Why The Obesity Epidemic Is a Thing

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Earlier today, I was thinking about something that plagues my mind frequently: obesity.

Now, I want to start this post off by saying that I am in no way attempting to body shame, throwing hate in the direction of anyone, etc. I am merely expressing my opinion.

As a personal trainer, my biggest concern is that my clients, and the people around me, are healthy and happy. So if they’re healthy and happy, but are a little bit bigger, that’s not an issue. It’s when the weight becomes detrimental to their health (mental and/or physical) and their self-confidence that I begin to grow concerned.

But I often wonder why the number of obese people in the world has gone up.

It very well could be all the artificial crap in our food.

It could be the fact that in some places, it is more expensive to eat healthy, whole foods, as opposed to eating boxed/bagged/artificial shite.

It could be that the average person sits for hours on end, not even bothering to stretch their legs occasionally.

But then I thought back to reading in a psychology book about how most of our habits stem from our childhood.

And I thought…

We teach our children to starve themselves for hours and binge when they get the chance.

You might think I’ve gone mad, but hear me out!

The average adult leaves for work before the sun finishes its ascent. They often rush out the door without breakfast (or are munching on something ridiculously quick as they go). They work all day. Some skip lunch, because they don’t get a paid lunch break. Others go on a trek for food that often leads them to fast food of some description. There are usually liquid calories in some form too.

Then, a few hours later, they come home, snack until dinner is ready, eat dinner, and maybe have a light snack before bed…at 11:30 to 1 am, on average.

 

Now, think about it this way:

The average child/teen leaves for school in the typical morning rush. Most times, breakfast is something quickly woofed down/dragged along. They get to school and begin their day.

After kindergarten, snack time is usually no more.

So 1st graders onwards are told not to eat in the classroom, as it will attract bugs if they drop something.

The day slowly ticks by.

Finally, 12pm or 12:30pm (depending on their lunch block) arrives, and kids of all ages quickly much something from a lunchbox or cafeteria (or, if teens, go off-campus in search of fast food).

Once scarfing something down in 30 minutes or less (usually less for lunch-buyers), the student returns to class, works, receives a ridiculous amount of homework, and then either stays for extracurriculars or goes home.

Once at home, much like the adult, the child snacks before dinner, usually the simplest, quickest, “OMG-I’m-STAH-VING!” snack ever. Then they eat dinner. Then, they may plead for dessert. Then, after all the homework is done, they jump into bed, sleep, and do it all over again.

 

“But Liv, how does that aid in obesity?”

Well, children are stuffing breakfast down their throat at about…6:30, maybe 7AM. They go to school, not getting lunch until about 12-12:30. That’s anywhere from 4-6 hours without food. Now, that might not seem like much, but if a child has only munched a 70 calorie piece of toast with 30 calories of butter, how can you expect them to function properly on 100 calories for up to 6 hours?

Their metabolism, your metabolism, needs to be properly fueled. Most dietitians recommend eating something every three hours to stay full and focused.

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These same children eat for 30 minutes tops, come home, usually exhausted, and stuff their face with whatever they can find. They’re so hungry, they grab for the unhealthy things all kids love; sugary cereals, cookies, artificially flavored snack packs, etc.

You may argue that your children consist on a diet of fruit, yogurt, fresh meats, etc. That’s all fine and well, but regardless of whether the food is healthy or not, we’re engraining a system of shovel, starve, binge, starve, binge, repeat into our children.

Their metabolisms are not functioning the same. Their brain isn’t taught to properly evaluate how hungry they are, or if they’re hungry at all!

Even worse for some of the kids doing extracurriculars! YOUR CHILD DOES NOT NEED A 32 OZ. TUB OF GATORADE FOR RUNNING IN CIRCLES FOR 45 MINUTES. GIVE THEM WATER, OR COCONUT WATER.

Good grief.

Along with the nutrition, let’s remember the following:

A) Lots of schools have done away with recess.

B) P.E. is usually once a week or every other week, and often, coaches are focused on their athletic students, and ignore the ones who need the most help (add in bullying to that disaster recipe!).

C) Pizza is considered a vegetable. (Yes, yes I am still angry about this)

 

Scary world, right?

Now, I’m not pinning this all on the schools. Not at all. I believe good habits begin at home. However, school boards could offer a helping hand.

Here are my tips on how to make sure your child gets what they need (and you too!):

 

Prep. to-go breakfast the night before. Or wake up earlier to prepare/eat something before you go! I’m a big fan of putting a boiled egg and some fruit in a tupperwear box for on-the-go ease (so easy to prep!).

