Friday, July 4, 2014

The Value of .2

May 19 was a milestone for me.  I joined a gym, something I hadn't done since my late teens.  I always loved going to the gym and working on the machines, but once I got my own apartment and had a baby and got busier in life, there wasn't extra money or time for the gym.  So over the years I have played the lost and found game: losing shape and finding weight.  I would start a diet or exercise plan and then lose interest when I didn't see results on the scale as quickly as I'd hoped.  When I would whine to my doctor about how I had gained 50 lbs. in the past 15 years, she would remind me that I had two babies in that timeframe and got older, losing some of my metabolism and hourglass shape in the process.  She would also tell me that 50 lbs.
in 15 years was a little more than 3 lbs. a year and that wasn't too bad.  As I would look at her size 2 body tell me these things, I wasn't very encouraged, and I certainly don't want to reverse the process by losing 3 lbs. a year over the next 15 years.  I don't think my favorite bikini from 1999 will look that good on my 58 year old self.  And yes, I still have that bikini, in my hope chest which is where every hope you have goes, right?  I mean the name "hope chest" itself is a clue in another thing I've hoped for since I was 12.  Over the years I have also asked my doctor to give me a harsh diagnosis that would inspire me to think it was a life and death reason for me to lose weight.  She just laughed.  I have also asked my husband to tell me that he would put in my obituary that I died from obesity, thinking the fear of that would inspire me into kicking the cheese 'n cracker habit or doing a sit-up.  He just laughed, too.

So looks like it was up to me.  The me that never makes time for myself and rarely spends money on myself joined the gym.  There was a new gym and a special - $1 down, $10 a month, and the penny-pinching, sale-loving me was intrigued.  I had $1, and I could afford $10 a month.  Now to find the time.  I talked to my youngest two children, and asked if they would mind if I got home an hour later from work every day and explained why.  They were supportive, and I promised them I'd still be there to help with homework or studying, to make food and to go to practices and games.  I think they were more concerned with the food part, which is why I threw it in there.  The other perk of this gym is the hours. They are open all night or late hours, which is right up my alley.  Since I consider it an emergency to be up before 7 AM, morning exercise is out or should only be classified as walking to the shower.  And since my TV shows were all wrapping up with their finales, I knew that on those early practice or tough homework nights, I could go to the gym late night.

After a month of going 3-4 times a week and dropping a size and 8 lbs., I gained 2 back.  I talked to my healthy and inspiring fitness guru BFF who told me I needed to do more exercises to strengthen my core which probably meant more cardio.  I thought about that, but I get so bored on the cardio machines for long periods of time.  Even a good Dr. Phil episode didn't do it, and I would find myself jumping off the bike or treadmill during a commercial.  But I broke down.  In my discouragement and frustration of not already being skinny and having those fabulous tank top wearing arms I dream of and admire on girls half my age, I made an appointment with the trainer at the gym to ask what I was doing wrong.  I explained what my gym practices were, and he said what I knew he would. 
 With a big smile of very white teeth, he said in what I imagined was a monster voice, "You need to do more
cardio."  This was then followed up with "On the treadmill."  I protested, like a spoiled child, being told "no" for the first time and said, in a voice that I imagine was on the brink of tears "Not on the bike?"  He explained that the treadmill is better and the bike only works your legs so if I wanted to see better results, I had to work out better and smarter.  So in a rare desperation, so rare that I shut up and did what I was told, I added more cardio and more days.  I have stuck with his plan for 2 weeks, doing 60 minutes of cardio on the dreadmill (no typo) three days a week and doing 30 minutes on the treadmill (I like 30 so will call it by its correct name) and 30 minutes of machines twice a week.  And today I hit another milestone.

