Vampire Cupcakes’ Rules for Marriage

Relationships are hard sometimes. We get grumpy, we snap at each other, I yell, he ignores it, and we definitely disagree on at least eleventy gajillion things. Not the least of which include what constitutes “a mess” and what an appropriate amount of space on a bed a five foot tall woman should occupy.

We definitely don’t have all the answers, but we still think we’ve got a pretty great marriage. Over the years, we’ve sort of collected a few rules that cover some areas the standard vows might be a little unclear on. We like them. Maybe you’ll like them too.

  • Only One Crazy Per Crisis Limit: I think a lot of couples follow this guideline. It’s hard to make it through a rough patch if everyone is losing their shit. We agree that only one of us is allowed to go off the rails at any given moment. For us, it’s usually whoever reaches their bullshit limit first, or whoever is having the biggest crisis.

Don’t ever let it turn into the ever-annoying game of “Who Is Having the Worst Day?” That path leads to darkness. Who the hell wants to win that game anyway? Take turns. Be nice.

  • The Go Team Timeout: We’re nearly always working on this one. So much of the time, people get caught up in the details of a problem. Sometimes being stressed causes us to argue about it instead of solve it. Either one of us basically reserves the right to call a timeout to remind us about the most important thing: We are a team working together against a problem, instead of two people against each other WITH a problem.

It doesn’t matter how serious or inane the problem is, it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of the second way. When you choose the first, it’s a much better way to re-frame the conversation, and it feels good when you find a solution you can both agree on. Then, you get to give each other a high five instead of an apology! Kickass!

  • The Unconditional Trust Clause: Yes, couples should always trust each other. That’s not what we’re dealing with here. You know how in horror movies, one person sees the killer ghost, and tells their spouse, and noone believes them? And then everyone gets possessed and their faces fall off and stuff? We don’t want that. So we agreed if one person says something completely unbelievable, and then ends with, “I know it sounds crazy but, you HAVE to believe me,” then obviously, we HAVE to believe them (we reserve the right to request a medical evaluation also). We don’t play with this rule. In fact, in seven years, we’ve never used it. But we do like to point out when we’re watching TV or movies all of the moments when this clause would have saved the day!
  • The Argument Escape Hatch: A personal favorite. Sometimes, you’re in an extra bad mood for any number of reasons, and maybe you find yourself in an argument about who touched the remote control last. Or, maybe it’s about something less tangible, and you’re arguing about a hypothetical day where you woke up in each other’s bodies, and what exactly the rules should be, and what it means about your relationship in the actual world. The point is, sometimes you hear yourself and you suddenly realize that this whole thing is kind of dumb, but now you’ve sort of backed yourself into a corner and you are definitely NOT wrong on this.

The escape hatch lets you stop the argument, but no one has to apologize or be declared the loser. It saves everyone’s pride, and lets you move on from the silly stuff while breaking the tension.  This is o only for minor arguments, and not to be attempted during the serious stuff. Our escape hatch works like this: yell a random word or phrase (of late I’ve been favoring “Peanut Butter Shoelaces!”), and then–run away. The argument is now over, return to your partner when adequately refocused to return to your regularly scheduled day. Other options include hiding in your shirt or retreating into a blanket fort. You may NOT tuck and roll from the car (sorry, honey).

We’re weird-ish. We know. Steal these if you like, or roll your eyes at us. It’s all okay by us.

What about the rest of you? What are your rules? Maybe we want to steal yours, too.

Advertisements

The Best Advice

I am a blessed person. I have been lucky enough in my life to be surrounded by brilliant, amazing people, who inspire me every day. Sometimes they inspire me just with the way they live, the kindness they share with me, and other times, they give advice that takes root in my heart, and they live on as a small voice inside my head, reminding me how extraordinary life truly is.

My Great Aunt Peri was a petite woman who loved her family fiercely. She kept an impeccable home, and was one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever known. She was a real class act, and is the face I see when I think about what it means to be a Lady. She also gave me what turned out to be one of the most profound pieces of advice I’ve ever received. I think she’d like it that I’m sharing it with you now (and is maybe chilling in Heaven wondering what took me so long. She was big on sharing).

