that year. Benny wasn’t like the boys Mary Elizabeth knew. The ones who played football and baseball and drove their father’s cars to Roy’s hamburger stand. Benny dressed in jeans and striped t-shirts like the surfer boys she saw on TV, She said he walked around like he was in on a private joke. Like he knew the punch line of life. And when he shook her hand, her stomach fell.


The following Monday, she found an envelope with a picture enclosed. She wasn’t looking at the camera, but for the first time in Mary Elizabeth’s life she thought she looked pretty. She felt she could be a person who took a good picture. On the back Benny had written “Lizzie Bean - 1969”.  My mother would keep those photos in her white vinyl jewelry box for the rest of her life.


Mary Elizabeth and Benny graduated from high school in 1970. As planned, my mom moved to San Francisco to go to Secretarial College. Benny stayed behind to work in the fields for his dad, who was a foreman at one of the farms, and start community college. She called Benny every night at six from the pay phone outside the apartment she shared with three other girls at the school. No matter what Benny was doing he made sure to be home for her call. When she called in December to tell him she’d be home in three days for Christmas, he told her he had a surprise for her. Benny had been accepted at the community college in San Francisco, his first semester tuition paid by his parents, and would Mary Elizabeth Shaw do him the honor of becoming his wife. It was the happiest Mary Elizabeth had ever been.


At home for Christmas, Liz and Benny decided that it would be smarted to live together in the city. Mom called her mentor at the secretarial college and she put her in touch with her brother who was a landlord. They sealed the deal over the phone with Benny’s dad, Armando offering a sizable deposit by December 28th that was over two months rent. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until Liz went home to tell her folks. It was 1971 and Grandpa Shaw was a traditionalist. No daughter of his was going to be shacking up with some Mexican as he put it. He also let mom know that he couldn’t abide by no Mexican son in law, and if she moved to San Francisco, she didn’t have a home to come back to. Grandma Shaw cried with a broken heart, but didn’t offer a word otherwise to her husband. Mom packed up what she could in some old warehouse boxes and packed her little car. She didn’t even offer a goodbye because she didn’t want her voice to crack.


Benny’s parents Armando and Esperanza were overjoyed. Mary Elizabeth had been a part of their family since Carmen had invited her to cousin Frank’s fourteenth birthday party. Mary Elizabeth had spent countless nights sleeping over and enjoying Esperanza’s famous enchiladas. Armando and Esperanza offered to pay for the wedding before the love birds left for the big city, but Mary Elizabeth and Benny wanted to wait. Let us get settled they said, let us finish school they argued.  


They did both, and neither.


My mother graduated from the Secretarial College and landed a very solid and good paying job at City Hall. She worked for someone who worked for the Mayor or something like that. My father got tired of going to school and left his job to work at a hotel bar. That’s where he met Pete Clark and David Hammond. Soon Lizzie Bean and Benny were going out every night, listening to every gig Clark and Hammond played until they were discovered with a house band at the Fillmore. Soon The Clark Hammond Experience needed a photo for a Rolling Stone debut article, and it was Benny Estrada’s photo that was printed next to the article. From there Benny went on the road, and by 1977, he lived on tour buses and in hotels in foreign lands, while my mother lived in their walk up and worked overtime to make sure the rent was paid. On one of Benny’s stops in San Francisco in 1977, my mother became pregnant. When she told Benny, he promised her that he’d be back after The Clark Hammond Experience played their Midwest tour. Mom moved back to Salinas after Benny called from Flint to say he missed her, but that the tour was going to be extended.


Much to her embarrassment, she found herself with no job and no place to live when she arrived home. She stopped at Carmen’s new apartment to tell her the news about Benny and the baby. Carmen said she could stay there on the couch until she figured it out, but that didn’t last once Esperanza found out. Esperanza said that Elizabeth needed a proper bed, and the baby a crib. Esperanza opened her home and rearranged the room Carmen had just vacated. Carmen helped her move in and Armando brought home a crib he had bought at Sears. Overwhelmed my mother spent her first three days in the Estrada home in her bed, crying and pining for Benny. Benny spent those days in Chicago with an underage groupie and cocaine.


Mary Elizabeth found a new job and a new life in Salinas. A stellar recommendation from the Mayor’s office helped her get a job in the administration building at the hospital. Along with the job she was able to find an apartment, much to Esperanza’s dismay, and by her third trimester she was living a brand new life. Eventually Benny tracked her down. He begged her to come home, although he was living in the hotel he formerly worked. He offered to come to her, but she always said no. It was easier this way. It was better this way. In her heart she knew Benny was in no shape to be a father.


