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Friday, February 27, 2015

40

Well, I'm 40.

When I was a child, I used to imagine 40. 40 was REALLY freaking old. Old-old. I mean, there was a show called Thirtysomething on television when I was in 7th grade, and even they weren't 40! Those people had serious problems. Old people problems.

I could look at my parents, but let's face it; parents are old from the jump. I think it's probably natural to think of your parents as old because they're the definition of being a generation ahead of you. I know my kids often view me like I'm the Crypt-keeper.

40 was impossible to wrap my head around. I knew when it would turn a new millennium in 2000, I would be 25. I remember sitting there when I was 12 and thinking how amazingly far away that would be. 40 wasn't even on my radar. Weirdly, I could always imagine myself as 90, but never anything in between.

Well, folks, I am 40. The big four-oh. Yup. No more checking the box with the 3's in it. Middle age. Well, the age no one argues about being middle age (there's a huge debate on where it actually starts, with some people even saying it begins at 25! Ha! Take that young people!) Honestly, I'm really glad the build-up is over. It's here, I'm 40. It's a relief, like finally going off the high dive. The anticipation was worse than the jump!

I've spent four decades on this earth, and I have to say that it hasn't been enough time. I sincerely hope I have another, oh, eight or so decades to go. (That would make middle age another 20 years off, for those of us keeping track.)

So, where am I? I'm married, and it'll be 20 years this year. I have two children (16, 14.) I have a home. A career (artist.) A couple degrees (fine art, business administration.) Several pets (lordy, the pet hair. I'm the queen of tape-rollers now.) I have run a marathon and a handful of half-marathons and other races (something I NEVER thought I'd ever do, and would have laughed myself silly if someone had told me that as a child.) I'm in a partnership with my body to try and be healthy and take care of myself (and my family.) I could go on, but...

But most of all, I am here. I'm here for the long haul, as long as life will have me.


My first picture being 40

So, hello 40. I welcome you. You were expected. Stay as long as you like.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tunnel, Meet Light

Boy, I'm really stinking with posting, aren't I? I'm not sure why that is. I've actually sat down to write a few times, even have drafts, and I've just not taken them to the publishing point. Well, I'm making a (quick) effort this morning.

I have to be honest and say that I had a hell of a time over the past month. Things have been really hard, and then they got even harder last week. Lots of personal/family stuff I can't share. But I can share that it scared me, and pushed me to my limit. I think that normally I wouldn't be hitting that limit with any of the items individually, but all the little crises just wore me down and then out. I ended up finally losing my temper over granola bars. Yep, granola bars. I just snapped and laid into my daughter a bit. She didn't deserve it, and I apologized because I knew what I was really upset about. (Always nice to fail as a parent, right? Granola bars. Geeze.)

It's been wildly cold here (I guess we were the coldest spot in the nation yesterday.) It's a sad thing when it's colder here than Alaska. It was -25F at my house, but there were parts of Vermont that were -33F, and of course the windchill was -40 to -60F, which interestingly results in a lot of cussing. From everyone. I'm pretty sure I even heard the dogs making inappropriate remarks when they had to go out.

I know I said I'd miss winter when I moved. Well, I'm doubling back on that statement and saying "Can we move to the islands?!!" Because, seriously, this weather is... well, I'll behave on here (just know it was a really colorful turn of phrase in person.)

In news of warmer weather, we are signing contracts to build a house in North Carolina tonight. This seems to be the best choice for us because it doesn't require us closing until July, which means I have until then to sell this one so we can actually move. The downside is that I probably won't see my husband until July, and I haven't seen him since New Year's already. The upside, I know where I am going to be living and that's a HUGE relief to my mind, and I have the bed to myself and there's no snoring!

In all seriousness, it's a massive relief to know exactly where I'll be going. I know which schools my kids will be attending. Even if the house doesn't exist yet, I know it'll be there. Now, I just have to make it five more months. And sell this house. Which feels a bit like an albatross if I focus on it, and I start to get panicky.

But seriously, who in their freaking right mind would be out looking at houses when it's -25F?! I think biologically people have to be programmed to not go looking to uproot themselves when it's this cold, so even entertaining the idea is probably a stretch. I know that going to the grocery store seems like asking me to give up a limb at this point.

