Monday, December 23, 2013

It's Christmas!

Well.  In a couple of days.  I do love this time of year, especially since having children of my own.  Their eyes light up at the smallest thing.  We finally put up the tree last Wednesday, and they were so stinking excited.  The lights don't work, but they don't really care!  They just were thrilled to put up a tree and put decorations on it.  They even cleaned up the play room so we could put it in there.

This is a major deal.  They hate cleaning, they don't want to help, and they fight me every time I say, "Go pick up your toys," or, "Hey, dirty underwear doesn't belong on your head; it goes in the hamper."

Last Friday, I realized that rewards don't always have to be as big as a Christmas tree.  So I finally made a chore chart.  I grabbed a smashed posterboard from the corner in my room and a black sharpie, and made lists under their names, then I tacked it to the wall in the dining room.  My 5-year-old is totally motivated by getting a smiley face drawn next to his chore when he does it.  My 3-year-old doesn't care still, but my teen is starting to like seeing the smiley faces show up.  She kept reminding me today of stuff she did until I put the smileys in place.  haha!

Not only are the chaos and disarray a bit less than normal, but them doing chores is helping me in other ways.  The most stressful time of my day has been when it's time to make dinner.  I usually start cooking right around 4 in the afternoon.  They've had breakfast, snack, lunch, and snack, and yet at 4, they're starving and in the kitchen and running around me, creating chaos and distracting me from my task.  Sigh.  So everyone is going bananas while I'm trying to chop veggies and create healthy meals that don't suck, and sometimes, they still suck.

I read some blog in the last few days (sorry, anonymous blogger, I can't remember who you are) where she said they have their kids pick up the toys and clothes before dinner.  And a lightbulb went off in my head.  They can be cleaning up their crap and earning their smileys while I'm making dinner, and then I don't have them under my feet!

So the last two days, when I start making dinner and the locusts are descending, I remind them that it's time to clean up so I can make dinner.  They run off, cheerfully, and get their chores done, and I'm not a raging beast ... well, I'm still grouchy, but not as bad.  And then we put smileys by their chores and everyone is happy ... er.  There is still chaos.  There is still disarray.  I'm not a naturally neat and orderly person and neither is anyone else in my household, except for the 5-year-old.  So we still live here and there are still messes.  But when I remind someone that they can get a smiley face if they take care of a problem, they stop arguing and get to it.  Merry Christmas to me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Blessings in Disguise

It's still a bit unreal to me, but my kitchen sink fell off a week before Thanksgiving.

You read that right.

It fell off.

Seven days before Thanksgiving.

Granite countertop + stainless steel undermount sink + bad install = no more kitchen sink.


My sweet husband and I worked on the project together to get all the old adhesive off, chiseling our way through, cleaning up the sink and the counter, buying adhesives and tools and lumber and chasing the kids out of the kitchen for a week.  And we finished re-installing it the day before Thanksgiving.

As sad as this might sound, this is the first project we have really worked on together.  Ever.

It turned out to be some amazing timing for us.  My husband has admitted that, even a few months ago, he wouldn't have worried about doing it right away, and we both know I would have gotten beyond angry and called my dad and brother-in-law to come fix it before too long.

As it was, we worked well together.  We were kind and respectful to each other, shared ideas, and discussed things calmly and rationally.  We actually had fun working together and enjoyed the collaboration.  Again, that would not have happened just a few months ago.

This last year has been extremely difficult, but in the trials and difficulty, we have been so blessed.  We have grown closer to one another and are working to overcome patterns of behavior in which we have both been enmeshed.  Our marriage is far from perfect, but we are figuring things out and working and progressing and growing ... together.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Broke but not Broken

I recently read a blog post written by someone who is quite poor.  She talks about why poor people make seemingly terrible decisions.  Then Dave Ramsey posted 20 things rich people do every day, and was met with a big backlash of blog responses and interviewers asking him why he contrasted the rich habits to poor habits and did not cite any sources for those statistics, and his response was less than kind.

I thought I'd share a few of my own responses.

First, I hate being called "poor".  These posts really helped me understand why -- people hate on poor people for existing.  I realize that technically, we are poor, but our degree of "poor" is not the same as the author of the first blog post linked, and I know it is a temporary thing, even if it lasts for the next 3 years while I'm in nursing school.  We have a comfortable home, food for our family, two functioning (paid-for) vehicles, and we have been so blessed to make it through several months of unemployment thus far.

Second, we are "broke" but not "broken".  You see, I have hope.  Hope that my husband can get some sort of a job to get us through.  Hope that I will get a good job after graduating.  Hope that someday, we'll have insurance through an employer again.  Hope that we won't be broke forever.

Third, we truly cannot know what another person has gone through to get to the place where they are in life.  What that means to me is that sometimes I am more critical or judgmental than I ought to be, and that is something I can control.  Also, I cannot control other people's choices or circumstances or their judgments of me. And realizing that is oddly freeing.

Fourth, it isn't always a poor person's fault that they are poor.  Growing up in poverty isn't a choice children make, but they often are stuck in the same circumstances as adults.  My husband has come a long way from the projects in L.A. or the streets where he lived as a teen and early adult.  While I have never been homeless, we did live in some pretty interesting places (one house was nicknamed the Mold Pit).  We have both been blessed with opportunities to make different choices, but not all poor or impoverished people are so blessed.

And finally, even the poorest among us deserves to love and be loved.  If you are a Christian, take the time to spread some of Christ's love to the poor among us this holiday season.  If you're not a Christian and still celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Ramadah, or other holidays this time of year, please remember the poor who are all around us and bless them in some way.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A month of gratitude

Yeah.  Right.  I'm going to do it all at once!  Then I can be grumpy and ungrateful the rest of the month.  ha.

1.  Yesterday was my husband's birthday and I'm thankful he's another year older.
2.  Our 5 beautiful children.
3.  Our home.  We were very blessed to move where we live now -- our home is perfect for our family and so is our neighborhood and church family.
4.  I'm really, REALLY thankful I was accepted into the nursing program at my university.  I start in January and have a ton to do before then.
5.  I'm thankful for my Savior, Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit, and their glorious gospel.
6.  I'm thankful for good friends, too.
7.  Exercise.  I am not as consistent as I need to be right now, but it has improved my health a lot just over the last few months, and I feel better when I do it.
8.  The internet.  I can stay connected to friends and family who are far away, take a quiz or exam, or watch stupid movies while I work on #9.
9.  Yarn crafts -- crocheting specifically at the moment.  I was able to finish a baby blanket for the school's annual fundraiser auction, and it took all of my volunteer hours for the year, so yay.
10.  My mother and her beautiful voice.  I miss hearing her sing, but I was able to listen to her sing while she conducted music at my niece's baptism yesterday.
11.  My family of origin and my husband's family of origin as well.  We may not always get along, but love is always there.
12.  Modern medicine and "other" medicine, including essential oils.  They each have their place and role in our society today.  (and trust me, I'm a skeptic about a lot of things, but have seen some amazing things with the oils recently!)
13.  Modern appliances!
14.  Two functioning vehicles.  They are both older (1995 and 1999) but they are paid for and they run well.
15.  A good mechanic.  Because even though they run well, the cars are still old and still need things fixed here and there.
16.  Good therapists.  I just cannot emphasize this one enough.  haha!
17.  Food.
18.  That I can cook a variety of dishes, and most of the time, do it well.
19.  My children love each other, even when they drive each other crazy.
20.  The new gas cap for the van was only $7.43.
21.  Prime instant video and free shipping!
22.  ICE.  I drink a lot of water, but only if I have ice.  (and I just dumped a 32-ounce cup of ice water all over my room ... hahahahahaha.  still thankful for ice!)
23.  An understanding teacher who said he would still let me take the quiz after the deadline because I missed it over the weekend.  (I was not the only one.)
24.  A working oven.  I popped dinner in the oven and walked away ... it smells good.  (Yes, I am hungry while typing this post.  Why do you ask?)
25.  Every one of the speed bumps and obstacles we've hit this year, because we have learned something from them.
26.  Hope.
27.  Inner peace.
28.  Love.
29.  Joy.
30.  Enthusiasm.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A little gratitude

I saw a picture of a friend today.  As I was looking at this picture, I thought about how absolutely in love she and her husband are.  They are so cute together, so much in love.  He finds her incredibly sexy and adores her to no end.  And you know what?  He's right.  But she is so much more than that.  She is a fantastic mother, a fabulous friend, loving and generous and kind and feisty and wonderful in so many ways.  Her worth is far greater than existing to make someone else desire her.

My friend and I are similar sizes.  We do not fit society's picture perfect mold.  We have stretch marks and scars and carry more weight than perhaps we should.  And we both have worth far beyond our physical bodies or other people's opinions of us.

Society would have us believe otherwise, that there is only one version of sexy, one version of a woman who is "worth" being, one 2-dimensional version of a person "worth" having.  Society would also have us believe that our only worth lies in the fact that another person finds us attractive.  You see it in magazines, on TV, all over the internet.  If you're bigger than __ or weigh more than __, you don't belong.  You have little to no worth.  You *might* be considered the funny sidekick, but you are never entitled to have your own love story or life.  It is all about society's ideal.

While I was looking at her picture and pondering (in a non-creepy non-stalker way, I promise) how much her husband loves her, it hit me like a ton of bricks:  My husband loves me just as much.  He does find me sexy.  He chose me.  He wants to be with me and wants to hang out with me.  He still chooses me, day in and day out.  We have been through a whole lot the last few years, but especially the last year.  And we keep choosing each other.  Neither of us is perfect.  Not even close.  But we are both amazing, in so many ways.

Last night, around 6:30 p.m., I was slammed with an incredibly painful migraine -- sparkly visual auras, nausea and vomiting, and lots and lots of pain.  (It's 1:30 p.m. as I'm typing this and I'm still in pain.  Not a fun day.)  It did not respond to any pain medication or antiemetic.  My sweetheart stopped what he was doing and took care of me and our children.  He put the kids to bed and went to the store at midnight and bought ginger ale and saltines (which is all I kept down until late this morning).  He brought me a cool wet cloth for my head.  He checked on me and the kids in the night to make sure they were in their own beds and letting me sleep as peacefully as possible without little knees and elbows injuring my aching body.  Today, he made sure the kids got breakfast and lunch and brought me food, too.  He laid in bed and cuddled and talked quietly with me while I rested.

His worth is so much more than what society might see in him.  I see a loving father and a caring husband who is trying his best to provide for and care for us in this moment.  I see a man who wants to be better and is doing more and trying harder every day to make that happen.  I see a man who is amazing, in so many ways, and I'm thankful he is mine.

Monday, October 14, 2013

My new favorite lip product

My lips crack and chap and peel and bleed every fall and winter.  I've tried a ton of products, ranging from all natural to full of chemicals.

This one is, hands down, the best.  It is thick without being sticky.  I have been using it for a bit over a week, and my lips have stopped cracking and are no longer bleeding.  They are soft even when I'm not wearing it, though I'm still using it a few times a day to make sure they stay healthy.  

Totally worth the price.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The effects of stress

A bit over a month ago, I posted a status on Facebook that tallied up how much I'd lifted that day.  I had just finished the first stage of the New Rules of Lifting for Women, and I was extremely proud of myself and felt really good about what I'd done.  I was feeling very strong and was ready to move onto the next stage and keep going, building strength and health.

And then I let someone else's statements and opinions and emotional upheaval affect how I felt.  This person posted body shaming statements on my celebratory post, and when I objected, it did not go over very well.  It was a very stressful weekend.

I am only posting about that because I let that incident affect me far more than it should have.  And the entire episode was very eye opening.

In the weeks after that happened, I was working on my health class assignments and came across some research that showed stress and emotional abuse lower the body's immune system and ability to recover.  As I reflected on that chapter, the incident I mentioned, and what was happening with my body at that time, I found the correlation to be very interesting.

I had been very sick with two different, pretty severe illnesses. I was too sick to walk across campus, so I missed over a week of school.  I fought a 2-week-long depressive episode.  I do suffer from depression and have had postpartum depression after each of my babies.  This time was the easiest time I've had with it, but still these episodes occur at times.  I consider myself lucky that this particular episode was only a couple of weeks.  I found it hard to focus.  At home, I fell down the stairs, wrenching my back and injuring my right foot and ankle. I dropped a  padlock on my right foot, and also dropped a jar which shattered in the sink.  I then sliced my finger open and did some other clumsy things.  (And no, Mom, I'm not pregnant.)

During the same time, I was working with my therapist on the emotional things and have gotten myself to a much better place, but I was not working out or exercising regularly.  I had gone to the gym about once a week, much less than I had been doing, and I had not made any progress with my lifting.  In fact, when I went to lift today, I found that I am much weaker than I was 5 weeks ago.  My balance is worse than it was 5 weeks ago.  None of it is back to where I was in the spring before I started working out, but I have had obvious strength losses.  On the other hand, I can run now, and that's something I couldn't do in the spring, so it is also obvious I haven't lost all of my gains!

Also at the gym today, I discovered I don't love some of the exercises in stage 2 of the New rules book, so I'll be mixing it up with stage 1 a bit longer, because it's more important that I love what I'm doing than following that exercise routine to a T.  If I don't love it, I won't do it.  And I'm so glad I know that about myself.

So I am back.  My family and I are committed to my health.  My husband and teen help with the little kids while I am at the gym, and we've all had a discussion about why this is important to me.  I cannot control what other people do or say, but I can work on changing how I respond to people, and I get to choose how much I allow certain people into my life.  While I am the only one who kept me from going to the gym and the only one who can get me back to the gym tomorrow and the day after that, the genuine loving support from my husband and children and other loved ones has really been encouraging and motivating.  I am *loving* the fact that I can run my intervals now, and I will be killing those squats and deadlifts again before I know it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sometimes, I still don't quite get it right

It's been interesting the last few weeks.  Taking a facebook break was good.  I did go back to facebook because the crafting forum which I used to moderate was hacked, so I wanted to make sure the admin knew ... and have stayed for the time being.  That's not really owning me, but!!

At the same time, I have been able to deal more fully with other issues and handle things of greater importance to me.  My house is a bit cleaner, I've let myself rest and recover from a nasty cold without feeling guilty, and VOD and I have made some progress in our relationship.

On the subject of not owning one's own issues or saying something mean on the internet, I have done both of those things in the last month.  Sigh.  Sometimes ... this stuff happens.

I did manage to do something nice, too.

Being in school, sometimes I'm in a major hurry to get to the kids or grab a bite to eat so I don't wreck the car or something, and I don't always plan ahead.  So one day, I was headed to a fast food place and this little car cut me off.  Now, I'm sure there have been other times when I got mad, but what happened next was pretty great.

Somehow, *I* got in front of *them* in the drive up.

Karma, right?

Yeah, it made me giggle.

And then I paid for their lunch.

They stopped me from leaving the driveway and thanked me profusely for making their day.

I could have held onto the bad feelings from being cut off, or called them names, or whatever.  But doing a little service for those girls helped me let go of how I was feeling right then, and it made their day, too.  Because, let's face it, pretty much every driver has cut somebody off before, and it's not always intentional.  Sometimes we don't know we've done it, just like sometimes we don't know we're mean or how someone else has perceived our words or actions.  Taking a few dollars and helping a couple of other people that day really changed my perspective.

Sometimes, I get it right, too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Own your own issues

One of the things my therapist and I have been working on for several months is the fact that I often feel responsible for other people's problems and issues and what they do and what they don't do and how they feel and react to things ... you get the idea.

The thing is, none of that is anything I can control, and none of it really has anything to do with me.  The only things I can actually control are how I allow other people to treat me, as well as how I act and react to them.  I can control how I treat other people, but not how, if, or when they respond to me.

I have decided I am done owning other people's shit.

I don't even know how many people are actually going to read this, because as part of owning my own shit, I've left facebook.  I spend far too much time there.  My husband and children need me more than facebook does.  My schooling should come before facebook does.  So should housework, weeding my garden, knitting, sewing, and doing other things that bring me pleasure and relaxation.

Social media is great, within reason.  But things get misconstrued and people take offense where none was meant, and give offense deliberately when they wouldn't say those same things directly to someone's face.  And you know what?  I'm done with the drama.  And trolls.

This has nothing to do with any one particular person or situation.  I've been saying for months I was going to leave facebook but have not done so.  Until now.

Since I already deactivated my account, I won't be linking this blog post to my friends list.  I won't be checking to see how many views I've had.  Comments, should there be any, will still come to my email, and I will reply to them.  If you would like to keep in contact and don't know how to get in touch with me off of facebook or my blog, let me know in a comment.  I may post again eventually, and I will go back to facebook periodically for a couple of support groups.  But I'm taking a step away from social media.

All the best.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Reality versus Expectations

Months and months ago, I went to my wonderful therapist in tears and told her I hate my body.  And I meant it.  We had a long talk about why I would hate a body that grew and nourished 4 beautiful children, that had been through so many stressors (emotional, mental, and physical), and still managed to be OK ... and one that my husband found sexy.  And we also talked about where my reality was at the time, versus what my expectations were.  And she told me this key:

The gap between reality and expectations is where we hurt.

My reality is that I am a large person.  My expectation at the time was that I should be small, because that is what society tells us we should be.

My reality at the time was that my baby was very young (and still is).  My expectation was that I should be at the gym XX hours a day, eating fewer and fewer calories, and dropping the weight to make other people happy.

In the months since then, I've discovered that she was absolutely right.  The gap between being large and wanting to be small made me hurt.  The gap between having just had a baby and expecting myself to lose all this weight made me hurt.

My reality at this moment is that I am a larger person and I am strong.  I love myself and my body, and I'm so thankful my body is making food for my baby and is capable of lifting heavy things.  Physiologically, as a nursing mother, I may not be able to lose much fat at all right now because my body is producing hormones to protect my fat stores to make sure there will be enough food for my infant, and I'm perfectly OK with that.  FINALLY.  Aligning my expectation in this moment with my reality in this moment has helped me immensely.

It applies to more than just body expectations, however.

Disney and the media have set us up to believe that true love is a movie.  The guy is fabulously wealthy, gorgeous, and perfect, and the girl has a problem that only he can solve, she is a size zero and perfect in every way.  Sure they have fights, but all of that stops once the "I do's" are said because they live happily ever after.  That is an extremely flawed, ludicrous expectation, and far too many of us have bought into it.

The gap between reality and expectations is where we hurt.

We are all human.  We all have struggles.  Most of the women in the world are not going to end up with a prince who can solve their problems and grant their every wish or whim.  And the men of the world aren't going to get the size zero sexpot.  And no one is suddenly going turn into what their partners want simply because they fell in love.  They still get to be human, too, and shouldn't we love our partners for who they are, not what we want them to be?  There is a tremendous amount of hurt between reality (being human) and the movie fantasy expectation.  However, just because that picture perfect expectation is not attainable doesn't mean we can't be happy in the reality and find romance in the real world.

My husband has bipolar disorder.  He has moments where he is not the functional, reasonable, wonderful human being with whom I fell in love.  That is the reality.  My expectation that he not go through those bad parts of his cycle caused pain for both of us -- wasn't fair to him and hurt us both.  Those parts of his bipolar cycle are still going to happen.  We both have to come up with solutions and coping skills for those moments, because they will happen.  And we are all in therapy to figure this out together.  Most of the time, he is a good father, a good husband, and does his very best to make sure we are taken care of, even now while he is unemployed.  If I'm sick, he tucks me in to bed and cares for our children so I can rest.  I feel safe and at home when he holds me in his arms, even if we've just had an epic fight.  And our romantic, unromantic, day to day reality is one that I now understand, accept, and love.

Some people may accuse me of settling, but that's also not true.  I did that once, a long time ago.  That reality was hell on Earth, and when I escaped, my expectation was that I would never be hurt again and that I'd never be vulnerable again.  First, I'm still grateful I got out of that marriage when I did.  But that unrealistic expectation sure led to some colossal emotional trauma.

One more time:  The gap between reality and expectations is where we hurt.

If you're hurting, figure out where that gap is and try to understand why it is there.  Are your expectations truly realistic?  Does your spouse really ignore everything you say or is there something you've been missing?  If the way they express their love for you is different than what you've imagined it should be, can you align your expectation to be the reality you are in?  If you're hungry for attention, in your desperation, are you pushing away the very people who want to give attention to you?  And if your expectations of yourself in this moment are unrealistic, what is the reality you are trying to avoid and why?

It's not about selling yourself short or settling for less than you deserve.  It's understanding that this is the life you have chosen and you have chosen it for a reason.  Why make yourself miserable wishing it's something it's not and likely won't ever be?  When you stop comparing your outtakes to the highlight reel of Hollywood, you'll probably find that your reality isn't so bad after all.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Overcoming Eating Disorders

Some of my followers might be surprised to learn that I've struggled with eating disorders over the years.  Some won't be.  Mostly I've dealt with binge eating disorder, but had a struggle with anorexia then bulimic behavior in high school.  And then the restrictive diets, like South Beach, or Weight Watchers, or anything else low-cal, or low-carb, or whatever ... Those restrictions led to more binging.  The carbohydrate addicts diet promoted "limited" binging.  (Incidentally, I think that should be spelled bingeing, but most of the eating disorder people I know spell it binging and that is how some spell checks recognize it, but I think that would be pronounced like ringing ... but for convention's sake, I am spelling it binging.  oooo.  Maybe it's like cringing.  That is making my OCD a little happier.)  I digress.  My metabolism has been all sorts of screwed up from this behavior.  

Anyway.  I've been learning about disordered thinking when it relates to food.  Just one example I recently posted on a forum:  "I make amazing raspberry jam.  We have several half pints I made last fall.  But I never let myself eat it.  Because it's full of sugar!  But I'll eat a bag of candy without thinking twice.  WTH?  I just made myself two pieces of toast with white bread, TYVM, added butter and raspberry jam, and am rather enjoying myself.  Sometimes, the extent of my disordered thinking really hits me upside the head."

And you know what?  My 3-year-old had to help me finish the toast.  She would rather have white milk than chocolate, fruit over candy, and water over juice.  And she loved the jam.  She is perfect just how she is, and I'd like to keep it that way.  Which means *I* need to get my head on straight.

Over the last 7-8 months, I have given myself permission to eat whatever I want.  Without guilt.  Without punishing myself.  Without feeling like crap mentally because I ate a pound of chocolate, but paying attention to how I felt physically.  (A pound of chocolate in one sitting is not on my list of things to do again.)  Several months into the process, I found  Amber (go kaleo) discusses eating disorders and disordered thinking, and I've been learning more and more about myself as time goes on.

If, while reading this, you think that me eating whatever I want means all I eat is junk food, that is because you think that all YOU would eat is junk food if you didn't restrict yourself.  And if you think that, at the very least, you have disordered thinking, but more than likely?  You have an eating disorder.  (And there's the elephant in the room.)

Since I started this path and got a month or two into it, I have been eating more veggies.  I am enjoying salads and veggies again, for their own sake, not because I am "supposed" to eat them.  I eat more fruit.  I eat quality ice cream.  I eat lean proteins, fatty proteins, nuts, avocados, pasta, rice, and whatever else my body needs that day.  I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm satisfied.  I'm not binging anymore.  I'm not crashing from blood sugar problems anymore.  I'm not exhausted all the time.  Oh yeah, I'm sleeping better.  I yell less.  My skin has cleared up.  My hair is healthier.  My workouts are AWESOME.  I'm lifting heavier, walking farther, and feel a swagger in my step.  I'm making more milk than the baby is currently drinking -- that's a new sort of problem I haven't had before.

In addition, last week, I found a package of Oreos in the pantry that was open and only 1/3 gone.  I wasn't the one who opened the package and I didn't eat the ones that were gone.  I also didn't finish off the package, just because it was open.  (They don't love my stomach, but I used to binge on them regularly anyway because they are tasty.)  I found a package of Kit Kat minis that was mostly full and had been that way for about a month.  There are a few cartons of ice cream in my freezer that I have not touched.  There is an open bag of corn chips in the pantry and a mostly full jar of queso in the fridge.  Not because I am not supposed to eat any of this stuff, but I have taken my power back from the food -- if I want it, I will eat it, and my body will let me know when it's enough.  And if I don't want it, I don't have to eat it and, more than likely, I won't.

p.s.  Outside of my religious convictions and food intolerances, the *only* food item I will restrict ever again is soda because it is really not good for us, and I feel so much better without it.  Josh at posted a good entry on that not too long ago.  Highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

One bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

We moved late last fall, and there were dead branches sticking out of the ground in the back and side yards.  They were hideous.  I told my husband that i wanted them torn out, and he agreed.

We didn't touch them as we had other things going on.

Spring came, and they turned out to be lilac bushes.  Beautiful lilacs!  some of the wood is dead and needs to be trimmed, but honestly ... I hesitate to do so.  There are beautiful birds who have their homes in those same bushes, and I love watching them and hearing their songs.  We'd be missing the songs and the sights of the baby birds jumping around from bush to bush if we'd gone with my first impulse, to tear the dead branches out by the roots.

I've been pondering how sometimes, I don't like how my body looks.  I don't like how my relationships look from the outside.  I don't like how hard things are at times.  And I don't like how stressed out I get.

So I'm trying to find the beauty in those things.  My body may not be anyone's ideal body, but it has carried 4 babies, birthed them, and continued feeding them.  My husband likes me and likes my body, so that's always a bonus.  Our relationship isn't perfect, but the sweet things he does are like those sweet little songs:  Like when he tucks me into bed when I'm overwhelmed and tired.  Or when he gave me a hug today and said, "Your hips are getting smaller!"  and they are.  And it's hard to be the mom to all these kids, and there are times we don't get along and my 5yo says, "I'm not your favorite anymore!"  Or my teen says, "You hate me!"  But then there are those other times, like when I get hurt and my 5yo cuddles me and kisses my owie better.  Or I'm crying and my teen knows just what to do to help -- and does it.  Or the baby's grin every single time he sees me.  He has a special smile, just for me.  The 3yo gets so excited when I come in the house, even if I've just been outside for less than 2 minutes, turning the sprinklers on.  "MOM!  You back!!!!!"  Those things are just so beautiful, so amazing.

So in the midst of all the stress and the difficult things and the bad days, I'm striving to remember those lilac bushes and the little birds, so that I can appreciate the beautiful people, the wonderful little things, and the amazing blessings I receive every day.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Dear "Bros" in the Gym:

I used the power rack at the gym today.  I realize that is traditionally male-only equipment, but you know what, I don't give a crap what you all think of me.  I realize I outweigh all of you, and I realize you can all out-lift me.  I'm new on this journey, and I'm fine with where I am.

I am OK with setting up the rack and my own weights.  I am just fine handling all of that on my own.  I don't need your pity or your help setting up my equipment.

I am not OK with how many of you tried to intimidate me today.  I am not OK with the blatant staring, snickers, and sidelong glances while I completed my sets.

After I finished using the rack, I re-racked my plates and barbell.  And you all just kept watching.  Maybe because none of you re-racks your equipment.  Maybe ...

But then?  When I was working in a different area of the gym entirely, one of you came over and dropped 110 pound dumbbells right next to me.  Literally dropped them.  Next to me.

Can you read the sign that says not to drop them?  Just to re-rack them?

No?  Oh, OK.  You're too busy trying to intimidate a woman for daring to leave the cardio machines and enter the man-zone.

And then there was the butt head who had to "fix" his dumbbell.  On the bench I had just been using.  Right next to my face.

His friend got after him for that one, and for that, I thank the friend.

Hey, jerk faces, I pay the same fees you do to use the gym.  I have every right to use the equipment without being harassed.  And it's none of your business whether I'm fat or "thick" or what my goals are, which are to get stronger and lose fat.  So I lift the weights.  And I'm not worried about what you think of me.

So do the world a favor and get over yourselves, because I'm not going anywhere.  And guess what?  I'm encouraging every woman I know to go to the weight room at her gym too.  You just might find yourselves outnumbered.  Some day.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


yeah.  I just realized I have a final tomorrow, 3 math exams in the next 10 days, and two huge English assignments.  By 8/9.

And VOD turns 14 on Saturday.


What was that I said about pacing yourself?


Ooo.  I took that final tonight instead.  A in that class.  Wahoo.

So the plan and hope is that while I'm taking an "internet" break (really, breaking from FB and forums) I can still get my workouts in and finish up my last two classes, and celebrate VOD's birthday in TARDIS style.  My elbow has been bothering me a bit the last two days, so I skipped today and will hit the gym tomorrow and Saturday instead of my regular Wed/Fri schedule.  Maybe I'll do some yoga at home tonight ...

Peace out people.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Pacing Yourself

Over the years, I've made several attempts at losing weight and getting healthy, and I usually jump in really fast and burn myself out and quit.

That is not happening this time.

I have decided that I will work out 3 days a week -- that's it.  Just 3 lifting days, with a little cardio warm-up and cool down.  And that is all.  I am eating my calories, making sure I'm getting enough to support my activities and my body and the lifting, which is actually more than I had previously been told.   A lot more.

I did a Jillian Michaels video on Monday, and it kicked my butt.  Wednesday, I felt pretty good, so I did a great workout ... and had a hard time walking on Thursday AND Friday.  Feeling better this morning, and after learning a few things about different workouts, I did work out today with an actual outlined weight lifting program.

And overall, I feel really pretty good about this.

But that's not all!

I realized that I've been doing this sort of low-key, low-stress working out for about a month now.  The scale hasn't moved much, and I'm OK with that.  I can chase my kids easier, pick up my 5-year-old again, and my knees don't hurt going up our stairs anymore.  I can feel the muscles in my arms and legs getting stronger, and they are firmer to touch as well.  I can walk across campus without getting winded.


I'm just taking things a day at a time.  I will keep lifting and using this program.  The Rock and VOD have been super helpful with the little kids and supportive, and it helps that it's only about every other day.  I've proved I can do this and I know I'm worth taking the time to improve my health, and my mindset.

You know what else?  So are you.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Let's get moving!

While I was taking physiology, I was all over campus, going up stairs and moving every day.  It wasn't necessarily a "workout" but I was moving more than I have been since class got over, and I definitely moved more while taking the class than I had in the months previous.

My professor's doctorate was in exercise physiology, so he often would explain how the body works during exercise ... and what happens when we don't.

Two key points:  It only takes 2-1/2 months of inactivity to lose toning that took you years to achieve.  And the only good stress our bodies experience is exercise, which can help you deal with other stress better.  I'm not going to get into the mechanics of either of these, just know they're true.  ha!

When I learned those things, I started deliberately taking the stairs every time I went to school.  And I tried to move more with the kids.  I jogged through the grocery store with a friend's 3-year-old until it freaked him out.  (My kids were at home.)  I still wasn't "working out" but I was moving more.

A couple of facebook friends have been really encouraging with their posts and messages to me over the years.  One runs stairs during the summer.  So I started looking for stairs ... and I found them at the high school track, where there are bleachers!  I've been wanting to go but haven't been able to make it work ... until today.

Today, I loaded up the kids and went to the track.  We ALL went around twice (baby in the stroller) -- 1-1/2 times, then I ran the bleachers while the kids were playing.  Then we finished cooling down by finishing that second lap and out to the van.

I can't even tell you how great I feel.  I am sore, for sure, and I had a hard time not throwing up right after (so I sat on the bleachers next to a garbage can, lol, catching my breath at the same time).  But I feel like I can accomplish something now.

It's hard being obese and having people judge your worth as a person based on your dress size.  It's hard to be fat and shop in the fat lady section of the store.  It's hard to jog through a grocery store, getting looks from strangers.  It's hard to hear people saying that obesity should be outlawed and less socially acceptable than smoking. (For the record, it IS less socially acceptable than smoking. People don't generally mock smokers, but if they see someone fat, the whale comments and "jokes" start right up.)

I can do hard things.  It's hard being in school with a family.  It's hard to maintain a 4.0.  It's hard to understand physiology.  And math.  And write papers.  And spend time with my husband and children and nurse my baby.  And it's hard to do all of this and still feed my emotional needs, too.   But I'm doing it.

I have been having dreams of running -- with joy -- for years.  Being so heavy, however, I never felt like I could.  And made a lot of excuses why I couldn't get started.  I'm done with excuses.

So I am going to choose my hard.  It's hard to make the time to work out.  It's hard to run intervals around the track.  It's hard to run those bleachers.  It's hard to lift weights and eat healthier and get rid of the junk in the house.  It's hard to load up the kids and make the time for me.  But I'm doing it anyway.  Because this hard is easier emotionally than the obese hard.  It just is.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"It's really going to be OK."

I don't know if I can really convey how much stress we've been under this last year.  With me in school, buying a house, moving while pregnant, legal issues, having a preemie baby, baby and mommy almost dying in delivery, The Rock nearly dying as well, and then the other 4 kids ... Plus The Rock having issues at work since he got back from LOA ... car problems, money issues, stuff wrong with our house ... well ... Things have been pretty raw and close to the surface and I just get angry a lot and have withdrawn from a lot of things and people.

While in physiology, I literally did not take any time out for myself.  I did not have time to take care of me, or so I thought.  We were on the go almost all day, every single day, and I studied whenever I could, taking 6 exams in 7 weeks.  I did manage to get an A, but we were all worn out and just done by the time I took the final last Tuesday.  So, when The Rock said he was going to hang out with the guys tonight, I said, "OK!  I'm going to watch a movie that's going to make me cry in a good way," because he told me recently I needed to.  He listens to my therapist (who has been on hiatus since before physio started).

I got the kids all ready for church today and went, and I didn't get to hear speakers or lessons or anything.  But I was there.  They were there.  It was a challenge, but we managed.  Came home and napped with Bean, made dinner and then cookies for The Rock to take to game night, and took some time to watch a couple of movies and crochet.

The second movie is a couple years old and is called "A Little Bit of Heaven".  Now, I'm not recommending you all go watch it because there is language and some other stuff in it.  However, it was the perfect movie for me tonight.

The main character, Marley, is in her late 20s/early 30s and discovers she has stage IV colon cancer.  (Incidentally, I've known two young women learn they have colon/rectal cancer in their mid 30s and die in the last year, and my dad's cousin also recently died from it.  It is utterly devastating.  But that's not what I'm writing about tonight.)

Anyway.  During the course of the movie, she passes through several stages of grief, faces God, learns to love, forgives her parents, and really becomes at peace with dying.

The relevant thing to me is that somewhere along her journey, I wasn't paying as much attention to the movie and was focused on counting stitches for a minute or two.  Then, out of nowhere, I just felt arms wrap around me, a kiss on the forehead, and felt so comforted.  I heard, "It's really going to be OK," and just felt the overwhelming love my Father in Heaven has for me as his daughter.

Sometimes God uses the most unexpected things to just let you know that you really are going to be OK. I never would have expected Him to use that movie to make me feel SO much better about life in general, but our current circumstances in particular.  It had nothing to do with the struggles of the main character or the cancer or her friends' and family's difficulties.  It was just an incredible moment, just for me, that I hadn't been open to feeling until I sat down and just rested my mind so I could let Him ease my heart.

It's a lesson to remember while I continue my schooling, because I'm going to often feel like I don't have time for me.  But if I don't take that time and don't rest my mind and body, I cannot feel the Spirit and am preventing myself from being comforted and loved by my Father in Heaven.  He's still doing His job.  I have to do my part, too, so I can be open to receiving His gifts.

I feel at peace again, and it's been a while since I felt that.  And I'm thankful.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Up to my neck in Physiology

I'm finishing up the prerequisites for the nursing program at my university.  Taking physiology and math this summer, as well as a writing class and a research class which kind of go hand in hand.  I'm brilliant for scheduling them that way without even realizing just how beneficial they will be for each other.  haha!  Here's hoping I get into the nursing program next year.

Bean was born in January, a month early, and is now 4 months old.  His birth was traumatic but we both have recovered pretty well.  He charms everyone we meet and he is the sweetest, smiliest, easiest baby!  It's been so great these last few months, being home with him and the two littles.  They've adjusted pretty well to having him around, but CAT (the toddler) still acts out at times, just for attention.  

The week before his birth, The Rock had a really serious breakdown and was on a medical leave of absence for nearly 3 months.  He's been back to work for almost 2 months now and seems to be doing OK.  He still has his moments,  but so do we all.  

VOD is finishing up 8th grade, which seems so crazy to me.  My step daughter will be a senior in high school in the fall!  And Little Mister starts kindergarten in the fall, too!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.  Life marches on, I guess.  

I hear screaming.  I'd better go check and  see if anyone is bleeding.