Monday, November 25, 2013

What if a miracle happened?

Can a year have a theme? I thought my theme for 2012 was "this is MY year". Seriously: I own this year. I read it on the cover of a magazine and it just spoke to me. That's right, the cover of a publication aimed at selling me cosmetics and handbags instead sold me a sense of renewed ownership in my life.  Hey,  you take these sparks of inspiration where you can find them and frequently, it is not where you may be looking! Anyway,  in retrospect, my developed and shaped my year.  If that makes it self fulfilling prophecy, I'll take it!  ....And perhaps it is okay if the theme of 2013 may have been readjustment- such is life.

For 2014, I feel compelled to embrace a new theme: miracles.  When I was in grad school, we studied  a counseling concept called "miracle question". At the essence of the concept the shaping and development of how the counseled would like their situation(s) to be,  in the event that a miracle occurred and they were granted their ideal outcome.  Undoubtedly, my biggest complaint about this profession is my inability to counsel myself, yet, I found myself saying: what if I asked myself this? How far could I run with it? How could I develop my own goals and see them to fruition? How can I keep the faith,  when I feel like doubting, surrendering, and falling into disillusion. What if, each time I feared stumbling in 2014, I asked myself: what if a miracle happened? ....And then fought with all my strength to believe it could.  What if my faith rose above my fears and I truly lived believing my miracle was on its way?

So, 2014: what if a miracle happened?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

I Can't Stop

I can tell you, with great ease, how I fall short.  I'm underpaid for my education level, I'm too short for my weight, and I hate being told no.  These are faults I understand and, in my heart of hearts, recognize are no more egregious or uncommon than the issues of others.  It just never feels that way. In grad school, I found I really appreciated the philosophy of Albert Ellis, who said "must" was basically and rightly a four letter word.  I agree.  I take his "must" and raise him a "should". Both words imply that there is either a right way to be or a position in which someone should be.  Two of the three faults I admitted when opening this blog fit that category.  I am seriously my own biggest critic because I can't let go of how things must be or what I should be able to accomplish.  When things don't go as I believe, I assert- why can't I get it together?! Why can't I do all these things?! Why am I so disfunctional?

I suppose I just need to confess that my measuring stick is skewed right now.  I am terribly guilty of seeing myself in line with others and criticizing where I fall in that spectrum.  Why can't I afford to go on vacation? Why does it feel like my house (former and present) is always torn apart and never quite done? Who is that skinny expletive who can get up and run five miles a day? More important- how is she smiling about it like she likes it? Why can't I have another baby?  Why doesn't my husband do things like that lady's husband because that would be so much easier. Everyone else seems to be able to do these things? Why can't I? Okay, so it's not everyone- and maybe there are people out there who would love to be in a position more like mine.  I hope they wish to be less neurotic.

When I see that all of this looks like the rantings of a nutty woman, I ask myself- why can't I stop? How do I put down this measuring stick that makes me feel like I am not enough? I'm not sure I know the answer right now.  I do know, it's time to figure it out and do something about it.  Somehow, I must be enough.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Big - Fat - Awful Truth

I'm overweight.  Ugh.  I hate saying it.  I was quite overweight when I became pregnant with Claire in 2008.  I think I was in that young married carefree cloud of delusion.  I kept buying whatever size came next without really thinking about how much I was gaining.  Reality hit at one of my first doctor's appointments for Claire.  You see, for the previous couple of years, I'd not weighed myself or really known how much I weighed.  If a physician weighed me, I literally turned backward and made them swear they wouldn't tell me.  Looking back now, I can see how ridiculous and harmful this was.
This picture was taken July 2008.  I was about 5 minutes pregnant and didn't know it yet.  This is me at my heaviest and I am totally embarrassed by it.  I am so short that I was just round- all over. 
I just put this in here because I felt totally cute as a pregnant lady : )

Finally, in my first (shouldn't really have any pregnancy pounds on) trimester, my physician let my true weight slip out.  I was floored!  How had I lived in this bubble of denial so long?!  He went on suggest that I may keep my calories fixed and not gain any weight with this pregnancy.  Whoa.  (side note: I loved my OB, so if that sounds harsh, don't worry, he was actually encouraging and a great doctor)  I followed suit by now adding calories above what I normally ate.  (pregnant women are usually supposed to add 300ish calories to their diets sometime in the second trimester- don't quote me, but that's about right.)  Sometimes this was easy- I mean I did have the quesy-sicky-ickys like most pregnant women.  When all was said and done, I gained about 17 pounds with Claire- that came off immediately after she was born.  Perhaps Claire was trying to help me, too.  You see, Claire was a little on the high maintenance side- (I know, contain your shock!).  I nursed 100% with a high maintenance kiddo.  She wanted to be held 100% of the time.  That included sleeping at night.  I burned a good 600 calories doing that and could only eat foods that could be easily prepared with one hand. (read- Hot Pockets).  In this time, my body pulled in and thinned out.  Within a couple of months, I was 35 pounds lighter that my first trimester, shocked and abhorred weight!
Looking better about 5 weeks after birth!

