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Archive for October, 2011

My husband has started a diet, one of those three shakes and one healthy meal a day.  He asked me to join him.  I went to the meeting with an open mind.  I came home and honestly expected I would do it.  After a week of going round and round in my head I decided against it.  Well what I decided was that we should try a real diet at home and if he didn’t see results then I would do it with him in January.  For his own valid reasons, he decided to go ahead and do the diet on his own.

I have dieted, starved and suffered to lose 5 pounds only to gain it back once the diet is abandoned.  I can’t diet.  I hear the word and I’m suddenly starving and hiding in the pantry pounding down organic vanilla wafers.

Over the last two years I have worked hard to eliminate chemicals from my diet and eat real, healthy organic food.  I started my quest to see if the change would help my ADD son and possibly my stomach issues.  I started by eating real food and cutting out red dye, soda and processed foods.   I slowly progressed to organic foods and eventually to non-genetically modified products.  I can’t say I see a change in my son but over the last two years both my 17 year old daughter and I have lost 15 pounds without trying.  ( I literally thought my scale was broken) My stomach aches have reduced to 1-2 every five to six months as opposed to 1-3 killer stomach aches per month.  I feel better, I sleep better, and I don’t have as many aches and pains as I used to.  I used to get sick every month.  One year I was sick for the entire month of February.  I now get sick about 2-3 times a year and I had a cold that lasted three days.  Three days!  For me that is unheard of.

I look at food differently now.  I read ingredient labels and choose not to purchase products containing ingredients I can’t pronounce.  My family hasn’t been to McDonalds in about a year.  Food is now an occasion not car ride entertainment.

A pleasant side effect is that food suddenly tastes amazing!  I make organic brownies and cookies for my kids’ lunches and I can’t believe how much of a difference organic flour and sugar make.  I knew I needed to take the next step of cutting back on carbohydrates and bringing in more vegetables to my diet.  I just wasn’t in a hurry.

Enter- my husband on a diet.  The man has lost 25 pounds in five weeks.  He is a man on a mission and true to his personality he follows the rules to a “T” and looses about 5 pounds a week.  I, on the other hand, am constantly thinking about food.  What I have to prepare, how much does he need, what three vegetables am I going to make tonight.  There’s no ordering out on this diet.  I am back in the closet pounding down organic vanilla wafers, amazingly good by the way but not necessarily the best lunch choice.

I find myself tempted to try the diet.  Oh to lose that much weight so quickly.  To be skinny-er!  I find myself pulled between the desire to look good and the desire to be healthy and happy.  I have spent a lot of time working on my relationship with food, myself, and my higher power.  I don’t want to throw that away for an improvement in only my outer appearance.  I want to evolve.  I once again feel as if I am straddling the line between what society expects of me and what I need of me.

I hear my husband’s stories of the other dieters who aren’t loosing the same amount because they have a sweet here or Chinese food there and I know where they are.  It’s where I am.  Until dieting and healthy living becomes a part of your everyday mindset it will just not work.  Our excuses will continue and success will always be as far away as we have put it.  We need to change how we think about food and ourselves.  I know I am on the right track.  I also know there is a part of me clearly on the wrong track and loving every minute of it, but when I finally do make the decision to lose weight it will be for the right reasons.  It will be for balance.  I will nourish and strengthen my body as I have nourished and strengthened my mind.

In the meantime I will revel in organic pumpkin whoopee pies and three vegetables with my dinner.  That balances, right?

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Yoga Class

I started yoga.  As I have mentioned in the past, I hate exercise, but I also struggle with aches and pains and I need to strengthen my body and I need to lose weight.  I’ve tried aerobics.  After the birth of my second son I exercised every day for three months and lost nothing.  I took Zumba and while I didn’t hate it.  I didn’t love it.  I didn’t need it and eventually it faded into my insane life.  I tried daily walking but the only way I lost anything is if I walked for three hours at a time.  I have too much to do to spend three hours a day walking.  I run around all day cleaning, working, chasing children and if I change nothing I don’t gain and I don’t lose.  I have accepted my situation and most of the time I am fine with where I am. 

So why did I start yoga?  I’m not sure exactly.  I meditate for mental health as well as spiritual growth.  I have been meditating since I was a child.  An older cousin learned one simple practice in gym class and taught it to me and whenever life became difficult I would follow what she taught me.  (I highly recommend teaching it to children) With a little research, I expanded my practices but I came to a point where my amateur meditating wasn’t working.  I tried visualization, praying, mantra chanting and in desperation started reciting the rosary just to fall asleep.  I needed something structured.  I needed something deeper.  It was a call and a demand from my soul.  I need.  I didn’t know exactly what I needed but knew I needed.  When I looked into a local yoga place peace came upon me.  I figured I was on the right track. 

So I stepped out of my comfort zone and signed up for a class.  My first day I’m upside down trying to make my body look like everybody else’s (yeah right), the instructor reminded us to breathe and said if you can’t breathe slow and deep then you need to slow down.  My thought?  (With blood rushing to my head) No heaving breathing or sweating!  This is my kind of exercise!

The following Monday I toyed with skipping.  I had so much to do.  But I already paid for five classes.  Once again I try to keep up and make my body look like hers.  This can’t possibly be doing anything.  On my third week I’m trying to force my body into strange shapes while watching the instructor.  I know I’m not doing it right.  Then she tells us to breathe into the stretch.  Feel the stretch.  Pay attention to any sensation your body has in this moment.   It dawns on me.  I need to pay attention to what my body is feeling.  I need to focus on right now to keep from falling over.  I need to be in this moment.  Gee, where have I heard that before?  How many times does the universe have to keep sending me the same message? 

As many times it takes for me to get it I suppose.  I am so lucky they love me enough to keep teaching me the same thing over and over.  A lesser energy would have given up by now. 

I have 5 classes under my belt and just bought my next 5 class pass.  I approach my Monday morning class with the intention of leaving early to meditate before class because I am important enough to take time for me.  I won’t say that “I love yoga” because honestly that doesn’t seem to cover it.  I need yoga because I need me.  Yoga connects me to myself and to the god within so that I can approach my week with a grateful heart and a healthy mind.  I am the only one who is capable of taking care of this soul right here.  Yes I have been given my children and my husband to look after but I have been given myself.  I do everybody in my life a disservice if I feel I don’t deserve an hour and a half once a week.  It’s not selfishness and it is more than survival.  It is a spiritual imperative we connect with who we are and nurture the soul that is ours.  If my guardians can love me enough, if God can love me enough then I can love me enough.

‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ Matthew 22:39

When did we stop loving ourselves?  When did it become a negative thing to do so?  And why?  Some of us love others more than ourselves and others love themselves more than others.  Balance is found within the soul and sometimes in yoga class.

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 Rosie came with her little lively body and her adorable ears.  When she is at her house she is the queen of two much larger dogs and has almost a “catty” personality but when she comes to my house she is the sweetest thing.  She notices every movement with the flick of her ears and finds a quiet spot to curl up to sleep until the the house gives her something to interact with.  She twirls when she needs to go out and rolls over whenever the children approach her in order to get a belly rub.  When I return from putting the kids on the bus she greets me with enthusiasm and when I get her leash to walk her she acts as if I have given her the greatest gift.  I love this little dog.  She adds something to my day no one ever has.

Sunday night she slept with my youngest and was ready and waiting for me Monday morning.  So cute, I can still see her ears up and her little tail wagging.  She greeted me when I came back from yoga and reveled in the walk to the bus stop that afternoon.  Monday evening we had to go to open house at the kids’ school so I put the dog in the downstairs bathroom which is connected to my son’s room so she could eat and sleep and we put the cat in my older daughter’s room also connected to a bathroom.  We set the alarm and left.  The children greeted Rosie when we got home and again she slept with my seven year old daughter after her shot and final bathroom trip. 

The next morning I entered my daughter’s bedroom.  Rosie was waiting for me as usual but this time there was regurgitated food all over the bed.  I brought Rosie downstairs and then cleaned up my daughter and the bed.  Since she is a diabetic, throwing up is not good.  I tried to feed her but she refused.  She drank large amounts of water and threw that up too.  When my ex called that morning I expressed my concern.  He assured me she was fine.  She was probably just nervous or ate something she shouldn’t.  Try to give her a biscuit if she doesn’t eat anything don’t give her the insulin.  My daughter was in the background assuring me it wasn’t my fault and everything was fine. 

