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Friday, August 31, 2012

The Handicapped Stall and Other Habits...

It's been a heck of a week!  School started on Monday, and two of my three classes (90 minutes each, we're on block schedule) are just wonderful!  The other is the worst behaved group of kids I've EVER known.  A large majority of them are repeating English 9 for the 2nd, 3rd or 4th time!  I'm blessed to have a VERY proactive administration, though, and they are helping me sort things out.  Some students may even be transferred out!

After school today, I worked "gate duty" at the JV and varsity soccer games with one of my colleagues.  We have to do two duties a year, and Charetta and I are doing another game together in October.  We had fun chitchatting and I showed her my "before" picture.  She was very complimentary and said, "I can't believe you were that big.  You don't look like you were that big."  It was nice to hear, but the truth is, I WAS that big...and sometimes I still think I am.  During the gate duty, I went to the ladies' room and walked into the handicapped stall, which I used to use every time I went to the bathroom.  Why?  Because it's larger.  It allowed me room to move whereas the standard stalls never did.

Of course I don't need the larger stall anymore, but my first reaction was to walk into it--out of habit.  It got me thinking about all the things I do out of habit--including avoiding mirrors (especially those that are full length) and wincing when I see chairs with arms.  I still feel like "big Rhonda" more days than not.  When I shop, I have a really hard time picking out the right size clothing! A week or two ago, I went to Walmart and bought a $9 pair of black knit pants that are good for school.  I went to put them on Tuesday morning to wear to school.  They were a size large--12-14--and they were absolutely GIGANTIC.  I thought maybe I'm "getting better" about estimating size, as I held them up and knew immediately that they were too big! I took them back and bought a size medium--10-12--which are still a little loose but much better than the first pair!

It's a habit I need to break--I never used to try on clothing.  As long as it covered me, I was happy with it.  Now I need to seek out styles that flatter and fit well.  No more baggy clothes for this woman!

I have a VERY long day ahead of until 3:30, but there's a football game at 7:30, and it's stupid for me to go home just to turn around and go back to school! I have plenty of school work to keep me busy, though!  And I love being at a school with a good athletic program!

Have a fabulous Friday! (And enjoy the weekend!)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Celebrate the End of Summer!?

I'm sorry I haven't written all week.  Things have been so busy with school!  (And let me just say that I am THRILLED to be that busy!)

Today is the first day of school!  I've never been so happy to start a school year! I met parents and future students on Thursday evening, which was terrific, albeit a little strange.  I had one father call me "baby".  I hate it when the guy I'm DATING calls me that, let alone the parent of a student!  Oh, well...

On Saturday, I went to lunch and the movies with Mercedez, a former student who is now at UNC Chapel Hill.  We went to Cheddars for lunch, and I ordered potato skins.  The order was BIG--I ate 3 at lunch (they were long strips--about 1/4 of a potato, maybe) because I hadn't had breakfast, gave Mercedez one and still had FOUR left over!  I had two for lunch on Sunday and two for dinner! They were delicious and loaded with cheese and crisp bacon!  I can eat anything these days, just not a LOT of anything! 

I bought some protein bars to take to school for lunch; I want to reestablish a pattern of eating right at school.  I worry about not getting enough protein, so protein bars are a viable option.

My friend, T, asked me about dating.  I'm not dating now...I want someone who's serious about dating, so I've put myself on "hiatus".  That doesn't mean forever...just for now.  I'd rather spend more time focusing on school and on myself...the lovelife stuff will take care of itself!  (I hope)!

Have a magical Monday!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weddings and Shopping and School, Oh My!

Saturday, I attended the wedding of a very sweet former colleague.  Kimberly and Steve make a lovely couple, and I wish them all the happiness in the world.  (Although I really thought Steve was going to pass out during the ceremony!)  Kimberly is very petite and looked like a bride doll!  They are honeymooning in Charleston, and during their ceremony, I had a bit of an epiphany.

I want to get married again.  I do.  I don't necessarily want the white wedding thing, but I DO want to find someone with whom I can spend the rest of my life.  I'm hoping that moving to a new school--and a huge district--will help me meet Mr. Right.  I'm done playing with "Mr. Right Now".  I have a date for Wednesday evening, and if he's not right, I'm done.  I'm not going to waste any more time and energy--emotional and physical--dating men who are looking for "friends with benefits" or who are undecided about their lives and their relationships.