In the early morning hours of December 8th, 1978, Mary Elizabeth awoke to find her water broken. She called Carmen, and Carmen drove her to the hospital in her green Volkswagen beetle. Carmen held my mother’s hand, fed her ice chips, and cried with her when the pain was too much to bare. Mary Elizabeth accepted no pain medication, as her punishment for loving Benny Estrada the way she did. Instead she sang every Beatles song she knew from memory starting with I wanna hold your hand. She would start and stop with each contraction. Somewhere around noon, she had started singing her favorite, “Eleanor Rigby”, and in between pushes and screaming she would silently whisper, “Ah, look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from”. I was born after the second chorus, and given the name Eleanor Lennon Estrada. 
Which makes it impossible for me to escape my name and the soundtrack of my life.

******************************************************************************************************

Leave your edits and recommendations in the comments. And thanks for playing along.



My So Called Chaos

Finding happy again


It's easy to forget what happy looks like. Every day life gets in the way. Work, school, bills, laundry. All of those things pile up. Some days they suffocate you, and you can't see past bedtime. Some days breathing takes effort. Then, on other days, the laundry doesn't bother you. Chicken nugget dinners seem like your biggest success. The work load doesn't feel so heavy. It's in those moments that I don't recognize happy. I don't recognize content. I sometimes forget what they look like.

Recently I realized that I had been angry for the better part of a year. Damn, that's hard to write. At the time, I thought I was sad or just really stressed out. I felt like I was forcing the smile on my face. I was forcing the words that came out of my mouth. Every small detail of my life stressed me out. The littlest hiccup set me off. The slightest blip could bring my entire mood tumbling down. In my mind, I convinced myself that it was stress. The stress of being a working mom after so many years of staying home. I convinced myself it was because I was being a cry baby because I was going to miss this class party or that school event. Snap out of it, I told myself time and again, lots of moms miss school or dance things. They still go on, they are still smiling. They are still happy. So I waded through all the bullshit in my heart, I looked past all the disappointments that began to pile up. I told myself that if I just got through (insert life event here), then I would be able to pull myself out of it.

But I never did.

I left my former employer the day before my family's trip to Disneyland. I was too excited that we were going to the Happiest Place on Earth to really feel the magnitude of the goodbye. I spent a blissful four days in Anaheim. I said "yes" so many more times that I said "no". I teared up multiple times so thankful that we were on a family vacation, that we had hit a major milestone, that we had made it after all those days spent working out butts off. It wasn't until I got home that I realized that I was so much lighter in my heart and my mind. The very idea that I didn't have to go back to work immediately seemed like a freedom I hadn't tasted in months. Almost eighteen months to be exact.

In all I spent almost four weeks without working. Between my vacation and transitioning into my new job, I spent that time at home, with my kids and my husband. I didn't hate it. Sure there was laundry and a birthday party to plan. A preschool graduation and the last days of school. I enjoyed them all. Even when I did start my new job, it was with a new and fresh perspective. I was excited to move on to something new. Something that was exciting and scary and really out of my comfort zone. That changed my whole attitude.

My first few weeks at work have been completely different than what I was doing six months ago. Sure the hours and work load is different, but I'm flexing "muscles" I haven't flexed in years. I'm having to go back and re-learn things I once knew in my early years in retail. My new job doesn't exhaust my mind or my body. I come home with energy and positivity. It's amazing how different your day can be when you are no longer angry at every aspect of your day.

I'll admit that I really didn't want to go back to work in January 2014. I was happy being a stay at home mom, and a blogger/writer in progress. I enjoyed my day, even if they had no routine or schedule to them. But my checkbook didn't like my at home routine, so after seven years, I went out and made that change for all of us. And for awhile it was a good thing. I tried to stay positive, I tried to make the most of it. But really my heart was never in it. In hindsight it was the job, the actual job and job description that my heart was never on board. I loved the people and the idea of the job title, but the actual job drained me in a way I never knew could. Yet, I'm so grateful for having it. I learned so much about myself. I learned that I still could be a career woman. I still had some smarts rolling around in my mommy brain. I could be successful in a place other than motherhood. Those are all very good things, and I felt really good about those things for a while. But over time, I realized that they didn't really make happy. The hours, the exhaustion, and the resentment I felt about missing my family settled hard in my heart. In the end, I learned that this wasn't making me happy, and I missed being happy.

