Managing my mind

What it feels like to watch...

What it feels like to watch…

I’ve talked a lot about anger (management?), particularly because my parenting/discipline strategies could use a tiny bit of work…

I join just about every 21-day meditation series that I see, some of which I complete and some I don’t. I like this one, by Osho, because the content and format are a little unorthodox compared to others. Here is part of the introduction from the email for Day 3:

“Remember, we pour energy into anger, then only does it become vital. It has no energy of its own; it depends on our cooperation. In watching, our cooperation is broken; you are no more supporting it. It will be there for a few moments, a few minutes, and then it will be gone. Finding no roots in you, finding you unavailable, seeing that you are far away, a watcher on the hills, it will dissipate, it will disappear. And that disappearance is beautiful. That disappearance is a great experience.” – Osho

I am slowly realizing that in order to improve my eating habits and overall health during my self-inflicted 8-week challenge, I have to deal with all of the other non-flattering parts of myself. The only real reason I’ve been able to better control/enjoy my food the last few days is because I am inexplicably happier. Your mind has a lot to do with your diet… maybe everything!

I am about to embark on a 2-week journey in Keeping My Cool – a.k.a. Family Vacations. One week with my in-laws, the following with my own expanded (i.e., sister-in-law and adorable niece) nuclear family. If I can remember to “watch” my mind, as Osho says, I think we will all get along fabulously.😉

 

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Excuses, excuses…

8-week challenge update! (Insert sarcasm here.)

Since I’m over three weeks in and this is the first update, you can probably guess how this is going. I was full of excuses… up until yesterday. Yesterday I found my gait. (Well, I guess that may be optimistic. It was just yesterday.) If you’re looking for some excuses to delay driving down your road to better health, look no further!

Excuse #1: Summer. Honestly, what was I thinking?! I did really well up until the Fourth of July. Actually, the third of July, in anticipation of the Fourth of July. Apparently, I couldn’t wait for a more acceptable excuse. Maybe four days after my last post, I even bought my favorite junk food and placed it on top of the fridge (less taunting there) in anticipation of taking it to a family picnic. And then I ate the shit out of it (I did manage to wait until there were other people around, and I did manage to share it. I swear!). I would tell you what it was, but if you’re trying to avoid deliciously disgusting food, I don’t want to tempt you.

I tried to find the most tempting picture. :)

Tempting = A change of mindset

Excuse #2: Deliciously disgusting food. I thought really hard over my two solid weeks of failure about why I couldn’t do this. About why I was digging this hole deeper (or wider, haha). It’s because I just freaking love food. That’s it. I do love juicy apples and crisp romaine, but I also love fried food (which I may have over-emphasized in the last post). It’s all just so satisfying. The problem is that some of it is only satisfying in the short-term.

A few days ago, I felt like I had actually transformed into the fried, greasy nastiness that coats fast food. You want to know how gross I was? Fine, I’ll tell you. I ate Burger King for lunch one day – a crispy chicken sandwich and a few fries (managing to throw out most of your fries is a feat, right?), and then, to make myself feel less disgusting, I had salad with chicken fingers on it for dinner. Because that nutrition-less iceberg lettuce was wholly cleansing.

So what happened yesterday? The only thing I can think of is that I had to eat like this to feel gross enough not to go back. After I gorged on some junk food, I would just feel worse than I had prior to said gorging. Hence the short-term satisfaction.

Come on! Nobody?!

Come on! Nobody?!

I’ve also seen a lot of pictures of myself lately, including one posted by a friend on Facebook. I was briefly reliving my Tantalizing Twenties by going to a small music venue with some friends. The short story: I thought I looked pretty damn good when I left the house. I felt pretty damn good. I was even flattered when someone thought I looked ten – TEN! – years younger than I actually am (even after I didn’t get ID’d at the door, which is okay, because the show was 16 and over. It would be ridiculous to look nineteen years younger! Right? Right??). Either way, fantastic night.

And then I saw that picture. It is a nice picture. We’re all smiling, yadda yadda yadda. Except that I look like I’m at least twice the size of my friends. Really??

