I’m on day one of week six with yoga. I ventured into an hour session rather than my thirty-minute one on Monday. My body is quite mad at me still and it hurts to laugh. I’m thinking this is a good thing as I’m honing in on all the right areas I want to work on. I also recognize the names of poses now and can follow without straining my neck to see the television. I’ve started following a beginner’s yoga group, as well as reading Yoga Journal. The group and articles help as they remind me that this is an individual type of exercise and progress is measured only by YOU. I also have the advantage of reaching out to my best friend who is a certified yoga instructor for guidance and reassurance. I’m feeling committed—in a good way.
The “livet” is going well, too. All of the meals I’m preparing are healthy, without any sense of restricting what I’m craving. I’m still only down ten pounds, but I know the inches are coming off by the way things fit. I knew I was saving all those clothes in the back of the closet for a good reason! I’ve been using the MyNetDiary app to keep track of my daily calories and exercise, not to mention my water intake. It’s not an exact science, but it helps put things in perspective these past three weeks. Portion sizes are reduced, however I’m enjoying everything I put together. It does give me a grade on my choices, making me the honor student I strive to be. Some of my choices are C-average, but I disagree with the notion that the turkey meatballs I make are anywhere near average. I got a D on my grass-fed ground beef hamburger—an absolute A in my book. So, the app has flaws (not really)—but, don’t we all.
The large spike in the above diagram is the day we ventured out for meals and went a bit “crazy.” I devoured half of a blackened shrimp wrap and half a burger for lunch. For dinner, we had some pineapple fried rice with a side of Shrimp Pad Thai. Although I got and A and B as grades, my body decided to hang on to the 175-ish grams of carbs I ate. The next spike was also due to going out for lunch. It's a bit challenging counting the calories, unless the restaurant posts them on the menu. I do venture to ask about the nutrition numbers, but always feel like one of those people I normally roll my eyes about.
Today marks the end of our three week kidless staycation (we don’t really count the older one as he’s always at work). Our two teenagers arrive at midnight tonight from Texas and will no doubt sleep most of the day away tomorrow. We didn’t do as much as we would have liked while they were gone—a trip to Jamaica, long-road trips, and beach days—but, it was so very pleasant. There was no anxiety, frustration, or influx of whining—from us or them. The house stayed clean and there was always food in the fridge. I’m sure they will be relieved to be home and we did miss them—mostly. We will consider it a good recharge and hope for the best. The youngest starts high school in twelve days, so we just have to all get along until then.
Someone confided to me that they were experiencing feelings of being judged. And, they weren’t allowed the opportunity to provide clarity or context—they were simply dismissed. The worst part is it came from family—the ones who are supposed to lift you up and provide a sense of belonging. The little snarky comments and side-eyed looks caused frustration and feelings of rejection.
“Expressions of disgust or contempt communicate absolute rejection.” ~Beverly Engel
The Nice Girl Syndrome: Stop Being Manipulated and Abused—And Start Standing Up For Yourself.
To compound the problem, they further blamed how she was raised—adding “insult” to her parents. I don’t believe her extended family actually realized how they were making her feel. Nevertheless, they were rejecting who she is based on their views of how she is supposed to be. They view their life and choices as the more appropriate way to live—there is little room for diversity.
I will add, that as parents, we do inadvertently mold our children to our way of thinking. As they get older, we begin to see the disparity in points of view as they formulate their own thoughts about life. That is a beautiful thing. There is an appreciation that my children are willing to discuss what they believe—even if I do feel they have lost their minds. I welcome the opportunity to both learn from them and share what my experiences have taught me.
The conversation I had with her wasn’t to build self-esteem so much as it was to neutralize the judgmental comments. She recognized for the first time just how closed-minded they were. I encouraged her to be assertive and speak her mind—to not be dismissed. I also encouraged her to pick her battles as some are just not worth fighting for.
“Nothing is right or wrong. It's all an interpretation of which lens we are looking through.” ~Tarun Sharma
It’s been a hell of a week so far social media wise. I’ve been more political than I usually am socially as even I grow tired of all the bullshit this president dishes out. I know my little posts don’t mean much in the overall scheme of things, but I feel a little bit better after. I think what bothers me more are the comments by those blind followers--no matter what the president says or does. Apparently being a racist, a sexist, and a narcissist are qualities some feel are acceptable for the "leader" of our country. Their arguments are half-ass attempts to compare his actions by disparaging others with misleading stories out of context. If confronted that their story isn’t true, the response is usually “So what?” These are what Neil deGrasse Tyson refers to as political truths. The incessant repetition that people absorb into truth. If those blind followers keep reposting erroneous articles, those too ignorant to research will believe them.
