Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bring it on, Adventure Wednesday! Or: I was a plus-sized cheerleader

Today's post is a rare Multimedia Monday and an Adventure Wednesday combination.

Tom and I are both big fans of Lin-Manuel Miranda - a Wesleyan alum whose Tony award-winning In the Heights was on near-constant rotation in our household for all of 2008.  (We saw Miranda star in it twice, once in New York, once in Los Angeles when Miranda performed with the tour as a special engagement.)

So when we found out that he was contributing to a new musical, we got excited.  And when the tour of that new musical began in Los Angeles, we knew we had to get tickets to see it.  So last Monday, we went to the Ahmanson to see Bring It On: The Musical.

Yes, that's right.  Bring It On is now a musical.  Or, rather, the franchise built around competitive cheerleading has expanded.  The play isn't adapted from the original film - it's clearly inspired by it, but it has its own characters and plot.  In this story, the preppy captain of a cheerleading team is redistricted to an urban school across the tracks - a school without any cheerleaders.

I liked the original movie.  I have a soft spot for stories about the high school experience, and Bring It On had surprising bite and humor.  (Other high school films I enjoy - aside from the obvious 80s ones - include Can't Hardly Wait and Easy A.)

But something about the musical version hit close to home.  This version features... a plus-sized cheerleader.  (Technically she starts out as a mascot, but she breaks out of her mold.)

And once upon a time, I was a plus-sized teenaged cheerleader.  (Technically, I was a pom-pon girl, but outside of former cheerleaders and pom-pon girls, who knows the difference?)

Yes, that's me.  I hardly feel like I look plus-sized in that picture, but at the time, my size-16 body seemed enormous to me in comparison with the single-digit sizes that made up the rest of my pom-pon squad.  One of the most embarrassing moments in my young life was realizing that there were no pom uniform skirts available in my size.  My mom had to take two of the small skirts to the tailor and have them made into one for me.

Maybe it was me - my own hang-ups, my own shyness - that made me feel not a part of the group, either time I was on a pom squad.  (Once in eighth grade, once in tenth.  I skipped auditioning the other years, because I wanted to focus on theater, journalism and band.)  I felt separate.  I felt "other."  Among the pom and cheer set - with a few friendly exceptions - I felt like a total weirdo.  When I was with my goofy theater friends, or editing an article for the paper, I always felt included.  My weirdness fit right in.

With many years of retrospect, I'm sure everybody feels weird - even the cheerleaders.  High school is tough.  (Maybe that's why I like watching it - or writing about it.)

So, no surprise, I enjoyed Bring It On: The Musical.  Particularly the music that seemed to come from Lin-Manuel Miranda.  The simple pop-style numbers at the preppy school didn't grab me the way that the hip-hop songs at the urban school did.  When the main character goes to the first day at her new school, a deep reverberation of the beat sounds out, accompanied by the men's voices shouting "MOOOOOOOVE!"  It rips the musical right open.  From there it grows into a celebration of personal expression, of crossing lines and being yourself.

The characters grew on me throughout the show, but none more than Bridget, the plus-sized character played by Ryann Redmond.

She's the standard equivalent of the plus-sized-best-friend character, but the writers - and Ryann - bring a lot of spunk to Bridget.  As an unconventional quirkster, she fits in better at her new school than her old school, where she joins the dance crew and develops a love interest.  It's a lot more for a plus-sized actress to try on than they usually are given, and Redmond wears it well.

It was a pleasant experience at the theater, and for awhile, I thought that might be all it was... that is, until the very end, when an unexpected moment made me cry.  The very last dance move - and the most celebratory bird-fly to conformity and coloring inside the lines - was a cheer lift.  Coming on the heels of two and a half hours of cheer lifts, that shouldn't be particularly impactful.

But it was a plus-sized cheerleader at the top of the pyramid.  And that message - you can do anything you want to do - made sixteen-year-old Heidi (and thirty-two-year-old Heidi) very happy.

The show has left LA, but it's touring across the country, starting in San Francisco and heading to big cities throughout 2012.  You should check out the website for dates.

All right.  I'll be back with another post soon.  Until then - and always - remember that you can do anything.  And remember to take care of you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday: Slipping up

I slipped up last week. Literally.

I had planned out a productive and eventful day, which I began with a trip to the mailbox, to sort and manage the bills. It's been unusually cold in Los angeles, so I was wearing my cozy sweater-boot-slippers to keep my feet warm. The day felt full of potential, and I was energized to fulfill it, so I ran up the lobby steps. So eager. So careless.

Until suddenly, everything turned slo-mo. I didn't have my footing, and although everything felt unsettlingly slow, for some reason, I couldn't move my body to react. BAM. My feet were somehow behind me, the rest of me felt jabbing pain.

Somehow I'd managed to simultaneously land on my glasses, my elbow, my breast, my knee, and all of my thigh at the same time. Well, big, stair-shaped stripes of my thigh. My glasses were chipped, twisted up to my eyebrow, which it gashed open. (a shallow gash, fortunately, but it bled nonetheless.). Most of all, my body ached, back twisted and muscles lashed from the impact.