Ditch the junk at lunch. Take a lunch with you, if you can. Snack-size carrots and hummus, lean meats, cut up apple, etc. All good, filling things that are portable. If your child buys lunch, make sure they take a piece of fruit or a bag of almonds with them!

Sneaky snacks are always great. I don’t want to go against teachers/bosses/etc. and get anyone in trouble, but if you can, a handful of almonds, a small bag of grapes, etc. are all great snacks to help you power through the rest of the day.

Healthy snacks on hand at home. I believe that fruit is nature’s fast food. When you get home and you’re starving hungry, help yourself to some fruit or maybe some vegetables. Cut up at apple and put it on a rice cake with some nut butter. It’s healthy, filling, and easy.

Don’t scarf dinner down like breakfast. Savor your meal, enjoy it.

Dessert, anyone? I’m not against dessert. To be truthful, I enjoy a sweet treat every now and then. However, try and limit yourself. Maybe one scoop of ice-cream with some berries in a small dish? There are so many ways to treat yourself within your favorite healthy dishes. (Psst! When I want a small treat, I fill a small dish with blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and put in a tablespoon of chocolate chips! Yum!)

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Things Running a Half Marathon Taught Me

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So it’s been nine days since I ran my first official half-marathon. I feel like I discovered a lot about myself while I was training and during the event itself…and even after.

I think that’s the thing I love best about running; all of the things it teaches me–the chance it gives me to release stress and think and give time for soul-searching.

I began training for my half-marathon on October 22nd, 2014.

Before that, I had run a 5k in high school, but the most I’d ever run distance-wise was six miles.

The idea of running 13.1 made me want to cry.

But, with the encouragement of a few friends, I woke up early, laced up my running shoes, and was out the door to see if I could run for over an hour without stopping.

Forty minutes in, I wanted to cry, sit down, and call for someone to come pick me up. Yes, you read that right: the personal trainer hated running.

I wanted my weights back.

I wanted to know that in an hour, I’d have burned 500 calories, done a multitude of moves, and would still burn calories throughout the day.

I wanted my protein shakes.

But as much as I wanted to stop, I pushed myself. That was Lesson Number 1: Not giving up.

That day, I ran for an hour and a half–nine and a half miles; I felt like I had just done a squat with the globe on my back: Atlas Shrugged-style.

I was so sore the next day, I didn’t want to move, but I got up, ran two miles, came home, did a circuit, and carried on with my day.

The next day, I ran again…eleven miles…twelve on the next day.

I spoke to Tom that day to get insight on my new novel, and he laughed when I expressed my frustration. I was so mad that I hadn’t hit thirteen…this went on for a week. It felt like I added distance–which felt like a mountain–but in reality, had only added half a mile.

Then, on Monday, November 10th, I did it. I hit 13.38 miles. I had ran over a half marathon…in two hours, twenty-five minutes.

I wanted to cry with happiness.

I had gone from running a daily total of four miles, a maximum of six, and here I was, running over a half marathon.

Nothing could bring me down that day.

Enter Lesson Number 2: Keep trying, and you’ll get there. It can take a while, and it can be exhausting, but if you keep trying, eventually, you’ll reach your goal.

The other beautiful thing about running, is the fabulous effects it has on your body. With a mix of cardio, circuit training, and some weight training, I began to notice changes to my body. For the first time in my life, my abs were somewhat visible, and I wanted to jump for joy.

Below, you can see my “progress pictures” I took at the end of October…a week after beginning my intense training…yes, I have more, but I’m waiting to post them on January 1st.

me

 

 

And so closes Lesson Number 3: Hard work pays off.

The more I ran, the more I fell in love with running…and the more achy my arthritic left knee was. Ouch. But, I pushed on, made sure to take vitamins for my joints, including plenty of fish oil.

Of course, add that with clean eating and a gallon of water a day, it’s no wonder my results were coming so rapidly.

 

After squeezing in time to run, I re-established the lesson I had learned doing the 1001 Songs Challenge on Planet Stereo: You make time for the things that are important to you, and, damn, if this wasn’t important to me. I just wanted to know I could do it.

I knew I had run over thirteen miles before, but never in an official race. I was desperate to know that I could do it…and that I could have something to be proud of.

Finally, December 6th, the day of the race, hit. I woke up at 5AM on a chilly morning, resisting the urge to curl back up into my warm blankets. I got out of bed, pulled on my running gear, and quickly scarfed down a banana and a sachet of almond butter.