For me, it isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing, it’s a character thing. I was registered Republican since I was able to vote and now I’m an Independent—and have been for years. I view that status as someone who votes for the person they feel is best for the elected position. My views are very much split down the middle, but perhaps leaning a little left. The bottom line is that I"m flexible.
Now, it's no longer about a “business man” taking hold the reins and seeing if running the government like a business works. He bullies any opposition—no matter how small--via Twitter and anyone willing to give him air time. Not even those he appointed and/or liked the day before are safe from the barrage of insults and accusations. Do I believe he may be a puppet for something bigger hidden within our government? Possibly. It’s always a mystery how a candidate can lose the popular vote, yet still be in office. For example:
It’s neither here nor there whether those who “lost” these elections were best suited for the job—my point is the consistency of their political party. It's an interesting observation. For the present, I will count the days until the election and see what happens. Does my vote count? It doesn’t seem like it does. But, will I still vote? Absolutely, because it certainly doesn't hurt.
So, I will continue to vent occasionally, if only to make myself feel better. I will continue to scroll on by all the ignorant memes and comments as I always do. And, I will sporadically respond to an article someone has posted to let them know it’s inaccurate and present the facts. I know facts or my words won’t change anyone’s mind at this point about the president or his administration. My only hope is that they’ll be annoyed enough to stop. And if you find that I am not responding to even your benign, non-political posts, chances are that I have embraced the “snooze for 30 days” feature Facebook has so generous provided.
"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." ~Oscar Wilde
I realize my collecting of books can be called by some as hoarding. That’s a transitive verb that means to collect and often hide away a supply of…(fill in with whatever you like). In general, it is often considered negative, which is understandable if out of control. Hoarding is a subjective situation and one may consider my having over 300 books as hoarding—one that is not an avid reader, that is. They are all neatly placed on shelves and not hidden away, stacked in corners, or falling out of boxes.
Aside from the enjoyment I get out of reading, there is an appreciation for the beauty of books. They aren’t just printed pages glued together and bound. They are mental stimulation as I’m exercising my brain. They expand my vocabulary and knowledge. They enhance my imagination and take me to places I’ve never dreamed. As a writer, it will strengthen my skills and broaden my abilities. They also help with anxiety and stress. There are so many benefits I could go on about, but in the end, you either like to read or you don’t.
I will admit that it got out of control in the past. I started buying used books—the collectible variety—with no regard to whether I was interested in actually reading them. That has changed and I’m more thoughtful about what I add to my library. I’ve weeded through all of them, keeping only the ones I will read. I also trade the some of the books I’ve read with the used book store. I keep only the collectibles and those I may read again.
One might say I won’t be able to read them all in my lifetime considering the amount—but one never knows. Challenge accepted! It will only take twenty-five years reading one book a month with my estimated collection. Having read thirteen so far this year, it's doable.
There is one weakness I have when coming across books—handwritten notes. I don’t condone writing in books, but seeing a heartfelt message written inside dated 1925, or even last year, fascinates me. Resisting the urge to buy these simply because of the notes inside takes willpower.
Either way, I challenge anyone to read as there is always a book that will interest you. It would be impossible to not find at least one. If you don't like to read, you just haven't found the right book.
The countdown has reached launch! Two of three teenagers have taken off and landed safely into their grandparents hands. The third leaves next Wednesday for a week! Unfortunately, there seems to be a potential hurricane brewing in the Gulf. Not a great way to start their vacation away from home, but I know they’ll be safe in my parent’s house. I have no doubt it will become an adventure of some sort.
I wonder if they are relieved to not be here. Probably. In Houston, they will be spoiled, fed beyond all reason, and have a lot of activities. Here, we don’t go out much and stock our pantry with only ingredients to make food—no pizza rolls, pop tarts, or frozen chicken fingers. I will not worry in the least how much sugar and carbs they consume on their vacation. I will not worry if they brush their teeth for the entire three weeks. And, I will not worry if they stay up late and sleep all day. In the hands of my family, they are golden and I don’t have to witness any of it of the debauchery.
We still have no kid-free plans overall, but it’s nice to know we could fly to Rome at a moment’s notice. Our only venture planned so far is a Rolling Stones concert in Jacksonville—and that’s something! We also get to feed our book fetish while there at Chamblin’s Bookmine—which I can say is almost as exciting that the concert. Call me weird, but we like our books.
