"I'm down another pound!" my sister texts on a Tuesday morning. Without fail, every week, she loses weight. Whether or not she goes out for drinks or dinner, she steadily loses. I've secretly thought that she must have a Weight Loss Fairy who makes her pounds melt away. I've also thought that her body just wishes itself to be thin and makes. it. happen.
My body, on the other hand, clings on very tightly to every last fat cell. It hunkers down and holds tight to each fleshy pound. One bite of dessert causes the body to rejoice that the fat can stay right where it is- "No need to move out boys! She's eating the cheesecake!"
I jest...but I have been working very hard to lose weight. I have lost some and look and feel better. But I have more to go and it is just ever so slowly happening. I was thinking that my fat might need me to thank it for its service (hat tip to Marie Kondo) and let it know that it is no longer needed here. Like a person about to cross over to new life, just waiting for family to say, "It's okay, you can go".....I think my fat might need my blessing to move on. It's really worth a shot. So here goes:
You and I have been with each other for quite some time. As far back as my second birthday, when I am in a bathing suit and a crown, holding a fork to a slice of chocolate cake. You were there with me through it all. Through elementary school years, keeping me company as I played school and barbies and avoided physical activities. You took a little vacation through most of my high school years but came back to find me in college and when I got my first teaching job. How we enjoyed those bowls of popcorn on a Friday night after a long week!
I wasn't so glad you were around when I was measured for a bridesmaid's dress and had to order a plus size and pay extra for the honor. After that humiliation, you took another sabbatical as I lost weight. You found me again, of course, in my dating years and though you left while I was engaged, you came right back to me after the wedding (on the honeymoon!). You stayed through my pregnancies and the kids' toddler years and you've been a part of my identity for most of my 30's, and of course, most of my life.
Fat, did you know that I am turning 40 on Saturday? A new decade and a new era will be ushered in. Your services will no longer be required.
I do thank you for what you brought to my life. You taught me resilience when people called me names because of you. You taught me that being unkind about a person's appearance is never necessary and I learned to be more forgiving of physical flaws. You protected me from things I felt scared to do sometimes. You helped me not to be too superficial and to look for what's on the inside of a person.
But, you have held me back too. I remember the time Megan sprinted up the hill and I was scared she would roll down into traffic. I couldn't trudge up the hill to get her with any speed at all. I had to shout to the teenagers up there to catch her. You held me back from climbing that mini-mountain and others. As I start the next decade of my life, I wish to be my best self. The self that feels confident, stylish, attractive, tailored. Neat. Fit. I want to walk into stores and pick any outfit and know I will look good in it. I think I deserve to feel that way. I think it's my time.
So I will do my part. I will drink more water. I will eat more vegetables. I will set my alarm at 5:00 am and exercise. I will make my overnight oats. I will turn down cocktails I want to drink and eat less than I want to eat most of the time. I will be healthy and strong.
And you? Well you can feel free to leave now. I don't need you anymore. I will face fears and do what makes me uncomfortable. I don't need to hide or be a less vibrant version of myself. My birthday wish is for you to know that you are free to go. I release you from my life.
In other words, scram.
It's the time of year when teachers come together to separate students into new classes for next year. Part of the meeting involves looking at requests that have been made by parents. One of my current student's family requested a teacher and the description seemed as though they wanted the opposite of me.
It's not personal, of course.
And every family has the right to say what type of teacher would be best for their child. As a parent, I totally get that. I know that my children need a specific type of teacher too- one who isn't overly strict, one who can see past quirks at times to the beauty and brilliance inside. I do get it.
But still, it feels personal. Because teaching is so personal. It's not the kind of job you show up to and leave- punch your card, do your time, then go about your regular life. For so many teachers, being a teacher is an integral part of our identity. We can't and don't shut it off when we walk out of the building. It's such a human profession with so many emotions, decisions, and so much feeling.
So when a parent wishes their child had someone with a different mindset and different style of teaching, while it is completely understandable, it still tugs at my heart. It still makes me feel like maybe I'm off track. It makes me worry that other people feel that way too.
This is the time of year for self-reflection and sometimes regret. There is room to grow. I'm not everyone's cup of tea. It's not personal.
But, still, it feels like it is.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski