Everything Else

Thankful for the little things

There is so much going on in the world, and in my little corner of it, that I wanted to take some time to reflect on the all little things I’m thankful for every day. These are the little patches of happiness that bring me unmitigated joy, the seemingly unimportant pieces of my life that put a smile on my face and help me look forward to a morning of errand running, a quiet evening at home, or even a day at work. Before I list the things, though, I want to say thank you for YOU, for reading this, for following along, for commenting when you feel led to. I appreciate your thoughts, your words, and your support through this journey. I am grateful for all of it, truly.

My thankful list:

1. Red cups at Starbucks

2. Feet under the Christmas treefeet

3. Love between brothers

4. A caring touch from my husband

5. A compelling audiobook on my commute to work

6. A surprise package from a good friend

7. Finishing ALL my Christmas shopping early this year

8. The extra quilt on our bed

9. New recipes that turn out right the first time

10. Holiday traditions that our whole family looks forward to

When I notice these things, I pause and take them in. I try to enjoy the moment, to embellish it into my brain, so I can come back to it again and again. There are days when I worry too much about our budget and paying back my school loans and I think to myself, “We have so little.” But the reality is, we have so much.

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you.

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Eating

Self-sabotage

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So my weight has plateaued. I’ve been playing with about three pounds lately, losing them, gaining them back, and losing them again. These three pounds started as my nemesis, but are now a comfort. I’m so used to having them around, the number on the scale rarely shocks me anymore. If it’s excessively high, then yes, I’m shocked into clean eating and tracking like you wouldn’t believe. But when I settle back into that three-pound range, I feel fine again. Life is good. The three pounds are here to stay.

But life maybe isn’t so good. Maybe I started this program to reach a goal, and settling for a weight 15 lbs above that goal is exactly that: settling. Has my body just reached a weight it’s comfortable with? Or is it all in my mind?

I talked with a friend about this lately, a friend who’s also trying to lose weight, and we narrowed down the reasons for my stall to two things: failure and money. Both of these are rooted in that emotion which pretty much drives every part of my life: fear. If I reach my goal but I can’t maintain it, then I’m a failure. I’ve failed another diet, failed Weight Watchers yet again. I’ve failed to live up to the goal I’ve set for myself, the ideal that women in this country strive toward. I’m a failure.

And money. Yes, I’m shelling out $20/month to access Weight Watchers’ points calculator and a host of other online tools, but what about the money I’ll need to buy myself a whole new wardrobe? I’ve lost one pants size so far. Which means that most of my larger pants still fit, albeit loosely, and the smaller ones I kept around “just in case” fit perfectly. If I lose another 15 lbs I’ll have met my goal, but that will also mean I’ve lost another pants size, and then my smaller jeans will be too big and I won’t have any fallbacks. If one of the major goals of weight loss is to have a body that looks good, that means I have to dress it in a way that’s flattering. Which means I’ll have to buy clothes that fit. And a wardrobe overhaul is just not something we can afford right now.

Both of these issues are a symptom of a bigger one: fear. No one wants to be a failure, especially someone who looks so eagerly to others for approval. And yes, I don’t have the money to buy a completely new wardrobe all at once, but I bet I could get a few new pieces and fudge the rest until I do. I’m just scared of what life will look like then. Will I still have to track everything I eat, or will I instinctively know what not to put in my mouth? Will I still weigh myself every day? Will this truly be a lifestyle change, or was it another fad diet that I was just trying out for a few months? What happens when all of this is over?

Last night I sat in bed and cried to Chris that I just want to eat like a normal person again. I just want to enjoy fall. I want to bake pumpkin muffins and buy Starbucks lattes and snuggle under blankets and watch TV. I don’t want to worry about what having two muffins instead of one will do to my points. I don’t want to worry about the amount of sugar in a Pumpkin Spice Latte. And I especially don’t want to worry about trying to get 10,000 steps in when it’s freezing and dark and drizzly outside, like it is today.