The summer days have been consistently rolling by as they always seem to do. Most of our time off is spent relaxing by the pool. That, combined with our healthier eating and my Yoga, we are looking tan and more slender. Overall, I’d call that a good summer.
With eight days of Yoga behind me, I think I have officially started a routine. This includes both exercise and eating healthier. I have always despised dieting as it means to do without—in my mind. I don't mean healthy in the sense of brown rice and no bread. I mean healthy in the sense of fewer calories by measuring (okay yes, sometimes eyeballing) the portions. This also means choosing wisely what I decided to eat.
Although I never thought I’d ever do this, I am going to quote Kanye West. I honestly don’t know if he came up with it—I just heard him say it during an interview with David Letterman. Rather than a diet, I am now on a “livet."
I like the idea of the word as eating healthy and exercise helps you do just that—live. I’m learning that I can keep the calories down and still enjoy the foods I want. I don’t know how it is for you, but conditioning my mind to enjoy what I eat has been easier than I thought. Maybe because I was ready for it, I don’t know. My weakness is Mexican food and it’s pretty much a staple in our home. Quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas—essentially anything that I can wrap a tortilla around. Chips and salsa? Yea, I’m all about that. I did something remarkable the other day. I counted out the exact number of tortilla chips for a serving size to go with a homemade avocado dip. Did I eat just those? No. However, the three extra chips I added were enough and didn’t break me. I am a bottomless pit when it comes to tortilla chips with salsa, guacamole, or queso. I don’t get full. I simply run out of chips. That day, I was satisfied with the portion I served and honestly felt good about myself.
Today’s lunch was Poblano Chicken Quesadillas that teetered on 250 calories. I got the recipe from Cooking Light’s website and made it my own. I eliminated the mushrooms as I am not that trendy. And, I don’t poach chicken—ever! I lightly seasoned the chicken, pan-frying it in a little olive oil. Using one of those handy calorie calculator websites, I got lower than the original recipe’s calorie count. Mostly because I wasn’t cooking for six people and needed far fewer ingredients, including cheese. For those of you who enjoy cooking, you learn what ingredients work together as you hone your culinary skills. You also learn what doesn’t work, like mushrooms in a quesadilla.
My goals are set small now, making success feel more attainable. I’ve become friends with the bathroom scale after many years of bitter fighting. I simply ignored it as the scale never had anything nice to say. Now, I look forward to our morning conversations.
Teenage Summer Expectations:
Summer at our house has no doubt been a huge let down for our daughter. There is a misconception all three of our teenagers have always had: everyone is on summer vacation. There is a blatant disregard for the notion parents have to work. The word they would use is inconceivable. And, it does mean what you think it means. They don’t seem to be able to comprehend all of this around them works because we do. During the summer, more food is consumed and more cleaning needs to be done. They have nothing but time, but it dwindles as they waste away the day.
Don’t get me wrong, now is when time can be wasted. Sleep a little more. Catch up on those tv shows you missed. Play all those video games you begged to play during the school week. Do nothing if that is what you want. Just don’t complain. Don’t wait for parents to make your day more entertaining. Also, try not to shoot down every idea we have while rolling your eyes and falling to the couch in an exasperated slump.
Before school ended, our daughter literally counted down the days until summer vacation. Now, counting would probably be considered school work. Fortunately, she's headed to Houston to spend time with her grandparents and cousins for three weeks!
This is the REAL countdown and we have thirteen days to go. Two of our three kids are going and we cannot wait! The oldest has a job and can only go for a week, but he's at work most of the time anyway. Oddly enough, three weeks was the kid's idea and the best one they have every summer. How will we fill our time, you ask? I’ll tell you.
We go on road trips, to theme parks, shopping, and entertain our every whim. Kidding. Mostly. We enjoy the quiet. We clean the house fewer times a week. We cook whatever we want without having to hear, “No thanks. I don’t like that.” We go to the grocery store far less—and, we don’t wonder who ate all of our favorite snacks. Stress levels are down, as well as our electric and water bill. Most importantly, we enjoy our time alone—no interruptions.
Will I miss them? The answer is yes and no. Yes, because I enjoy the banter and laughter in the house. No, because I know they are having fun, getting spoiled, and spending time with family they don’t get to see very often. The best part is they won’t complain of being bored. They will go outside despite the summer heat. They will be game for whatever suggestions are made. Unfortunately, they will not be reading. We pick our battles.
