Liberty & Life

cover1-150x235Change is inevitable, like nature – life evolves and constantly moves around us, if we do not adapt we wither, and thankfully adaptation seems to be something that we are good at… even we we proclaim not to be.

Change is not always easy, depending on the circumstances it can in fact feel arresting, the other side of that coin however is liberty, which is the topic of todays post.

I have under gone an enormous amount of personal change over the past 3 years (longer if you count the time from which I had gastric banding surgery) however the last 3 years have been monumental in bringing me to the point I am at today.

In 2010 I went back to University full time and started a graduate degree in education. It was a busy year with crazy timelines, I started a job the same time, working part time with at risk adolescents at night of the streets of Melbourne. At the end of 2010, I finished my degree and although I loved my teaching rounds (for reasons to numerous to go into now) I made the decision to stay in the job I was at and accepted a full time role with the team. I still believed however that I would move towards teaching eventually, but now was not that time.

The full time role and work we engage in is tough, at night and with young people often marginalised by a society that barely accepts them, let alone make the time to understand them. We work with young people who are tough and hard on the outside, but like us all underneath are just looking for acceptance and belonging. I love this work, I love the interactions with young people, I love advocating for them, encouraging them. But  like all meaningful work it comes with a price.

My role involved working 10 hour shifts (often with long overtime) and was always at night either 4pm till 2am or 6am till 4am, and it entailed working 7 nights a fortnight, which always included one weekend in that block… I know that for this work to be possible this is the way that it needs to be, it has to be at night, on the streets, rain, hail or heat. This is the role.

I think that these hours worked for me for a period of time, I could prioritise my exercise during the day, sleep in (I am a bit of a night owl) and engage in work that is both rewarding and meaningful. However there is always a cost. Working night shift continually eventually turned me in a vampire (not literally) but yes, I rarely saw sunlight, found it difficult to sleep at night or during the day, became disengaged from family and friends given that I only had 7 nights a fortnight to see people, and add dating to that – well you get the picture.

I have had 4 surgeries this year, hard enough for anyone, interrupted sleep and poor eating routine and crazy hours found it hard for me to return to my best healthy self… Add to this a number of stressful events at work and I was a powder keg just waiting for a spark to set me off.

I knew in my heart in the middle of this year that this would in fact be the last year I would be able to stay in my outreach role. I love the role, but my heart yearned for something more. I love working with children and young people, and have a desire for them to see and realise their full potential.  Social work is great, I am passionate about it, but it is  not where my calling lies, I believe that my calling is in realm of education.

So it is with great pleasure that I announce (now that I have formally told work) that I have resigned from my job today, and will not return there. I am currently on annual leave and my resignation will dovetail right into my resignation date. I have accepted a position teaching next year, I will be teaching in a suburb about 10km from me, I am under no illusions that it will be tough at times, but I know it will be rewarding also. I will be teaching Year 6, and get to journey with a group of students from Jan to Dec in 2013 seeing them grow and graduate from Primary School…

I am sad to leave my colleagues and young people on the street, but I know that this is where I am supposed to move towards.  I can work in education with a group of students and hopefully become a teacher that allows students to see and understand their intrinsic value and develop as individuals, building resiliency and skills that will  afford them full lives and divert them from coming into contact with social workers protecting kids on the streets.

The door is officially closed to my last role, I will miss some of it and most definitely my colleagues who are simply amazing people… But I feel strangely liberated, like I am moving towards myself, my path in life. I look forward to a life of living in the waking world, exercising and eating with more routine, not feeling socially isolated and having every weekend free; but more importantly, I am looking forward to a  2013 where I will open the door to the learning space that will begin my next journey.

Till next time,

Lin.

Being Tough (and not)

Hey readers, I am sitting here in a bed, not my bed – although it has been for the past 13 nights… but a bed none the less.  As I have previously blogged I came into hospital for a thigh lift and revision on my abdominoplasty, that was almost 2 weeks ago. This experience has been quite different to my first plastic surgery. I envisioned that it would be similar to the first surgery, after all legs are quite similar to arms, well that was what I thought. My surgeon House, (that is what I call him as it is part of his name) did tell me that this procedure is more complicated than doing my arms, but in my mind I still compared the two… 

I had a minor complication after this surgery, that’s why I am still here,  the suture line on my inner  right thigh came undone about 5 days after the initial surgery. I was still in hospital and being cared for extremely well (the nursing staff here are 5 kinds of fabulous), so I was sent back into surgery to have the leg washed out and re-sutured with a drainage tube. 

