Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another Boring Workout Post

About a year ago, I made a decision to change my life. It wasn't that I was unhappy with my body. Absolutely not. Other people might have been, but somehow, I was blessed with more self-confidence than maybe anybody, and also with a husband who was so dotingly and madly in love with every single inch of me that it never really occurred to me to loathe myself because I was fat. Sure, I had friends who were very thin who still complained about their weight, who poked at their slightly rounded abdomens after a meal and said, "OH MY GOD, I'M SUCH A FATASS", and sometimes I wanted to say, "If you think YOU are a fatass, what, pray tell, do you think of me?", but for the most part, I enjoyed the giant boobs my extra weight afforded me. I dressed myself in clothes I loved, and I worked every one of those pounds. I wasn't unhappy because I didn't conform to the magazine-idea of beauty. Because, frankly, even if I lost enough weight to be a waif, I still wouldn't be a magazine beauty.

I was unhappy because I got out of breath climbing the stairs. I was unhappy because I had two small kids, and chasing them across the playground hurt my back. I was unhappy because I couldn't comfortably tie my shoes. I was unhappy because so many people assumed that I didn't like the way I looked. I was unhappy because people believed I had married someone who "must be into big girls."

So I joined Weight Watchers. Again. I joined after the birth of my first kid, lost about sixty pounds, and felt amazing. Two months after kid number 2, I joined again, stuck with it for a few months, lost about 25 pounds, then quit because I was busy, broke, and unmotivated. But in March, I decided to suck it up and go back, because I knew that it worked. I was so anxious about returning (anxiety is a huge problem for me, and causes more problems that anyone without it would believe) that I made my best friend come with me. I don't know why I thought they would guilt me, or make fun of me, because for the most part, Weight Watchers leaders are awesome. And without exception, they've all been there. They know how hard it is to start over. At that first meeting, with my friend sitting beside me and holding my hand so I wouldn't run away, my leader talked about how important activity was. Of course it is. Everyone knows that.

Since I was committed to not breaking a sweat while tying my shoes, I drove to the park near my house to walk around the track. I walked twice around the half-mile loop, high-fived myself, and went home. I did this every day for a week. I went back to weigh in at my Weight Watchers meeting, and in that first week, I had lost eight pounds. This is a testament to how horrible my eating habits were before ONE WEEK of sensible eating and moderate exercise.

The next week, I added another two laps. Then, perversely, I wondered if I could run. After all, if walking helped me lose eight pounds, running would help even more, right? I had never run, ever, in my whole life, and I was kind of proud of it. I was one of those people who joked about it, who said, "I only run if someone is chasing me." I was a round and lovely glamour-puss, and running shoes are ugly and running makes your face turn red and makes you sweat. Gross. However, when you lose weight, the people in your Weight Watchers meeting clap for you and you get a sticker. I will do nearly anything for applause and a sticker.

I was wearing pink Converse All-Stars. I was listening to the original Broadway cast recording of "Pippin". I started at the highest point of the half-mile loop, and hurled myself along the downhill portion of the track. I ran 1/8th of a mile, then collapsed on the ground, shins screaming, breath heaving, heart pounding, and feeling like I had been stabbed through the side with a meat fork. "This is ridiculous," I said out loud. "Rivers belong where they can ramble. Eagles belong where they can fly." And I cried because I was only thirty years old, and I had never, ever, been able to run. And I thought I never would. The crying turned into anger, as it tends to do, and embarrassment, as the other park-runners skirted past me and reached for their pepper spray, just in case. The next day, I gritted my teeth and hurled myself down the hill again. Then the next day, I did it again. After a week, I felt a little bit less like dying.

I mentioned to a friend that I had sort-of "started running". "AWESOME," she said (this friend speaks in all caps) "LET'S DO THE DISNEY PRINCESS HALF-MARATHON NEXT YEAR! IT'S IN DISNEY WORLD AND WE GET TO WEAR COSTUMES AND IT WILL BE SO MUCH FUN!" A half-marathon is 13.1 miles. MILES. I nearly died running an eighth of a mile. This seemed completely impossible. However, as much as I love stickers and applause, this venture promised an opportunity to dress like a princess AND get a medal. Jewelry, y'all, is a powerful motivator.

