Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Do I Want?

What do I want?

That's a really loaded question and I guess I probably should tell you right off the bat that I'm not sure.

Sometimes when I'm watching a movie or at a concert or event, I think about how I will feel about it when it's over.  Then I can't wait for it to BE over so I can know what I thought.

Wait.  Let me clarify:  I want to know what I WILL think about it while I'm watching it and forming that eventual opinion.

That doesn't make any sense really, but I hope you can at least get the literal meaning, even if you don't understand why in the world someone would do this (I don't even know why I do this).

So in response to the question of what do I want, I often start thinking about what I'll think when it's all over.  In the last moment of life, what will I think of my life?  Why in the world am I thinking this way?

Maybe it stems from wanting to do everything right.  As I lay dying, I can run down a bullet point list of everything I was supposed to do and check off, one by one, all I did, tally it all up and score myself on a 100 point scale.  Did I parent right? Check! Did I publish my book? Check!

(or not check, I don't want to seem too sure of myself here.)

I guess if I knew what I wanted, I could get there with at least a little more ease.  At 37, aren't I supposed to have a direction?  More to the point, I think I have too many directions.  How do you walk 4 ways at once?  You don't.  You just stand there.

I spend so much time doing stuff. Is this what people do?  Do they just DO STUFF and then sleep and then do more stuff? Maybe my goals are too high.  Maybe I have the same life everyone else has and I'm the only one wondering if it's the right thing.

There was a time I wanted to be a poet and a philosopher. It occurred to me that these were highly impractical career choices.  I sometimes think it would be better to have been born in ancient times when those were Things People Were. Can you imagine? All I have to do today is think.  That's it.  But I suspect even the great thinkers had other stuff to do.  Maybe not.

Maybe blogging and writing is modern day philosophizing.  Maybe I am what I always wanted to be, I just don't always let myself just be.

This is my first SOC Sunday link up Jana's Thinking Place.
This is my 5 minute, unedited brain dump.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

So Much.

In my senior year of high school, if I remember correctly, I was very busy. There was, in no particular order, debate, cheering, the school paper, band, national honor society, French national honor society, the literary magazine, student council, several advanced placement classes, my after school job, caring for my mother, my friends, my boyfriend, and a whole host of other things I'm probably now forgetting.  Granted, most of this didn't happen at the same time, but I was almost always busy and almost always had too much to do.

Right now, my life is just as overscheduled.  There is, in no particular order, my marriage, my child, my house, my job, my blog, my memoir, my gig at yeah write, the PTA, my fitness goals, my friends, and probably a whole host of other things I'm probably forgetting. This is not to imply, of course, that my husband and son are things to be scheduled or "to do" but I'm just making the point that having people in my life (and my house) means that they come with responsibilities and that means there are things to do.  I wouldn't change any of that for the world.


I have filled my days with so much to do for as long as I can remember.  I'm not complaining, though perhaps it sounds that way.  This is just the way it is.

It's not that I can't say no.  It's that I can't stop myself from offering up my assistance. I can't stay uninvolved.  I jump in and do, even to the point where I overwhelm myself.  If I'm not 110% busy, then something isn't right.

I don't know why it's this way.  I can't say that I've ever explored this deep need to be needed, wanted, or thought of as necessary to the mere survival of everything around me.  But it's there.

How nice it would be, when I finally drop dead, to have people just stand around wondering how they're going to carry on without me.  Not weeping or inconsolable, mind you, just contemplating the void I will leave now that I'm gone.

It likely won't happen, save for a few circumstances where I like to think I do make that much of a difference. Let's face it, I'm not one of a kind in most scenarios.

It's not as though the realization, which isn't new, that I am not actually necessary to the survival of most people and things hurts me.  It just is.  PTAs and jobs and laundry all existed long before I did and they will continue to go on until the world stops spinning.  That's OK. In fact, I may duck out of those things at one time or another and who will really notice or care?  That's also OK.

