Thursday, April 30, 2009

Success in the Calorie Budget

Yesterday I had my first brush with 'real life' eating, in this food budget that I am on. Not only did Dale drop by with a Robin's Donuts breakfast sandwich ... but he issued a supper invitation at the same time.

I had a slight moment of anxiety as the sandwich was placed before me. But I thought "This is life ... juggle the numbers ..." And I did. I savored every morsel of that sandwich because it was so foreign to my taste buds after a few weeks of carefully considering the food I consumed.

Then, he issued a supper invitation. Not only was I trying to figure out how I would accomplish what I had to do last night, if I accepted his invitation ... I was immediately wondering just how I would juggle the calorie load.

What feels best about this food 'budget', is that nothing is off limits. I can satisfy a craving, I can go out and eat what is offered and I have some room to negotiate the numbers and still succeed in consuming less calories than I would have before.

I'm anticipating budgeting in some of my favorite snack foods some day. If I juggle the numbers and have some low-cal snack options on hand ... I can still indulge myself in a mini feast of the (usually) forbidden items on any other healthier eating plan that I have tried.

My digestive system doesn't even work properly if I don't allow myself to eat what my body craves. If I feel like something is completely off limits, I crave it in the worst way. Just knowing that I can consume what I want to, creates a completely different mentality for me.

I feel like I am on the right road. If I continue to follow this plan (I have given myself a 6 month goal), I should notice some difference. Even if I can simply stop the upward spiral that my weight has been taking, that will be a start.

It feels good to balance the budget ... in all areas of life.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Budgeting Life

Not only am I balancing my calorie intake and my finances lately, I am running short on time so I now have that 'budget' to balance too.

The positive thing about balancing my food intake, is that it has saved a small fortune on groceries, snack items and take out food. My financial state of affairs is looking much better than I anticipated it would, as this month comes to an end.

The other good thing about concentrating on exercise and moving more, is that it is very time consuming. There is no time at the end of the day to fritter away. No idle time = less time to eat. Less time to eat = balancing the calorie budget.

The pitfall of this, is that it feels like there aren't enough hours in the day. I have book keeping work that I squeeze into my babysitting days, with the family history book looming on the horizon. I dance 2 nights a week, there are the mundane errands that must be run week after week and this exercising takes up an extraordinary amount of time. Anything above and beyond ... runs over the allotted time budget.

I didn't realize just how tightly I had my life scheduled until Dale invited us out for supper tonight. I had to figure out when I would get the errands run that were on tonights agenda. He took it as an insult. It wasn't that ... it was just a timing issue.

Then there are the TV programs that I have started following. I tape everything so I save 15 minutes per hour (as I fast forward through the commercials). But I am obsessed with keeping up to date on 'my shows'. I am so excited that the season is winding down to a close! I just don't have time to watch an extended amount of TV in this new found busy life.

I should really get up an hour earlier so that I can exercise in the morning. If life gets any busier than it is at the moment (which really isn't all that busy), something will have to go. Exercise has been tossed by the wayside far too long. It's time to bump up its priority in my allotted time budget.

I am enjoying the outlook of a more diversified life that isn't driven solely by what can be accomplished in a short time frame. Taking time to sit back and relax (which is why I'm sure there will always be at least one TV show that I have to watch) is something that I must work into the budget. Taking time for friends and family is at the top of the list. A social life is starting to be something that I yearn for ... but it's just not in the 'budget' right now. Soon.

How did I ever manage to work in my Saturday job? I have filled those 6 hours that I worked with at least triple the amount of obligations. The difference being, that it is work that can be done on my terms, within my home and squeezed in between everything else that I have going on around me. I love having that control. It works well in my 'time budget'.

I have a busy season ahead, after a long dormant one. I used to be far busier than this. I have just learned to recognize the value of keeping life in balance. As necessary as it is to keep busy and vital, it is also important to have down times. I'll just continue to 'juggle the books' and make it work.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Out of My Comfort Zone

Well ... after thinking far too long and far too hard, I've finally taken the tentative first steps out of my comfort zone again. I have contacted the members of my dad's family to try to get together so we can write the 'story of their lives'.

When I put together Mom's family history last winter, no one really totally comprehended what I was trying to do. It gave me free rein to do anything ... from going all the way ... to cutting corners ... to quitting altogether. But I had a picture in my mind, a title for the book and I could visualize the end result. So I persevered.

This time is quite a different matter. Last fall, I mailed out a few copies of the book (that I had compiled, of my mom's family) to my dad's brothers so that I could put out some feelers to see if they would be interested in compiling their family's story.

The interest was there, but a lot of the family takes an extended winter vacation so we decided to wait until spring to get together and really start the process.

I had 6 long months to ponder the wisdom of this endeavor. 6 months to allow the negative self-talk seep into my consciousness. 6 months to fret and stew over the idea. 6 months to hear the thought "What was I thinking??" repeatedly come to mind.

I also had 6 months to think about what direction I would like this book to take. 6 months to think of who I wanted to 'speak' to, how I wanted people to feel when they read it and to try and come up with a new way to tell a very similar story as the one I put together for my mom's family.

The first time around, I dove right in without thinking too hard. I worked feverishly to get the book started and completed within a short time frame. It was if I may never restart the project, if I let it idle. I needed to prove to myself that I could accomplish that goal.

This second time around, I've had a lot of time to sink my teeth into what I really want to accomplish. I don't have a deadline looming, but I do expect a lot more out of myself now. I've set the bar higher for myself, and it's a little intimidating.

Dad isn't here to tell his story, nor is his older brother. At one point, I wanted to write this for them. But after a season of pondering the whole idea ... I want to speak to their families.

A person doesn't realize what a gift it is to be able to talk to a parent, as an adult child. To be able to sit down with your mother or father and hear them speak of life as they see it and tell you little things that you can pass along your own children. When you have that, you don't realize just how special it is. To lose a parent before you can hear them tell the story of their life and pass along the lessons they have learned along the way leaves a void in that part of your history.

I hope that this next book project of mine passes along those stories and lessons to the next generation. A sense of our family's history ... a feeling of who our grandparents, parents and relatives are ... and something that we can hold onto when our parents are no longer here, to tell it as it was.

I'm diving in head first now. It's a little uncomfortable at the moment ... but I can picture the finished product. I still need a title and a 'theme' for the cover but I'm sure that once I get comfortable with the whole idea, that will come.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lovin' the New Math

5 days does not a success make ... but in the 5 days that I've been tracking my calorie intake and calories burned, I am feeling confident that I'm on the right track. It is like I'm on a food budget.

I have had a mini calculator running inside of my head ever since I started saving up for the tape recorder that I bought when I was 12 years old. How long will it take to save 'this much', if I get 'that much' allowance?

I graduated from saving, to budgeting real life costs when I married at 17. I vividly remember sitting in the truck (as I waited for my husband-to-be as he checked into completing his grade 12), adding up our upcoming living expenses verses income. I was in desperate need of validation in those days and I begged my new husband to tell me why he loved me. He thought for a millisecond and said "Because you are good with money." Not the answer a newlywed is looking for, but it is something that I lived up to throughout the decades that followed.

Managing debts, managing money, financial planning courses, learning to adapt to whatever it was that I was earning at the time ... it was all a mathematical problem. You shouldn't spend what you don't have. Otherwise you end up in debt.

Managing calories is much the same. If you keep eating more than you burn off in a day ... you will gain weight (especially after you turn 40).

I don't know when I went from an 'eating to live' mentality, to a 'living to eat' one. At pivotal points in my life, I always seemed to turn away from or turn to food. One particular formula that worked wonders for keeping me slim and trim was:
High stress levels + Forgetting to eat + Nervous energy = A very lean body.

Lately, the formulas have been more like:
Lonely + potato chips = a pound here
Needing a reward + ice cream = a pound there
Crave adult company + 8 cookies = a pound in places I didn't know I had
Watching TV + candy = a pound to sleep on
Reading + any kind of food = an extra pound in case of emergency
Habit + food = pounds everywhere

My food consumption was emotional. Hunger had nothing to do with it.

By counting calories, I have automatically become motivated to 'spend' them wisely. Choosing foods that are low in calories at several points in my day allow me some room to indulge in my comfort foods. Nothing is taboo. I can eat whatever I want to, but if I want to stay within my budget I have to find low calorie, sustaining meals that allow me my favorite snacks.

I have been listing my snack option calorie count, so when I'm looking for something to nibble on I tend to check my list first. Maybe if I combine a few low cal options, I can have 2 snacks instead of one. I can still have ice cream if I want to ... but I need to 'spend' less on lunch if I want dessert.

This is not rocket science. People have been counting calories forever. I'm just new to the game. I needed to make my food habit into a game - not something where I felt like I was depriving myself of my favorite foods. Juggling the books is something I have always been able to manage when it comes to budgeting. Juggling calories is very similar.

I'm on a new path that is comfortable. I'm in competition with myself. As I track and graph my calorie intake, calories burned and weight I am motivated to keep the numbers going in the direction I choose.

Yesterday, I finally managed to consume close to the amount of calories that I would need to, to start the process of losing weight. That, combined with burning extra calories as I added exercise and a short walk to my day made me feel like I was back in control.

I jumped on the scale this morning to see the impact of one day. It isn't going to happen over night, but at least this is one day that the number on the scale didn't increase.

As I look at my graph where I have a visual picture of my success (even if the scale is planning to hold out on me for a while), I am excited. The calorie intake line has been on an (almost) steady decline ever since I started tracking my food intake.

I am finally headed in a direction that feels right. Budgeting and math are my strong suits. Turning this into a competition within myself is motivating me. This is no longer about depriving myself of my favorite comfort foods. It is about trying to find a way to 'juggle the budget' so that I can have it all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Healthy Nourishment

I'm making a conscious effort to feed myself what I need to nourish my body and spirit these days.

Rediscovering my enjoyment of homemade soup has rekindled an interest in not only eating healthier (and less) ... but the added bonus of the saving on the grocery and take out food expenses.

My body and mind feel cleaner and clearer after a day of eating nourishing food and eating a moderate amount. So far, this feels better and more natural than any of the 'cleanses' that I have tried in the recent past.

I decided that one other thing that my body and mind needed, was to move. I climbed back on the exercise wagon this morning and it felt great. Physically exerting myself works miracles for my state of mind. Those positive ions are starting to work their way back to the surface. I can feel them grasping for air and begging for more of the same.

I finished reading 'Marley and Me' tonight. As I have immersed myself in suspense novels lately, I thought I was in need of internalizing some uplifting thoughts. I have seen the movie (Marley and Me) ... but the book is so much better. I love when a writer can make me laugh out loud. I can't say that my favorite suspense authors have me chuckling to myself too often.