Then my mother and I drove 50 minutes into the city, hunted for parking, and walked about a mile to the start of the race…needless to say, a good warm-up.

At 7:30AM, the race began, and off we all went.

For the first two miles, I felt great, maintaining an 8 minute mile pace which had me grinning like a fool.

I started to slow down, realizing I hadn’t paced myself at the beginning (oops), I began to slow down ever so slightly. Enter my second mistake: Around the seventh mile, I started to leave my own head and started letting my competitive attitude take over.

I set my sights on a speedy girl in a purple running shirt, and was adamant that I would beat her to the finish line.

I was so focused on her, I didn’t pay attention to my footwork. So, of course, I twisted my ankle. I tried to run on it for until mile eight, and then I slowed down.

As I barely jogged along, I wanted to call my mom and Tom, both stood at the finish line as my cheerleaders, and cry, beg them to come and get me, tell them I was wrong, and that I couldn’t do it.

Looking back, I feel pathetic for feeling like that.

I wish I could go back in time and kick myself up the rear; tell myself to get going.

Then, just when I felt like giving up, a man with muscular dystrophy ran past me.

As I looked at him, and I saw the beads of sweat dripping off of his face, and the look of pure exhaustion, the look of intent concentration on pushing himself, I realized I was being a wimp.

Here was a man who was probably in agony…who was using the muscles he had left to push himself through the last miles, sailing past me, as I was feeling desperate enough to call for a ride.

Seeing that sparked a fire in me, and I decided that if I couldn’t run for me, I was going to run for my loved ones who couldn’t run anymore (lesson number four): Zoraida in her bed, dying from ALS; my late Uncle Peter who’s Kennedy’s disease slowly reduced him until talking became a difficult task; the ALS patient in the clinic who had said hello to me through the use of his electronic voice box–the one who had seen a fifteen year old who was scared and confused for a loved one, and, despite being sick himself, offered comfort.

I picked up my pace, looking down at my heart rate monitor with a new surge of determination.

And when I crossed that finish line at 2 hours and 15 minutes, hearing my mom and Tom cheer (obviously, just like graduation, I heard my mom long before I saw her), it was the most rewarding, exhausting, beautiful feeling in the world.

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crossing the finish line

I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry.

I wanted to jump and holler with joy, but my muscles wouldn’t allow it.

Instead, I guzzled the water an aid handed me, much to his astonishment. With wide eyes, he asked me if I needed another bottle. I quickly shook my head, moving out of the way for other runners.

Another woman put my medal over my head, complimenting my choice of visually pleasing running tops, and I grinned, pretending I had energy for conversation.

When my mom, Tom, and I walked over the the Finisher’s Party in the Park, I happily received free chocolate milk…ooh, a joy I hadn’t known in so long. I posed for pictures, got some feeling back in my toes, legs, and even fingers, and got enough energy back to engage in conversations with other human beings.

We went for delicious food to refuel, and then, finally, started the trek home.

Taking off my running shoes and getting in the shower was a sweet, beautiful task that I found new appreciation for.

I was more sore than I had ever been; walking made my ache. It wasn’t until the following Tuesday that I had the energy to do circuit training…and the following Thursday until I dared to go for a run longer than two miles.

Of course, a few days later, when I bought the pictures from the race, I faced a whole new mountain: appreciating the photos.

I still don’t know if I fully do.

I looked at the pictures with disdain, wondering why I had spent $56 on these awful snapshots. The more I looked at them, the more flaws I saw; the more I vowed to go on a liquid diet.

 

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Yes, personal trainers have body issues too. It’s true.

It took a few friends telling me I was begin silly to realize I was overreacting, and re-entering the days of my negative self-esteem: the days of counting calories and eating only 1200 calories a day, and stressing out if I ate more than 600 calories by 3pm.

I felt like an idiot.

I don’t love all of the photos, but as I look at them, I am learning to appreciate them: to appreciate the fact that my body had pushed through 13.1 miles…on a twisted ankle, no less!

 

Looking very zen...yeah, right!

Looking very zen…yeah, right!

 

Enter Lesson Number Five: Don’t beat your body up because it doesn’t look like a model in a fitness magazine; appreciate it for the incredible things it can do.

I am editing together all of photos and clips into a short video which I will post soon….maybe on my 2014 Recap.

I am renewed with my love of fitness, my motivation, and my desire to cross another thing off of the bucket list I wrote at fourteen: Run a full marathon. All 26.2 miles.

