How the King Helped Me Live my American Dream

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Dream Achievement: The King of Rock and Roll Singing Art Print A gigantic reason why I am able to live my American Dream is because I am not anymore.  Gigantic, that is.

Just two short years ago, as of the date I share this, I weighed one hundred pounds more that I do on this very special day.

It is a special day because of this fact.

I am very, very happy about my dream achievements: my new/old size, my health and my physical abilities.  But  August 16th is also an extraordinary day for me as it is the very first, incredibly overwhelmingly, saddest day of my life.  And as the saying goes, you always remember your first.

This was the day, thirty five years ago that Elvis died.

My complete love and adoration for Elvis began very early on, perhaps even oddly so.

When asked, “When did you start liking Elvis?“  I answered, “I don’t remember not loving Elvis.”  Oftentimes, in elementary school, I would bring in for “show and tell“ my latest poster or cassette tape of his awesomeness.

The teachers loved it, always gave me full credit for participation and the other kids thought I was weird for liking such an old fat guy.

My response was always the same, “He is simply the greatest at what he does, nobody does it better, and he wasn‘t always fat, you know!  Just for the last two years of his life!”

I hated it when the postal stamps came out and everyone was saying, “Do you like the fat Elvis or the skinny Elvis better?”

Nevertheless, I loved him in every way that a child could love what, or whom they love–with my whole, entire heart.

I remember, like some say about President John F. Kennedy, and perhaps now, Michael Jackson, exactly where I was, what I was doing, and what I was wearing when the radio announcer broke in to say day Elvis died.

Disbelief, check.  Anguish, check, check.  Holding my breath until I remembered that I had to do this to live myself, huhhhhhuh, check.

Didn’t eat, cried myself to sleep, believed deeply that there was no possible way the world could continue turning.

The whole grief-filled she-bang.  I sincerely thought I might go insane.  Sincerely.

Time, as always, insisted on moving on, but I got stuck every now and then with the reports that raised my hope of his not being dead.  The sightings at a Burger King or at Lake Tahoe.  I thought, if anyone could do this, it’d be Elvis.  He was maybe just trying to lead a normal life for once.

I purchased every book and tape,  hoping I could sleuth out for myself where he might be.

I’ll admit to having a little more hope than pain in those years, and then later realizing that it was the very facts about Elvis that I defended in grade school that made not only me, but so many millions of others want him to still be here with us.

He was an amazingly gifted human being who also loved to give of himself in many ways, way beyond his gift of talent.  Elvis Presley’s generosity of spirit, his charisma and charm were simply intoxicating and for me, all consuming.

He was in every respect the very definition of “The whole package,” to me.

With this brief, personal synopsis of my feelings of everlasting love for Elvis Presley, it’s not surprising to know that I walked down the aisle to the harpist playing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” when I married my Bryan, or that he purchased as much as his paycheck could afford of the “Graceland” wine from Napa, to give to me because he understands my love of all things, and persons great.

What may surprise, though, is that every year, still, on August 16th I cry like a baby while watching TCM and my incredible Elvis do all that he does… Oh. So. Well.  Nope.  Not just well, the best.

Dream Achievement: My little daughter and meOn Elvis memorial day two years ago, my little daughter was watching me watching Elvis, tears streaming down my chubby cheeks and she said, “Hey mama, aren’t you the same age now that Elvis was when he died?”

Oh.  My.  God.

I was.  Exactly the same age in fact, as Elvis and I are both January babies.

Then, the “biggie”. . .

“What exactly did he die from, because that’s not very old?”  “Was it cancer?”

No, it wasn’t cancer.  Elvis Presley died from complications in the proper functioning of his heart, as a result of mixing all kinds of prescription drugs.

There were drugs to help him sleep and drugs to help him wake up.  He consumed and developed dependencies on diet pills, barbiturates and amphetamines.

Elvis, in my loving, thoughtful opinion, didn’t have a clue as to how to age.  He was a bigger than life megastar of elephantine proportions.  Known for his breathtaking good looks, physical rhythmic dance karate moves on a tall, handsome frame and a full, jet black gorgeous shock of hair.

To this very day, when I see that devastating Elvis Aron Presley smile on film, I swoon and believe it’s a smile all for me, even when he’s looking at Ann-Margaret, like right now, on “Viva Las Vegas.”

The grown up, enlightened me has come to realize something really wonderful; We are all here for just a short while, and I believe Elvis worked for, lived out, and also died for his American dream.

When my daughter gently lambasted me with her innocent question, I knew right then that I wasn’t fully living my dream.  I simply, physically, couldn’t.

Dream Achievement: Me Breaking down the wine barrelsAt 5’2” tall, an additional one hundred pounds on my small frame had me breathing hard most of the time and winded doing most basic activities, so things like farm chores, pruning the vines, brush clearing, cutting, splitting and stacking firewood and breaking down wine barrels to build a tree house down at the seasonal creek or for the back deck railing, were flat out not happening.

So, I started hearing my little daughter’s words, that constantly resounded in my brain-head, differently and took them to be divine inspiration.

In two of my previous posts here on 8 Women Dream, I tell in parts first why and then how I began to take my life and my dreams in hand.

If you would like to read about exactly how I went from a size 14 to a 4 in one year, please see either Living my American Dream with my Whole Heart Only Lighter or A Food and Wine Lover’s American Dream Weight Loss Story.

The first of these two true stories includes my before and after photos, to that point.

Dream Achievement: Wine barrel prepping in willamette valley for a treehouseNow, August 16th has a deeper and dare I say a more lovely meaning, for which I celebrate my highly active extremely happy, vineyard-farm, dream living.

And for which just after my time on the treadmill and sets on the weight bench in a moment, I will cool down as I sit here in my beautiful little house in the big vineyard and sip a glass of delicious pinot gris as I watch, in adoring homage, my first great love perform and sing in all his glory.

Dream Achievement: Me with my bottle of Graceland wineTo the King of Rock and Roll and to dream achievement.

TCB, until we meet again next Sunday.



Shellie Croft spent a year sharing her American dream stories on 8 Women Dream.  You can now find these stories on her blog Shellie’s Consumption.