Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Looking Forward, Looking Back

This morning, I was trying to think up something inspirational and informative to blog about--other than the obvious horrifying news topic on my mind right now (there's nothing soothing or significant I can add to the conversation about the tragic event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut last Friday.  There is nothing to say.  Just a heavy sigh).

I feel incredibly grateful that I have gotten through 2012 relatively unscathed, with my future still ahead of me.

Given that December is my favorite month of the year when I take time to reflect on what I've accomplished in 2012, and I dream about what I want to accomplish in 2013, I decided to focus on this when a title popped into my head, and the title seemed perfect.  I immediately thought, "Surely it's been done;  after all, it ain't that original."  

So, I referred to that most awesome source of information for writers of the 21st century:  Google.  And I found the most wonderful song and video written and performed by Slim Dusty, an Australian singer-songwriter I'd never heard of.  Nothing expresses a sentiment better than a great lyric and melody.

I shed some tears as I watched an Old Slim Dusty singing "Looking Forward, Looking Back" and reflecting on his life.  (Slim Dusty died in 2003 at age 76 after a career in music that spanned nearly seven decades).  Again, I was filled with gratitude that I have great friends, a supportive "spousal equivalent", loving sisters, brothers, nieces, and cousins, sweet dogs, enough money to get by, and good health.  

As the Connecticut rampage reminds us, we never know how much time we'll get to live on this earth, and I'm blessed to be one of the fortunate people alive in her fifties, looking forward to another day.  

Here's the sweet and simple song/video:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's About Time

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

I can't believe it's been six months since I've posted anything on this blog!  I had planned to post at least once a month this year.   So what happened?  LIFE.  ("Life is what happens to you, while you're busy making other plans".)

As I sit here reflecting upon where the months have gone, (or the year 2012 for that matter), I can see that I've been quite busy.  It's only when I allow myself the time to sit and reflect that I realize I've accomplished a lot.  Most of the time I beat myself up for not doing enough, and lament that so much time has passed.  I wonder if this is just something my particular being does, (I recognize it's a pattern of mine) or if this is a human condition?  Some days there's so much I want to get done that I become paralyzed and can't figure out what to do first, so I fiddle around with Facebook, watch t.v., or do any number of other procrastinating activities.  My ex-husband used to accuse me of running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, creating busy-work in order to feel productive--but I digress...

(What about a J-O-B, you might wonder, if you're someone who doesn't know me and you're actually reading this blog).  

Being self-employed can be a curse.  Without a boss telling me what to do, I have to juggle my possible money-making activities with my many creative pursuits (which sometimes make money), and somehow find a way NOT to continually go into fear (about not making money) or overwhelm (usually connected to my fear about not making money).

So, yesterday was a rainy, chilly Monday.  I had no real estate appointments and I was looking forward to working from home.  I have no house that I'm currently renovating, no vacant rental properties to get filled, and no theatrical productions to perform in.  I guess I could've written a song, but it seems that songwriting has moved to the bottom of the to-do list at least for now.  

I planned to get on-line to search for homes to show buyer-clients, and I  planned to work on the homework due for a marketing class this coming Wednesday (I haven't even started), and I planned to send out thank you notes that are long overdue, and to contact any and all possible real estate prospects; then I planned to finish up my new acting resume and search on-line for possible plays to audition for, and I planned to exercise, and oh, I can feel myself going into overwhelm just thinking about it!

So I decided it was finally time to get back to the blog, 'cause I didn't feel like doing any of the above.  I looked for inspiration for something to write about and couldn't come up with a damn thing (Kind of like my songwriting these days.)  I got into my usual head trip: "who cares about what I have to say?"  "who's gonna read this anyway?"  "what can I express that I haven't already said over and over ad-nauseam?"  What started out as a healing blog while I was laid up with my broken femur (for my own personal healing, not anyone else's) has turned into a blog without a cause.  Except I realize:  The femur is healed, but I'm still broken.

Now it's Tuesday, and I'm sitting in front of the fireplace for the second morning in a row.  With just five more minutes until I head off for a real estate appointment, I find this inspirational message from the blog-o-sphere:  Things-happen-slowly-not-all-at-once ...Perfect.  

