The good, the bad and the ugly

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I was asked this a few years back when I was having my home refurbished. The contractor asked me these questions. I opted for the bad news first because I wanted to end the news on a more positive note. The bad news that day was my ceiling was caving in. The good news was, he could fix it. I knew a ceiling couldn’t be healthy when the darned thing was curved…downward…and what looked like dry hay was creeping from the corner.

The end result was I had a beautiful home, shiny, updated and strong from the foundation to the roof. And it all came at a price. The dollars, time and being forced to live in a spot in one room for several months was difficult at times. I felt discombobulated. My ground chakra had no wiring. The mess before the unveiling put me outside of my comfort zone for a few months, but in the end I was more comfortable and ultimately happier. I remember standing in that home and looking all around and marveling that I was in the same space but not in the same space.

Before the construction could begin the deconstruction had to happen. The discomfort had to happen. The inner exchange, the daily negotiations changed, which had to happen. Re-modeling a home is a lot like remodeling a life. The bad news is some areas of my life are caving in, but the good news is…I can fix it.

That good news is really good news! Have you ever been in the company of someone who is actively living and making choices to better themselves? If not, then you really should begin your reconstruction with your circle of friends and acquaintances. Sure, the person who is listening to Zig Ziegler for the thousandth time and is telling you how wonderful life is and on top of that they actually lost weight during the holidays can be challenging to one’s psyche especially if one just bought a size larger pair of jeans because of the holidays and one has no idea who Zig is other than the papers used to roll Cigs. It is so easy, so natural to continue in your own flow even if the flow drops into no-man’s land, where nothing grows and nothing new ever happens.

How does one re-model their life? Which walls come down, which rooms are re-utilize and what is the new decor? The bad news is that all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else. The good news is all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else!

Commercials are on overdrive for weight loss products and clinics and shots and suctions. I often wish I could have a constant companion telling what to do, what to eat and to knock the food right out of my hands if I am over calorie budget for the day. I often wish I had someone there to insist I go to the gym, pick out the right clothes, point out that I need to meditate. And, yes, I know that I am my own constant companion, and that is where things turn ugly!

Being our own contractors is challenging, but finding the answers to the problems needing to be solved, such as a ceiling that is caving in, is the stuff of life. We must be careful who we chose to help us, which tools to use and in the end the price paid. Change is never easy, change is ever constant and change can be extremely uncomfortable.

But in the end, it is all worth the new digs.

Less Judgement, More Joy!

"All You Need is Love" (The Beatles)

“All You Need is Love” (The Beatles) (Photo credit: Akinini.com)

I recently read Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani and after I read the book I felt elated and light as though I was walking three feet in the air. Joy is the helium of the soul! This particular joyful feeling came from eliminating what was holding me down: self-judgment. It was an alien feeling to recognize the essence of who I am, and maybe for the first time feel a love for myself. In my Baptist roots, I was told I was unworthy and ‘as a filthy rag’ to God. That was easy to relate with as I indeed felt that was a perfect description of me, myself and I; the unholy trinity. Once I was working with a man who boasted that his daughter came to him one day and said that she realized how unworthy she was. He was so very proud! Sitting there. listening to this, I was sickened in my heart because I knew that feeling and I wanted to run and find her and tell her how worthy she really is to God, and save her the agony of self-loathing. I imagined her dad and Jesus in the same corner of her mind telling her to take her beating in life because she deserved nothing more. I always questioned the logic in being unworthy yet worthy of a death on the cross, or of our Maker numbering the hairs on my head. My filthy rags end up in the trash. Sigh.

One of the lines I used to lighten my load was to tell people that I prayed to Jesus to stop all the persecutions in my life because I had enough character! If trials build character, I was bigger than life! Alright already!

Moorjani’s words were read at the right time. Nothing in my life has ever been revealed without some kind of preparatory excavation. True, sometimes revelations have come to me with little digging, but I have learned the heart and soul have to be ready for divine planting. Yes, hard hearts are cold and dry and truth ricochets off it like a be-bee on a wall. Thus, character is born, pocked with myriad be-bee marks! I got her message. I really understood the energy and beauty behind her book! Could I have had a breakthrough in my quest to love myself? And, was it okay to love myself? Paying attention to all that I said to myself and the thoughts that ran amuck in my mind, I realized I was my own enemy number one.

How could I expect others to recognize I was a good person if I didn’t recognize it? I felt I was introduced to this wonderful woman who has a great heart, a desire to help others and a fun spirit. Finally, I met my best friend! She was with me all this time! She was me!