So I started "running". I "ran" at least four times a week. I ran in the early mornings, I ran at dusk, I ran in the rain. I wasn't running far, or fast, or with any level of skill, but for short, 1/8th-mile bursts of spirit, I was, in fact, running. Then somehow, the 1/8th of a mile turned into 1/4th of a mile at a time. A lot of my friends at the time were using the "Couch to 5K" app. I wasn't. I was using the "run as far and for as long as you can without dying, then stop, and when you can breathe again, run some more" method. Say what you will, but this low-tech training worked for me. Then, on Mother's Day, something happened. Something snapped. There was an event, a moment in my life where I was treated so rudely that my face flushed and my hands shook. Before I started "running", this would have sent me into an anxiety/depression spiral. However, this time, all I wanted was to get home, put on my shoes (which were actual athletic-type, ugly shoes by this point), and go for a run. While I was running, on Mother's Day, I was fueled by rage and indignation and suddenly, before I even thought about it, I realized that I had run around the track, without stopping, twice. That was a mile. I had run an entire mile without stopping.

Elementary schoolers do this kind of thing every day. People run a mile without even thinking about it, every day. There are senior citizens who spryly run a mile in their velour track suits, then play a round of canasta. But I had never run a mile. Ever. In fact, full disclosure, in elementary school, I'm pretty sure I lied about how many times I had run around the track when we were doing the Presidential Physical Fitness Test.

I kept attending Weight Watchers meetings, I kept religiously tracking my points, and I kept losing weight. People started noticing that I was losing weight, and I was surprised at how much I resented it when they told me "how much better" I looked. You would be amazed at how many people actually commented that they "bet my husband was really glad I was looking so good." Um. What? I know not everyone knows my husband, but the girl he fell in love with was a lapful of woman, and he adored me. When I was hugely pregnant with his children and weighed well over 200 pounds (because, yes, I did, and I'm not one bit embarrassed to admit it), he called me a goddess. He's one of those rare humans who actually does see beauty as beauty, and doesn't pretend that "skinny" means the same as "pretty", because it doesn't. When I complained about my stretch marks or my C-section scars, he thanked me for carrying our children and told me I had never been more beautiful. I told someone that once, and they laughed and said, "Oh, he's good," implying that this was all complete bullshit. But I know my husband. I know his heart, and I know that he means every word. It's an unfortunate thing that that kind of love and sincerity and devotion is so rare that people doubt that it could be true. It doesn't matter. He knows it. I know it.

I kept going to Weight Watchers meetings, I kept running, I kept getting stronger. Somewhere along the way, I stopped caring what my body looked like, and started appreciating what it was capable of doing. My calves aren't going to fit into skinny jeans, and my thighs will never look like a baby giraffe's, but these legs can carry me  up an East Tennessee "hill", and I'm pretty sure if they needed to, they could kick some serious ass.

And I kept running. I ran when I was tired. I ran when I got blisters. I ran when my family was napping. I ran through shin splints, sore muscles, and aching legs. I ran through depression and anxiety. I ran when my heart was breaking. I ran when it rained, when it was so hot and humid that I fainted (I don't recommend that, by the way), I ran in snow, in sleet, in actual hail, and in wind that nearly knocked me down. I ran even though a guy yelled "fatass" at me from passing cars and threw an empty Mountain Dew can at me. I ran pushing my daughter in a jogging stroller, I stole early morning hours before my children woke up to run as the sun came up. I ran off my insecurity of not being a real runner. I ran off my self-consciousness of how ridiculous I think I look when I'm running. I ran through the "I hate running" part of running and came out the other side, which was as surreal as though I had woken up one day and decided to start weaving sandals for myself out of hemp I grew in the side lawn.

When we moved away from South Carolina a few months later, I started running not on a track, but on little country backroads. My grandad lived next door, and when I first moved here, I stopped by to visit with him after my runs. He was an adventurous guy, to say the least, a man who had hiked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail twice after retirement. He was proud of me for running. He thought it was wonderful that I was sticking with the plan to run the half-marathon. We sat at the table and talked about it over breakfast. The next night, he went to sleep and never woke up.

