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this is a hard one for me. hard to think about these things, admit them, put them out into the world. why it's hard - i don't know. it hasn't been a mystery to anyone except, perhaps, me. but it's kind of like alcoholics anonymous ...  you have to admit you're an alcoholic before you can start to do the work.

i've spent the past 2o years being fat. obese, actually, many of those years.

it happened all at once, overnight, but it also took 20 years. and now i'm in the process of finally undoing it. the undoing is going well, but if i don't want it to happen again, i need to speak my truth to the room.

i'm michele, and i'm fat.

i wasn't always, which is the bitch of the thing.

i was a skinny kid. couldn't find pants skinny enough. there was a brief chubby period the summer that i stayed with my dad longer than four days. i was given crap to eat by an ex-step-witch who was trying to gain my trust and favor and silence. i was left home alone with mtv and little debbie's while she ... ?? don't know. sometimes i was left with her little sister, who would go upstairs to smoke pot and have sex with her boyfriend while i was downstairs.

but that's a digression. this isn't about that. except to say my journey into fatness has a lot of little alleyways and side streets that got me there. that's one of them.

another is all the ways i was told how unattractive i was, by the people who were supposed to love me most and build me up. "turkey eyes." "pig nose." "your chin is weak." "your ankles are thick." "your hair is thin." "your bones are big." "you have dimples in your elbows." "your sternum isn't flat, so you will always look big."

my. fucking. sternum. what do i do with that??

and, mind you, these things were all told to me from childhood through high school. the biggest i was in high school was a size seven. i was an athlete. i was a swimmer. but ... i was big. i was unattractive. it was too bad, really. especially in light of how lovely all the other women in my life were. which was a point i never failed to miss.

somehow, despite all that, i never fell victim to an eating disorder.

but ... maybe i did. because i spent 20 years being fat. after 25 years of being skinny.

with all the ... ahem ... wonderful things in my life through the adolescence years, i also had depression. undiagnosed, but knowing what i know now ... yeah. and it wasn't good. i have large blocks of memory that are just gone. when people would ask me what was wrong, i would say, "nothing," because there was nothing. my mind was a blank, black, void. and then portions of my life became blank, black voids. there are still whole years about which i remember next to nothing. i do remember wanting to just disappear. a lot.

despite all of my obvious physical and mental health flaws and lack of worthiness, i not only attracted a guy, but i attracted THE guy in college. the hot guy. the hot guy who also became the successful guy. and he wanted me not because i was beautiful, but because - in his words - i was smarter than he was, and i didn't need him. and it didn't matter if i wasn't a beauty prize; i had worth. and i grabbed on to that life raft, without ever detaching myself from all my anchors.

we had a perfect little boy, and within six weeks i was back in my pre-baby jeans. all was well. and then:

six weeks in, i experienced the double whammy of peri-menopause brought on my my shifting hormones, and post-partum depression brought on by ... well ... being post-partum. the hormones i went on for the peri-menopause put 20 extra pounds on me within weeks. i barely noticed it happening because of the PPD. eight months into motherhood, the PPD spiraling, my husband took me to the doctor and told me not to come out until i got help. i was put on an anti-depressant, and another 20 pounds came on within weeks. i lost myself completely into another blank void.

five years and another baby later, i couldn't recognize myself anymore. when i looked in the mirror, i saw me, but me in zipped into a fat suit. and the fat suit didn't phase me; it was protective. i no longer had to feel terrible about myself because my "good enough" wasn't good enough. the further i let myself go, the less close i was to "if only ..." you can't wish for what you don't have if you are so far away from it that it does no good to wish for it in the first place.

i would never be the beautiful daughter. i would never be the beautiful wife. i would never have a better chin, better hair, small ankles or wrists or bones. my goddamn sternum would always be a burden, my elbows would likely dimple even if i weighed 80 pounds. so why put myself through trying to get there, if there was never a place i could reach?

and then one day, four months ago, my husband and i were in the kitchen, arguing about why i wasn't making my life and health a priority. and i had a rebuttal for everything ... why it didn't matter, why nothing would work, why why why. and he broke down. he sobbed. he told me that he was terrified of me hating myself right into an early grave and leaving this family.

with that, he hit on the one thing that woke me in the middle of the night in a panic attack. 