 

So, let’s review. Here are the things I learned from my run:

1. Not giving up…Just, don’t do it.

2. Keep trying, and you’ll get there.

3. Hard work pays off.

4. Don’t just run for yourself. If I couldn’t run for me, I was going to run for my loved ones who couldn’t run anymore.

5. Don’t beat your body up because it doesn’t look like a model in a fitness magazine; appreciate it for the incredible things it can do.

 

Here’s to the many runs I hope follow this one and the life lessons I hope to continue to learn that will eventually lead to finding my definition of my favorite word in the world: GUMPTION.

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So Now Run

“The moon invites the madness
Brings out the worst in me
Don’t tell me this thing’s loaded
Please don’t tell me anything at all

You put
the gun
in my hand
So now run
I’ll stall
the demons
But you really should be leaving…”

-“Run,” The Maine

 

This year has been hell in a hand basket.

From a million little moments I can barely begin to cover to make up for all the blog posts I haven’t published, but then there are the big ones.

I’ve been inspired in the last few months; inspired to change my life, no matter what that means. I started working on a new novel, which is flowing easily and making me smile more and more day by day. I’m hoping that I can by done with it by New Years.

At the end of October, I signed up and began training for my very first half marathon. Today was the day.

I didn’t go hard on my training from Tuesday to Friday, and went to bed VERY early last night (8:30-9:00 pm). This morning, I was up at 5:00, dressed and ready by 5:30, and out the door by 6AM. The race kicked off at 7:30, and the moments before had be completely nervous.

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I met up with my friend Terry, who was also running, and we got in line to begin running. After the National Anthem, the DJ/Announcer let us know that there was 30 seconds until the official start. That’s when my nerves set in, although I wasn’t sure if they were nerves or just an effect of adrenaline. But once we all started running, I felt a lot more confident. Terry and I were on pace for the first mile and a half, and then I kept losing him, catching up, etc.

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On mile 7, we hit brick-laid road…and that’s when I twisted my ankle (OUCH!). I slowed to a walk/hobble, and then I saw a man with cancer, and another with muscle dystrophy, both still running. “If they can do it, so can I,” I thought, picking my pace back up.

I sprinted up hills, ran through busy streets, got passed by people, passed people, and, finally, hit the finish line. I heard my mom screaming before I saw her. She and Tom were stood behind the barriers with big grins, and my mom was recording my crossing (posting this soon!) It took 2 hours and 15 minutes, but I got it done. I feel more inspired to run another, and to begin training for a marathon, than I ever have before.

Please excuse the first gross picture of me being done (I was sweaty and gross, and very happy to be handed my water jug).

 

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My mom’s boss also ran in the race (as did one of her coworkers), so, of course, I took a picture with him.

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I’ll post more pictures when the official ones are released, which will hopefully be done soon! 🙂 Thanks to all my awesome friends and a huge congrats to my friends Terry and Rod, who placed 2nd in his division and finished the halfer in 1 hour 5 minutes. 🙂

Street Dogs Announce European Headliner w/ Bishops Green

Street Dogs just announced a European headliner in August with Bishops Green as support.
 
 
8/6 – London, England – Underworld
8/7 – Blackpool, England – Rebellion Festival
8/8 – Winchester, England – Boomtown Fair
8/9 – Torgau, Germany – Endless Summer
8/10 – Frankfurt, Germany – 11er Club
8/11 – Lindau, Germany – Club Vaudeville 
8/12 – Eindhoven, Netherlands – Dynamo
8/13 – Oberhausen, Germany – Kulttempel
8/14 – München, Germany – Backstage
8/15 – Portomaggiore/Ferrara, Italy – What Is Rock? Festival*
8/16 – Stemwede, Germany – Stemweder Open Air Fest*
 
* – denotes no Bishops Green

If This Is Really It, This Is Starting Over…

“Hit me last night like a ton of bricks,
if this is really it, this is starting over
There’s no should’ve, could’ve, would’ve said this, 
done that, no turning back, no more I wonders
No harm done, no hard feelings,
maybe some other time but gives me some peace of mind
If that was the end of the ride, I’m getting back in line…”

-Hunter Hayes, “Nothing Like Starting Over”

 

I know, I’m terrible at keeping this blog updated. I’ve also been really bad at writing in my journal, but maybe that’s why I’ve been so stressed lately.

However, I’m happy to report that over the last few months, I have had a complete shift in attitude.