Okay, that addresses "weddings", now on to shopping!  I'm becoming a fashionista!  I am.  I shopped like a mad woman while I was in New York last week.  At Kohl's, I picked up a rust-colored cardigan by Apt. 9 and a lightweight mock turtle by Vera Wang for a total of $24.00!  My receipt read that I saved $109!  I also shopped at Boscov's, saving about $90 more on tops and a cute skirt.  I found a cardigan with a matching camisole at Target that were both on sale for more than 25 percent off.  As I put my new things on hangers and placed them in my closet, I became giddy!  I'm so excited to be able to wear new clothes!  SMALLER clothes.  I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating--I used to dress to cover my body; now I'm dressing to enhance it!

And finally, school.  Today is the official first day of the school year for teachers; students come back next Monday.  I look forward to it like I can't even express!  A new start with a new attitude and new clothing, I'm thrilled.  We don't all get second chances in life--so this is BIG! And I promise to enjoy every minute of it!

Have a magnificent Monday!

Oh...and here's a pic from the reception! I think I look pretty good...and I KNOW that dress is NOT something I would have even dreamed of wearing before!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm SO Excited!! And I Just Can't Hide It!

Tomorrow is my first day at my new school--and like a little kid, I'm so excited that I can't sleep!  I've met a few people, and everyone has been really nice to me. We had an in-service today on the projection system--it makes the white boards like "smart boards" but you can still write on them, too--and I have to admit that I was looking at the men in the room.  There weren't many, but it's nice to have those options! 

I also drove by a little house that's for sale.  It's VERY inexpensive--and my friend Dorothy and I are going to take a look at it tomorrow.  From the outside, it looks pretty good...there's a small broken window and it needs a little TLC, but it's really cute.  I hope it looks that good inside!  I've seen pictures online, and of course, pictures can lie...

I am SO grateful for the opportunity to continue my reinvention.  I had a phone call today from the former principal of Nash Central who moved to the middle school.  He had a last-minute opening and wanted to offer me the job.  I told him I had accepted a position, and he sounded genuinely disappointed.  He told me that if my circumstances change to call him!  It was really good for my ego, especially when he told me that he had wanted to hire me that first meeting we had when the opening wasn't even "official"!  

Still, I feel like I made the right decision in choosing South Central.  Today, I went to my storage locker and took a big load of books and other paraphernalia to school and started to set up my room.  I went tonight and picked up another load to take tomorrow.  It feels so great to be setting up a new classroom!!  And tonight, one of my former students wrote me a note on Facebook telling me how great a teacher she thinks I am.  It was super complimentary--and it brought tears to my eyes.

I'm so excited about this new beginning. If you had told me last year at this time where I would be, what I would weigh, what size I'd be wearing, I'd have told you that you were crazy!  No where in my crystal ball did I see THIS coming!

Have a FABULOUS Friday!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Greeetings from NY

I love my mother to death, but having lived alone for so long, I'm used to having my quiet time.  I don't get ANY quiet time at my mom's house.  So I'm at McDonalds, where it isn't quiet, using their free WiFi and trying to get my bearings.

I have had a stressful trip this time.  I don't know why--if it's because I have a friend with me when I'm used to traveling alone or what it is, but I really DO need my peace and quiet.  I think that's the reason I practically live at the movie theatre during the school year--a movie gives me a couple hours of quiet time with no one talking to me or expecting me to answer

We've gone out to eat for every meal since I've been here, and for some reason, I've felt sick twice.  I think I'm eating too fast.  Yesterday, we ate at a small restaurant in Ithaca called "The Piggery".  All local products, including their own farm-raised pork.  The pulled pork slider was delicious, and I was smart enough to not try to eat the bread.  I love bread, but it definitely is NOT my friend!  Last night, we went to Texas Roadhouse where I had the kids' portion of ribs: four ribs with a (way too) large portion of mashed potatoes.  I ate two of the ribs and about a third of the potatoes and was full, full, full.  

We went to Phil's Chicken for lunch today--and it was delicious.  I paced myself better, had chicken and a few bites of potato salad.  I still felt a bit off until I had hiccups.  I get hiccups almost daily, but today I felt better when they stopped.  Weird.  When I'm alone, I eat slow enough, but for some reason, I tend to eat too fast when I'm with someone.  I guess I get caught up in the conversation and forget to pay attention.