I wish I could remember it better, but it’s one of those moments that the significance only settles on you later, when it’s lived in your bones a while. I was probably around 12, and Aunt Peri and I were in the car alone, driving into town.  I was chattering on and on as I’ve always been wont to do with a captive audience. She had a way of listening to whatever I said intently, like my 12 year old thoughts were just as important as anything an adult had to say. I must have been talking about what I was doing on the weekend, and the weekend after that one, and so on, because I remember her turning to me, and saying in her matter-of-fact way,

“You know, Spring, there are many more weekdays in your life than weekends. It’s important to make them all count.”

That’s it. Bells didn’t go off, I didn’t yell “A-HA!” I don’t even remember what we talked about next. But over and over in my life, I’ve found myself worn down, in front of different televisions, different homes, with different worries, and thinking about how I just can’t wait for the weekend. Thinking about how if I can just make it through another Friday, I’ll be on MY time, and everything will be better.

Then I hear her voice in my head, and I feel foolish. It’s all MY time. Why am I hoping for those hours, even entire days of my life to rush by, to put off happiness and enjoyment until 2.5 small days just because we call them the Weekend, and claim them as something special? Why in the world do we squander so many moments under such a silly premise?

We put off being happy for so many other reasons, don’t we? I’ll be happy when I lose weight. I’ll be happy when I buy a house. I’ll be happy when I pay all my bills off. I’ll be happy when I get this job, or that partner, or this other thing… Over and over, right? Except we all deserve to be happy now. Now is all we have, when we get down to it, isn’t it? It really shouldn’t matter whether right now is 7pm Saturday night at the best party ever with your BFF, or a quiet Tuesday at 2pm in the middle of your workday. Both those moments are the perfect opportunity to smile and savor the beautiful now we are given every time we continue to draw breath.

There are 168 hours in a week. We call maybe 54 of those our weekend. That means, if we spent our time waiting for the weekend, that is roughly 68% of our lives that we’re discarding. Over half our lives declared as somehow less valuable, waiting for what?

Be happy now, friends. Right now. You deserve it. Make it all count.

The Games We Play

This is our love ball. It’s okay, go on and giggle. We know it sounds vaguely dirty. It makes us giggle, too.

Image

I’m not sure exactly how it started, but I remember the early days of our relationship–back when he first asked me to his place to “look at his art” (I thought it was code, and was shocked when it turned out he really did have artwork and no ulterior motives), and before I knew it, there was a day weeks later when I realized I’d spent nearly every night at his place. It was the same day he introduced me to friends as his girlfriend, and my response was, “Oh crap, I am!”

For the first time in my life, I finally understood how something could “just happen.” Up until I met him, I had a lot of logical ideas about compatibility, good planning, and all sort of other standards and notions about picking a partner that made perfect sense. He made me crazy even then, but I loved him almost immediately, and I knew that life with him would never be boring.

I was right. I always am. I’m pretty sure that makes him crazy, too.

Somewhere in those early days, we started playing this game. At some point, he threw this ping pong ball at me. I threw it back. I wrote those words. We threw it a lot. We started yelling “Love Ball!” just after whipping it at the other.  We still play–perhaps not with the same fervor we once did, but that ball has made it’s way with us through three homes, and six incredibly interesting years together.

He usually throws it too hard. It always hits me with a resounding smack, and the momentary sting of it sometimes fills me up with anger. It’s hard to stay angry when you look down and see that heart and those words. He’s gotten me upside the head with it more than once. His aim is inconsistent.

My aim is usually even worse. I’ve thrown it, and completely missed him. Sometimes, he doesn’t even notice. Other times, I think he hasn’t noticed, but he has, and is just biding his time to throw it back at just the right moment.

I can’t remember a time when he hasn’t caught me off guard. I’m surprised with it nearly every single time. He almost always sees it coming a mile away. Funny how that works.

Maybe some of you could get something to throw at each other. We can’t teach you how to play. We’ve just been making it up as we go along. It’s one of those games where the rules aren’t really clear. It’s the kind of game that never ends–no one can win, so no one loses, either. Maybe that means everyone wins. It’s always so hard to decide, but I think that might be my favorite part.