For the next few days after my satori I smiled a lot. I mean, a lot! I noticed when I spoke to people they responded to me I imagine in the way I was interacting with them…with love. It was awesome during this honeymoon stage of loving myself. I just KNEW I was full of all of this love and I just wanted to share moments with others, intermingle with other souls. Spiritually hug everyone I came into contact with because actually hugging everyone may not have worked as well! “Hello, state hospital, we have someone here who needs a straight-jacket.” When I was at my highest, I truly had pulsing joy. It felt clean, healing, pure. In this state I was able to love others with no roadblocks. My heart was opened and unlike a hardened heart, absorbed the nutritious smiles and love of others in a way I had not experienced before.

The book did not do this TO me, I was ready. I had set my body and mind in motion for years to understand what it meant to really love myself, being it seemed the answer to so many of my dilemmas. I was ready to hear it and be it. Like road construction, I had worked to pave my way starting from a place where there was once no trail, onto the highway of understanding. I could now proceed with my life at higher speeds! Love myself? Check. Love others? Check. Where did this love come from? God? Check!

Why the past tense? I WAS in such a joyous state and it did last for days. I have not fallen backward but life is life and when I am at work or making dinner ,joy maintenance is on hold. I am still learning, still growing, still traveling forward. I have to consciously put my judgmental thoughts away. I am much more aware of them now, and they are really ugly and hurtful and mean. I was the ultimate mean-girl to myself! It is a really hard task to pay attention to all the dark things we say to ourselves, but this task is necessary. I wonder, if while reading this you said a few choice things about me or you that surprised yourself? Recognition is an ingredient in the recipe for self-love. Once you have it, judgement and vicious attacks on yourself and others subside. It is a much easier way to live.

Recently, in an attempt to hurt me, a person said, “No one here likes you,”  Well, I knew they were lieing. It was astonishing to me that they felt that spewing out this hatred would effect me. As I looked into their eyes, I noticed how blank they were. Steely. Black. Sick. I remember taking in a breath and releasing my tension. This is where sickness is born. These vile words lived in their owner and I am sure they are brewing up nothing good. The words had no power over me. Man, I wished I could have helped them see how what they were doing was not hurting me at all, but hurting them! Remember the hard heart with be-bee marks?

If your challenge is loving yourself, keep excavating. I wish it was as easy as waking up one day and making that choice to love.  Maybe that is our biggest job as parents, to teach our children this trick and you know you have taught them right when they easily love and respect others.

Is 52 a bit old to finally get the message? Am I a late bloomer? Maybe, but at least I bloomed! And I am a perennial!

 

Hypocrisy for Dummies

When I was 21, I visited a Baptist church on a Wednesday night which happened to be their annual budget meeting. Luck of the draw. My main reason for not attending church was I had been scared away at the age of fifteen after being locked in a room with five people insisting I pray in tongues and when I left the room that day I was gifted with a book of tithing envelopes. So much wrong with that picture.

When I finally sat my behind in a pew, it was the perfect night. I learned why the tithe was important and I didn’t feel so threatened with the message after the budget meeting.

I attended that church for a while, found my husband, had a baby and became a member of the choir. I tithed. I prayed, I learned as a much as I could, as often as I could. I proudly defended my place on the front-lines of the pew sitters! As a new believer I really did see the world in right/wrong with no in-betweens! No grays! No wavering!

And not much love. Not for me, nor for most.

But, the greatest of these is love! If we have not love, we have nothing.

So many in the church have been targeted as hypocrites. The saying is, “Church is where they should be then!” Hypocrisy is, and this is direct from the dictionary: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense. As the finger points and proclaims “HYPOCRITE” the emotion behind it  is usually one of hurt or anger. Much is expected of the Sunday crowd. Sure, we expect the offer of a ride to church, supper after sometimes, a gift of the Holy Word itself, but I propose the main expectation of that finger: they are outing the believer for being without love.

God’s Love.

We all fall short! Sure we do! But I now believe after a pretty long and interesting stroll with my Savior that if we focus on that Love issue and begin to really get that right, so much falls into place. God wants us to love ourselves because well, He does, and the whole unworthy crap we hear from the angry pulpit spitters is a horrible control tool used to enhance coffers, not hearts. If we were really that unworthy, the cross thing never would have gone down the way it did! Back to Love. God is Love. Tap into that source and it is a life changer.

Our thoughts, our connection to Spirit, is muddled with so much muck and disgusting self-loathing, how can we expect to view our fellow fellows in any way other than with the eyes of someone unable to see. Hence the song lyric, “was blind but now I see.” Diving deeper, blind means the focus is all wrong, the direction of the gaze is all wrong and the reason for looking all wrong. It is like running a race and crossing a finish line that wasn’t even your race!