I have now lost 10.2 lbs!  Let me explain the value of .2.  It represents the low-fat sour cream I used in my ranch dip this week.  It represents the pretzels instead of potato chips I ate with the dip.  It represents the 1 soda and 8 waters I have every day instead of the 6 sodas and 1 water.  It represents the half a sandwich I eat for lunch instead of the full sandwich.  It represents the half a piece of cake I ate yesterday instead of every last crumb.  And yes, I will admit that my first thought when looking at the scale was "Imagine what it would read if I didn't have the dip or cake."  But screw it!  I like my food, and I'm already sacrificing a little.  And I have almost entirely kicked my diet coke habit, and I haven't had cheese and crackers since the baby shower in early June.  But let me tell you the best part of .2.  Much like a mother will answer the question of her child's age with "19 months" instead of saying " a year and a half", I can say MORE than 10 lbs.  I'm on my way, and it feels good.  It feels sore, too, but I'm told that's a good thing.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Boiling Over

Lately I feel like my brain is boiling over with things I want to say but think I shouldn't.  As I age, I feel like I am slowly but surely turning into a judgmental, or opinionated, woman who needs to get a grip or will surely become one of those grumpy old women that complain about everything and never have a smile on their face or a kind word to say about anything.

Recently someone posted on Facebook about the difference between being opinionated and judgmental, and as you can imagine, there was a lot of feedback.  It got me thinking of the fine line between the two.  Everyone has opinions, and those are normal and acceptable.  Judging people is an entirely different matter.  It's easy to look at the way someone handles a situation and think how I would handle it differently.  And I guess I feel that if I offer my solution then perhaps I am being judgmental.  Maybe it is all in how it's delivered that makes the difference.  If it's in a critical manner, it's judging.  If it's in a caring manner, it's trying to help.  But what if the person asks you a question?  What if they ask what you think?  What if they keep whining about their problems but don't seem to be trying to fix them?  That is when it becomes difficult to be caring and not critical.

So this is something I am struggling with lately.  The grumpy me wants to shake some people and say "Smarten up" or "What is wrong with you?", but I have to remember I haven't been in their shoes or had their life, and maybe my solution, which seems so easy to me, isn't so easy after all. So instead, I keep my opinions to myself because I know that they won't be delivered kindly, and I don't want to offend anyone.

However, in order to use my blog to try to turn down the heat and not boil over, I will say a few things, and try to be as nice as possible, and while some of these things are close to my heart and may hit home with someone, they are also things I struggle with myself and need the reminder, too.  Hopefully, I can find tact and compassion so that this entry doesn't bear the title "50 Shades of Rage".

Some people need to value family a little more than they show. We all say we love our families and would do anything for them, but do we always show it? 

Be a giver and not just a taker.  Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is your time, and it would mean the world to that person.

In today's world of "I'm gonna do me", be careful to not hurt other people's feelings or step on them in the process of taking care of you.  I'm a big believer in needing to make time for yourself and your goals and accomplishments and not losing yourself while being everything to everyone else.  However, be sure that in putting yourself first and taking care of yourself, you are not hurting someone else.

Try to offer suggestions as opposed to fixing things.  Let them figure it out for themselves and clean up their own mess sometimes.  People tend to appreciate things more when they've had to work for them instead of having things done for them or handed to them.

Hallmark makes very nice cards when you want to say the very best, but what about when you have to say the very worst?  What about when you feel someone is doing something that is potentially harmful to them, and you feel that they need to stop and think before bigger problems arise?  How do you approach that situation?  How do you say something out of love that you will know will hurt that person? 

Opinionated or Judgmental?  I don't know.  We've all heard the saying "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all".  But by being silent, are we doing more harm?  By being silent, are we showing that we agree with behavior that we think is wrong?  If we do show disapproval, are we being judgmental or nagging?  How do you say something harsh or critical in a nice manner?