The roads I run here are beautiful. They cross rivers and streams and mountains. I run past cows and horses and wildflowers. And after I lost my grandad, I started loving it even more. No one ever appreciated the world the way he did. All those miles he traveled on foot made him part of it, part of the dirt and the sky and the mountains. It's three miles from my house to the church where he is buried. The first time I visited his grave after his funeral, it was, appropriately, on foot. I didn't even really realize that that was where I was headed, because it was further than I had run before, but I started running and before I knew it, I was sitting there on the ground, next to the freshly covered grave that was covered in wilting flower arrangements. I found myself saying prayers of thanks for this man who showed me how to take risks and go on adventures, who showed me how to appreciate and respect the earth, for the strong legs I inherited from him, and for that talk we got to have, where he told me he thought I was going to be able to do it.

About a month ago, final preparations for the trip to the Disney Princess Half-Marathon were underway. Hotel arrangements were being made, budgeting was going on, and like every other mom of two kids, I started feeling wary of spending so much money on something so selfish. I mean, the registration fee was already paid, but there was the matter of everything else: hotel, food, gas, new shoes, and so on. Anxiety crept in, doubt crept in, and one night I had a dream about my grandad. I dreamed that he was really still alive and that his death had been a dream. (A dweam within a dweam, so to speak). I was talking to him and told him that I had had a dream that he had died and that only I could see his ghost and that everybody thought I was crazy. He laughed and said, "Don't listen to them. You just keep right on moving." The next day, I received a check in the mail as one of my grandfather's beneficiaries. If that isn't a big thumbs-up from beyond, I'm not really sure what is.

Two days ago, a year later and forty pounds lighter, I ran the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. I ran it in two hours, fifty-one minutes. That is about twenty minutes slower than the 13.1 miles I ran on an empty course a few days before the race, but considering how crowded it was (around 24,000 princesses), I'm not unhappy with my time.


Who am I kidding?

I'm elated. I'm over the freaking moon. This was the fourth best day in my life, after the birth of each of my children and the day I decided to spend my life with Steve Schultz. In less than a year, I went from thinking I could never run a mile, ever, no matter what, to justifying why it took me twenty minutes longer than it should have to run thirteen point freaking one miles. I ran it. And because it was in Disney World, there were photographers everywhere. Looking back at these images, there is a smile on my face in every single one. I don't think I ever stopped smiling the whole race. I have never felt so strong, so powerful, so capable of anything.

The day before the race, a woman I admire a whole lot sent me a message telling me that her first half-marathon was a profoundly spiritual experience. She was so right. I felt like she did, that in that last mile, my grandfather and my dad were right there beside me. I could feel their pride, not because I'm the fastest runner (because I'm not) but because I could have given up at any point in the past year, and I didn't. When I crossed the finish line, there were tears pouring down my cheeks. I was giddy, I was beyond happy, and not because it was over. I was happy because I knew that I could have kept running.

If it really matters to this story, which I suppose it does if you want closure, I have met my target weight, and along with it, I received a star on my Weight Watchers keychain, a round of applause, and a job offer. The number, while within the BMI guidelines, is on the higher side for my height. I'm cool with that. The number is far from what people would want if their goal is to be "skinny", and that's fine, because being "skinny" is not my goal. My goal was to become healthy and strong and powerful. My goal was to prove to myself that I'm capable of anything.

