Becca Wilhite Blog

December 4, 2017

Seriously? We’re still talking about this? (Hint: Yes.)

Filed under: body image,gratitude,rambles — becca @ 6:44 am

One of the plights of middle agedness among lo, these many plights, is this thing about the aging body. I am well and strong and very healthy, but according to every published measure and my health insurance, I weigh some pounds too many. I feel like I’ve talked about this way too much over the past decade, but it’s a THING, and things are on my mind.

Now that I’m in the middle of my 40s, I find myself trying to balance the desires of my emotional health (let’s just call it what it is: butterfat in the form of actual butter, or ice cream, or pretty much anything made with cream) with the desires of physical health. And what I’m seeing in my life, in my searching, in the published world around me, is that health = thinness. Seventy million people are currently fighting against this exact equation, but you know what? It’s still an equal sign over there.

So I think about it, and I exercise in ways that don’t inconvenience me too much, and I make food plans, and I seek ways to increase my strength, because really? I want to be strong. Not like deadlift my own weight or anything, just the kind of strong that means I can play and overcome and thrive. And I really want to be firm — at least not soggy. So. Yoga. At least 10,000 steps a day. Online cardio twice a week (that means do the workout, recover enough to walk down the stairs without wincing, do it again). Drink all the water. And then? When the family has ice cream for dessert? Have some. Be part of the celebration of deliciousness.

And glory in the fact that I’ve made it this far, healthy and strong.

August 22, 2017

First Day

Filed under: anxiety,emotion,rambles,school — becca @ 6:29 am

It’s happening again — the first day of school. I’ve felt more dread and fear in the last two weeks than ever before in either the four years I have taught or the three years before that when I worked as a sub. Weird. Nothing really has changed (except for all the humans, pretty much), and I still love the job. But weird fears have crept in. Sunday, sitting in church, I told my girl, 16, that I was worried that I’d used up all my cool and maybe this was the year that nobody would like me. Silly, right? But not really.

And I’m trying (always) to be a better teacher. Which means I’m trying new things. And, since I don’t yet know the kids, the possibility of those things going wrong? It’s there.

In general, I don’t live in fear. In general, I am hopeful and excited and eager. (Having said that, let’s be clear: I’m still afraid of everything scary. Like kittens. And paper cuts. And spider webs. But not spiders. And being a disappointment. And basements. And everything else.) But knowing what’s scary doesn’t equal living in fear of those things, or the other things. I don’t generally assume that the negative things will happen.

But there are some days in which the small difficult things become heavy. And sometimes those days stretch out for long times. And that heaviness affects, well, everything.

And so this morning I woke early. I prayed. I studied. I exercised. I did something that made me laugh (which may or may not have involved Ryan O’Neal and Barbra Streisand) and ate healthful food and drank water. I put on my face and did my hair and breathed in and out. I practiced smiling. I spoke to myself like I’d speak to someone I love.

It’s going to be a good day.

July 24, 2017

Working

Filed under: rambles — becca @ 6:40 am

I was talking to a friend the other day and she was telling me something about one of her kids that caused her to roll her eyes (with a smile) and say, “he’s just not that kind of worker.” She meant that there was a particular job to be done, and she knew that job would have to be delegated to a different kid.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that since. I have a tendency to think all the work should be done by all the kids (all the humans… you know). But I’m rethinking that. I know one kid who resists housework. But she’s an incredibly hard worker when she’s getting paid. Like, she does really difficult and labory things. I know another kid who isn’t too into work that’s physical, but holy cow, watch her figure things out and make them happen.

All that work needs to be valued, because it all needs to be done. (And I do mean ALL. Like, the toilets aren’t going to clean themselves, nor is World Hunger just going to end.) I’ve been working to see and recognize all the efforts, even the lame ones, because effort is effort, and I appreciate it.

September 28, 2016

Strange Places for Chatting

Filed under: rambles,silliness — becca @ 10:30 am

I was walking down the hall to the faculty room today – to refill my water bottle from the yummy water dispenser as opposed to the yucky drinking fountain that’s practically outside my door – and I passed by the restrooms. This is normal. The restrooms are in the hallway. But weirdness ensued when I heard a full-voiced conversation happening between at least two unknown (to me) young men. I didn’t hear much, because I didn’t actually stop walking to listen (shame on me?), but I heard this:

“Not necessarily. You can’t make that kind of rash judgment.”

“I’m pretty sure I can make any kind of judgment I want.”

Which, in itself, isn’t the weirdest conversation. In fact, it’s kind of charming and nerdy and self-aware, and I like it. But the location. The location is … odd.

Do all teenage boys take a buddy into the bathroom and have a chat about judgment? And was this weird because they’re boys? I’m going to say no. I think I would have found it equally weird if girls were having the same chat in the same place, because I think most people, male or female, who go inside a bathroom stall, would like to pretend that they’re not doing whatever it is they’re in there doing. As opposed to – in a manner of speaking – inviting someone in to chat.

Which leads me to ponder upon the places that are strange conversational venues.