Some things I've done since May:

Did a major home renovation, then got the home rented out

Sold some Real Estate

Performed in "The Dixie Swim Club" at Chaffin's Barn
Attended the Texas Songwriter's Cruise
Went to California to see friends, attend a conference, and visit my sisters

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Finding Good News in Bad Manners

 "Opinions are like assholes.  Everybody has one."  However, most polite people will keep their unsolicited opinions to themselves.  So, I thought maybe the stranger was kidding when he posted under a recent photograph of me on my Facebook page:  "Boy, have you let yourself go since the show"  (The show being "The 20-Minute WorkOut," a t.v. exercise show which I starred in back in 1983, when I was in my 20's).  
I was taken aback by the comment.  I examined my photo carefully, and saw what the stranger must've been seeing--I had wrinkles, my teeth didn't look perfect, and considering it was a head shot, and my face must've looked fat to him, he was obviously able to tell that I'd put on weight in all of the other parts of my body.  (When I posted the photo back in November of 2010, I thought I looked pretty good--otherwise, I wouldn't have posted it!)

Since I couldn't be sure of the stranger's motives with his comment, (and I was dying to know) instead of merely deleting the guy's message, I responded with a sarcastic "Thanks!"  (I figured if the guy was kidding, he'd reply back with something like, "ha, ha, gotcha!)"  But instead, this was the reply I got:  "surprised you took that as a compliment, it wasn't meant to be, you looked better on the show then you do now" 

 I was aghast.  So many thoughts started whirling through my head:  I should just delete his damn comments, and delete my horrid photo.  Obviously I've been in denial about how I look to the outside world.  Obviously, I'm old, ugly, and fat.  Who the hell do I think I am posting a photo of myself on Facebook for all of the Assholes with Opinions in this world to view and judge?  Who in the hell does this asshole think he is??  How dare he find my facebook page just to insult me!  My adrenalin was pumping, my solar plexus was on fire--I was raging mad.  Against my better judgement, I found myself going back and forth with comments to this person, with the insults from him just getting worse.  There is no reasoning with a person who is self-righteous in their opinions.  Finally, enough of my real Facebook friends jumped in and responded, and ridiculed the stranger into a public apology. 

Though this person had no evidence (other than a single photograph) for making his generalized statement, since he has no idea about the personal struggles or triumphs or roads traveled by Holly Butler over the past 30 years, the good news is that there was a glimmer of truth in his blatant, big-mouthed proclamation:  In the domain of my weight, I had let myself go!   In 29 years, since the 20-Minute Workout aired, (and I was at my tiniest) I have put on up to 50 pounds--1.72 pounds per year.  What this jack-ass surely doesn't know though, is that I've already lost 20 of those pounds in the past three months, and he has fueled my fire in a big way, helping me to stay on course! 

So, thank you, Mr. Who-Ever-You-Are for your profound wisdom and astute observation.  Although I have no intention of getting back down to my baby-weight of the 80's (sorry, I guess you'll just have to watch re-runs),  I am on my way down--20 pounds and counting!
The now infamous photo--Yep, I have really let myself go!

Monday, April 30, 2012

True Confessions and True Grit

Back in January, I wrote on this blog that I intended to get my weight down by exercising diligently.  I promised to take three water aerobics classes per week, hike at least three days a week, and work-out to my 20-Minute Workout tapes several days a week.   (see:  "Oh How I long to be Fit and Fabulous after 50")

Well, around mid-February (February 22nd to be exact), I was feeling pretty good, like maybe I'd dropped a little holiday weight gain, so I decided to step on the scale after my water aerobics class, and weigh myself for the first time in a year.  To my absolute horror the gym scale registered my weight at the highest I'd ever seen it!!!  I knew the scale had to be wrong.  There was no way in hell, that in just one year, I could have gained 18 pounds--broken leg, or no broken leg.  I complained to the gym manager, telling her the scale must be wrong.  And I spent the rest of the day fantasizing that perhaps the hardware in my femur weighed a good 10 pounds, even though it's titanium, and apparently titanium is as light as a feather, and it still doesn't explain an 18 pound weight gain!!  

After several people told me that titanium couldn't possibly explain my weight gain, I decided to go and buy a scale.  I'd prove once and for all that the gym scale simply had to be wrong.  On February 24th, I brought my new scale home, removed all of my clothes and stepped on it.  Awwwwwww, Sh__!!!!!  My new scale agreed with the gym scale.  