Here's another where you can see in my face that I am lighter and that I don't have a big round tummy anymore.  This is 3 months after birth.

In the time since then, I fluctuated some.  I was terrible at sticking with something when it started working, so I was a little high and low.
This is a point when I feel really good about how I look.  My arms look thinner and my legs look toner.  I'd be happy looking like this again.  Let's be honest, the cute one year old in a bikini is the best part of this picture!
I'll admit, my focus was mostly size and how I fit into clothes.  Shifting forward, I am heavier again.  I went though some stressful (though ultimately rewarding) changes.  Exercise eluded me and junk food embraced me.  Before long, my clothes weren't fitting and I was diagnosed with high cholesterol and placed on a statin drug.  This shifts the focus from not liking being the 'fat friend' in all my pictures with my girls (I am- all my dang friends are disgusting thinner and like 6 inches taller than me- le sigh) (yes, I sighed in French).

For over a year, I have stayed on the statin and I am done.  My cholesterol is much lower and in the next month or two, I'd love to be done with them.  I have no business living on a drug that zaps my much needed energy.  Now, I require exercise and better eating on a regular basis to ensure that I can get off and stay off the statin.   Yes, this means doing workouts from youtube in my living room, looking like a fool.  This also means changing my foods and snacks on a regular basis.  Yes, I will indulge in some delicious treats from time to time, but daily- regular routine, I will be diligent. 

Meanwhile: here is the recipe for my fave salad-

Delicious McAlister's knock off salad

Baby spinach lettuce
crumbled feta cheese
dried cranberries
roasted, lightly salted almonds
Ken's Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette dressing
** The McAlister's version has chicken slices in it, but I don't usually add it

I can't get enough!  Also, here are some links to some workout and toning pages on youtube.  Why are they always working out on beaches and smiling so big?  We all know the road to where they are was not that sunny.  If I get fit enough, I am producing a video in an old t-shirt and smudged make-up while telling people, "this may suck at first, but you'll get used to it" or "this could hurt, but it works".  The masses would love that, right?!

Aerobic focus:

toning focus:

Here goes nothing.  Feel free to share what you're doing and pray that I am statin free soon!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dad

Today, my dad would have been sixty years old. 

Nice perm, dad.  The short shorts are pretty special, too ; )

Spring 1989- Dad looks pretty great here.
 Traditionally, little girls and their daddies are portrayed in this 'daddy's little princess' light- with images of a smitten daughter, standing on her daddy's feet to dance and growing into a young woman walked down the aisle by her hero- teary and sweet.  This was not the whole of the experience I had.  My dad loved me and I loved him, but it was in the restraints of the relationship he was capable of having.  It is difficult to explain how my dad was and why the father-daughter relationship was so broken in so many ways.  I wished he had some kind of functional or behavioral diagnosis that would help people understand.  If you say,  'oh, so and so was an alcoholic' or 'so and so was bi-polar', people register the problem and nod their heads in understanding while saying, "oh, okay".  They have an idea of the challenges faced.  My dad's behavior was never characterized in such a diagnosis, outside of a made up diagnosis I generated: narcissistic pity disorder (NPD).  How else do you describe a man who calls his daughter on her tenth birthday and tells her he's pretty sure his years of cigarette smoking have finally culminated in lung cancer.  Had he seen a doctor?  No.  Had he sought or received any medical advice from any professional what-so-ever?  No.  Regardless of this, we hung up the phone and I cried for hours.  What he needed was a reason for someone to feel sorry for him or someone to focus on him.  He needed me to feel bad for him- desperately. Happy birthday to me. 

