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Archive for June, 2008

Happy Monday!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Not much to report today…I worked some this weekend, did a very little housework, and got half of my grocery shopping done.  Oh, and I read.  Heh.  There’s a story behind that

When I mentioned that ED has been walking with us, I neglected to mention why.  She made the decision because of her discussion with DH, of course, but I figured it would last maybe a day or two.  She’s like me; she really, really doesn’t like exercise.  🙂

But B., my walking buddy, had a bit of a brainstorm.  ED has been pestering me mercilessly to read this series of books that she adores.  You may have heard of it, particularly if you have or know teenagers or, you know, see movie previews or read the news.  It’s the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. It’s a series of “teen” novels about a girl, and vampires.  Vampires.  Yes.  Really.

Now…I have resisted for a few reasons.  First, I am really not into vampires or vampire fiction.  It just doesn’t do it for me.  I outgrew that fascination after my stint with Anne Rice.  It was fun while it lasted, but I’ve moved on.  (Actually, I lie…I never did read Rice’s vampire novels.  Just the Mayfair Witches.)

Secondly, most teen fiction I have read is just bad.  Just really, really bad.  Badly written, trite, poorly plotted…and yes, there are exceptions, but honestly, most of it is painful to read.  There are, typically, more adjectives and adverbs than all the other parts of speech combined.  And the heroines are typically smart-assed obnoxious girls who are, despite their horrible attitudes, boy-magnets, though personally I just want to slap them.

Thirdly, I don’t read romance novels anymore.  I’ve just lost my taste for them, around the same time I lost my taste for vampires.  Boring, formulaic, and overwritten, typically.  (I swear I’m not as much of a literary snob as I sound.  I have my shameful addictions – can you say “Shopaholic”? – but these just are not among them.)

So.  Lots of reasons not to read them, despite ED’s endless demands and the media hype.  However, she started going on about them on her first walk with B. and I, and B. said, “Okay, so you want to join our Walking Book Club?” (We’ve been talking about this for a while, but we were planning to start with Deepak.  Oh well.)

ED took to the idea like the proverbial duck to water.  B. and I agreed to force ourselves to read the books (there are three, with the fourth coming out in August) so we could all discuss them while we walked.  But the deal was, if ED stopped walking, we would stop reading.

Well.  That was…three days ago?  Four?  ED has walked with us every night but last night (it rained and after our storm experience the night before, we elected to stay home).  And B. and I are already on the third book.

Oh my God.  I mean.  Really.  I simply cannot pinpoint what it is exactly about these books, but evidently if you mix all the above-mentioned elements together, you get something amazing.  I guess it’s like beef, noodles, sour cream, and mushrooms…I’m not that crazy about any of them by themselves, but you throw them all together with a few other ingredients in beef stroganoff, and I’m hooked.  The thing is, it’s well-written.  I could dissect Meyer’s style but I won’t put you through that…I’ll just say that I, who am easily “taken out” of the story by poor writing style, remain engrossed till the final page.  And beyond.

It’s a little embarrassing, but I have to admit it.  I’m a Twilight junkie.  Well, more accurately, I’m an Edward junkie.  Sigh.  Anyway.  But fortunately, ED is enjoying having a captive audience to talk to them about.  So she’s still walking, at least for the time being.  🙂

So that’s the secret.  Rope your teenagers into exercise by tying it into something they love.  If you have one that loves to read, like ED, try the Walking Book Club (or Biking Book Club, or Elliptical Book Club, or whatever).  ED was actually put out last night when we couldn’t walk.  So was I.  But it did give me more time to read.  🙂  (Without having to stay up until after midnight, the way I did the two prior nights…though to be fair, one night it was because I had some sort of stomach attack.  But I did read while I suffered.)

Have a wonderful Monday!  And don’t try the books.  I don’t want to be responsible for anyone neglecting their jobs/families/personal hygiene so that they can read.  🙂

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First of all, I want to thank everyone for your very kind wishes and comments; they mean a lot.  I am sure that, as upsetting as this is for me, it is a million times worse for my brother, and for his wife and kids.  I will pass your words on to them, and I know it will mean a lot to them as well.   One really cannot ever have enough positive thoughts.