I tossed in 3 hours of book keeping into the mix today. It was a task that I thought may never end. But it did. It provided a sense of accomplishment to the days events.

A conversation with my mom ... a short stroll ... (finally) taking down the outside Christmas lights ... and my day felt like it was in perfect balance. I could add a bit more adult companionship into my days, but I'm content with my own company. So days like this are okay.

I 'fed' myself only what I needed today. A well balanced day, like a well balanced meal ... leaves a person feeling satisfied and content.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Will Spring Ever Come to Stay??



It's snowing this afternoon (although these pictures didn't really capture it so well). On the bright side, I doubt we'll have to shovel. But ... we were outside in bare arms a few days ago. This weather is such a tease!

Just Another Math Problem

I like numbers. Numbers make sense. There is an absolute right and wrong answer. There is always some way to figure out a mathematical solution to a question.

I have never counted calories in my life. I've been lucky enough to have a metabolism that worked well for me (for the first 46 years of my life anyway). Even as the weight continued to find its way onto my body, I assumed that I would adjust my eating patterns and all would work out ... eventually. Obviously that hasn't happened (thus the excess padding I'm sporting lately).

As I checked into the Weight Watchers website and found their point system and various tracking methods I thought that I would start keeping track of my calories expended and taken in. It's been an eye opening experience.

First off, I wasn't going to let food that had a shelf life go to waste. So I just ate what I had in the fridge this week and calculated the calories I was eating. The 4 sale items that grabbed my interest on last weekend's grocery trip were: potato salad, macaroni salad, pie and ice cream. It took the better part of 5 days to consume them (there is still lots of ice cream left) but the price that I paid ($18.00) wasn't such a deal when I added up the calorie intake (an average of 2400 calories a day).

It's complicated math. A bargain in my pocket book doesn't necessarily equal a bargain on my waistline.

I made home made chicken soup for the kids yesterday and tallied up the calories for one serving. Now that was a mathematical formula for success!! One half of a left over chicken breast; 3 carrots; 3 stalks of celery; 1/2 an onion; 3 boxes of store bought chicken broth (I should have had turkey broth on hand); and a cup of rice equals a bargain for my budget. And at 240 calories (including 6 crackers), it was a smart way to eat.

I do believe that I've stumbled onto a formula that may work for me:
Home made soups + exercise = weight loss

Making soup in bulk and having it on hand will take away the 'what will I grab for supper' blues. Not only will I save money and calories ... but in the long run, I'll save time as well (more time to exercise).

On the bright side, my high calorie week didn't cost a lot. I tallied up all the food I consumed since Monday and I spent a total of $40 to feed myself for 5 entire days. When you think of how easy it is to spend an average of $8.00 on a take out entree (which is only one meal out of 3 ... and 9 times out of 10, a person is craving a snack shortly there after), I would say that though this week didn't spell weight loss at least I didn't break the bank.

If I can turn this weight problem into a math problem, I think that I just may find my solution.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Lighter Look at Life

Whenever life looks too serious I find myself looking to our furry friends to lighten my mood ...


video

A Lesson in Perspective

I've been a little off my game lately. Letting little things get under my skin and irritate me ... probably because I haven't had anything more important to worry about.

This week, I've had some gentle reminders to put my little worries into perspective. There are people all around me that are facing tremendous challenges in their personal lives and taking it all in stride. Handling crisis's heroically and facing up to what must be faced.

As if I don't know of enough of these 'heroes' personally, I have been seeking them out (as I continue to follow the blogs of the 2 families that I mentioned in my 'Heroism Among the Tears' blog last week). I seem to be drawn to these people as they write their way through the pain. I am an anonymous voyeur into their lives as I empathize with their situation and am inspired by their courage.

Yet ... I am at arms length to the people in my own life. It is time to 'reach out and touch someone' that I know. It's time to let the petty annoyances in my life sit on a back burner where they belong and prioritize where I spend my energy.

It is time to put the small stuff into perspective.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

True Confessions of My Weighty Issues

Okay. It is official. This whole weight thing is truly weighing me down!

I put on a shirt tail blouse this morning (that I haven't worn since last summer) and the reason it is too small? Because my rear is so big that it bunches up at the bottom. Eeewww!!

I stepped on the scale (I haven't stepped on a scale for over a week because I thought I was becoming too obsessed) and it is official. I now weigh 20 pounds more than I did 2 years ago. I have gained 8 to 10 of those pounds in the past 8 months.

The more I think about food, the more I eat. The more I think about weight, the more I gain. The more I exercise, the more tired I am and ... I eat more. It's a vicious circle. So, the past few weeks I decided to just go with the flow of things and let the ebbs and flows of my appetite dictate my dietary consumption. Granted, I did have a few food obsessed days. I've been on an even keel for the past 5 days and haven't been driven by food. I've added 2 pounds onto my last weigh-in.

This is insane.

I checked into the Weight Watchers website this morning and I'm convincing myself to try and follow some of their guidelines. Starting a food diary and recording my calorie intake would be a good way to become more conscious about what I am putting into my mouth. Tracking my diet, exercise, goals and achievements along the way may make this less of a feeling of restricting my whims and more of a competition. Who knows? At this point, I'd just like to curl up and sleep it off. Wake me up when I'm 10 pounds lighter, please.