169 pounds.  Closer to 200 pounds than 100.  Startling, since at 5'6'', I used to be a lean 125.  I thought I had been eating healthily and yet, I had to face the fact:  I had packed on 18 pounds in a year, and about 30 pounds since I moved to Nashville 13 years ago.  I've been in denial way too long.  I was so disgusted with myself that I decided on the spot to start a diet journal, documenting every morsel I put into my mouth, and counting up my daily calories--since obviously my "healthy diet" wasn't working. 
I have no idea why I convinced myself for years that I didn't need to keep track of my weight.  Buying the scale was the best thing I ever did.    I step on it everyday, and today, after 9 weeks of real healthy portion-controlled-eating, and lots of exercise, I'm down to 153.  My next goal is 140, and I know I can do it!   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Just the Break I Needed

One year ago today, on a beautiful, sunny morning, I took a step in my yard and slid backwards down into a 3 feet deep hole (dug by my dogs) that swallowed my leg and snapped my femur in two places.  That moment will be forever embedded in my memory.  And today, during a matinee performance of the play I'm in, as I was joyfully doing the charleston backstage, I flashed on all of the pain I endured, and all of the baby steps it took me to get as far as I've come.  Finally, after one year, I'm wearing high-heels again, skipping on-stage, and dancing.

If you've never had a serious accident, you might think I'm overdramatizing because you can't relate.  (Just like people who haven't lost their parents can't relate to what it's like to be a member of the parent-less club).  But as a member of the "Broken Femur Victims Unite" group on Facebook, I know there are others out there around the world who can relate.

I was talking to someone a week or so ago, who was telling me about his recent broken bone, and he made the statement, "it was just the break I needed."  "Wow," I said.  "What a great pun."  And I started reflecting upon how my break created a great break for me too.  It really shook up my routine.  It decimated my habits, and I've been developing new ones.  It slowed me down.  It made me think.  I discovered the generosity of friends and acquaintances.  I discovered that I could enjoy just laying around.  I re-discovered the absolute importance of daily exercise.  I started a blog.  I got back into acting.  And now, in retrospect, I'm really grateful that I got to have the life-altering experience of breaking my femur.

So, I'm celebrating my anniversary today, doing the charleston!  And every year on March 6th, I'll give thanks and congratulate myself for my resiliency, and my sheer determination to rise above a hugely challenging situation.  Both of my parents would be so proud. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

No Business Like Show Business!

It's hard to believe it's been four years since I've performed on stage in a play.  Four years since I got my real estate license and decided that I needed to focus on making money at the age of 50.  I'd been eking out a living as an actress and songwriter long enough!  I remember bemoaning my choice to my friend, Nancy, at a women's support group, and I'll never forget her words of wisdom:  "But you're still an Actress.  You're just acting like a real estate agent right now."  Truer words have never been spoken.

When I got my real estate license, I imagined a flexible lifestyle where I would incorporate all of my various creative interests:  Acting, songwriting, creative writing, fitness, home renovations and dog wrangling.  But somehow, I found myself always working (I believed I had to be available 24-7 to succeed in real estate).  That is, until I broke my femur last March.  Nothing slows you down like not being able to walk!  

Over this past year, being slowed down by the broken leg turned out to be a blessing (cliche, I know, but these things usually do turn out to be blessings in some way, if you choose to figure out the way).  It allowed me time to soul search, and while I was searching I realized I wanted to find my way back to doing what I love.  Fortunately, Steve, my "spousal equivalent", prefers to be around me when I'm happy, so when I announced that I was "auditioning for a play, and after I finish the play, I'll work hard at real estate again, " he cheered me on.  And, as if the Universe were supporting me too, the audition was one of those rare instances in my life where I went in expecting to be hired.    

So, it's been three weeks so far of reporting to rehearsals at 9:00 a.m., working with a group of professionals who share passion for the theatre, memorizing lines and stretching emotions, all under the direction of Maryanna Clark, who has built an impressive theatre company, The Tennessee Women's Theatre Project.  I haven't been this thrilled to get up in the morning since I had to be on set at 6:00 a.m. when I was a series regular on a short-lived soap in Los Angeles (with my very own trailer!).  
I've been hiking most days after rehearsal (for my femur) where I run lines, and soaking in the tub most nights (for my femur), where I run lines again.  I love the process of figuring out how my character walks, talks, and feels.  I'm obsessed with my role, it's all I can think about.  And, as if the Universe couldn't be any more on my side, I'm getting real estate calls, referrals and leads without focusing on real estate at all!

The play, "The Disappearance of Janey Jones," opens in one week, and I will get to "play" for three more weeks of glorious performances.  There's no business like show business, like no business I know.....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Famous Last Words

As my father was approaching his final days in this world, he told my sister Beverly and me one evening:  "You two have done all right for yourselves; "Holly, you never got what you wanted, but you've done okay."  Beverly and I exchanged looks and laughed, but I didn't know what he meant by the comment.  Was he talking about my failed marriage, my not-so-illustrious career(s), the fact that I never had children, or that I wasn't financially successful?