I stopped up at BOCES today, where I used to work, and saw an old friend, Kathy, and then stopped to say hi to Jeanie even though I saw her last month when I was up here.  Both ladies looked great, and we had really good chats.

I need to be patient with my mother.  I know that a time is coming when I'm going to miss ANY of our talks.  I just need to breathe!

Happy Monday!!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Sorry I haven't written much this week, but things have been crazy trying to get ready for school.  I've been inundated with paperwork--it's incredible.  I'm going in today for a new employee orientation and to work on my classroom a little, then I have a date with a new guy tonight followed by a short trip to NY Saturday.  I'll be up there from Saturday through Wednesday.

I'm excited about most of the newness going on in my life.  A new job, a new guy (maybe), new clothing, a new, new, new.  Yesterday, I stopped at my old school--well, at least it was SUPPOSED to be my old school.  Everything is different.  The library has been turned into a huge computer lab; the nurse's office is now the "CEO"s office; the teachers' mailboxes are no longer in the admin building; and the lovely welcoming blue and gold (school colors) have been replaced by a cold, sterile yellowish beige and vomit green. 

Not all change is good, but it IS inevitable.  So just go with it!  Have a fabulous Friday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy Rebirthday to Me, Part 2

I had such a great time on Sunday that I've had to take a couple days to decompress!  While we did go on other types of rides, this day was all about the roller coasters--and did we ride them!  We rode the Intimidator, which as I said is the highest roller coaster in the southeastern US.  The Carolina Cobra is like a slingshot where the coaster is pulled backwards and then released to go thru loops, upside down and up again before stopping and then doing it all over again backwards!  The Vortex is a stand-up coaster, which was a completely new experience for me. The Hurler was a large wooden coaster that practically lived up to its name--with tight curves and slamming dips!  The Cyclone was a yellow and purple beast that hurt my ears!  (It was so jarring that my earrings were pressed into the back of my head--ouch!)  Ricochet was a little four-person car that takes such tight corners that it feels like you're going to go careening off the track!  The NightHawk was the most intense of the coasters we rode.  In fact, Tiana wouldn't even ride it!  Her friend Sophia and I did, though.  The rider starts in a seated position, but then the seats lie flat.  And then during the ride, the prone riders go from facing the sky to facing the ground! This was especially hard over the water!  I had to close my eyes for most of the ride--it was just too much!  We did ride both the Vortex and the Carolina Cobra twice!

While we were waiting to take our second ride on the Cobra, something interesting happened.  Two large ladies were attempting to ride the coaster.  Inasmuch as we had already been in it, and I knew how small the cars were, I told Tiana that there was no way they were going to fit.  We watched as two attendants tried to press the lap restraint down so that it would lock in place.  One attendant was literally on top of the woman pushing the bar.  The ride operator asked the one woman to sit up in the car as much as possible, and then one of the attendants tried sitting on the restraint to press it into place, but their efforts were unsuccessful.  This went on for about five or six minutes.  The women finally got up and left the ride, laughing as they did.

This was a very somber moment for me.  First, I felt empathy.  These women may have been laughing on the outside, but I'm sure they weren't totally sincere in their laughter.  Additionally, it brought back my own horrible experience at Hershey Park 15 years ago when I couldn't ride the Comet wooden roller coaster because I couldn't fit in the car.  My heart broke for these ladies--and even Tiana said that the incident gave her a better understanding of how humiliated I must have felt all those years ago.  And humiliated was the right word.  I was humiliated.  It was horribly painful.  And it was also why I chose to spend my rebirthday on roller coasters.  

I think we look pretty great.  Of course, this was BEFORE the coasters!  (L-R, Tiana, me, Sophia).

I definitely will go back again--next year and every rebirthday from now on.  It was great to look like a kid feel like a kid fit in seats I never could have without this surgery.  

I spoke to Nina about having such a great time, and she reminded me that this is just the beginning.  I will have other opportunities like this one.  I'll be able to go places, to do things without restriction, without worrying about whether or not I can fit on the rides or in the plane seats or in the tiny chairs.  It's a freedom I have NEVER known.  The possibilities of life have increased exponentially for me--and I will be forever grateful!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Happy Rebirthday to ME!!