i love my husband. i love my children. i love the three of them more than anything on this planet. and despite evidence to the contrary, i love my life. more than i ever thought i would. the thought of not being with them terrified me. the thought of them moving through life without me broke my heart. the thought of some other woman taking my place enraged me.

and so i made the call. a friend had been chronicling her weight loss journey through covid, on a weight loss program, and had been so successful that she decided to become a coach for others. and she was a lot like me - similar age, dealing with off-kilter hormones, a mother, a long struggle with weight and nothing working. but whatever it was she was doing WAS working. so i swallowed my pride and told her to sign me up.

in my mind, being on a program that tells you what to eat, when you can eat it, was not what i wanted. i was smart; i'd done the research; i knew what to eat, how to exercise. but ... none of those things ever helped me. and for every one thing that said "do this," there was another that said, "never do this, only do that." the contradictions stressed me out. i couldn't do it anymore. i wanted someone else to take the reins.

and so i gave over control. and one month in, i'd lost nearly 18 pounds. the next, nearly 10. i'm now in my fourth month, and this week i will hit 40 pounds gone.

it's blowing my mind that this has worked. and can i just say: i feel proud of myself, and more comfortable in my skin than i have in fucking YEARS.

i still have a ways to go, but i'm ticking off my goals. the first was to lose 20 pounds, so i could see that the program worked. after that, i made goals for getting back in the 100s, hitting 50 pounds gone, reaching the weight i was when i practically killed myself to fit into a bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding 15 years ago, reaching the weight i was when i got married.

it may be a long shot, but every goal i tick off is a win that i will take and appreciate and celebrate.

there is still a long road ahead of me, and quite honestly the physical changes might be the easier part of the journey than the emotional ones. the hunt is on for a therapist i can trust; there are obviously some things i need to work on, or that fat suit of armor will show up again the minute i let down my guard. but now that i know i'm allowed to take care of myself for no reason other than i value my life and well-being, my will will be strengthened to prioritize looking out for myself .

i can't be anyone else. there's no reason to compare or feel bad when i fall short, because it's pointless to wish for things you can't have. but i can do the best with what i've been given. and if it still isn't good enough for others, and they feel the need to push me down to - feel better about themselves, maybe? - well ... fuck 'em. i'm too old to be bothered by that anymore.



in the company of women

there are two years left - officially - of my time as a mom-on-call, and then i will be free to fly into the next phase of my life. my husband often says, "when you go back to work ..." and i'm left to wonder what, exactly, he means.

we still have 14 years until retirement age, so i know i can't and won't and don't want to just be home anymore. i have talents and skills that it would be nice to utilize. i also, though, have a 20+ year gap on my résumé. how do you sell skills you haven't used since the turn of the century? it seems like every writing job i look at also wants social media experience, and i don't snap, tweet, or tik tok. i haven't used editing marks since my stomach was flat. i am rusty and out-of-date and my brain isn't what it used to be. maybe i try to grow the photography business again? but i hated the business side. i love the creating, and the making people happy part, but when it comes to selling ... ? pfft. terrible.

and also, we are finally at a place where we can take off without any worries about what to do with a kid. what if marc resumes his crazy travel schedule, post-covid, for work and i want to join him in seattle ... toronto ... boston? do i ask some  twentysomething for days off?

so i know i don't want a job just to have a job. that sounds privileged and bratty, but i feel how i feel. i've had jobs over the years, and they're fine, but it would be nice to do something a little more meaningful with my remaining good years. i would love to volunteer in various capacities, but that doesn't add to the 401k, so i'm not sure i would have much support for that idea from the peanut gallery. go back to school? maybe. but if i've learned one thing from years of reading about women making their dreams come true, most often what it takes is passion, talent, gumption, and courage ... not a degree.

here's the thing - and it came to me while bingeing three different series:

i want to work in collaboration with smart, creative, supportive women. i don't think i even care what the job is, it would just be really nice to work alongside a community of female energy and inspiration.

the universe and i have had a talk about this; the desire has been communicated.

this epiphany hit me after devouring every episode of "the lost kitchen," "growing floret," and "zoë bakes." all of these showcase a woman with a talent and an itch to do something with it, who finds a way to plant that metaphorical seed (or a literal seed, in the case of erin benzakein) and grow it into something amazing, collecting a tribe of women along the way to make it happen. both erin french and benzakein have built a small army of enthusiastic and brilliant women who are able to find and utilize their strengths to benefit the whole.