And it got me thinking, what if I changed the way I looked at every problem or inconvenience in a different perspective? I’m not saying walk around smiling all the time, like being on too much valium or something, but just to change my perspective.

Maybe, just maybe, things could be different.

As many of you know, I am leaving America, whee I have lived for the last 14 years of my life, and returning to the UK permanently. When my mom and I first received the news that we would have to leave, we were devastated. To be entirely truthful, we were furious, and then the devastation set in.

For the last six to eight months, I have been in constant limbo between the two.

Parts of me just wanted to get into a fight just so that I could take my anger out on someone. I was gunning for anyone who wanted to try pissing me off.

But the thing about anger is that it’s a form of slow poison; it will kill you, but it will destroy you first.

The other part of me has been devastated. One song, one word, could send me into a crumbling, sobbing mess on the floor.

And I’m not a crier. Never have been.

I admit, sometimes, I still cry, or still want to cry.

But my goal now: Focus on the things that make me happy.

If anything gets to the people who want to make you cry, it’s when you decide to be happy instead.

Slowly, it has come to me: this is a chance to begin again. A chance to begin in general, with the freedoms that most people know from birth.

The thing is, I’m not a fearful person, and I’ve been living in fear for years, as has my mother.

And that’s got to stop.

At nineteen, I should be living bravely; speaking up, singing loudly, doing what makes me happy, and figuring out who I am without compromise.

For too long, I have let myself become a piece of furniture in other people’s lives.

I didn’t call so-called friends out on their shit; I let people treat me like dirt, and all because I was scared of rocking the boat.

I just stayed down, like a dog who’d been kicked, and was ready for another boot in the gut.

But as time goes by, the idea of The Big Move has me anxious, in a good way.

New people.

New places.

New chances.

My cousin (who’s more like an Uncle, I guess) wrote to me when I was at a low point and reminded me of something I think everyone should always remember:

“[The] more you travel, the more you realize you
 are not your nationality, but are, in fact, a child of the world at
 large. You will meet the most interesting people in that same
 community, and who knows, maybe even marry one.
 
 I know you’re a smart girl, and wherever destiny takes you, it will be
 the correct path for your life’s great plan, and that you’ll make the
 best of it.

[…]

 To be the person you are worthy of becoming, you will undergo painful
 change, and sublimate it into the next stage of your evolution. You
 will look back on these tribulations and be thankful for them, as it
 will make you the vital and successful young woman that you are
 destined to become.
 
 Be strong, and hit the ground running.”

 

It was that email that changed everything for me, and hopefully, Rupert’s words will change something for whoever’s reading this.

My point, and I guess Rupert’s too, is that you shouldn’t put yourself in a cage. Don’t trap yourself because your scared of embracing the unknown.

I am trying really hard to live by those words, and trying my best to remind myself that in order to get where I want to be, I need to be fearless.

And you should be too.

Speak up.

Do the things you’ve always wanted (unless it’s violent. Please don’t do anything violent. It’s not productive.).

Be happy.

Be brave.

Be inspired.

It’s okay if there are days that suck and make you cry like a baby.

It’s okay if there are days where you want to scream in someone’s face because nothing’s going right.

But when life hands you those moments, it’s up to you to turn it around.

When life knocks you down, don’t wait for the next blow.

Get up.

Jump up with as much vigor and passion as you can, and go boldly into the unknown.

Be scared.

Take a flight that will break your heart.

Meet new people and see new places.

Get drunk on the feeling of change and let butterflies flutter through the thick knots of ropes twisting in your stomach.

Embrace it.

Whatever destruction you face, let it happen.

Let the walls that have become so familiar, that you’ve decorated with your fears and your dreams, let them fall. Let them crumble around you and sink into the sea.

Then, stand up, and build a fantastic frame that will shelter you, but will not encase you.

The phoenix does not fear death, nor does it remain a pile of ashes.

It rises from the ash and the soot.

The nebulas in space do not fear their destruction, because to become bright, burning stars, they must explode.

So this is it.

This is starting over.

It’s scary and it’s emotionally draining.

But this is it.

Whoa, Where Did The Party Go?

And all the boys are smoking menthols
Girls are getting back rubs
I will drift to you if you make yourself shake fast enough
My old aches become new again
My old friends become exes again

Whoa, where did the party go?
We’re ending it on the phone
I’m not gonna go home alone
Whoa, where did the party go?”

-Fall Out Boy, “Where Did The Party Go?”

 

 

When it was going good, it was going great.