I had an absolutely incredible time at Carowinds yesterday!! I'm yawning as I type this, though.  I got home around 12:45am and had to get up early for new teacher orientation in Greenville.  Fortunately, I didn't have to stay, so I'm home!  (The orientation was more for beginner teachers than for people new to the district.)

When we got to Carowinds, Tiana, her friend Sophia and I rode "The Intimidator", which is billed as "the tallest, fastest, and longest coaster in the Southeast".  The duration of the ride is 3 minute and 33 seconds.  It was incredible!!  Here's a "point of view" video from the front of the coaster:  

Awesome, right?  I want to write about the entire park experience, but I'm about to fall asleep! So this is part 1 of "Happy Rebirthday to me"...and I'll continue tomorrow!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Roller Coasters, Here I Come!

By the time you read this, I'll be at least on my WAY to Carowinds--if not already there, screaming my head off on a roller coaster!  I am so excited.  This day was a year in the making!  A year ago today, I went under the knife and had life-changing surgery.  It's been an amazing year of ups and downs.  Ups and downs in my personal and professional lives...and downs on the scale!

I've been through so much in the last 365 days.  I survived a hurricane, although I didn't think I would.  (Twenty-five trees fell on my property--and I swear I had PTSD as a result of living through that horror.  I was lucky enough that the only damage my cottage sustained was a tree falling on the wires to my electrical meter, which ripped the meter off the house, but the other falling trees missed the house--by less than a foot on three sides of the house--but missed it at least!)  I ended my engagement on that day, too.  He was supposed to come from Wilmington so that I wouldn't be alone, but he didn't.  Instead, he put on Facebook that he was worried about me, while NEVER calling to see if I was all right.  (Remember: this is the same guy who said he wasn't sure he could be attracted to me if I lost the weight...)  I broke up with him that evening, once the danger had passed. 

I bought a new (to me) car that reflects my personality and new body better than the old one did.  It's a bright blue 2010 Toyota Corolla--cute and economical.  I rejoined the Y and found that I don't float like I used to.  I flew home for a long weekend and made my mom happy when she saw how much weight I'd lost. I met Whit and had a pretty serious relationship with him--we dated for four months, but I ended that, too.  I went to Washington, DC with the senior class and walked all over the city--a trip I had been excluded from in previous years because I just wasn't in shape to do all the walking.  

I lost my job.  It was incredibly devastating, but I've survived--and maybe even benefited.  I have a new job with better hours, better technology and better benefits.  I feel appreciated by my administrators and coworkers already!  I met Kevin and revisited my love of trivia!  I reconnected with countless friends thanks to Facebook.  Oh, and I lost ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-THREE POUNDS!  123 pounds!  That's an adult woman!  Incredible to me!

Well, it's been a year of amazing ups and downs--and I'm spending my day pursuing ups and down on the 13 roller coasters at Carowinds. Mine will be SCREAMING, but I wish for you a serene Sunday!  Thanks for reading...the second best thing to come out of this year?  YOU as my readers!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Can't Deny Photographic Evidence

Yesterday was a great day.  I went with my friend Dorothy to a former colleague's home for dinner.  Mr. Xavier and his family are from India, and the food was just delicious.  I actually ate two helpings of the vegetables--chopped potatoes, carrots, green beans and kidney beans in a fabulous curried sauce.  I never eat seconds of ANYTHING, but that's how good this dish was!  And when I left, my kind hostess packed up the leftovers for me, so I'll eat Indian food again today!

Fifty-two weeks ago today, I was waiting anxiously at Rex Hospital in Raleigh for my surgery.  I was excited but scared.  None of the things I worried about came to be--and I love the way I look today!

Dorothy and I went to Raleigh before going to dinner last night so we could recreate the original "before" picture.  You'll note that I'm wearing the same top as in my before photo.  I couldn't believe I even KEPT it! When I saw it in the closet yesterday, I was thrilled.  It fits much differently, of course, and is actually too big for daily wear, but for the photo, it was PERFECT.  For so long, I've had the "before" picture in my head--and finally, I've got a new picture to replace it.  The difference is undeniable!

When I went to the doctor Tuesday, I was rereading some of the information on gastric bypass surgery.  One of the statistics stayed with me: most patients lose 77 percent of their excess weight within one year.  That means that if you're 100 pounds overweight, you will probably lose 77 pounds in a year.  I was about 150 pounds overweight, which means that my weight loss was predicted to be approximately 115 pounds.  At 123 pounds lost, I'm at my target and beyond!

