Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight

I love this saying. It's one I first heard in OA, and one that is applicable in so many areas of my life. What it reminds me is two things: 1) I will fall, and 2) I can get back up. Falling, a.k.a failing, is something that scares me. Well, frankly so does getting up, a.k.a. succeeding, a lot of the time. Regardless, this saying has become my mantra - I will fall, but when I do, just get back up. And not just once. Every time.

All this to say, yes, I have fallen. In the last six months or so, my gym attendance has dwindled down to mainly once a week, if that. My Big Four Red Light Foods (chocolate, Diet Soda, fast food, and doughnuts), which I had been successfully avoiding for quite some time, became, in the last month, My Big Four Favorite Foods. I have to admit that. I don't want to (isn't secrecy a hallmark of many addictions?). But it's true.

However, some small signs have been encouraging me to peel myself back up off the floor and try again. A friend said how she was doing it for health and to be an example for her kids, and I remembered that's what I'd told myself, too: eating well and moving often wasn't something I was trying to do to lose weight or look beautiful, it's what I want to do to be healthier. But honestly, my main motivation is my children. Especially my darling daughter, who is chubby and, well, "not prone to movement." I want to show them Big People can treat themselves well, too, and that includes moving often and eating healthy foods, no matter what size your body ends up being. When I asked my husband why he thought I'd been sick so often recently, he quickly replied, "Because you haven't been exercising." Is he right? I don't know. But he's noticed my butt has been parked in front of the computer more often than it's been circling the track. I don't want that!

I'd forgotten my purpose in my haze of chocolate and sloth. Or not really forgotten, just ignored. But while I was ignoring it, the insidious self-critical voices had gotten louder. And ooh, they are devious - they yell bad things at me, but my conscious mind doesn't always catch the full sentences - just half notes of "lazy", "fat," "obviously bad" that trickle in and out. I want to stop that recording. It sucks.

So today I'm getting up again. I am committed to avoiding the Big Four; I just can't handle them. I rejoined SparkPeople.com to try to record water and fruit/veggie intake, as well as my activity. I rejoined WalkerTracker.com, because the geek in me loves recording my daily steps online and seeing my progress. I'm committed to getting back to the gym. I want to come up with a reasonable, workable plan for getting back into it, but the ultimate goal is to be back there 4 days a week, and to do some aerobic and strength training exercises again.

Eat well. Move more. Time to get up.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I am grieving today for the Carpenter family, who lost their beloved little girl on Friday. Gwen had been born in March with a heart condition. It was always known that she might not survive, but she surprised everyone by not only making it to and through birth, but thriving after heart surgery and in the two months that followed. Her death was unexpected. I grieve for their family. Thoughts of them have pervaded my head for three days now, and I wish I knew how to help them. I can't, of course. That's the thing about loss and grief. You can't take the pain of it away from others, no matter how much you want to.

Their loss has made me think again of Madison, the little girl we lost in 2005. She was born at 21 weeks, too premature to survive. She lived for three hours and passed on. The Carpenters' experience is not the same, of course - they had their little girl at home with them. They interacted with her, were able to show her love, dreamed of her growing bigger. I never had Maddie at home with me. In some ways, her whole birth and life still seems surreal to me - I was pregnant, and then I wasn't. I held a tiny baby, and then she was gone. When I got home from the hospital, life kind of went on as it always had. I had no memories of a living baby in the house. I know in some ways that made it easier to deal with. At least I comforted myself that way - saying at least she hadn't been at home with us, at least I hadn't gotten used to a daily schedule with her, hadn't gotten to know her...

What I remember most about the initial grief was how stunned and shocked I felt that life just went on. That my neighbors and friends and family continued with their day-to-day lives, that there were people shopping at Walmart and going to church and playing with their kids. How could this be when we had lost a life? Of course that was incredibly self-centered, but it really did pierce me, how "normal life" could keep going on around you even when it felt like your world had fallen apart. I also remember being shocked and stunned when I realized *my* life was going on... when I started to find myself laughing again, taking pleasure in small things again, shopping at Walmart, going to church, playing with Jefferson. It felt like a betrayal of Madison. I felt guilty. But a little voice would whisper to me (and I chose to believe it was her voice) that it was O.K.; she wanted me to be happy, to not wallow in grief, to not stop my life because she hadn't had hers. I really felt she was with me, that she knew I loved her, and that she wanted me to be happy, our family to be happy.

I hope eventually the Carpenters hear that little voice, too. May their friends and family and little girl Lillian and their love for each other help Laura and Myers through this incredibly incredibly sad time. And may Gwen bless them from above.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ode To My Belly

I've been thinking a lot about my stomach lately. Usually in quite negative terms. It's funny, really, that this particular body part should bug me so much when, in reality, my butt and thighs are bigger. But it does, and always has. I've never had a flat stomach, even before kids. My grandpa didn't, either - I can remember as a kid catching him in his undies once and being surprised at how much his tummy stuck out. So I guess, like the batwings I inherited from my grandma, it's at least somewhat genetic. But lately age has started making its presence felt - or at least gravity has. Things are sagging more than they used to, including my belly. And that C-section didn't help much, either.

However, today I want to praise it. To stop being mad at it and start acknowledging the good points about it. Why? Because it doesn't seem likely that it's going away anytime soon, so I might as well stop criticizing it, and myself.

Belly, here are the things I appreciate about you:

1. You carried three children. Two to full-term. I can't touch you without remembering what it felt for you to be big and round and full of babies.

2. The cats love to paw you. Apparently you remind them of their own kitty mommies' bellies, and kneading you can be quite fun.

3. You make a nice shelf for holding ice cream, or any other kind of bowl. Not as much as when you were big with babies, but still a nice shelf, nonetheless.

4. You actually don't feel too bad. I may think you are unattractive when I see you in the mirror, you may be bigger than current beauty standards, but really, if I rub you you just feel like skin - and nice, soft skin at that!

5. You distract me from the reality of my butt.

6. You can be fun to jiggle!

7. You're mine, you're part of me, and gosh darn it, I'm gonna like you!

8. You did help me pen a bit of verse:

"Oh sweet belly, large and big and round
I'd love for you to be quite small and flat.
And though you're not, I'm truly grateful that
At least for now you don't reach to the ground."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Age Is Just A Number, Baby

It occurred to me yesterday that at 38, I have now officially been an adult longer than I was a child (yes, I know this has been true for 2 years, but hey, I'm a little slow). This freaks me out. Just like it freaks me out to realize it's been 20 years since I graduated from high school. 15 years since I graduated from college. Heck, it's even been 10 years since I officially quit my quest for my PhD. How can this be?

I often joke that I still feel like I'm in my 20's, at least mentally. And that's true. I also often joke that I have the worst memory on the planet. That's also quite often true. Where it isn't true, however, is with any memory heavily tinged with strong emotion, *especially* when those emotions revolved around boys or men. I can't remember almost anything from my sophomore year in high school, but I can quote verbatim things my boyfriend said to me that year. I don't know much about the courses I took in college, but when I think of my first love, the emotions feel almost as fresh as if it were yesterday. Grad school is mildly less blurry. Mildly. But most of what I remember from it revolves around emotional experiences - a lot, of course, around my husband, whom I met there.

So when I can remember emotions so strongly to the point where they feel immediate again - when I can feel the euphoria and pain, the anger, the fear, the curiosity, the longing - why can't I remember much else? I don't know. Is this true for everyone else? Just me? Obviously those time periods resonate with many of us - at least judging by the number of movies Hollywood churns out about high school and college years (or maybe that's just because then they can put the Young and Extra Beautiful people in those pictures...).

I just find it hard to believe that those times are so far behind me now. I can remember being 12 and wanting to be 16, like John Cougar Mellencamp sang in "Jack and Diane" (and that's when he still had the Cougar in his name!). I can remember being 17 and feeling so close to being an adult, can FEEL all those feelings I felt at 17, about boys and myself and life. I can remember being 20 and falling in love and the wonder and heartache of it all. And all those things are nearly half my life ago.

Wonder what it's going to feel like when I'm twice as old as I am now? (Assuming I'll reach that ripe old age.) I just hope I can still remember, well, something...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Priorities, Priorities

So Eleanor announced to me today that for her 4th birthday, she was going to buy the big pink Barbie Jeep she had sat in recently at Toys 'R Us. I guess this was her way of saying she wanted to put it on her birthday list (since the kid doesn't have 2 cents to rub together). The conversation went as follows:

Mom: "The Barbie Jeep sounds cool! But it's pretty big, so I don't think we're going to get that for your birthday."
Eleanor, whining: "But I wan it!"
Mom: "I know you do, honey. And you'll get some nice presents. But the Jeep is too expensive."
Eleanor, whining more: "No it's not! I wike it!"
Mom: "Yes, honey, it's too much money - they cost like $200, and we need to save our money to pay for things like our food, our clothing, and our house."
Eleanor, disgusted: "Mom, our HOUSE is too *BIG*!"

Whoever said one should try reasoning with a 3 year old? And I'm glad to see she's willing to sacrifice her living space for a sharp set of wheels. Priorities, mom. Priorities.