Nothing at all like The Great Gatsby; no big parties at lavish mansions where champagne flowed like a steady stream of rain. But there were lots of friends.

Looking around, she was convinced she could name over 100 people off the top of her head; each one was a friend. Each one had found some place in her life, like a lamp on a nightstand or a picture on the wall.

But when she got home, she noticed her wall featured very few pictures of people she knew. Most of the photographs were city skylines or artsy black and whites, bare of any familiarity. In more ways than one, this realization troubled her.

She thought of the other bedrooms she’d been in. All of her friends seemed to have a dozen photos or more of people they spent time with constantly.

Not that she was in more than one.

Pushing the thought from her mind, she tried to get through the rest of the week without grasping at the straws of sleep.

That weekend, she bumped into a friend.

Not four months prior, they had been as thick as thieves, with not an awkward moment between them.

Now it was like engaging in small talk with a perfect stranger.

“How’s your love life?” She questioned, obviously unsure of what else to say.

“Um…non-existant.” A smile. A laugh. “I’ll um…see you in a little bit?”

They part ways and it’s as though nothing ever happened.

She thinks back to when everything was going good, and how when the bad blew up, people, friends, had flocked to give support or to provide comfort.

As soon as the excitement had died down, it was like the aftermath of a pool party; there was a mess everywhere that she didn’t know where to begin with, and an empty pool.

Her curious eyes traveled over what was left, and before she could stop herself, the words came tumbling from her lips:

“Where did the party go?”

*****

 

I may have mentioned before that when it comes to friendships, I haven’t the best of luck. For whatever reason, I tend to pick out the most fickle person in the room, and bond with them.

That’s not to say I am entirely innocent. I’ll own up and admit that I have probably, at some point, been a pretty crappy friend too. I think we’ve all been there. It sucks to admit, but, hey, let’s own up to our mistakes here.

Anyway, I was thinking about friendship this week.

Friends are the family you get to choose. They’re your teammates throughout all the difficult things in life.

Or, at least, that’s what they’re supposed to be.

However, in my limited nineteen years, one thing I have found to be true is that when it’s going good, it’s going great.

When everything in your life is making sense, everyone wants to be a part of the fun.

They want the fun of the party, the tickets to the show, the pictures on every social media going, and the very buzz of “Look at where I am/what I’m doing/who I’m with.”

But misery also enjoys company. It feeds off of your downfalls and the moments when everything seems to be falling apart.

Everyone wants to know the story and be around to watch you cry.

For some, they are genuinely concerned. For others, it’s all about the drama.

And once the drama or the excitement fades away, and the lives that were left in shambles start to piece themselves together, you look around, and maybe a handful of the people who were there before have stuck around.

Within a matter of months, the people that you considered your closest friends, your family, your team, can be like perfect strangers.

No fights required.

 

But I think that’s what makes real friendship so powerful.

When you have a friend that is genuine and upfront about who they are.

There is no bullshit with this person; no persona put on for your benefit.

They are there to celebrate your triumphs and comfort you in times of failure, and you are there for them in that same way.

There is mutual give and take.

There is no jealousy, only respect.

And yes, sometimes you get on each other’s last nerve, or you disagree, or you unintentionally hurt one another.

But you love and appreciate each other because of all the other people who left when everything fell apart.

I can count on one hand who my truest friends are.

They are the people I call when I am upset.

They are the people I call when I am excited and thrilled about something.

They are the people I giggle with like I’m a five year old telling a “poop joke.”

They are the people I want to cry for when something bad happens to them.

They are the people I want to sing and dance with when they get what they wanted most.

I appreciate the true friends I have because of the shitty ones I had before.

 

As I get older, one thing that is becoming increasingly clear to me is that your friends are your team. They are a family you can choose. They are the party guests to whom you wrote the invitations.

It’s not like elementary school where you have to invite everyone.

You don’t have to be friends with the world.

Be choosy about who you let into your life.

Have the gumption to say to someone, “You weren’t there for me when I needed you the most, and I don’t think this is a good friendship.”

Why surround yourself with people who, while they make the highs feel really high, also make the lows feel pretty damn low?

 

But After A While, You Realize, Time Flies…

“But after a while
you realize time flies.
And the best thing that you can do
is take whatever comes to you.
‘Cuz time flies.”

-“Time Flies” by Porcupine Tree

 

So I’m awful at this.

I’ve been gone for a while, working on Planet Stereo, and on me.

If you want the whole truth, I’ve been doing Insanity for a Tumblr challenge. I have been blogging it almost every single day. I know, I know: “Oh, you can blog that daily, but you can’t blog on here?”