I cried and I cried, I let it all out, and then I woke up today and went back to counting points. I went back to scrambled eggs and sausage for breakfast, a Mason jar salad for lunch, almonds for snack. Bunless turkey burgers for dinner and berries and cream for dessert and people if I’m honest, all the fun has been sucked out of eating. Where are the tender muffins, the spoonful of cookie dough you sneak before putting the trays in the oven, the scone at your favorite coffee shop? Where are the chips you mindlessly eat on the couch, the bedtime bowl of ice cream, the gourmet donuts from the donut truck? Food is life to me. And food is such a big part of my life, especially with Weight Watchers, when I’m tracking everything so closely. And yes I have treat meals and yes I go out to eat occasionally but my day-to-day menu is so unfulfilling I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this. So I’m asking myself these questions: (1) Why did I want to lose weight in the first place? And (2) Could I be happy being the weight I am now for the rest of my life? I feel like this plateau, after lasting so long, is no longer only physical, but mental too. There’s got to be a reason I keep doing this to myself. A reason I keep gaining back those three pounds. If I could only put my finger on it, maybe I could finally move on.

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Parenting

Finding purpose

I have been thinking a lot lately about purpose. When I’m feeling really low, I wonder, what’s the point? Why am I here? Am I really making a difference to anyone? I’ve talked before about being in a funk, and when I’m in one of those, the light is very, very hard to see. But where I’m at now is different. Think of depression like malaria. I’ll always have it, and when I’m fevered and in pain, you can see it. You remember I have this chronic, incurable disease. When I’m healthy, I still have malaria, but maybe you let yourself forget about it for a little while. You forget that I’m sick.

Right now, I’m in a highly functioning phase of my depression, where I interact with people, I run errands, I get things done around the house. In this phase, I don’t spend entire days napping, or go for a week without a shower. I look and act like everyone else. But behind the façade is this feeling of purposelessness. A voice in my head that’s shouting, “What am I doing here?” I can’t even decide on a theme for this blog. At this point, it feels like it’s about everything and nothing, and that murkiness nags at me constantly.

I pass a graveyard every day on my way to pick up CJ from school. It’s a tiny graveyard on the corner of a field, in the middle of the country. There’s one tree that hangs over the ancient stones, and a curving drive that winds through the neatly trimmed lawn. There are always people visiting, almost every day as I pass it. I think about the lives of the people buried underground. What must they have done, to warrant so many visitors? What had their purpose been? And now that they’re dead, is that purpose magnified? Will anyone remember that I picked up my kid every day from school? That I was the only one that could translate Sam’s stuttering sentences when he was two? Or will people remember that I was a nurse and a stay at home mom? And will that be enough?

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Graveyard at St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC, during my visit in March.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, rather, the opposite. I feel like, as a SAHM, I’m waiting for my life to start. I mean, I love what I do, but I have no sense of accomplishment at the end of my day. There is no excitement when I wake up, I just wake up. There is no showering in anticipation of a big meeting, there’s no cramming the night before an important lecture. There’s just me and the kids and my husband. There’s sunggles in bed and TV in the mornings and races around the house and laughter and yelling and time outs and baths and bedtime routines and groceries and laundry and my disgusting master bathroom that I can’t seem to motivate myself to clean. A full-time job seems so appealing at times, a reason to get out of bed, a way to advance my nearly nonexistent career. But a full-time job would mean leaving my life now, a life of laziness and laughter and a life I love so, so much.

Maybe it’s not that my life doesn’t have purpose. Maybe it’s that I have to learn to be OK with my slower pace, my daily nap, and my coveted couch time before bed. Maybe just by being there for my kids I’m serving a purpose greater than I will ever know. Maybe when they visit me at that graveyard, they won’t talk about what I did, they’ll talk about who I was. Maybe they’ll remember me as a mom who loved spending time with them so much that she gave up what she thought she wanted so she could be with the people she needed, and who needed her right back.

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