The word Yoga translates to mean union—the union of your divine consciousness. It’s a spiritual discipline, but a discipline nonetheless. I’m on day seven of my tour of divinity and I’m determined to make this a routine way of life. One might think that Yoga is easy, but one would be wrong. It’s not just stretching in quirky positions and lying on the floor. It’s described as a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices. These past six days “practicing” Yoga have been a bit challenging to say the least. Mostly because I lack balance—putting on underwear offers unstable footing. You may also realize that you aren’t as flexible as you once were. Of course that doesn’t stop me from trying to put my foot behind my head.
Although I have taken Yoga classes in the past, it wasn’t with any frequency and it’s been years. I stayed to the back of the class and giggled as I wobbled through the poses. This time, to save face, I headed to the library and grabbed a few DVDs. I grabbed one for beginners, one for weight loss, and one for better buns (the main reason for exercise). Given my limitations of being essentially new to Yoga, rather unsteady, and slightly inflexible—I exercise until my body says, “Nope.” Each day I push a little further and it’s actually working out for me as I go further each day. The key is to follow the correct techniques, listen to your body, and breathe. I’m not doing any of those fluidly, but I’m getting there.
There are various kinds of Yoga, and it’s not just about the physical exercise—but a way of life.
This by no means covers all the aspects of Yoga, but for me, it’s a start to understanding how to achieve my goals both mentally and physically. I think the bottom line is to do something for yourself that in the end makes you feel good.
My oldest son recently begun taking online college courses. Naturally, he is encouraged to do well, and that tends to be where the friction lies. He doesn’t want to be asked about school. This is mostly because his focus is elsewhere—whether it’s video games or going to work. We have come to a point where we have stopped asking…almost. We made him very aware that college is way different from high school, and he has to be on top of his coursework. In the end, we are skeptical he will succeed in the first semester. Those who have gone to college understand what that means, especially when it comes to funding.
It got me thinking about my rerun through college a few years ago. I did the work and became dedicated to getting my degree. Just like my son, I didn’t take my first year in college at 19 as seriously as I should have. However, I do wish I did. I shared that with him, too. His 19 and my 19 were vastly different in circumstances, but the mentality seems to be the same. Learning from my mistakes and experiences doesn’t seem to be working.
Going back to college in my forties changed me for the better—but, in the end, that’s all it did. There was no job waiting for me after earning my Bachelors Degree. There was no indication that a degree would even help. It is such a paradox. Companies want a degree-toting employee, yet having one guarantees you nothing. I’m not naive to think experience and knowledge isn’t a factor. In my experience, even a resume that matches a job description perfectly doesn’t get you any phone calls.
I tried pointing at things to blame. Was it my age? My last name—which was Spanish at the time of graduation? Was it because I took a few years off, not working, to raise my kids? Was it the field of study? I found that nothing I came up with was conclusive; only that having a degree really didn’t matter. I will clarify: it didn’t matter when getting a job, but it did for my own personal goals.
But, how do you persuade your children to go to college and get a degree to have the career they want when they know it didn’t work for you? I’m not sure. I will, however, continue to emphasize the immense feeling of gratification it gave me. I will expand on how I learned more about not only what already interested me, but gained other interests. I will tell them it taught me focus, patience, and perseverance. College heightened an appetite for knowledge.
This is the take-away I want for them.
That whole "miles to go before I sleep" line has me thinking. How I view it is solely based on my mood. It can either mean that I have a lot to do before I can rest for the day or a lot to do before I die. Although I don't make lists of things to do as I should, I think about all the things I want to accomplish. Making a list is actually a very satisfying way to feel like you've accomplished something. I do adore crossing things off my ever growing, continuous list. Everyone does. I think about my existence on this plane, happy for the things I have more than disappointed for the things I don't. This is solely based on averages, not always daily. Once again, all based on mood, and perspective.
As I've grown older, I am more settled by the fact my list of things I want to do before I die has shortened to a more healthy and reality based one. Remember that MASH game we all played in high school (not sure if that's still a thing). M is for mansion, A is for apartment, S is for shack, and the H stands for house. One of these things will be your future by the end of the game. Naturally, back then I wanted a mansion. Not so much now--way too much upkeep and I can't even think about the electric bill. I'm wondering if Apartment can have sub-categories that include a townhome or condo? As far as the Shack goes, I've done that already. I'm now wondering if my life is actually playing out just like the game. We all think of a shack as being uninhabitable, but it's defined as a roughly built hut or cabin. People pay a lot for those kinds of places these days. Nevertheless, I think I can cross this off as been there-done that considering one of my "homes" was rough for a while. There was a legitimate house—once upon a time. It had a huge yard, trees, community pool, and plenty of living space. It also had property taxes, an HOA that was rather Gestapo-ish, and a constant battle with chinch bugs. I have an appreciation for rock gardens at this point.