This surgery was without a doubt THE best thing I've ever done for myself.  And I know I've asked before, but I'm asking again.  What have you done for YOU lately?  Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Letting Go of Anger

I had a good time at lunch yesterday.  It would've been great except that one of my former colleagues is still angry and bitter about being laid off.  I kept trying to steer the conversation in a positive direction because she kept pushing it in a negative direction!  I left there exhausted!  For lunch, I ordered potato skins because I read online that Chili's had the best after a test of nationwide chain restaurants.  They were truly delicious!  I could only eat two of the five, but they'll reheat well for lunch (and dinner) today!  I realize that potato skins laden with cheese and bacon aren't the healthiest choice, but once in a while, they are truly satisfying. (Plus my total cholesterol is 132--which is awesome!)

I know that I was depressed for the past seven weeks.  It hurt--a lot--to lose a job I loved, especially after I had done so much for the school.  But truth be told, I didn't do it for the school.  I worked hard for the kids.  And I'll do it for the kids at my new school.  But holding anger toward ANYONE gives that person power and control over you.  And I wasn't going to give that jerk who took over Prep that much power.  He doesn't deserve it.    And my former colleague needs to remember that.  I understand that she is frustrated, but she needs to remember how HORRIBLE it's going to be there this year.  They are implementing a new, UNAPPROVED curriculum.  They are a month behind.  Their buildings are being torn apart.  They have to report back to work on the 8th, which is NINE DAYS earlier than any other school district around here (including mine--other than new teacher orientation, my first day is the 17th).  They have a longer work day.  They are going back earlier, staying later, working longer days--all with NO extra money. And their new leader--the aforementioned JERK--is not an educator and knows NOTHING about running a school.  She needs to remember these things!

And YOU need to remember this: Anger does more damage to the vessel in which it's stored than to anything it's poured upon.  Think of anger as an acid.  It eats away at you until there's nothing left.  Let go.  Let go of your anger before it destroys you.

It's Thursday.  I hope you have something to think about!  Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ups, Downs and More UPS!

Today, I'm having lunch with Renee, Dorothy, Belinda and Shannon.  Seven weeks ago yesterday, we all met at Chili's and cried about losing our jobs.  (Except Dorothy, who was laid off a year ago.) At that time, I was feeling somewhat optimistic and said, "In August, we'll be back here celebrating new jobs!"  And while I've been plagued with DOUBT these past seven weeks, my prediction came true.  All of us have been successful in finding work except Belinda who has decided to stay home awhile because her husband needs surgery.

Yesterday, I saw the doctor for my one-year post-surgical checkup.  I've lost a total of 123 pounds.  At first I thought it was 121.5 but I redid the math.  (There's a reason I teach English and not math!)  Everyone at the office was so complimentary!  And for my one-year anniversary, they gave me a certificate for a free photo sitting and portrait!  When I was big, I wouldn't have thought about using it, but I certainly will now!

After my appointment, I stopped at Kevin's to pick up my copy of The Artist, which I had let him borrow a few weeks ago.  It was good to see him--awkward but good.  He's doing very well after the surgery--much better than I did a week out--walking two miles a day and feeling pretty strong.  He definitely looks better than I did!  And yes, I still have feelings for him...real feelings.  We hugged hello and goodbye, and he asked me to let him know about my new job, so maybe...who knows?

My official anniversary date is Sunday, 8/5.  I'm going to Carowinds, an amusement park, and I'm going to ride as many rides as I can!  I haven't been able to ride for at least 15 years.  Fifteen years ago, I took my friend Sue's daughter, Amanda, to Hershey Park.  When it came time to ride the wooden roller coaster, I couldn't fit.  I was humiliated beyond belief, and that was the last time I even TRIED to go to an amusement park.  A fitting way to celebrate a 123-pound weight loss, right?  Amazingly, the physician's assistant I saw yesterday said HE spent his one-year anniversary the SAME way!

It's been seven weeks of ups and downs--depression upon getting laid off, then euphoria at the prospect of job interviews, feeling despondent when I wasn't hired and finally giddiness at finding not just "a job" but what feels like the "right job"!  What better way to celebrate than by ending the summer (I have new teacher orientation all next week) on a series of "ups and downs"--ROLLER COASTERS?!  Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone!