Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
The last doctor's appointment that I went to carried the usual round of questions. When we got to the one where he asked, "How often in a week do you exercise?" I went off into the realm of Mommydom. I went through my usual routine and told him that I have a four-year-old son. I'm constantly moving and I never sit down unless it's that quiet time in the morning, the time just before my children's' bedtime, or after they are finally sleeping. In my bubble of a world that feels like exercise. I'm up and down the stairs (cardio), folding laundry, (Good for the arms, right?) and lifting and carrying hundreds of pounds of groceries into the car and then into the house every single month. (There has to be some body building in that too.) After a chuckle and a grin, he informed me that what I had was an "active lifestyle" but it wasn't exercise. I couldn't help but wonder if the man had ever kept up a house, had to prepare meals and rush to ready for company in a sweat. Mopping ain't for the faint of heart.
Whether I wanted to admit it or not, that wasn't helping to shed the pounds or build up muscle. I know the older we get the more we lose muscle mass, but living with a four-year-old son, I keep forgetting my 51 years. Most days I still believe I'm, at least, in my thirties. Silly me. So I started my exercise program this week. I was going to start with water aerobics, figuring that in a pool, no one can see you sweat, but the best laid plans can go awry. In this case, I'm glad they did.
The gym we belong to wouldn't allow my 13 year-old to go up on the gym floor without a parent, while I went on to water aerobics. My daughter was so disappointed that I changed my plans. We ran back home and I pulled on sweat pants and a T-shirt and we headed back to the gym. When we pulled into the parking lot, my daughter saw the women in the pool doing the water aerobics. "Mom, I think you would have been the youngest there." Turning my head I saw the sea of gray hair and cracked up. This was definitely a more mature program. In my naïve way, I hadn't considered that was even a possibility and it truly wouldn't have been any more exercise for me than my usual daily routine.
My daughter and I went into the gym armed with i-Pods and bottled water. For the next hour I proceeded to amaze myself as copious amounts of sweat that left my body. You would have thought that I was mostly made of water…oh yeah, that's right, we are. Anyway, after the hour I was spent, but oddly energized, and I haven't missed a day since. The minute I put in the ear buds, and the i-Pod starts playing; I'm lost in the music and the beat. I had no idea that this was something that I would actually enjoy. I almost can't wait to tell my doctor, but I'd still like to see him handle my mop and broom.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
This morning I put on a pair of capris that I wore last summer and I'm pretty sure I cut the blood off to my lower extremities. Honestly, it felt like I was wearing a tourniquet around my waist, or what's left of it. It's enough to make me cry and run to the nearest Krispy Kreme shop to buy a dozen glazed donuts and drown my sorrows, but that's what got me here in the first place. How on earth does one fight the battle of the bulge in a fast-food world?
Last week I wrote "Taking Back the Next Fifty," a piece about trying to be a healthier me. Let's just say that it's been difficult at best to slip into a new role that requires healthier choices. The summer schedule has a life of its own and both of my children have very different schedules and bedtimes. It's so easy to hit a drive-thru when the hours have flown by and the schedule is crazy. But what does that teach my children? We already know what it can do to my waist line (remember the tourniquet and add heavy breathing). The madness has got to stop, but I swear, I think my car has an automatic pilot to Wendy's and McDonalds, and I fight the steering wheel every day.
I have to learn to carve out a block of time, every day, for me and me alone. I have to learn to be a little bit selfish and put myself first in a positive way. After all, nobody ever seems to clean up after me or do my laundry in our household, so I figure I'm due. I can take the time to exercise and be a better me. I don't want to live in a house where my closet has so many different sizes in it that it can double as a clothing store, and trust me, I've been there. I'd be lying if I didn't add that I'd like to reach my goal so I can face those who have made hurtful comments in the past, even to the point of accusing me of trying to lose weight the "easy way" when I had lap-band surgery almost two years ago. I'd like to ask; just what is easy about having surgery? The lap-band helps me keep from over eating, and while I've lost weight since the surgery, I still have to exercise good eating habits. It took me a long time to get where I am, and it will take me a good bit to get to where I want to be. I don't need to be a size zero, I need to be a size that is right for me.
Sometimes it seems even the commercials on TV conspire against me. Yesterday evening, right after a Victoria Secret commercial, a McDonald's ad came on where an entire skinny family sat with Big Macs and large orders of fries. Uh-huh, and I wonder why I sometimes have mixed signals when it comes to self-image and food. So here I go, off into the sunset without the to-go order, my eyes on the capris of my previous size. I'll report in again. Wish me luck.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
As is my way, I will try to find something amusing in the trip. Dark humor is my friend. Sarcasm is my constant accompanist. So I'll roll my eyes at some fifty something road warrior who is trying to text and drive on the interstate and come up with some something to say. I'll sit there and patiently pretend to have not heard the same story a gazillion times while in my mind, I do my checklist. "Has he said this yet? What about that story? Ah, there it is." Give him his Father's Day card early. He won't remember that he didn't get it on Father's Day. Shoot, that's because he won't remember he got it. The boys will stay up all night watching tv and I'll just ignore that. Hey, they're supposed to get to do what they want to at their grandparents, right? Does it matter that I'm there? Nope. This trip we're throwing in a side trip to the old hometown. So I get to visit with even more elderly relatives. But at my age, it's nice to be the young'un and I especially love how they all tell me how little I still am (keep in mind that all things are in relation to them). No trip is complete without the trip to the cemetery. Good thing I got that Ancestry.com membership. We need someplace to load up the pictures to that will appreciate my skill at taking a picture of a gravestone.
Through all of this our teen sons will show a calmness and compassion that humbles me. They will take Daddy to the restroom and make sure he doesn't lose his way, while pretending that they were the ones who needed to go. They understand the need for dignity.
I ran into someone who told me that some people think she's cold but she had never really experienced helping the aged. Her parents were both dead by the time she was in her mid-twenties and her grandparents had long been gone before then. While it briefly flickered through me how much less complicated my life would be, what really stayed in my soul was the thought of how much less I would have been. I've developed a strength and compassion that I never knew I had in me. Not to mention the driving skills of a short haul trucker.
Someone else once told me that if it stressed me out so much then I just shouldn't go. But that smacks of a selfishness that I always knew I didn't have in me. And it does stress me out - before I go and after I return. But while I'm there, it doesn't stress me out at all. When I read essays such as the one our guest columnist, Jim Zisa wrote this month, "The Profundity of Moment" , when I consider how much my dear friend Mary would love to call her Mama and chat, but can't because she's gone, or think of how much another dear friend would have loved to share her beautiful girls college graduations with her parents, well, I'll climb right into that SUV and make my way on down the road. There is a grace to the time spent with love. So I'll come back a little worse for wear, but better for spirit. Shouldn't life be about doing what is hard? Doesn't love come with hardship?
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
'Tis the season…….to get married.
Summer is here and the television is filled with fairy tale inspired scenes with women draped in layers of white silk and satin, wearing delicate shoes that Cinderella would be proud of, and adorned with endless jewels. It creates the feel good factor. Romance and life happily ever after. However, to my amazement and surprise, I happened to have the misfortune (thank you dear daughter!) to tune into last Sunday's premier, on TLC, of 'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding'.
As an ex-pat, anything to do with the UK is appealing -- well it was. If you happen to have watched this program, you may have thought you were witnessing the next generation of Monty Python. The accents, only just audible as British, rang out loud and very unclear, portraying an almost cult like group of 'modern day travelers' that reside all around the beautiful green English Isle.
I could not believe my eyes. Girls of 16 were getting married to boys only a few years older. Their dating ritual was, to say the least, very rudimentary. The girls are not allowed to be seen with boys alone and they have to travel around in groups, and sex before marriage is totally taboo (not that I am advocating sex before marriage – to be clear). However, their overtly sexual way of dressing and behavior does not match this depiction; it leaves one to ask questions about the representation in this program.
Marriage predominantly fills the girls every waking thought. Something called 'grabbing' is the process that indicates the start of a relationship. The boys literally grab the girl they like and enforce a kiss. If the girl lets him, and responds to the kiss, then they are considered to be in a relationship together.
The girls, quite often, are said to be taken out of school at an early age (11 in this one case) to assist their mothers, who are expected to stay at home, caretaking the every need and whim of the husband. With today's equality, I cannot comprehend how this type of seemingly discriminatory behavior is still acceptable. In fact, I do not even think it is legal to take a child out of school at that age in the UK, but I must be wrong, as the program quite specifically described this.
I am a stay-at-home mum, but it was my choice. It seems this 'choice' is obligatory to the gypsy women of the UK and will go on like this for generations. The young girls, to be fair, seem happy with this life, but they have no other to compare. They seem oblivious to the outside culture around them. Part of me cannot help wonder if they would make the same choices if given the exposure to a different type courtship or social interaction. Who knows, but as a mother of a 12-year-old girl, I want her to grow, mature, experience life, and make her own decisions. My choices are my own, as hers will be for her. Yes, I can help her with those choices but freedom to decide herself is a very precious thing and it is my gift to her.
I wondered as I watched, if we are living parallel lives, them and us in a different era. It was as if I was watching a Victorian melodrama, but with the horrors of modern day expletives and over exposed bodies. My English core was embarrassed to admit we have this type of citizen in our country. I grew up with knowledge of the gypsies that housed themselves on the side of roads, who did not pay taxes and had a bad reputation, but my opinion and I am sure that of others has now plummeted further. The question begs to be asked if this was the intention of the program. I don't know the answer to that, but I for one will not be watching it again to try and decide. I think I will stick to the fairy tale wedding programs; it makes my dreams sweeter.