Last night was a pretty amazing night, exercise-wise, which is the whole reason I’m posting.  My Elder Daughter has been walking with B. and I for a few days now, which just makes me deliriously happy.  A few nights ago, we underwent one of those periodic meltdowns where it seems that everyone in the family just hits the wall at the same time and it all explodes.  It was very chaotic and stressful, but very much needed.  One of the results was a very difficult but honest and sincere conversation between ED and DH about ED’s eating habits, complete lack of exercise, and general normal teenage lifestyle.  He expressed to her his worries in a very blunt and honest – but very loving – way that seems to have really gotten through to her.  I was very proud of both of them.

I’ve been even more proud of ED since, as she has taken his words to heart.  She hasn’t shown any desire to go nuts with crash diets or deprivation, but she did tell me to take the rest of the food off the table the other night because she’d had enough and didn’t want to keep eating – definitely a good decision.  She also has, as I said, started walking with me and B.  So she’s making some changes – I don’t want her to make drastic ones, but I am very happy that she’s making some baby steps.

But anyway.  Last night was the third time she’d walked with us, and we took a different route that B. and I have not taken before.  It is, in short, the road up the freaking mountain.  ED, who wanted to go that way, had forgotten that.  I hadn’t, but I thought the first incline was much farther off than it actually is.  It’s actually very close.  If we’d turned around there, it wouldn’t have been much of a walk at all.

So we climbed a mountain last night.  The walk, round trip, was 4.2 miles (I clocked it in the car today)  – not much further than we usually go, but it is nearly all on an incline; and about half of it is a series of very, very steep switchbacks.  It was FREAKIN’ AWESOME.  I wanted to keep going forever – not because it wasn’t hard, not because I wasn’t tired, but because I felt like (I am not even kidding you) Superwoman.  I was so high on endorphins I honestly considered a methadone clinic.  I wanted to walk all the way to town and back.  But that would have actually been very stupid.  🙂

Still, it was exceptionally cool that we all did it – and I was so proud of ED, who refused to stop halfway up the last switchback but insisted on going all the way to the top just to prove to me that she could.  So we all ended up doing the whole thing and it was amazing.  Then, on the way back, we got caught in a storm.  Well, sort of.  We were about half a mile from the house, maybe a little further, when we noticed that the sky suddenly looked Technicolor, and not in a good way.  So we walked faster, but when the wind picked up and the rain started we all panicked and started running.  (I swear it wasn’t funny at the time.)  We only ran for a couple of minutes but after having climbed the mountain, I was pretty impressed that we were able to run at all.

It only rained for a minute; what we were in wasn’t the real storm at all.  We got home well before that hit.  But we may be more cautious about walking when storms are forecast, in the future.  🙂  (We’re hardcore – we don’t let anything stop us!)

Oh, and I forgot to mention we were being stalked by these guys in a car who kept going up and down the road and honking at us.  A little creepy but I’m just going to assume they were nice guys who were simply overcome by our exceptional hotness.  I mean, it’s understandable really.  🙂

So anyhow.  We climbed a mountain.  And we’re going to climb it again, and again.  And some day, I really am going to walk all the way into town.  Not, you know, at 9:30 p.m. when it’s storming…but some day.  That’s my promise to myself.

Hope everyone’s having a wonderful weekend.

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Not the Best News

Happy Friday, everybody.  I hope you’re all having a wonderful day.

I am feeling pensive today.  I got some bad news about my older brother last night…he’s been having seizures and has had a couple of TIAs, and the doctors haven’t been able to determine a cause.  Talking to him, I realized that his speech is noticeably slurred; he is evidently also having some cognitive impairment, which tells me there’s damage being done.  I can only hope and pray that it’s not permanent and that the medical professionals with whom he’s working are able to figure out what’s going on and turn it around.  If you have a moment, I’d love it if you’d say a prayer or send some good thoughts his way, and his family’s.  His wife has been amazing through it all, they have a very deep and genuine love, and I know she and his kids are scared to death.  I know he is too.

