Friday, January 4, 2013


Andromeda. The Woman Chained; or the woman unchained, depending on how she's described, depending on your point of view.

The story, of course, is well-known. Cassiopeia claims her daughter, Andromeda, is more beautiful than the sea nymphs. This makes Poseidon angry, her father gives her up as a sacrifice, and Andromeda is chained to a rock in the sea to be the next meal for some crazed sea creature. At the last second, Perseus, back from beheading Medusa, kills the monster, frees Andromeda and they marry and begin the Persian lineage. After her death Andromeda was made into a constellation. Within the constellation is the Andromeda Galaxy, the closest spiral galaxy to our own.

I had heard the story when I was young, of course, but what made Andromeda part of my life was the John Denver song Farewell Andromeda (Welcome to my Morning), and the lyrics :

"Welcome to my morning, 
Welcome to my day, 
I'm the one responsible, 
I made it just this way"

That thought has been rattling around my head for years. It echoed the words of Emily in Thornton Wilder's Our Town who, once it was too late, wished she had lived life every minute. It reverberated with the words of Dickens and Mary Stewart : "we forge our own chains."

Andromeda, the woman unchained, the idea in John Denver's song, the spread of stars in the sky, became a touchstone for me. Something in that idea that we cannot wait on that rock for Perseus to come along started stirring in me. I am responsible for living my life. If my day is hard or bad or uncomfortable, then it is my reaction to that which forms how I see that day, how I make that day. 

In the winter of 2011-2012, I weighed 250 pounds. I made every excuse that the obese make. There was no outside reason for my weight. I didn't have a debilitating disease, I wasn't on any medication which made losing weight difficult, or made gaining weight inevitable. I have a very sedentary job, but my job only takes up 40 hours of my week

I can't say exactly what the final spark was that made me realize that I had put myself in chains. A few people at work confused me with another woman and my thought was, "How can you confuse us? I'm chubby. She's fat." My friend Mandie had decided to have a gastric bypass and was discussing her health knowledge with me, telling me many things I had known for years about how to eat, but had forgotten, and many new things as well. Then someone saw a picture of me from my high school swim team and made a one word comment : "Hawtness!"

(That's me on the left)  It made me look at that picture again. I had thought I was fat in high school, but looking at that picture I realized that I had not been fat at all. And I thought : "I can never get back to how I looked at 16. But if I want that figure back, I can have it. I just have to do it."

It sounds a lot easier than it was, of course. I joined Spark People, I started eating better, exercising more and running. I had a lot of help from the Spark community, my daughters and my friend Mandie. I have run in 15 races now and won (in my gender and age group)  six 1st place medals, two 2nd place medals and, on October 21st, I ran my first half-marathon!

In the end I broke free of my chains. My goal now is to stay free. To live my life unbound. I am responsible for my days, for my weeks, for my life. 

I welcome you to share my journey.

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