The Promised Land

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Greetings, all! Hope you're having a lovely weekend. We here in New England seem to have dodged the bullet known as Winter Storm Jonas, which is currently wreaking havoc on the rest of the East Coast. After the nightmarish winter of 2015, of course, we certainly deserve a break!

As promised in my previous missive, I've committed to writing at least one post a week in 2016. Being a good girl [coughcough] ;D, I dutifully drafted a post Saturday afternoon.

This post, however, is not it. :D

You will see it, I promise; you'll just have to wait a few days.

Why, I hear you asking?

Follow along below the fold to find out!

So, who gets the credit for sparing you my usual semi-coherent ramblings, you ask?

You can thank the one and only Ashley, a/k/a The Pride of Calgary. :c)

She left a typically sweet reply to the aforementioned prior post; accordingly, I began to draft a reply. And, as sometimes happens when I write, things evolved.

I've learned to get out of the way when this happens, and see where the process takes me. In this case, it took me from a brief reply to a comment to an entirely new blog post! It's always wise to follow the muse wherever she chooses to take me. :D

In her comment, Ashley noted that she will be looking forward to reading the posts I pledged to write this year, and that she was now inspired to try to do the same with her blog. (And I hope she does; in fact, I see she's already begun!)

Those two thoughts - that she was looking forward to reading the posts I'd pledged to write, and was inspired to try to do something similar - are what triggered the post you are currently reading. (Don't blame Ashley though; she is the innocent party here! lol)

I mentioned in the previous post that I wanted to write a weekly post because writing is a muscle, and, like any muscle, it benefits from being exercised regularly.

I realized that there was more to it, though, as I was replying to Ashley.

When I realized I had to transition - almost five years ago now! - I found a great deal of comfort and inspiration from the handful of blogs that resonated with me.

There weren't many of them; perhaps a half dozen at most. Sadly, more than a few of them are no longer online. Such is the nature of an endeavor begun, after all, to document a period of transition.

That does nothing to diminish how important they were to me at the time, though. Being able to follow along as they did something I had never dared imagine was possible was incredibly important and inspiring. Their decision to share that journey helped me immeasurably on my own.

It's also one of the reasons why I wrote - and write - as much as I do about my own journey - to server as a journal, so I can look back and see how far I've come. And believe me, I am amazed at how far that is, particularly the last six or so months!!!

But another, equally important reason, is to hopefully be a record that someone else who was/is in the same place I was five years ago can look at and say, "If she can do it, then maybe I can too."

As I said in my previous post, this year is going to be the biggest of my life, for a number of reasons. I want to document it as thoroughly as possible, both so I can look back years from now and remember, and so others can follow along and see what is possible.

For a number of reasons, the word "integrity" has been in my thoughts quite a bit recently.  I'll have more to say about this in another post, but for now, I'll just say this.

I don't claim to have all the answers, nor do I believe my way is the only way. But I do know that I made a commitment when I began my transition to work as hard as possible, to not let fear stop me, and to refuse to limit myself in any way.

It hasn't been easy, as anyone who has read this blog from the beginning knows. Many people have had it harder than I have - but many have had it easier as well. Far easier, in some cases.

But at all times I know I have been completely honest in how I've conducted myself, with both  myself and with others.

I have never once wavered in my determination to transition, even in my darkest moments.

And I have never once taken any shortcuts, or cheated the process in any way.

I am enormously proud of how I've conducted, and am conducting, myself. I know I have earned every single bit of happiness I am currently experiencing. And I am experiencing quite a bit, with even more to come in the months and years ahead.

Again, I'll have more to say about integrity, and honoring commitments (to myself and to others), in another post. As I mentioned earlier, it is a subject that's been on my mind quite a bit recently - painfully so, I'm afraid.

This is a difficult time of year for me. It always has been, and this year is no different.

The holidays are always a challenge, given the situation with my family. And the most recent holidays turned out to be even more painful than usual, for reasons I won't go into in this post. Suffice it to say I was dealing with considerable heartache.

I was also battling a particularly nasty flu bug, which waylaid me for nearly two months, from mid-November until about ten days ago.

On top of that, winter is, quite simply, very hard for me. I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which makes this time of year quite difficult emotionally and physically. I'm prone to depression, and SAD can exacerbate those symptoms.