I have had a few rough days since then, honestly I can tough out a lot of stuff – there was the nausea and not being able to keep anything down from the antibiotics, the increased pain levels from having the already traumatised leg worked on again etc… but today I had a mini emotional crash day. Still sore and bruised (my inner thighs look like a thug took a baseball bat to them) I had the “What the hell did I decide to do to myself” moment. I had a little cry and wanted to take it all back. Deep down I know I have made the right decision, and that this is just that moment where I am feeling emotionally vulnerable, and that’s ok, it’s impossible to be tough all the time. 

I don’t like being or feeling vulnerable, it make me anxious to not have a sense of control. I have very limited control over how my body heals, and despite trying my best to manage the pain it can wear you down after awhile. What I realised however is that part of the process is in fact experiencing the full journey, embracing the fact that I am not in control, that I am not as tough as I try to be. That it’s OK to cry, experience pain – it is the human experience. It is essential to not only understand my own journey but to relate others stories as well. 

Thanks for reading, till next time – Lin xox

Surgery, here we go again

So today  is the next stage in healing, which seems odd since I will actually be having more surgery. Later this afternoon I go into Hospital for a revision on my tummy tuck and a bi-lateral thigh lift. When I talk about healing I am not just talking about the physical change in my appearance, but the emotional and psychological healing that begins to take place as well.

I am reminded of the night before surgery (last time) when all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for Lin who’s heart was pounding away and couldn’t quiet her mind… It is not as bad this time, I am not having an anxiety attack, and I can write my way through a little of the feelings.

Initially I thought that I was not scared this time around, and I haven’t been for the most part. This time around I am not so anxious, in fact I know that it may be tough again, and I may have complications; but I am positive that I can get through, I have done it before.

But whilst I can have those thoughts, my body is also feeling stuff! As I sit in bed it is 2:22am as I type and my heart is still racing, anxiety is raising her ugly head again.

I have kinda been “up” for most of the day… I caught up with friends earlier. One friend noted that I was quite “buoyant” I think was the term he used, my heart was racing and I think It was the high before the low. Whilst I do not have bi-polar, it kind of feels a bit like what some people who do describe as the period of mania before the storm..

I think that for all of us who experience life’s ups and downs we can relate a little to this, in times of high stress our bodies release huge amounts of cortisol a hormone that rightly puts our bodies on alert, but it also has its downside, affecting metabolism, constricting blood vessels and flow, increased heart rate, the list goes on…

So I am going to try to sleep now… I have a lot to do in the morning. I have to get compression leggings for after the surgery to hold my thighs in place, finish packing and get my room ready for my return home… I will post from Hospital about the procedure, and how I am going…. Be aware that I will be on the good drugs for a while and that posts in the next week are not subject to my usual editorial scrutiny…

Ciao – Lin xox

Livestrong – the Problem with Heroes

I love cycling, and after losing over 85kg, I actually enjoy participating in the sport and not just watching the various Tours on TV. Over the years I have followed the cycling and the Tour that tops them all, Le Tour de France… I used to watch the tour with my Dad when I lived at home. We would sit up together and discuss the stages, riders, teams, conditions – everything… In the years I lived at home we watched Lance ride his way to many, many victories.

Right now in the midst of all the controversy that is surrounding Mr Armstrong I don’t know what to feel. I am numb. I like many, many others I believed that Lance did not dope, part of me desperately still wants to believe this. There has not been any blood test evidence to my knowledge that shows he did, but there is evidence in the form of testimony from team mates and those in the inner circles. I am still not sure how I feel about the way it was collected or motives people may have… But all that aside Lance has been stripped of his titles.

I have seen many, many, many hateful comments on FB and other sites directed towards Lance, and I get it – I don’t participate in it, but I understand that people are hurt, they feel betrayed and that their trust has been broken. If I am honest, like many I feel a little foolish for believing all the prior claims of innocence, but part of me is still holding onto that; and here is where it gets complicated.