I don't want to be angry anymore. In the last six weeks so much has changed in this family of four. With their mother back, my kids are happy. I selfishly spent too long being angry at the world and at the circumstances. Sure I still yell, I still lose my temper over string cheese wrappers on the couch, but I'm no longer side tracked by anger. I no longer feel like I'm running out of time, that I will be working more than I'll be with my kids. Now, I hug more. I stop and say yes more. Yes, let's read Harry Potter. Yes, tell me all about your Shopkins. Yes, chocolate chip pancakes sound like a wonderful idea. Anger takes a lot of energy, I now realize, and without it, I have a lot more energy to be myself. The happy self. Even the Hubbs asked me for two weeks if I was okay. He must of thought I'd found a new drug, because it was that noticeable. Nope. No new drug, I just finally recognized what happy looks like.

A few weeks ago, when I was talking to a friend about my new job, we got to talking about the anger I've shed. I told her how much lighter I felt, how free I felt as I walked into a new job, quite possibly a new career. I told her that I would never go back to what I was doing before, I wouldn't sign up for angry and miserable again. She agreed and said something that is so quotable that it needs to be cross stitched on a pillow...

"We're too old to sign up for miserable".

Yes we are. I don't want to waste anymore time being miserable. I don't want to carry anger around like an extra twenty pounds. I want to forget what anger looks like.

Because happy looks like trips to Target just before bedtime because we are out of milk. Happy looks like sitting in our neighbors yard watching the kids fight over bikes and otter pops. Happy looks like my daughters sitting at the kitchen counter waiting for me to flip pancakes. Happy looks like a trip to the car wash with my family, on a lazy Sunday, followed by ice cream for dinner.

Today, I remember what happy looks like. It looks a lot like contentment. Lately, it looks a lot like me.




June 26th, 2007


The morning my daughter was born, I cried quietly in the bathroom before getting dressed for the hospital. At the time, I didn't know that this was going to be the day my daughter was born. I was hopeful though, after missing not one, not two, but three consecutive due dates. Would this baby every come out? Would I ever become a mother? I asked myself those questions, but I really didn't want the answers.

I was terrified.

There I was peeing and crying and realizing that Holy Shit, there was a kid about to come out of me. Maybe even that day! I wasn't crying because of the pain of labor, although I was afraid of that. I wasn't crying because my life was going to change. Duh, people. I knew that, and even if I hadn't, everyone I encountered since the two pink lines showed up, had something to say about it. I knew that I wasn't going to get a good nights sleep ever again. I knew I'd never eat a hot meal again for many years. I knew that I'd never be alone again, not even to pee. I got that. I knew that. I was ready for that.

Still I was terrified.

Because everyone kept telling me that motherhood would come naturally. Motherhood would be the most natural thing I ever did. Yet, there was this little voice in my head, nagging me. Nagging me hours before I'd be bringing a life into this world that said, "Nothing is ever that easy".

It wasn't. Motherhood wasn't the most natural thing I had ever done.

Caitlin was born at four twenty-six in the afternoon, and by five o'clock I was seriously questioning my decisions in life so far. I looked at that little bundle of joy, and wondered, when is her mother coming to pick her up? Then I'd realize, oh, stupid, that's us. We're the mother. Who was going to change this kids diapers? Breastfeed? Tell her how to make good and solid life decisions? How the hell am I going to do that?

The first diaper I ever changed was Caitlin's. The breastfeeding went terribly. The bottle feeding swimmingly. She never slept, and neither did I. I was too stubborn and didn't really feel right about the "crying it out" method. I second guessed by self the entire way through her first year. Because two months later, six months later, one year later, I was terrified.

I was so afraid of not being perfect. I was so afraid of letting her down. I was so afraid that she could tell I totally sucked at motherhood. That she knew I didn't have one ounce of my shit together. I was terrified that people thought I was a horrible mother because she took a bottle, and because she slept in my bed. I was terrified that someone would realize what a terrible, no good, fuck up of a mother I was and take her away. I was so afraid that the world would know, finally know that I wasn't good at everything like I had always led them to believe. That everyone would finally know I was a fraud.

Funny thing is, I wasn't a fraud. I wasn't terrible or horrible. I was just a mother. I was just a human. My baby wasn't the only one crying. My baby wasn't the only one who took a bottle. My baby wasn't the only one who slept with me on the couch or in the guest bedroom bed. I wasn't the only mother who felt like a failure. In fact, according to some, I wasn't a failure at all.