Please excuse me while I indulge in a little shameless emotional ramble here (or don’t – you definitely do not need to feel obliged to read on!  This is for my own benefit more than anything, really.) I’ve been thinking about family of late anyway and had planned to post about my siblings.  Maybe a little precog there, who knows.  I am the youngest of eight children.  The oldest sibling is around 18, 19 years older than I am, and has a child three months younger than I.  The youngest sibling was three years old when I was conceived, and died of cancer before I was born.  The next youngest is nine years older than I am – he’s the brother mentioned above.

I was six years old when my sister S., who is 11 years older than I am, got married.  All the other siblings had already left the nest, so to speak, though some of them would return periodically.  So from that point, it was just T. and I.  We had the normal love-hate sibling relationship, though the truth of it is that I worshiped the ground he walked on, even to imitating him.  I wasn’t much of a girly-girl, needless to say.  🙂

Though it didn’t seem odd to me, looking back I marvel at how much he played with me and put up with me, the pesky kid sister. (Remember the old sappy McDonald’s “Little Sister” commercials?  Those were, in my mind, always about T. and me.  It was like “our song”.)   The big thing then was Hot Wheels and electric race cars; I can remember being mad because he would never let me turn my car in mid-air when we were playing chase.  He said real cars couldn’t do that, so neither could mine.  I remember the smell of the transformers from the race track; it’s a horrible smell but it’s nostalgic, to me.  I remember playing more imaginative versions (usually involving mock warfare or something like that) of Hide-and-Seek with him and his friends in the woods on our 20 acres.  I remember walking to the bus stop with him every morning…and him making me “grab the wheel for a minute” when he would drive me to school.  I remember him not letting me follow him and our cousin out into the woods when he was in high school, and I don’t want to know what they were doing out there.  Knowing our cousins, probably smoking pot, though I wouldn’t want to impugn anyone’s character.  🙂  And I remember the day that he left for Navy boot camp, when I was not-quite-nine.  I cried all the way home after we dropped him off at the bus stop.  And every day for a week after that.  I remember going to Chicago to see him graduate from basic training (one of the few family road trips we ever attempted), and being as proud of him as if he had been appointed Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. armed forces.  That was my brother, and he was so cool.  I remember all of his calls when he was in the service, pranks he played on me that he swears he never did but I remember very clearly because how else would a 10-year-old in BFE, Oklahoma, have known that Caspar Weinberger was the Secretary of Defense?  (Long story.)  I remember him coming home and telling me stories about the band he played in when he was in the Navy and his guitar.  And I remember singing “Victory in Jesus” with him and S. at Daddy’s funeral.

The point is that, of all my siblings, I have more memories with T. than most.  My sister, S., was my second mom, and I have tons of memories with her – but they’re not kid-kid memories, they’re kid-second mom memories.  Until I was in high school and we were friends more than sisters, but that’s different.  T. and I actually did a lot of real growing up together, and he’s about the only one of whom that’s true.  The others were too much older; their childhood was a whole different world than mine.  T. was on the cusp; he bridged the gap between the two.

Over the years, with T. in the military and then with me moving so far away, we have lost touch, though never completely.  But in my mind, he will always be one of the two closest.  I love all my siblings, even the brothers who have caused so much pain and difficulty; but T. is my big brother.  If he’d been able to get leave, he is the one who would have given me away at my wedding.  He’s the only one I got to have an actual, real, brother relationship with.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this.  I guess I just feel the need to put into words the fact that he’s important to me.  I don’t let a lot of people be important to me because first of all, there’s a potential for loss (case in point!), and secondly, I’m very selfish with myself and my attention and my energy.  And sometimes I try to make people who are important to me, not be important to me, because it makes me miss them less.  It makes it easier that they aren’t really in my life.  Other than S. and T., none of my siblings were in my life as I grew up, and while I regret that, it also makes it easier that they aren’t now.  But S. and T. were, and they were important, and when I had to let them go, I guess I took it to the extreme.  I regret that.  And I need to acknowledge now that I never really did, because I’ve always assumed they would be there.  It scares the hell out of me that they might not.