I bought a bike last night (my Second Son found a steal of a deal) and I must utilize it. I haven't exercised this past week and a half. I must start again! I bought pie and ice cream. Must I eat that before I start into my positive eating action plan??

I found a 'Healthy Weight Forum' that has a lot of good information on it. It has a calorie counter that calculates how many calories you can consume daily, in order to lose "X" amount of pounds. As of lunch time today, I had already consumed my maximum amount of calories to simply maintain the weight that I am at. Considering that I normally squeeze in a late afternoon snack, a full supper and some late night eating is it a wonder that I'm adding on the pounds??

One's metabolism does change as you age and gaining some weight as the years pile on is normal. I've read up on an under active thyroid condition and though it seemed like I may fit into that category, I'm starting to wonder if I was just looking for an excuse.

What has changed for me in the past 2 years? I broke off a long term relationship. Is there a correlation between the 2? I am beginning to wonder. I'm feeling the loss of that relationship in a different way lately.

I have many things to ponder as I find ways to burn off those calories and find a ways to consume a few less and turn this whole weight issue into a non issue!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rebooting

When all else fails, what does one do when your computer freezes up? You reboot. Save what you can, shut it down and then start fresh.

Life is a lot like that.

I've unconsciously been rebooting my life all along and didn't even realize it.

Relationships that fail. Salvage the positives, learn from and recycle the negatives, delete unhealthy relationships from your life and start over.

Raising kids. Take what you learn from the first and try to apply it to the second and third. Keep what works, toss what fails, do your best, save the good stuff forever and keep restarting when the going gets rough.

Dead end jobs. Learn what you can from them, do your best, focus on what you love about your job, try to turn the negatives into a positive, know when it is time to move on to a new program and restart when necessary.

Relationships that last. Keep focusing on the positive, give from your heart, when the going gets rough ... save the lines of communication, recycle the lessons that you've learned, never delete the ability to forgive ... and restart from the new beginnings.

Over extending yourself. Taking on too much information, taking on too many responsibilities and adding them onto an already overloaded system. Save what is important, delete what is redundant, add what keeps you vital, shut down your system when you must and don't restart immediately. While your system is down, take the opportunity to recharge, reanalyse and rethink the situation before you start up again.

Times of mental fatigue and 'shut down' are there for a reason. It gives you a chance to take a step back and look at the same old situation from a different angle. Down times are an opportunity for change. If something keeps shutting down your system time and time again, it's time to look at what isn't working and consider if it is something you need to fix or delete.

'Clean up your files' on a regular basis - tidy up loose ends, delete the redundant and be grateful for all that you've saved.

Empty out your 'recycle bin' often. A person tends to have piles of recycling that need to be dealt with. Whether you toss it, donate or sell it ... too much stuff sitting around only adds to the clutter in your mind.

I often feel guilty at taking time to shut down and temporarily veer off the course that felt so right at the time. But every time that I look back on times of rest, renewal and just plain feeling down with the world ... something positive surfaces from the rubble. A new program ... a new path ... a new outlook.

Rebooting is necessary in this cycle of life. A chance to restart an old idea is often better after idling for a while.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Waking Up Happy!

It has been a while since I woke up happy. I am reveling in the joy of the quiet moments of my morning before the kids start filing in.

As the first waves of consciousness started hitting me this morning, all I felt was exhaustion. I hit the snooze button on the alarm and the next thing I knew, it was going off again. All I could think of was sleep.

Then ... my thoughts started to rouse me. No one thought in particular. Just happiness within.

As I meowed my good morning to Andre (the cat), my meow didn't come out (frog in my throat). I just laughed. Starting the morning with such a minor thing tickling my funny bone is the right way to start the day.

I am so amused as Andre thinks nothing of wandering into My Youngest's room and meowing loudly as my son sleeps soundly. He expects 'his boy' to meow back (and I have heard My Youngest meow to Andre in his sleep) and lavish some attention on him. Now.

Many, many mornings Andre decides to sleep in. He stretches out on my bed after I make it around him as if to say "Finally!! I get the whole bed to myself!" and I am so jealous. I just want to take a 'cat day' but I'm forced to face up to my 'human day' and responsibilities.

Andre has been getting up with me this week - it must be the early morning sun that has his cat senses tingling and ready to go so early. It's nice to have his company.

I was happy as I fell asleep last night and I woke up with residual happiness this morning. It is the best way to start a Friday.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dancing is The Best!!

I have been in one rotten mood. All week. I would have given anything to just be able to crawl up under a blanket and not peek my head out (except to eat of course ... in fact, I probably would have brought a huge bag of chips, tons of chocolate and pop under that blanket with me).

I haven't had to leave the house all week and the thoughts of going out to the dance that was being held at the dance studio tonight was not in the least bit exciting to me.

I went through the motions anyway and acted like I was going to go. I have more bad hair days, than there are days in the week lately. When I couldn't get my hair to co-operate (again), I thought "I can't go." When I didn't know what to wear (they were having a country theme and my jeans are too tight and my butt is too big), I thought "I won't go." When we were told last week that this was an appetizer party and to bring a small appetizer with us, I just got angry. Dancing is the one activity that I don't associate with food. I never, ever eat or drink when I'm at a dance. I don't associate the 2 activities in my mind (and there is very little that I don't associate with food these days), and I don't want to start now. So I thought, "I will not go."

Well ... I tamed down my hair, squeezed into my jeans (and wore a shirt to camouflage my rear view), bought some almonds to take along ... and I went.

What a transformation! The instant that I walked into the studio, I forgot that I felt fat, ugly and grumpy. I took my nuts and sat them on the appetizer table, declared that I came as a 'rhinestone cowboy' (I wore a sparkly top, earrings and a bracelet with my jeans and jean shirt), put on my dance shoes ... and the rest is history.

I started talking with people, the dance started and it was fun. Complete and total fun!! I danced, I laughed, I visited (I didn't eat or drink a thing) and it was the most fun that I've had since the last dance I went to, 2 months ago.

Dancing, the people at the studio, the atmosphere and simply getting out of the house and doing something I love ... is pure tonic for me. I was transformed tonight. I do believe I can endure another day.

It's good to have a 'happy place'. That is what the dance studio is for me.

Heroism Through the Tears

I have become somewhat obsessed by the blogs that I found as I read about one of the 'unconventional dads' that was featured on Oprah.

'Matt, Liz and Madeline' features Matt's story, simply described on the blogs header: "Life and death. All in a 27-hour period. What you read here is what follows."

As I read the story of this family, I found myself caught up in the emotions of what they faced. I started at the present day and found myself wanting to go back to 'the beginning'.

Their story is heart breaking, yet amazing. How this young father picked himself up and got through the days, weeks and months that followed the birth of his daughter is awe inspiring.

As I went back and forth between the past and the present day blogs, I found another tragically inspiring story. 'The Spohrs Are Multiplying' chronicles another family's journey into parenthood as their daughter was born 11 weeks and 1 day prematurely. Once again, I started reading their present day blogs and found myself backtracking to the beginning of their story.

Their daughter survived all the odds and came home after 68 days in the NICU. She died unexpectedly 9 days ago, just 4 days shy of her 17 month birthday.

I have been riveted as I read about these heroic parents. Their stories could be any one's story. Our lives can be transformed in the matter of minutes. Life is precious and you can't predict the next turn your life may take.

As these blogs chronicle the events of the miraculous births of their children and record the mundane miracles of every day life, they are ordinary. How they survive the unthinkable and carry on is heroic.

Just moments ago, a parent dropping off their child told me of a stabbing that happened in our neighborhood school park. And of a 7 year old who drove his bike out onto the road in front of the school without thinking and was hit by a car. Both of these stories had happy endings. No one died or had life threatening injuries. But in that instant, anything could have happened. Hitting one's head in the wrong spot or a knife injuring a vital organ could have changed the outcome drastically.

As I sit and listen to the many stories of every day events happening to every day people, I can't help but think how every minute of every day that our lives carry on in ordinary ways ... is a miracle.

Every day people carrying on in spite of what life has given them, are my heroes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Garbage In, Garbage Out?

I guess that title could be the theme of what I've been 'feeding' myself lately. Literally and figuratively.

I'm on an eating binge that is all consuming. Something is very hollow within ... and I'm feeding it. Badly. If I'm that 'hungry', I should feed myself balanced meals. Instead, I seem to hear the tune of "you deserve a break today" singing within. I am not satisfied with the food that I have on hand. I'm hunting for it outside of my kitchen and house.

What am I putting into my mind? I'm reading - a lot of fiction. I seem to be running on empty there too. I am filling the need to be entertained and I let my mind go on vacation when I read. It is an escape.

What am I searching for when I go on the net? An episode of Oprah is often at the root of my quest for new input for my mind. Monday's show on unconventional and unforgettable dad's had me searching out a blog of one of those dads. One blog led to the next and the next thing I knew, 3 hours of my evening had disappeared.

Every day heroes are all around us - people we know, people we've never met, people we cross paths with every day. Everyone has a story. When I researched some of the stories of these families, my own story felt very short and easy.

I have found the blog of an author that I thought would inspire me. Instead, it makes me feel inadequate and lacking in most every way. I think I shall delete that site from my favorites. It's not that I couldn't learn a lot from reading her words. But I'm not in the right place to read them right now.

It's a very, very quiet daycare week so far. I haven't had a lot of adult conversation and the one parent that does stay and chat, is somewhat negative. I haven't found a balance for that conversation (nor have I been looking).

I watched a movie that really made me think. That is enjoyable ... but as I was thinking on what I've been 'feeding' myself recently I realized that the topic of the movie was actually quite depressing.

I took a few days off of exercising and I have yet to jump back on that bandwagon. It wasn't convenient to exercise for 1 day. I have made the choice not to exercise in the 3 days that followed that. My mind and body were benefiting from the work outs and I have deleted that from my feel-good list.

I need to feed myself something healthier. Starting with a healthy, home cooked supper (I just brought out some chicken to thaw).

I need to move. I have been doing some raking outside ... but I have been moving so slowly that I embarrass myself. It is time to face my Wii trainer and see what he has to say after taking so many days off!

I need to surround myself with positive. I must fill my emptiness with uplifting words, thoughts and people. If they don't come knocking at my door, I must seek them out.

Replacing the garbage with a well balanced life in all respects, will result in a more well balanced 'me'.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Be It Ever So Humble ...

There is no place like home!

I love coming home. It doesn't matter if I'm gone an hour, a day or several days ... every single time I drive up into our driveway, I am elated to be back.

Home hasn't always been an oasis for me. But it is now and there is no going back. It is the best feeling in the world to feel the safety and security that I feel within our 4 walls.

As we finished up our lunch today and were homeward bound, I only had to take a breath and Kurt said, "I know what you are going to say ... your favorite Disney movie saying ..."

And I did (from Toy Story):

Let's ... go home!

Happy Easter

No matter how you may or may not celebrate this holiday, may your Sunday be sunny inside and out.

After a long, cold winter may the spring of your season within provide you with opportunities to grow. May the seeds you plant be fruitful - whether it is a thing of beauty, something to provide nourishment for your soul or something that others may enjoy.

A walk in the rain, finding a ray of sun, working or playing outside and gearing up for the seasons of growth ahead ... spring has sprung. At last.

Enjoy the bounties of the seasons ahead!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Icy Patches in Life

A person just never knows when something as simple as slipping on a patch of ice can alter the path that you expected to take.

It was 7 1/2 weeks ago that Son #2 slipped on some ice and broke a bone in his hand. The doctor-ordered 6 weeks off of work sounded like a holiday to him. Financially, he thought he was in a place where he could manage.

The 6 weeks past, the cast was taken off of his hand and ... he was told that it would be another 6 weeks before he could go back to work. This put a totally different spin on this vacation time.

Had he known at the onset, that this could end up being a 3 month lay off, he would have utilized his time and resources completely differently. There is a course that he would have taken, possibly some spending that he wouldn't have 'spent' and his mind set would have been on a long term plan instead of one that was a vacation.

I couldn't help but compare his situation to my 6 week recovery period after my surgery last fall. Luckily, I was able to take back on a portion of my work load without going against what my doctor ordered. I was very fortunate that I had already set the wheels in motion for the potential of a second income just prior to my surgery. Starting that job when I did was a financial life-saver.

I took my 6 weeks and made it work for me. It was more of a work slow-down, than time completely off of work. The quiet in those weeks allowed me to see where I wanted my life to go from here. It was a working vacation and it was perfect.

Seeing my son's frustration over a situation that feels completely out of his control isn't easy to watch. He has always been a 'bounce-back' kind of guy and takes on whatever life throws at him. I have worried endlessly over his financial state in the past, but he always manages to pull himself through. I have words of advise that are easier to hear when he's not in the midst of a crisis ... so I don't advise much at times like this.

A person can't foresee the 'icy patches' in life ... but when you do slip and fall, there is an opportunity to create some changes during the time where you healing. Finding ways to survive these little falls is a stepping stone to learning how to cope with the crashes.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

On Being Comfortable

"Being a parent causes you to be stronger than if you didn't have children"
Gary Neuman (on the Oprah Show)

That is a statement that has been the essence behind my life ever since I became a parent. When I heard it this morning when watching the Oprah show, it resonated within me.

Every single time one of my children was born, it was a catalyst for change within me and the life that I lived.

Every tough decision that I have made, has been made with the knowledge that 'I am the parent' and I must do what is best for my children.

I wouldn't be the person that I am today, if I didn't have my children. I would have made completely different choices in my life and ended up in a different spot. I appreciate the lessons that being a parent has taught me. Sometimes I didn't know what was right for me, but when I thought of my children the answer was clear.

Any time that I have found myself in a place that was out of my comfort zone, great things happened. I couldn't appreciate the lesson that was being taught to me at the time but in looking back, I know that if I hadn't been placed in that life altering place ... I would have stayed where it was comfortable. I would have followed the path of least resistance.

As I made this realization this morning, I saw what was most likely the underlying cause of this little bit of sadness and lethargy that has crept back into my life this past winter. I am too comfortable.

It's hard to create your own waves and make the tough choices when the easy choices are so easy. I now see that is why I thrive on situations that put me just a little out of my comfort zone.

I love my private dance lessons ... but even those are a little bit better now that I've started (doing the more uncomfortable thing) going to the group classes as well. It enhances what was already there and provides me a little more room to grow and to learn.

I enjoy the challenge of the book keeping job that I do on the side ... but I am so frustrated because it is too mind-numbing, easy and I have little control over the work flow. I'd love the challenge of diving in head first and learning how to do it all (instead of bits and pieces of the job).

I am nervous about the family history projects that I am working on. I should be knee deep in revisions on the first project. I should be making moves to start researching the second project. Instead, I seem to be paralyzed and I'm going no where with either project.

At the moment, I'm standing on the ledge. Too afraid to jump, too comfortable to take the plunge. Being comfortable hasn't brought anything to me (except the extra amount of pounds that have found their way onto my body).

The work out that I really need, is the one that takes me out of my comfort zone and throws me into the next challenge of my life. Who knows where things will go from there?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What's Eating at Me?

I have been consciously aware of my eating lately. I am starting to feel that the more I think about what I'm eating or not eating ... the more I crave everything.

I started out by writing down the emotion that I was feeling when I reached for food when hunger was not the motivating factor.

I have my breakfast smoothie and as a rule, I don't even think about food until lunch. Except ... when I do think about food in the morning, I tend to think about food all day.

I have had 2 days (out of the past 4 days) where I grazed for the entirety of the day. I nibbled, I ate, I drank (coffee or tea) and I nibbled some more. Both of these were days when I started eating between breakfast and lunch.

And what was the emotion that I felt as I grabbed my next snack? I felt empty inside.

One of these days was on a Sunday when I had the world at my fingertips and I was not bound by any responsibilities. I was invited out for supper and the more I thought of this invitation, the more I ate. That doesn't even make sense.

The other day was yesterday. I was bound to my house and the limitations that I had placed upon me because of the 'kid load' I had that day. Even what I could do within the house was restricted because of the ages, stages and schedules of the kids I had here. I felt so restricted by kids, that I was restless.

Thankfully, I had sunflower seeds on hand which took care of the hand-to-mouth habit which I tend to fall into on days like this (and days not like this). I was endlessly craving ... something.

The cravings that I have, have little to do with food. It is an emotion, an emptiness and a longing inside of me that I am filling with food. My life is not fully in balance when food plays such a big part of the day.

Today is a new day. I'm not feeling empty inside and I'm eating when I'm hungry. I eat a much healthier and a more balanced meal when I am feeding hunger verses feeding an emotion.

I have to find better ways to feed the emotional voids in my days. There are ups and downs in life no matter how content you are. I think feeding those voids with contact with people would be much healthier than feeding myself with food. The question is: Do I know enough people to feed that emptiness??

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Levelling Off Days

Yesterday, I woke up with such energy. I was full of words, ideas and a real zest for life. I spent the morning writing, moving, thinking and talking. It was wonderful. Then I woke up this morning.

I pried myself out of bed reminding myself that this extra 30 minutes is a gift to myself. The gift of time ... or the gift of sleep ... that was the question.

The gift of time won out, in the inner battle of my mind. I've spent that 'gift' on writing. Updating our daycare blog which I simply couldn't bring myself to do for almost a week. Things in the kid-world have been going downhill and I didn't want to put it in words. Not then.

The kids have been draining my energy lately. This is typical after an endless winter. I always feel this way. The need to park myself in a sunbeam is strong this time of year. And that time is coming. Time to let the kids go out and spend their energy outside. Time to breathe some fresh air, feel the sunshine and work in the yard.

After feeling so energized yesterday, this levelling out day feels worse than it should. It all balances out in the end. All I really need is a good dose of sunshine and the energy and excitement for life will return.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Priorities

I once had a friend who's exuberance for life amazed me. She told me that she woke up in the morning, excited about the day ahead. She had more ideas and plans for that day than there were hours to fulfill her desires. I looked at her in awe, thinking that she had stumbled upon something wonderful.

That was possibly 15 years ago. It was a moment in our friendship that stays with me. I remember it a lot these days because I am close to that same spot in my life. And it is pretty great. The feeling that there are not enough hours in the day to pursue all of your hopes, dreams and goals is a very good way to greet the day.

Unfortunately, it is a little overwhelming as well. In among pursuing those goals, one still has to tend to the responsibilities of day-to-day-life. How can I do it all?

I'm starting to realize that I can't do it all. I have to put some things to the side to maintain an equilibrium that keeps my life in balance. It's not that I am giving up 'the dream' or the goals. I am delaying them a bit. But I'm not giving up.

I've gone through an exhaustive phase this past winter. A tiredness that felt physical, but that I now believe was more psychological. There has been an underlying sadness that bordered on a depressed state of mind. But I never felt powerless. I took charge by resting when I was overwhelmed, stopping some projects in midstream when I just didn't have the gumption to move forward and I pampered myself in small ways. The balance in my life teetered a bit, but I didn't fall.

As the smoke has cleared from the months gone by, I can see the necessity for some of the breaks that I took (and continue to take). There are only so many hours in a day and I have to choose what takes priority.

Yesterday, my mom asked me why I felt so tired and my immediate answer was that I have added 1 - 2 hours of exercise into my daily routine; I have an extra book keeping job that can take up to 4 hours out of my day (on the busy days) and I have doubled up my time at the dance studio. I haven't relinquished any of my previous commitments ... so I sleep less. I am tired.

This past weekend, I gave myself another break. I took care of many must-do items on the never ending to-do list and I exercised. But I also took out time for myself. I finished reading a book, I watched some shows that I had taped, I did crosswords, I had coffee with a friend, supper with family and watched a movie with Kurt 2 nights in a row. I took a breath.

As I went to bed last night, I made a promise to myself to get up one half hour earlier. That half hour is a gift to myself. No exercise, no chores, no running around. Time for me. Maybe if I take that time at the beginning of each day, I won't be so exhausted by the weekend.

I am not giving up on my dreams and my goals. I need the fire within, that pursuing a passion can bring. It may take a while ... but I'll still get there.

In the mean time, I have to take each day as it comes and prioritize life. Time for work, time for play, time for rest and time to reach for those impossible dreams.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Anticipation

I am loving this phase of being a parent to my adult children. My worries are few, the joys are simple and I feel so proud and happy over the men that my boys have become.

As each of my man-children are forging their way in the world, it is the simplest of things that makes me happy.

Although it is a wonderful thing to see your child grow financially independent of you (and it is even better when you see the decisions they make in regards to their career provide them a comfortable style of living), that is not what gives me the greatest source of happiness.

What pleases me the most, is watching each of them form new relationships which could ultimately lead to their own family one day.

They could have just as easily looked at my failed relationships and decided that was not the way they were going to live their life. I have made some choices which impacted their view on life and relationships.

Each of them are in a long term relationship. I see 'future' written in one of these relationships ... I see 'commitment' and a bit of the unknown in the other. Different ages, different stages. But it is in the stability that they have both chosen, that I see 'hope'.

I loved being part of a couple when I was in a relationship. I loved the feeling of looking towards the future and seeing that person in it. I loved the sharing and caring that comes from being with someone who knows you well ... and still loves you.

