Success and Failure

Failure: My May totally fell apart and I dissolved into existing instead of living. I didn’t do the things that I had committed to doing. But I’m also moving on.

Success: For the last week (or more), I have been getting myself put together- doing my hair and make-up almost everyday. Everyday for the past four days. It’s a small accomplishment, but it’s huge for me. I’ve been discouraged about my body, my appearance, and my image. They seem trite, but it means a lot for me to look myself in the eyes in any passing mirror and enjoy the work I’ve done, even if it’s just hair and make-up. Wardrobe is next; it’s already begun. I’m tired of being defined by t-shirts and baggy pants. I’m better than that. So, I’ve purchased a few dresses and I love wearing them. I feel fresh, fun, and feminine. Couldn’t ask for more. All of this focusing on my outside has improved my ability to see my insides. I’m valuable. So valuable, in fact, that someone chose to die- just for me. And that blows my mind and makes me happy in ways I find hard to express. So, I’m making other changes to make this physical body stronger and better able to serve my Lord. I’m making one small change everyday to be healthier. Some days that change has been a salad for lunch instead of pizza. Yesterday, all I found that I could muster was to put the ice cream back in the freezer without taking one more bite. It’s a process. I’d love to add exercise into my day, but I’m NOT a morning person and can’t fathom battling the early morning AND the exercise- it’s just a recipe for disaster. I’m hoping to exercise first thing in the morning, no matter what time that is. It’ll probably be around 11, after getting the kids up and fed and taking care of the little things, but then I want to spend 30 minutes moving. Maybe, I’ll take the kids for a walk. That’s my next step anyway.

So, I’m having little successes in my little world. Most days, I feel like I’m drowning, especially when I look backwards. So, like Dory, in possibly the best Disney line ever, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” Ignore the nay-sayers, even when they speak in my voice. Success breeds success. Or so I’m told.

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Trapped

I got online this evening to blog about the new diet that I’m going to try, only to realize that all I’ve ever posted was (insert new diet here) day 1. Ugh. I wish that surprised me, but it doesn’t. I’m a horrible dieter. In fact, the only area of success I’ve ever had was in gaining weight- which is pretty counter-productive at this point. I’m topping the scale higher than I’ve ever been (pregnancy included) and I’ve gotten to the point where my failures greet me every morning in the form of back fat, trouble standing, and low energy. There are so many diets that help you lose weight that it can just be confusing. One low-fat, one high-fat/low-starch. Glycemic-Index, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. My head is swimming from the blur of dieting and all their insisting that theirs is THE way. I’m so tired of their ways. I’m so stuck in the rut of promising to diet and then not dieting. I’ve made lists and goal sheets, I’ve planned meals and read recipes, I’ve even had my sister clean out my kitchen from all “forbidden foods.”

Many days, I entertain the idea of weight-loss surgery, except that I know it wouldn’t work. I’d get into the office and the doctor would say, “okay, prove you can stick to a diet: lose 10 pounds.” I’ll walk out of that office determined to do the right thing and I will end up losing nothing. What’s the missing link? Am I just trapped in this unhealthy cycle forever, like Sleeping Beauty having already pricked her finger or Snow White after the apple or Rapunzel in her tower- incapable of actually getting out, getting free? Am I waiting (unconscious) for Prince Charming to show up? That my diets have all failed because they weren’t the right prince. It wasn’t true love? I love these fairy tales, I’m not really one of those people who blames fairy tales for all of women’s woes today (quite the reverse, I assure you). Perhaps it is the mystical and mysterious depression that has settled into my body. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Maybe it’s just my insatiable desire for fast food and sweet stuff.

No matter what the problem, I want to deal with it intelligently and strongly. I want to stand, victorious, at the top of Mount Everest and look back at what I’ve done. Mostly, I just want to feel normal, moderately active, figure “flaws” that can actually be camouflaged by clothing instead of exacerbated by it. I want to feel pretty in a dress and sexy with nothing on at all. And don’t give me that crap about society’s standards being unhealthy. I’m not 120 trying to lose 5 pounds with D-sized breasts and hollow cheeks. I’m 240 pounds with DD sized breasts and a stomach that passed them up. My libido (what libido) [let’s not even go there]. So, what’s going to work? What’s the magic pill that makes this all go away?

Did I mention that I homeschool? That my children are mired in my misery for every waking hour of their lives? Shouldn’t that motivate me? Shouldn’t the desire to stand victorious at the end be motivation enough? Why isn’t it enough? How do I fix this? I keep thinking about it and contemplating it and planning around it. But never doing it. Because doing it is hard. I’ve never done anything hard. Ever. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was finish delivering my (first) daughter naturally after 4 hours of pushing. The doctor was prepping the operating room for my c-section. I knew that was undesirable and somehow the determination and drive came over me. If I thought I had an extra 2 hours, I probably would have quit. As it was, I thought I could deliver her and I did. And though I’ve had three other (natural) deliveries since hers, I can’t really call them hard because I’ve only had to push less than 10 times for all three. Combined. It’s been a miracle, but not my miracle. Maybe it is just the feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m not good when I look at mountains from their base- in any area of my life, I just quit. If that’s the dishes, the laundry, the homeschooling, finances, or diet.

