Baby Steps to Whole Health

…steady is as steady goes.

On Empathizing Loss

Friends, today my grandmother passed away. And while I am sorrowful for my own loss, my deepest, saddest sorrow comes from knowing that today, my mom lost her mom.
A few days ago, I called my mom. I called her because I was entering new parenting territory, and I needed to know how she did things when I was younger, so I could determine how I would do things for my kids now.
“I’m texting because Easter is almost here and now we have a teenager who knows the Easter Bunny isn’t real. What should I do? When did you stop hiding our baskets? What did you put in them when we were too old for bubbles and chalk? Just candy? ” I asked.
Her response? “I stopped hiding baskets when you moved out. You can get him a sketch pad or some sunglasses, anything really. Just something.”
Now, while I do have a great immune system, I do not have an amazing memory. Can you believe I had to ask my mom what to put in my teenager’s Easter basket?! Can you believe she hid baskets until I moved out?!
Anyway, all that aside, even knowing my mom doesn’t need her mom for teenaged parenting advice anymore, I’m still just SO SAD that my mom doesn’t have a mom living on earth anymore. No mom to call and say, “Hey, I’m frustrated and having a bad day,” and receiving unconditional support and encouragement through the phone lines.  No mom to call and share accomplishments with – my own or my children’s. No mom to just call up to make feel special, to say, “Hey, I was just thinking of you…” The mom who listens to your sorrows and your joys, who gives you good advice and loves you even when you fail to take it; who sees your need and does her best to fill it; the mom who sacrificed in her own way to provide for you, who continues to sacrifice in the hopes of leaving you a legacy…
I cannot even imagine, nor do I want to, the day that the thought
of a phone call crosses my mind, yet it’s no longer an option. I am so very, very sad for the loss of my grandma, but mostly, I’m heartbroken for my mom and her sisters.
May you hold on to the good memories and the good advice of your mothers – biological, adoptive, surrogate or otherwise, friends; and if you haven’t yet suffered the loss of your own mom, may you grow in empathy for those who have.

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Where I’m (Already) At, Part 2

I meant to post yesterday, but balance just wasn’t in the cards I guess. I’m not sure it will ever be completely balanced, but for now I’ll continue to try. In regards to my MIND category, I did get a couple of books at the library. I picked a book about Georgia fruits and vegetables; until I moved here, I couldn’t plant a darn thing and have it live! I’ve wanted to give growing some vegetables a go though for a while, and now I live in a place where they actually grow! I also got a book called “The Way We Eat – Why Our Food Choices Matter” by Peter Singer. I don’t know that it was a great choice, because I feel convicted now regarding the food we consume! But it has been a very interesting and informative read, and it’s one that I can’t put down. Perhaps my brain was hungry for something other than Oscar’s Oasis and safe ways to clean hardwood floors.
So today I want to share where I’m at in two other areas that need balance – Family and Body.
I live with my husband and four children. Making time for each of them individually, teaching them all to contribute, working through emotions and arguments – most days I feel like I fail at both my wifing and my parenting duties. I don’t know that I’ll have any good advice or stories to share in this particular area, as it’s usually a minute-by-minute, see what will work this time type of thing! My husband, bless his soul, often gets my leftovers, as my 3 year old is clingy and quite a home body! The kids commandeer most of my time and attention (they’re throwing off any chance at balance!!), not just with their immediate needs, but with my personal responsibility to teach them to do things the right way and raise them to be contributing members of society. We only recently started having them do paid chores, as I was of the mindset that my job, as a stay at home mom, was to do everything. As I grow and learn, I’ve come to realize that I should be the manager of the home, delegate tasks, and help them learn to do them. So for about a month now I have posted a chore list for each week. Jobs are expected to be done before the 8:00 reading time, and if they’re not, I make note of it. Each Sunday, they’re paid for the work they have done. If they’ve missed a few chores, they earn less. They can earn more back by doing something extra though. I think the balance weight in the family area is completely on the child side, which is unfair to my husband. In that light, I will make my baby step for this area to be to set aside 10 minutes each evening when he gets home to focus solely on him and talk with him. I saw this article about how American Parenting is killing the marriage, and I identified very much with it. I want my marriage to last!
Body is going to be a long topic here, and balance is something I struggle with in this area as well. The body entails so many different sub-categories; food, exercise, fitness, health, self-love and self-hatred. I feel like body worship has become another god in our society, just another thing to focus on self. With that in mind though, I do try to be health minded and take care of myself and my family. I haven’t always, and I have a really long way to go before I would consider having ‘reached’ a place of body authority. At this point in our food journey, our family mostly gluten free. Not because I wanted to hop on the band wagon – I have four kids to feed and back when you could get a pound of pasta and a jar of spaghetti sauce for $2, man, we ate a lot of pasta! In 2012 one of my children was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Unfortunately, we cannot really afford to ALL be gluten free, as a 10 piece loaf of bread costs $6! So the rest of us eat conventional bread, and conventional snack foods and when I buy cookies, I buy gluten free for one and regular for everyone else. I try to buy mainly meat, fruits, veggies and milk products. I stopped buying cereal on August 22 as I started a “30 day no cereal challenge” for my family after I took a bite of Cinnamon Rice Chex and almost vomited at the sweetness. A quick check on the box told me that my kids were eating SIXTEEN GRAMS of sugar in each serving – and you know no one ever only puts 2/3 of a cup in their bowl! At the end of the challenge, I told the kids I wouldn’t kill them with breakfast cereal and I wasn’t going to buy it anymore. I’ve actually saved quite a bit – between the cereal and the milk, I added up that we probably spent about $17 a week on just those two items. A loaf of bread and 5 dozen eggs lasts longer and costs less. We don’t eat all organic, and mostly we don’t eat ANY organic because I just can’t afford it, though I do believe it’s a healthy ideal, and after reading the book I mentioned above, I have more reason to want to eat organic and ethically farmed foods.

In regards to my personal physical health, I’m far from ‘there’. When my height and weight are put into a BMI calculator, I fall in the ‘overweight’ section, and in the past, I’ve even been in the ‘obese’ category. BMI is not an accurate measure of total health, as it lacks the ability to determine actual muscle mass versus fat weight. But it’s fair to say that I AM overweight. I’ve been full of excuses as to why I don’t have the time to take care of myself, but I’ve come to recognize that if I don’t take care of me, I won’t be able to care for the people who depend on me. I put the Lose It app on my phone and have started tracking what I eat. I also started doing yoga (seriously, like 2 weeks ago!). I printed out a sun salutation picture and practiced it a few times. I can now go through it completely without looking at the paper, and I can do it for 10 minutes! My non-balancing mind wants to look for more difficult things and do it for longer, but these are baby steps, as I’m not equipped to take big ones yet!  So my baby step in the body area are to continue with the yoga, and I’m going to add a second step here because I’d like to drink more water. My goal there would be to get the full 80 ounces I need.

Do you have any thoughts on what you’ve read today? Advice for a baby step that may be more successful than mine?

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Balancing the Whole Self

I’ve tried blogging a few times. I never completed one and invited friends and had readers who followed me. My heart wasn’t in it. I had too many unrelated ideas and couldn’t bring them together under one roof to make a sensible focused blog. So again, I will try.

As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve realized the necessity for balance in my life. I’m an all or none girl, which I suppose can be a good thing, but it’s not ALWAYS a good thing. Every time I attempt a goal or activity, every other part of my life suffers at my absence. If I determine I’m going to lose weight, my mind and my day are consumed with planning and tracking and logging and exercising. If I determine I’m going to get the house in order, my mind and days are consumed with noting (and then doing) all of the little things that no one notices (baseboards, tile grout). I spend money buying things created for a specific job (ceiling fan duster!) rather than buying something that can get more than one job done. And then in two weeks, I’m burnt out, bored of cleaning, and I find something new, and then the clean house once again falls into a horrible state of disaster. In each goal obsession, the rest of my life suffers. For me, balance is necessary, and it isn’t easy to come by. But balance is part of whole health, because if I’m focused only on cleaning things, I’m not eating well, and if I’m focused only on eating well, I’m not feeding my mind, and so on.

My goal (let’s not get obsessed here!) with this blog is to share the small steps I’m taking in each part of my life to achieve balance, and with that, whole health. I read so many articles written by people who seem to have already ‘arrived’. They’re at their peak physicality and are sharing with us HOW THEY GOT THERE. And it seems hard. They saved $1000 in a year and they want to show us HOW THEY DID IT. We don’t get to see the walk, just the after effects and how it has created a perpetual fling forward into great successes. For me, today, I’m not there yet. I’m barely beginning (it’s been a long time coming – lots of thought over the past year!) this portion of my journey. I don’t have the eating habits I’d like to have, I don’t feed my spirit the way I would like, I don’t have the amount of money I’d like to have saved, and I don’t pour into relationships they way I would like. My recipes are STILL little bits of paper thrown in a drawer, my meal planning is another of those obsessions that gets tossed to the wayside when other things get in the way.  I would like to achieve a healthy balance of care taking in my mind, family, spirit, body, relationships, and finances. I’m sure there are more areas, but for now, it’s a place to start.

Tomorrow, I have planned to share where I’m at already, so you all may know where I’m starting from.

Maybe we could walk through this together. Take baby steps together. And while we’re in the journey, we can encourage each other and watch the baby steps outward become a balanced life. Will you join me???

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