Monday, December 29, 2014

My Silent War...

This story has been around for awhile, but yesterday was the first I had taken the time to watch the Kickstarter campaign video for the Embrace documentary project.


I had a hard time keeping tears from flowing by the end. I'm glad to see the project has been fully funded and look forward to watching the documentary. I'm sure it will invoke a few more tears.

With Christmas 2014 past, all around us are messages about how bad we should feel about our fat, ugly bodies, and what we can do to better them in 2015. I hated this time of year working in fitness because of the industry's focus on body image rather than whole person health, which was always my reasoning for pursuing a degree in exercise science. But the reason for my tears go far beyond my feelings about society's pressure for women to squeeze into a narrow standard of beauty. They are far more personal.

As I listen to Taryn's personal story about her feelings about her "after" body, as I go to her website to read her blog posts that explain her body image journey, I hear words I have repeatedly, silently said to myself for many, many years. I see my own non-stop roller-coaster ride of body love, and hate, whose track directions have been determined by the size on the tags of my wardrobe and the number that pops up when I step on a scale. It feels very shallow to admit how much my love for myself has been determined, not by my abilities, but by how much, or how little, physical space my body occupies in this world. As of late I've realize how shameful it feels that my body insecurity is a reflection of living a privileged life. I get angry with how much energy it absorbs from my life and how I seem to have an inability to get past this very first-world type of "problem", when so many around the world have concerns tied more closely to the simply needs in life. Safely. Shelter. Adequate nutrition.

Each December Scott and I attend a very nice holiday dinner with others from the management team at the company where he works. The food is always amazing. The company is always enjoyable. This year there was even dancing. I love dancing. It's always a great evening out that Scott and I simply do not otherwise take the time to experience together. This year's event was black tie, which means I started stressing about what I was going to wear in October when we got the invitation. Three dresses, 2 pair of shoes, 2 pair of shaping pantyhose, a new sparkly wrap, and a new dress coat later, I am thankful that there's no photographic evidence of our evening. As someone who cherishes so the simple snapshots of our everyday life that I take the time to capture, it saddens me to admit my relief over the lack of a photo. I stepped out for the evening with much anxiety, feeling like a little girl playing dress-up in heels that I imagined to be fantastic, but that didn't quite fit right, and a dress that, while totally cute, felt simply too simple, especially after we arrived at the event venue. I watched many women of all ages in their beautiful, often very sexy, dresses, walking around gracefully in their gorgeous high heels, and I felt like a failure. I listened to, and admittedly occasionally contributed to, conversations being had around me about some of those beautiful women, and their bodies, both angry that those women's worth was being judged, even by me, by nothing more than their appearance, and at the same time jealous that I knew I would never be the subject of such discussions. I guess that's why the fact that not one compliment on my own appearance was offered colors my memory of the evening a bit. By the night's end, with feet sore from too much dancing in my silly high heeled shoes, I couldn't wait to get home to re-box my shoes, throw my pantyhose aside, and trade my little black dress in for my baggy flannel pajamas. Admittedly, it's hard not to feel a bit defeated given the mental energy I devoted to selecting my outfit for our special evening out. At the same time my feeling of failure should really be no surprise given how often negative body talk has been the subject of my quiet inner conversations as of late.

I don't always know the directions a blog post will take when I sit down to write, only that I have a need to express thoughts and feelings in words. In part I know that working through my body image insecurities is going to require me to continue to break open the silence on my inner negative dialog. To more regularly, and openly, and without apology, celebrate the amazing things I AM able to do and create BECAUSE OF my body. From raising great kids, to creating beautiful photos, to teaching yoga, to building beautifully functional things, to teaching and inspiring others to live their best life, I know I have much to celebrate. I need to give that voice more volume in my life.

I think so many other women that are doing similar work within themselves have discovered the same need for this type of therapy. I am thankful for women who are passionate about changing the conversations women of all shapes and sizes have about their bodies, their beauty, and their sense of worth in this world. Women like Taryn. Women like Ashlee and Laura. Women like Brittney. And so many other women who are making a difference with their voices, and with their actions, and with their bodies. Women whose work will help make a better place for my daughters, and someday their daughters, to feel beautiful, and worthy, and valued simply for being the amazing individuals they each are.

I can only hope that by adding my own voice, and by sharing my own journey as I do my own body image work, I can be a small part of helping to create change for good for women from all walks of life in our world. It's my attempt at beginning to end my silent war and finding an inner peace when it comes to my feelings about my body.

For my love of the other women in my life.

For my love of my daughters.

For love of myself.



~ peace

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Greetings from the Mavins!

We had a very relaxing and joy filled long Christmas weekend. Time was spent with family, friends, and simply at home enjoying the joys of each other's company. What a blessed life we live! So many thanks for those who share in that life with us. Much love to you all!


~ peace

Sunday, November 9, 2014

No Voter Sticker...

I did not vote in Tuesday's election.

I did not vote because I have a hard time supporting a system where political parties, their candidates, and private interest groups regularly spend BILLIONS of dollars to slash and burn each other in hopes of "earning" the public's vote. All that spending on negative ads, travel and event expenses, mailings, and signage, while, for example, schools across the country are having to face cutting fine arts and foreign language programs because of continual budget cuts. Programs that enhance learning for good students. Programs that can engage the students who are not as turned on by the traditional core subjects those potential policy makers have decided should be the major focus of our public education system.


I did not vote because last Sunday I watched a politician, one who is also a trained medical doctor, spend 90 seconds totally talking his way around giving any real answer when Bob Schieffer, on Meet the Press, asked him if he would feel safe traveling to Africa to give aid to the Ebola crisis. It was a simple yes or no question one would assume he could handle given his professional training. God forbid a politician ever give a straight answer.

I did not vote because I don't agree that picking the lesser of two evils is the best way to make a decision about who will be part of those charged with running our government.

I did not vote because last time I checked, there wasn't the option to choose "I do not support the policies, ideas or practices of any of the candidates or political parties listed."

I did not vote.

Some will find that fact appalling. Lazy. Irresponsible. Unpatriotic.

I did not vote because I have a hard time participating in, and therefore supporting, a political system that is, in my humble opinion, broken, corrupt, and very, VERY out of touch with the diverse wishes and opinions of the people it was designed to serve.


peace


Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Way...

