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!


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.


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.