Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What is your life worth?

I'm watching a news program following people in Appalachia. You know, it absolutely amazes me that people still live as they do there. I look around my world and often times think my life is hard. I don't know hard. Kids raised in a house without a book? Really? Oh the things we take for granted. As I sit here and type on my computer there are children out there who don't even have the opportunity to read. A life without Dr. Suess. Can you even imagine? "Would not could not without a book, I will not do it Sam I am, I will not stay in this tin can."
So it makes me consider my lack of motivation. All the opportunity I have around me, all the things right in my face to push me. What if there was nothing? What if all you saw as a step up was a life in a coal mine instead of staying home on welfare or dealing drugs? Wow. We take so much for granted when we've actually been given things and opportunity. What if my only opportunity was a job in fast food? What would I do then?
I call myself unmotivated of course I spend all day everyday working, taking care of children, volunteering at the school, being a Daisy scout leader, keeping house, doing laundry, and being a mother and hopefully a good friend. So I am busy. Busy is not motivated. I do what I have to do everyday but I am not taking advantage of the options I have all around me. And these people have so few chances. Hmmm. . .makes me think.
Of course it also makes me wonder if I need to be motivated to do for me, or if I should be finding more ways to do for other people. "I will feed hungry children green eggs and ham, I'll help these people Sam I am." Of course I have to be in a better position than I'm in to do much for others. So there is yet another reason to push ahead. I need to do better for me so that I can pay back what's been given to me to help others. Oh the stressful, pay it forward yet at this point can't quite even pay it backward, of it all!! I have to think about what I have, the chances I have, and make sure I appreciate it. And work harder. I think that's truly all I can commit to. And to be more mindful of my surroundings and others surroundings. Some truly unimaginable to me but still here, right in the United States, not some foreign country. And they don't know or care that the stock market isn't doing so well or that the Government is in crisis. They know drugs and poverty and their children learn hopelessness.
Some days I think my life is hard. I don't know hard. "I will do better Sam I am, I will remember who's worse off than I am and appreciate my life outside the tin can."

Monday, August 29, 2011

"You dropped something.... your smile."

Be kind for everyone you meet is facing a great battle ~ Plato
We think about ourselves all day long. What to wear, what to eat, who we would like to see today, who we would rather not see, what we want, what we need. . . how often do you look at someone else and think of what they might need? Some of us may not have much to give others, but we all have kindness. Sure there are days that the kids wake up fighting, the dog pukes, I forget I need gas on the way to work and am late... I do not feel kind at all, but the guy at the gas station who says good morning didn't make all that happen to me. In fact is very possible he walked to work with holes in his socks, has no kids or dogs to love him, and a sick mother at home that he is working to care for. I don't know. I'll never know. But I could smile instead of snarl when he speaks to me. It might make a difference. And he might be nice to the next person who's situation is even worse. . . and so on and so on.

I realize this isn't a new concept. I haven't just told you some profound new idea that could change the world! We know to be nice, we just forget. I suppose I should only be speaking for myself, but I doubt I'm alone here. Life gets to us and we take it out on the world. And in that one moment when the coffee stain on my shirt is so aggravating I forget to look around and see the suffering that others around me may be going through, I miss an amazing opportunity. The opportunity to brighten someones day possibly. It's a simple gift. A gift that costs nothing and can be given readily without really any effort.

My first semester in college, I was away from home and not very happy. While walking down to get my mail one day, probably hoping to find some great gift in that little bitty lock box, I passed a group of people I didn't know. One of the guys in the group looked at me and said "You dropped something." I turned to look behind me, there was nothing there. I looked back at him, confused. He then said "Your smile." I will never forget that as long as I live. And it changed my day, maybe even changed me. And he has no idea, he was just being nice. I hope that at some point in my life I give the same to someone else.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The comic relief

My last 2 posts have been pretty serious so I decided that I had to do something, at the very least, slightly humorous if I were going to post again. And right now I feel kind of funny, unfortunately I don't mean in the humorous sense. It seems that every time I pick myself up, brush myself off, and start to move in a positive direction outwardly, my body takes offense to it. I get this horrible pressure across my shoulders and neck and it makes me dizzy and it is hard for my eyes to focus. So my question here is- why do your body and mind like to battle as opposed to work together? What happened to "all for one and one for all" or if you need a newer more modern and very Disney version, "we're all in this together". (If you don't get this reference please Google those words + High School Musical, however be warned... once the song is in your head it will not soon depart.) I'm just saying that I do not understand why when in my head I make the choice to be happy, motivated and strong, my body doesn't take the chance to embrace it and jump for joy!! I should be doing cartwheels! Well... I couldn't do cartwheels before, but metaphorically speaking.

