The Jig Was Up

The jig was up …

Someone that I love very much has called me out on a problem that I have come to recognize as a lifestyle. A lifestyle I deemed as a success, that I gave many names and adjectives to except the correct one.  For dignity purposes let’s say health nut but it’s one of those nuts that fell on the pantry ground 10 years ago, was kicked into a dark corner, forgotten and is now rancid.

I have disordered eating. No, I’m not a 17 year-old girl trying to fit in with the popular crowd. I’m a grown woman with kids and an adult life full of responsibilities, friends, love and family. I wasn’t beaten or grew up neglected. But here I am at 33 without knowing how to really eat because, well, my eating is disordered.  Even worse my self-image is an extension of that disordered eating making my seemingly normal lifestyle perfectly disordered.

I feel full of shame and embarrassment as I even write this.  I mean for god’s sake this is the problem of a teenager, not a grown ass woman.  The thoughts in the back of my head tell me that people will judge me thinking that such behavior lacks common sense and willpower. Surely people will say  to just get over it. But I surely cannot be the only one that thinks this way. To say aloud or at least in words that I really do have a problem.

The jig was up ….

I started to look into the dark corners of this reality on my own and what I found was darker than what I had hoped. But where there is darkness there is always light, as long as you have faith.  I searched the all knowing internet, the books offered through Amazon, the library and online. I rifled through blog searches and chat boards. I found plenty dealing with mothers of those who had an eating disorder and I found a book here and there about women with eating disorders but the actual mother with an eating disorder that was a straight shooter and not part of a research project was pretty far and in between. Why was is such a secret? I have a feeling that I’m not the only one. After all, most women I come across are body bashing, talking about the newest diet or skipping a meal here and there to hopefully make up for that cookie eaten four days ago.

I began to look at the ways in which my behavior mirrored the inner workings of my mind. A control freak. A perfectionist. My self-image and body image crumbling with each new diet I latched onto or a day of eating that I deemed “bad”. My exercise regimen stressed like my body and mind were. I was caring and nurturing three little ones but when it came to caring for the one who loved those little babes the most … the word that comes to mind is anything but care.

The jig was up …

I was pouring so much time and energy into diets and rules surrounding my eating, molding my body and my mind frame of what was right and what was wrong. I spent lengths of time reading books, surfing Pinterest, sifting through blogs about achieving the ultimate clean eating and body. But in my mind I had never been to that point of perfection and I would never get there as I ultimately didn’t believe in myself. A reflection of so much more than just my disordered eating.

The jig was up …

One writing exercise in a self-image workbook that made me truly sad was one in which you were to write down all the eating rules you followed. After I completed my list I counted each one resulting in 26 different rules. That’s right 26. I can only imagine all the time and energy that went into upholding these rules. What’s even worse and more time-consuming is that each time I broke a rule I would mentally and emotionally beat myself up. I was a failure. Breaking a rule broke my vision of perfection which broke my spirit which broke my day which meant that I wasn’t living or enjoying life to its fullest all because the nutrition content of what I put into my mouth or the numbers on the scale or what time I had eaten my least bite of the day.

I fixated on these feelings of out of control fatness. That if I didn’t get up and move each and every second I was nothing but a sloth. That if I didn’t workout each day that I would blow up over night. That if I wasn’t thin than I was uglier than I already was. If I wasn’t the number I wanted to see on the scale then It all mattered so much. The skin that I wore on my body meant more than the soul that my body held. What had I done? The jig was up …

Exploration of this so-called clean living fixation that I associated will power and healthy habits is leading me through a dark journey of what I’m reflecting as a mother and how I’m acting as a woman and a wife. However, where there is dark there is always light. You gotta face the storm before the rainbows and Care Bears appear.  Let the journey begin.

The jig is up and now it’s time to share. Sharing to heal. Sharing to find. Sharing to let others know they aren’t alone. Sharing so other moms begin to realize that starving isn’t healthy, working out until the body aches is not natural, that we are not the number on the scale or the cookies we eat. Most of these fixations are only skin deep. What really matters are attributes that cannot be contained by the body, the scale or the rules we apply to foods and exercise.  The jig is up …

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Who Arrrreee Y-O-U?? 6 Steps to Finding Out.

Who are you

You ask a girl in college who she is and she’ll be able to tell you. She’ll also be able to tell you who she’ll be in the future. Odds are if you find that same girl ten plus years later, she won’t be able to tell you who the hell she is or what the future holds for her. Take me for example. Jumping in my time machine and watching my 21 year-old self, I knew everything and had the confidence times ten of my present day self. I had a plan. I believed there were no life obstacles. I literally had the world serving me what I wanted on a silver platter for the taking.

Now, I’m not so sure . I’m well aware of who I used to be and pretty sure of who I want to grow up to be, but I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea who I am supposed to be this exact moment.  I’m not alone in my feelings, it turns out the majority of women, especially moms, are in the same exact boat.

It’s all too confusing. Who arrrreee you??  As a mom I’m supposed to act one way. As a woman in her thirties I’m supposed to be interested in certain things. As a wife and stay at home mom I’m supposed to feel a certain way. But what happens when NONE of these guidelines within the handbook of woman, mom and wife doesn’t match the way I feel, act or take an interest in … am I an outcast? Am I “wrong” or possibly not fulfilling my full potential?

#1.  ASK. Ask yourself, ask your husband, ask your fiends, ask your relatives, ask your children. What stands out to them? What is one word that they would use to describe you?

#2.  TAKE A TIME MACHINE.  When did you feel at your best? Why? What was it that gave you that reassurance and confidence? To balance your knowledge, when did you feel your worst? What or who makes you feel less?

#3.  F-U-N. While in your time machine be sure to visit your carefree FUN self. What were you doing? Where were you? What were your hobbies that made you feel alive where clocks didn’t matter and consumed you?

#4.  TEST THE WATERS. Is it the same? Do you still enjoy the activities you found on your time travel? Or have your tastes changed? (I used to like shots of Tequila topped off with Tabasco, I’m pretty sure I don’t like those anymore.)

#5.  INTRODUCE YOURSELF. Studies have found that the majority of the population identify themselves with their title within employment. However when I say I’m a stay at home mom, there are many that are not parents that don’t understand what that career even is so … What do you do?  I learned from a fellow mom to follow up the SAHM thing with your hobbies or interests. For example I would say, “I write a blog and study yoga.” (Or A.K.A I share my feelings through written word for FREE and do weird movements while breathing rhythmically). You are a mom but NOT just a mom >> Spark that conversation.

#6. ACT HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL and ACT HOW YOU FEEL. Pretty simple steps >>> right?

How do these 6 steps work? Well, I am your guinea pig. I tested these 6 on myself and will post the suburban scientific findings in the next post of The Funny In Mommy!

 

Passion doesn’t age. Tap that …

As I was leading an open table discussion during a MOPS meeting, the topic of mothers knowing who “they were” once their children left the nest came up. It was only a point of topic for a brief moment in the larger scheme of our conversation on friendship. It was one that we all knew was important but had yet to fully dive into as to why and how.  A few days later the topic came back to mind as I waited for my daughter’s dance class to begin.  On the flat screens displayed on the walls I watch two women in their late fifties fully enthralled in a tap class. Tap shoes slapping the grown as their voluptuous bodies and boobs bounced with each step they took across the floor. It was freaking awesome to watch. Thinking,why the hell not? I commend those ladies for living out their passions and diving into their interests. These women knew what they liked, in turn they knew their selves. Tap on ladies, tap on!

Knowing ourselves. Living out our dreams or feeding our curiosities. Whether it be in the form of an adult dance class, writing a blog, running a race or even fully emerging oneself into a season of “The Bachelorette”.  Taking part in an expression where we are caring for the person we are, not worrying about the type of mother we are.

“Tap on!”

I don’t question what I will do with my time or my thoughts when Erik and I have an empty nest.  I tend to plan for it on a daily basis.

“Tap on!”

Putting myself in the shoes of my children, I try to imagine what they see when they look at me – not physically but as a person with interests.  I want to write books. I want to visit different cities and experience other cultures. I want to taste exotic foods. I want to cook difficult recipes and create amazing cakes. I want to start each day with a yoga class. I want to help others when they feel as if they have lost their way. I want to dive into the pages of the book to venture through the minds of other dreamers. I want to conquer so much while experiencing the brilliance that everyday life has to offers. Who says I can’t just because I’m a mom?

“Tap on!”

As a perfectionist it’s easy to get lost in the ideal outcome of my goals. Even easier to not acknowledge the milestones I hit and surpass. Taking a moment to acknowledge the efforts and time I put into my passions and interests today, I realize that I’m living out all that I want to do. I may not be making fists full of cash in the writing I do but I’m writing. I may not be taking classes from Dali Lama but I’m making it to my mat at least three times a week. I’m seeing new things and tasting new foods. I’m experiencing fresh ideas and technology through the eyes of my children. I’m learning and growing each and every day as a mother, a wife, a leader and a friend. Though they may be small acts and tasks, they be mighty. I have faith that it’s all preparation for the time when my little ones will push off and fly on their own. I’ll always be their mom but when I’m alone with my thoughts and my time, I’ll know exactly the direction that I will take and how to transform baby steps into long legged leaps.

“Tap on!”

The only way we end up failing as mothers isn’t by the acts that we do or the dreams that we follow, but rather the ones that we don’t do and that we don’t follow. A person will never meet their full potential if they don’t try reaching for it at all.

Be brave and “tap on”. Passions, interests, hobbies, dreams and goals never age they only grow wiser and more precise.

 

 

 

Mom Anger … the struggle is real.

I’m a natural-born control freak. I’m a mom of three. The words control and kids are not two that tend to blend well.  The combination of these two means I get angry a lot.

I get angry when I can’t go to the gym when my kids are sick.

I get angry when no one eats the dinner I made with complains of being hungry an hour later.

I get angry when it feels as there is constant squabbling in the first hour of my little ones emerging from their beds.

I get angry when I just want to watch a television show with guns and sex for entertainment but can’t.

I get angry when I have the flu but no one cares.

I get angry when I just want to eat a meal in peace rather than be asked for something every time I attempt to put a fork to my lips.

I get angry when all I want to do is read a book in silence for 10 minutes.

I get angry when I just want to take a shower but everyone needs to poop all at one time.

I get angry when i want to eat a piece of chocolate without hiding in a pantry or separate room.

I get angry when babysitters cancel last minute.

I get angry when I want to leave the house without it taking 30 minutes to get everyone out the door.

I get angry when everyone has clean clothes and I can’t find a pair of socks for myself.

I get angry when other moms say that they never get angry. I get angry when getting angry as a mom is taboo. Getting angry is part of the job of a mom, how you handle that anger is another factor in the equation. I have no fear of my anger, no shame either. I face my anger straight on, I accept it and recognize it. I express it to my spouse, my mom and my friends. As a MOPS Coordinator I share it with my members to let them know they are not alone in their anger. “Mom anger” isn’t just for control freaks, it’s a reality for all moms. Rather than denying that it exists, I embrace it, I deal with it and I use it to motivate happiness and solutions to bad days and terrible mommy moments. Without anger you can’t have happy. Deal with the anger to get to the happy.

81%

HalperinFam2015HighRes69

A little over a week ago I was presented with a figure … 81%.

Eighty-one percent.

That’s the percentage of time that we spend involved in activities  NOT present. Not mindfully living the moment. That means we are somewhere else in our minds, whether that be in the past or in the future, rather than in the present. We are thinking of something that happened or predicting something that will. Not giving our complete selves to the person and/or activity we are engaged in at that exact moment.

I can only wonder if this number is behind the increased divorce rate. Or behind the lack of committed relationships and actions we all exhibit. Our minds and thoughts being pulled in a million directions by the pings of emails, texts, Facebook alerts and the technology of our world.

Yoga has taught me so much about being in the present moment but I have to admit that though I am focused on the moment in class and mindfully living out each pose, it’s difficult to extend that mindfulness into my daily life. Especially when it comes to my marriage.

Inside the walls of my marriage I take the “mindful time” opportunities we have for granted. Like many couples in the throes of raising little people, we find ourselves talking about the events of our children’s day or planning out the events of the following day to meet their needs as parents. Then the other part of our time is dispersed among chores, work, bills and then zoning out after our greatest treasures are fast asleep.

I don’t want to be part of that 81% statistic and I certainly don’t want my marriage to be within the grasps of that number either. In order to escape the villain of 81, I searched my mind for mindful moments, to identify and understand them in order to make sure I acknowledge those moments as they come to play out in my present moments before they passed by without a mindful thought.

The evening of Valentine’s Day we put the kids to bed and found ourselves on the couch just talking. Not watching the latest Netflix documentary. Not checking off the DVR list. Not a Smartphone in hand or a laptop on a lap. Just us, just talking. Mindfully talking, completely in the present. Before we knew it two hours had passed feeling like an instant. For me, such a talk is equivalent to a diamond ring. I’m a planner, a person with so many ideas filling the nooks and crannies of my brain. Sharing all these thoughts with the man I vowed my life to, makes me feel complete and cared for.

The act of teaching lead to another opportunity where I found ourselves immersed in the present moment. Completely focused on one another, my husband recently gave me my first tennis lesson. To be taught such a craft, the teacher and the student need to be in sync. My husband needed to be focused on my needs and my body movements just as I needed to be focused on his words and his movements. Being focused mindfully in the present lead to an encounter that was loving and tender.

I love the gym. I especially love the gym childcare. But I really love it all when I find myself in the lounge with my husband, just talking. Just he and I, coffee cup in hand. No televisions to be watched, no phones pinging away, no children competing for attention.  Our attention mindfully on one another as we talk about everything and anything … mindfully.

I’m grateful for the fact that I’m lucky enough to have my husband home for lunch and dinner most days of the week. When we sit across from one another, talking about the day. Or rolling our eyes at the dramatic tendencies of our children.  Or laughing at the weirdness and innocence of our household. Or sharing in the stress of whiny children who seem to be able to get along with everyone BUT their siblings while asking for a glass of milk or seconds each time we raise our own forks to our lips.  Eating our meals, not so mindful of our food, but definitely mindful of one another.

81% is just too much of life to let it go by quickly and without full acknowledgement.

I need to make my mindful presence in my marriage more often.  Rather than waiting for the moments we are alone I need to start taking advantages of the opportunities that pop up on a regular basis. As hard as it may be when children are screaming or dogs are scrambling under our feet. We vowed through richer or poorer in sickness and health and well past death do us part, so why not live all these vowed moments, good and bad completely mindfully.

How will you spend your 81%?

 

Mirror Mirror On the Wall.

broken-mirror

One of the people I love the most heard a terrible secret. What made the matter even worse was the secret came from my own mouth.

I made the mistake of uttering the words that are a deep and dark secret within. A single sentenced leaked from my lips that make up the paragraphs that I utter to myself throughout the course of every day.

I spoke the words to my husband, forgetting my eldest was in ear shot, not out of neglect but out of feeling bogged down under the feelings of the adjectives I spoke ….

“I just feel gross and ugly.”

Hearing me, my oldest son responded, “No you’re not! You’re the most beautiful person!!”

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

I made the error in thinking that once I made peace with my weight that somehow I would be fixed. I was wrong. What I hadn’t known was the extreme focus I put on weight and what I ate would transfer to focusing on the faults of my appearance. A deadly obsession that seems to latch on like a life-sucking leech to a new life-source each month. Who knew that skin, eye brows, a nose, facial shape, eye shape and all the rest could be the source of much dismay???

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

To be in such distraught while looking in the mirror makes mornings sort of daunting. Being envious of the way others appear make getting ready for a public outing somewhat sad. Far from shallow, I believe everyone else to be attractive, pretty or beautiful as I stand alone in a category of misfit or outcast. I can only describe it as feeling like a handmade rag-doll that though made with hands of love, her physical characteristics are mismatched and awkward.

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

I want to be able to see what my son sees. I want to be at peace with who I am and what I see, but I know I am not alone. In fact, studies have shown that the majority of American women don’t like what they see in the mirror, all of us struggling each day with feelings of shame and inadequacy about our physical selves. Just the other day I read that 91% of women would not use the word beautiful to describe themselves.

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

Self-esteem at the reins of my body image.  A pesky little monster making me feel inadequate among the outside world, bullying my internal world with snide remarks and negative commentary on how I look. My body image a complete mess, broken and cracked. But smashed beyond repair? At present, more than a decade of self negative talk, it feels like that I’ll always be that awkward rag-doll made of bits and pieces that don’t seem to fit so well together while everyone else is a shiny new Barbie or Ken doll.

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

The answer to my problems seem to lie in my internal “mirror”. I just need to fix it, to make it a mirror of love and acceptance. I need a hugging mirror. I need to embrace who I am at the present and not for an image of perfection that I seem to be striving for each day, one body part at a time. I think my children are the most beautiful creatures on earth, each one made up of pieces of myself and the love of my life.   It’s so easy to love their parts, then why can’t I love my own?

Mirror, mirror on the wall.

I find that my thoughts drift back to the idea of embracing. Embrace > The word I keep fixating 2016 to.  Embracing my body and all it’s parts, not as something that needs to be changed but as a unique and beautiful creation that allows me to relish and live in the experiences of my every day life. A vessel that I can physically love my children with, hold my husband with and enjoy laughter and long talks with close friends.

Embracing the inner mirror.

An obvious beginning of a longer process, one in which I come to accept my body and physical attributes as they are in this very moment. When one day I’ll be able to say “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? You are.

 

 

Bi-Polar Express

Bi-Polar

Confession: While Travis had the stomach bug, Polar Express was played on repeat for 7 hours. I’ve never hated the sound of Tom Hanks voice so much as I did that day.

That day has turned into a metaphor for my holiday season … a Bi-Polar Express on constant repeat with singing, chocolate, sparkles and Santa in my face taunting me like a relentless car salesman.

Choo-choo.

There’s so much that I want to see and do but there’s so much that I “have to” see and do. So much planning and conspiring. It seems this Bi-Polar Express is a common theme for women during the holiday season. I see it in the eyes of my friends. I hear it in the voice of strangers. I read it in the pages of my favorite magazines. I watch it on the cheesy Hallmark movies.

Choo-choo, the Bi-Polar Holiday Express is in full throttle.

Christmas menus. Christmas gifts. Christmas wrapping. Christmas programs. Christmas traveling. Christmas cookies. Christmas charities. Christmas trees. Christmas cards. Christmas elves. Christmas EVERY. THING.

Choo-choo.

Facebook is of no help during this season of Bi-Polar Express. I feel as if I have a scarlet letter across the chest of my Facebook profile picture as my feed pukes pictures of families doing each and every Christmas event in the 20 mile radius of our home as I travel only 5 minutes within the vincinity of my home.

Choo-choo.

As an introvert I find my self sweating just thinking about attending all 157,345 family events that are offered during Christmas in Chicagoland. Give me some really good eggnog, a present at the top of my list, Holiday Inn on the television, “Drummer Boy” playing on the radio and my family around my table and I am set. But some how my vision of the perfect holiday is one that isn’t highlighted on the cover of Family Fun magazine. I’m pretty sure that a picture of me holding a cup of eggnog, eating a GLUTEN filled cookie, in my robe on the couch as I watch the Bishop’s Wife would not get a single Facebook LIKE compared to the pictures I see of families decked out in matching Christmas attire as they walk hand in hand down the Magnificent Mile after a day of attending all 157,345 Chicagoland Christmas events, without a single child having a public meltdown.

Choo-choo.

Even the Gremlin on the Shelf is taunting me, judging me. Asking with his brightly painted blue eyes if I was doing enough in the world of elves? Was just placing his little felt demon body on a shelf good enough? According to Pinterest and Facebook, it was not. Articles with titles such as  “Most Creative Elf Sightings”  and “Clever Elf ”  fill my inbox and news feed. It turns out the phrase Elf on the Shelf is to ONLY be used when describing where you bought him/her, not where you are actually to place the tiny judgmental figurine.

Choo-choo.

So what if, like the little boy on Polar Express, I pulled that massive STOP lever. Would I be greeted by Tom Hanks telling me that I did the right thing? That yes, it was okay to only attend the 3 events I liked of the 157,345 offered events? That posting pictures of my kids sweaty and in un-matching outfits on Santa’s lap on Facebook was okay and that drinking eggnog is not a thing of the past?  That making no-bake cookies was A-Okay? Would he tell me that all “the other stuff” was just that … stuff? All the sparkle and the To-Do lists were just a mad commercialism cover-up?  Would this Tom Hanks sounding man look a little like Jesus? Or maybe even resemble your children as they ask to just stay home to watch Home Alone for the 10th time. Whatever he may be in your world, I bet he’d simply  ask “What’s your reason for the season?” And you better have a damn good reason besides the Joneses.

Choo-choo.