Saturday, November 11, 2017

How to Love Your Life

You know that friend you have who, when you ask her how things are going, spews all over you? I mean, that’s what friends are for, right? And if I didn’t want to know, I shouldn’t have asked. I’m all for love and support, but I gotta tell you about another kind of friend.

I am blessed to meet up with my friend Lori about two or three times a year. There comes a point during every one of our catch-up conversations where she looks me in the eye, displays a giggly grin and says, “Man, I love my life.”

She’s also tall and trim and beautiful and smart and funny. But don’t start hating her. Her life is not perfect.

If you knew her, you might be tempted to say...but she has a great husband. No wonder she’s happy. She has great kids (eight of them, I might add). She has a beautiful home. She never has to worry about finances. She doesn’t deal with disease. She doesn’t have the problems the rest of us have.

My answer to that---BULLSHIT!  (By the way, she has this terrible habit that is one of my favorite things about her. Let’s just say the swear word jar in her house is for the parents.)

She has a great husband because she married a great guy. In other words, she chose judiciously. Their marriage isn’t perfect. No one’s is. But they work on it. Sometimes together, sometimes individually.

She has great kids because she constantly reflects and seeks out better ways to parent. She struggles. They struggle. She tries and fails and tries again--just like every other parent. More than once have we mused on how we’ve scarred our kids--not on purpose, but because every parent does.

She has a beautiful home because they worked and saved and prayed for it. Then created it.

She doesn’t worry about finances? Ha! She has eight kids, remember? And we all deal with disease and illness and health...and death. And so has she.

So how is it that she never fails so exclaim, “Man, I love my life”?

Consider this. What if “I love my life” didn’t meant what we think it means? What if it didn’t mean I enjoy my life? Or my life is perfect? Or I have no stress?

What if we thought of love as an action verb? What if we “loved” our lives the way we love our pets or our children? To love another is to care for it, right? What if “I love my  life” meant

I seek out peace.
I’m open minded and humble enough to learn how to be a better parent or person.
I reject harmful people and substances and places and activities.
I actively seek out nourishing people and substances and places and activities.
I practice gratitude.

What if loving our lives meant taking care of our lives?

I wonder what would happen if we started all our catch-up conversations with “I love my life”? I wonder what would happen if we started every day that way?

Lori creates a life she loves because she cares enough about her life to nourish it. Even in turmoil and tragedy, she chooses to love her life. Love is a choice, and life is a series of choices.

Choose judiciously. Choose love.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

How Do I Empty Nest?

When you have a parenting blog and all your kids become adults, you kind of run out of material.

You know, there aren’t a lot of parenting blogs even for parenting teens, unless it’s for troubled kids and how to get them to behave.

Maybe that’s because our teens are so intertwined with social media, we Mom Bloggers are afraid we’ll embarrass them. That is certainly the case for me. Once they became social media savvy, certain moments were off limits. I can’t count the number of times I heard “Don’t blog that” once they turned thirteen.

Well, thirteen passed a long time ago. I’m now an empty-nester. One of my kids is closer to thirty than she is to teenage. In fact, she has a kid of her own.

How do I suddenly not parent?

Remember when you first became a parent? Maybe some of you took those childhood development classes. Maybe some of you changed the diapers of your younger siblings. Maybe some of you ran babysitting services. I did none of the above. Suddenly having no children is just as unfamiliar as when I suddenly had a child. I have no clue how to do this.

You know all that stuff you wish your teen would share with you but they would rather cut their tongues out than tell you? Well, once they are adults, they start telling. And you sometimes wish they had cut their tongues out. There’s just some stuff you don’t want to know. But you can’t not listen. It’s your duty, isn’t it? Because they still need advice and encouragement and celebrations and shoulders to cry on. But they don’t need dinner. Or homework reminders. Or permissions slips signed. Or permission at all.

Last week I called my mom and asked her for some information that I knew I could find if I put forth an effort, but it was easier to call Mom. I’m nearly half a century old, and I’m still calling mom to bail me out and give me advice and encouragement and celebrations and sometimes even a shoulder to cry on.. It’s good to know as much as things change, some things never will.

And then I think back to when my oldest was five and learned how to tie her shoes. “Pretty soon you won’t need me at all,” I said.

“But mom, I’ll always use you.”