That’s not it.

I just found a fitness community on there that I love being a part of.

I am on Day 46 of this Insanity challenge. There are 62/63 days total, and I have a confession to make:

I never thought I’d do it.

 

In all honesty, I used to see the infomercials as a kid and see Shaun T going for it, with random fitness models by his side. Even as a kid, I used to think I’d never be able to do it.

Had you asked me a few months ago, I would have probably laughed in your face and told you not to joke.

But maybe that’s what finding your gumption is about; maybe you’re supposed to find yourself while doing the things you never thought you would.

So I started to think about all the things I’ve done that I never dreamed were possible, and I realized that accomplishing these “impossible” things has shaped me into who I am.

From writing my first novel to starting my company, or even just reaching the deadline for NaNoWriMo, have helped me learn more about myself than the four “Golden Years” of high school or any other romanticized life experience.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that you make time for the things you want to.

Everyone’s biggest complaint, when it comes to anything (cleaning, fitness, etc.), is that they don’t have time.

But you do.

That hour you spend on Facebook? Cut it down to five minutes, or how about an hour a week instead of an hour a day?

That reality show you actually hate but still watch? Cut it out! See that hour you sit staring at the screen and wasting time? You could be working out or teaching yourself the guitar, or writing a novel!

I can’t believe it took me so long to figure it out, but you really do make time for what you want.

The fitness models, the actors/actresses, the writers, the businessman, the people you envy most in the world all have something in common with you: They, too, only have twenty-four hours a day.

No one has a seventy-hour day while you only get twenty-four.

Some people just spend their time a little more wisely.

So why don’t we?

So Speak Low If You Speak Love

“Oh baby, baby, drink the poison,

We can disappear

Away, away from here…”

-“Speak Low If You Speak Love” by My American Heart.

 

Biting your tongue is difficult.

You have to try so hard not to say something that’s eating away at you; festering in your mind like a disease.

Sometimes, if you’re not careful (or maybe if you’re extra careful), you can bite your tongue so hard that it bleeds.

But when is it okay to speak up?

Where is that fine line between speaking up and speaking out?

I’m struggling to find the balance between saying what I’m expected to say and saying what I want to say, because what I want to say may not be what people want to hear.

I know that when she asks me, “Am I wrong? Do you think I’m taking this too far?”

YES!” I want to scream in her face. “Yes, you’re wrong, and you obviously know you’re wrong, otherwise you wouldn’t have asked!”

But I don’t.

I stay quiet, thinking back to the time my mother taught me the age-old, “If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

So I keep my mouth shut, knowing that my opinion would be ignored anyway.

I see them together and I see red, imagining the ghosts of my past sitting the same way, wondering if there was a person like me who sat by, knowing what I know, and letting it carry on. It makes me sad to imagine something like that.

It makes me sad to imagine the betrayal in the eyes of people who should never have been hurt.

It makes me sad to think about it all.

I see red for the spouses tossed aside.

I see red for the children left behind.

I see red for the lives that will never be the same.

And I see red for the lies that are exchanged.

Just to hear about it makes me feel drained. Exhaustion takes over, and the more words you hit me with, the more I want to scream.

It’s all just “words, words, words.”

But I’ll keep quiet.

Because if you haven’t got anything to say, don’t say anything at all.

REPOST: Only Make Believe

Planet Stereo

[E/N: This article was originally posted in November of 2013. It has recently been brought to our attention that the link for the interview was broken. Planet Stereo sends its sincere apologies to both the Only Make Believe foundation and any readers that were hoping to read this article. Also, huge thank you to Marie, who brought this issue to attention!]

OMB_LOGO-2

The arts have played a huge role in many people’s lives. It’s the reason there are so many bands to report on, or why there are so many albums that stream through our stereos, and why so many people sing the praises of plays or Broadway shows. In some way, whether it was taking an art class, playing clarinet, or performing in the school play, the arts have touched many of our lives. Now, take that impact, and put it on a grander scale: imagine the arts helping you…

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How To Be A Heartbreaker

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“Rule Number One: is that you gotta have fun.

But baby when you’re done,

You gotta be the first to run…”

-“How To Be a Heartbreaker” by Marina & The Diamonds

One thing I get asked a lot as I get older, especially around the holiday season, is if I have a boyfriend.

The answer: “Nope, I don’t really have time for a boyfriend right now.”

The response: “Oh, what a shame. It will happen soon.”

