Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Dreaded "E" Word...... Exercise!

OK, this is what I've been dealing with for the past.... oh, 5-6 months. Weight gain. I'm 46 years old and have never really had a problem with weight. I am not stick thin, but I have always been within the acceptable range of weight for my height and preference. Yes, I'd always like to be thinner, but not enough to really fight for it. You know what I mean? And, when I was younger and felt like I wanted to lose 5-10 lbs., I'd just go to Weight Watchers or do some low-carb thing and the weight would come off with relatively little resistance. Well, welcome to the wonderful world of middle age.

So, around Thanksgiving of last year I decide I really need to lose about 10 lbs. I know, the holidays are no time to diet, but I decided to give it a shot. This chick I'm Facebook friends with had been "bragging" about how she lost some weight by just using this ap for her smart phone and counting calories. "And I didn't exercise!" she even said. So, fine, I decide to try that. And actually, in the three weeks following Thanksgiving I did really good. I was honest, I stuck with the plan. And..... drumroll, please...... I gained 1/2 a pound. So, I was depressed, but I decided I was going to enjoy my Christmas and try it again after the New Year. But not counting calories.

New Years comes and I start a low-carb diet. I did pretty well. Not perfect, but pretty well. And I stuck to it for 2 months. And didn't lose a thing. In fact, I gained. I tried to exercise, but getting up in the morning and doing it was just not working. And I don't have time to join a gym. And I hate to exercise anyhow. I really do. I am not athletic, I hate to run, I hate to swim, I hate riding bike, I hate to even breathe hard and sweat.

So, now what? I need to lose 15 lbs. because now I do weigh more than I should , not just more than I'd like to weigh. I decide to see my doctor. Maybe it's thyroid. I haven't had a blood test in a while. It's gotta be thyroid. Please, let it be thyroid. In the mean time, my doctor said, you're just going to have to count calories (like way down to 1300/day) and increase your metabolism by building muscle mass and exercising. Aughhhh! I hate exercising. And besides that, I just can't do it.

So, I resign myself to counting calories. I'm not down to 1300/day, that is torture for me, but I try to stay around 1400 and no more than 1500 per day. But the exercise. What do I do about the exercise? And then, I start to get creative. Remember back in the 1980's they had that thing called Step Aerobics? You do aerobic dance, but you had this little step stool thing that you stepped up and down on and it was supposed to increase your workout. You know what? I have one of those little step stool thingies in my bathroom. It's my 3-year old's. She uses it to reach the sink. Woohoo! So no, I don't do step aerobic dancing, but I do make it my goal to do 400 steps (both feet up, both feet down) each day. I can't do it all at one time, but it's perfect for a mom like me because when I go to the bathroom, I do 25 steps. When I put clothes away, another 25 steps. And so on. And it adds up throughout the day. And I've increased my reps. I used to only be able to do 25 at a time. Now, I do a minimum of 50 at a time and sometimes I even do 100. And I am huffing and puffing and my legs hurt a little, so I know I'm getting a work out. And it's something I can do. And it's something I do do!

And, just in case you were wondering, the doctor called today! It's not thyroid. I'm just getting old! 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Life as a Real Person.... Part 3.... Don't Perpetuate the Lie!

Last week the boys wanted to have a friend over to play one afternoon.  So on Thursday, I made arrangements with this boy's mother to bring him over the next day for the afternoon and then we'd bring him home.  The mom is a friend of mine (not super close, but we're in the same homeschool group) and so when she rang the doorbell to let me know he was there (all the kids were playing out in the front) I spontaneously invited her in to chat for a bit. Yes, the house was a mess. There were toys scattered everywhere. I actually had to clean a pile of books and games off the couch for her to sit down. But, I did invite her in. (Now, when I talk about my house being a mess, I basically mean it's cluttered. Messy. We don't live in squalor. The bathrooms get cleaned weekly, floor gets swept daily and carpets vacuumed bi-weekly. But, we live here. All day long. Toys, cheese stick wrappers, school stuff.... this is what I'm talking about. And my children collect stuff. They hate to get rid of even the tiniest stuffed animal. Clutter!) And we chatted for an hour about real stuff. Things we were thinking about. Problems we were having with our kids.  And it was good. Really good.