Unfortunately I believe that I must come to the resolve that more physical activity is the solution. Oops.. did I say that outloud? Crap. If I tell you I need to do it, that means I know I need to do it, and sort of takes away all my excuses or even smoke and mirrors that I may be possibly doing enough of it now. I'm just not. There I said it. I don't get nearly enough exercise and I need to. Damn. I said it again. I know this is true because I even read it in my 7 year old's health book. It was discussing the use of physical activity to reduce stress. 7 year olds with stress? Shouldn't they maybe be teaching them how not to cause stress in 2nd grade instead of manage it? Of course maybe if I had been taught in 2nd grade how to manage stress we wouldn't be talking about this right now. So here's to better life skills being made available to my children!

So now I have admitted yet another thing that I must do. It is time for me to make my mind and body fight it out on a hike. Or even learn to work together in a Zumba class, because for my hips and feet to do what they do without falling down it WILL take some brain and body cooperation! So feel free to hold me accountable and ask how I'm doing. Just dont judge me!! For I know there will be some failures, I mean small set backs, involved.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I just found out that one of my father's oldest and dearest friends died this morning. He had survived severe injuries in Vietnam, had survived a liver transplant, but today his heart said "I'm done". I sit and wonder how my father is feeling right now. Is he sad for his friend or is he scared about his own mortality? Of course my father is the type that will never tell you how he's feeling. He will do all the appropriate things over the next few days, he will laugh politely at stories told by people he probably doesn't even want to be speaking to, he will shed a tear quietly, though in public. But he will never say a word about how he feels. How painful that must be. I cannot say that I always handle my emotions very well, and I often feel as if I shouldn't be having the ones that I do. It is hard to feel bad and then feel bad about feeling bad. I wonder if that is what motivates him. Not believing that you deserve your emotions or that they are valid is an awful punishment to dole out to yourself.

I can't say that I know my father very well or understand him at all. Often I don't even like him that much, but I hate that he punishes himself for whatever reason. While feeling badly isn't something that I think you should wallow in, I know you have to allow yourself to feel what you feel. Of course the key is to then look at it, decide what is causing it, and make it better. But for goodness sakes feel it! Suppression, stoicism, I think they make you old before your time. Sometimes being sad makes me very tired, but I often find after the worst days I am at my best. Feeling very bad can be cleansing to a point. Whether for me it's crying out the toxins or hitting a bottom that forces me to bounce back up. Feeling nothing just makes you cold. And keeping it in makes you gruff and harsh. I will take over emotional, even borderline crazy(which I'm quite sure I am), over no emotion any day and twice on Sunday, as the saying goes. I've watched it and it's sad. And though I am sorry that David died today, he was a wonderful man and will be missed very much, I am glad that it reminded me that feeling what I am feeling right now is okay. And David would be glad to know that he was able to make me feel better today, and he would smile. So I will smile for him, and appreciate my life and push my sadness away for now. Until I feel it again, and it will be okay that I do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I hear this word in my head, but it sounds like the vampire in that old Bugs Bunny cartoon.  Remember how he says "HOCUS POCUS" and turns from a bat to a vampire, and then Bugs says "Abacadabra" (and yes I know I'm missing the r, but that's how he said it) and the vampire turns back to what he was formerly and gets hurt? Okay, well if you don't remember it then I'm just rambling, but if you do you can understand the thundering voice that is pushing me to do something, but with very little success.  I don't understand the human brain I will admit that, I don't understand humans so much for that matter but this is not my point at the moment. It just seems to me, however, that the organ that is supposed to keep you functioning tends to make you dysfunctional just as often.

When things go wrong I tend to shut down. I suppose it's that "fight or flight" instinct. So my question is how do I switch from flight to fight? How do I retrain my brain? I know now that the small bit of unpleasantness is over why it happened and why I shouldn't have let it get to me. I know that I should be in control of my emotions. I also know that people don't make me feel a certain way, I take what they say or do and spin it into how I make myself feel about it. So if I know all this why can't I know it BEFORE the melt down and stop it?? YES  I do have a brain so isn't this how it's supposed to work?