So why does it matter? I don't know. It probably doesn't. And yet I get up each day and tackle all of these things as though all of them are the most important thing I could be doing at any given moment.

I don't want or need anyone to praise me simply for being around, but I like to pretend that in their minds they are doing it.  I like to feel important, even if I'm not. I don't mean that to ask you to pity me and tell me I am important.  I know where I am and where I am not, I just mean where I'm not I like to pretend that I am.

I could likely spend thousands of dollars and hours in psychoanalysis trying to get a handle on all of this if I felt the inclination.  Sometimes I consider it.  Most times I don't.

I often wonder what I would do if I didn't feel the need to do all of the things.  Some day I'll find out.  But for now, there is just so much to do.

Hanging out with the cool people at the the moonshine grid.  You should stop by.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wellness Wednesday Week 6

OK, do me a favor and don't point out that it's Friday please.

This week has really gotten away from me.  Between nearly cutting off my thumb and a zillion other commitments, I've run myself ragged.  I had a PTA meeting on Wednesday night and since I'm not one of those people who schedules posts, I didn't get this up on time.  Then yesterday I was busy still catching up on other stuff, so here we are.  Friday.

I have fallen off the jumping jack and crunch wagon.  I'm now behind by about 800 JJs and 110 crunches.  I will try (maybe) to catch up, but again, busy.

I had to take a few days off walking as well because my schedule just didn't allow it.  I guess I didn't plan well enough for my Atlanta trip next week because I'm scrambling to get ready and it's eating up my lunch hours.  It is what it is.  I'm giving myself permission to suck this week because there really isn't any other choice.

I decided on Monday that I was going to start a super strict 10 day diet in an effort to fit into my conference clothes. It's low-calorie, low-fat, low-food-in-general.  Please don't point out that it's probably not the healthiest idea.  I know this.  When I get back, I will head back up to a more moderate diet plan.  I'm down about 1.5 pounds since Monday and the jeans I want to wear next week can be buttoned but are uncomfortable.  I just want to look less bulky in the middle and so far the diet is accomplishing that.

I admit that it's very vain to be this concerned with how I look, specifically when I'm doing all I can to drop weight fast.  But I know when I don't have as much control over my food while I'm away I'll put a few pounds back on and then the week of 10/1 I will try to even things out.

So, there's really nothing to report, except that I offer you up proof that this is not a completely straight-line path to losing weight.  If all I had to do in my whole day was manage my health, I'm sure I'd be awesome at it.  However, with all of the other things, I truly can only do what I can do.  That means some weeks are not going to be so great, and I guess that's OK.

Hopefully I won't bail on you next week because of the conference.  As much as I'm saying bail on you, I'm hoping I don't bail on me.  This feature is my way to remind myself that I am doing well at this, just not every single minute of every single day.  And when you all comment and tell me that you struggle too, well, that helps me see that none of us are perfect.

Have a great and healthy as possible weekend!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Hidden Dangers of Dieting.

Eating better was supposed to be good for my health.

Attempting to get a jump on the day, I stood at the counter at 7:30 Tuesday morning shredding lettuce. I prefer my lettuce shredded, not torn. I find torn lettuce quite bothersome as it does not fit neatly into a bowl, onto a fork, or into my mouth. I was deep in thought, contemplating the superiority of shredded lettuce when I heard little feet stomp into the kitchen.  I turned my head to see what the owner of the feet needed. The lettuce shifted. I continued shredding. Oh shit.

This is the embarrassing part where I was swearing in front of my child.

Never one to pick up on the obvious,  Nathan asked what happened. Between winces, I told him I cut myself. Blood was pouring out of a half inch wide by half inch deep gash I made in my thumb. I grabbed paper towels to apply pressure. Thankfully, the knife, lettuce, and cutting board were blood free because I would have been really pissed if I had ruined my lunch.

"Mommy, I was going to ask you for another show and more granola, please, but are you OK?"