In Australia we have a habit of cutting people down to size. It is called “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. If someone is seen in Australia as getting a too cocky or confident, Aussie’s have a habit of turning on them. What I see happening to Lance is partly this , but also there is more to it. The issue is that people trusted him. He said I beat cancer, I trained hard, I got my body into shape, I can win, I am a winner, I am an example. And Yes he did all those things.

Using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s) doesn’t change the facts that he beat cancer, trained like a machine or got into shape – but it does change his wins, and that he traded on those wins to earn money from endorsements and position himself as an example.

Personally to me Lance is an example, PED’s or not. He did beat cancer, he did train hard and drugs or no drugs he was, and is, an amazing athlete. He did amazing work with setting up Livestrong and providing hope and help to millions of cancer survivors around the world. Sending a message of hope and health and being an example of this has not changed in my eyes. I won’t hate on Lance and I won’t call him names, and this is the reason. I placed him on that pedestal, I put him up there in my own eyes, and this is my point…Heroes are people too!

What, you cry! – Yep it’s true, I know it is tough to believe, but they are. Heroes are flawed human beings just like the rest of us. I have made some mistakes in my life, Thank God most people don’t know about them. Lance made some mistakes, and for me that does not negate all the good in his life. I can’t call him names, I can’t hate him, because as a human, I am just like him – flawed and imperfect. I have heard all the arguments about role models being held to a higher standard, and I get that – but seriously at the end of the day he is just a person with thoughts, feelings and open to temptation, just like me.

I am disappointed if it’s true, I am sad, angry, numb – all that business. The problem with heroes is we expect them to be perfect in every way, we expect them to be human beings without flaws – in fact we demand it… and then we get pissed off when they don’t meet our expectations.

The problem with heroes is we expect them to be super human, so when they fall short of our expectations we experience a range of emotions, we get disappointed, angry and hurt. So what do we do with that – The Human race will always look for a champion of a cause, a hero…Perhaps the trick is to look at people around us and be inspired by them, but not idolize them. Perhaps the trick is to live our lives in the best light possible, become our own heroes, an example to ourselves, proud of ourselves; and whilst we can be inspired by others, encouraged by others let’s not lose sight of the fact that being a human is a messy business.

Till next time – Lin xox

Surgery, the next step…

Hey there lovely readers…It has been a while between drinks or blog posts, my apologies.  I caught up with a dear friend tonight; dinner, dessert and a DVD – perfect! He did chastise me a little for not having updated the blog in a while – and he was right… I then came home and checked Facebook to have another friend PM me to ask if everything was OK and that they hadn’t seen a blog in a while – Universe I hear you… So I will just get to it.

So readers the update is I am in the throws of preparing for some more plastic surgery. Round two 9 months after the first round and I am feeling only a little nervous this time. This surgery is a small revision on the tummy tuck, and the bigger role of having the excess skin removed from my thighs. This is all set to go down on the 19th of November – 3 weeks and 3 days away…

Honestly this time I am far less anxious about the surgery. I know what to expect afterwards, I feel ready to face it – and have organised the 8 weeks off work that it will take to recover. It seems like a long time, but it is major surgery and will take some time to be able to walk far enough given my job requires me to be fit and active (not to mention not doped out on pain killers)

So in the next 3 weeks I will be organising my life to make sure my time in hospital and when I am home recovering is as stress free as possible. I am still struggling with shift work, being tired and run down… I aim to take every day off between now and then to organise, rest and sleep… I do not want to get infections after surgery because I am run down (like after the tonsil surgery 2 months ago)

I feel that this is the next step in reclaiming my body. I hope that having the thigh reduction will help with the running and the  pain and discomfort that the excess skin creates at times. I am honestly very happy with how I am looking now. I am at a stable healthy weight, my doctor is very happy with that aspect.. However these processes and surgeries are also about helping heal the psychological impact that obesity has had on my life, it is not just about the aesthetic.

For all of you still losing weight, dreaming of the day you get to goal, feel alive and possible plan your own plastic surgery, know it can happen – There were many times I never thought I would get this far. I remember plenty of times that I felt at the bottom of the barrel ready to end it all. The lap band was the tool that allowed me to have the space and time to address the food addiction, the cycle of obesity… But it also meant hard work, exercise and not cheating the system. It happened for me slowly, sustainably, there were many plateau’s… But it did happen, my life is no longer one lived out in a fat coma – but one that is vibrant and I am content and very happy… I continue to learn more about myself everyday. Don’t give up – reach out to supports – and if you feel that you have no one else that you can reach out to – please leave me a message or email me at lin.k@me.com – you are not alone.