And then there is the recovery period which is where the focus part comes in. I can focus during the meltdown, it's just what I'm focusing on that is the problem. Then I come back to my warped sense of normal and it takes even more time to get back to able to think. I realize my thoughts aren't life changing, but I do still need them to function. The Dalai Lama says "I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe." Judge the universe? Hmmm... how do I interpret that? Are my expectations the issue? Is having an expectation of something you can not control the same as judging. You will judge and be disappointed when the expectation is not met, right? You know I think that is it. It's not about how to handle the meltdown or breakdown it's how to avoid it. Knowing what I can control and what I can't may very well be a large path to follow in this journey. If you had asked me a year ago what I could control I would have told you everything. Ask me today I might tell you nothing. But I know there is a balance between the two.

"I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe." Worth repeating. Searching yourself in dark times for what will bring you out of it, and using the bright times to accomplish what you have learned. A simple lesson really. And by not judging the universe I suppose there is a sense of taking the times as they happen and accepting them. We all search to find blame for all our misfortunes. Sometimes bad days are just bad days I suppose and trying to replace flight with fight isn't really the right answer at all. Acceptance and appreciation of the lesson may be the best path.
I will try to keep this my goal.  Accept and move forward. And I will not blame or judge the universe, however I may blame my hormones on the most random of occasions.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday. . . thank goodness!

I'm afraid I am guilty of wishing my life away. I need to learn to live in the moment. I saw an illustration that said "Be happy for this moment this moment is your life. THIS moment?? Right now? That certainly puts some perspective on the time I just spent on a game of solitaire on the computer that I could have spent reading something meaningful. I can easily sit and think of all the things I would be doing if I could be somewhere else, or all the things I'd like to be doing if I didn't have to work, and how I'd make the world a better place if...
IF. Maybe we should remove that word from our vocabulary. IF is just the beginning of an excuse. It is the set up to an immediate failure. It's just saying "you would but you can't", so why bother saying or thinking whatever that is at all, right? I think that I will try to replace "if" with "will". There shall be no more "if I could" in my language. Before I even get to "I would do ___ if I could", I will turn it around in my head and decide that " ___ is what I can do so I will".

So here I am in my moment. What can I do? Well obviously I've been just working through my own thoughts and I've realized that thinking isn't nearly as overrated as I had decided it was. It's all about WHAT you are thinking. Managing your thoughts instead of letting them manage you, what a unique and amazing concept. I've spent quite a bit of time over the last few months letting myself get worked up and overwhelmed by "being in my head too much" so I felt like I needed something mindless to keep that from happening. I mean let's face it,  it truly can be a scary place up there without a navigator or a guide. But if you enter with a map, a plan, and a destination, the trip can be very pleasant and even productive! I Googled simply "reinventing yourself" not too terribly long ago and read an article about letting go of the past and moving towards your future.  It was short and to the point, but very powerful. First it said to thank your past before you walk away from it. I have to say I love the idea of being thankful for all your experiences good and bad. Then it talked about visualizing your future. Playing out specific scenarios of who you want to be or what you want to happen. What a brilliant way to daydream. Dreaming of things you want and plan to make happen instead of things that you desire but know will never happen!

"Goals in life are great, but aspirations are better. With goals comes expectations of how things should be, a line so fine that we are often disappointed. However, with aspirations comes this understanding that the world is in movement, that things change constantly and that it is okay. Goals are too tangible for a future that does not yet exist, whereas aspiring to be a better person, to learn, to give and to love are all elements of the present. Blind positive thinking is aimed at a future state of being rather than just being." - Veronique Barnes
I add this quote because I have to say that I think the point of aspiring to be a better person as a whole within what life has dealt you is truly important to grasp and work toward, though I can't say that I think goals and positive thinking are negatives by any means.  There is certainly nothing wrong with dreaming big! Just be prepared to do the work that goes with it.

So I've talked a big game today and I cannot tell you that I am this person, but I want to be.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There are how many hours in the day?