 And I did it. I did it. I did it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Things I Know

After four and a half years of stay-at-home mommy-ness, I decided to go back to work. Part-time. VERY part-time. I found a job with a company that places caregivers in seniors' homes. I get to wear scrubs (which are basically grown-up Garanimals) and watch the game show network all day. It's pretty much the best job ever. Really, though, I do love it, because mostly what I'm doing...is visiting. I get to my lady's house, feed her cat, pick up the paper, then sit with her and chat while we drink coffee and I read the paper to her. She asks about my kids and my husband. She tells me about her children, and her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. We discuss her blood sugar.
She tells me the same stories over and over, like she's reciting the rosary. Sometimes she can't remember a name or a word, and I want to give it to her, to help her out, but I don't, because I don't want her to know that she has told me this story before. After all, I am a guest in her home, in her life. I wonder what her great-grandchildren, who are my age, would think of me hearing their secrets, their stories, over and over until I could recite them verbatim.
I hope that that is what the future holds for me...that I live long enough to have that collection of stories, of highlights in my life that, when told to a stranger sixty years from now, will give her an idea of who I was, and of who I am. I found myself wondering today, during "The Young and the Restless", what those stories would be. I hope I remember the extremely good things. The birthday parties, the school dances, the trips to the beach with my family. Surely I will remember the births of my children, the first time my husband told me he loved me, the day I got my driver's license, the trip to Europe I took with my mother and brother.
Here is what I hope: I hope to do enough awesome things that when I tell these stories, the girl who takes care of me will go home and say, "This old lady I work for? Either she is a total badass or a really good liar."
I'm going to tell her that I married my best friend, and that on our first date, he took me out for pizza and we walked in the park and I told him that I was in love with him, and he said he was in love with me too.
I'm going to tell her about the time my father took five kids to Florida to see a shuttle launch and we accidentally drove into the middle of a drug deal...in a state park...in the middle of the night.
Also, about the time when I was in seventh grade and my father and I drove a camper to Canada and were detained at the border because they thought he had kidnapped me.
I will tell her about going to Key West with my husband on our honeymoon, and how we took a romantic picnic to the beach at sunset, only to discover that we were sharing the beach with a bunch of roofers from Kentucky, with whom we then split a case of beer and a bottle of Jack Daniels while I gave one of them relationship advice.
I have long suspected that this is what it's all about: living a life so outstandingly fun that when you only remember bits and pieces of it, those bits and pieces are things that make you smile.
That, and guessing how much Rice-a-Roni costs. When you get old, you really like guessing how much Rice-a-Roni costs. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Things I Like (in no particular order): a non-inclusive list

jalepeno pimento cheese on cornbread
white roses
slap bracelets
Steve Schultz
clean-baby smell
Johnny Cash
ironic t-shirts
cowboy boots
dirty vodka martinis
bleu cheese
how pink my son's cheeks are when he wakes up
show tunes
curly hair
text messages from Ben
Raising Arizona
tomato soup
smoked almonds
rainy days
road trips
stick-on googly eyes
sparkly hair doo-dahs
girl groups of the 1960s
frying things
Foothills Playhouse
swing dancing
"Shoop" by Salt -N- Pepa
not ironing things
Emma Wilson
flowers wrapped in tissue paper instead of plastic
crepe paper streamers
Christmas lights
twelve strands of pearls
cashiers who call me "honey"
high heels
being the last one to bow
power ballads
my eyelash curler
Tylenol PM
P.G. Wodehouse
food that is pink
red lipstick
dance parties
fake hair
Good Morning, Alan Rickman.
making biscuits
boundless enthusiasm
babies in leg warmers

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Let Them Eat Broccoli

DISCLAIMER: I am not, do not claim to be, a nutritional expert. Nor, for that matter, do I want to be. It involves numbers, and the words "glycemic index" make me queasy.

My four-year-old loves to eat. Always has. He will eat almost anything. Many a time have I heard other mommy-friends despair that their children "won't eat anything." Meanwhile, they haul out another tray of Tyson chicken nuggets and sigh.

Stephen Sondheim is famous for his way with words, and to quote my favorite show of his, "Careful the things you say; children will listen."

If you let your child know that it is acceptable to eat only cheese, then guess what? That is all your child will eat. Hunger in America is right around the corner from where your "picky eater" is turning her nose up at a plate of noodles because they "aren't the right shape." And there you are, scraping it into the trash and heating up more chicken nuggets. I firmly believe that kids will develop the traits that are acknowledged over and over again. Kids who are labeled "shy" will continue to be shy if their parents constantly refer to (and make excuses for) their "shyness." The same is the case with "picky eaters." 