“You hypocrite! You have it all wrong!” The finger pointer is saying. “You don’t love me! I don’t see it in your eyes! I don’t feel it in my heart! You are cold, judgmental and elevated and it makes me so damn mad at you!”

We all fall short, but are we suppose to fall flat ALL the time?

Loving isn’t easy is it? Just read any political Facebook thread and we find the ugly real quick. Tapping into God can free anyone from self-hatred which then projects toward others as this flow of amazing love energy. Most of us who have occupied a pew have come across this love in a parishioner or two. Noted in their eyes, their warm demeanor, their acceptance of others with a smile and graciousness. Yeah they exist and yeah, you can sometimes find them in church!

Not too long ago I was treated, in my opinion, as if I was a “less-than creature” not worthy of this person’s time, smile, or a drop of warmth. Then I found out this person is a preacher. And preaches. Every Sunday.

Ah, the Hypocrite lives and yet, so does Love. I chose Love. May I have His eyes, heart and soul energy no matter the matter. I will fall short, but I have been blessed to have been enveloped in His love….

Every time I let Him in!

MOB: Mother of the Bride

wedding

Holding the office of MOB, Mother of the Bride, can be a navigational nightmare! Just watch a few Say Yes to the Dress episodes and you are sure to see a few MOBs who are tripping all over their daughter’s moments. I have been a MOB twice, and both times, if I was caught unaware one may have seen in the visage kaleidoscope  a deer in the headlights look of fear, contemplation, love, sadness, pride, reservation, honor, and did I mention love? Oh yes, I did!

My first MOB experience was in 2009. My daughter actually came home to me for a month prior to her wedding. We did fun stuff like go to the gym and shopping. After she was married and whisked off on her honeymoon then new home I was alone again, and re-vistited empty nest syndrome which hurts like hell. Her mantra to me was her marriage was her moment- something she had dreamed of and was now creating. The reality is it is a chore to create the magical moment of I dos.

I remember watching her walk down the isle; though she was walking with her father I felt as if I was beside her, so surreal to see my baby in her gown, radiant and ready! I watched her the entire night: dancing, laughing, enjoying the event so well planned and executed. I learned, being MOB meant letting your daughter shine and never taking one inch of her light unless she pulls you in. There is so much going on at a wedding but the bottom line is that it is a celebration of the couple, not anyone else.

I felt the same way during my second daughter’s wedding. It was her moment, her time. Even when she said yes to her dress, I made sure not to give negative feedback, and to help fan each positive moment. My oldest daughter had given me the Wedding Dress Shopping Rules…I was NOT to make faces, comment when not asked and to keep it positive. When she came out in a dress I did not like, my facial expression betrayed me and my daughter became anxious. I promised her I saw the beauty in the dress! She didn’t buy it. I had to work on my game face!

When she came out wearing THE dress I forgot all the rules and sprang up from the velvet couch and teared up due to how magical she looked! She began to cry and I asked if I had made a mistake in liking the dress a little too much to daughter number 1. I was assured that my behavior was just fine and the moment was as it should have been! Whew!

During the second MOB experience I marveled that I was so blessed to have this moment a second time; I was experiencing magic! I again felt as though I was beside her all night- I watched her as I had her sister, I caught almost every smile, tear and look of love. I saw her interact with her friends, new family members, old family members and her husband. I felt her love all night.

When I left the reception I was accompanied by the bride and her husband. We took a tram to our rooms so we could change and go back for more festivities. My daughter said to me that she hadn’t seen me, she missed me and wondered why I was so quiet. I looked at her and reminded her that I was the one who helped put her dress on earlier that day then stayed with her until the last moment before her father walked her down the isle. I was one of the first to hold her after she had said I do and before the pictures were taken. And, as it was with her sister, I watched her the entire night, taking in her laughter, tears of joy and sheer excitement of a dream come true.

Being a MOB has been such a wonderful experience and for anyone who needs a little help from those of us who have been there just remember, it is all about them, and not about you.

Work that truth and the rewards will be that you will experience the love and magic of their moment cleanly and joyfully! And that is worth it!

The Drama Pool

Every young girl has taken more than a few dips in the drama pool. Compared yet opposite to the spiritual awakening of the Ganges River, it is a ritual for our teen girls to go in and dip themselves like sacrifices to untruth; bathing in the pond of gossipy proliferation. Our male youth is not immune to the drama pool,however, their swims are less lengthy yet the gossip clings to them as heavily.

Fast forward to adulthood and there are those who truly understand the damage the spoken word can cause, be it true or not. God lets us know that the tongue is like a two-edged sword, and His people often use the edge most damaging in His name. There are many who never get out.