I wish I had a nice, fuzzy, upbeat ending, but I don’t. I’ve got nothing. And I feel helpless. And trapped.

On Blogging

So, those who know me know that I love to write (which is just talking on a keyboard) and that I also like to stay in touch. However, I do a crummy job with being consistent and finding something to say. However, one of my favorite blogs is Pleasant View Schoolhouse (yeah! she’s blogging again!!!!) and this woman usually posts pictures with short commentary or glimpses into her life. Occasionally, she will post a nice quote from a book. This is what I want to do. Sure, I still like talking about some of the weightier issues or whatever else is going through my mind, but essentially this blog is for me and my children to look back on and see our growth and development. So, I’m taking the “blog daily” challenge between now and Christmas. We’ll see how it goes.

Taking and Giving

When I discovered blogging when my daughter was born almost six years ago, I thought it was purely a medium that helped families who were geographically separated from staying in touch. It was a mass email made even easier and you could personalize it to look and feel (and contain) whatever you want. I started to find that women, in particular, were using these blogs to encourage other women, or inform other women, about their social and religious ideas. I read [past tense](and read [present tense]…I love English!) many interesting ideas and I’ve come to adopt several of them as my own. In the last two years, largely born out of reading informative blogs and in turn researching and becoming convinced, I’ve changed churches, changed wardrobes, changed Bibles, and changed my opinion on the fundamental relationships between men and women and their respective places in the world, home, and church. And I am continuing to learn new things or be challenged in other ways.

I don’t dare say that these changes were solely because of a blog, because I believe that these changes were God-inspired and align with God’s will for me in my life. Realize, that I have a set of sinful characteristics that I’ve been dealing with since I was a child, but now that I’ve been rebirthed into the family of God, as a parent, God is going to work on those characteristics that He finds unpleasing.

However, though all this self-revelation over the past few years, I’ve come to dislike blogging, and facebook, and twitter, and even email! What I am finding is that these electronic forums offer you the idea that you are connected-that someone is listening to you and cares, but you have no proof. It takes no effort to stay “involved” in people’s lives on facebook. Have a baby? Post a picture- that serves as your announcement. Big life change? Make a short quip on your possibilities/good fortune/new purchase and you don’t have to worry about calling everyone to inform them personally.

The crux of the matter for me is how terribly impersonal these forms of contact are. Sure, they are great for staying in touch with strangers, one of my favorite authors has a blog that I love reading. I love getting cool craft tips from some of the other blogs and I truly love being encouraged in my more conservative roles by women who have “been there, done that.” Some days it really helps. However, it does cause one to take, but never give. In a normal, healthy relationship, there is always an exchange which is what is lacking in these electronic communications. I feel completely introverted on facebook- the posts require me to find something fun and quirky to say in a way that is out of my comfort zone. I love communication and I am very talkative but I still want a simple group of friends that I write letters to because letters require sitting down and responding. They are cheap, easily customizable, and though the mail is not delivered four times a day like in Jane Austen’s time, it is still delivered daily. You can easily enclose photographs or other mementos and details that you would never post on facebook. You develop a relationship. Plus, it is fun to receive something in the mail that is not a bill.

Anyone want to be my pen pal?

Writing Again

There are quite a few blogs that I read that impress me. Keeping the Home, Making Home, Pleasant View Schoolhouse, Home Living, and The Creative Place are all amazing blogs, for starters, and each for their own reasons. I like how matter-of-fact Candy is at Keeping the Home, she is blunt and to the point. Jess at Making Home is in-depth in her articles and intelligent. It is obvious that something is touching her life when she writes it, but she also takes the time to research, instead of just journal her own struggles. Anna lives at Pleasant View Schoolhouse and she is gentle and crafty. I love reading her blog because it is always positive and always beautiful, the pictures are always stunning. Lydia over at Home Living is one of a kind. She is frugal and feminine and though her ideas are not always in my taste, I enjoy seeing her creativity within her home. And Ashley at The Creative Place is a wonderful, creative homemaker who has a beautiful blog and wonderfully creative tutorials and recipes. She is my newest “find” and I love it so far!

What do all of these blogs have in common? For starters, they are all written by women, notably by women who are making their occupation within their home (or not having a paying occupation). They are all Christian women and they all have a different, yet distinct voice. All of them are creative in their home, but that is not what I enjoy most about these blogs.

What makes them so great in my eyes is their regularity. Anna posts something everyday except Sundays with few exceptions. It isn’t always much, but is always nice to read. Ashley posts a different “type” of post on different days of the weeks, Tuesday Tutorials and Wednesday recipes are my favorites. I think this is the point of blogging, to share something about your life in a regular way.