I would like to thank all my friends and family for your continued support this year. I have probably been a pain in the arse and a complaining git for some of it… You guys are my rocks…

I will keep you all updated, till next time – Love Lin xox

P.S; So – For those of you who have asked if I need anything, these is something you can do to help  – here is what I need – good book suggestions…The kindle needs some more books downloaded on it, basically I need some more reading material for the long nights in hospital. Feel free to leave your suggestions here on the blog, or on my FB page or emailed as per the address above……  Thanks 🙂

3/4 done already!

Tomorrow marks the start of Oct, and that there is only 3 months left of 2012, they say that time flies when you’re having fun… well it has been a full year – fun however, hmm, I have had fun at times, but mostly it has been a year about learning.

I like to review the year as it goes along, check my list of things I still want to achieve, review my goals. So what have I learnt so far, there have been a few major themes this year…

1. It is OK if everything I wanted to happen this year didn’t come to fruition.

This is mainly in relation to my goals of running and working out. I have not run a half marathon of full marathon this year like I wanted to and didn’t end up competing in tough mudder. This is in light of health issues, the major surgery, chronic tonsillitis, and the heart scare… I was quite harsh on myself initially for not getting these complete, but then remembered that all these events have been tough to get through and that takes a strength on a whole other level to get better and continue to function.

2. I need to care more about myself and less about others…

I really did know this before this year, but I am really trying to stop feeling responsible for other people’s feelings and lives. I can’t control any of that – I can only worry about myself… I am trying to care less, not in a bad way – but in a way that is healthier for everyone…

3. Trust my gut more…

We have intuition for a reason, it could have saved me pain and heart ache if i listened earlier – but I did listen in the end…

So for the next 3 months, I will pack in a few more fun things and finish off with a bang – Oh and there is the next surgery, (leg lift) but I know what to expect with that now and am happy to get the legs dealt with!

Enjoy the last quarter of your year…

Lin xox

Getting back together…

I know that it has been a while since we caught up, months actually, and If I’m honest, I was a little nervous about tonight, and I wasn’t sure it would be the same, feel the same.

I know that when things got hectic, and I got sick – I let us slip…  That’s why coming back was so hard. What if it wasn’t the same? You know we had great times together. What if something else comes between us again?

I made the decision to see you at the last minute. I think it was so I wouldn’t talk myself out of meeting. My stomach was a knot, my head a bit of a mess… What if doesn’t feel as good as the last time, what if the magic was gone…

I wore the outfit you like, Ha, no, You don’t really care what I wear do you? You just want me to turn up. I think I wore that outfit for me, I always feel great in that top and those pants – ready to take on the world, confident, strong…

Before I know it, the dream is reality again. We are together, my knees start to shake, I kind of stumble, and I am slow, but slow can be good, right? I know I am rusty, but the rhythm comes back, my arms, legs, hips all start to work in sync – it feels wrong, but right at the same time, such a cliché!

After a while I realize I am so tense, Damn, I know I am over thinking this. I just want it to be good, like it used to be –  like I used to be. I use a little mantra, relax Lin, relax, I feel the tension in my shoulders go, then I relax some more – just feeling every moment with you…

When we finish I can feel those endorphins kickin’ round in my system, I almost forgot how good it could feel – just you and me…

My body quiets down, the feel good wearing off as my heart rate returns to normal. I am lying on the bed, and it starts; I know you never criticise me, – it’s never you – but the doubts creep in, and those critical voices come out to play,

“You started out too fast, your pace was off.”

“There was no rhythm – towards the end you were lagging, you know you were.”

“HA the ending, well you didn’t…you didn’t finish well dear”…

I almost scream, SHUT UP! – But it is now 2:30am and the apartment below would probably hear… So I scream it in my head… I remind myself, it’s ok to be rusty, it’s been a while, and that you don’t care, It doesn’t matter how long I lasted, or that my rhythm was off, that I was slow, or so hot and sweaty at the end that it was a little embarrassing…

What matters is that I came back to you tonight, in the wee hours of the morning, I came back to you, and you welcomed me with open arms, no judgment, no laughter, no “You should have come back sooner”.

You don’t judge me, never have, never will, and that, that is why I love you Running.

Lin xox