"Thanks for asking, buddy. I'm fine. I'll get your stuff but then I think I might need to go to the hospital." I mentally patted myself on the back for remembering to praise him for his empathy.

I handed him the box of granola, queued up another Adventure Time,and went to find my husband.  Armed with a bandage and a towel, I found some shoes and headed for the door, but not before grabbing my coffee.  Yes, my coffee. Gaping hole in my hand or not, I need my coffee.

The child had already forgotten what happened and asked where I was going.  He was horrified to learn that I wouldn't be able to walk him to school.  Apparently the empathy was fleeting.

After a 75 minute wait at the "urgent" care facility, I saw the nurse.  She asked if I thought I needed stitches.  I resisted the urge to respond that I was paying them to make that determination. She doused my wound with peroxide and betadine, then called me a wuss for saying it hurt. I eventually saw the doctor who informed me that she didn't think I needed stitches, but she'd use the fancy steri-strips to close up my digit, then wrap it.

Another man, whom I assumed worked there, came into the room. He looked at my hand, sucked wind through his teeth, and said helpful things like, "Wow, that's deep!" and "Oof, I bet that hurts!"  He shook his head a few times, too.   He asked how it happened and I told him I was making a salad.  He seemed genuinely surprised when he asked if I was a chef and I said that I was not.

The doctor jumped in.  "Was the knife rusty?"

Yes, I use a rusty knife to cut lettuce.  Doesn't everyone?

The doctor performed a quick abdominal exam, mentioning that they make her do that for everyone who comes in. I was confused but I thanked her, because I have manners.

Relieved to finally be on my way, two long hours since the ordeal began, I thought about what I learned. My kid isn't as egocentric as I thought, I would be wise to not find a reason to return to the urgent care facility, and I may want to look into the bagged lettuce for future salads.

Even though I'm injured, I'm joining my friends on the yeah write challenge grid.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Time Flies.

Time flies when you're not blogging. Isn't that a famous quote or something?

As I sat down to write this week's installment of Wellness Wednesday, I realized I hadn't written anything since the prior week's installment. I would love to be one of those people who produces daily content, but lately life has been getting in the way of that.

Who am I trying to kid? I've been too busy to do that for as long as I've been blogging.

This is not to say that those who can blog daily aren't busy, of course they are. I honestly don't know when they write. (Hey, anyone want to clue me in on that one?)

It's not that I don't have ideas. I have a note pad on my desk on which I write all the ideas I have while I'm working. The intention is that when I'm done working I can write the post. Well, the pad is filling up and the posts aren't getting written. I have a book review I want to write, a mom-blog about pop music based on events that took place last June, a social commentary piece about Robin Thicke (if I get it posted within a month of the VMAs, is it still relevant?), and a post about my 2nd blog-versary which came and went on August 24th with nary a mention.

Instead I'm writing this to tell you that I really WANT to write, but I can't seem to find the time.

I am on the go for about 14 hours a day between work, mom-stuff, and keeping house. I sleep about 7 hours. Where am I losing the other 3? It's certainly not to writing. Must investigate this.  

(Note to self:  Write blog post about missing time. Maybe with a sci-fi slant?)

Where else am I spending my time? Well, I was given the opportunity to become a contributing editor over at yeah write. Actually it's more like I weaseled my way in, but no matter. My picture on the editor's page is probably one of the best you'll find of me on all of the internet. I love getting to open the challenge grid on Tuesdays and open the moonshine grid on Fridays. So I *am* writing a minimum of 3 times each week, I just post 2 of them over there. It's a fun community and I'm thrilled to be doing it. If you aren't already aware of it, you should be checking it out.

In less than 2 weeks I'm headed down to the Type A Parent conference in Atlanta.  If you're going to be there, please look for me and say hi, K?  That means there's lots of planning and practice packing and then for real packing and more planning to do.  I also have back to school night and the year's first PTA meeting coming up.  It seems to me that I'm going to be just as busy in the coming weeks as I have been, but you know what?  I'm looking forward to it.