What I don’t understand is the fixation. Honestly, who has the time for a relationship these days? I certainly don’t!

I actually ran into an old teacher, who may as well be family, the other day, and she said, “So…when are you getting married?”

I froze and let out a giggle. “Oh, don’t be silly! Never!”

She laughed and told me that never was a terrible word. I tried to explain to her that I don’t think I could live with another person, and I am sincere in that.

It’s not that I don’t like people; I do.

But I don’t think I’m a relationship person.

I certainly am not a marriage-person…and for some reason, that seems to be a problem for a lot of people.

What can I say? I don’t believe that marriage really means anything anymore.

Divorce is easy now, and other than the older generations, like my grandparents, and a very small selection of adults, no one really stays together anymore. I feel kind of mean for thinking it, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe it.

Now, let me get to my point, as the blog is called “This Side of Gumption.” People try to tie getting a “significant other” of some sort to having gumption (see clip from The Help below).

Just to try something new and different, I’m going to be honest here; dating does require some gumption. You have to have the guts to go up to someone and lay your pride on the line by saying, “Yes, I like you, and if you shoot me down, I’ll be fine.”

That’s what makes dating so nerve-racking. It’s not putting your heart on the line. It’s not the fear of falling for someone. It’s the fear of rejection.

I often think of being a little kid. I was shy as a child, and painfully so. The idea of a guy finding out I liked them in that way was terrifying…and to be honest, that didn’t fade until probably about halfway through high school.

I learned my lesson at the start of my freshman year.

The guy I’d liked for two years admitted that he had liked me, and I admitted the same. Of course, neither one of us ever did anything about it, and still didn’t once we each found out. That was when I realized how incredibly stupid I felt for not speaking up sooner.

In fact, I felt even dumber for not saying something than I probably would have if I’d spoken up and he’d said he didn’t like me back.

So yes, dating requires gumption, to a degree.

However, I also think that having the guts to stick to your guns and not date takes just as much gumption.

I mean no offense in this, but I see girls my age who put all of their energy into a relationship. The amount of engagement announcements I saw pop up on Facebook over the last three years has been ridiculous, especially bearing in mind these people’s ages ranged from sixteen to nineteen.

To each their own, but I have never been that girl.

I’m the girl whose nose was always buried in a book.

I’m the girl who would sooner be one of the boys (mind you, I’d be the one with eyeliner and lipstick, but you know…), than the girl they obsessed over.

I’m not saying I’ve never been asked out, because I have. But I don’t think I’m built for relationships.

I don’t think in terms of a “we” or an “us.” I’m creative and logical all at once. I do my best to look at the big picture, and what I need to do to accomplish my goals; and there’s no time for a love-life in there.

To even pretend that I could dedicate my time and attention to someone consistently, would be a lie, and unfair to me and to whoever decided to dedicate his time to me.

I remember explaining that to a guy once, and he called me “a tease.” hate that term. I absolutely detest it.

He told me that I put myself out there, with makeup and perfume, and flirtatious attitude, all to shut a guy down.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.

I didn’t wear makeup or perfume for anyone but myself.

I like to look good and I like to smell nice.

As for a “flirtatious attitude,” if someone misconstrues my being nice to them for being flirty, that is their problem, not mine.

I get asked quite often if I have a boyfriend.

The answer is simple; the answer is “no.”

I don’t have a boyfriend because I see no point.

I haven’t the time, nor the patience.

I have too much of a conscience to lie to a guy and pretend I can be in a relationship.

But more than that, I don’t see the point of fitting into the box everyone wants to put me in.

If I want to date, I will.

But I don’t.

Relationships are not forever anymore.

Relationships are not for everyone.

In my head, I don’t want someone to be with me because they’re legally bound by a piece of paper, or because their religion or their family tells them so.

If someone wants to be with me, I like to think it will be of their own free will, and that if they stick around, it’s because they want me and they want to be there.

When people leave, it’s awful. I know that truth all too well, unfortunately.

But I also know that when you expect the very least from people, you will never be disappointed, only surprised.

No matter how many times a person sighs and tries to convince me that a relationship would be good for me, I’ll stick to my guns. I know what I want in life, and if it includes another person, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too.

There are worse things in life than being single.

My true passion in life is not another person, it’s my dreams.

It takes gumption to put your pride on the line and to wear your heart on your sleeve, that much is true.

But it also takes gumption to stick to your guns, and work on you. How can you love someone else if you don’t know yourself?

*End of rant, I promise! But here’s another Tumblr picture for you guys!

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