Shaken and in a lot of multi-sourced pain, I pulled myself up and clued the stairs gingerly back to our condo. All the energy and momentum I felt before was completely gone, like it was jarred out of me on impact. On top of that, all I could think about was my Mother's last fall - the camel-straw that brought her life more rapidly to a close. About how much worse this fall could have been, had I taken it last year at this time, 68 pounds heavier. About how much worse it might be if I lose my way on this life-long journey to better health.

I canceled my plans for the day and went back to bed.

Resting was the best choice for me at the time. But the choices that followed? Not so much. A day in bed after a fall turns out very much like a day in bed with a cold. I get bored. And we all know what happens when I'm bored, especially when I'm not feeling well. One less-than-ideal food choice turns into two not-so-great exercise choices turns into ten really-awful moments of negative self-talk. And then I feel even worse. And not surprisingly, that same pound that's been torturing me - the one I had lost last Tuesday - was found again.

Luckily, my weekend was full of previously-scheduled engagements, and when I'm feeling down on myself, nothing helps me see things more clearly than time with friends and loved ones. Today I feel back to normal, with that same momentum I had a week ago. I'm out doing errands and Christmas shopping today, and my gear for Slimmons is packed and in my car (which is currently having an oil change.)

Now, to maintain that momentum for as long as I'm able... And not to be hard on myself when I'm not. That's the real trick. Just gotta take care of me. You take care of you, too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Multimedia Monday - iSee you!

Hello from my new iPhone! It arrived this morning shortly after we returned from the airport. We flew in from our weekend with family in Sonoma - more on that in an upcoming post.

I'm posting via the Blogger app, one of a great many with which I'm experimenting. I was warned by several of you that I'd be sucked in by apps, and thus far you've been completely correct.

I've downloaded and played with LiveStrong, IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, and Fandango. I've yet to use Pandora, Amazon or Kindle, but they're in the plans.

Instead of including a list of Short Cuts this week, I thought I'd ask YOU for one!

What are your favorite mobile apps? And why are they worth downloading?

I'm enjoying Tom's last day on hiatus (and he's enjoying his first day ever with a smart phone!)

So I'll be back tomorrow with more bloggery... And next week's Multimedia Monday should include some reviews of the 4S and all the new apps that I hope you'll recommend today!

Til then, as always, take care of you!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Inspired by Miss Piggy on Fashion Friday

Before I start today's post, have you guys heard about the AdoraOm "New Year, New You" Makeover Contest?  You could win a makeover, workout clothes and lunch with the AdoraOm team - and I know from experience that they're terrific ladies who are excellent lunching companions.  You find out all the details for entering at their website or their Facebook page.

OK, onto today's post.

Miss Piggy has been a fashion icon of mine for as long as I can remember.  She certainly inspired me on Halloween a few years ago.

When we went to see her wardrobe collection at the El Capitan last week, it wasn't too surprising that one of her outfits sparked my fashion creativity.  I loved her houndstooth suit.

Ooh la la... Piggy wore this suit while working at French Vogue.

She even had my haircut while she wore it.  (Or I had hers.  It's not clear.)

Lately, it's helped me to dress for work in the morning before I begin my daily schedule - even though my work is freelance, and I could be in my jammies all day if I wanted.  When I snazz it up, it's like I'm making a commitment to being focused and productive in my day.  When I saw Piggy's suit, I realized I wanted to work a similar piece from my own wardrobe into my daily wear a little more.  So today I'm wearing this more casual - but still put-together - tribute to Piggy's suit.

Blazer by Lane Bryant
Tank shell by JM Collection
Slim-cut jeans by Style&Co
Resin and ribbon necklace by Avenue
Chiffon flower brooch came with the blazer
Boat shoes by Sperry

There are no pearls a la piggy in my wardrobe, but I thought I'd pay tribute to her black-and-pink with the ribbon/resin necklace.

One thing I like especially is the shape of the outfit.  The jacket is a little blocky, but because it's an open cut, the body-hugging shell underneath reveals a little more curve.  And the slim-cut jeans taper the look, so I'm not one big rectangle.  (Likewise, the loafers - new favorites of mine - don't overwhelm the shape, but don't disappear, either.)

This are actually my first pair of slim-cut pants, outside of workout pants, in... I don't know how long, but probably more than 20 years.  I found them by spending a few hours trying on every single kind of brand and style and cut at Macy's.  It is surprising just how differently each pair fits... but this one fits me like a glove.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I don't really want to go back to boot cuts again.  Macy's seems to be out of slim-cut jeans right now, aside from their new "butt lifting technology" ones.  I haven't tried those before. 

So, what fictional character inspires your wardrobe?  (Or what real person, for that matter?)  I have another inspirational character, but I'll save her for another Fashion Friday.