It took time and a lot of phone therapy with my best friend to come to those conclusions. Eight years ago motherhood was a lonely place for me. I didn't blog or read blogs. The only parenting books were the "how to" kind, and who the fuck needed those? There were a million and one books to tell you how to me the perfect parent, and not a single one to tell you just to be a parent. Not a single book to reassure me and a million others that we were doing just fine, that we were writing the rules of our own stories.

June 27th, 2007 was the day I became a mother. There were no backsies. Ready or not, there I went into the great unknown, without an ounce of natural talent. Tomorrow I will probably cry while peeing again, because we did okay, her and I. We made it to eight. Which eight years ago seemed impossible. I'm so grateful for her, for all the challenges she brought, for all the joy and love she has given me. Without her I would have never known that I could do great and amazing things. Even when I was on my knees begging for just an ounce of sanity, I did and will continue to do great things. All because I became a mother. Her mother.


I wouldn't have it any other way.


Preschool Graduations and other heartaches


My baby graduated from preschool and I lived to tell the tale. What started with the tiny cap and gown hanging in my closet for a month, ended with a store bought chocolate cake and a gallon of chocolate ice cream. This entire school year passed like someone else's life, and yet there I was, in the same hall as the Christmas program just six months before, watching my little one grab her "diploma".

I didn't cry. Maybe I should have, but while it was bittersweet, it was also a relief. It was an exhale of all those harried mornings, all the missed show and tells, all the school parties I couldn't be at last year. I teared up a few times, especially when they played this sappy Taylor Swift song about growing up or something like that, and then I felt like as ass for tearing up. All around me parents and grandparents were crying, and I was sitting like a heart of stone.

I guess it's because I cry at other times.

Mackenzie really has grown up this year. We now buy her clothes in the "girls" department, not the toddlers. She has decided to grow out her hair, and so her little a-lined noggin is a thing of the past. She likes to paint her nails and her toe nails. She knows all the words to "Blank Space". She can also count to one hundred and say her alphabet. She can even write her name.

Mackenzie seems so big and so small at the same time. And so I tear up and my heartaches when she does those little things that remind me that she is the baby.

She still rubs my earlobes when she's tired or scared. She still wants me to snuggle her in the morning. She will still crawl in my lap and pretend she isn't tired, when it's so obvious she is. She is still afraid of the dark, and of loud noises outside her window. Just last week when we were watching a movie, she covered her eyes at the part where the kids were going to get into trouble, then began to peek through her fingers so she wouldn't miss it. She still wants to be a princess and a teacher when she grows up. She still wants mom when it gets dark.

And even though it sometimes feels like I still have a baby in the house, I found myself at a preschool graduation. My daughter's preschool graduation. I wasn't quite ready for my last baby to say goodbye to preschool and hello to kindergarten. I wish that I could extend summer another month, to make sure we put off the new school year as long as possible. Because after kindergarten it all starts to fly. That is really what makes my heartache. It's not just the idea that there aren't any babies left in this house. It's that there is nothing we can do to stop them from becoming grown ups. They keep growing up. I keep growing old, and I guess, nostalgic.

There was no pomp or circumstance for this preschool graduation. There was cake and people who loved her. There was a cap and a gown, and for whatever reason her insistence on wearing rainbow socks with that cap and gown. She also demanded shorts and a t-shirt, and thankfully, I talked her into a new blouse instead. We had a quiet good-bye to great teachers and a fantastic school. I had a quiet good-bye to a part of my mothering life that is over. Those years right before school is a constant. When going to school is optional, and it's for half a day three or four days a week. I said good-bye to homework free nights and optional field trips. I've said good-bye to an era that I thought I couldn't wait to get out of, but sadly am now regretful to leave. Why do we spend so much time looking forward, and not enough time looking around? Why are we always in such a rush?

I'm not rushing this summer. I want to enjoy every last minute before I have a kindergartner. I want to cherish and hold every last second before I finally realize nothing will stop time or the little heartaches along the way.

Finding the right fit {WIW: Elevate Conf 2015}




I wore shorts to Elevate this year. If you have followed this blog for more than a year, then you must know that I struggle with what to wear to the conference every year.  This year I just wanted to be comfortable. I didn't want to bake in the sun (it was actually unseasonably cool this year) and I didn't want to be pulling at my sweaty clothes all day. Shorts and a flowy tank were perfect, and when I look at this picture I'm pretty happy with the way I look. The shorts are one size bigger than I normally buy, but they sat better on my hips than the smaller size. The tank hid any flaws in my mid section and the sandals were just perfect. There is something to be said about feeling confident in your skin, let alone in your clothes.