So as Carrie Underwood says, I guess it’s gonna have to hurt.  I guess I’m gonna have to cry.  I don’t like to do that but I can handle this one of two ways – pretend it doesn’t matter, detach and refuse to deal (which is how I handled my Dad’s passing away, and let me tell you that didn’t work so well for me!)…or let myself feel what I am really feeling.  And if I’m really about what I say I’m about, being honest with yourself and listening to your body/mind, then it’s going to hurt.

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…it will come, right?  That’s what I’m hoping for.  I’m tired and morose this morning and a bit stuck for a topic, so I’m hoping I can ramble my way into one.  So here we go…

Yesterday was a so-so day, behavior-wise.  (Which of course is my only real gauge of progress at the moment.)  I did okay with only eating when I was hungry, but not great.  There was some impulse-chocolate involved.  And brownies…and banana bread…but those were late in the evening at a get-together.  So, given the sugar I took in yesterday, it’s not a big surprise that my energy level is sort of in the doldrums today.

It was a very fun night.  We had a great time and it was well worth the extra nibbles.  🙂  Laughter is very healing and I laughed a lot.  More than I have in a long time I think.

All told, if I were counting calories I’d probably not be too far over, but nutrition for most of the day was somewhat abysmal.  And since that’s what I’m really working on right now, it wasn’t the best day plan-wise.  But fortunately, it was yesterday and this is today, so I don’t have to hold on to that.  🙂

I also didn’t exercise, except for yoga yesterday morning.  No reason other than the get-together, but again it was worth it.  A rest day isn’t going to hurt me as long as I make it just one.  So it’ll be extra important to exercise tonight.  I may bike and walk, in fact, if things work out as I’m hoping they will.  But you never know.

One thing that I really am thankful for today, I must admit, is prosperity.  I’m certainly not wealthy, and heaven knows I have my money issues, but the bottom line is, my needs are met and so are those of my family.  We are solvent and DH is a wonderful provider.  (How’s that for an old-fashioned term?!)  Even as prices are rising, and things are becoming more difficult, though we are making some adjustments, we are not in danger of starvation or of losing our home.  We are able to adequately clothe and care for our children, and if someone has an emergency, we will be able to afford medical care, even if we have to make a few sacrifices. That’s a lot bigger deal than we tend to think, when you consider the situation of much of the world.  It’s something I take for granted and I shouldn’t.  I should be very thankful and appreciative of it, because it could so easily be different, as I’m reminded every time I buy gas or groceries.  I’ve been there.  And today, I am going to be very thankful for the blessing of reasonable prosperity and a life that is not a constant struggle to survive.

And as always, I’m thankful for my wonderful friends, who keep me sane and smiling and even laughing, and who make getting through the day a little easier.  And I hope that you all have a wonderful, beautiful day with much for which you can be thankful.

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Happy Wednesday, world!  I hope the week is going well so far and continues to improve.

My thought for today is something that actually coalesced for me while I was meditating this morning, and it centers around the pressure we put upon ourselves when we are working to get healthy and fit – which, for most of us, translates to “lose weight”.

Weight loss is a double-edged sword.  It is something that we typically want to do for a number of reasons, and generally we each have a personal list of motivations that are extremely individual and specific to our lives.  When I was starting, one of my biggest desires was to lose weight so that my family would be proud of me, rather than ashamed.  (Eventually I realized this was my own perception rather than their feelings, but that’s another post.) Like everything else, the reasons are as different as the people who have them, and as worthwhile.

The two reasons that seem to recur in nearly everyone’s lists, however, are to look better and to be healthier in general.  So usually, for people who are seriously working, it’s something we do to improve our health.  Eating better, healthier foods and becoming active are unquestionably things that are good for you, right?

