Monday, December 22, 2008

Giving into the madness

I did something last week that I never expected to do: I bought something organic.

Here's the tale of what happened that dark and stormy night. (Or day. Probably day). The stars were mal-aligned. Aurelia was switching to whole milk. And the forbidden thought snuck into my brain: she's going to be drinking a LOT of this...should I buy organic??

I believe that "natural" is not necessarily better than "synthetic", and sometimes it's actually a good deal worse. I'm quite certain that genetically modified foods are not of the devil. All of our food is genetically modified, but now we can modify it in a single generation instead of over centuries. But the fear of excessive hormones made me give in on the organic milk front.

There's a nagging suspicion in the back of my brain that I made this decision based on hype rather than scientific understanding. Did the massive propaganda campaign for going "green and organic" finally get through to me? Or are my fears founded in reality?

I'm not sure yet. I haven't actually done any research on the differences in chemical composition of organic vs. conventional milk. It's on my list.

But for now, we're a two-milk family. Organic whole for Aurelia and Standard 1% for the rest of us. There goes my mocha budget.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Negative = Real, Positive = Facade?

My best friend used to get the use of the phrase "real world", as in "welcome to it". Her response: "What? Have I been living in a fake world this whole time?" (roughly paraphrased).

A variation on this troublesome saying has recently made its way under my skin. I've noticed in several of my favorite "mom" blogs and podcasts that it is common to refer to meltdowns and breakdowns and generally anything negative as "real life", or revealing the "real me". Why is it that women believe only their failures are "real", and anything positive about themselves is truly a facade??

I'll use myself as an example. As you may have judged from my recent posts, I had what might be called a stress breakdown last week. I felt like I couldn't do anything right, the house became a disaster, and I really wasn't of much use to anyone.

The week before that, I was obviously happy, pretty much stayed on top of the housecleaning, and felt like I did a good job supporting my husband and nurturing my daughter. Does my subsequent meltdown mean that everything that came before was just a show to deceive the viewing public?

I don't believe so. The "appears to have everything under control" part of me is just as real as the "I desperately need a break" part of me. If anything, the negative side was a failing of the real me, not the revealing of a truth beneath a facade.

Fitness Friday: Easy Edition

1.This Christmas I am going to indulge in (meaning enjoy, without guilt, a reasonable amount of) hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream. And endless hours of the Bing Crosby Christmas station on Sirius.

2. It is my goal to stay away from fudge. It's not my favorite thing anyway, so I should be able to meet this goal.

3. Over the holiday, I am changing my exercise goals to walking in the snow at least once a day, preferably towing Aurelia on a sled.

4. The way I will remind myself to make good choices over the holiday is keeping my husband close by, with instruction to gently remind me.

5. My favorite ornament on my tree is... Well, I'm not putting up a tree this year. But I love the Willow Tree nativity set I have out.

6. Of the progress I have made so far, my favorite thing is just having a plan, and feeling like I have some control over my fitness future.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of the ladies participating in Fitness Friday!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Secrets and Stress

Dealing with secrets is something that I'm not great at. Don't misunderstand me - I can keep a secret, and I appreciate having friends and family trust me enough to confide in me. I'm happy to offer an ear and a shoulder if you need it. But secrets that effect other people, especially people that I also interact with regularly, bring a huge amount of stress into my life.

I seriously dislike the dynamic of "You didn't hear it from me, but...". Especially when the news is something that I'd like to help with, even if it is only by offering a shoulder to cry on. Instead, I have to pretend that I don't know about what's going on in a friend/family member's life or risk losing another relationship that I care about.

Or the family secret that everyone guesses at but can't talk about because nobody's supposed to know. Then if it does get out, an "innocent bystander" often takes the blame. As in "me" this past week. Oh, but I still can't talk about that.

So what can I do? Well, crying and talking to my husband about it seems to have helped. Dodgeball is a good outlet (if only they didn't make us use soft "nerf"-style balls! Haha.). I really need to pray and journal. It's funny how both of those things can reduce the size of "the problem" - prayer because God holds you in His arms, and journaling because proper perspective is easier to grasp on paper. What's not funny is how hard it is to make those a priority.

Rationally, I know I need to do these things, but even thinking about fitting in dedicated time makes my "stress-alert" beacon turn red and start flashing. Kind of like the one night I took off for myself last week. I needed it. I know that I needed it. But it also added stress to my week.

So, let me know - how do you deal with secrets and stress?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fitness Friday: Struggles with Stress

Well, it fits in quite well with the rest of my week that Fitness Friday isn't happening until Saturday. This has been a week I absolutely don't want to repeat. If I learned anything (or had previous lessons enforced), it's that my husband and I do not do well if we aren't working together. I've always cherished our commute together, and we both make a deliberate effort to protect our evenings. But due to the "Perfect Storm" (and I don't mean the movie or the near-blizzard that's going on outside my window), we had to take two cars every day and saw each other for about 15 minutes.

Monday night I was gone for dodgeball (my one true bit of exercise this week...again). Tuesday night we had friends over until well past our usual bedtime. Wednesday night Jon was running a teen group fundraiser, and Thursday night was a church board meeting. All of this was nicely wrapped up by a huge cry fest from me when Jon asked what was stressing me out. And for a bow on top, I've got a nasty cold (yes, I know there's no other kind...but saying just "cold" doesn't convey my feelings about the buggerly little virus).

So I would have to say that my fitness this week, whether spiritual, physical, or emotional, ranks about a 4 on a 1-10 scale where 10 is "stellar!". I really feel like saying 1, but I know it could be a lot worse. It is just a cold after all. My eating habits were quite good. Social marks are probably up from usual, as we spent more time with friends. And after our long, tearful, discussion I feel a huge burden off my shoulders.

I'll talk more about what was going on with stress in a later post. Now I'm going to go cuddle up with a cup of Moroccan Mint Green tea, a blanket and my family and watch A White Christmas.

Thanks again to Brenda at The Family Revised for hosting Fitness Friday!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Keep singing - A Lesson from Ella Fitzgerald

In celebration of our anniversary, my Superhero and I had a night on the town yesterday. After Jon finished playing movie star (due to an impromptu casting in the role of Phil the male store clerk) at the first shop we stopped at, we braved the crowds at Costco and later strolled around Fred Meyers. We know how to have a good time!

At Freddy's we magically transformed into our evening wear before heading to a sumptuous dinner followed by a Count Basie Christmas Concert. The special guest soloist was Carmen Bradford, who has a lovely "big band" voice. She should, because she was the last soloist hired by Count Basie himself to sing with his band - and her mother is currently touring with the Basie band!

Shortly after coming on stage, Carmen admitted that she was terribly nervous, especially because the audience was so "close and comfy! Is everything where it belongs?". Then she shared a story that I just love and knew immediately I had to pass along:
Some years ago, she was with the great Ella Fitzgerald before a concert at Carnegie Hall. Ella was wearing a glamorous white dress with bugle sequins and a matching pair of new shoes with 4-inch heels, as she was fond of wearing. The shoes kept slipping on the floor backstage, so Carmen offered to take the shoes out to the parking lot to scuff up the bottoms so Ella wouldn't fall. Ella's response? "Oh don't worry about that. I just hope they like me! Do you think they'll like me?"
So she headed out on stage, and got to singing and swingin'. In the middle of a song, swoosh she went down on stage, flat on her back with her dress up around her ears -- "the peekaboo of the night", as Carmen put it. And what did Ella do? She didn't miss a note and kept right on singing as she lay on the floor and flipped her dress back down.
Don't you just love that? There's a gutsy lady. I hope I remember that even someone who has "made it", by any standards, has to deal with self-doubt. Even more, I hope I can keep on singing when I hit the ground!

Oh, and here's some pictures of our "transformation" for the nightlife:

Friday, December 5, 2008

Fitness Friday: Love Your Body edition

Time for Fitness Friday (graciously hosted by Brenda at The Family Revised)! This week we're supposed to share one thing we really like about our bodies. I thought about this for a while today, and my answer is...*dundundun* back. Wierd, right? But I like the curve of my back. I think there's something uniquely feminine about a gracefully curved back. I'm reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies: As Good As It Gets, where the artist is re-inspired by seeing Helen Hunt's back as she's getting ready to bathe. 

I also like my feet, but I'm a sock girl so nobody ever sees them. As Robert Jordan would put it in his Wheel of Time series, I have a "well-turned ankle". Don't ask me what that means.

To summarize my "fitness" week...hmm...not so great. Not terrible, but hardly stellar. I only made it to the gym once. I'm not entirely sure why, which makes it even worse. It probably has something to do with why I haven't blogged all week: my intense concentration on a submission for RPG Superstar 2009. (By the way, wish me luck! I'm submitting my entry tonight.)

Have a wonderful weekend! I'll be back on Monday with some fun pictures and a summary of my anniversary out on the town.