I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I’m coming dangerously close to plus sizes. I sincerely apologize if you’re reading this as a woman who wears plus-size clothing, because I know I sound like a total asshole to you. But my mom weighs 110 lbs. soaking wet, and I’m definitely obese for my height. In other words, if I didn’t weigh an effing ton over what I should, I’d maybe even be petite.

Having had the last three-plus weeks off, I am absolutely out of excuses. I obviously could find the time to work out if I wasn’t using my kids as an excuse. But they are the best excuses I have.

Small sidenote: I would also like to see my children grow up.

Tiny sidenote: I would also like to see my children grow up.

Excuses #3 & 4: My kids. They sap my will to work out. I also like to “gallivant”, as my husband calls it, so if I’ve already been out of the house for a few hours sans children, I refuse to leave them again to work out.

Looks like I’m left to intermittent working out (which I truly love) and not eating like a suicidal inmate with heart disease.

Things that may be helping: meditation, the few more pages of Deepak Chopra’s What Are You Hungry For? that I actually read, and an attitude adjustment. Oh yeah, and gorging myself.

If you are working toward a challenge for your health, whatever it may be, let me know by commenting below!

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This is Why Runners Run (by A Morning Grouch)

I’m not a runner. But I’ve been thinking a lot about POSSIBILITY. The possibility, for example, that I “COULD do it”.

The possibility of doing some things differently: eating real food, enjoying exercise, and making these things a normal part of who I am.

Couldn’t have read this at a better time. Thanks, Morning Grouch, for the inspiration!

A Morning Grouch

How Her Morning Went:

She thought about what she had to do. It seemed impossible.

“I cant do it!” She said. But she knew she had to try so she started.

It was hard. She knew it would be hard. But good grief, it was SO hard.

She bent over in exhaustion. She wiped her dripping brow. She paused and shut her eyes. Her shirt was wet. From what? She did not know. Tears? Sweat? Both?

She opened her puffy eyes and kept moving.

She knew a jog would help.

How Her Mid-Morning Jog Went:

She thought about what she had to do. It seemed impossible.

“I cant do it!” She said. But she knew she had to try so she started.

It was hard. She knew it would be hard. But good grief, it was SO hard..

She bent over in exhaustion. She wiped her dripping brow. She paused…

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A whole new meaning of the phrase “tube top” …& my 8-week challenge

Although I’ve been thinking about this for what seems like eons, I was particularly disturbed tonight.

I was sitting on the side of the bed filing my nails for three minutes before the next round of “Mommy? Me have water. [May I please have some water?]” Thanks to the 1980s, my closet doors are donned with giant mirrors, as in they are mirrors. (I’ll get these replaced as soon as I get rid of my hand-me-down couches and pink Formica countertops. Yeah, I said pink.) …So I’m sitting on the side of my bed and as the 3,000th call for water comes drifting from my son’s doorway, I turned my head catch a glimpse of – my tube top. As in I look like I have an inner tube under my top.

I’ve been having these moments for months now. Those moments you read about in “I lost ___ pounds!” articles, ads, books. The moments that are supposed to be your “That’s IT!! I will never eat another candy bar again!!” wake-up-calls. This was just another in a long line of non-motivating, non-life-changing moments.

Except this time I’m writing about it. Because god dammit, I’m sick of them. Maybe it isn’t seeing myself from that angle, but that I’m just getting tired of feeling bad. I realized this a week or so ago when I ate “healthy” (okay, slightly more healthy) for three days in a row. Every morning in the shower (it’s the only time I’m really alone with my thoughts!), I feel guilty about not working out, not eating fruit (seriously), being fat. I’ve never felt this gross. And I got sick of thinking about it. So I ate healthier for a day, and the next morning when I was gearing up for the self-bashing routine, I realized I felt pretty damn good about the choices I had made the day before. (I saw this meme on Facebook the other day, the point of it being that you see a totally different reflection in the mirror when you work out versus when you don’t. That’s exactly me. I ate healthy for one day and I was already thinner!)

Not it, but same idea.