And mostly I think about public restrooms. For instance, when a person is simultaneously using, say, a movie theater bathroom stall and a cell phone, I always flush many more times than necessary. I feel honor-bound to give the person on the other side of that phone call a heads up about where the chat is taking place. Because IT’S WEIRD TO TALK ON THE PHONE WHILE YOU’RE DOING RESTROOM FUNCTIONS. It’s just weird.

And I wonder where else it’s weird. Because in general, I’m a fan of spontaneous conversation. I may have been known to strike up a grocery market chat over the merits of one brand of ice cream over another, or the joy that is freezer-aisle cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting in little plastic bags. I talk to people about clothes in clothing stores. I talk to clerks at every conceivable check-out register. I stop people walking past me at high school football games to tell them I like their hair.

But not in the bathroom.

Not in the bathroom stall.

April 19, 2016

Long, long ago…

Filed under: anxiety,dumb things I do,history,rambles,school — becca @ 12:39 pm

I just had occasion to remember something.

When I was in 7th grade, (can you, reader, already feel the tension mounting? the horror building?) I had a co-ed PE class. (Now? Now can you feel it, reader?)

The end.

Just kidding. But I really did have a 7th grade co-ed PE class. One for which we “dressed out” daily. And there were various and sundry humiliations attached thereto. But I just want to tell you about this one day, this one moment, and the eternal fallout that it caused.

PE class was ending. I don’t remember what we did that day. Don’t remember what we played, but I know it was inside, so not golf or tennis or a mile run (all of which I did very, very badly). The moment was after that part. After going down into the girls’ locker room at Batesville Middle School and changing back into my dress. I don’t remember why exactly I was wearing a dress to school, but there must have been an occasion. I have always pretty much been a jeans-and-sweatshirts kind of girl. This dress, though. I remember it clearly. It had large pastel squares on it, like maybe 6-inch squares of pink and blue and light green and yellow and cream. (Do you remember, reader, that “cream” was totally a color in the mid-to-late eighties?) The dress zipped up the back. I fear it may have had a rounded collar, but that could be a misremember. I know it had a very, very full skirt. Like the kind that even at the mature age of whatever-I-was-in-7th-grade (12, of course), I couldn’t really help myself — I had to twirl. Not in public, necessarily. But for sure at home. It was an excellent twirling dress.

The dress also had a belt, because it was the 80s. The belt was wide and pink and vinyl/plastic. It flattered my 12-year-old waist. Oh, I loved that dress. And so. I wore it to school for whatever the occasion was. And at the end of changing time in PE, I walked back up the steps and into the gym.

7th grade PE was co-ed but divided (occasionally). The girls sat on one side of the gym, and the boys sat on the other. After changing back into our “street clothes,” we took our places on opposite sides of the gym and waited to be excused. I didn’t want to wrinkle my cotton dress, so I stood in front of the bleachers, facing the other girls, maybe talking to one of the Angies, maybe just waiting and listening and totally not twirling. Meanwhile, the boys were slouching on the bleachers opposite.

Could someone have told me? Could the knowledge have descended like a bolt of figurative lightning? Maybe the teacher tapped me on the shoulder. Maybe a creeping sensation caused me to check. I don’t know how I knew, but suddenly, I KNEW.

My skirt was tucked. Up. Into my belt. In the back. And there I stood, already way too body-conscious at 12, with my backside completely THERE. “Facing” the boys.

I could try to describe the humiliation. I could endeavor to explain the horror. I could even delve into the certainty that none of the girls — literally no one from “my” side of the gym — tried to hide me or help me. I remember that I spun (fast) in a half circle. I tugged. I smoothed. I tried to smile. I tried to ignore.

But I never forgot.

To this day, I have a compulsion to check the back of my skirt EVERY time I leave a room. Sit in a chair? Check the skirt. Stand up? Skirt check. Use a bathroom? MUST CHECK THE SKIRT. And, although some may say it makes me nosy, I am always willing to tell/hide/help anyone who is in a Dire Skirt Predicament. Because sisters, reader, need each other. And I will die happy if that particular event never happens to me again.

March 24, 2015

Writing Stories

Filed under: emotion,metaphors,rambles — becca @ 5:34 am

It’s not just something writer-people do, you know. Everyone does it. When the car goes screaming past, we automatically give the driver a story. I learned a long time ago that the story I give the driver has more effect on the rest of my drive, and maybe my whole day, than I would have expected.

“That maniac. She’s probably hurrying home to hide the evidence of all her vile behaviors before her landlord comes for an inspection.”

“That idiot. If he’d plan his day and leave his house on time, he wouldn’t have to endanger everyone on the road. I’ll bet he’s got his music turned up so loud he can’t even hear sirens when he gets pulled over. There’s probably a shrine to that guy in the police office – Most Valuable Driver.”

These stories give me a tiny moment of satisfaction, and then an afternoon full of righteous indignation. But they’re not the only stories.

“His wife is in labor. They’ve waited so long for this baby, and she’s laughing and crying at the same time in the front seat – all the pain and anticipation blending together into a kind of baby mania, and he doesn’t know how to help her, so he’s hurrying her into the care of someone who does.”