And so, as I think about this Lie I (we) believe, that I am The Only One, and try to not believe it anymore, I also need to make sure I am not perpetuating this lie. Am I authentic with other women? Or do I try to make everyone believe I have everything altogether?  Do I try to be Super-Mom?  Do I always claim to be fine, everything's going fine, nothing's wrong here, or am I honest about the fact that sometimes I just don't have enough time or energy or attention (you know, I think most of the time it boils down to attention, how can  you get anything done when you are interrupted every 30 seconds) to get everything done and sometimes I'm afraid and lonely and I worry that my kids will turn out all right, and am I being a good wife to my husband. And I think if I can share that with my friends and try to reach out and pay attention, then maybe they won't believe they are The Only One either.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Life as a Real Person... part 2.... Stop believing The Lie! Stop it Now!

I think one of the reasons we as women, specifically stay-at-home moms (and I say this because I am one and cannot speak for women who are mothers who work outside the home) get stressed out and put so much pressure on ourselves is that we believe The Lie!  That great big lie that is, "I am the Only One!"
I am the only one who can't seem to keep the house straightened up! Good grief, I'm home all day, what do I do with my time, anyhow?
I am the only one who can't keep up with the laundry, "Clean clothes? Check the laundry basket!"
I am the only one who stands in the pantry after a particularly trying episode with a particularly trying child and eats chocolate chips straight out of the bag.
I am the only one who yells at her kids.
I am the only one who hides in the closet with the iPad and watches stupid tv shows with no redeeming value.
I am the only one who sighs with relief because the kids all go outside to play, instead of going outside and playing with them.
I am the only one who kicks her kids out of the kitchen because I need a little peace.
I am the only one.....

And when we are the only one, then we isolate ourselves. Even though we may go out among people, and have friends, the answer is always, "Fine! How are you?" when we are asked, "How are  you?"  And we look around at all the women and think to ourselves, "How does she stay so slim? Why can't I be like that?"  "Her kids get along so well. Mine fight all the time!" "She brought the best home made cupcakes! I just stopped by the grocery store and bought cookies in a tray!" And we smile and continue to volunteer for things instead of saying, "I just can't because I can't keep up with what's going on right now! I'm sorry!"

And so, what is the answer? I don't know. I'm not one of those bloggers who has it all together and has found the answer and will impart it to you! I do know, though, some things I'm working on to try to not believe The Lie myself.  First, I'm trying to be honest with people. I'm trying to reach out to the gals in my social circle and be honest. And say, "Yeah, I'm having trouble with this kid!" because more often than not, they have a This Kid, too. And then, you know what?  I know that I'm not The Only One.  Secondly, I try to limit my screen time and be very discerning about the blogs I visit. A blog can be a complete lie. Really! You may think I am a middle aged housewife with five kids who homeschools, but how do you really know that? I could be a 65 year old ex-con from Cleveland. I'm not. But people who write blogs have no accountability and if I look at a blog, or read posts on message boards.... I have no real idea if that's truth or not.  So what becomes my standard for measuring who I am? Is it based on reality?  Thirdly, I tell myself what Susan Schaeffer Macaulay said in her book For the Family's Sake, kids don't need perfect parents, they just need parents who are good enough. I need to stop striving for perfection. It's unattainable anyway. And last, but most important, I try to spend time with The Lord every morning. I thank God for what I have and I pray for myself, for my husband and my marriage, for my kids and for others.

And so, if I want to live life as a Real Person, I need to stop believing The Lie. I am not The Only One!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Life as a Real Person...

There was a funeral yesterday. I didn't go to it.  I didn't even really know the person who died all that well. I knew who she was. She was a year younger than me, and she grew up in the same church I did, but we weren't friends. Anyhow, she died. Of liver cirrhosis. She was a closet alcoholic. Now, as I said, I didn't really know her, and I didn't really know her life, but this death has really bothered me. Partly because she was close to my age. I'm only 46. Partly because of how she died. And partly because.... I wonder.... could this have been prevented? How many others are like her, living in pain and self-medicating with alcohol? Did she have people in her life with whom she could be real, share her problems, share the big ugly problems? Was there pressure to live up to some ideal? 

I've really been pondering this. As I said, it's bothered me. She wasn't a person who was all that different than me. I mean, when I think of alcoholics with liver cirrhosis, I think of old men with big red noses slurring their words and frequenting bars. Not attractive, married, middle class women  with children. And yet, when I look at my life, which is actually pretty good comparatively speaking, some days I can barely make it through till bed time. And then I don't want to go to bed because I'll fall asleep so fast that I can't enjoy it and soon enough it'll be time to wake up and I'll have to do it all again. How difficult it must be for women who have more challenges than I have.