Just let me grab another cup of coffee.

I'm adding my little brain dump into the mix at the yeah write moonshine grid.  Almost anything goes over there, so head on over and maybe link up a post of your own!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wellness Wednesday 5: Test Results and New Motivation

Hey, remember when I first started this and I told you about missing blood work?  I finally had it redone and got the results on Monday.  There's some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that the results are probably a really good indication of why I've been so tired lately.

The bad news?  Well, there are three parts to it.

First, my fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c tests both came back high.  Not ridiculously high, mind you, but just over the OK limit.  What's the other side of the OK limit called?  It's called prediabetes, folks.  So, yeah.

Second, my Vitamin D is very low.  When I last had these tests done, about 2 years ago, it was low then, too.  I took a prescription D pill and the number went up after three months.  It's back down now, so I'm back on the prescription.  It's a mega dose that I have to take once a week for 12 weeks, then we retest.  Low Vitamin D is linked to fatigue, so it makes sense that no matter how well I would sleep I'd still feel like hell.  What is most disturbing about this is that there is a link between Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis, the disease that killed my mother.  From what I've read it's not clear if it's a cause or effect of the disease, but either way I'm not comfortable with it.  I can't do anything about it except to take better care of myself, so that's what I'm going to do.

Finally, my cholesterol is just inside the healthy range.  Many years ago it was quite high, but with diet and exercise I lowered it.  Last time I had tests it was OK, but it's gone up since.  I haven't been going in the right direction these last few years.

At the moment, I'm still 28 pounds from the top of my healthy weight range (I'm down 5 the healthy way, so yay for that).  Obviously I knew that there was a chance that these tests were going to show signs that my excess weight was starting to really impact my overall health.  Did I think we'd be throwing around the word diabetes?  No, not really.  But we are.

The doctor has advised, again obviously, that I lose weight.  She wants me to exercise regularly (we'll get to that in a minute) and watch what I eat.  She has suggested less carbs, low fat, low sugar.  I'm tempted to ask what that leaves for me to eat, but I know the answer to that even if it's an answer I don't really want to hear.  I know how to eat well, I just don't know how to not get bored.  I don't know how to not eat my feelings.  I don't know how to say no to foods I know I shouldn't eat.

So what about this exercise?  So far this month, I've walked 10.06 miles.  I didn't walk today because it's hotter than the sun out there.  I've done 1,600 jumping jacks and 405 crunches over the last 11 days, which now that I've written it doesn't really sound like a whole lot.  My calves and "abs" would argue that point, though.  I missed one day but made it up the next, which was a terrible thing.  No more missing days.

I've learned two things about jumping jacks:  After having a baby, jumping with anything other than a completely empty bladder is dangerous. Sad but true. I'm considering exercising in the bathroom from now on. Also, I need to wear a bra while doing The Jacks.  You'd think that would be a no-brainer, but ladies, you know how it is when you take that bra off for the day.  It's not going back on no matter what. Must jump before the bra comes off.

One other thing - watching my son do jumping jacks is about the most hilarious thing ever.  I really do love when the wants to jump with me.  If only watching extreme cuteness could burn calories...

Seriously though, I was pretty motivated before this week. Those test results just added fuel to my fire.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wellness Wednesday: Week 4

Things are going better this week than last, thank goodness.  I can already feel the air starting to cool a bit.  Fall is my favorite season and I always equate September first with a time of renewal for my spirit and goals.

Let me recap August for you.
  • 21/31 days I cooked dinner at home.  That number includes the virus week when one night I made saltines and another night I made nothing.
  • 6/31 days I exercised.  The worst part of that is three of those days I was sick with the constantly mentioned virus.  I'm going to really work on this for September.
  • By the end of August I have completed 57.03 miles of my 100 mile walk/run goal.
  • I only had soda one time in August, which is huge because I love me some soda.
  • I am down 4 pounds.
I didn't just start keeping these stats for the blog, I keep this sort of log often.  I have a color coded calender with highlights and all, just for fun.  I find it to be a good motivational tool for me.