Cause 24 sounds like a lot. . . but I do not get nearly that many out of it! I get up at 6:30, get myself and the kids ready, take them to school and go to work, get off work and pick them up, feed them and get us ready for the next day, and go to bed. What am I accomplishing here? Okay fine, so they are getting an education which I understand is vital for them later and I am working so I can feed them and pay SOME of my bills but really??? All that time and that's all I get out of it? I'm truly thinking that life would be much more enjoyable if we moved somewhere that I could make baskets and put them on the streets selling Chiclets. We would only have to do that for about 6 hours of the day and it would take much less preparation. How pretty would they have to look to sell Chiclets?

I don't think my mother or their father would approve of this move, however. So tell me, how do the supermoms do it?  I really need to work on my organizational skills, I guess. And I need to give up some sleep. Seems to me that most men I know require about 5 hours sleep and women need 6-8. There is a definite design flaw here. Maybe it's just that only having to focus on 1 thing at a time is not nearly as exhausting as what women have to focus on in a day? (that's as much bashing as I will do, but am I wrong?)

So here is what I have to find time to fit in:
Exercise - I try to walk at lunch when I can, but really just have to find a way to make myself get up in the morning and do more before the girls are even awake. There goes sleep time. And losing sleep for exercise? That is a hard sell in my head!
House stuff - I mean I clean, do dishes, do laundry... the stuff that has to get done, but there are closets and drawers that need some major tending to! I bet if I cleaned everything out I could open my very own "As seen on TV" store, right in my garage and I'm not even going to talk about what my garage looks like. Uugghh!
And I really need to paint. The walls are just way too dirty to clean, paint is the only thing that will work. I bet when I'm done it will look like some cool textured pattern even, thought it will really just be painted over dirt.
Kid stuff - I am the daisy scout leader, but there are karate classes and acting classes in my near future (because my household needs more drama), and we all know how much time those things take.  And I don't ever read to the kids anymore or push them to do extra projects for school. They are smart girls but they really need to be working on college scholarships, I'm just sayin'.
So there are just 3 facets of life that I need time for. You notice I have nothing in there set aside as trashy TV time or Facebook time. I've got to have that! And then there is what I will merely call "social" time.  In other words beer drinking time, which leads to less sleep and much less motivation the next day. OH, and also leads to need for more exercise. I mean who created this vicious cycle?

So here I am again, searching for motivation.  Trying to find balance. Trying to teach myself to take one step at a time. I have to learn to make time for what I need to do, but to also be okay with myself when things don't happen and aren't perfect. I think focus is an issue for me here as well.  Finding a way to focus on one thing, complete it, then move on to the next.  Instead everything looks like a giant meatball that I need to take apart and devour the ingredients separately but all at the same time! (Ouch that made my stomach hurt just imagining it, maybe it would all go down better with beer?)
So I have to learn how to push myself, sacrifice, and forgive myself when I don't.  That sounds easy on paper, doesn't it?  Wish me luck!!  

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why can't I just have my turkey leg and eat it too?

I woke up this morning with a determination to start being healthier.  Which I have to first tell you was difficult because it was Wednesday. I believe you have to start things at a beginning. The beginning of the week, beginning of the month, the year, just a beginning. It's one of my favorite neurotic behaviors (there are many by the way). So today is just Wednesday. I mean how can I start on Wednesday knowing that I usually quit by the weekend? This doesn't even give me time to start!
SO. . . I'm changing a pattern right? You can only expect different results by doing things differently or you're crazy, doesn't the saying go something like that?

The next step in this healthy thing is how to work on my expectations of myself. I would really rather become an alfalfa sprout and tofu eating mountain climber or do nothing at all. I hate sprouts! So this also does not work. Baby steps. Baby steps do not lead to instant gratification. So again, a pattern and thought process has to change. As of 2:40 pm today I have taken those baby steps. I've gotten some exercise already today.  I have eaten healthier than most days.  It's only 2:40pm.  BUT I started so I am going to accept this and try to continue to forgive my failures, accept my imperfections, and push myself to continue.