Well, yes.  But as always, there’s a caveat:  they are good for you until they begin to become a stressor.  Most of us reach a point at which our weight loss efforts begin to produce stress.  We are working hard and doing things that we don’t necessarily want to do, yet we feel that we aren’t progressing, or we aren’t progressing fast enough.  The scale isn’t cooperating.  The measuring tape is stuck.  I’m doing everything right – why isn’t it working? We feel that we are failing; we are frustrated because we know we’re doing the right things but we aren’t getting results…or we are consumed with guilt over that one little splurge that we are convinced caused us to regain the five pounds we should have and would have otherwise lost.  It’s not rational and most of the time it’s completely fallacious…but it has immense power over us nonetheless, and it produces immense emotional stress, which translates to physical distress and a corresponding loss of motivation.

Being goal-oriented, as most people are, helps us to motivate ourselves to continue to do the right things – but it also causes pressure to succeed, which creates stress, and it produces overwhelming feelings of failure, despair, and worthlessness when we feel we have not performed up to expectations.  Again, it’s a double-edged sword.

The key, I think, is to find a happy medium.  To find a place where we can be pleased with success, but not feel the fear of not achieving success or the crushing disappointment when we don’t achieve it.  That’s a very difficult line to walk, and I think it’s at least in part a matter of urgency.

A lot of the time, when someone starts a weight loss program, he or she has a specific time frame in mind. He or she might be doing it for a specific event that is coming up, or maybe just sets an arbitrary deadline so success can be measured.  I want to lose ten pounds by my sister’s wedding.  I want to be at my goal weight by the end of the year.  I want be able to run a 5K by July. We do this for a very good reason: we need to be motivated, and we need to know what we’re working toward.  That’s how we are trained, in our society – to be results-motivated.

Unfortunately, it’s not really the healthiest approach, because of the stress it produces.  Healthy behavior – eating healthy foods, being active, caring for our bodies and our selves with real self-love – is its own reward.  It pays off in so many ways, in the way we look, the way we feel, the things we are able to do, and increased longevity.  It adds not only years to our lives, but quality years during which we will be able to live healthfully and vibrantly, rather than in pain and disability.  It makes every day better, lovelier, and more worth living.  The truth is, it just improves our lives, whether we lose a single pound or not.

So how does that approach – that it’s what you are doing every second that counts, not the end result – mesh with our need for motivation to do these things?  How do we stop straining to see the finish line and simply enjoy the beauty of the run?  (Or walk, in my case?)  We have to let go of the urgency.  We have to be able to say, and truly know, that we want to be healthy and strong, without appending, “By _______” or “when ____ happens”.  We have to recognize that what we are doing is not really trying to achieve a one-time, finite goal – but changing our lives.  We are working to improve ourselves, not for a reason, but simply because we want to improve ourselves.

Meditation involves a huge amount of letting go.  Letting go of the tension that’s in your body, letting go of the thoughts that come unbidden, letting go of the need to be alert and ready to respond to stimuli.  Letting go of reactions and emotional processes; recognizing that you are free to do so, that there is no natural law that says you must feel these things.  You are not obligated to suffer.  You have the right to choose.  In the process, it’s almost impossible not to realize what freedom there is in letting go, and how much of the tension and stress and pressure of life can be alleviated by doing so.

So my suggestion for today is, practice a little letting go.  Be mindful, concentrate on every action you are doing for yourself, whether it’s running or riding a bike or lifting weights or preparing a delightful, healthy meal.  Really think about it.  Really focus on it and take joy in that action, for its own sake.  Don’t think about it as a means to an end.  Simply let go of the need to reach for that goal, and enjoy the process of getting there.  The benefit to your mind and spirit will be incalculable, and the benefit to your body will be correspondingly greater.  Remember, we are not a collection of parts, we are an amazing, awe-inspiring whole, and what is good for one part of us is good for all of us.  So today, just let go a little and be in the moment of caring for yourself.  And the irony is, if you can let go of the finish line, you’ll probably get there quicker.  But try to forget I said that.  🙂

And have a wonderful day!