I don't normally capture video of happenings in our life because I want to be able to fully enjoy them live and in person myself, but I felt like this moment might be one other family and friends who were not with us yesterday would enjoy sharing from afar.



Happy birthday sweet girl. Love you lots!

~ peace ~

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Forever in no time at all...

As of today we officially have a teenager living in our house. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around that fact. How can it be that 13 years have passed since Lexi joined our family? At the same time, I can hardly remember what life was like before she made me a mom.
 

I'm spending the first part of today much like I did the day of her birth; waiting for her arrival so I can spend the rest of the day loving on her in celebration; only today she is off playing student assistant to the JV volleyball coach (her father) at a Saturday tournament, rather than stubbornly refusing to exit my the warmth and comfort of my womb. Dinner will be gone out for. A college volleyball game will be attended. A gift, a kind-of-a-big-deal-gift she is sure to freak out over will be opened. I'm gonna try to keep my shit together through it all and not shed the sentimental tears that are knocking at my eyes' door as I type this.

In early August, before the craziness of the new school year began, I sat down and typed the letter below to my beautiful first born. Preparing for her to enter 7th grade, even though it's her second year of middle school, felt like such a major step. It seems I turn to words at those times in our lives, and with so much I want to share with Lexi about this time in her life, my fears and joys for her, I once again turned to my old friends words. Words I had originally planned to share with only her, but as I hope this blog serves as the story of our lives, the record of thoughts and feelings and events that I hope our girls will be able to cherish well into their aged adult years, and knowing how easily a printed letter can be misplaced, I decided to share my words meant for Lexi here in my spot. It seems appropriate on this day as we celebrate the lovely, creative, caring, gentle soul that shines so much light and love on our lives.

Today and always, dear sweet girl, I love you!

~ peace

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

To my dearest daughter, Lexi,

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact you will soon be starting 7th grade, and celebrating your first birthday that has the word “teen” embedded in the age. So often I think I’ve not been a mother long enough to have a teenaged child. At the same time I can not even slightly remember what my life was like before I was your mom. Mom is the most favorite job I’ve ever had, even more than teaching yoga. :)

Some women talk about how nervous they were to bring home and care for their little newborn baby. Taking care of you during your baby days, and toddler years, and even into elementary school never worried me. Trusting my instincts as a mom when you were little was easy. I knew that I could provide for you, comfort you, care for you, and protect you. As you enter your teen years, become more independent, more capable of making decisions on your own, more involved in activities that do not require my presence, I worry that I’m no longer as able to comfort and protect you as adequately as my heart desires. That scares me. As your mother, I want nothing more than for you to always be happy and safe.

My goal in writing you this note today is twofold. First, I’d like to ask for your patience as we venture into your teen years. While I have been a teen myself, this is my first time being the parent of a teen. Everything that feels new, exciting, confusing, and scary to you, it all feels pretty new, exciting, confusing, and scary to me as well. I will be honest with you, I did not like my life experiences in middle school. High school was a little better, but still not the happiest time of my life. I’d be happy to talk to you about that time in my life if you’d like, but won’t bore you with the details here. I feel it’s fair to let you know that I struggled through middle school, because as much as I try not to base my parenting decisions for YOU as your parent on MY previous experiences, I know it can sometimes color how I handle things. I, like you, am learning through this time of your life. Learning when to hold you close and guide your decisions, and learning when to give you some freedom to make your own decisions, to experience your own successes and failures, which are both important for living a long, happy, fulfilling life in the years to come. Letting you go and giving you more freedom is the hardest part for me. I want to hold you close and keep you safe forever...but I know I can’t. I can only continue to guide and hope that the lessons we have taught you thus far will help steer you well in the years to come.

Secondly I want you to know you are not alone. The teen years, and even into your 20s and 30s honestly, can be pretty confusing years of life. I think the teen years feel the most intense because you AND all your friends are going through the confusion together, all at the same time. Remember that your dad and I, and other adults in your life, have all lived through those years too. We all had some struggles, but we all made it through. I’m confident you will too. Some struggles of teen life will never change.

  • There will always be mean girls who say and do things that put others down because it’s how they best deal with their own feelings of insecurity about not knowing how to deal with all the physical and emotional changes they are experiencing. Forgive them. It helps.
  • There will always be boys who make rude, off color comments about girls because they don’t know how to deal with their new feelings for girls, and, sadly, many boys have grown up watching the men in their lives treat women not as strong, capable individuals, but as sex symbols OR someone who they can control through the granting of their affections. Sometimes those type of boys never change. Thankfully there’s good ones too, like your dad. Fill your life with those type of boys. Just ignore the others. You can’t change them.
  • There are always going to be TV ads, magazine ads, online articles, comments, etc that make you feel insecure about your body. I’ll be blunt...it’s a bunch of shit. Our society has a very unhealthy view on what makes someone beautiful and worthy of a happy life. I have tried very hard to be an example that a strong, beautiful, healthy body can come in a variety of sizes, but I too struggle with my body image and accepting my own body as beautiful. Sadly as hard as I try to protect you from the pressures put on girls when it comes to loving your body, I know I can’t keep you in a cave forever, so instead I just want you to know your body IS beautiful and my hope is that you will continue to make healthy choices to help you do all the great things you’ll do in life with that body. Sports. Music. Animal care. They all require a strong, well fuelled, healthy body. Frankly, being a girl, especially a strong girl with your own thoughts and opinions, can be hard. Our society doesn’t always value the female gender beyond the beauty expressed through our physical body. Thankfully there are lots of amazing women out there that are working hard to make this world a better place for girls and women who know we are SOOOO much more than just a pretty face.
  • There are always going to be dark facts of life from which I WANT to protect you, but that I ultimately know I’ll just have to trust you have the strength to turn away from. Drugs. Alcohol. Smoking. Eating disorders. Unhealthy sexual habits. Oh how I worry about these things. Please, please, please, know you can ALWAYS come and talk to me about any of these things, or anything else you need to talk about. I am always here to listen. Always here to give guidance. Always here to get you help if you need. Always here to love you no matter what!

The life of a teen has also changed a lot since I was your age. I didn’t have to deal with all the technology options you have available to you, options that while providing extra ways for you to communicate with your friends and experience the world, they can also take your time and attention away from the wonderful world of experiences and relationships that happen outside of that 2x3 inch screen you carry around in your pocket. Life, and the amazing things it has to offer, is big. Why limit your experiencing of it to a tiny little device? I too struggle with trying to make sure I am balancing my time spent using technology and disconnected, so I know how hard it is to know how much is too much, especially when it seems others around us are so much more connected throughout the day. I don’t feel healthy, or happy, when I’m too plugged in, so I try to use that as a guide. I only ask that you are thoughtful about your time spent plugged in, and make sure your spending plenty of time plugged into the bigger world, the people, and the amazing life that’s always around you!

More than anything, I want you to know, that as you enter these confusing, exciting, scary days of being teenager, you are LOVED. Loved so strongly sometimes my heart wants to explode with affection for the amazing person you are growing up, a little too fast, to become in life. I will always be here for you. You can  always come and talk to me. Share your joys with me. Share your worries with me. Cry. Smile. Laugh. Whatever you need, I’m here for you.

I love you Lexi. Never, ever, EVER forget that!

Love always, Mom

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The truth is...

The truth is my life, our life, the life I am blessed to live, can be totally overwhelming at times. The busy shuffling of schedules. Jobs...lost, changed, shifted. The scrambling to keep some sense of domestic order in our house full of busy kids and furry animals. A house that could use a little more than a little DIY-TLC. The ever changing dynamic of relationships: friends, family, partners. The parenting of a middle school girl. Oh, the parenting of a middle school girl! The searching for a niche. My niche. The right niche. A long, long, LONG cold winter. The all too fast passing of summer following that long, long, LONG cold winter. The arrival of the middle ages of life. It's all enough, at times, to make my head explode.

The truth is that even if more yoga and meditation; less weight on my aging body; more work to accept my body as it is; more meaningful, purposeful social interactions; less busy schedules; and a continued practice of gratitude for all the blessings of life could EVENTUALLY help, those changes take time.

The truth is it's hard to find the time and energy to do all, or any, of the things that could help change my ability to more positively cope with the overwhelming feeling that life sometimes leaves me feeling when I'm feeling overwhelmed by life. There are times in life when it's okay, in fact it's really the best, to admit you can't do it all on your own. That you're not actually coping as well as what you'd like everyone to think you are coping. It's okay to let others in on the secret you've been carrying around while you've tried not to let your crazy out. It's okay to honor your sometimes messy, sometimes overwhelming life, AND your right to be happier living that life.

The truth is it is not easy as someone who has grown up learning through the actions of others that toughing it out is what "we" do. That openly admitting I'm not handling things very well could be a sign of being weak, or overly needy. That by openly discussing my struggles is somehow breaking some unwritten, unspoken code of keeping one's problems quietly tucked away in the closet because "what would the neighbors think?"

The truth is I had to just STOP, get out of my head, admit that a slowly disintegrating marriage, an almost constant feeling of inadequacy across several areas of life, and days upon days spent silently on the verge of tears for no explainable reason were largely a result of my stubborn inability to admit that I currently need some help regaining a better perspective on where I am in life. Hard as it may have been, I nervously started the conversation. Before help can be given there has to be a conversation started. Slowly the conversation has grown as I have opened up and help has been offered.

The truth is sometimes you need a little something more than just an attitude adjustment to get back on track. As the end of summer neared, and as I realized the sadness that had been renting out a room in my heart had not been burned away by the warm golden rays and carefree days of summer like I had hoped it would be, I knew I could not afford to head into another fall/winter season without something more than a perkier outlook. Turns out, after consulting with my personal physician who did some blood work, I'm a bit low on a key nutrient that is a big factor in mood maintenance. And realistically trying to "tough it out" for longer than I probably should have, more likely than not, has a few other hormonal systems a little off balance as well. Prescriptions were written. Supplements were ordered. A follow-up plan has been put into place.

The truth is I cried when I called my husband to tell him the blood results and the treatment plan. I cried as I texted a very dear friend who knows all too well the ups and downs of dealing with hormone systems that can get a little out of balance. I avoided going to get my new Rx for 2 days because I didn't want to be part of that all too common statistic of married, middle aged moms who account for the largest demographic of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety prescription drug consumers. I still wanted to believe just knowing, plus some vitamins, a little more exercise, and a really, really focused effort to just get happier would fix me.

The truth is my husband has not tried to fix me, even if secretly I kinda hoped he would try to do even if it's not really what I need from him. He has listened and supported and loved me, which is exactly what I need the most. That friend, that friend passionately and reassuringly has shared her own experiences and her support and her love. And my kids, both the human ones and the canine ones, have stayed steady by my side, giving me a clear vision of purpose and of the great love that exists in my daily life.

The truth is today I can write about this struggle, this journey, because I feel the grey cloud that has been part of my inner life for longer than I'd like to admit starting to lift. I do not feel any less. I do not feel broken. I do not feel crazy, at least not beyond the little bit of crazy that makes life a little more fun to live.

The truth is what I am starting to feel is a brighter perspective on my life. I'm starting to feel a little less alone with my inner thoughts, a little less lonely even though I am often rarely physically alone. I'm starting to feel a little more like random kitchen dance parties, once a frequent occurrence that have been MIA over the past year, may once again find their way back into our home. I'm starting to feel a lightness and a peace in my inner self that has been hard to find over the past several years. I'm starting to feel hopeful. I'm starting to feel my inner strength starting to grow from that place deep inside where I know it still lives. I'm starting to feel more myself.


The truth is I needed to ask for help to find my way out of the shadows, and I'm so, so, SO glad I did. I really like the warmth that comes with living a brighter life.


peace

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Last Day of Summer...

It's the morning alarms.

It's the hours of whirlwind crazy spent each day, and the mental energy required to do my best for the kids, to work in an educational system that I'm not sure I fully support...or feel fully supported in as someone serving in a teaching role, without a teaching certification.

It's the schedule. The schedule that, especially during the fall, has our family's days full of places to be and activities to be done from the the time that morning alarm goes off, until our tired heads hit the pillow at night. Time spent running and doing, supporting the activities and interests of my family, that leave me feeling spread too thin. Too thin to feel that I'm fully taking care of their most basic needs. Our household. Our relationships with each other. My own health and wellness needs.

"Don't wish these days away," they say. "They go so fast," they say. I do NOT wish them away. They ARE going too fast. I just need more time. Less alarms. More time.

"It's the dues you pay as a mom," my own mom told me as I was sharing my feeling about the ending of summer. "You do what you have to do and you make it through," she told me. Yes, yes I do. Those morning alarms, they remind me each day that it's time to get up and do what I need to do to get through. I will. I do.

Some might call this whiny. Some might roll their eyes and tell me to get a grip. Some might think I'm a lazy bum. That is their opinion from their perspective. This is not about them. This is about me. This has nothing to do with laziness. It has everything to do with trying to protect my own peace of mind and joyful heart.

I'm not okay with today being the last day of summer. The last day of calm before the storm. The last day of coffee in my PJs and lunch out with my girls at a time that may or may not be considered lunch time. The last day of an (almost) empty to do list. The last day where we have plenty of time...that rare and precious commodity.

I'm not okay with today being the last day of summer. That's the raw and honest truth weighing on my heart this morning.

I'm not okay with it, but I will be okay.

That fact I also know to be true.

Goodbye summer. 2014, you've been a good one.


peace


Friday, August 8, 2014

Making Memories...

Yesterday Scott took the day off from work so we could spend 1 last day of summer having fun as a family at Adventureland.



It rained, most of the day, and ended up never getting warmer than 70 degrees, but that didn't stop us from riding, and re-riding, rides for over 7 hours. In fact I've only been to an amusement park 1 other time when lines at rides were a total non-issue as we experienced yesterday. When Scott and I first moved to KC we spent a day at Worlds of Fun...in the rain....with no lines. I'm thinking rainy days are the way to go. Once you experience a no line day at the amusement park, it kinda spoils you for any other type of day.

Admittedly, we went to the park yesterday a little under prepared. Since the forecast was for scattered showered and highs in the mid-70s, we dressed in quick dry summery clothing and packed our swim bag in hopes of spending the afternoon in the water park. After walking to the front gates of the park from our car, our first stop in the park ended up being the clothing store for long sleeves for the girls. It was one of the best decisions that I think had a big impact on the general success of our day. By day's end, after a lap full of COLD water, thanks to the log ride (poor Brea got a face full, so I shouldn't complain), and half an hour spent in the car with the heat on to warm-up and dry off, I too visited the clothing store for longer sleeves.

Side note: We were actually pleasantly surprised at the price of merchandise and food once we were in the park. Expecting crazy inflated prices much like one pays at the ball park or movie theater, we were surprised to find rather reasonable prices on the few things we did purchase.

It became pretty apparent early on during our day just how small, safe, and quiet we have lived our lives since having kids. Brea is not one for loud noises and unexpected scares, as we experienced on our first ride as a family, the Underground. Lexi on the other hand is not a fan of any thing that suddenly, or repeatedly, requires you to change directions, which basically includes every "thrill" ride. As parents we were totally charting new territory. Not being big fair going, carnival rides riding people, and not previously having taken the girls to an amusement park because of the cost (outside of the 1 time Lexi went at aged 4 when she only rode the kiddie rides), we weren't sure how to introduce our girls to the big rides beyond just talking them into going on them. So of course we decided the best route of introduction was to go from the Frog Hopper (kiddie ride for Brea), to the Underground (story based enclosed "mine shaft" coaster ride), right to the Space Shot. The line was short. We could all 4 sit togeher. Why wouldn't it be a good choice?

Let me share with you how to go from feeling like a pretty good mom, to the world's worst mom in a matter of 3 seconds. Sit between your 2 children, children who totally trust you to keep them safe, children who you have talked into riding an amusement park ride because "would I let them do anything that was not safe?", while they are suddenly shot into the air at a high velocity. To my left sat my 8-year-old screaming and crying uncontrollably, obviously freaked out of her mind with terror. To my right sat my 12-year-old whose face had turned as white as the cloud covered sky above us, eyes the size of dinner plates, telling me she was gonna throw-up, gonna throw-up, GONNA THROW-UP! (She did not. Thankfully.) And because having this experience once wasn't enough to test my fragile maternal heart, we talked them into strapping into the "calmest" of the 3 big roller coasters, the Tornado, because "it's just like riding in a car that's going up and down big hills really fast." Right?

Before I go any further, let me tell you about my own amusement park experiences. I did not grow up in an amusement park visiting, carnival ride riding family. Looking back from the perspective of adulthood I realize it was more likely than not because we could not afford such experiences. I vaguely remember that we might have visited Elitch Gardens in Denver when I was very young. I don't actually remember riding any rides, although I have this random memory of a dragon shaped small kiddie roller coaster, so I'm not sure if it's an actual memory or simply one my mind has created because it was the only amusement park I was aware of as a kid. Other than random carnival rides rode occasionally during my teen years, my first amusement park experience was a visit to Adventureland with Scott and some of his family the summer after I graduated high school. It was on that trip I discovered I love roller coasters. I mean I really LOVE them. (Which I should have guessed after discovering how much I love to fly after going stunt flying with a classmate's father earlier that same year.) I also discovered I'm not a big fan of spinny rides. Big spins are okay. Tight spins, not so much. So while my own amusement park experiences have been limited to just a few visits to 2 different mid-western parks, I have hopes to someday venture out of the mid-west to ride many, many more roller coasters.

If it weren't for my much calmer husband who was determined to spend this day that he had specifically taken off to spend with his family at the amusement park, and the $140 we'd spent on tickets, I would have wrapped my girls up the moment we got off that first roller coaster ride, repeatedly apologizing profusely, and taken them home to snuggle on the quiet safety of our couch. As it turns out, I'm glad I did not get to give in to that instinct. We dried the tears, visited a few low key rides, enjoyed a bag of warm, delicious cinnamon sugar mini donuts, and ended up having a great day. Other than that aforementioned cold, wet log ride experience, that again ended in tears for Brea (more out of frustration and surprise than fear), we ended the day with many fun memories that I'm sure we'll be talking about for years to come. Brea decided roller coasters are actually pretty fun and ended the day with 3 rides under her belt. She also made us go back to the Scrambler time and time again, during which she laughed and laughed, hands held high in the air. Lexi drives a mean bumper car and, after lots of re-assurance and begging, found out that maybe I DID know what I was talking about when I told her she would love the feeling of quiet flying you get while riding the new 260 foot giant "swing" called the Storm Chaser. We left at day's end tired, hungry, happy, and already talking about what rides will be our first during our next visit.

Scott had to return to work today. The girls and I have some errands to run to get ready for my return to work and the start of Brea's soccer season next week. Our house could also, as always, use a little cleaning. Having slept right through Scott's departure for work this morning, I sent him a text to see how he was feeling today, waking up with only minimal neck soreness myself after getting a bit beaten around on the looping roller coaster, the Dragon, yesterday. He wrote back that he was doing okay, minimally sore and already looking forward to day's end, but glad that everyone seemed to have a fun day yesterday. "Odd to think, but I just want the girls to have FUN memories!" he shared. I replied that I too hope for the girls to have plenty of fun memories of their childhood to carry with them through life, but most of all I want them to remember lots of moments of LOVE.

I think yesterday we helped create both FUN and LOVE filled memories....through the tears...in the rain. I know I will for always remember it as a pretty great day.


peace

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Being Okay with Being Alone is Okay...

The girls and I just returned from a few days visiting my mom at her new home after her very recent relocation.



While I know the process of moving physically, and moving forward with life, has been emotionally challenging for her after Rod's passing almost 2 years ago now, I'm confident this move was a good decision for her. I'm so proud of her for being brave to explore life and all the joy and living it has left to offer her. We enjoyed getting acquainted with her new, very cute, home and love that our drive to and from her house has been cut down considerably! We made our return trip to Iowa in just under 7 hours yesterday, which offers the possibility of more frequent visits in the future. Plus now when we visit Grandma, an aunt, uncle, and 2 cousins are just across town. For the first time I feel like my girls will get a chance to do some valuable family bonding with some of my family. It's a good feeling.

My mom has made comment about how this is the first move into a new home that she has done on her own. She didn't mean it in the sense that she physically moved on her own, but more in the sense that it's the first time she's been settling down in a new home without some combination of husband and/or kids at her side. It will truly be HER house, and after 40 years of sharing a home with others, I'm sure it's a bit of a adjustment that will take some time before it feels comfortable. My mom does not hesitate to admit she is happiest when her house is full. During our visit it was definitely full of activity, people, conversation, good food smells, and smiles. I hope it helped her feel a little more settled emotionally this morning as she woke to a quiet house amongst the boxes sitting around reminding her of all the physical settling that needs to be done.

Driving back to Iowa yesterday, sitting with my thoughts as we rolled through Nebraska on the straight, flat ribbon of road that is I-80, I found myself a bit emotional. While I know she will be okay, I worry about my mom and that she will be okay. And I miss her when we are apart. I mean, she's my mom. I'm still a bit emotional to today as I spend the day catching up from being gone, and preparing for the tasks needing to be accomplished this week in preparation for my return to work next week, followed by the start of school and fall activities. I've found myself quietly emotional quite often over the past few months. Well, more than a few if I'm completely honest. Life always has its ups and downs, and I seem to be in a bit of a long, low valley. As I tend to do, I'm probably over analyzing that fact, making it out to be more than what it really is, but at the same time I know how easy it is to unintentionally slip into a deeper, darker place after telling yourself for too long it's just the weather/situation/hormones, things will take for the better soon. For some of use a healthy mental state seems to be a constant walking of a fine line. I suppose especially for those of us to who spend a lot of time sitting with our own thoughts.

Any who, as I was driving I was thinking about what it will be like for my Mom to begin to carve out her new life alone. Not alone as in "lonely", but alone as in "I don't have to check with anyone else before I decide what to cook/when to go to bed/what to watch on TV/when to go for a walk/etc." It got me to thinking about how I've been feeling as of late, the bit of alone I've been feeling even though I am far from being alone. I remember feeling that way for the first time right after we moved to KC after finishing college. I was finishing my internship to make my degree official, working a part time job, living with my in-laws, all while living for the first time in a big city. Scott's new job required him to travel a bit during the week and besides my in-laws and my co-workers, I knew nobody in KC. After a bit I realized it was the first time in life I was living in a place where I wasn't constantly surrounded by similar aged people, living lives with similar schedules and recreational interests, which made it naturally easy to find someone with which to so stuff. Living in KC, for the first time, I had to learn to be comfortable with doing things like eating out in a restaurant or going shopping alone. I'd rarely, if ever, had to do that in high school and college. It was a strange feeling at first, but after a while it was just the normal and my activities of choice were less and less affected by whether or not someone was available to go with me.

Eventually, after living and working in KC for a few months, we did have involvements and activities that involved other people. Friends with whom we regularly shared dinner. Co-workers turned friends who had similar out of work activity interests. When we moved to Iowa to get back to our small town roots so that we felt more comfortable starting our family, I again went through a bit of a period of feeling alone. But as before, we slowly got involved, met people, and found our niche. Then we had a kid.

People say the easiest way to get involved in your community is to have kids. Having had 2 school aged kids during our most recent relocation, I would totally agree. Helping your kids be involved in activities is probably the next best thing to being a college student for surrounding you with similarly aged people with similar interests. We feel as involved, maybe even more so, in the Carlisle community after 4 years of living here as we did after 9+ of living/working/playing in Grinnell. But for me having kids offered something more, something I hadn't really thought about until this summer when I've noticed a shift in a different direction. With 2 small kids in the family I always have had someone at my side to do things with regardless of local social aquaintences.
  •  Have a little time to hang out at the coffee shop? We'd pack up a couple activities and off we would head for beverages, sweet treats, and conversation. 
  • Have the need to hit the store for groceries? Off we would go, finding some little way to make it a fun adventure along the way. 
Having small kids in the family for the past 10+ years has meant I've always had a shadow, or two, along side of me with which to do things. I was good with that.  It was just a given. The normal. Rarely did I ever find myself alone, and when I did it was kind of a treat.

This summer though, this summer things have started to change. This summer I have an almost teenager who we trust to stay at home, even with her sister, for short periods of time if she chooses not to accompany us to different activities. She's of that age when choosing to not accompany us seems to be more and more the option of choice. Her younger sister, while still often willing to be my side kick for many things, is choosing more and more to keep her sister company while I run out to do things like pick up groceries or run basic errands. I'm finding myself walking around Menard's alone more and more these days as I pick up supplies for summer projects. At first, it was kinda nice. Moms of small children will generally all agree, sometimes the best gift they can be given is the option for a solo grocery store run. Sad, but true. But at some point in the summer I realized my new solo runs are not just an occasional treat, they are a sign of what will become the norm in the coming years as the girls grow from little girls, to young ladies. I'm gonna have to figure out, once again, how to be comfortable doing more things alone. I subconsciously knew it would happen, I just wasn't prepared for that time to come so quickly. I guess I never really thought about there being a period of transition because once a mom, always a mom. Yes, even momhood has its transitions and at times I forget that fact. Though having a emerging teenager in the house is quick to point out, with a bright red flashing neon sign time of transition ahead!

I think partially spending more time alone is easier to do when you are happy with yourself. Right now, for a variety of reasons, I'm having a really hard time being happy with myself. Having once found a good, friendly place with myself after many years of struggle, I didn't expect some of my old insecurities to come rearing their ugly heads again so forcefully. It seems they have, and I once again need to do some work to find a more confident, more self accepting, happy place. I'm working on it.

It seems I'll always be working on it.

Isn't it nice of life to give us that constant opportunity?


peace

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Middle Life is Confussing...

Focus on the negatives, and you will only see troubles. 
Focus on the positives, and you will only see blessings. 

So teach many sayings about living focused on what's good in one's life.  In general, I whole heartedly believe in living a life counting one's blessings. Through many difficult times in our family's life it has been that focus that has gotten us through to the other side of challenges in one piece. Often I am reminded that so many people in this world face challenges so much greater than I have had to face. Odds are I will never face challenges as great as some have no choice but to experience. 

I live in comfort and safety.

I am surrounded by love.

I have learned healthy (mostly) coping skills when faced with struggles.

I have a good support network of friends and family who are there for me when I can not cope with a challenging situation on my own.

I live a blessed life. It's small, and quiet, and simple, but it is blessed.

That being said, I'm dealing with a struggle in life, a struggle in a very important relationship, over which I seem to be having a hard time keeping the right perspective. I'm having a hard time focusing on positives knowing that by ignoring the negatives that are making me feel troubled, no change is being encouraged.

I've been sitting with that concept of change, knowing full well that the only change I have the ability to affect is my own reaction and attitude. I can not change someone else's actions. At the same time, when does one voice one's thoughts and feelings, not to control change, but simply to be heard? My comfort zone, my learned, safe, go-to coping mechanism, is to say nothing and internalizing my frustration. I'm especially not good with verbally discussing emotionally charged troubles. Discussions always ends with me in tears, unable to fully express my thoughts and feelings. I have a very strong fear-of-saying-something-wrong filter. I'm much better at putting my thoughts down in written words. While maybe not always the right solution to every conflict, I guess at least I have that going for me. 

While I'm sure my keep-quiet approach has served me well in many a moments, I don't know that I've ever spouted off at the mouth later to regret my verbal tantrum, is it always the right response? Given the fact I know I am someone who often has the need to feel in control if my life (and yes, I know thinking we have the ability to control anything in life is an illusion), I question if my issues are dissatisfaction of not feeling in control? Am I trying to gain control? Control someone else? I know what it's like to feel controlled by someone in your life. It's not a good feeling. Do I give others that same feeling when I want to talk to them about bumps in our relationship?

No wonder someone started the psychiatric field of study and practice...middle life, and all the seen and unseen warts we carry with us during this time, are so confussing!


peace

Monday, July 14, 2014

Morning Walks...


 One of my most favorite parts of our summer days this year has been my morning dog walks. I started out just walking with Ozzie at the start of summer. He is, after all, a big bundle of energy who becomes a much better listener after a morning stroll.


 We've never really walked our other 2 dogs on a regular basis and for the most part they've been okay with that. Our poor old buddy Jasper's body is starting to fail him in his advanced age (15+) and at this point can hardly handle walking around the yard during outdoor potty breaks. I'm quite afraid that by summer's end we probably need to make the tough decision to say our final goodbye to Jasper. He still gets excited when we talk to him. He still likes to gently play with the other dogs. That being said, it's very obvious how uncomfortable he is when life requires him to move from the spot where he's currently planted. It's so hard to know when it's the "right" time, before we've waited too long and he's suffering. It will be one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, not only because I will miss him, but because of 2 little girls who love him to pieces.


The reason Tilde has never been walked regularly can be explained by one fact: we've been lazy over the years and she's not big enough for her extra energy to be much of annoyance. I'll admit it, that's the only reason. As the summer has gone on, I've felt a little guilty about showing Ozzie special treatment through our daily walks. Besides having lots of neurotic energy that could use a healthy outlet, Tilde could use to drop a little extra weight since she eats her feelings.  A couple weeks ago I decided to see if I could walk both Oz and Tilde at the same time. Tilde has no leash manners, again, our own fault for not spending more time working with her over the past 6 years, but she's small and manageable when she's wearing her harness. Ozzie is a pro-walker and easily managed when he's wearing his head collar. So I harnessed them both up, clipped on leashes, and out the door we headed. We made it a full 3 miles that first day, and 2-3 miles most days of the week since.


The amount of happy whining and tail wagging that occurs each morning after I pick up the harnesses and my tennis shoes makes me smile. After some initial excitement for the first few blocks, we settle into a very organized walking arrangement and have a great time stretching all 10 of our legs. We get lots of smiles and good mornings from people we pass on our way. (Way more than when it was just Ozzie and I walking alone.) Best of all, the rest of the day at our house is so much calmer with exercised pooches. (And an exercised mom.)

I will miss having plenty of time to work in our daily hour pounding the pavement once the girls and I head back to school, but I will do my best to work it into our crazy school year schedule for happier dogs AND a happier me.


peace

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Closet Issues...

I do not own a scale.

Never have.

Probably never will.

It's probably been well over a year since I have stepped on a scale. It's just never a good experience so it's not one I make a point to search out.

One morning, while visiting Western Nebraska at the end of June, my mom was talking about her joyful surprise over the result of her morning weigh in. Feeling good about the amount of walking I've been doing this summer, and the resulting increased comfort of the waistbands of many of my pants, I decided to step on her scale for a quick check. My heart sunk as I looked down at the little digital numbers that popped up on the display.

204.7 lbs.

My weight has only tipped into the 200s three other times during my life. Two of those times I was pregnant. I knew I had packed on a few extra pounds over the course of the past year, feeling less comfortable in many of my favorite clothes as the school year drew to a close, but seeing just how many was, honestly, shocking. I can't say for certain what was more depressing as I stood there staring down at my current weight: seeing the reality of just how much I had gained OR knowing how hard I would have to work to drop that number to one I'd rather see on the display.

I've struggled with holding a positive self image for a long, LONG time. I've rarely appreciated my body for what it has/can do, always focusing on all the ways it's less than ideal. I've blamed my body for a lot of negative situations/outcomes in my life. A failed fitness/yoga based business. A lack of physical intimacy in my marriage over the past year. The feeling of not quite fitting in with my cycling/yoga/coaching acquaintances. I blame a lot on my body.

My struggle is not unique. I know I'm not alone in dealing with body insecurity. I also know I'm not alone in hoping I can work to change my relationship with my body in a way that in turn helps my daughters to grow up and go into the world more confident and loving of their own beings. I'm am inspired by the number of ladies out there sharing their own stories of body image struggles on the interwebs, and the movement that is building among women who are increasingly refusing to allow our completely out-of-whack societal views of what a happy/sexy/worthy woman "should" look like to keep them from living a complete, engaging, satisfying and happy life.

Once upon a time, when I was teaching fitness/yoga classes for a living, I regularly wore a size 12. Size 12 is the smallest size I've ever worn in my post high school athlete years. It's my feel-better-about-my-body size. It's my comfortable in a bikini size. It's my I-look-damn-hot-in-this dress-and-high-heels size. It's also a body size that's practically impossible for me to maintain without HOURS of time most days of the week to devote to fitness and a close, close eye on what goes in my mouth. As much as I would like to return to that size of body, I just don't have the drive/energy/time available to devote to that venture at this point in my life. I will continue walking (almost) daily with my dogs because it does us all good, physically and mentally, to get out and move and breath some fresh air. I will continue to find time to practice yoga asanas because it helps me move with more comfort and grace. I will continue to search out ways to keep my body strong, because I like to do things, like yard work and building with my growing collection of power tools, that require strength.

There's nothing as frustrating, when you're already feeling down about your body, as heading to your closet to get dressed in the morning and not being able to come even close to buttoning the pants you'd like to wear. Knowing there's no realistic reason I'd suddenly have the time/energy/desire to drop the 30+ pounds required to fit into all those clothes I've been keeping in my closet for "some day", I'd decided that my closet needed a bit of purging. So today I created this pile of extra hangers clearing out what no longer fit...


(The fact that my closet rod suddenly decided to start bowing abnormally low last week, helped to move this little task to the top of the do-to list since I had removed everything to fix the sag.)

I expected this little exercise in purging to feel good. Empowering. Freeing. In reality I sat looking at the pile that I had created and cried. I cried and texted my husband.
 "Fixed the closet rod. Went through my clothes. Sitting here looking through tears at the stack of things I've gotten too fat to wear. I know it's silly, but it still disappoints me that I can't seem to keep this body as healthy and trim as I would like."
My favorite cargo capris. The sexy red strapless dress that I bought for that wedding that I wore with white high heeled wedges. Those cute cropped summer jeans. All headed to someone else's closet. I felt defeated.

I still feel a bit that way here at day's end. I still need to deal with getting the pile out of the house.

Obviously I still have some issues to work through over the contents of my closet...and those numbers that currently show up on the scale. I guess one should not expect one closet cleaning to heal years, and years of negative self talk.

A work in progress I am.


peace


Monday, June 30, 2014

Green...

Much of my June, the days I have spent in Iowa that is, have been spent in the yard. Building. Digging. Planting.





The past few weeks the Midwest has been getting A LOT of rain. We are fortunate, thus far, to have had only rain. So many others have had to deal with damaging winds, tornadoes, and flooding. We are just wet...which means all those seeds and little plants I planted earlier this month are happy, happy, happy!




Pretties. Herbies. Veggies. I'm especially excited that I can say I have a few veggies in the yard again thanks to the cedar plank raised beds we built to solve the problem of buried concrete we found while initially digging up the garden space.




Storms are building up to drop even more rain on us this afternoon. This week, as we prep for our annual 4th of July parade watching brunch fun, the girls and I will be tackling some indoor sort and clean tasks that have been on my mental "to do before summer ends" list. Without rainy days, I'm not sure we'd ever get those things accomplished since I'm mostly solar powered and spend as much time as possible in the summer outside recharging. I'm already looking forward to next week, after the ground has a chance to dry out a bit to resume digging. There's decorative grass that needs to be purchased and planted, hostas that need moved, and 2 lavender bushes that managed to survive our extremely cold winter (unlike the 2 others who didn't make it) that need to find a new home in a yet to be determined location of the yard.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I'm Back...

I feel the need to return to writing.

Summer is a good time to get back into the habit of blogging on a somewhat regular schedule.

Without a schedule of yoga classes to teach, and a small business to run, I'm feeling the need to have something creative, something that allows me to express my interests/thoughts as we wade through this busy time in our family's life. I'm looking forward to returning to a place that allows me to share with others, and our future selves, our lives.

Concerns.

Struggles.

Activities.

Celebrations.

It feels good to be back...


~ peace ~

Monday, March 17, 2014

Parenting in the Digital Age...

Several times through the last few years I've made comment that I wish I could turn back time so that I could parent in a time BEFORE digital access and devices were a part of everyday life. Parenting is hard on it's own. Trying to figure out how to help your kids safely and successfully navigate all that comes with online social media, texting, photo sharing, and access to just about anything on the inter-webs, feel impossible at times.

Scott and I have approached our girls' exposure to all things digital pretty conservatively over the years. We're online, obviously, and as the generation who welcomed this form of connection and communication into our lives in early adulthood, I often feel like we are still trying to figure out a good balance ourselves. We've allowed our girls access, but with some control and restrictions. Much to her dismay, our 12 year old does not have her own cell phone. Even though she used her own monies to purchase an iPod touch at the holidays, she understands ultimately we have the final say on what accounts she can set up and when she's expected to set her device aside and unplug.

Privacy. Safety. A clean digital footprint. Learning to balance the need for unplugged activities in a time when everyone, everywhere seems to always be connected. All reasons we've tried to come up with some reasonable restrictions. Admittedly, there's always been a little bit of fear of what bad COULD happen that has, at least on my part, guided those decisions. As a mom, protecting my girls with the force of a mother bear comes naturally. Letting them venture out to learn by trial and error on their own is a little harder to practice. I've sometimes forgotten that much awesomeness is also possible when you allow kids to connect and share in the ways of their generation.

This weekend, to kick off our 10 day spring break, the girls and I took a quick trip to Omaha to meet up with a good friend of mine from college, and her daughters, who we've not seen in about 5 years. (Which is ridiculous, quite honestly.) We spent an afternoon in the warmth of the jungle, aquarium, and desert at the zoo. The girls swam at the hotel while Sara and I talked, and talked, and talked. We'd probably still be talking if it weren't for the fact our time to be together simply ran out. It was fantastic. Saturday afternoon, after Sara and her girls headed west, the girls and I decided to stop at Joslyn Art Museum before we headed back east. We'd not been to Joslyn before, but so much enjoyed our visit to Nelson-Atkins in KC a few summers ago that we were pretty sure we'd enjoy Joslyn too.

Coincidentally, another college friend of mine, Jen, and her daughters, who we do get together with often, also spent some time in Omaha over the weekend to celebrate their spring break. We didn't get together with them on this trip. Our oldest girls, who have gone to summer camp together for the past 4 years, have started texting regularly since they both have iDevices. It was as we were walking through Joslyn that Lexi shared that Maddie had been to Joslyn that weekend too, and had shared some of the photos of her favorite pieces of art with her through an iCloud album. As we walked around Lexi was keeping an eye out for those pieces, and snapping pics of the pieces she was drawn to to share in return. Throughout the weekend those photos have been shared and commented on, not only between Lexi and Maddie, but their other friends as well. No matter how you look at it, it's 12 year old girls interacting with, and over, fine art, and I happen to think it's pretty cool.

Am I still freaked out and frustrated by all that comes with navigating parenting in the digital age? Oh hell yes! Having been involved in discussions about this very subject both as a parent, and as extension of my work at the school, I can say there are lots of opinions and no clear answers on how to keep moving forward. That being said, I'm starting to relax a bit knowing that with all the bad that COULD happen, a lot of good DOES happen when kids connect online.

~ peace ~




Friday, January 3, 2014

And then there were three...

I have a soft spot for animals. Especially big-brown-eyed ones.

Sometimes, apparently, I make rash,  quite possibly unwise, decisions.

Sometimes I make rash, unwise decisions involving animals. (Or so says the opinions of some.)

Meet Ozzie...



Six years ago this month we adopted Tilde. We've warned people since about the hassles of adopting a puppy during the winter months. It's hard to socialize them with other people and in a variety of settings in the winter. Plus there's that whole potty training in the cold and snow thing. Tilde is possibly the most neurotic, annoying, and yet totally lovable dog I have ever owned. I think part of her neuroses stems from a lack of expose to the world outside the walls of our home while she was a tiny pup. I think part of her neuroses is just part of her inherent personality.She is the reason we will hesitate to ever have a small dog again. She is also the reason we've often said we'd never again bring a new puppy into our family during the winter months. So it makes perfect sense that we welcomed Ozzie into our home the first part of November.

Ozzie's personality is just as awesome as it looks in that photo above. He's eager to please, quick to learn, and for such a young guy, pretty chill most of the time. (When he's not chill, he's kinda like a bull in a china shop.) I am so thankful for his naturally good nature because apparently I need to work on some shit, and the introduction of a 9 month old 65 pound puppy into my relatively small, calm life can very quickly point that fact out. Even when I have been less than patient, or kind, he's been there, looking at me with those big, brown eyes, trying to figure out how to please me.

Yes, he's a bit of a bull with his body which causes a bit of craziness during key "I'm so happy to see you" times of the day. But he is learning that full speed ahead isn't always necessary, or the best option.

Yes, he's turned Tilde's world upside down and I've felt a bit guilty for creating that situation for her in HER home. But they are slowly figuring out how to not just co-exist, but be friends and playmates. Thankfully he seems pretty respectful of his elders, and he and Jasper came to a quicker understanding of who's top dog.

Yes, shortly after bringing him home I let some of the hype about him being "one of those dangerous and aggressive breeds" get to me. (That's what happens sometimes when you spend too much time on the internet.) I freaked out about what potential danger we put our children in by adopting him, even though we've pet-parented a rottie before who was the best dog ever. Period. But then I watch him patiently serving as a pillow for Lexi as she watches TV, and I have to remind myself about my belief that badly behaved dogs are the result of irresponsible owners, not their genetic code.

Yes, our house was a little crazy during the holiday week with extra humans and animals visiting to celebrate. But we made it through the week just fine, and my extra sensitive perspective on things, and desire for things to be harmonious at all times, probably isn't the best litmus test for how things actually went down around here during the week. I hope people still enjoyed their time spent here as much as we enjoyed having them.

Obviously, given my mood and frequency of freak-out moments, I've got some issue making their way to the surface as of late. Shit that needs working on. Did I expect that adding a new furry member to our family would trigger the quick excavation of some of those issues? Not really.

I'm working on finding my happy. And letting a few things go. And letting others in on some of the conversation that's been playing in my head over the past several months. And keeping perspective on the fact that while dealing with shit kinda feels lonely at times, I am far from alone. And knowing that admitting I need some time and support while dealing with said shit is not a sign of weakness, but just a fact of what I need in life right now. And allowing our new dog, and our old dogs, to just be DOGS. And counting down the days of winter, remembering that the days ARE getting a little longer even if they are not getting any warmer as we head into January.

Would I make the same choice to adopt Ozzie if I could turn back time by 8 weeks knowing what I know today? Maybe not. But then I look down at the lump of unconditionally loving canine laying at my feet, at the pup who is never far from my side no matter what I may be doing around the house, and I think, how could I have ever made a different choice.


peace