I hope so. I really do.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why I am Working on Women's Day Off Wednesday

My oldest daughter played on one of those competitive youth teams that travelled all over the place. 

Do  you know much about those club teams? 

They are filled with drama--and only some of it is instigated by the youth. A lot of it comes from the parents and the coaches.

For a while, she had one of those asshole coaches who was trying to relive his glory days through a bunch of twelve year old girls. We stayed with the team because she liked the players, and we liked the parents. 

Then came Abby or Princess as she was eventually nicknamed. She was the coach's golden girl. She was a fairly decent player--not that much better than most of the other players--but pretty good. The coach, for some reason, obsessed over this girl. She could do no wrong. The parents saw it. The players saw it. Heck, the opposition probably saw it. 

As you can imagine, eventually there was a meltdown. We're talking Chernobyl level stuff here. Oh, the emails and the phone calls and the threats and the tears! We had to DO SOMETHING. We couldn't just let this favoritism continue. Finally, we were all asked to talk to our daughters to see if they felt that Abby was indeed the coach's favorite and what they wanted us to do about it. 

So I asked, and my daughter answered.

"Of course, Abby is his favorite, but what has that got to do with me? That's not going to effect the way I play or how I feel about this team."

Well, I was impressed. It was a pretty mature answer for a twelve year old. 

So I reported her answer back to the parent pack. 

One mom--that one mom on every team whose daughter isn't very good, but she thinks she's the next Alex  Morgan--responded with her voice all tight and teary, "Well, of course your daughter would say that. She's so secure in herself."

BINGO! I couldn't have said it better myself. 

And that is why I am working on Wednesday. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

More to Love

A couple summers ago I lost 25 pounds. It was one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

I teamed up with a coach, and she quickly became a friend. In our online group, I met a lot of other ladies also on the weight loss journey. We supported each other. We cheered each other. We challenged each other. Women empowering women!

I also learned to sweat for something bigger. On days when I didn't feel like doing the work, I worked out anyway for those who couldn't. It was a powerful emotional and physical journey.

Then I stopped sweating it out. I stopped meal prepping. I stopped drinking water and eating healthy. I bought the Dr. Pepper. I drank the Dr. Pepper. I'm still drinking the Dr. Pepper.

Can I make a confession? I enjoyed every aspect of that, too. I did. I wish I could say that I was racked with guilt and shame. I kind of feel like I should because I knew better and I didn't choose better. But I didn't feel guilt and shame. For the first time in my life, I did not equate my waist size with my worth.

So what am I saying? Am I saying I was wrong to meal prep and eat right and work out? No way! It was right. It was great. And, as I said, it was empowering. In fact, it was that experience that helped me lose something more important than 25 pounds. That experience helped me lose my body-shaming mindset.

I can honestly say that I love my body. I truly do. I love my jiggly thighs because they are part of a set of legs that hold me up and move me from place to place. I love my belly  because it works. I don't have some of the digestive issues and stomach problems that many of my friends suffer from. I love my arthritic fingers because they remind me of what my Grandma Nina still accomplished with fingers that hung from her hands like limp, crooked sausages. (As a young girl, that's what I thought they looked like.)

I love my body, but my focus shifted from it for a while. But isn't that life? It seems to be mine. I work on my mental heath and self talk for a while. I get it to a good place. Then the focus shifts. I sweat hard and eat clean for a while. Then my focus shifts. I Dave Ramsey the shit out of my finances. Then my focus shifts. I organize my desk like an anal retentive psychopath...wait, Nope. Never done the organizing thing. That one can't hold my attention long enough to separate a paper clip from a pad of paper. But, you see what I mean.

I don't know if anyone else's focus ebbs and flows like that. Maybe I've given up. Maybe I've grown up. I'm not sure what it is, but I have accepted that I don't have enough focus to focus on all of it at once. So, I'm keeping the fat clothes and the skinny clothes. I'm keeping the body love and the positive self talk. I'm even keeping the messy desk. I guess what I"m actually doing is keeping it real.

I know that it's time for my focus to shift again. I love my body, but I'm not crazy about the lower energy levels and the worry that the blood pressure might go back up. So, I'm pulling out the meal prep stuff and throwing out the Dr. Pepper. I know it will feel great, and I'm happy to do it. I like sweating for something bigger. I like losing the weight, but you know what else? I especially love what I've gained.