I think it's important for me to admit why health is a part of this journey.  Of course it is above all things to "live long and prosper".  Did you know thin people make more money on average than fat people???  Now who's thought processes are warped, I ask you?? Also, bigger clothes are more expensive and I like clothes (and am generally broke, so cheaper fashion is better)!! But I truly want to live long and enjoy my time on earth to its fullest and I can't do that if I don't consider my health. But it factors into the happiness aspect as well. How I feel and think about myself affects my happiness. Unfortunately what other people think of me affects my happiness too.  So as I said yesterday I think I'm pretty, but I must admit I fall into the body image trap created by our society. What I look and see makes me feel one way, but then I cannot help myself from thinking of what others look and see. It is an evil practice, that of judging people by their appearance. And body image issues do not discriminate I might add.  It's not just us fat chicks that are made to feel bad about how they look.  I have a good friend who is a size 1... A SIZE ONE... and she has much worse body image issues than I've ever dreamed of! But I cannot fix the world and how it pushes us to be something we are not.  I can only fix me.  And to fix me I can truly only meet somewhere in the middle.  Work a little harder, try to focus on health and not weight or looks, and fight to look inward for my happiness and not in the mirror OR on the front of a magazine.

Now all that being said I will add this. . and please don't judge my lack of historical knowledge... but I do remember many pictures of 18th or 19th century England I'm guessing where they just sat around eating bread and chewing on turkey legs, drinking wine and mead, and were perfectly happy until they died.  Why couldn't I have been born then???

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How I Got Here

Midlife.  That's where I am. Or close to it anyway.  My Grandmother is 92 and her mother was 91 when she died so I suppose with a little luck maybe I not quite there yet but I'm close.  And when we discuss my vices later you'll probably decide I'm closer than I want to admit!  The connotations that go with midlife can be unpleasant, but as "40 is the new 30" it becomes less unappealing. . . well atleast in the media.  But then there is real life. MY real life. I look at my back and see all my mistakes and how I got from there to here is at the very least no mystery! I played. I had fun. I did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it without much regard to the consequences.  So again. . . midlife, do I consider mine bad?  I can say that I have not accomplished as much as most people probably thought I would, but I'm not sure I know what I ever expected to accomplish. I do have 2 amazing children that will forever make my life worth living, even if somedays I truly want to go hang them upside down by their toenails in the backyard!  My mother says her 40s were better than her 30s, 50s better than 40s, and so on.  Can I hold her responsible if my life isn't the same?  Well, probably not.  So I guess I am going to have to embrace this midlife thing and move forward.

Overweight.  Luckily for me at this dreaded midlife point this is not new.  I think I've been officially here since I was about 7.  Of course what was overweight when I was in high school is now perfectly normal and I'd be more than thrilled to be that size again! But I'm not.  And most days you know what? I like me! Crazy right? I don't spend all day everyday wishing I looked like someone else.  I have my moments in the mirror, like all woman and girls, thinking about what I'd like to look better but still?  I even think I'm pretty.  Again, crazy right?  However here is the ugly catch.  I do want to live long and watch my kids and even their kids grow up.  Therefore the healthiness incorporated in my present body shape may be suspect.  So in this journey I am beginning to reinvent myself I cannot ignore this issue.  Pizza and beer can no longer be my best friends (sob... I will miss them however I'm sure they will visit).

Single again, at midlife. This one is tricky.  And scary.  And scarier still that I'm not upset about losing my husband.  Just about being without a safety net.  I do not like this about myself. I don't like that I got to that point with him nor that my feelings about it all are superficial.  And about me.  I have a cold side, this is part of it.  I don't really like it, but it is my shield.  THIS will be what I have to work on.  THIS will be the no fun part of midlife.  I can't even make talking about it the least bit funny.  So let's move on!

Happy.  My guidance counselor in elementary school was named Happy.  Can you imagine having to live up to that name?  I think Beavis and Butthead were more nicely named.  I mean who expects something from them?  Nobody, right?  But Happy has an attitude to live up to. 
My present question in life is where does my happiness come from?  Media, religion, career, social status, they all create ideas in our head of what happiness should be but do they really have anything to do with what happiness is? While me mind tells me that they shouldn't, I know they do for me.  This is yet another thing to work at and change.  Finding happiness from within instead of the outside world is my destination in this journey.  While most days I feel happy I don't think I possess complete happiness.  I have to find where it should come from.

So here is the first post in my blog.  As simple explanation of what or why I'm writing.  I hope to work at many things in life and journal them here.  Who knows if anyone will follow it, but if they do I should warn to expect it all to be rather random.  And if no one follows it will atleast be an exercise in bettering my writing skills as well as a way to entertain my own thoughts. And when I decide I've written all I can and there is no need for this anymore, I hope that motivationally challenged will be a thing of the past.  Possibly, however my expectations are lower, overweight will no longer be as much of a necessary title, and 40 and Happy will be the name of my next blog!