It is my hope that my children will find what I am still looking for. I hope that when they find it, they are an equal partner. I hope that they have learned to trust and be trusted. To care and feel cared for. Loving is risky business. But it's worth it.

Most of all, I hope that my children one day feel the joy that I do right now. Being a small part of their own children's adult lives and feeling such a great source of happiness from one of life's best gifts.

I sit here today, feeling full of gratitude for where life's path has taken my family. And full of anticipation of where that may lead ...

Friday, April 3, 2009

How Could I Be So Foolish?

Google is a wonderful thing. I will type in a question and be delighted at the information that I can find.

This morning I googled "Why am I gaining so much weight?" and I was directed to numerous sites.

The site that grabbed my interest had a suggestion that spinning around in circles like a child can normalize hormone levels and make you lose weight quickly. It said: "Stop reading right now and do this simple test - make sure there is ample room around you, hold out your arms at shoulder level (like a plane) and spin in place - 12 times."

What was I thinking?? I can get nauseous watching someone spin in a circle 12 times. But it was early. Maybe I could lose massive amounts of weight by doing this one simple thing. So I tried it.

After the world stopped spinning, I sat down and read the result. It said that if you were very dizzy and nauseous, something is seriously wrong and preventing you from losing weight. I thought 'hooray' ... there is a reason for this weight gain.

As the nausea really settled in, I thought to myself that I've been like this my whole life. Nothing has changed. I've always had a low tolerance for spinning in any capacity. So why am I gaining weight now?

Lesson learned: If you spin in circles 12 times ... you will feel nauseous. If you feel nauseated, you won't eat. If you keep doing this, you will stop eating altogether. If you stop eating, you will lose weight.

The way I still feel after 15 minutes since my spinning session? I'd rather gain weight.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Good Day to Put Behind Me

The incessant chatter in my brain is enough to drive me crazy some days. When you add the background noise of a very, very loud daycare-day on top of that ... the day feels endless. Today was a day like that.

I had a full agenda today - book keeping work to do; a full kid-load; plans this evening; the desire to work exercise and a shower into my day; and ripe bananas on the kitchen counter (just begging to be made into banana muffins).

I should have known it was going to be a day like this, when the 10 minute job of making muffins took 45 minutes. Today's entry in my daycare blog is "Why I Don't Make Muffins" and I itemized every interruption that took place while I accomplished this very small task.

I didn't know when I would work exercise into my day, so I worked at my book keeping job frantically all morning and an hour after lunch. And I accomplished my goal of finishing it up before nap time so that I could use those 2 hours to exercise and shower.

Playing in the background of my busy day, was the chatter of children. Loud chatter. Demanding voices (see the Silence is Golden entry in my"Infants to Independents" blog). The needs, wants and desires of the kids I had here today peaked just after lunch ... and again, just before they started trickling home. The noise levels drove me batty and my patience was nil. I did my happy dance (inside my head) every time one of them left.

The day has wound down and the rituals of cleaning up the house, my mind and closing my doors for the evening has brought me to a very peaceful place.

I have a clear agenda for my after-work hours ... and before my plans for the evening. All I can think of, is how great it would be to turn off the world and let this day end quietly at home.

And it will. After I come home from dancing. The dance studio has become an oasis of fun and happiness for me. I can't think of a better way of ending 'a day like this' ...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Over Speaking

It seems that my own words are ringing back in my ears a lot these days. Words, that once spoken can't be taken back.

It has been relatively minor stuff in the scheme of things. Laughing out loud to my inner thoughts at a private joke that was going on inside of my own head (that really wouldn't be that funny to anyone but me) ... talking too much and listening too little ... and a playful banter that could have taken on a hurtful tone if the person on the other end hadn't had a sense of humor.

I need to take a breath before I speak. If I just took an extra second to think my words out before I speak them, I would live a little less in the land of regret.

I have been told that I often 'over speak'. I relinquish more details than necessary, spend a lot of words saying something when fewer words would suffice and over explain something that truly doesn't matter.

Sometimes, I can hear myself carrying on excessively and I still have a hard time putting the brakes on my vocabulary. In these cases, I often tell my patient listener that I am aware of my chattiness. But I tend to continue anyway.

Volleying words back and forth in conversation is often playful and fun. It stops being fun when one side of the conversation isn't returned in the same manner. When it comes to people that I am close to, I know there are times that my words have not been received in the intent with which they were spoken. Just because you are joking around doesn't take the sting out of something that has the potential to hurt. I have done this often enough in my life time to be aware of the dangers.

As I familiarize myself with the people who touch my life, I get more comfortable in my chatter. They hear more of me and about me than they ever wanted to know. There was a time in my life when I was a bit of an enigma. I was told once (in my quieter years) that because I didn't say a lot, people stopped to listen when I did say something. Now, I think my chattiness is akin to white noise. A person can drift out of my conversation and come back in a minute and not miss a thing.

I have a lot more fun with my life than I did in my quiet years. I have more people in my world than I did before. The people that I have semi regular contact with have taken on a feeling of 'friend'. I am comfortable in my world and with the people I surround myself with.

I like for people to get swept up in my excitement and enthusiasm so that may have a little to do with my conversational exuberance.

The one thing that I must remember to do, in this world of speaking ... is to breathe. Think more and talk less.

I would much rather be thought of as a good listener rather than an over talker.