I don’t run, but same idea. (from Workout Memes on Facebook)

So what happened? Why did it last only three days (okay, two and a half – for dinner on the third day my healthy choice was not eating onion rings and a milkshake)?

First of all, I could use some support. My family loves to eat. We use it to celebrate. The problem with this is: we celebrate everything. We say things to each other like, “You should celebrate [by having this 1,000 calorie dessert]! It’s [fill in the blank:] Friday! …your last day with students! …raining!” What?? This is the mentality I’ve grown up with. My mom, by the way, is petite, maybe 110 pounds soaking wet. Why couldn’t I have inherited those genes? My adoring husband doesn’t want me to lose said ba-donk-a-donk and has no interest in eating healthier. Honestly. None.

Secondly, I spend every second of every day doing things for other people (except for the seconds I steal to eat some chocolate or make a milkshake. I really have developed a problem with milkshakes). Parents know what I mean (right?). I am choosing my kids over working out (which obviously has nothing to do with what I’m eating). And I really don’t think that’s an excuse! Having kids is a legitimate reason (two, actually). This is what I keep telling myself. Here’s an excuse for you, just to demonstrate the difference: my kids drive me to eat junk food daily…

I feel like I should apologize, but to whom? To myself? To the people who have to look at my “baby” fat? To the skinny my-body-bounced-back moms you see on TV?

After I had just given birth to my son, I saw these pretty blond twins on “The Doctors”. They had just had babies (practically together, of course). They were in great shape and made some asinine comment like, “If you don’t lose your pregnancy weight within six months, you’re using pregnancy as an excuse.” I don’t have a transcript of the show or anything, but I’m pretty damn close here.

I was temporarily traumatized. In order to preserve some semblance of ego, I thought of all the things that those of us who live in reality (vs. celebritidom) know: “I don’t have live-in nannies who watch my kids 24 hours a day so that I can go work out whenever I please.” “Phew – I’m not six months post-partum yet!” “Who the hell do you think you are?” “We can’t all afford personal trainers.” And so on. (Now I see: that trauma wasn’t temporary. My son is over two years old. Shit.)

I honestly don’t put much stock into wanna-be health shows like “The Doctors”. (Aren’t they really just trying to sell you a bunch of crap?) Or anything the media has to say about body image, for that matter. I firmly believe that very little of what we see on TV or in magazines, etc., is real. (See this informative article on deception in the media and what one mom is doing to help counteract its effects. I also love this site in general!) So I’m not one of those women who is constantly comparing herself to celebrities or trying to live up to society’s ideas about what I should be or what I should look like.

I just want to be happy and comfortable with myself. And right now – I’m not. At all.

I’ve always been overweight, but now that some of that extra weight is where I can see it, it gots to go.

I’m going to have some time to devote to myself since summer is finally here. (1. I’d apologize, but… nah! This is one of the few rewards you get as a teacher. Honestly. 2. No one ever believes me, but if teachers didn’t get summers off, someone would get seriously injured. Not your kid though, so it’s okay. Probably our significant others. You know we can’t take that shit out on our students.) In light of said vacation, I’m going to be making some healthier choices (which probably should start with making sure I eat at least one serving of fruit every day).

maya-angelou-top-quotes-1

Starting small:

1. Eat some effing fruit. Seriously, woman.

2. Say “no” to milkshakes (even those disguised as chai tea at my favorite cafe) at least every other outing. As I mentioned, it’s becoming a problem.

3. Limit fried food to once a week. I love, love, LOVE fried food. It doesn’t matter what it is. Fry it and I’ll try it. (That’s not totally true. I will not eat a fried chocolate-covered grasshopper. Even with both chocolate and fried goodness, that’s disgusting. But I have been dying to try one of those deep-fried candy bars you see at fairs. Just kidding…?)

4. Stop pretending homemade guacamole is healthy. It is probably not when you eat half a bag of greasy, deliciously salty tortilla chips with it.

This could totally be me.

This could totally be me. It isn’t. But it could be.

In order to keep this realistic, I’m going to make a separate list of more challenging goals:

Move. Somehow. Somewhere. Yoga, walking, zumba, something. At least every other day.