Now, I have a condo in a beautiful community that's quiet--relatively, considering the kids. There's a lake, pool, hot tub, and no lawn I need to maintain. I've loved and appreciated this home for the past three years, but now it's time to make a move. We need more space as our family is growing by one, that handsome man I’m destined to marry. So, in this the part of the game you list your crushes, those hot men you will live happily ever after with. What I wouldn't give to see a copy of the outcome of this game back in school. If I were to summon my 9th grade self, I can think of only one celebrity I no doubt selected for this great honor. Simon LeBon from Duran Duran. That's a no brainer for anyone in the mid-80s, or at least someone from that band. I'd get to tour the world, backstage access (of course), and I'd get serenaded every day. I can't even imagine who else I selected at the time, but probably some cute guys from school. These days, I have no desire to live a celebrity life and I already have the man I want--but for the love of the game, let's list some contenders. Chris Hemsworth, who needs no explanation. Tom Hanks, because I'm sensible and he's adorable. Ewan McGregor, who's sexy, sings, and has that whole Scottish accent thing. And finally, let's go with Paul Rudd--that cute boy next door that makes you laugh. With the exception of Chris (who is exceptional), I think my choices are age appropriate. And, I imagine all of these guys have good credit--that's just sexy.
When it comes to the car selections, I know my younger self was obsessed with one car--the Corvette. I can't even imagine having a Corvette now and insurance has to be outrageous. Although still a sexy car, they are incredibly impractical. Before kids, I had fun in my Miata and Jeep Wrangler. After kids, I had no fun in a mini-van--a car definitely not ever chosen by my 15-year-old self. Nowadays, I'm a simple girl and just need something that fits the family and runs well. But, since I need to choose four vehicles, I'll fill in the blanks. Audi Q5, because who doesn't want an Audi? Range Rover, because being a bad-ass mom is important. Jeep Wrangler is still a good choice since I have teenagers driving and it has a towing hitch. And because being bad-ass extends outside of my motherhood, a Porsche Carrera GTS convertible--specifically that new Tiffany blue. I'm still a girl after all and the kids don't have to go EVERYWHERE with me.
And where will I be driving that Porsche? Well, for now, Orlando. Back in school, I'm sure I chose far off countries and exotic places--Italy, Spain, or some remote island in the South Pacific. Try driving a Corvette on those sandy roads along the shore. I'm happy in Orlando, but I need of four places to live for the game. My choice of Italy hasn't changed, and George Clooney would love me as a neighbor. I definitely have a cup of sugar he can borrow. Spain is a contender, and I'm sure Antonio Banderas could give me, uh...us, some insider tips on the best neighborhoods. My older self also wants Mexico, not just because of the family lineage, but because it's rich with culture and has beautiful beaches. We'll leave the criminal element out this fantasy. My final choice would have to be somewhere along the coast in the States, preferably sunny and warm. Why the US? Aside from my family being here, it's familiar and I need a little of that at my age. Besides, there are plenty of places to explore and many cultures to learn in my own backyard. I love the melting pot that 'Merica is.
There are some variations to this game. Some include career choices, pets, and even the career of your future spouse. I don't recall all the categories I used then, but I know that how many kids I would have was one of them. I'm maxed out at three, so there's no need to venture there. Wouldn't want to jinx myself and end up with four. I shudder at the thought of being pregnant again at this point, especially since I'm pretty sure my future always predicted just two--twins. HA! What the hell did I know then? How I wanted twins, one boy and one girl. The hands of fate knew I could only handle one at a time and threw in an extra one to secure my want of a girl. The MASH gods know what they're doing and we don't question them.
Well, this isn't the productive list I was planning when I started. However, it helps me remember all the things I wanted to do before I die--or, rest for the day, whichever. I will say that my perspective has definitely changed over the course of my life, as have my priorities. I'm happy with the man of my dreams, the townhome we've chosen, the car that gets me where I need to go, the city in which I live, and the number of kids I have. I do hope I have many more miles to go as I obviously have things to do and places to see.
I am a woman-child at heart; continuously evolving to find my place in life. I am a mother, a daughter, and a sister. I am a lover and a dreamer--an explorer and a traveler. But it's my passion for writing that allows me to explore my ingenuity. This is something that undoubtedly carries over to the many roles that make up the ever evolving woman I am.