By midday she was worse; throwing up water constantly and not eating anything even the wet dog food I had bought her.  I had been on the phone with her daddy on and off all day.  By the end of the day he assured me she must have eaten something she shouldn’t have from my older son’s room, and it will pass.  I told him if she wasn’t better by morning I wanted to take her to the vet.  He said he would call in the morning and then call his vet.  I would have to bring her there.  I was more than fine with that.  He told me to give her 2 units of insulin at 8.  By 9 her breathing was labored and I was sick with worry.  I carried her to my room and laid her in a safe place on a blanket. 

Around midnight I woke and checked on her.  Her breathing sounded terrible.  I noticed when I stroked her fur her breathing got better so I laid on the floor with her petting her and eventually dozed.  She stopped breathing around 1:20 am.  With sobs locked in my chest I left her where she was and got in bed.  I laid there in sorrow going over and over in my head what I could have done, should have done.  Somehow I fell asleep.  I dreamt it was morning and there was Rosie bright and awake,  her ears perked up, her little tail wagging, ready to go outside and greet the day.  I woke and realized it was a dream and was thrown into such profound grief.  I should have thought to check the room for food.  I should have taken her to the vet.  I didn’t play with her enough.  I didn’t hold her enough.  We didn’t get more than one walk together.  There would be no more walks.   I cried myself back to sleep.  I did that four times.  Each time I dreamt she was fine and healthy and each time I woke to the realization she was gone and was crushed by ridiculous grief. 

Amazingly enough I managed to get the kids up and off to school without them seeing her. They asked how she was and I told them she was very sick and was going to the vet.  When my ex called I lost it and told him the terrible news between violent sobs.  I cried as I took care of her little body and on my knees I stroked her one last time and told herthrough my tears how sorry I was. 

My day was engulfed in sadness.  I relived the time with her and berated myself for all the things I didn’t do.  My ex was wonderful and repeated often how it wasn’t my fault, but I couldn’t escape the fact that it was.  If my house had been cleaner, if I had checked the room, if I had just trusted my gut and taken her to the vet, but the thoughts that hurt the most were, I didn’t play with her enough, I didn’t hold her enough, did she know I loved her?  The sadness was one thing but the regret cut me.  It sliced open my insides and made the memory of her painful.  I know everything happens for a reason but honestly what was the reason for this.  Her father should have been the one with her not me.  This should not have happened. 

When my 24 year old son was nearly 4 we had moved out-of-town.  It was a couple of weeks after Halloween and I was newly pregnant with my second son and babysitting.  Unexpectedly the baby’s mother picked up her daughter early and my day was free.  I toyed with the idea of putting my son’s costume on and visiting my grandparents since they hadn’t seen him yet, but I was so tired.  I chose to take a nap instead.  My grandfather died November 18th.  The grief and regret were so intense I couldn’t stand the sight of my son’s handmade puppy costume and I threw it away. 

It has dawned on me.  It’s not the loss of a loved one that is debilitating.  I actually feel blessed and privileged the love of my grandparents and the love of that little dog touched my life.  It is the regret of things not done, words not said and love not given which hurt the most, that rip your heart to shreds and cause overwhelming ache.    Can we avoid this sorrow?  I’m not sure.  With life so busy and things so crazy, it’s too easy to get caught up in everyday things and forget to stop and remember to be present with those we love, but we can try.  Live life with no regrets always seemed to say “do what is fun and don’t let yourself feel bad about what you do” but now, a life without regret is a life where I loved and acknowledged who came before me, remembered that the most important things are the souls who touch our lives and finally when it’s time to say goodbye, not just forgive myself for failing but permit myself to be human.  It all seems to come back to the same thing.  Be present, be real and love without inhibition.  That is a life without regrets, never missing an opportunity to love and be loved, a profound blueprint for life wrapped in a simple concept and a very large lesson from a sweet little dog who filled my heart.

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