Image

Family Movie Night. (Me, Mr. Cupcakes, Princess Adora: Mistress of Tortitude. (Not Pictured: Kitty Captain Malcolm Reynolds. He was off on a catnip smuggling operation.)

 

Reflections on Ending the Challenge

Today is the wrap -up for the Oak Creek Mayor’s Fitness Challenge. It’s been a transformative experience for me.

Let’s start with what everyone really wants to know:

My bellybutton is still grumpy. No, I am not going to post another picture. I’m still not 100% certain I got all the eyes out last time. (Let’s all just keep our fingers crossed that I don’t ever have to confirm that suspicion via a grisly googlie discovery.)

I lost 14 pounds. I can take my pants off without unzipping them. I guess that means I’m down a size, but I’m not quite ready to resize my wardrobe.

If this were a year ago, or 5 years ago, I would be wrist deep with a tablespoon into a quart of ice cream while the following loop played in my head: “You should have lost more. You suck. You’re no good at this. Might as well just forget it. You should have done better. God, you’re pathetic.”

And on and on. You know that voice. What a jerk.

It’s not a year ago, though. It’s now. And it’s…different. I can still hear that voice, reciting my should’ves, but I don’t care so much. Unlike all the other times before, somewhere during this challenge it stopped being about losing as much weight as possible in order to look a certain way or to define my worth by a size or a number.

I have fitness goals. I miss working out when I skip. I like the way I feel when I’m eating well and exercising. I’ve had enough opportunities to try new things during the challenge that I’m no longer embarrassed or afraid to go try a new workout on my own. I own workout clothes that aren’t pajamas–and I like it. Even with some medical complications thrown in there, I find myself driven to stick with it in whatever capacity I can on any given day, instead of using it as an excuse. I like sweating.

Ok, that sweating thing was a lie. That’s still stupid. I just get a little carried away sometimes. Not seeing fitness as a chore, or something with an expiration date is all new to me. And it’s very exciting.

Trying aerial yoga (and obviously having fun)!

Trying aerial yoga (and obviously having fun)!

I used to live my life saying things like, “When I lose x lbs, things will be better.” “When I wear a size x, I’ll feel confident enough to do y.” Something happened to me during this challenge. I stopped thinking those things so much. I started having fun NOW. Things started being good NOW, at this size, at whatever weight I happen to be. Maybe it’s the exercise endorphins. I don’t know.

I finally stopped putting my life on hold. That is a worthier outcome to me for this challenge than any size pants ever will be. And although the challenge is technically over, for me it was just a beginning.

[Cue incredibly dramatic music for such an epically cheesy final sentiment.]

At my work Holiday Party, feeling lighter (and embracing the jiggle on the dance floor)!

At my work Holiday Party, feeling lighter (and embracing the jiggle on the dance floor)!

***(Extra Super Special Thanks to:

Mayor Steve and Leslie Flynn for all the hard work, for believing in all of us-even if we didn’t always believe in ourselves, and you know– for changing my life and stuff. Oh, and for not kicking me off the track when I showed up dressed like a hot dog (and putting up with my antics in general).

KTT for kicking my ass regularly. KTT can also kick your ass, if you like. Shoot him an email at Kevin.Chow83@yahoo.com for more details on how he can break your will and make you strong like bull.

Zumba Ken and Barbie….erm, I mean Zumba Mike and Vicki. You’ve made Tuesdays fan-ta-ta-shaking-tastic! Anyone who hasn’t checked out Zumba should come make an ass of themselves with me on Tuesday nights (www.zumbamike.com). Wear interesting socks. Embrace the jiggle.

There’s way more people who supported me, but this isn’t a freaking Oscar speech, and half of the readers have already stopped reading once they realized there was no picture of my bellybutton making faces. Hope you can forgive me. <3)***

 

Resolutions, Rants, and Choices

Like a lot of other people, I joined a new gym this month. It’s been rather interesting. Let me assure you, dear reader, that this gym is awesome. It has every kind of equipment I’ve ever seen, awesome classes that I can’t get enough of, it’s clean, and every staffer I’ve met has been quite pleasant.