Here's the thing; if you are reading this, that means you have internet access. Which means you can probably afford it. Which means that your kid is NOT going to starve. If food is offered, and a kid has no other options, and he really is hungry, he will, eventually, eat it. I refuse to cook separate meals for my four-year-old, and it's not because I'm lazy (about that, anyway), but because I think it's irresponsible to raise a child who grows up feeling that it is the world's job to cater to him. And once I've cooked dinner, the kitchen is closed for the night. No pb & j at 8:30. I know; I'm crazy and mean. BUT...my child eats hummus. He eats edamame. He will eat tuna, brussels sprouts, and black-eyed peas. We can take him to restaurants that do not have menus that you color on and we can always find something on the menu that he will eat. We have NEVER taken a Happy Meal into a restaurant other than McDonald's because that is all our little angel will eat. I'm not going to get on a soapbox about McDonald's...there are plenty of people who can do that for me. I will just say this: I let him choose between a hamburger and nuggets (no, I will not call them "chicken"...God only knows what they are) and then we get milk (WHITE milk) and apples (by the way, since they have started putting apples AND fries in each Happy Meal, you have to specifically ask for ALL apples, and they will give you two little apple baggies). But McDonald's is an occasional treat, not an everyday thing. And sometimes, sure, I let him have Goldfish crackers, which I know are full of sodium. But they're a treat. Not a meal. Which brings me to my next point...

Little kids do not require as much food as adults do. And their stomachs are small. Which is why it is vital that the food they fill up on is the good stuff.

Food marketing makes me furious. Tyson has commercials that feature kids listing the foods they don't like, but "Every kid likes Tyson chicken nuggets!" Cereal companies can fill a box full of high-fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring, but then plaster "Made With Whole Grain!" on the package, and a lot of parents will serve it up to their kids without a second thought. The thing is, they THINK, because of the packaging, that they're doing a good thing.

If you don't know me, and you're reading this, you probably think my kids, or even my husband and I, are thin. We are not. I'm on the heavier side of curvy, and if Husband had boobs, he would be too. (Now, make no mistake about it, I work every pound I carry...just because you're not a size 4 doesn't mean you are not a goddess...which I most certainly am. I have better hair than anyone I know. So there.) And my son, who is 4 years old, weighs 41 pounds. He is 40 inches tall. His round face and Charlie Brown cheeks are hereditary, and though he seems like a big kid...he is perfectly healthy. I don't feed him processed foods, but I don't completely forbid them, either. (Forbidden fruit is indeed the sweetest...especially if that fruit is in Loop form.)

If you DO know me, then you're probably thinking, "Who is she to be preaching nutrition with her fat ass?"

Take a moment to feel shame for being so judgmental.

Because it's not about being thin; it's not about a number on a scale or the shape of your body. It's about how you view food. It is unhealthy to let it rule your life, whether it be through letting your kid eat whatever he wants or by obsessing over every calorie. It's just food. And you should eat what is best for your body, and feed your kids what is best for theirs. 

I think the reason my son is such an adventurous eater is that I never told him he wasn't. I never made a big deal about it. If he doesn't eat his dinner, then that means he isn't hungry. I'm not going to stop serving vegetables (or anything, for that matter) just because he doesn't like them. That is insane. Why? Because I, as an adult, have earned the right to be "the boss." If we did everything the way our children wanted it done, all we would ever eat is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If you have fallen into this trap, I want you to take a deep breath, then let it out and say, "I am in charge."
There. Didn't that feel good? Do it again, louder.
"I am in charge."
Your children cannot drive, nor do they buy the groceries. That's your job.
When I got pregnant with Z, I gained four billion pounds. I don't care; she was healthy, I was healthy...and I wasn't planning on wearing a bikini anytime soon anyway. A lot of pregnant women obsess over their weight, during and after their pregnancies. (Actually, a lot of women do that, pregnant or not.) All I have to say about it is this: if that's all you have to talk about, then you are boring. I joined Weight Watchers, because that's the way I lost weight after I had my son, and I plan to do it again. I don't so much care about my actual size as I do about a pair of jeans that I am particularly fond of and would hate to send to Goodwill. But...that isn't all there is to life. Food cannot be the most important thing. It just can't.