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Rose’s Meme…

Okay, I finally realized I had been tagged by Rose to do this meme, so here goes:

1) LAST MOVIE U SAW IN A THEATRE? Kung Fu Panda! Actually a very cute movie. I enjoyed it immensely and at one point laughed so hard and so long I actually scared myself and embarrassed the kids…

2) WHAT BOOK ARE U READING? Right now I’m on “Perfect Weight” by Deepak Chopra, as well as “The Young Unicorns” by Madeleine L’Engle, and “Journey Into Healing” also by Deepak Chopra. I like to mix it up a bit. J

3) FAVOURITE BOARD GAME? Oh, Scrabble, definitely!

4) FAVOURITE MAGAZINE? Ooh, I don’t really read magazines. Unless I’m at the doctor’s office and then I try to stick with Women’s Health or something like that. I really, really hate it when they only have golf and vacation club magazines; first because I don’t play golf or have time or the money for vacation clubs, and second because that is a sure sign I am paying them too much…

5) FAVOURITE SMELLS? Honeysuckle, bread baking, and rain.

6) FAVOURITE SOUNDS? My family’s voices…and the silence when they finally shut up! J Also, I love harp music. Yeah, I know. But I do.

7) WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD? When I know I’ve disappointed someone I love.

8 ) WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN U WAKE? Generally I’m disgruntled that it’s morning already.

9) FAVOURITE FAST FOOD PLACE? Ooh, I have lots. Probably Braum’s, but I can’t ever eat there because THERE AREN’T ANY HERE…after that Sonic…and after that I guess Long John Silver’s. Then Wendy’s.

10) FUTURE CHILD’S NAME? If I have another child at this point it’s going to be “Oh, shit”. 🙂

11) FINISH THIS STATEMENT—IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I’D… quit my job, go live at the beach and write full time.

12) DO U DRIVE FAST? Generally I do, but I am working very hard at changing that.

13) DO U SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL? LOL…I guess DH is sort of a teddy bear. 🙂

14) STORMS–COOL OR SCARY? Cool AND scary.

15) WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR? Um…first one that was really mine was a Toyota Corolla. An old one. It didn’t last very long. After that, a really old Ford Escort.

16) FAVOURITE DRINK? Water, actually. After that, probably tea, and then Diet 7-Up.

17) FINISH THIS STATEMENT-IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD… Totally take a vacation!

18 ) DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI? Most of them. Not down where they get really tough.

19) IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY OTHER COLOUR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE? Nothing, I absolutely love my hair color. Which is why I don’t color it anymore.

20) NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS U HAVE LIVED IN? Tulsa, Lawton, Catoosa, Mannford, Enid (all in Oklahoma) and Charleston, West Virginia

21) FAVOURITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Football, college or pro; basketball but college ONLY; and major league baseball. In that order. Oh, and hockey ROCKS but only if you’re actually at the game.

22) ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Rose? I couldn’t possibly limit it to one nice thing. But…I would say one thing I love the most is that she is so together. She’s got her head on straight and has immense self-realization, while at the same time being one of the sweetest people I know.

23) WHATS UNDER YOUR BED? Nothing right now. I’m totally getting a shoe organizer for under there so DH will quit making cracks about my shoe disorganization. 🙂

24) WOULD U LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN?? Absolutely.

25) MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL? Night owl, really.

26) OVER EASY OR SUNNY SIDE UP? Over easy!

27) FAVOURITE PLACE TO RELAX? Now it’s become the chaise on our new planet couch. Also in the backyard…in the hammock chair at the cabin…and on the sun lounge on the boat.

28 ) FAVOURITE PIE? Lemon meringue

29) FAVOURITE ICE CREAM FLAVOUR? Um…rocky road probably.

30) OF ALL THE PEOPLE U HAVE TAGGED, WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST? I’m not actually tagging anyone because I can’t think of who to tag! And I’m very lazy this morning…

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New Design

Yes, you’re in the right place, I just changed it on you again. 🙂 I think if I’m taking a new approach I should have a new look. So here we go. I’ll probably be changing the header every so often as my mood changes. Hope you like!

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