This is also the strategy for becoming a writer. I have always wanted to write a novel. I write a few chapters and then I quit and start a new one. As soon as it gets rough, my writing gets rough. I am armed with a million books on how to write a novel and how to keep writing a novel and how to get back to writing a novel and (of course) the number one thing that they all have in common is that you need to be dedicated to the task. Carve out a few minutes of writing time and keep it as an appointment for you and your writing. If the appointment is fifteen minutes and you sit down at the computer and nothing happens when your fingers touch the keys, that’s okay, but you still need to sit at the computer until that fifteen minutes is up. If you have longer to devote to your writing, then by all means, take it when inspiration hits you, but you have to be able to write even when feeling uninspired.

At present, I am missing not having a desk to house my laptop. I am writing from my bedroom, while sitting, lying, and slouching on my bed. Ouch. The good news is, I’ve begun writing again. I’ve been enjoying my story because it is an easy one to write. I am not writing about a young single girl as most books do, instead I am writing about an independent married woman who is on the brink of divorce, only she doesn’t know that yet. She is going to have to go through alot of the same issues that I have dealt with over the last few years in learning how to be a wife and a mother, and where to go to get those role models that are so necessary. I’m excited!

Good Day

I had a good day today. I didn’t get everything on my list done, I didn’t stick to my schedule and I didn’t eat nutritiously for most of the day. But, it was still a good day.

My wonderful husband let me sleep in, which I did. I got up and drank 2 cups of pretend coffee (that’s instant coffee mixed in with hot chocolate mix) and had a granola bar for breakfast. I remembered to take my vitamins. When Jordyn came downstairs to ask if she could watch another movie, I had her come downstairs and do her phonics lesson first. She flew through it. I managed to get at least 3 loads of laundry done, and almost all of them put away. I chatted on the phone to my sister about interesting things like bones not working and something about Cleveland. I was trying to do laundry and search for apartments while talking to her. Sip, I made a third cup of fake coffee. Deposited check for Eric without a complaint and I did it promptly. Made a healthy dinner for me and the kids after my workout was cut short by those same kiddos.

I read this cute book today.

It is a collection of rhymes like “The Wheels on the Bus” and “1, 2, Buckle My Shoe” that preschoolers everywhere know the motions to, but if you can’t think of something, the author has provided an activity for nearly every rhyme. The pictures are great because they look like fabric that has been pieced together. Super cute, highly recommend!!!

The day was good because I was active, thoughtful and careful. I have some people in my life who look to find fault, and I know that I was faulty often enough today, but no one needs to know when they are being inconstant or erring (unless there is a habit that needs to be addressed and is done willingly and privately). I am proud of myself today, for many of the little things that I did. Hoping that tomorrow, I can do even more things the way they should be done.

Evening Chronicle

Evening Chronicle; Monday, January 25, 2010

This is a modification of a cool series of posts called the Simple Woman’s Daybook which is intended to be done on Monday mornings. I can never remember to do that, although today is actually a Monday. I modified some of the titles to fit evening reflection.

What I accomplished: Today was a bit of a nothing day, shame on me. I watched Federer play in the Australian Open, discussed my life choices with my sister, discussed my life choices with my other sister, took care of my now sick little boy, and researched new homeschool curricula. I am hoping to read to my kids for a while this evening so that I am not a COMPLETE failure today.

What needed improvement: Just about everything! Today was spent almost entirely in my head and though I worked through a little workbook with my kids, it was not a homeschooling day. That has to change if my choices in life are staying the same.

I am thankful for: being able to stay at home, the company and fellowship of sisters, being able to homeschool (even when I don’t do it)

From the kitchen: we had pizza for lunch, and my mom made pork chops for dinner. I am planning on having a crockpot chicken tomorrow (should have been today)

I am wearing: a new green dress that Eric got with me from Walmart. It is the “maxi” dress style, which is to say it is an ankle length, empire waist knit dress usually sleeveless; this one has short kimono sleeves. I am wearing a white thermal shirt underneath it both for modesty and warmth. Happy comfort.

I am creating: another dress for Jordyn, it is a purple flannel with dragonflies on it. The dress pattern is a mash-up of two different patterns, which I was just winging. Should have made it longer. Considering what to make next, it will most likely be a skirt and a blouse for myself. Need to get PROFICIENT at sewing blouses. I wish that I could find a nice, easy, dress pattern because I really love not having to think about what matches and finding two pieces.

I am reading: The History of the Ancient World, by Susan Wise Bauer. I love it!!! This book makes world history, especially ANCIENT world history accessible to the basic adult reader. It is the first of four in the planned series, volume 2 (History of the Medieval World) comes out this year.

I am praying: that Noah feels better soon, for wisdom in dealing with making plans, for a diligent spirit.

I am hearing: my hymn playlist playing, soothing.

Around the house: much chaos. The kids’ room is messy, but that means that they played in it today, which is also a good thing. Laundry is piling up, remedy comes in the morning, yuck.

One of my favorite things: Sitting in my bedroom, reading or writing on the computer (or in a book) with the doors closed and my music playing.

A few plans for the week: As much as I hate the thought, I need to get the kids caught up on their shots in case they need to enroll in school, I also have a few financial calls to make this week (even worse than the shots!).

A picture I am sharing: My Noah, in the jammies that I made for him.