Meditate. Why couldn’t I do this every day? If you’ve never tried it, you really don’t know what you’re missing. Three words: peace and quiet. It takes some practice to wander back to peace and quiet from your thoughts, but it is well worth the effort. Meditating helps me remember that I am nothing. As in, nothing is that big of a deal. Including me. This is not about self-esteem, but about not becoming a “world” of self, i.e., not being self-centered.

Read. Read things that motivate me to reach my goals. I have accumulated several titles to serve this very purpose that need to be dusted off and cracked open. Also read some shit that just makes me laugh. (For example, Sammiches & Psych Meds. OMG. So much laughing.)

Make good choices about what and how much goes into my mouth. (Get your mind out of the gutter!) Seriously, though, one choice at a time. Let go of the weight of wondering how long until I get my next fried food fix. I need to re-train my brain in this aspect. Why do I want those onion rings so badly? Do I even really want them? If so, will one do?

I have a theory about being a healthy parent with preschoolers. It’s nearly impossible. Every healthy mom I know has school-aged children, usually a little older. And I think I know why: those moms have a little more independence. They can squeeze in a workout here, a workout there. And it frustrates me. It frustrates me that I don’t personally know someone who maintains a healthy lifestyle with young children. Because I know it’s possible… but I’m not sure how. (I’ll let you know when I have it all figured out… but don’t hold your breath!)

That is my challenge this summer; call it my eight week challenge. (They all have to have a number, right?) Create a healthy lifestyle that does not take anything away from my children. One that will actually give them something: a healthier, happier mom and role model.

 

I welcome you to join me for my 8-week challenge or tell me about your experience. Any and all positive comments are welcome. I would especially love to hear from any parents who have figured out how to be healthy with young kiddos. How do you do it?? And if you don’t know how they do it, either, I’d love some company.🙂

 

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Gratitude and screwdrivers

I am grateful for my children’s health. Most of all. So I am not complaining. Right now, my daughter is suffering with a fever, sore throat and occasional vomiting. Pretty sure it’s strep throat, but the rapid test was negative so now we have to wait 48 hours (seriously?). But I know it is temporary. (I learned this the hard way, when she had the stomach bug two Christmases in a row. The second time, this past year, I just kept reminding myself: “This too shall pass…”. Which turns out to be a pretty handy phrase for life, in general.)

Having a kid who is down and out makes you realize that as irritating as it is to have a four-year-old who talks incessantly about the most mundane, repetitive, or ridiculously illogical things, it is actually something you’ve come to (dare I say?) enjoy. So maybe I don’t normally bask in her sweet little voice never giving me a second to think clearly, but I do miss the babbling… when she’s sick.

Sometimes she talks so much that I start giggling like a crazy person. Really, it’s disbelief. It seems impossible that anyone could string together that many words, seemingly without stopping to inhale. Other times, of course, I want to bury my head under a very tall stack of couch cushions. (Did you ever read the children’s book “Why?” – there is a great image of a dad doing exactly this. Betcha can guess why. Ha… ha…)

Please try to imagine that this has already been going on for at least five minutes:

“Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY?!”

(Oh my GOD I heard you the first forty-seven times.) “What?”

I know exactly what. But if I try to preempt what she’s going to say in order to avoid hearing it again, she’s going to get very upset and then I have to hear it an extra time, only louder and with more hand gestures.

“So at my party [this is a completely fantastical party that could only realistically happen if she had a summer birthday, which she doesn’t] we’re going to sleep in a tent and have shrimp and broccoli pizza [we’ve never eaten this in our lives, but it sounds good, right?] and Maddy is going to be there and Cara and Liz and I have everything in my suitcase that is for the party, like…” (Wait, was that a breath?)

Although it may seem okay because my daughter generally stays on a single topic (the party, in case you missed it), she will tell me this exact scenario over and over and over and over and over… and over again for at least a few days’ span before she’s on to something else for the following few days, and so on. God forbid something sparks her memory back to the party, then please just find me a screwdriver so I can puncture my eardrums.