Here are my September goals:
  • I'm doing a 30 day crunch challenge. The last day is 165 crunches, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
  • I'm also doing a 30 day jumping jack challenge because I like to go overboard.  The last day is 750 jumping jacks, but I'm not going to think about that right now.
  • I'm shooting for 30 miles of run/walk in 30 days.  I'm not sure that's attainable, but we'll see.
  • If I can't walk/run outside, I will allow marching in place inside as a substitute.  30 minutes will equal 1 mile for the record.  I think that's fair.
  • No breakfast or lunches from outside the house on weekdays.  Eating at home only.
  • Eat at home as much as possible for dinner, and that does not mean taking dinner from a restaurant to the home.  However, if we eat leftovers from a takeout meal, that counts.
I'm headed to the Type A Parent Conference at the end of the month, so I know that's going to put a strain on some of my challenge goals.  Ideally I can hit the gym at the hotel in the mornings.  I'll just do the best I can and make sure that the rest of the month is as good as possible so that a few days of diversions doesn't derail me.

Also, today is an anniversary for me. I have not had any alcohol for a year. I wrote a whole post about it, but it's not ready.  Or maybe I'm not ready. I'm sure I'll share it eventually, just not yet. But I will tell you this:  I truly believe that of all the decisions I make daily regarding my health, this one just may be the most important.

Happy September everyone.  I'll see you here next Wednesday for Week 5.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Tape Dispenser.

My first grade teacher, Miss Keating, was possibly the kindest teacher I've ever had. I had an intense fear of doing the wrong thing and getting in trouble. I wanted my teacher to love me and, for the most part, she did. I was punctual, respectful, and I always did my homework. I was perhaps a bit too chatty, but I always shut up when she gave me The Look.

One afternoon, she warned the class that she would be out the following day and we were to treat the substitute exactly as we'd treat her. Anyone who acted up in her absence would "get it" and since this was back when teachers could say you'd get it, you believed.

As someone with a lifelong history of taking things not necessarily directed at me incredibly personally, I was sure she was talking to me.

The day with the substitute was going fine. As we cleaned up our final art project, I walked the tape dispenser back to Miss Keating's desk to return it to the exact spot from which I'd borrowed it. As someone with a lifelong history of mishaps, I tripped over a chair, lost my grip on the dispenser and sent it sailing across the floor. We found the tape, and the massive black holder, but that little round do-hickey that holds it in place was gone. I crawled along the entire floor and couldn't find it anywhere.  The substitute announced it was time to go home. Despite my anguish, I was forced to give up the search.

I was certain the next day I was going to get it.

I cried all afternoon, all evening and then again the next morning. My mother, ever the non-worrier, sent me to school with a note in my backpack that likely said something along the lines of, "My kid is losing her shit over here, please don't be too hard on her or she may never stop crying." Miss Keating had a reputation for teasing in a gentle way, but as someone with a lifelong habit of not always being able to take a joke, sometimes people have to tread lightly with me.

The next morning, I immediately raised my hand to tell my teacher I had a note from my mom. I approached the desk, head hanging low, as if headed to my own execution. I stood there while my teacher read, my heart beating wildly in my chest, trying desperately and unsuccessfully not to let tears fall in front of the whole class. When she was done, she looked up with a smile.

"Michelle. Is this the tape you dropped?" she pointed to her dispenser, tape roll secured in place by the do-hickey.

I was in shock, but managed to squeak out that it was indeed the tape in question.

"It's not broken. Stop crying."

She said that the do-hickey had been found by the janitor, probably under a bookcase or desk, and was left for her that morning. The substitute had left her a note because I had been so distraught. She went on to explain the difference between innocent accidents and intentional defiance. She told me I was silly to be so scared. She wasn't angry at me. I felt loved and safe.

And then she hugged me, because this was back when a teacher could hug her students.

Submitting this to yeah write, two days before my son enters first grade.