Until I figure it out, I continue to boil over and try not to burn anyone.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thank You

There are jobs...and then there are JOBS.  Every single one of us at some time in our life (hopefully) will have a job.  I enjoy my job most days, and generally feel a sense of fulfillment in what I do.  But my job isn't dangerous.  I suppose working for a criminal defense/personal injury attorney could be dangerous as our clientele aren't always the most law-abiding or upstanding citizens, but I go to work every day without fear.  I don't worry about being harmed or injured, other than the dreaded and very painful paper cut.

But there are those who go to work every day not knowing what will happen.  They get a call of distress, and their job is to respond.  Any call could be a bad one.  Any call could be dangerous.  And any call could be harmful.  Yet, these firefighters and police officers answer the calls.  They respond to the call and help those in need, every day, every shift, every call.

And when do we say thank you?  When we are reminded of their bravery because another firefighter or police officer has died?  I am guilty of this myself, and I will admit that I don't often think of these dangerous occupations until something goes wrong, until someone gets injured or loses their life.  Think about their job description...willing to risk your life for another, willing to enter a burning building to pull someone out, willing to face a person holding a weapon, willing to disarm someone to protect another.  I don't know about you, but those job requirements kind of put my job description to shame.

Not only are these men and women brave, but think about their families, their spouses, their children.  Every day that a firefighter or police officer leaves the house to go to work, the spouse knows where he or she is going, the spouse knows the danger, and the spouse stays behind...waiting for his or her personal hero to come home from their shift. 

So tonight, in the wake of more firefighters dying in the line of duty, unable to save themselves while trying to save others, strangers no less....I'd like to say to the firefighters and police officers "Thank you.  Thank you for being willing to do this job and for putting others before yourselves.  And thank you to your spouses, your children, and your families for sharing your brave men and women with us."  You are everyday heroes.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

We've been together for so long that I can't imagine not spending a day together.  You are the one I reach for first thing in the morning and many other times throughout the day.  You wake me up, you make me smile, and I like you a whole lot.

But lately I've made some new resolutions in my life, and you are a stumbling block if I want to succeed in my goals.  I've gotten emails and articles to read from friends outlining multiple reasons why we shouldn't be together and why you aren't good for me.  It's time I start listening.

I'm sorry, old friend, but we need to take a break.  I need to try to replace you with another less satisfying and less fulfilling.

I will miss you so very much, and hope to someday be happy with your replacement.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ready or Not

I had asked for advance notice and thought I had 2 weeks before Jake and Mercedes and their 2 dogs moved out.  I made lists of things I wanted to buy to contribute to their new place.  I bought the ingredients to make their favorite meals for their last weeks at home.  I was readying myself for his departure, much in the same way I had readied myself for his arrival 21 years earlier, although with far less enthusiasm and anticipation.  Then Wednesday night, I got a text "We're actually going to move on Friday."  Lump in the throat.  I guess I didn't respond quickly enough because then came the next text "Sorry for the short notice, but Andy can get the box truck that day so we're just going to move everything then."  The lump began to make me feel like I couldn't breathe or would choke.  Then he walked through the door and looked at me... pathetic me with my lower lip trembling, my eyes filling up and unable to speak.  The next text said "Are you mad?"  I finally replied, "Not mad just very sad."  And then I got the text that released the tears I had been trying so very hard to hold back "I'm sad too.  Just know you'll always be my best girl." And with tears rolling down my face, I texted back "And you'll always be the first boy I ever loved."

The tears were tears of sadness, tears of pride and tears of love.  I have spent 21 years readying my boy for the time he would be out on his own, trying to teach him responsibility, kindness, love and a sense of right and wrong.  And in those years, there have been tears of happiness, sadness, frustration, anger but always love and pride. I have always believed in my boy and have always known he had it in him to make it on his own and to be successful, but sometimes I felt he didn't believe in himself.  I have said more than once "I show you and tell you the easy way and the straight road to get there, and why do you insist on always taking the detour?"  Yes, my boy likes to take the hard road, over the bumps and around the curves, usually at top speed, and there have been accidents along the way.  But now he's a little older and a little smarter, and maybe sees that Mom's way is a little easier road to travel.

Today I visited the new place.  He and his girlfriend of a year and a half have a loft in their friends' house.  The bedroom is small, but the loft area is big and will make a nice living room for them.  I watched him as he unloaded the bags of groceries and other things from the back of my car.  I watched him as he helped Mercedes put them away.  I watched as he proudly gave us the tour and showed us the things they had gotten for the new place.  I watched as he played with his dogs and took them outside.  And the lump returned. 

This lump was a different lump.  This lump was holding back the tears of pride, the tears of happiness because I wanted to jump up and down and say "We did it!" with much of the same feeling I had as he crossed the stage and received his high school diploma.  Gone was the boy who had been known to drive me crazy, the boy who used to say "Why can't I?  I'm old enough."  And gone was the answer I had always given to that question "You may be ready, but I'm not."  I was ready.  I was ready for him to take the next step in his adult life, ready for him to get his own place.  I was ready for him to take the next step in his relationship and share that place with Mercedes.  And I was ready to dry my tears, smile and hug him as we said goodbye and drove to our home and left him in his.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Confessions of a Hover Mother

Hi, my name is Beth, and I am a hover mother. Hey, admitting it is the first step, right?  I wasn't familiar with the term "hover mother" when my sister first labeled me one.  Urban dictionary defines it as an obnoxiously overprotective mother.  I'm only obnoxious sometimes, overprotective all the time. 

I have always, and I mean always wanted to be a mother.  I used to beg my parents to have another child, even though I already had 5 siblings.  But every time the baby became a toddler, I thought it was time to bring another baby home.  I loved babysitting, loved being the mother, even if it was just for an hour.  In my senior year, when I sat down with my guidance counselor, and he asked, "What do you want to be?", I answered "A mother."  He rephrased his question, "I mean, what do you want to do with your life?"  And I repeated, "I want to be a mother." He then showed me my good grades and my class rank, brought out various Ivy League school brochures and booklets and tried to convince me that I needed to choose a career and a good school to assure that I would do something with my life.  After I wasn't swayed, he suggested that I be a teacher so that I could "mother" lots of children, while still having a real job (his words).  I decided that would work and pursued that avenue. 

I never became a teacher.  Instead I achieved my own dream at the age of 21 when I became a mother.  I was a single mother, and my son was my life.  I felt guilty leaving him at daycare while I worked and would devote every minute between getting out of work and his bedtime to him. We ate what he wanted for supper, we played whatever game he wanted to play, we watched what he wanted to watch on TV. He was my baby, my best friend, my life, my love.

As a young child, he told me one day that he was going to live with me forever. He said he'd build a candy store in the backyard and sell candy for his job.  I held onto that promise and the joy that my boy never wanted to leave me. Hover mother...

Before long, he became a teenager, and his friends were his life.  He wanted to ride his bike miles to go hang out.  All right, maybe 3 miles, but it seemed like 10.  I had to know what he was wearing when he left just in case he was kidnapped, I had to have him call me when he arrived at his destination so I knew he had made it safely.  I had to know where he was, who he was with, what he was doing.  Separation anxiety was HUGE, and it was all me.  He was excited for the freedom and raced off with a quick "I love you" to go meet his friends, and I was left behind to worry until he got back home.  Hover mother...

Then he became an older teenager, and the bike was replaced by a car.  Now there were more worries: Who are you with?  Did you all wear seatbelts? Where did you go?  Did you get a ticket?  Don't drive fast, don't drink and drive, don't miss your curfew.  All these things I asked and said every time he left the house, and the "I love you" goodbyes became aggravated "I know's" and "You treat me like I'm 5."  Hover mother...

When he was out, I would call to ask what he was doing and when he would be home. He would answer and then tell me to text because he was with his friends and didn't want to talk.  What he didn't know was that I just wanted to hear his voice, that I missed him, that I was saddened that we were like passing ships, pretty much only saying good morning and good night.  I missed my baby.  Hover mother...

