Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Stuff Chaos is Made Of

The Gone-with-the-Wind-Count is now up to 290 items.  I have earned myself almost 5 additional minutes of writing time, and I can already feel simplicity slipping into my life.  My focus this week was on my kids' rooms.  We've really been struggling in the morning, as their "upstairs chores" are making their beds, getting dressed, grooming, and straightening their rooms.   The problem was that they felt overwhelmed with a task that had reached epic proportions.  I may as well have said, "Clean out this landfill before breakfast."  Indeed, they were responsible for the mess, but looking at it all at once, they could not fathom where to start.  Unless, I sat there and directed the entire task, it  was not getting done; and I know you all will find this hard to believe, but I JUST DON'T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME!
           If only cleaning up were the lone dilemma.  Once the mess started to creep, it also would effect their ability to imagine and play constructively.  They would be surrounded by toys, and play with nothing.  They would wrestle and roll and destroy things that were NOT toys.  They would pull apart beds, wrap themselves in curtains, or fingerpaint in Shampoo.  I was at my wits end, and I decided less stuff, meant less mess, which hopefully meant less chaos.  I was going to take them back to little house on the prarie--you know--where little Laura played happily with her one corn husk doll?
        I should have done it sooner.  I was brutal, and I don't think they even noticed.  They were too busy re-discovering things they'd forgotten they had--like it was a second Christmas.  I hauled four 13 gallon trashbags out of that warzone, and if Goodwill was a franchise, I could have started my own store.  As it was, I threw a few things up on the community website for a dollar apiece, and quite a few disappeared into the neighborhood while I was still dodging dust bunnies.
         Did it work?  Well, I think so.  My 3 and 7 year olds spent an hour and a half outside in the backyard today.  They didn't fight or get into things they weren't supposed to, and at supper time, I nearly had to drag them in.  Their play things?  A box, 2 dixie cups, dirt, a fire engine, and a lady bug.
Perhaps STUFF truly is what chaos is made of!

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Addiction of Opportunity

The thrill of the hunt!  For bargain hunters it comes in many forms--yard sales, thrift stores, sale ads, coupons, free ads on craigslist, dumpster dives....
         As such, I have a confession to make.  After I spent several hours un~cluttering part of my kitchen, and then delivering some of those items to interested neighbors, I found myself pulling up behind a neighbors open garage.  I had fallen victim to a 'FREE' notice.  Someone in the neighborhood was moving, and they had posted that there were items in there garage they no longer needed.  There was a photo.  I didn't see anything I needed, or was even particularly interested in, yet here I was, the opportunistic browser.
         "What am I DOING?" I thought to myself as I pulled up.  But I still pulled up.  I still got out and looked.  Fortunately, the pile had been mostly picked, and I did not go home with any new domestic albatross, but the situation did wake me up to a once healthy habit that had turned into an addiction.
        Going into a Goodwill when you need a specific item that you are hoping to find lightly used and discounted is one thing, but weekly treasure hunting adventures that fill ones floors, rooms, closets, and cupboards with forgotten hodge~podge is another thing entirely.  No longer are my habits accomplishing positive ends or manifesting good stewardship.  They have descended into the realm of materialistic gluttony.  Time for a diet!
        I hereby swear only to go to the Goodwill if I need something specific!  There will be no casual visits!  I will on clip coupons for items I regularly use, from stores I normally visit!  I will not stop to peruse peoples trash.  I will not even look at the Craigslist free ads without a specific goal in mind.  So help me God.