But when she stops, it doesn’t matter that the sun is shining brightly outside. It seems cloudy inside. And my husband and I just find ourselves waiting for that innocent voice telling us her next big plan.

And then, shortly thereafter, we find ourselves playing tug-of-war with a screwdriver.😉

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“Cleaning up” my priorities: What to do if your fairy godmother forgot the maid, too

At dinner on Mother’s Day Eve (yeah, that’s a thing), my daughter announced that since I had never seen the movie Brave, we would watch it tonight.

Although I’m sure my four-year-old had no idea when she suggested this movie, it was perfect timing. Besides it being the night before Mother’s Day (it is a heartwarming mother/daughter tale), I loved the not-so-hidden lesson for parents. Most Disney movies have general morals that could apply to anyone. Although some of these can be found in Brave, there is an extra one in there for us crazy, control freak parents. Maybe worked in by one of us, or more likely, written by one of our children…

A week or so earlier, I saw a whole new meaning to self-imposed rule #4: Stop being a control freak. This was supposed to apply to those moments when everything is out of my control but I just can’t let go (or get a grip, either way). I’m trying to sit back and let things be, so as not to transform into, let’s say, a bear. (Wait for it…) However, I realized that there’s more to it than that. I can admit it: I have a problem. (And naturally, I blame my mother.)

I was cleaning up after lunch when my son started crying from the other room, the loud, insistent cry that meant he was hurt. Although he had the learning-to-walk-one-big-bruised-forehead for awhile, he’s over two years old now. For no discernable reason, he’s falling and bumping his head all over again. I ran into the living room, unconsciously carrying the sponge I had been using to wipe down the table. After briefly calming him down, I told him I would be back with some ice. It wasn’t serious, but I always worry that he’s damaging the brain cells that were going to get him the presidency (ha-ha). Honestly though, I’m always checking his eyes and trying to shrink the bumps.

And then it happened. On my way to get ice, I spotted large chunks of food in his booster seat at the table. I stopped and was wiping them up, not forgetting that I was on my way to get ice for my minorly-injured son. Even as I was brushing the food into my hand, I thought, “What am I doing??”

That’s exactly the problem. I am constantly doing. I’m not distracted by my phone or emails or friends I might have if I wasn’t a parent of young children. I’m distracted by dirt. And litter (i.e., toys). And dirty laundry. I hate it when the desk is cluttered. I hate it when there are hair ties in the living room that belong in the bathroom. I hate it when there are toys on the kitchen counter. I’m always putting things away, cleaning up… you know, mom jobs. (They may be dad jobs in other homes, but I swear, the mess is invisible to anyone else in my house.) I never make a trip out of any room without my arms full of things that don’t belong there. Until this awkward moment of realization, it was getting to the point where I couldn’t just walk by the crumbs or the hair ties or the toys.

In all, I realize it took me ten seconds to clean up the booster seat and my son wasn’t in distress. However, when I sit back and think about it, I am doing all of the time. Doing laundry, doing dishes… I can’t imagine how OCD I’d be without my husband pitching in. He jokes that I didn’t come with an “Off” switch. And it’s nice of him to joke about it, but maybe I should take a hint.

Although it’s going to be some time before my daughter and I have serious battles (although I won’t be arranging her marriage!), I realized that in the big picture, I might be that mom. She’s a little uptight. I’m not a queen (so they say!), but I may be a little uptight about all of the doing. And although I’m often peeking around the corner of the laundry room to watch all of the fun, I’m obviously missing some potentially meaningful moments. I’ve always been conscious of putting aside things that are less important and being with my kids. But a few minutes here, a few minutes there… they add up. (Where is that maid, anyway??)

If only.

If only.

Last night, it was just me and the kiddos. After dinner, I only had a few minutes of work left until the kitchen would be clean. My son came out, demanding, “Come pay (play), Mommy!”

I sometimes can stop what I’m doing to play. I really do have that ability. But three minutes… “Okay, buddy, I’ll be right there. I just have to…”

“NO!!” he insisted, dragging me away by the hand.