The Dietbet has begun, and I'm doing well. Not amazingly wow-well, but I'd say 90% well, and that's better than I have been doing. I'm not eating anything I'm not supposed to, but I am eating too much volume (non-starchy vegetables are about 80% of that... but yes, you really can overeat on them too. They do have calories.) Still, laying off the stuff I'm not supposed to be eating is a big accomplishment. My next step is getting the portions in line (they're not that far off, but far enough.) This week, my focus is the food choices. Next week, putting it together with the downscaled portions. I want to move into that house in July healthier than I am today!

I was working hard on a piece for my artist collective group on facebook, and I finally finished it. It's based off the Grimm fairy tale of the Six Swans:

"Hush" 12x18 inches, watercolor & acrylic. Original and prints available.

Then I was finally able to start in on a bigger commission piece, the White Queen from Through the Looking Glass. It's been bugging me, and I've felt... blocked. I think deciding on this house and knowing when we'll be moving really helped clear the way for my focus to return. It's not that I didn't have ideas, because I always have a million of those... it was follow through and focus. It was just so hard for me to keep my head above water, so my work requiring a more precise type of focus was just extra hard for me.

But I started with the paint last night, and I made progress. My client will be beyond thrilled, because she's been waiting.

We're signing contracts to start building the house tonight, and that's progress too.

I'm generally behaving on my health front, and getting better. Even more progress!

I do believe I'm finally starting to see a glimmer of light at the end of this almost two-year (once it's all done) tunnel!

So on that note; Happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Starving

Last night I went to bed starving.

No, really, it was actually physically painful (curl in a ball, painful.) Now, anyone using any common sense knows darn well that if you're that hungry, you should eat something. Just something tiny, like a little 80 calorie yogurt or something.

But I didn't.

I didn't go get something to eat for several reasons, which in the light of day I find more humorous than not. The first reason that sounds slightly noble is that I had been good all day. I didn't eat junk. I logged my food. I stayed in my calories. I did GOOD. I didn't want to add 80 calories to my day.

The less than impressive other reason I didn't get up was because it was late. Technically, it was even the next day. My daughter had come home very late from an event, and with her were two of her friends. Giggly friends. Loud friends. Apparently, not in the least bit tired friends. I was waiting them out, and not wanting to get out of bed and go yell. Because if I got up, I WAS GOING TO YELL. It is also so cold here that my bedroom has frost on the inside of the windows, so I wasn't too keen to set foot out of bed and watch myself turn blue, either.

So, I texted my daughter to hush (with an implied "don't make me come down the hallway" tone) and pulled a pillow over my head, while I cradled my burning stomach under the blankets. Honestly, it ended up hurting so bad that I didn't actually want anything to eat, but I knew it was hunger and I could have fixed that.

I can tell you that from a weight loss perspective, what I did was stupid. That wasn't a "gee, I'm bored, I should eat something" hunger. It wasn't even a "Hmm I'm out of fuel for the day, I should eat" hunger. Both can and should mostly be ignored (because eating when bored is a no-no, and at the end of the day you want to go to sleep, not fill up to go another ten rounds.) Instead, this was a distressed call from my system saying it needed something, badly. I know better.

I knew it then, but I still know it now; I made a mistake. I was unkind to myself. This was one of those exceptionally rare times at night that for whatever reason my body actually needed some fuel (maybe my blood sugar was lower than I thought, or I had been without food for too long... which given that it was about 1:30AM and I had eaten dinner at 5PM, that's a good freaking guess.) More, I didn't make the decision not to eat to lose weight. Rather, I made it because I was frustrated and tired, and instead of taking it out on anyone else, I took it out on myself. That's a pattern of mine, and it comes through in other ways too (sometimes with ice cream, which is just as damning.)

I guess I'm pretty angry at myself almost all the time. So if a situation arises where I am frustrated with someone else but it's not that bad and my reaction would be an over-reaction, I then use it as a opportunity to be unkind to myself because I deserve it. Because I (re)gained this weight. Because I haven't accomplished in my life what I wish I had by now. Because I can't be both parents at the same time successfully. Because I can't even keep the house clean (and my kids seem to be impaired when it comes to housework, although I keep prodding them. It's a constant battle, and one I remember from when I was a teen *mental note: call mom and apologize profusely. Again.*)

It's so much easier to be angry at yourself than it is to be angry with anyone else. Safer.

So, I told myself last night that I deserved it. But you know what? I didn't. In addition to everything I have already said, I'm actually completing a round of Prilosec to combat some issues I had been having (and I have to tell you that I haven't felt this good in months. Who knew it was that much of a problem?) and I worry that it's further evidence that I might have an ulcer I need to see someone about. (Gee, wonder why I'd have one of those right now? "Do you have stress in your life?" Who, me? Nah!)

It's a funny thing to be on the other side and knowing I should have eaten, as usually it's the other way around ("I shouldn't have eaten that!?! Why can't I just give up food entirely! Do they have a patch for this?") At least I know it.

So, one of my goals is to be more kind to myself. This situation doesn't arise very often with needing to actually eat something, but it's just part and parcel with the others. Not to mention that sometimes being kind is NOT giving yourself what you "want". Tricky, tricky!

Are you kind to yourself?
Friday, February 13, 2015

Just One Reason

Well, crap.

So.

Yeah.

HI!

I think I'm sort like those paper airplanes caught in a draft and headed in a fast downward spiral right at your teacher's head, when you had thrown it in a completely other direction, and you're sort of watching in terror as it just. keeps. going.

Which means I need to stop the spiral and get myself together. I know, it is a recurring theme on my blog. I know. Believe me, no one is more tired of it than I am. My only silver lining has been that I'm not gaining. Well, I'll lose two pounds and then regain them, but really that's pretty steady. But maintaining this weight isn't acceptable. So, I'm asking myself what is it that I need right now?

It's not a matter of the generic "what do you need" question, because those answers are rather constant. What I need on a generic level is:

  • Healthy food choices in the house 
  • Exercise plan/equipment/whatever
  • A good, can do attitude
That's sort of a "duh, duh, and duh!" list. But on a bigger level, our needs all change depending on what's going on. For me, right now I am lonely. I think if I had a partner that I was working hand in hand with, making healthy choices with, and shoulder to shoulder on forcing these healthy habits back into place... well, that would sure make things a lot easier. But that isn't an option for me in my current circumstances. It's funny really, because I'm a loner and usually have no issues doing something on my own. In fact, I tend to prefer it. Yet, when I asked myself what I needed, this is what came immediately to mind. I'm not intending to whine, just stating the truth. That being said, I suppose the real question is "OK, well what will we make do with instead, since what we actually need isn't available?" (Because we are NOT using this as an excuse to keep behind like this.)

That's what I've been thinking about all day. I need to do something, and at least I am aware of that (first step is admitting I'm an idiot. Check.) 

I'm spiraling on multiple fronts. I didn't even get DRESSED today. I did work, mind you, but I failed at the basics of self-care. I operated like I'm on sick-leave today. It doesn't happen a lot, but it does happen with more frequency right now. That kind of nonsense has got to stop. I am down in the dumps. Not in a depressed, bleak, dark world sort of way... but rather an "on pause" nothing is happening, life feels like it's never going to change except for everything going wrong (which it did for over two weeks straight, if you look at my prior posts) and it's kind of miserable. In contrast to all that gloom, I have a huge amount of burning energy to make SOMETHING happen (that's how I know it's not depression, otherwise I'd probably just go back to bed.)

I feel like... like I need a reason. I know that sounds silly, but I do. I tried that with my upcoming birthday, that my reason was to not meet 40 being overweight. Yet, here I am. It wasn't enough. The whole 40-thing was depressing anyway because I'm not where I want to be personally, and I'm not even going to do much of anything since it's just the kids and I by ourselves. I feel lonely and forgotten, and that's not really motivational. I even have to renew my driver's license, and I was thinking how embarrassed I should be that I have to up my weight on it... and then I thought to myself that this is one more sucky thing in a long line of sucktastic-sucky things for my birthday. I was more irritated that I have to find a ton of papers to prove who I am now because of the new rules than my weight listing, though. It just... doesn't matter anymore. 