Friday has come.  How is it, I'm only just writing about Monday? My current "get rid of it" total is at 56, so I have 10 minutes and 56 seconds to write this evening, starting NOW.
        Monday night is Maggie's night.  I have a special evening assigned to each one of my children, so that I am sure to get a special hour JUST with them each week.  I let them pick the activity (within reason), and we have had some extremely memorable evenings!  This week, Maggie wanted to have a make-up party.
       After dinner, we raced each other up to my bathroom, and she proceeded to pull out every bit of make-up and nail polish she could find.  It was my turn to go first, she said, because she went first last time.  Fifteen minutes later, I was a sight!  What a lalapalooza! My eye brows were traced dark, and she had drawn long eye lashes off of those.  She had used every color eye pencil I owned.  My cheeks were crayon red.  My eyeshadow implied a beating.  My lipstick--well--not too bad actuallly!
      During my makeover, a lesson was forming.  I had been up late the previous night going through a mere third of my kitchen contents.  Many, many items had not been used at all since I put them in the drawer; yet, I still felt the pang off letting go when I put them in the box labeled Goodwill.  Why?  Why did I feel the need to have all these THINGS even knowing I had not used them or needed them?
        It occurred to me, that my culinary collection was a lot like Maggie's total use of my make-up collection.  If a little bit was useful or attractive, why not assume that A LOT would be optimally useful or beautiful?
        I spoke to my daughter, hearing the words of my own mother come out of my mouth,  "Less is more!"  "It should look natural!"  And I felt the truth of those words when I finished one side of my kitchen.  Visually, it was approachable, inviting, and inspired thoughts of what could be; whereas, before, the sight of it had repelled me, and caused me to feel dread because of the work that needed to be accomplished before it was even usable.
        Finishing that first small section of my house was satisfying and fulfilling, and I am determined not to be a lalapalooza in the "thing" department, but rather a "lalapaLOSER!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Jinright Lightens the Load

At least, this is what I would change the name of my blog to, if it weren't a proverbial pain in the behind.  Previously, I wrote A LOT about my weight loss journey, and truth told, I'm on that journey again; however, after two more babies, breaking my right foot (twice), and sundry other additions to my life load, loosing weight has been a much different process--a process I'm content to approach gradually.
       This blog will speak not of lightening body mass, but lightening life mass.  When I was moving out of my first home in South Carolina, and watching all of my possessions disappear into a truck, my mother put her arm around me and said, "Daughter, live large and travel light."  Well, God has blessed in so many ways, and with four kids, we are definitely living large (largely CRAZY), but as for traveling light....
     Recently, I have been frustrated by how much time I spent trying to keep up with the maintenance of my home--but on a larger scale--my POSSESSIONS.  We have been given abundance, but I dare say, we have gotten fat.  I am surrounded by so much that I don't need, and I am convicted by passages like Matthew 6:19-21 "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
      Treasures surround me of a priceless nature, and I don't want to miss them, because I'm scrubbing rust off a collection or swatting moths away from a too-large wardrobe.  These earthly treasure steal my attention and my time.  In fact, to emphasize that fact, after tonight, I will only allow myself ten minutes to blog.  For every item I give away, I will award myself with an extra second toward some eternal pursuit--in my case--that pursuit is often writing to inspire, educate, or encourage.
      I hope you'll journey along with me, and maybe do some cleaning out of your own.  And to be accountable, as of this week, I have lightened the load by 22 items!  Two of the items were an empty journal and my favorite college poetry book.  I gave them to my 11 year old neighbor who has an interest in writing.  On Saturdays, I'm going to start teaching her my craft.
     See you tomorrow, and hopefully, my life mass, will be lighter!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Cold Toes, Paper Clothes, and the Indisposed

Monday afternoon, I had the annually dreaded lady exam.  As my husband dropped me off at the office and headed to the mall with the children, I reminded myself it could be worse.  Last year, I'd had to take all three of them with me, and they were all behind the curtain pretending not to watch the pap smear--which the doctor couldn't do until she'd gotten sterile instruments, because my kids had used them for light sabers while I'd watched helplessly from the cold, vinyl table--afraid to move because I was dressed in nothing but those awful paper clothes.

Breathe.  Forgive the terribly long sentence, but some things you just have to get out before horror and embarrassment re-encapsulate them forever.  Speaking of horror and embarrassment, here I was a year later, dressed in the paper clothes again.  At least the Navy seems to have upgraded the situation a little.  At this office I get a paper gown AND a paper sheet to lay on my lap.  I couldn't figure out which way the gown was supposed to go, so I just put it on in the way that felt most awkward and figured that was right.  Yep.  Good intuition.