But, we all put on our happy faces when we're around each other. We go to church and where ever else we go and we see moderately well-behaved, obedient children, with smiling  mothers who are slim, and have cute clothes. We go on Pinterest and see all the wonderful things we could be doing with and for our children or our homes, and we feel guilty for not doing all that (because obviously everyone else is, otherwise why would Pinterest even be there?).  But then, when we actually have the time and energy to try one of these projects they turn out  horribly. We look on blogs and see smiley, happy homeschoolers curled up on the couch reading the Great Books, or doing wonderfully messy science experiments in the kitchen. But that mom is just smiling and not at all upset and yelling about the mess, and then feeling guilty about yelling about the mess, because after all, they are just children, right? Oh, and then you see on Facebook the woman you went to high school with telling about she just counted calories for a few months and lost 20 lbs., and you try the same thing and gain weight. And you just keep gaining weight, because your hormones are out of control and 1300 calories/day for 4 months is just not doable.

And so.... we isolate ourselves. We live under the illusion that we are communicating and have friends because we e-mail and text, but those are just shams. That's not relationship. That's not communication. And we try to make everyone think we have it all together and are afraid to really talk to each other about what is going on. Because obviously we are the only ones who yell at our kids (I actually saw a post in a forum where one lady said she never yelled at her kids) and we must be terrible people because we do. And we try so hard to keep up appearances and to get it all right and have obedient children and happy husbands, and slim figures, while the reality's impossible. And so, finally... something has to give.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

When Things Finally Start Coming Together....

Don't you love it when something you've been mulling over and trying to understand finally starts to make sense?  When a deep, overarching concept that you've been trying to grasp and make heads or tails of starts sinking in and coming together. It doesn't happen all at once, and a lot of times it comes in starts and stops, but it feels so good once it's there.  I've blogged before about my own inadequate education. I'm not blaming the education system, per se. I was an pretty bright kid, went through the school system effortlessly, but did not gain a love for learning. I don't remember much in the way of good literature in elementary school and in high school, well, I "read" the "classics" as they were assigned in English class, but I never really grew to love them, they never became part of who I am or changed me in any way. And that's really been bothering me lately.  Actually, it's been bothering me before lately. It's been bothering me for a long time. Several years ago I purchased this book "The Well Educated Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer, which is geared toward adults who want to join The Great Conversation. It's basically a bunch of book lists and ways to read, notes to take, discussions to have in order to educate yourself classically. Her lists are organized by genre, so, being the logical, orderly and obedient person that I am, I started at the beginning with the novels.  And the first novel on the list was "Don Quixote" by Cervantes. I'm sorry, I tried to read that book about five times and just couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. It just literally put me to sleep at every attempt. I think I got about a third of the way through each time. So, I quit. Then, about a week or so ago I was instant messaging my girlfriend, and she mentioned that someone made a list that consolidated SWB's lists into one big list in chronological order. "Can they do that?" I asked. "Well, yeah!" she said. My girlfriend is much more daring than I am. More likely to want to step out of the box. and she told me that the first book on the list was the Epic of Gilgamesh and that I should get the David Ferry translation. (I love it when I can talk about things like "who has the best translation" with people.  It makes me feel so intelligent. And some day, maybe I can read a book in its original language, although probably not Gilgamesh because it was originally written in Babylonian)  And that's when everything started to gel. Because in one of the lectures I listened to by Dr. Christopher Perrin, he talked about how repetition helps children (and adults) to actually master things. It helps things to sink in and become part of who they are. It helps us to love things. And so, I'm not afraid to tackle Gilgamesh because I'm not just picking up a book that's already probably kind of hard to read and trying to read and understand digest and love it.  I know this book. I've already read the picture book by Ludmilla Zeman to my young children.
 And then I read this one....

a little more difficult of a read with my older boy. And so now.... when I attempt this one (which, by the way, is not nearly as intimidating "Don Quixote", it's not nearly so long) I'll know all about it.


I know who Gilgamesh is, I know who Enkidu is and I know what transformation Gilgamesh goes through in his life. I know the plot and the characters. It's familiar and therefore, not scary. And I'm actually kind of excited about it.