I didn't ask Dad to clarify.  He was tired, over-medicated, and dying, after all.  But now, two years since we lost him on February 3, 2010, I wish I could tell Dad that I'm better than "okay."  I always wanted him to be proud of me.

When I was a teen, Dad would often say, "don't worry about getting a boyfriend at your age, there are so many fish in the sea."  Late one night my freshman year, he showed up at my friend Tina's house, (where I was supposed to be spending the night) and sat in her drive-way until I rode up in a car with Tina's boyfriend at 3:00 a.m.  My dad grounded me for two weeks, but believed me when I told him that NOTHING happened in that car.  

When I was suspended from school my senior year for calling my band teacher a "prick", Dad met with the principal, and sided with me when I explained that my band teacher had ridiculed me in front of the class. 

Dad believed in me.  When I was jealous of Beverly in high school because she was prettier, more popular, and head songleader, he'd say, "yes, but she can't play the flute! You're the first chair flute player!"  And, when I got my first professional theatre job at Disneyworld, it was my dad who received the call, came down to the Modesto Junior College, and pulled me out of class to excitedly give me the news.  

There were so many times when my dad was there to pick up the pieces when I crumbled emotionally, and many more evidences through the years of my dad's support of me and my dreams.  Oh, how I wish he could've been around this past year to watch me overcome a broken femur, and see me slow down enough through the healing process to realize that I can choose to spend more time doing what I love.  He'd be thrilled to know that I'm performing again in a professional theatre production!

As I sat here writing this, I had an epiphany:  What my dad was trying to convey with his comment was that he still believed in me, all the way to the end.  He was trying to tell me that not only have I "done okay", I am okay. 
 Dad, joking around while making pancakes! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Proof is NOT in the Pudding

The proof is NOT in the pudding.  It's in the putting.  As in putting one foot in front of the other, putting your best foot forward and putting your body into motion.  

At my senior water aerobics class yesterday morning, Jackie, a stately, slim, and glowing woman old enough to be my mother told me:  "You just have to make yourself do it if you want to live long."  She went on to say, "I'm in better shape now than I was when I was 41."  She told me how she had slipped a disc in her back at 41, and that it felt like forever before she could lift anything again.  She's pleased that she can now easily lift a shrub in her garden.

We were talking about the fact that I was sore from my workout the day before.  My "workout" being that I single-handedly moved an enormous couch out of our tiny den, (while Steve was at work and knew nothing about my impulsive decision to rearrange the furniture and dispose of said couch) by pushing, pulling, and eventually lifting it up on end and stuffing it through the door.  I felt so strong and powerful!  It was like lifting weights and I totally forgot any limitation my right leg might have had.  While I was moving the furniture around, I thought about how much I enjoyed renovating homes, and that it might be just about time to tackle another home renovation, if we could find a cheap fixer-upper.  Coincidentally, (or maybe there are no coincidences) I got a call from a real estate investor right after class who told me about a CHEAP fixer-upper that Steve and I might be interested in buying.  (Wow!  I'm thinking, just look at what moving a couch can do...)  For good measure I got on my exercise bike and rode it hard for 20 minutes.

I don't know the origin of the phrase, "The proof is in the pudding," but I think the only proof I'd get from pudding is weight gain.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Cold, Hard Facts?

"I hate to burst your bubble, but you ain't never gonna be the way you was back then."

This was the jokingly friendly greeting I got upon my arrival to Senior Water Aerobics class on Friday.  My classmate friend had just read my last blog post and watched my 20-Minute Workout video before coming to class.  She laughed as she let me know that "gravity" had taken it's toll on all of us and we're destined to remain in the shape we're in now.  I smiled and told her that "my bubble had been burst long ago," and I reminded her that I'd be happy just to get down a pant size!
(As you can see, I need to get down at least a pant size)

The truth is, trying to lose weight has always been a struggle for me.  Back before the 20-Minute workout days, before folks talked about anorexia/bulimia, I was a part-time bulimic for awhile.  I knew there was something wrong with my closeted bingeing and purging, but when I read someone's letter to Ann Landers, I realized I had a potentially serious problem.  I hadn't known there was a name for my condition, or that anyone else had discovered my secret method for weight management.  It was 1979, I was 21 years old, a student in the dance program at Cal State Fullerton, and I believed that I was too heavy to be a dancer, but that didn't keep me from eating.  I went through fast food drive-thrus on a regular basis, loaded up on junk food, got depressed and upset, and forced myself to throw up soon after.  When I finished reading the letter to Ann Landers, and her supportive response, I walked straight to a local  athletic store and bought myself a pair of bright yellow Nike running shoes and started jogging.  My logic was that I could eat like a pig, if I  exercised more.