Oh yeah.  I was styling.  The nurse had said I could leave my socks on (how generous of her), and so there I was, swathed in paper, sporting my purple and teal leopard print knee socks.  Carefully I stepped up to the examination table, situated my behind between the stirrups, and RIIIP! Apparently, Le Thick Madame had wrapped the paper gown too snugly about her full-bodied glory, and now the gown was open in the front and in the back.

I think they do it on purpose--the Medical Mission Mafia (MMM), that is--they absolutely make those gown a small size on purpose.  That way, if you don't get the hint about your weight by standing on their little scale in the hallway, you have to get the point when you're gown don't fit.  All right MMM, why don't you just put little pointy white hoods on your lab coats while your at it.  They'd look great with your purple nitrile.

All right, I know I'm probably being over dramatic (who me?), as I actually really like my doctor.  She's about my mom's age and has raised four kids of her own.  She's a believer and we have similar values, which makes her a great sounding board.  She's also the only doctor I've ever had who hums a happy tune during a pap smear.  It takes a truly, um, special, person to SING while wrapping an index finger around  a chick's collar bone and scraping her tonsils.
 She even complimented my socks.

So why am I writing about all of this?  Well, cruelly, the scale at the doctor's office said 187.5.  That was a full 6.5 pounds HEAVIER than my scale at home.  I've been doing really well with my eating, which I discussed with Doc Happy (I can't tell you her real name, or EVERYONE will want her to sing during their pap smear!).  And "I've been TRYING to exercise," I told her.

She hit me with a Yoda.  "Do, or do not.  There is no try."

Arg.  I had gotten into such terrific shape before my last pregnancy, I'd forgotten about all the hard and painful work it took to get there--all the grunting, and sweating, and aching, and hurting.  I've been out running a few times over the past couple of weeks, but I can barely keep it up for 20 minutes.  The next day I feel like I've been run over by a Zamboni.  The day after that, I feel like I've been run over by a space shuttle.  Call me crazy, but I think it's a natural human inclination not to seek out that kind of pain again.

I know, I know.  No pain, no gain.  This week, I'm trying to shake a head cold, but as soon as I don't feel like I have brick between my eyes, I'll get it together.  I'll suck it up.  I'll put on my big girl pants.  With my knee socks.  And next year, my paper clothes will fit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Kumbayuck, my Lord, Kumbayuck;
Kumbayuck, my Lord, Kumbayuck;
Kumbayuck, my Lord, Kumbayuck;
Oh Lord, Kumbayuck.

It's a mess here, Lord, won't pass the buck,
Looks like the trash man came and dumped his truck
Could call the maid in, but I'd press my luck--
So I'm sitting down Lord, Kumbayuck.

I found myself singing this modified tune, as I shoved the dry laundry into a clean pillow case, the wet laundry into the dryer, the dirty perma-press into the washer,  and the newly accumulated pile of perma-press in the clothes basket.  All that happened after I cleaned copious amounts of dirt off my little farmers and tossed them into bed.

It's March already!  How in the world did it get to be March?  But it is.  And my kids with the elephant brains would not let me forget that I told them, "In March, we will plant a garden."  Well, I actually was thinking the latter half of March, but rather than have my daughter ask me 10 times everyday for the next 25 days if it was "March enough" for us to plant our garden, I just gave in and took my son shopping for seeds and Jiffy Greenhouses.

That was a week ago.  All of the seed packets we had selected had germination times of at least 7 to 10 days.  I figured that would buy me nearly two weeks before I needed to worry about buying potting soil and transplanting things into bigger containers.  Well.  The feisty little lettuce seeds popped up in less than twenty-four hours, and everything except the green peppers paraded right behind.  Apparently no one had told them about what was printed on their seed packets.