In other news, I'm feeling better than I was yesterday.  The blues seem to have passed, and I'm sure my weekly therapy session helped - as did the support from all of you.

We leave early tomorrow morning for a family gathering.  Traveling is always stressful when you're on a plan for healthy living... mostly because you have to be flexible and there isn't always an easy plan in place.  Fortunately, we've stocked up on some healthy snacks to take with us, we have activities scheduled, and I have kind relatives looking out for me.  I'll let you know how everything goes when I'm back again on Monday.  Until then, let's take care of each other - and ourselves.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday blues

I think the holiday blues have arrived. 

Thanksgiving has come and gone - and it's a little late to be posting about it, but today's the first day I got to it, so here it is.

My Thanksgiving was... well, it was fine, I guess.  I enjoyed spending time with our guests, my mother-in-law and our friend Alexa, especially when we watched a few episodes of the show Tom's editing. 

Our Thanksgiving table

But something our friend Josh had mentioned in class before Thanksgiving really hit home with me.  Now that I'm a recovering food addict, holiday eating is - frankly - stressful.  It used to be joyful.  It used to be one of the rare times in my life that I ate happily... or, rather, I overate happily.  Perhaps it was because I always had company.  Perhaps it was because the holiday food is always so delicious.  Perhaps the warm feelings of the holiday were mainlined into my system via food.  Perhaps because in my mother's kitchen, food was love.

Now... food is fuel.  Tasty fuel, mind you, but fuel nonetheless.  And that made my holiday eating feel kind of... empty.  It's hard to explain.

Since I was making much of our food (I covered the cranberries, the low-cal pumpkin pie, the butternut squash, the stuffing and the turkey; Tom made the root veggies, the green beans and the Brussels sprouts) I had control over what was served.  I planned fewer dishes - and smaller, less-heavy ones - than we usually make, and adjusted the recipes.  I cut down the use of butter by about 300%.  And I tasted it. 

This is everything I ate for Thanksgiving dinner, save for a piece of my low-cal pumpkin pie and a glass of sparkling cider.

I didn't have any desire to eat more than one plate of the food.  Which is healthy, I know.  But without it, I was bummed.  I missed that butter.  I missed having lots of leftovers.  Each dish fit into single-serving tupperware, with room to spare.  It was all gone by dinner the following day.  I was living that joke from Annie Hall.  "Two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, 'Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.' The other one says, 'Yeah, I know; and such small portions.'"

Don't get me wrong.  I know the food wasn't terrible.  But it wasn't emotional.  And I missed that.  Maybe someday I'll be able to balance bringing in some positive emotion about food without going overboard.  For now, I'm just worried about how to handle the upcoming family events - starting this weekend - when I'm not in charge of the menu.

I'm a bit blue today, and I don't quite know why. 

The Santa Ana winds are blowing in, knocking out power across town - but other than the damage I do, I really enjoy them.  A rare moment of weather in Los Angeles.

Yesterday we were out in the afternoon and evening.  Tom wanted to enjoy the holiday offerings at Disneyland while he was on his hiatus, so we went around to the various Christmas-themed things (Small World Holiday, the parade and fireworks, etc.) to get in the spirit.  I had a nice time, and made food choices that were in-line with my plan.  (I did have dessert - part of a pumpkin yule log - and per Richard's recommendation, I'm allowing myself one dessert each week.)

But I saw something yesterday that I still can't shake.  We were boarding pirates with a woman in a wheelchair who reminded me of my mom.  The struggle to move her from the chair to the boat was one that was all too familiar to me.  It reminded me of recurring nightmare I have, where we're in peril and I'm unable to transport Mom to safety.

I suppose maybe I'm blue because I turned the Christmas music on - or I turned the Christmas music on because I'm blue.  Because I'm missing her.  Because Christmas really was her time of year.

There's so much to be un-blue about, though.  My friends and family.  My time with Tom this week - my life with Tom, for that matter.  My writing, both personal creative and professional freelance.  My health, and how much it's improved over the last year.  Funny thing about that word, "improved"...

Thanks to Bella of Bella on the Beach, I'm considering participating in a month-long blog carnival of sorts, called WEverb11.  And today's question is:

December 1: Choose one word.
Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why. Imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?

That would would be "improvement."  This year, I've improved my health, my strength, my ability to cook, the way I handle my food addiction.  I've improved my freelance career (and definitely improved my life by leaving the interactive marketing behind.)  I've improved my blog.  I've improved my creative writing.  And I've improved my overall happiness.   This is probably the year I've been most proud of.

Next year's word, I hope, is "achievement."  I'd like to continue toward the goals that I actively began seeking this year, in health, in career, in family.  And I'm hoping to be closer to achieving them next year than I am this year.  I'm certainly closer this year than last, by miles.

Or maybe the word for both years should be "care."  I'm putting so much care into my life.  I'm taking care.  And almost every day, I remind you to take care. 

That reminds me: take care of you today.