If you offer your kid a vegetable once, and he doesn't like it, don't give up. Keep offering it. Eventually, he will try it, and maybe even like it. But if you keep a constant stream of Goldfish and Froot Loops on hand, don't be surprised when your child is uninterested in the broccoli you're serving.

Read labels. Stand firm. And, for heaven's sake, use some common sense.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Eve...The traditional gift is a heart-shaped box of crow

A lot of people hate Valentine's Day. I do not. Never have. In fact, I love it more than I love Thanksgiving, Arbor Day, and Reformation Sunday all put together. I like pink. I like chocolate. I like flowers. I like receiving presents. I also LOVE giving them. Valentine packages are way more appreciated than Christmas packages...after all, everyone gets Christmas presents. But Valentine's Day is a different kind of beast. There is a clear delineation: the haves and the have-nots. I've always been lucky (picky) and wound up dating and marrying boys who were, for the most part, excellent gift-givers. 

For example:

One year, Super Awesome Guy got the keys to the pizza place where he worked. He took me there after they were closed, and there were candles and flowers, chocolate strawberries, and just us in this empty restaurant. The fact that anyone would do this for anyone is amazing. This man was a freaking treasure, and one of the best friends I have ever had. The relationship didn't work out, and in this case, I can honestly say it was because he really was too good for me. It sounds like a bad line, but really, I promise...in this case it was totally true. I don't regret for one second marrying Husband; he's who I was supposed to be with, have babies with, grow old and die with. But what I do regret is treating that Super Awesome Guy the way I did. He deserved better...better treatment and a better girlfriend.

Several Valentine's Days ago, he gave me the coolest night ever. And this year, what I want to offer is an apology. It's long overdue, and if he doesn't accept it, I don't blame him. But I'm sorry. Please be my friend again. Happy Valentine's Day, Super Awesome Guy. I'm sorry I'm so awkward, and so capable of such dumb-assery.

Friday, February 10, 2012

One Million Mean People

 This is the email I sent to the organization One Million Moms after I accidentally wound up on their mailing list. They did not respond, nor did they take me off their mailing list. Sigh. The quest continues.

For the record, anyone who doesn't like Ellen should seek professional help. She's totally lovable. Who are you going to hate on next? Julie Andrews? Come on, people...

To Whom it May Concern:
      Please remove me from your mailing list. You say that you are an organization for Christian mothers, but I see now that this is a hate group based on self-righteousness, closed-mindedness, and exclusion of other world views.
      I don't want to shelter my children from different points of view; instead, I feel that it is my job as a Christian mother to raise them to make choices that reflect our values. If you cover your children's eyes whenever you see something that isn't exactly in line with your shiny, disinfected world view, then your children aren't "good"...they just don't have any other choices. What will they do when they are presented with what the real world (which, though flawed, does exist) has to offer? It is our job to PREPARE them for that, not to protect them from it. As much as we would like to do that forever, we will not always be there to hold our babies' hands.
        Jesus taught us to love ALL people. Not just the ones who are just like us. Pharisees were chastised by Jesus, remember? You know...the people who preached the word of God while refusing to associate with the sinners.Who are you to judge? We are told to love the sinner...not to sweep the sinner under the rug, or to cross to the other side of the street when we see the sinner, or to change the channel when the sinner is on TV. From the boycotts I have seen you support, you are one step away from book burnings and public floggings.
      The emails I have received from your group display an ugliness that I do not want to associate with. Judging others based on their life choices is not a Christian quality. The Bible is pretty clear about that. After all, the Lord's Prayer says "Forgive us our trespasses...AS we forgive those who trespass against us." It does not say "Forgive us our trespasses, even though they're not as bad as the trespasses of THOSE people." I think it's interesting that the Bible is so much more clear about the sins of pride (mentioned 49 times) and self-righteousness (mentioned 79 times) than of homosexuality. While I am not a homosexual, I fully intend to continue to love my children even if they are. I will certainly not suggest to them that they should be ashamed of how they were made, any more than I would keep them hidden away if they were autistic, or had red hair, or wanted a mohawk and a nose ring. Who they are attracted to is such an insignificant trait in the grand scheme of things. I would much rather have a son who was gay than one who was mean-spirited. God loves homosexuals just as much as he loves you. We are all His children. None more so than anyone else.
      I get the impression that your group would have thrown the first stone. And I'm just not like that. I want my church pews to be full of gays. I also want them to be full of liars, adulterers, kindergarten teachers, Republicans, Democrats, artists, accountants, prostitutes, and drug addicts. Because that's where they NEED to be. Churches were not built for people who were perfect; they were built for people who are broken. And we are ALL broken. Every one of us. By continually judging and excluding these huge groups of people, you are not doing your job as a Christian, which is to bring other people to Christ. If you boycott TV shows that show gay people, if you spew hatred at them, they will not want to come to your church. Remember that Jesus broke bread with the tax collectors and stood up for the adulteress. He reached out to the outcasts; He didn't push them further away.
      And since I feel so strongly about this, I will continue to pray that you will be absolved of your hatred. But I no longer want to be associated with your organization.
Erin Schultz

This is the next email I sent, when the first one proved to be ineffective:


Ugh. Other people's stupidity causes me physical pain. 

I'm back, chicas and chicos...

I have two kids now, Sam and Zetta Rose. Zetta was born in November, and she is, as you would expect, the world's most perfect baby. She is gorgeous, a good eater, a good sleeper, and grins the best gummy grins you have ever seen outside a soup kitchen.

People told me that life with two kids is a whole new ball game. I don't care much for ball games, so this was disturbing news. Imagine my delight when it turned out to be nothing like a ball game at all. In fact, it has actually been quite pleasant. She started sleeping through the night at six weeks (go ahead, hate me all you want. I can withstand your glares and return them back to you through my un-puffy, well-rested eyelids), and she pretty much fits perfectly into our little family. I love that about her.

Oh, and her name...a lot of people ask. Zetta was my grandmother's name. No, we're not Portugese. Her dad just liked the name. And, no, it is not ZETA, as in Catherine Zeta Jones. Nor is it Ziti. It is Zetta. ZEH-tuh. Practice saying it now, or in sixteen years, you will all have the same problem we had trying to pronounce "Aguilera" and "Deschenal".

And her middle name is "Rose" because that was the first lead I had in a big musical. And she's a perfect little rosebud. So...there you go.

Husband is doing quite well. He and I are even more disgustingly crazy about each other than before (if it were even possible), and really...I fall more and more in love with that man every day. His beard is quite impressive these days.

We're doing a lot at Easley's Foothills Playhouse. Steve is doing a lot of directing, and he is on the board there now. We've started our own improv group (someone once told me "If you don't like it here, by all means, go start your own theater company! I wish you well!" so I kinda did) which is more of an artists' collective than anything else. We're called Easley Amused, and we operate out of Foothills Playhouse, which kindly lets us use their lovely facility. Every Sunday night at 7, anyone who wants to can come and learn improv from Steve and me. That's it. No strings attached, no fees, no memberships or contracts that you have to sign in blood. We're anti-clique, anti-b.s....just a group of people who want to get together and put on a show. We do an improv show almost every month, and we also do fundraisers (we have done two "Boobapalooza" events for the Komen Foundation...you know...before they went all crazy), two years ago we offered fake ghost tours of downtown Easley, and next weekend   we are doing an improv show along with an new play, "Love Schtories" , by yours truly. I'm giddily excited about it. Because that's our goal: to help artists, actors, directors, techs, producers...to give them all more opportunities to develop their craft. If you don't get practice acting, you won't be cast in shows. If you've never directed, you will not be asked to direct a show. So that's why we're here. To help people gain experience, teach them what they need to know, and give them a chance to get better at what they love to do. Everyone is welcome on Sunday nights, whether they want to play or just watch. It's fun. You should check it out. Like us on Facebook. And come to our next show, February 17th and 18th at Easley's Foothills Playhouse. Show starts at 8, admission is $5.

It'll be funny. Promise.