I think I've even been eating the wrong things just looking for something to be interesting to me. I know that's the wrong reason, but when I really think about food, I don't care that much. Honestly, food is pretty annoying at this point and if a person could give it up, I would right now. Not that it's an option, but that's where I'm at with it. I'm basically Jim Carey's The Grinch, munching on glass out of boredom and loneliness. 

But... but things are starting to shake out finally. I know that the very latest I will be in Vermont one way or the other is June 30th. There's a reason. A new start. New neighbors, new demands, new places to learn how to get to and get lost in, and maybe even new people to meet. An adventure is before me in just a few months. A good one or a bad one? Who knows, but at least it's a change! A chance that I know I don't want to be THIS for. Heck, I don't want to be this now (but I need more than just now-now as my reason.)

So, I've been circling back around to the DietBet idea today. I did one once before (I can't find the posts on it, but I did one last year I think it was.) I succeeded at it. Barely. I did a one month shot at it, and I felt so pressured and frustrated by it that I swore I'd never do that again. But I realize it was less the pressure from it than my husband and my parents who were here and making it crazy for me (or me letting them make me crazy.) Well... they're not here anymore. So, technically this whole being lonely by myself thing might work to my advantage in that sort of situation.

I'm a little worried that it would make me overly focused on my weight, but frankly it's going in the wrong direction. Maybe "overly focused" is what NEEDS to happen. I'm casting about, looking for... something. New diet strategies. New silver bullet. But the truth is that I know how. I have all the tools. I even have the "Can do" attitude. What I don't have is a reason to put to use all of those things, because for me, right now, *I* am not enough. I know that sounds awful, but it's the truth. Sometimes we need something more than ourselves. Something to distract, entertain, figure out.

I didn't like DietBet... and that's exactly why I think I probably should do it. I know that might make me a hypocrite when I said I'd never do one again and why, but. Well.

And... I've literally just talked myself into it. <pause to go and actually register and make it official> So, I'm joining a six month DietBet (the goal is to lose 10% by the end of six months. I actually want to lose 20%, so that's a nice low goal for me.) It starts February 18th, and goes through August 17th. You know, I actually feel pretty good about this!




Sorry for the long post, but... well, you all kept my company while I made some decisions.  Thanks for that!
Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Crying Game?

Last night my daughter came home bawling her eyes out. She had a bad day. I mean, a really bad day. The highlight was when her cheerleading coach (who has continued to bully her, and we're already working with the school on some of it) decided to dangerously change things and that resulted in a slight concussion, whiplash, and a chipped front tooth for my daughter - after which, my daughter asked to go get a drink of water and the coach told her no. (Proud mama moment: my 16 year old daughter apparently finally lost her temper and said she had shards of a tooth in her mouth, a horrible headache and was in pain and she was going to go get some damn water!)

Apparently, most of my daughter's day was bad, too. Then my son (who had also been having a really bad day as well which started out with getting violently ill on the bus and having an awful girl not only stand up to announce it, but then proceed to make fun of my son all the way to school with the full support of the other kids on the bus, while my son (14) texted me in absolute hell so I could pick him up when the bus got to school), well my son hugged my daughter and said that no matter what, no matter what happened or what messes she got into, he would be there for her. That did it. What little composure my daughter had regained just completely dissolved into a full-on bawl-fest (much to the surprise and concerned shock of my son, 'cause, ya know, girls... they make no sense.)

My daughter sobbed a lot of things. My son didn't know what to do, but hugged her back as she cried, and I hugged them both. Then my daughter pulled back and wailed...

"I'M SO EMOTIONAL!!! But this (crying) feels really good! I love my family. My bother is so nice. I had a really bad day. A really REALLY bad day, and this feels better!" All in a full-on, snot-ugly crying wail. Totally justified in my opinion. (I had to struggle not to join her.)

Can you imagine being able to face everything so clearly? I don't know how long it's been since I faced anything with such clarity and just surrendered to it like she did. She was miserable and she wasn't fighting it anymore. Surrender brought her peace, even if it looked like a complete nuclear meltdown.

When was the last time you just surrendered to everything being awful? For me, it's been a very long time. Mom's aren't allowed to completely breakdown. If I shed a tear at a Hallmark commercial (it happens, bite me) everyone gets nervous, so I'm one of those secret criers. You know the type; a sad moment in a movie or something touches you and you just can't stop the tears, so you duck down, turn sideways and hide the emotion. I've gone so far as to pretend I had just yawned. A lot. BIG yawns. HUGE! I'm a chronic yawner with a yawn disorder! (anyone just yawn?)

I have only had eight hours to myself in over two weeks now. Between illnesses and snow-days and more, I have barely had a moment's peace and gotten almost nothing done for work. We've had influenza, strep, and apparently a couple other viruses blow through (my son is the one currently home sick, and I've seen the doctor four times in the past two weeks for the kids, and we're even on appendicitis watch right now. I don't think that's what this is, but I've been told to watch - which is scary as hell even if it is just a "maybe" situation.) I've had to confront coaches, call counselors, place emergency calls to the dentist and schedule appointments. I've had storms blow in and snowblowers refuse to start. Bill issues, travel issues, friend issues, family issues, pet issues, selling the house issues, and more.

Granted, I've had my little share of personal wishes granted too. For example, with all the snow this past Monday, I had to get the snowblower to clear out the 200 feet of driveway. But it wouldn't start. It was -20F, and it wouldn't freaking start! I pulled the machine into the garage overnight and hoped that would do something, but I didn't think it would. In the morning, I opened the garage prepared to shovel it by myself and I saw it was over a foot deep. I wanted to cry, I almost did. I gave the snowblower one last try, and you know what? It started!!! That's almost like winning the lottery, folks. You have no idea!

I've kept pushing forward. I've made it past things, and I'll continue to do so. I'm keeping the plates spinning, even though I'm so overwhelmed that I want to throw up (literally.) As a grown-up, we know that this too shall pass. We will continue on. We only quit when we stop trying. We're capable of making it to the next day, no matter what has happened on this one, and we will continue moving forward because there is no going back. <hum your favorite inspirational theme song here.>

But sometimes? Sometimes I wish I was able to have a complete and total freak-out-meltdown. We were once taught that it solved nothing, and I've long avoided it. Yet, last night I watched it make everything better for my daughter, even if nothing actually was. There is something about surrendering to the meltdown that has value.

I'm just not sure if:
1) an adult and parent (single parent, currently) is allowed to meltdown,
2) if it will actually help, and...
3) if I'd be able to stop once I started.

Plus, I'm not sure it can be planned, and it would have to be. But does it even count if you have a planned total-meltdown? Can you even do that? "On Thursday from noon until 3PM, I will cry my eyes out, wail about my life, rail at the world, and perhaps stomp my feet now and then. By 3:30 PM, this will be over and we shall carry on as usual." Hmm.

Those eight hours I got to myself earlier this week? I slept. I kid you not, even though I got up and exercised and got ready for my day before I got the kids off to school, instead of diving into my huge work-backlog the moment they left, I climbed into my bed and didn't move until the alarm on my phone went off to alert me to school being out. And it wasn't enough. That's how exhausted and overwhelmed I am. But maybe a good full-on cry fest would hit the reset button?

At this point, I'm seriously evaluating the value of having a crying day. My daughter is feeling much better today, even though things are still awful. Maybe I can plan a day the next time everyone is healthy and pop in all the awful tear-jerking movies (like Beaches, Steel Magnolias... what are some other good ones?) and just have a pity party day. They do say it releases all sorts of hormones and such... I wish I had a girlfriend to have a cry-fest with. Something tells me that would work even better!

Ahh well. It's not something that is possible right now, but I'm certainly evaluating the possibility.

In other news, I actually bought a ticket for the lottery drawings. I figure it'd be one heck of a silver lining, considering the crap-fest my life is right now! One can hope! And dream! $2 to dream about what I'd do with $300 million for a few days (until the drawing is over and I haven't won) actually isn't such a bad price!

There would be beaches, and trees, and a little paper umbrellas, and an on-site handyman who makes sure things don't break!

Hey, what would you do with $300 million dollars?

(much better way to end the post, right? Tell me what your best tear-jerking movies are, and what you would do with 300 million!)
Monday, February 2, 2015

Milestones

You may have noticed that I'm not really "feeling" my blog lately. I'm not really feeling the internet, or much of anything else either. It's not being sad or anything, it's more like... some sort of deep quiet, or blah. That's kind of where I am at. I'd have tons of energy to push things around, but I'm back to the "I don't have any control over my future, I'm just waiting things out" place again, so I'm sort of tamping it all down so I don't create problems because I shouldn't be spending my energy on this or that. I'm trying to outsmart my own worst enemy; myself.

I know that we're moving to North Carolina, of course, but we're in a sort of holding pattern again. We think we might have found the house/area we're going to live in, but we're going to build (we think, again it's all wishy washy) because the housing market is kind of wonky and the brand spanking new houses cost less than the older ones and you get more for your money. Even so, if we do this and it's the right thing to do, it means I won't have my family back together in one place until July. JULY. Freaking JULY!!!

Now, I think this is just a natural consequence of not having my partner with me, but after almost 20 years of marriage, to be completely on my own and by myself, well it makes one evaluate their marriage. The good, the bad, the ugly, the dirty socks and all. I fought it for a while (the whole not wanting to expend energy that ends up being self-destructive) but then I realized that evaluating my life isn't a bad thing, even if the areas in question might be kind of scary. After all, it's not real if you don't consider the possibilities and turn them down, now is it? Marriage is a choice, every day, not just the one you said "I do" on.

It's also scary to evaluate your life when you're not in a good place, and in the middle of transitioning to a whole new... whatever you would call relocating. It's almost a new lifestyle, since we're going to be living where there are people, amenities, different climate. I'm keeping that in mind, along with my well known aversion to being in uncertain circumstances that makes me want to upend everything to either fix it or end it. Keeping that in mind, I realize I don't wish for a different partner to go through this life with. I simply wish I HAD a partner, my partner, with me and things weren't so broken up right now. Even if I might wish I had Thor's body in my bed (and who wouldn't? I mean, come on), I realize I still want my husband's brain in there too. So, I'm still in my marriage wholeheartedly, even if the situation is completely screwed up right now.

I'm also coming up on my 40th birthday in a few weeks, and this is likely contributing to all of this. I have to admit, it makes me want to cry. Not because I'm going to be 40, but because I'm not where I wanted to be in my life at 40. The weight? Oh sure, I wish I was a size two, but that's such a small item on my list of disappointments in myself. I guess I thought I might have conquered more mountains or painted more masterpieces by this time in my life. I feel like 40 years is a long time to have done so little. I'm wondering how to change that going forward. Even if I think things should be different by now, I don't actually have the answers looking back as to how they could have been except very big alternate choices (things that would have deprived me of a family altogether, for example. So, that's not really all that helpful looking forward and trying to figure out how to go forward being the person I wish I already was.)

Weirdly, I'm extremely bothered I'll be by myself for my 40th birthday. Usually, I don't care about my birthday. My birthdays have almost always been crap birthdays, but I remember thinking maybe I'd do something really cool to ring in my 40th. Instead, I'm going to be alone. I'm not planning on baking a cake or anything, because what's the point? I'm by myself, and it'd just end up on my hips because I'd have the cake to myself (well, I'm sure the teenagers would help with it, but you get my meaning.) I'm not sure what I wanted exactly, but it wasn't that. More, I can't really "give myself" anything because I'm stuck in this limbo with our lives changing over to a new place.

Did or do you have big plans for certain times in your life, things you wanted or want to accomplish by a certain age? How's that going for you? I'm honestly curious about how other people are approaching their life's accomplishments and plans. So, really - how are you doing with your life and what you want out of it?

On a positive note (since I always get a nasty little hate comment about how I'm such a downer if I'm open about how I'm feeling), today is a snow day! It's coming down steadily, it's freezing, and... well, let's face it - snow is nature's glitter, and I'm all about the glitter!

Yesterday, I made a little digital painting for Valentine's Day. This was good, because I only managed to ruin several paintings in January (sometimes you are "on" and knock stuff out, and other times you ruin everything you touch no matter what you do. That's totally normal for an artist in the studio, scary though it may be!) I think going digital for a little bit allowed for me to "undo" mistakes (to an extent) and that was rather therapeutic!

"Love Bunnies" (prints in my Etsy shop)


Going forward, well. I don't have any answers. To anything. I'm here. I'm going to be 40, and that's a milestone. At least I'm here for it.

I think I'll go play in the snow for a bit...