Gossip is the storm which causes so many to be swept up by the enticement of knowing something “juicy.” Gossip takes on a life of its own, and if some of the pieces are missing, they are then created to fit the picture perfectly, showing no doubt the story is true. I have experienced a whole town, small yet powerful, take a few items of information and turn on an individual like the town that came after Frankenstein: holding their torches high and chanting for his death. Or, like Little House on the Prairie, but with no denouement of Michael Landon’s character chastising the community from the church pulpit or school board meeting for their behaviors, resulting in hung heads and softened hearts. What I have witnessed is the opposite. The town wins and judgment and hatred rule the land which retreats after a victory then lies in waiting for the next attack.

I have been attacked recently, my character judged by a round table of those who have never once had a conversation with me, yet deemed me prejudiced and of unworthy character. I was mortified. How could ANYONE judge me and stamp me with a ruling which makes no sense? I was given the recommendation to introduce one of my accusers to my fiance which would really deflect, in his opinion, the unjust prejudice label, but stupid cannot be reasoned with, even with illustrated examples. Judging someone as prejudice is saying that person is full of hate and that hate is compartmentalized toward a race due to whatever reason. I may be a work in progress, but my progress in race relations is better than my accusers, and that is a fact. Do people not see that when they yell prejudice, they may just be blurting out their own shadowy belief system?

Lucky me to have been a part of a town whose residents (not all but a very vocal aspect) will think the worst of others due to what they hear from others. Am I naive? Maybe, but I honestly cannot come up with conclusions about people that are negative. Once I had a student in my class who was arrested for drug use and sent to re-habilitation. She came back and was a bright-eyed teenager who had life and seemed so happy. She told me she had been stoned every day in my class. “Couldn’t you tell” she asked? I replied honestly, “No, I thought you were not getting enough sleep, and possibly you were a bit depressed; not uncommon in teen girls.” I never go to the labels: drug abuser, liar, thief, philanderer, prejudice, first. I believe it is because I do not have these applications downloaded in my system and they are not there to access for blame.

I am learning to take the news that someone is lying, cheating, stealing with less of an affront on my psyche. I really want to live in peace, love and light. Because of that, I refuse to jade my belief system about others and use a negative source for how I perceive them. I am no saint in my perceptions. I do still stereotype, and I work on that. The difference I believe, is I am open to truth, and realize my eyes may deceive me. Close-minded, judgmental behavior is the epitome of stupid and also a state of complete self-UNAWARENESS. I am given a full body check when I step out of line with my behavior, with what I say and when messages I am transmitting to others is not healthy. I do sometimes fall in the drama-pool, and when I do, I am sickened. Healing waters of tears are sometimes needed to begin rebuilding my integrity.

Take the pledge to stay out the the drama-pool. Keep your tongue in check and if you are bothered by another’s actions which do not have anything to do with you, check yourself. Look around. Are you swimming in the truth or in the drama-pond? Look around, are you surrounded by those who make it easy to fall into the deep-end in denial of the truth and play with other’s lives as if it is a beach ball to be whacked from one person to the next: everyone getting their hands on the destruction of another’s life and name?

Get out, wipe your eyes and dull your tongue. Edification comes to those who edify. Getting life right means you are not in the drama-pool.

 

Stepping Consciously

These days step-families abound. Step-moms and dads and all of the kids in-between who are connected by marriage have to navigate the waters of family with more rules than usual. Unfortunately, those rules are often times left unwritten and these relationships hit major ice-bergs in icy seas of misunderstanding due to plain lack of caring and love. Blending a family is not as easy as placing the ingredients in your vita-mix and hitting start, resulting in a perfect, good-for-you concoction. Nope. It takes a lot more than that. In the process of blending a family, moms and dads should never ever walk away from their biological children and replace them or ignore them. Moving on never means moving away from our children. But I am guessing for too many, that behavior is the easiest. Since the subject is complex, my focus is on the children and their vulnerable hearts and souls.

I feel for the children left behind. When I was nine my father called and told me that he had a cute little girl who was my age sitting on his knee. I was replaced in my world view and this moment seared my soul and heart. Many children don’t get that literal call, but they get the call- their father or mother have moved away and other children sleep in the rooms down the hall. Other children are getting the attention, the face-time, the relationship. No mater how healthy the split, the child will feel pain. It is the nature of the beast.

In my line of work I see the failures much more often than the blueprint for success. Since humans mess up a lot on being human which makes us human, melding a family is never an easy road. In the biblical sense we are taught that the number one relationship is with God, then the marriage, then the children. But what if the marriage is asking a parent to place the biological child further down the scale? That is a heavy load to put on a child’s psyche. I personally cannot understand or comprehend a parent looking at their biological child and loathing them due to the fact that half of their DNA comes from their enemy. Adults need to separate the emotion and place it in the correct boxes, some with a lock and key. So often the new spouse is given the control to dictate the rules of the new home’s relationships. Though spouses are second on the list after God, we must remember that The Word was geared toward the two and the two’s children; not  the second, third and fourth and so on.

Your babies need to be loved and feel safe and should never be used as a weapon, pawn, tool or rag in the melding of the new relationship. Ever.

Marry into a teenager and life may throw a big rod in your engine. What to do when the teenager you now refer to as step-daughter or step-son hates you for being step-parent and for no other reason? What if they are being schooled by the parent left behind on how to feel and act in their new situation? It gets trickier and trickier the more people there are in the new melting pot. Some are content to the mix and others fight the family recipe and the batch is bad twenty-four hours a day seven days a week.

The easy answer is to actively parent no matter the circumstances. Kids know when an adult cares- when they really care. Humans have innate mechanisms for survival, and step-family survival is tactical. Do they have to fight for attention? Beg for it? Become a problem and get it by default?

They should get unconditional love and attention. They should be parented; period. That is the key…parenting; it unlocks doors to life relationships which is an ongoing transference of energy.

Step-moms and dads need to step back and allow their new spouse to be the most important person to their children. I have seen adults become jealous of a parent/child relationship and it is the ugliest of faces a step can wear. Can the biological parent become over-permissive to make-up for the pain of the broken home? Yes. Can they become overly giving in money, lack a bit in saying no when they should? Yes. Even when the step-parent sees this it is possibly not the battle to engage. Talk it out, present in an adult/parent space and maybe both in the new-couple bond can learn.

But I know that for many step-families there is no thoughtfulness when it comes to creating a healthy mix. Socio-economicly speaking, even the haves do not. I watched a little boy be completely ignored by his father after he married a woman with no children. The new family, one that could make the cover of  Christian Living, excluded in every way the first born biological son of the father.

There was no room in her heart and she was never confronted with the prospect of opening a space for him at all. I often wondered how she has reconciled the pain her step-son felt while his siblings literally had the best of everything? The child who was left out found a nice home in jail as dad and step-mother shook their heads and placed the entire blame on biological mom and of course the child himself.

Not every abandoned child becomes a literal prisoner, but many are held hostage to their own emotions. They feel not good enough, shame, less-than, invisible. These thoughts do not magically disappear at age 18. No, they may become the corner stones for their lives.

If you have a child, raise them. It is not the step-parent’s job immediately upon saying “I do.” They need to grow into the new job and learn their new children. They may need help, counseling, prayer, understanding. You see, Steps, it may not be God first, then you then the children from the other marriages, and it may seem unbalanced at first, BUT, if the step-parents learn to love and desire to protect these children, order will be restored to the Universe.

I am Mommy

imagesToday is Mother’s Day. Some moms were woken up by their children who lovingly prepared a breakfast for them to be served in bed, like a royal woman should be served. Hopefully, if you are a mom and  you received this gift, it was edible: the cliche being burnt toast with cereal, given with love and hugs and a hand made card, and Dad standing in the background all smiles and proud with his tutelage.

The truth is, we moms love that scene yet secretly wish breakfast was a bit more edible. It is awesome when the kids are older and they pick you up for brunch!

Breakfast aside, Mom’s Day is a nice thing to celebrate. If mom is giving it a go at being a mom, she has truly had a adventurous ride. From the moment the baby is laid in her arms there is this overwhelming feeling of protection and “keep IT alive!” I personally had no clue as to what  to do with my newborn baby, other than the books I read, hands on experience was null.I don’t remember even holding a baby before this beautiful 6 pound 13 ounce girl was placed on my chest. I kept books in her basket which were “how to” books for those first months. I used a book with illustrations to give her her first bath. I had to read where to place my hands and how to bathe her tummy with that cord so…there. I read how to feed her, thanks LULAC. I read how to hold her, how to how to everything those first weeks. I had a c-section and when I came home with her I was sans mother to give advice or rest. From the beginning it was me and her. I believe God knows which kid should come first. This girl certainly was getting my best experimental attempts at keeping her alive.

And I did it.  I kept her alive. I kept her well. And I fell in love with her which continues to this day.