My natural instinct in similar situations in the past was twofold: I would bury myself in work, and, outside of work, I would withdraw. At work, I would be pleasant and politely distant; once home, I would hibernate, and no one would see or hear from me for weeks on end.

Well, not this year.

As challenging as the past few months have been, I have come too far to let myself slip into despair again.

Is my heart broken and aching? Yes.

Is my energy level dragging, given my struggles with SAD, insomnia, and the lingering effects of the flu? Yes.

Is it a challenge to get up in the morning, when it's cold, and dark, and I feel exhausted from all of the above? Yes. Yes it is.

Does that mean there's nothing I can do about all of this?

No. No, it does not. :c)

I can't change the time of year.

I can't make my broken heart heal, nor process the pain from a broken promise, any faster than they will.

But I can choose not to let those things stop me.

And I have. :D

Again, long time readers know that when I started HRT I was in the best shape of my life. I had worked hard to ensure that was the case.

Literally the moment I received my letter to start HRT, a seemingly Biblical plague seemed to descend on me. Anything that could go wrong did - often several times. Pneumonia (twice), hospitalization after collapsing at work, being run over by a van, three horrible winters in a row, an unplanned doubling of my commute... the list went on and on.

The bottom line: by March 2014 I had gained almost 55 lbs. from my normal weight - the weight I'd maintained from my junior year in hight school until I began HRT - nearly 30 years. I looked, and felt, terrible. Inside and out.

But starting in March 2014, I began to take control of my body back. And by the end of 2014, I had lost 35 lbs.

And that's where I was stuck, for most of last year. We had a terrible winter here last year (I shudder to think about it even now). I spent the spring and most of the summer spinning my metaphorical wheels.

But starting in the fall, I got back in the groove. I worked incredibly hard on my running, knocking off nearly three minutes from my pace per mile. The scale was beginning to move, and, more important, I could see the changes in my body as each week passed.

As you can see from the photo at the top of this post (that is the LBD - little black dress - I wore to the office holiday party, incidentally :D), I look.... decent.

But I know I can look better. I have another 15 lbs. to return to my normal weight.

Then came my bout with the flu, and the holidays, and my heartache.

But now, all that's over.

Good things are happening too, amid the pain. I'm choosing to focus on those things, and to not allow myself to give in to the darker impulses of my nature.

It isn't easy; there are days I cry, and feel angry and sad and hurt and betrayed. I had several meltdowns at work this past Tuesday. I held everything in until I could take a late lunch break. Then, I went into a conference room in a remote part of the office, and I cried, and cried, and cried some more, until I was able to get through the rest of the day.

And I did. That's the key. I chose to move forward. And it is a choice.

Accordingly, I've decided that the way to keep the demons at bay during this, the darkest time of the year, is to handle them the same way I now handle the most difficult and painful issues I deal with in therapy.

I go straight at them.

So... we're in the middle of the coldest, darkest, most enervating time of the year for me?

Well, then this is the time I commit to getting back to my ideal weight, and getting there by the end of March, once and for all.

And I commit to it here and now.

In writing.

I commit to posting the results week by week.

I commit to holding myself accountable.

In public.


Because I want to show anyone who may read this, now or in the future, that you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. ANYTHING.

I am going to have the body I've always dreamed of when I finish.

The body I deserve.

I should have it already, but circumstances dictated otherwise. So be it.

I can't change that. But I can decide what I will do about it.

It will take hard work, and sacrifice, and dedication.

Fortunately, those are things I have in abundance, as I have leaned the past five years.

It will require looking at the big picture. And not doing whatever feels good, or is easiest, in the moment. And accepting that short-term pain will lead to long-term gain.

Because it will.

I know. I've proved it to myself the past five years.

And now I'm going to do it again.

And if I can do this, so can you, dear reader.

Am I nervous? Scared?

Hell yes!

Am I going to let that stop me?

Hell no!

So... please join me on my journey to Cass's Bitchin' Body 2016!!! It's going to be quite a ride!!!


My favorite album of all time, if I had to pick one, is Bruce Springteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town, which he refers to it as his "samurai album."  In the two years preceding the album's release in 1978, he had gone through a very dark period in his life and career, during which it looked as if he might never be able to record again.

He came through it, but he was a changed person. And Darkness reflected those changes, and laid out a template for the rest of his career. Gone were the youthful dreams and poetry and escape of Born to Run, the album he released before Darkness, and the album that made him a star.

Springsteen has said that Born to Run was about "pulling out of here to win," as the narrator and Mary do in "Thunder Road," and Darkness is about what they discovered once they did - that there is no easy escape. There is struggle, and compromise, and, indeed, darkness.

But there is also triumph, and determination, and defiance in facing your fears and refusing to back down - to "spit in the face of these badlands," as he puts it.

I'll end this post with what Springsteen has said is his favorite song from Darkness - "The Promised Land."

Well there's a dark cloud risin' from the desert floor
We've packed our bags and are headed straight into the storm
There's gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground

Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing
But lost and broken-hearted

Well the dogs on this street howl 'cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hand
Mister I ain't a boy, no I'm a man
And I believe in the promised land
I believe in the promised land
Yes I believe in the promised land

Here he is performing it in Landover MD in August 1978, during the justifiably legendary Darkness tour:

 And here he is performing it 31 years later(!) in December 2009:

And last but not least, here he is (with Miami Steve and Roy Bittan) playing a smoking-hot version of "Because The Night" with The Roots:

Bear in mind: he is SIXTY years old in both of these clips! Absolutely incredible. As are The Roots. Damn, those guys are good... :c)


Halle on January 25, 2016 at 4:59 PM said...

Thank you for helping to preserve and refine a fine tradition here in Blogistan! :)
I featured this post on T-Central.

Cassidy on January 25, 2016 at 5:18 PM said...

Aww... thank you SO much, Miss D! I am flattered and honored in equal measure. I just hope it's semi-coherent, seeing as I wrote it in the middle of the night! :D


Coline on January 25, 2016 at 7:57 PM said...

As great as HRT is the sting in the tail is an easy addition of weight without even trying... That darn SAD here too and tight waist bands. I have not yet found the cash for one of those light therapy units to sit over the computer but I am joining you on the journey to a slimmer self, hopefully before spring is in full swing. Good luck.

Cassidy on January 25, 2016 at 8:38 PM said...

I didnt make it clear in my post, but the real culprit in my case was having to take sterioids after being run over by a van. My hip became infected, and the steroids did me in. Then the ofther things - the long commute, etc. - exacerbated it. Before that I'd weighed the same from age 16 until, well, being run over. lol

That said, I'm close. 8-10 weeks of steady running should do it. Hope you can hit your goals too, hon!!! :D


Abigale's Airings on January 26, 2016 at 5:00 PM said...

Glad 2c your commitment 2 not allowing things 2 get u down. Looking 4ward 2 following u2 your goals this year, know u will make it!
Miss A

Cassidy on January 26, 2016 at 9:44 PM said...

@Abigale: Thank you, hon. Just to clarify: I'm okay. lol I am hurting, but I've moved on. I've found consolation elsewhere (if you understand what I mean), and am focused on the big picture. ;c) Thank you for being so concerned!!!


Jenna on January 27, 2016 at 4:17 PM said...

Glad to see that your keeping up with the regular posts, wouldn't want to berate you :-)

I'm also happy that you're bouncing back from what must have been a bad patch.

Looking forward to hearing about something I've just seen on a certain social media site.


Diana Nicole B on January 30, 2016 at 4:47 PM said...

i understand about the flu bout. i hope i NEVER have to go through the week long flue i had about 12 years ago. i survived on ice chips for 3 days then tea for another 2 and then bananas and rice for another few days. my mom an RN told my dad to keep bringing ice chips to avoid dehydration. (her health deteriorated rapidly 6 months later) for a week after i would get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and go back to bed! for a month i was to weak to drive myself anywhere. and a month later i had to get my dad to drive me to a armistices day 1918 ball i had planned to attend. for 6 months i hated one of my favorite foods pizza. the thought of it just nauseated me. and the only good thing to comeof it is that i had gained 15 lbs summer just before the flu which was in oct. that year and i lost the 15 lbs on what i call the "flu diet" LOL.
feel better my friend. i try to keep myself active and when in the house i follow my dad's philosophy of allways having something to break the silence in the house like the radio playing. he was right it really helps.

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