“She’s running to her nephew’s birthday party, and the box turtle she bought him is scrambling up the sides of the crate it’s in. She’s terrified that it might get loose in the car, because there’s nothing she fears more than reptiles (are turtles reptiles?) but no one she loves more than her nephew.”

These stories make me infinitely more glad to be a part of humanity.

When I get a glare from a student or a colleague, I can assume “You hate me,” or I can develop a little backstory that is probably totally inaccurate, but makes me sympathetic to the plights of humanity.

“The babysitter she feared wore a T-shirt that said “The Grapes of Wrath” on it; it’s not me she hates, and it’s not Steinbeck. She’s dealing with long-repressed memories of being forced to eat cold canned peas.”

“He only appears to despise me. In fact, he just found out he’s been assigned to teach driver’s ed this summer, so all his longed-for early morning tee times are wafting away like a puff of smoke.”

Is it likely? Well, no. But it’s not impossible. There’s a chance that it’s not, in fact, about me at all. And there’s a more sympathetic story I can devise. The generous stories don’t change the reality of the manic driving or the glares, but they change the way I feel about it. They change the reaction from a reflex to a choice.

I prefer choice.

December 5, 2014

Exhaust

Filed under: rambles — becca @ 2:20 pm

I just read a one-sentence story about exhaustion by a writer who has suffered a fairly major illness. I realized that for all the times I talk about tiredness, I probably don’t know anything. I have been sleepy (I’m kind of always sleepy after the sun goes down – thank goodness I don’t live in Alaska, right?), and I have been wiped out (raising toddlers that was a near-constant), and I have been swaying on my feet (that one time it took me 24 hours to get from Indianapolis to Salt Lake City. on an airplane. with a small child.), but I wonder if I’ve ever been literally exhausted. I use the word to describe me, but is it fair?

If I were actually exhausted, wouldn’t I have exhausted all my options for moving forward? Have I ever felt that? Physically, I mean? (Considering that one of my options is always “Lie down and go to bed now,” I think I’ve not.)

Emotionally I have. Felt exhausted, I mean. That feeling of “There is not one more step I can take. I have tried everything I can to “move forward” and there is nothing left.” I do know that feeling, and strangely, I deal with it in the same way I deal with physical tiredness. I get in bed and close my eyes.

Why does that help, I wonder? Does sleep fix everything? I’m no doctor (surprise!) but I kind of think it does. I’m the sleep evangelist. Sleep it off. Sleep will make you less cranky. Sleep will fix all that ails you. I’m also the water evangelist. Have a headache? Drink a glass of water. Tummy hurt? Have a drink. Chapped lips? Itchy skin? Runny nose? Anger management issues? Count to ten and have a glass of water. Too hot? Here, drink this water. Hungry? Dinner will be ready soon. For now, fill up your belly with this water.

Point? What? I was supposed to have a point? Okay, well, then… I think that for all the physical and emotional ills, I have not exhausted my options as long as I have a bed and a source of clean water. For both those things, I am certainly very grateful.

May 9, 2014

I Was Never Abandoned

Filed under: history,Mom,rambles — becca @ 4:28 pm

My parents never left me anywhere. Once upon the late seventies, a two-car, two-family caravan mixup resulted in leaving my cousin Rebecca (not to be confused with my sister Becky or, you know, me) at Peking on Fresh Pond (a restaurant where they left the head on the fish, ack) in the environs of Boston, but I’ve never been left behind. Not that I’ve never been forgotten. But that’s a blog post/therapy session for another day.

Nevertheless, having never actually been left behind didn’t prevent me from  fearing abandonment.

Constantly.

When I was in middle school, our family went to Florida for spring break. It rained every day. We spent some bonding hours in front of MTV, my brothers and I. (That was this TV station that played music videos, kids, and our parents didn’t approve, so we didn’t have access to it at home, but it wasn’t specifically forbidden during the wet week in Florida, so… guilty joy.) One day, my mom took the rental car and hit the grocery store  – most probably to avoid ONE MORE PLAYING of the ridiculously chipper jingle, “Please stop calling MTV, cause the phones are closed, da-da!” Certainly she was off to breathe quietly in the car and avoid any more togetherness for a few minutes, but I was positive that she’d never come back. With only angsty middle grade novels to blame for this thought pattern, I was certain she got behind the wheel and headed out on the freeway to never, ever return.

(Spoiler: she came back. With groceries. From the grocery store.)

I’m not sure why that thought has been in my head today (except that I kind of want to go to the grocery store ALL BY MYSELF and not tell anyone; but fear not: I have no intention of never returning home), but I want to put it out there that my parents never tried to run away from me. You know, in case something like the desire to sit alone in a car and just breathe ever appears in a book and someone tries to tie it to a childhood trauma. There are no childhood traumas here, okay? Just early teen drama and imagination, and the occasional grown-up sympathetic understanding of what a temptation that escape might have been for the mother of thirteen-year-old me.

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