i want to be a cog in a wheel like that.

i want to work with creatives, with people who have passion and want to assemble other minds and hands to bring that passion to life. at the very least, i want to work alongside those people if it will push and inspire and light me up, too.

to that end, i closed my eyes and hit "go" on the registration for an eight-week writing course that starts in october at a local women-only cooperative, modernwell, located here in minneapolis. i've long been curious about this place and what it offers, and am finally in a place where i can reclaim my time and life and make it happen. i've also been pondering taking some classes through daily om ... does anyone have any experience with those? there is a hole somewhere in my soul that's been lying dark and ignored, but felt, for as long as i can remember. it's time to shine a light on it and try to fill it. and if it's possible to gather a collective in the process, all the better.

my dream is to write, and marc and i talk about heading into the empty nest years with plans to live one month a year somewhere new; rather than finding a place to move in retirement, we will instead learn a new area and experience life there, four weeks at a time. he can work remotely and, in this dream, i would soak in the energy and inspiration, and write while he is doing his day job. there's an idea, a proposal, in there that i need to roll around and tighten. but i think it will all start with putting myself out there to find that collaborative female energy, to join its fire and embrace. i can't keep turning to my husband with all of my concerns and doubts and ideas; guys are "fixers," they want to give you a plan and pat themselves on the back for saving the day. i don't want or need that; i need a tribe.

we'll see if the universe is listening.

the art of lighting the match

a couple of years ago, i started to hear a new term thrown around: the enneagram. like the myers-briggs designation for personality, but the enneagram shows you more who you are within your self rather than in the world. as i saw it explained somewhere, the myers-briggs is nature, and the enneagram is nurture.

after taking the enneagram test and discovering i'm a type four with a five wing, i did further reading on the topic and it all fits ... a little too neatly sometimes. i began to delve into my type and discovered that we are the most comfortable in and within our own pain and sadness. we embrace our trauma and let it roll through our life. then i saw a chart that lined up enneagrams with their most likely myers-briggs countertype, and yup ... there it was: injf.

it made me wonder: how much of our personality is determined by birth, and how much by circumstance? if the m-b is "nature," then wasn't i predisposed to my enneagram 4w5? what if i had zero trauma in my life ... would i still be a 4w5? would i still exhibit its traits if my childhood had been happy and well-adjusted and full of only good things? (full disclosure: it was not.)

when my daughter was younger, she wanted to take the myers-briggs, but read that it really wasn't accurate until after the age of 13. which makes sense; what you go through is in the dna of who you turn out to be. but who you are is who you are, right? and what about your life experiences ... what they do to you and your personality and how you are in the world can also be dealt with and undone, to some extent, can't it?

is this stuff all just hooey? (my son - an estj and likely type 8 - would say, yes ... hooey, all. any good estj would agree.)

i saw this today, and it got my brain working on all these thoughts ...


and that didn't fully click with me.

i quit. i'm a quitter. and not only will i quit anything, everything, and everyone who makes that space of jeopardy in my soul, i will burn down the mothereffing bridge so i can't ever return. it is self-care, in a way, but i can't say i do it because i value peace. i do it because i value my sense of self-preservation. though, ultimately, i harbor regrets and wonder if i was rash - or cowardly - to make such a move.

which, if you know anything about infjs, is what we like to call "the infj door slam."

the what now?

Why INFJs Slam the Door

INFJs slam the door when they have been deeply wounded. They slam the door when they can no longer tolerate a person’s toxicity. They do it to protect themselves from further hurt.

If the door has been slammed on you, it’s because the INFJ saw no other way of stopping the emotional pain you were causing them. You may not have meant to cause the pain, but nevertheless, it’s there. People of the INFJ personality are generally quite sensitive to the words and actions of others. More so than some other personality types, they need harmony, strong emotional support, and a healthy give-and-take in their relationships to thrive.