Now he's 21 and ready to move out.  I know that this is the natural progression.  Children are supposed to grow up and move out right?  And in my head I know this. I know that my kids aren't going to live with me forever no matter how much I want them to.  I know that he could have gone away to college or the military after high school and that I've already had 3 more years with him than some of his friends' parents have had with their children.  But in my heart, I wonder what he'll be doing every day.  Will he eat good?  Will he take care of himself?  Will he brush his teeth?   Will he have enough money?  Who will text me every day and ask "What's for din din, Mommy?"

I remember something my Dad told me years after he dropped me off at college when he said that as happy as he was when I went running off to make new friends and to embrace the new adventure in my life, that after he kissed me goodbye, he cried as he drove away.

And so this Hover Mother will try to hold back the tears, to be happy for him on his new adventure, but I will always have enough "din din" just in case he wants to come back, even if it's just for supper. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Buzzkill Barb

Buzzkill Barb is a name my friend and I made up as a substitute for the old phrase Debbie Downer used to describe a person who puts a damper on your excitement, or a dream smasher.

I am a planner, I make lists, I research things, and I plan them out...maybe too much.  Don't get me wrong, I can be spontaneous and fly by the seat of my pants if I choose to, but I don't often choose to.  A prime example of this would be the first time I went to a Catholic church. It was for a wedding, and all was good, I could handle the times where we repeated things or the kneeling.  But then came the announcement "Turn to those around you and offer the standard greeting" or something similar to that.  Well, this Baptist girl did what any other Baptist girl would do in greeting time and turned to her neighbor with a smile and a "How are you doing?"  Well, apparently that can't be answered with the normal Catholic greeting response of "And also with you", but since I didn't say the normal greeting of "Peace be with you", my neighbor and I were at a dead silence to which I followed up with "I like your dress."  Yeah, I can fly by the seat of my pants with the best of 'em!

So fast forward to now...I am planning for our vacation to Disney World. We haven't been there in 5 years, and this year my mom and Jake's girlfriend are joining us. I researched almost daily for the best airfares, scanned the "last call resorts" for the best resort for the least money, and then scanned for the best deal on Disney tickets.   I did good. 

We always get a resort with a full kitchen.  I love to cook, and I love to save money even more, and feeding a family of 6 can get expensive.  So in order to make it fun, in my obsessive-compulsive way, I let each person choose their favorite meal for supper.  Then comes the list of meals and what needs to be brought with us and what needs to be bought at the grocery store there.  I mean, if someone's special meal involves a 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder, am I really going to buy a whole container in Florida when I can just throw the spice bottle in a suitcase with my coffee filters and electric skillet?  Ok, stop laughing, have you cooked pancakes and bacon for a family of 6 in a single frying pan?

On to the next list...the checking of the weather, the closest grocery store, the directions from the airport to the resort and from the resort to the parks.

Then there's the list of what to pack.  Again, it's not just throwing shorts and flip flops into a suitcase when you are packing for the family, or in particular, a very stylish 10 year old girl.

Today I felt good, the lists were done, things were getting checked off, I'm staying on top of the laundry so everyone has their favorite clothes clean and ready to be packed.  I excitedly got the Disney DVD out of the mailbox today and practically ran into the house to ask Nathan and Allie to watch it with me, only to be told, "Naaaa, I'm gonna go upstairs" and "I don't want to watch it.  I want to be surprised."  I must have looked sad because the last comment was followed up with "Sorry, but don't you want to be surprised about SOMETHING?"

Apparently, my careful planning, my excessive lists, my knowing exactly what the resort looks like and what they have for amenities and activities, and the exact car we are renting, and the seats we are sitting in on the plane, and what we will eat for every meal doesn't leave much of a surprise.

For the first time ever, I am a Buzzkill Barb, and I don't like it.