If I weren’t this far along in my fitness journey, I’d have stopped going already. Not from lack of motivation, but from the sheer intensity of unpleasantness from anyone special enough to have been a member of this gym before January. I’ve been there 3x/week minimum since I started, and only one of those nights did I manage not to hear some sort of unpleasant comment about the January influx of new gym goers.

I don’t like to rant on my blog. I don’t presume my opinions are better than yours. But if you are someone like this, please, knock it off already. If you have never struggled with being overweight, insecure, or unfit, I can only assume you’re unaware of the amount of nerve some of us have had to work out to even walk into a gym. I’ve cried in cars outside gyms after workouts, before workouts, and sometimes even just in the parking lot, fully dressed for the gym before driving away without managing to work up the gall to walk into the door. I’m not even dealing with major limitations or a 100+lb weight loss goal. I can’t imagine the struggle for others.

I also don’t like to judge. I prefer to give you the benefit of the doubt. I prefer to think that you’ve never considered how a casual comment you make can so profoundly affect someone else. I like to think that you would feel really bad if you learned that your joke about the January crowd was the jenga piece that made the whole tower of motivation fall for someone.

Maybe by this point you think I’m a fat crybaby wimp sticking up for other dumpy lame crybabies who are just looking for excuses to not “get over it”, and move their asses already. Maybe you think if I was serious, I wouldn’t let those kinds of comments bother me. You could be right. I don’t have any particular proof that it’s better to encourage a stranger than to roll your eyes and anxiously await the day they fail so you can have your gym back.

What I AM sure of, though, is that my mother taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned, and it is this: Your life is made up of a series of choices. Some are good, some are bad, and some are that puzzling shade of grey. Any way you choose, you live with the consequences. Those consequences, all piled up and twisted together for you to examine when you can’t sleep–that’s your life. My mom is a smart lady.

You’re free to feel any way you want about a person’s size, looks, or life choices. You’re free to express that opinion any time you want. Freedom of speech, though, isn’t freedom from consequences. When you choose to make a fat joke, a snarky judgement about how people should live, what they wear, or any old thing people judge each other for, you’re accepting the consequences for that, whatever they may be.

I’m not perfect. I say mean things sometimes. The consequence for me is playing those moments of meanness over in my head at 2am sometimes, and thinking about how to be a nicer person. I’ve learned, in my own life, that making the choice to be kind, even if it means I keep a strong opinion or two to myself, has never ever resulted in a sleepless night or the guilty ache of regret.

January is the month of resolutions. I very truly hope all of you who resolved to make 2014 the year you get fit keep at it, don’t get discouraged, and reach every goal you set despite any obstacle. It’s also not too late for any of us to resolve to make this year the year we think a little more before we speak, and consider helping a stranger before tearing them down. Every moment of our lives is an opportunity to make a better choice.

Image

Vampire Cupcake’s Guide to Zumba

I love to dance. Sometimes, I pretend like I don’t. I think anyone who feels a certain way about their body can relate. I too often find myself thinking, “oh, no one wants to see that” and staying off the floor.

I was blessed to finally discover Zumba for myself. It’s perfect for me. Primarily because everyone else in class is so busy flailing about, there is no chance they have time to look at my jiggle. Oh, and there is so much jiggle.

Look how excited I am. It's that much fun.

Look how excited I am. It’s that much fun.

An important guideline for Zumba is: Embrace the Jiggle. Also, bring a towel. Unless you are on excellent terms with those dancing near you. I don’t know how angry the average person will get when your sweat flies from your bosom and hits them on the mouth or something. I don’t want to find out. Hence, towel.

Zumba Mike (not my nickname, this is what he calls himself. In my head, he is Zumba Ken and co-teaches with Zumba Barbie, henceforth known by her given name of Vicki) will tell you the “Number 1” rule of Zumba is “No Rules.” Encouraging, right?.

MY most important rule for starting Zumba is to never, ever, ever, ever catch your reflection. I have become adept at strategizing the optimal spot on the floor with which to see an instructor while never seeing myself. This is key, as now you are free to focus on the instructor. This is necessary to create an elaborate delusion that because you are doing EXACTLY what they are doing, that you must look JUST LIKE them.