But it wasn't until 1981, when I was introduced to Karen Voight's intense aerobic class by my long-time pal, Brian, that I completely kicked the bulimic habit.  Aerobic classes were definitely a healthier obsession, and when I worked out strenuously, I could eat whatever I wanted (I'm sure my youth had something to do with this).  Somehow along the way, I overcame my eating disorder without therapy by reciting the following mantra whenever the urge struck:  "if you're gonna eat like a pig, you must suffer your consequences."  

By the time I was cast in the 20-Minute Workout, I was working out five hours a day!  Still, even at my smallest, I felt that I was bigger than the other girls on the show, and was self-conscious about my weight.  At my lowest, I weighed 116, (and that only showed up on the scale one day during 1984).  In general, my weight seemed to waver around 125, and I was a medium, not a small.

Now, I'm an extra large!  And this crept up on me slowly over the course of several years.  Maybe it is gravity!  Or hormones.  Or metabolism.    But I suspect it's because I stopped working out the way I used to (hell, I stopped workout out entirely!), while continuing to eat the way I was used to.

Since 2009, I've tried several dietary approaches:  I've been a vegan, then a vegetarian; I've avoided gluten, and limited my sugar, and yet I can't seem to get the weight off.  I have women friends here in Nashville who are slim and fit, and they all have something in common: they exercise regularly and vigorously in addition to eating less.  

So, no, I may never get back to where I once was, but I'm convinced:  I won't get anywhere if I don't exercise--daily and diligently.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

(Oh, how I long to be) Fit and Fabulous After 50!

With every new year, comes the promise of a new beginning, and this year, 2012, I'm grateful that I have a leg to stand on, and I'm ready to start really using it!  While I was laid up last year with my broken femur, I had time to read a few books, and one of the books I read, "Younger Next Year, (For Women)" stresses the importance of exercise after the age of 50.  The fact that exercise is good for you is something I've known for decades--I got into aerobics back in it's heyday, 1981, where I was trained by fitness guru Karen Voight herself.  I was one of the instructors on the original 20-Minute Workout T.V. Show, and was a personal trainer in Los Angeles for many years after that.  But exercise was never really my passion, just a means to an end.  I wanted to be taken seriously as a Hollywood actress, so I actually turned down the second season of the 20-Minute Workout because I didn't think it would further my career!  

When I finally cast aside my dreams of stardom in 1998 to move to Nashville to pursue a new career as a country songwriter, I became further and further removed from exercise.  The food in the south, the lifestyle of drinking wine at every songwriter round, and the relaxed environment all contributed.  I've allowed myself to get out of shape and overweight (Karen Voight would be so ashamed).  Being laid up last year with a broken femur didn't help matters any.  But the book, "Younger Next Year," makes it ultra clear that I need to get myself moving, and not just a little bit.  This book makes a strong claim that if I want to live a long, full, life, I need to exercise strenuously for  a minimum of 6 days a week--not just to lose weight, but to avoid bone loss and osteoporosis.  I've already broken one major bone, I sure don't wanna break any more!

So this year, I'm going to follow the advice of "Younger Next Year."  I have possibly 40 pounds to lose in order to be as small as I was back in 1983 (when the 20-Minute Workout show aired) but I don't think I need to get that small again!  Right now, I'm simply going to focus on getting out of my "big girl pants" and comfortably back into my pants from 2010!  (Notice that I don't disclose the size of my pants).
I'm now on day three of an experiment:  

1)  I'm committed to working out to the 20-Minute Workout dvds I have in my possession EVERY DAY to see how it works for women past 50.  I can already confess that I must modify the work-out to a low impact version.  I still can't jump on my recovering leg, besides, I recall that somewhere back in the late '80's while I was still an aerobic instructor at the Voight Fitness Center, high impact aerobics were beginning to be considered "dangerous" and low impact aerobics became the norm.  

2)  I'm still continuing my Senior(yikes!!)Water Aerobics class three days a week, where I do get to jump in the water without hurting myself. 

3)  I'm committed to hiking 2.5 miles around Radnor Lake twice a week.

So this is the plan, until I come up with a better one (or some lame excuse).  'Til then, my younger self is inspiring me with a     four more, three more, two more...