This hasn't always been the case. For the better part of the year I've been struggling with my weight. I'm sure most people look at me and say, "She is so tiny", because I'm short and could fit in my husband's pocket. Yet for me, this is a size I'm not used to even though I weigh exactly what I weighed when I got pregnant with Mackenzie. Back then I was happy with that size, even though I never could fit in my pre-Caitlin jeans. I just bought new jeans and kind of started a new life. I would have been happy fitting into those jeans after having Mackenzie and I did, until I didn't. After having Mackenzie my body went into shock. I suffer from autoimmune deficiencies, and found that everything I ate made me sick. I was exhausted, and because I was eating a really restricted diet I lost a lot of weight. So much weight that I found myself a size I hadn't been since my freshman year of high school. I didn't hate that size, I'll admit it. I was really tiny, and I had to buy jeans in a size I had never fit in before. My clothes fit in such a way that I loved the way looked. For the first time in years, I really did love my body.

Then I got better. With the help of a new diet and some really good supplements, I started eating again. I even started exercising again, running if you can believe it. And I felt good, I felt really good. I felt like I was finally healthy. Then something strange started to happen, my tiny jeans got tight. Shirts I was comfortable in, weren't so comfortable anymore. I started to see flaws when I looked in the mirror. Then I stepped on a scale and was shocked. Up almost six pounds.

That was almost two years ago. Those six pounds eventually turned into eight. Now those eight are actually more like ten. Those tiny jeans went in the giveaway pile. Some of those shirts have been passed on. I've had to buy new jeans. I've had to buy new shirts. Most importantly I've had to "buy" a new attitude. I've had to look in the mirror and buy into this person looking back at me. And let me tell you, it's taking a really long time.

In March I turned thirty seven, and on my thirty seventh birthday I woke up and worked out in my living room. Some Jillian Michaels torture session. I didn't make a big announcement on social media. I was proud of myself, but I also didn't want to fly my would be failure on social media. I say that because I was pretty sure I wouldn't keep up with it. I knew that I'd do really well for three weeks and then when nothing had changed, not the scale, not the way my clothes fit, I would look at my five in the morning alarm and say "fuck it".

But I didn't. I told myself that I didn't have to work out every day. I challenged myself to use my birthday "gift" three times a week. Since I had at least two days off, those became mandatory work out days. The first month was awful. I hated getting up that early, but when I did, when I worked out, I felt so much better about the day and myself. Oh, God. I know what you are thinking. I'm that person who is going to tell you how amazing exercise it. Don't worry. I'm not. I still hate waking up early to exercise. I still have a special kind of hate for Jillian Michaels at five thirty in the morning. I still gasp for air and spell the eff word while doing jumping jacks. But... I really do feel better when it's all said and done.

The changes haven't been drastic. I'm not sure anyone has really noticed, but I have. When I was in Disneyland last month my jeans were bigger. My tank tops didn't cling like they did a month before. My shorts were so loose I could have used a belt. Those were changes I was okay with. Maybe no one else could tell, but I could. I knew I was finding the right fit. The right fit for me.

I've said before on this blog that I will never have flat abs. I will never run a marathon (at least I think I probably won't because it's not a desire of mine). I will never work out every day of the week because sleep, duh. And everyday is a cheat day if it's going to be a good day. But I really want to like the body that I see in the mirror. I really want to find the right fit. I'm quite happy with the way I look currently, even if I hate what the scale says. It's funny because I don't feel like the number the scale says. I feel lighter than that. I feel fitter than that. I finally feel like I no longer want to worry about enjoying chocolate almond cupcakes or coconut milk ice cream by the pint. Years ago I read about people who were throwing away their scales. I'm making it a point to only step on them at the doctor's office.

I look at that picture from Elevate and I feel like it fits. That's me. I'm not sick anymore. I'm not sad anymore. I'm not post baby or prebaby or in training for anything but living a happy and full life. I like being healthy, even if I hate the five a.m. wake up call. I like that my clothes feel like they fit. I like that I don't make myself feel bad if I decide to sleep in, or if I decide to eat french fries. If I decide to eat an entire pint of coconut milk ice cream, I want to be able to face myself in the morning. When I look in the mirror today, I feel like I'm finally looking at me. Flaws and all. Smiles and all. That's a welcomed change after a struggle with finding the right fit for the better part of two years.

I didn't work out this morning. Sleep and the silence of the house was too tempting. I stayed in bed. I ate a frozen banana in my night shirt, while sitting in our recliner. I finished a book I started on Sunday.

I have to admit, it felt really good. In fact, it fit perfectly.