Shortly after the birthday incident, my father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  For real- an actual medical diagnosis this time.  His condition varied from time to time, but I certainly observed him failing to take care of himself.  Entire days would go by and I would see him ingest little more than sweet tea (that was mixed 3/4 sugar to 1/4 tea- tea isn't supposed to be crunchy), a banana, and a pack of cigarettes.  I worked hard at being the 'dutiful' daughter, pushing him in his wheelchair- when he used one, physically helping him move in or out of chairs, and drive him places, as I could- his driving became quite frightening.  Though he continued to thrive on pity and one-sided stories (often stories that disparaged my mother and continued after repeated, "dad, I don't want to hear any more about this!" pleas.  That didn't phase him.  What did phase him was his need to tell a story starring him as the victim and his need for you to view things just as he did. 
My blessing- stepmom, Cindy
 My stepmom, who became a part of my life when I was nine, was an amazing woman.  She somehow took it all in stride.  Even my mother joked, "that's the best thing about your dad, Lindsay- he sure marries neat women!"  God clearly gave my dad an amazing gift of patience and unconditional love when He provided dad with Cindy.  She truly became my sanity, frequently, in dealing with my father.  For that I am forever grateful.  It really shook my world, when I was a college sophomore, and I received a call from my father relaying that my stepmom, who smoked at least a pack a day with my father, had suffered an aneurysm and her prognosis was unclear at this time.  Cindy appeared to make a full recovery at first, and for that we were all grateful.  Unfortunately, this time was also marked with the standard dad pity response.  He was so certain that Cindy's side of the family was conspiring against him and concern for Cindy's well-being was expected to funnel into how mistreated Brad was. 

When we believed Cindy was close to her normal self again, she returned to work and we were all optimistic that better days were ahead.  Soon after, my dad's health declined again and Cindy had stroke that changed her personality and functioning and finally rendered her unable to keep working.  Both my dad and Cindy were completely disabled in their 40s.  Cindy had been so sharp, so capable, so on top of things prior to the aneurysm and stroke  yet she was scarcely recognizable anymore. At one point, my father was so sickly that he was temporarily placed in a nursing home.  This has to be the ultimate in humility- placed in nursing care in your late forties- surrounded by demented elderly people who parroted random noises all day and night.  I wanted to be the strongest and best daughter for him.  I filled out all his paperwork (his MS rendered his right hand- dominate hand- incapable of fine motor).  He would would brag to the nurses that I was 'sharp as a whip' and tell them how proud of me he was.  I believe that was the truth and treasure the thought of his pride in me.  Sadly, his need for pity kicked in and he conversely told the same nurses I was only being helpful to him because I wanted inheritance from him.  I can tell you now, I received no inheritance following my father's death and asked that any money or valuable materials go to Cindy. I had to tread lightly to foster any semblance of a relationship with my father without opening myself up to such hurtful and untrue accusations.  He knew he was being dishonest.  I truly believe he couldn't help himself- like his need to bend circumstances to flatter himself at the expense of others was absolutely compulsive. 

Ultimately, I believe it led to his untimely death.  What he didn't know was that I spoke with his doctors when I could reach them.  During one of his last hospitalizations, he really believed he had reached the end.  He told me he was dying (something he been telling me the last twelve years- not something unexpected.)  I wanted to set up hospice for him, but a doctor's recommendation is needed.  I remember asking his doctor if this was a possibility and being told that my father was not terminal at that point.  He was hospitalized due to malnutrition and dehydration.  That diet of SWEET tea, bananas, and nicotine caught up with him.  I realized that he knew he was not eating, was told by his physician that he was malnourished and continued on anyway.  Was he trying to slowly kill himself?  I guess I'll never know.  What I do know is that he weighed 80 pounds when he died in 2005, just two months before my wedding. 

What truly hurt was how this behavior he could not seem to abandon and this negative compulsion he could never shake gave him, in the long run.  There was no funeral for my father.  There weren't many to attend.  It was just a small group of family (many of them Cindy's family- the ones he believed were trying to conspire against him) who tried to be there for him, love him, accept him, and listen to him, in spite of the reception and consequential reaction received.  It felt like his flame flickered out quietly and all he was felt faded and distant. 

I didn't write this to complain about my dad.  I had a dad.  I had the opportunity to know my dad for 23 years before he left his world.  I loved him and he loved me.  There were better times and little moments I choose to remember and carry with me.  There are moments I know I worked hard to block- realizing they are not worth carrying the accompanying hurt.  There are things I can never forget.  I wrote this as a reminder to let go- give to God and live unencumbered. I wrote this because it is a reminder to build yourself on your own merit.  It is a reminder to be certain you are lifting up others and being the best you can be.  It is a reminder to care for yourself and well-being so you can be the best friend, parent, spouse, family member, contributor to society you can be.  I wrote this because I have forgiven my dad for the hurt.  I cannot stay angry and I refuse to be resentful.  I feel sad when I think about the opportunities my dad missed, so needlessly, due to choices and behaviors. Knowing this, I will live the best I can and make fruitful choice.  I will turn the page.  I wrote this because I know my dad was proud of me and because I feel he is still proud of me today.

Happy birthday, dad.  Thank you for loving me the best you knew how.