I had a second daughter and she reaped some benefits from the fact her mom had just gone through the drill nineteen months earlier. I recall thinking how much I loved the first one and I really wanted a second one. I am blessed to have them both. Same family, same parents but such different souls. Both, however, are of the ‘strong willed’ variety. Now, 30 years later, I can look back at our time together, and with mixed emotions I honestly offer that being a mom was and is hard. There, I said it Mrs. Duggar who showboats having 19 kids and a soft demeanor and a reality TV show.

I work with families and I get it when I have a mom in front of me who is confused, angry, scared and did I say angry? I don’t get it when I meet a mom who is of the shrugging-shoulders tribe. Many many times I have heard in defense of the shruggers, “they are doing the best they can.” No, they are not, and not every one does their best. This is a fallacy in our country today. We need to get real and note that some moms suck at being a mom. Yeah, I am talking to the mom who lets her kids make all their own decisions. Thanks to so many who practice mothering in this way, we have some real issues in our society with our children: Very young girls getting pregnant, so many young people on drugs, perpetrating crimes and hurting themselves and others. Rude little monsters who need sane guidance are too many these days. Mommy is not just a difficult job, it is down right one of the hardest jobs to have, and by the way, there is no clocking out, no retirement fund, no breaks, no advancement. I think ‘doing your best’ would entail learning what to do and like my favorite place to get my hair colored, where the cosmetologists are constantly being schooled on the newest innovations in their field, so should the mom who wants to get it right.

News flash: If mom doesn’t even attempt to teach and grow their children the end result is usually not very good. And, yes, there are exceptions!! And to the amazing exceptions, I am sure you did a better job and are truly doing the best you can! I am one of you!

It is important as a counselor to consult, consult, consult. It is important for mothers to do the same. Consult and find a great group of moms to laugh, share and cry with on a regular basis. Moms need moms. Most moms I know have wept about their inadequacies, their failure in circumstances that required her to make a hard choice then she second guessed it and then she felt like she just ruined her kids life. Oh, and that could be something along the lines of should she let her son play football, or her daughter go to a sleepover with some kids she just doesn’t feel are good mixes for her angel. Not trivial, just life and all the emotion that comes in the mom package.

My ‘how-to’ books showed me how to bathe and care for my newborn, but no book prepared me for the personalities and the clashes of will. Yes, mine included. I was told that I should raise a child in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it.(Proverbs 22:6) Lucky for me I also read that could be interpreted as a way to work with your child’s personality. For instance, if I had an artist in my home, I should help them become all they can be, and not push the artist into being an actuary, unless they wanted to do so. I do have two artists, and yes, they are more than that in many ways. It was this fear of sucking at being a mom, that made me want to be a good mom, to not let my kids down.

But, I still did.

What keeps me sane is that I am still learning. It wasn’t an easy transition from mommy to mom/friend, because I am still mommy inside, big time. And, I think with all of my mistakes, the insistence on my part to not give up on my job which has always been in constant change, is what will give me a sense of peace in the end. Mother’s Day celebrates the job of mom. It is our yearly nod to the mom-archetype. Ahem, I think we deserve the moment.  And to those of us who did and are trying to get it right, salut!

I think back on my burnt toast and eggs with raisons and my heart and eyes leak with emotion. I miss those little girls, but am now blessed with amazing women who call me mom, but in my heart I will always be their mommy.

I can hope in their hearts as well.

 

 

 

It’s a Spectrum of Order

houseworkThe home I lived in for most of my childhood years was not just messy, it was disaster-messy. My mother didn’t care much for doing dishes, washing clothes or anything that would resemble houseWORK. Sheets didn’t make it on my bed, bugs aligned widow sills, and even clean clothes were left in piles to wrinkle and swallow even more socks than the washer and dryer did. I grew up to be very different from her; my house is clean. What I call “Showcase Clean”. Come on over anytime, you will never hear me apologize, not even when I had two small children, worked part-time and went to college full-time. My children never had to experience embarrassment when a friend was over, or a beau stopped by. For years I was a bit obsessed about how my home looked. I couldn’t relax if something was out of place. I backed out of rooms, checking them, perusing each inch: I was NOT going to be my mother!

My brother’s home is cleaner than mine. He has bought and sold several homes in his life and I swear they look brand new even after ten years of family life. Yep, we both rebelled!

How one keeps a home reveals something about the person; for example, if a person hires a housekeeper and does nothing in-between they are rich… and they may hate housework as much as my POOR mother. Total refusal to pick up is a housework-hater!

I have found that there are six major types of housekeepers on the housekeeping spectrum. Where do you fall? It could be somewhere in-between!

1. 100% Perfection: This person keeps their home clean with  everything in its place. Drawers are labelled, pantries are alphabetized, closets are color-coded and systematically arranged. They are referred to by their “friends” as having OCD, but I promise you, that unless they are counting and/or performing pattern rituals to keep themselves from entering the seventh circle of hell, they are nothing more than neat freaks and the OCD comments are meant to sting them and soothe the sayer!

2. Showcase: 10o% perfection everywhere BUT closets, drawers and under beds. Kitchen cabinets are meant to be kept closed. Some showcase housekeepers secretly wish they could rise to 100% perfection, but they need to lighten up on themselves. The one problem they have is those drawers do need cleaning out once a year or so, but doggone it, the base boards shine!

3. In the Middle: This is the “lived-in” look. The home is clean, stuff is out but placed. It isn’t perfect but the home is clean enough and straightened up enough for any visitor. In the Middle people are calm; relaxed more accepting of their surroundings. On the negative side, some of the Middles are the ones who use those OCD comments, or the “I have a life outside of labeling my drawers” comments. Remember, this is a spectrum, the higher level of In the Middle are wonderful go-to kind of people! The couch was chosen for comfy, not looks!

4. Call Before you Come: These housekeepers have warned everyone they know could stop by to CALL FIRST! They can clean up their entire home in 30 minutes of whirlwind activity. If you show up unannounced, expect to visit on the porch- call before you come is an order…do not break it! These keepers are sometimes harried: On the go, non-stop activity that just may not have an organized direction until they are forced, like the phone call from a friend or mother-in-law saying they would like to stop by!

5. Mess with no Regrets: Most teenagers fall in this catagory. The house is a mess and if you stop by you may need to push papers aside to sit on the couch. Not once will you hear, “Sorry I need to clean” or “I apologize for the mess, I have just been so busy!” Those statements belong to Call Before you Come! Mess with no Regrets could care less. 100% perfection could NEVER stay the night (comfortably) in this home, but guess what? Yeah, you got it, Mess with no Regrets could care less!

6. The Hoarder: The end of the spectrum. Mess with no Regrets will look to the hoarder to feel they are a-okay! Many of us have seen the show about hoarders; sad and dangerous. My mother was somewhere between numbers 5 and 6.

Housekeeping is like personality. It is something that is hard to change. Teenagers who waller in the mess grow up, and since their brains are still forming they are not bound by a style until they settle. Parents can then sit back and watch it unfold.I was super-surprised when my youngest became Showcase as she was more like my mom at 16!

Personally, I wish I could hire a housekeeper, but the few times I did, I cleaned up after them, so it was pointless. Maybe I hired “In the Middles” both times?

Next up: How do you keep your hotel room? That is another day! I have to go clean some windowsills!

Is Emotional Eating Equal to Food Addiction?

During the ten o’clock news one night I watched a major report about food addiction. The report centered the information around the dis-EASE of addiction. A food addiction group was filmed with only the feet of the participants showing, then through a blurred visage a member spoke about her life of addiction to food. “You need food to live, so it is not like you can just abstain from eating!”

Alcoholics have it easy!

I sat in my livingroom wondering if there is an addiction to food, or maybe to certain ingrediants…like sugar maybe or white carbs which have no nutrition but tons of calories. Does a food addict gobble up all of the oranges in the fridge and follow that up with a fresh spinach grazing frenzy? How often does the food addict get caught with tomatoes smeared all over their face? Is it the FOOD or is it the emotions that pull the addict into the pantry?

First there is an event, a thought, followed by an emotion then another thought followed by action. Those two thought inserts can be quick and even a bit subliminal, however, they are there. I propose if one knew what those thoughts were and could manage them better, the path to the fridge would be less worn and the floor around it with less crumbs of passion.

My problem is not food addiction. I do over eat. I do over eat the wrong foods which make my body puffy in water and fat. I don’t drown in buckets of ice cream, but I do have more than I should. My problem is I have extra pounds that keep me from feeling at the top of who I believe I could be. Those extra pounds, though comparatively few to true food addicts who daily find themselves devouring bags of chips, gallons of ice cream or whatever food is their drug, keep me from being 100% me. My problem is this pull of feeling not good enough. Ever. And it keeps me at size ‘unworthy’.

Most of our ideas about ourselves are born when we are young. My feeling of not being good enough started at age 8. I was told over the years I was either too big or too small. See? Never was I just right. By the way, my father is the culprit in this and then I took this learned lesson and incorporated it into every relationship since. My bad.

“Are you going to actually eat that?” Step-monster had made an Italian cream cake and uh, yeah, I was going to eat a piece until I was shamed into not eating it. I was 15. A size 8.

“I am taking you to JAG and dropping you off. The army will deal with you, they will have to.” Dad told me this on a wintry day in January, in Louisville, Kentucky because he told me Marilyn, his wife, told him I needed to go. I had a four-month old baby and a 23 month old baby…we were staying in his home ( a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 living with extra home on 3 acres) for 4 months due to the deployment of my husband in Germany. The entire MLRS unit was new as it was a new weapon system and all of the soldiers were sent to Germany at once and were in the field for testing for the four months. After that, all families were invited to join their soldiers and make their temporary homes. I was paying for my own groceries, a percentage of the electric bill and for any gas I used in his car. Due to the snow storms in Texas I was unable to get back to live with kind people who cared…then Dad had a talk with a step-sister who told him that kicking his daughter and two grand-babies to the curb was wrong.

He paid for his son’s private high school and private college. He paid for a portion of his wedding.

I got nothing. He did slip me 25 bucks at my reception to ‘help’. When he died, Marlilyn told all of his family I was a “TAKER”. I thought I was his “DAUGHTER”.

He told me I disgusted him when I was crying after a long day of fussy babies and potty training and living in a home where I was told I was not wanted. He told me I should have my kids taken from me because I was weak. I was 24. And for the record, I was a darned good mom at 24.

There is more and each story has the same message. I was not good enough for my father’s love, approval, help.

Being not good enough I set my sights to try and be good enough. I set goals. I finished a masters program with a 4.0, my BA as a Magna Cum Laude all while working and raising my girls. I participated in life and made lots of friends. I became a stand-up comic, had gigs in morning radio, spots on national TV. Nothing ever stuck though, I struggled with the idea I was not good enough.

Now I know those words have damaged my past path. I have vowed to live a cleaner thought life from now on. Not good enough? I am good enough. I am a good mother who would do anything to help her kids, who always tells them how wonderful they are and special, and how they sparkle in my sight. I hope I have stamped them with Good Enough enough that it resonates always.

Food and the extra pounds have kept me on the edge of not quite where I want to be- a manifested, untruth of who I really am.

I am good enough to be a few pounds lighter, more muscular and much more fabulous.

Wrangle whatever thought or thoughts you have that keep you from being fabulous. We all have sparkle, yes even in the dark.

What’s for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner?

After two weeks of omitting all animal protein from my diet I am feeling great. The key to success and health is in how the meals are planned. For me, I feel I have made new friends with the Esselstyn family. Rip Esselstyn wrote a book, The Engine 2 Diet. I read that along with Forks Over Knives and spent a lot of time in the recipe section of each book.

What I learned is how these Esselstyns eat! And I have to admit they eat well. Rip is a fireman in Austin. He had volunteers go on plant-based diets and every single one of them lowered their cholesterol levels, blood pressure and weight. Rip is a very active man, is strong and a world-class athlete; all fueled on plants.

Breakfast has been easy. I use the crock pot to make steel-cut oats over night. I wake up to a steaming bowl of oats, eat an apple later and I am good for the morning. Lunch and dinner has been whatever I have prepared the evening before. Thus far I have made vegetable lasagna, polenta pizza, hummus, black beans and rice, sweet potato mango bowl and salad. All of this has been tasty! According to the good doctors Esselstyn and Campbell, whole foods fill our stomachs on way less calories. Processed food is smaller, more dense with fats or sugars and the stomach does not fill up and signals that we need to eat more. Oh! That’s why one brownie was NEVER enough!! It is torturous to walk away from the sweets after just a small bite. But then again, I am highly sensitive to the wonderful taste of sugar and to the after effects that have caused a bit of damage. None of the recipes  in these two books I mentioned have the calorie counts- I have not stressed over calories- I eat plenty, love the food I have been making and feel great. In the short amount of time I have adhered to a plant-based diet my body has thanked me through shedding any bloating and losing about 4 pounds without counting one calorie!

I also bought Jillian Michaels 90-day work-out plan. I don’t give that program any credit for the weigh-loss YET. I just started.

Eating out is going to pose a problem. San Antonio has two vegetarian restaurants boasting a few vegan selections. San Marcos, as I found out last night does not have any. Austin has more, thanks to all of the “Keep Austin Weird” Folks!

It is imperative I cook and manage my diet in my own kitchen. unfortunately my LG oven has been half broken since December and as of yesterday, fully broken. Thanks appliance guy. Though I must go forward with no oven for the time being, I am not happy about it. When the oven is back up I will post pictures and recipes.

Thanks to those of you who have called or messaged me to encourage me and to share your own journey. I was not surprised that several of my friends are on the same path! As one friend told me, God put Adam and Eve in a GARDEN.

I will go with that!