I am SO freaking sexy when I Zumba.

I cannot stress my rule #1 enough.

Mr. Cupcake and I all set to get funky at the holiday Zumbathon.

Mr. Cupcake and I all set to get funky at the holiday Zumbathon. (He reached a new level of funky that day, and impressed me with his sweet moves.) 

L-R: Mr. Cupcakes, Zumba Barbie (erm, Vicki), Me, Zumba Ken (aka Mike @ www.zumbamike.com)
L-R: Mr. Cupcakes, Zumba Barbie (erm, Vicki), Me, Zumba Ken (aka Mike @ http://www.zumbamike.com)

Another important rule is as follows: No matter how much you feel like you should—be sure to never approach your instructor(s) to apologize for the vast amount of time you spend intently staring at their general pelvic region while attempting your flailing mimicry. There WILL come a day when the sentence, “Gosh, I’m sorry I spend 2 hours a week mostly staring at your ass.” wants to fly from your face, I assure you. (I blame the post workout brain melt.)  I believe this is a bad idea. I have not come up with this guideline due to experience, however, I am now blogging about it, so…. Next class should be nice and awkward for all of us. Sorry, Vicki.

So, after the staring at the teacher (but not apologizing like a weirdo about it), embracing the jiggle, and wiping yourself down at regular interval rules, go ahead and do that “no rules” thing. Because really, getting to leave everything behind for an hour every week, and just let go and shake it with wild abandon, knowing that you’re surrounded by people who think you’re awesome just for showing up? Well, you just can’t beat that. (The 600+calorie burn per hour according to my HRM is just a bonus).

 

 

 

Intermission (aka My Thus Far Inexplicable Absence)

Three weeks ago, I was happily sitting in a classroom, watching a powerpoint about Ghost Hunting. Perhaps this will make the following scene spookier for you.

I sit back and look at the slide, when suddenly I feel as if an unseen hand reaches through my chest, grabs hold of my sternum, and squeezes. It takes my breath away. It doesn’t stop. I sit up, and my vision starts to tunnel, and I feel lightheaded. My hands tingle, and my throat feels hot and cold, and that horrible, horrible pressure just won’t stop.

Something Very Bad is happening.

“Oh God, what’s happening?! Oh no, oh no….” This is all I can think, in a loop that feels like forever, but must have been only several seconds long.

I have to get out of here. I have to go to the hospital. NOW.

SPOILER: I didn’t die. Just in case you were worried. I don’t want you to be scared.

I terrified my husband by giving him worst case scenario instructions all the way to the er. What to do if I pass out, what to do if I stop breathing, who to call, what to say… he made record time to the door.

The words “chest pain” are like a magic incantation at the emergency room counter. People give you very serious looks, work quickly and deliberately around you, as if they are waiting for a Very Bad Thing to happen.  This was how my 23 hour hospital stay began.

Let me skip the horrible waiting, and anxiety, and endless sea of helpful faces over two shift changes.

I DIDN’T have a heart attack. They DID find a congenital heart defect. It is NOT a problem. I am still having issues, and a whole new host of symptoms that popped up in the days that followed. I am still undergoing some tests to work it out. It is not life-threatening, just frustrating and sucky. I’m sure it will all be fine (but would not turn down prayers and good thoughts).

It derailed me. For those weeks, while we waited to clear the heart defect, I was restricted to walking only. I threw an epic pajama themed pity party nightly.

A year ago, a stubbed toe would have earned me months of reward candy and no workouts while I healed from the physical and emotional trauma. This time, I feel anxious with each workout I miss. Things are changing.

I still feel crummy. But them’s the breaks, right? There’s always going to be something, some reason not to try, some excuse to celebrate with treats or to hide from the gym, and there’s always going to be something throwing a wrench into all the best plans we make. I’m starting to understand that it’s about figuring out how to best make this work despite the inevitable obstacles that pop up.

So tonight I’m kicking off my return to workouts with some Zumba. I’ll do my best. I might finish. I might not. I might throw up. I might cry because it feels like starting over. But I’m going.

Cue those flashing room lights. Intermission’s over.