They tend to be patient and forgiving of others’ shortcomings, but even INFJs have their breaking point. When an unhealthy relationship becomes draining and damaging, the INFJ must remove it to save their sanity. Usually the door is slammed only as a last resort.


ahh. right. explains why i've ghosted the vast majority of friendships, and more than a few relationships, in my life. "i'll leave you before you leave me. which you will."

and, truly, type 4s are fairly obsessive in their need to "get" why they are the way they are, to delve into their identity to figure out why they hurt, why they're lonely, why why why ...

it's exhausting, and it would be so much nicer to be another number. any number, really.

but i get it now. i'm fully in touch with the sadness in life. i'm fully conversant in catastrophizing. and i will slam that door so fast in order to self-preserve and self-care myself into a lonely little box where there's nothing left to hurt me.

god, that's depressing.

but it also segues into that growing need for community that i mentioned the other day.

more on that tomorrow.

today, i'm going to contemplate whether it's logical or fatalistic to say, "it's just who i am, and that's that" every time i wonder why people seem to disappear from my life. when i start to light that bridge on fire, i can't wonder why no one is making the effort to jump the flames to save me.

it's probably my fault for always having matches in my pocket.


does anyone else feel like september 1 is the real start of the new year? summer is over, kids go back to school, time to dig into a new planner or calendar, start a new routine? the gardens are about to go to sleep, the leaves about to drop, everything is heading into the reset period, yourself included?

just me?

right now my anxiety level is so freaking high that it feels like there is constantly a weight on my chest. meditating first thing in the morning - and slathering on cbd lotion while getting ready for the day - do help, but until this country gets its shit together, i'm going to feel on the constant edge of a panic attack.

it's been five years; i'm used to it, at this point.

but looking at this season as one of a fresh start, of throwing out the oppressiveness of summer and heading into cooler, better, quieter, slower, brings me a sense of - not peace, but stillness, maybe. simplicity, for sure.

i spent some time today scrolling through my recent saved items on pinterest, and felt a calming come over me. yes, my husband is still covid-working from home, but he's in the basement and doesn't bother me. with elizabeth finally back in school, i feel like the house is almost mine again during the day, and that helps with my sense of exhalation. whereas spring cleaning is about airing out everything after a long winter of being shut-in, fall brings a sense of opening up to those last days of cool air, a crispness that brings a sense of light and cozy with it.

and i'm ready to run with it. come with me?

i love everything leanne ford touches ...




literally this entire house ...





which reminds me how much i want a william morris print ...




because i love all things william morris ...



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and desperately want an old house full of it, but probably have to wait until my husband leaves me for a cement-and-glass box of a house.

this little guy truly needs to come live on one of my bookshelves ...





this bedroom is giving me serious fall vibes ...



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and i think i may have to bake this weekend ...





this shaker rail has prompted me to start thinking about the basement guest room ...





as did this room ...



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 i love cafe au lait dahlias ...





and this simple collection of pumpkins ...





and while i don't mind - and haven't, really, minded - being home, i would 1000% like to go here for a slow afternoon of wine and hors d'oeuvres  ...





and that's where i am today.

what do you love right now? and does september feel like a fresh start to you, too, as it does me?

a very selfish challenge

if you were with me when i did the effy challenge back in april, you know i have a son, henry, who is a college senior, and a member of his school's swim & dive team. he set a goal back in high school to get recruited to a division one team, and he made it happen. he worked his tail off, he sacrificed free time, but he did it.

he loves this team, he loves the people on it, but they have struggled over the past year.

problems with the pool ... repairs that cause delays in training ... not much support from the athletics department and administration ... they are hanging on by a thread.

these kids have been training for this four years of competition since they were little, and they live on the anxious ledge of, "will we be around for another season?"


so here is my very selfish challenge today - and under normal circumstances, i wouldn't do this, but these are not normal circumstances:

today is one day for state ... a 24-hour fundraiser held by the school to fill different program and department buckets for things like scholarships, new equipment, whatnot. in the case of the swim team, they are aspiring to raise $50,000; that would give them not only a shot at a training trip (which they've never had - even though most other swim teams are able to take one during winter break each or every other year), but it would also give the new members on the team something as simple as a team bag or jacket, which no class has gotten since henry's freshman year. the money just hasn't been there.

last year, the team raised $20,000, which enabled them to sleep in slightly better hotel beds during travel meets, and eat slightly better food (pasta vs jimmy johns) after these meets. if you know anything about students athletes, they burn a ton of calories, and any upgrade to food is both necessary and welcomed.


from the team instagram page:

Last year, we were faced with many uncertainties, but ONE thing is for sure - we didn’t let them stop us! The women’s team was undefeated during the regular season, going 5-0. Both men’s and women’s teams placed second at conference, with fantastic swims all around. We had 5 individual champions, countless medals, and major representation in the A final heats. We plan to return with even more momentum to make this our best year yet! To keep us going, we need your help! All donations are appreciated and no amount is too small! 


so that's it today. i'm putting it out to you all and the universe: please support this team. please help them have a season without anxiety and uncertainty. covid has made things tough enough without the financial worries on top. even five dollars would be a help, and would be wholly appreciated and welcomed by these kiddos.

thank you.

to donate: follow this link, choose swimming & diving from the drop down "gift designation" box, fill out the rest of the information, and that's it.

thank you all, who are able - and choose - to help, from the bottom of my heart.

what i've done in the past five months

trying this again - 30 days of blogging my thoughts, creative pursuits, connecting with other thinkers and dreamers and makers and doers.

it was much needed, that push the challenge gave me back in april. while i didn't hit the "every day for 30 days" goal, i DID produce, think, write, make ... and it felt good. and there was such a lovely community of people who inspired me and showed me the connections that are in the world if we make the effort to find them. and then april ended, i let life invade and take over, i stopped thinking about how to use my creative drive, and i stopped nurturing my place in the community. and ties to community are threads of thought on which i've been pulling a lot over the past six months or so.

but, to build a bridge over the hiatus: a recap of the long, hot, dry, deflating, defeating, but ultimately reinvigorating, summer.

may brought the beginning of my flowers springing to life. that usually fills me with joy, and i eagerly pluck weeds and watch the hummingbirds and enjoy the beauty. this year? meh. it was fine.



at the end of may, we drove to indiana for my husband's sister's wedding, and a quick 48 hours with both his family and mine for the first time since pre-covid, which was wonderful. however, i was so filled with disappointment in how much i've ignored my self, my body, my well being, my needs for the past 20 years, that the day before we left, i called a friend who is a nutrition coach, and said, "sign me up." it was time; i had been sitting on the rock at the bottom, and was so fucking over it.

june brought the peonies ... a week that thrills me like no other ... and this year i barely noticed.



it also saw my daughter heading off to her first job, me schlepping her to and from because she still doesn't have her license. it also became the starting gun of my marathon into the selfish necessary land of self-care. my mental, physical, and emotional tanks were literally running on empty.



we also finally finished (mostly) the guest room that's been in progress since freaking december. i'll get that formally wrapped up this month and will share, because it's so super cute.



july was hot. relentlessly. and without rain. also relentlessly. where i had already been parched for energy and enthusiasm, the weather just added to my ennui. it was nearly impossible to want to go outside and join any sort of life outside this box we've been stuck in since march 2020.

however, marc's parents visited, which was lovely; elizabeth's best friend visited from arizona, which was lovely; and we drove to sioux falls for a day to see our boy, which was lovely.




and i lost weight. which hadn't happened in, literally more than a decade. and suddenly the sacrifices i was making and energy i was exerting felt worthwhile, for the first time in a long time.

august came in even hotter, even drier, but i started to force myself back into life, which helped my mental health tremendously.

i had a six-hour brunch with dear friends who have been my quarterly brunch crew since our boys were in elementary school; we hadn't gotten together in two years, and it was way overdue. after leaving the "brunch," i drove straight to a going-away happy hour for another friend, which turned into four hours of drinks and laughter and women supporting women on a patio. the day left me exhausted, but filled up, and reminded me that i do need people in my life. and i do crave community, no matter how much i protest and argue otherwise.

the next week, marc and i had dinner with lovely friends, and made plans to meet up again this month. we both realized that socializing is a balm to a wound we didn't know we had.

at the end of the month, in anticipation of the first day of school, elizabeth and i went on an outing to the tattoo & piercing place to get our respective cartilage pierced. a few days later, she went blonde, in preparation for going pink in six weeks.




we also finally - and by "finally" i mean "this project has been on my to do list for literally years." - gave our main bathroom a lovely glow-up. i'll share that, too, as it reaches completion. (lights should be here in two or three weeks.)




and now it's september first. it's time to get back at it, and i have a game plan, a list of lists, and a new planner, all ready to go.

and that thread on needing community? i'm taking a step toward it. the universe and i have had a conversation. that's something i'll share this month.

here we go, all.