As I was being led away by my adorable (yet bossy) two-year-old, I knew it wouldn’t matter if I had to spend three minutes cleaning up later, even if it was nine o’clock at night and I would’ve rather been sitting down, enjoying the peace. I would have missed this moment, his little hand pulling mine, those minutes spent reading and laughing together.

At least I figured it out before my daughter turned me into a bear, right?

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Stolen Moments: When losing it is finding it

Attention Parents of Little People: If we want to regain control of our sanity, I just learned that all we have to do is not try to get our own way! A quick (and coincidental) example follows.

(Disclaimer: I have no idea what I’m doing as a parent. Take my temporary good luck and apply at your own discretion.)

My son has been sick for four days. Although that may not sound like much, that means four nights of getting up – over and over again – with a two-year-old. (I have to give my husband a lot of credit; if I had gotten up every time, I’d be even more crazy than I already am.) Since all of the kids at daycare have the same cough/cold, I held off on taking him to the doctor’s, even though he had a low-grade fever. Until today.

The babysitter finally noticed (not her fault, really – it was the first day I didn’t give him ibuprofen before he went) and his fever was a little higher than it has been. So, I had forty minutes to get home, give my children lunch, and get them back in the car. This may sound totally do-able to a new or non-parent. You can eat lunch in forty minutes, right? Not with children. Do-able it is not.

Naturally, I turned into a lunatic, trying to get my daughter to use the bathroom, wash her hands, not scream at me in the meantime, not scream at her in the meantime, get my sick son to eat anything, keep his chair from falling over as he cried and rocked it violently, use the same two hands to put together something that resembled a lunch. Et cetera. (I’ll spare you the rest. You get the drift.)

In order to avoid being arrested (a.k.a., not become Mommy the  Monster), I let my son get down and just simply ignored my daughter. My son immediately climbed into the recliner and fell asleep. Normally, I’m way too much of a control freak to let that occur outside of his normal naptime, but he’s sick. Anything goes. My daughter spent a few minutes in the bathroom, I thought washing her hands, I learned later, hiding behind the curtain and pouting. (She admitted this to me. I guess all you have to do is ask…?) Eventually, she came out and ate her lunch. Peacefully and – this is the real shocker – efficiently.

As my daughter and I ate, I was shocked to realize a) it was quiet, and b) we just might be on time. Really? And in the midst of this momentary peace, I finally got the voice in my head to shut up long enough to see my daughter. To see how content she was to be sitting there, enjoying a meal together. My inner voice had been chattering away: “We have to hurry. Tell her to eat. Check on Will. Get something to eat for yourself or you’ll be starving at the doctor’s…” On and on and on.

But as I gazed at her, she noticed my look soften and smiled at me. And I have to say, she is pretty adorable…

I felt like I won. I was a rebel. A rebel against time, against the chaos of life itself. “HA!” I thought. “I am actually enjoying this moment! Take that, life!”

As I was silently rejoicing, I suddenly realized that as soon as I let go of the situation, it had solved itself. All I could think was, “No way! That works?!”

I really had just given up; I mean, I know there are some miracle moms out there, but I only have two hands. (I am not an “octopus”, as my daughter pointed out to my son on a different, though somewhat similar, day.) I had no intention of learning something from what I thought was just throwing in the towel.

Lesson learned: I have to pause long enough – stop trying to control everything for just a second – to notice that amidst the day-to-day craziness, there is peace. It’s just there, waiting for us to join it, to breathe it in, to be there

Although the ground rules are meant to stop me from having a mommy-meltdown, I think this fits. I hate to admit it, but perhaps this is the root cause… And so I add:

4. Stop being a control freak. When everything is going wrong and I want to scream, I will try (metaphorically) removing myself from the situation and see what happens. Maybe I’m part of the problem! (You think?)

Although I am quite certain of my control-freakishness, you may be the laid-back parent whom I wish I could be more like. (And subsequently you may think I have truly lost my mind.) However, I think having small children turns us into people we never imagined we’d become. (Our moms!) And good lord, if you have more than two, I will kiss your feet (or give you a massage, which I’m sure you sorely need). Good luck in finding some stolen moments of your own. And I mean… good LUCK!!😉

 

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