Long story short--tonight, Farmer Wade and Farmer Maggie (aged 6 and 4), plunged eagerly into a bag of garden soil that was  taller than both of them.  As it is 38 degrees outside, they were farming in the dining room. There was dirt up to their elbows.  There was dirt on the table.  There was dirt in the carpet (Curse the apartment planner that put carpet in a DINING ROOM!).  Before it was all done, there was dirt--mercifully--in the many containers in which they planned on planting their baby plants.

It is quiet now.  My window ledges are filled to the max with transplanted lettuce, carrots, peppers, oregano, rosemary, chives, poppies, tomatoes, and pumpkins.  My vacuum bag is probably filled to the max with all the dirt that missed.  But the kids went to bed so happy and excited, and I was reminded that it takes getting dirty to grow things.

Or shrink, in the case of present company.  Losing weight can be a dirty business.  You try things that don't work, and nothing feels dirtier than failure--except maybe sweat--which you get to experience when you exercise.  You have to face the true thoughts and motivations about what you eat and why.  You have to face the real thoughts you have about yourself and self-image.

You also have these moments--the moments when you experience that green thing, breaking earth inside you; when you feel success push it's way to the light; when new understandings make the little plant that is you stand taller, and suck in that gut.  Sometimes, you just grow because you suddenly realize that the Sun shining down on you, made you and loves you no matter what size you are.

About half way through tonight's adventures, there was a catastrophe.  We had planted all of our delicate little oregano plants in an empty ice cream container (I plead the 5th), and Farmer Maggie was in charge of "raining" on it.  In other words, she was supposed to stand over the plants with the spritzer bottle and spray.  Not one to do anything without finesse, Maggie was soon spraying the plants and the kitchen linoleum while dancing about the container like a faun 'round a campfire.

That's when she slipped.  In the next moment, her feet went out from under her and overturned the oregano.  Her head hit the floor, and a wail ensued.  I waded through dirt and water to get to her, and in a minute or two she settled down . . . until she saw the oregano.  Her eyes filled with tears, and she said, "Mommy, I huwted the plant babies!  I am SORRY!" More wailing.

And then there was the smile--the smile I will never forget--when I hugged her and told her, "But Maggie, you are MY BABY, and I'm just glad you are o.k.  You are more important than oregano."

Remember friends, on your fat days, your bloated days, the days you know you overate, or that the scale wasn't on your side--God looks down from heaven and says, "But you are my creation--and you are more than a dress size, or a mistake, or a failure, or a number."  On those days, you can sing,

"Someone's crying, Lord, Kumbayuck,
How I feel today really sucks,
I'm so down, Lord, pick me up,
So tomorrow won't be Kumbayuck."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Forgetting Where I Parked

Last week on Wednesday, I made a fatal error.  My daughter had a doctor's appointment, and we were running late.  Even though I started pressing for the door more than an hour before our appointment time, we had to run a gambit of fashion choices.  Should she wear the pink or the red or the silver sparkly shoes?  God forbid I should suggest she wear a pair that did not sparkle at all!  And then there were the bow choices--the purple or the green or the yellow?  But where was her RED bow?  That was the one she REALLY wanted, and it was nowhere to be found.

"And where is it we're going, mommy?" she wanted to know.  I told her we were going to see the doctor.  Now she was worried about "pokes," and though I insisted to her, that this was not THAT KIND of appointment, she now needed moral support, so we had to bring her dolly and the dolly's stroller.  Then her shoes went on with no socks,  then her shoes went on the wrong feet, then her coat went on upside down, then we had to go potty AGAIN, and then we were finally on our way.

When we arrived, we had only 15 minutes until our appointment, and they like you to be there 20 minutes early. SO, when I pulled into the first available space in the parking garage, I failed to make a mental note of WHERE that convenient space was.  I, my bags, my Margaret, Margaret's dolly, and dolly's stroller, just high tailed it into the doctor's office as fast as our legs and wheels could go.

When we emerged three hours later from Maggie's ADHD evaluation and corresponding trip to the pharmacy for the medication that keeps her semi-focused and me semi-sane--can you see this coming?--I couldn't remember where I'd parked.  Up and down the elevator we went, up and down the parking ramps we walked, looking ridiculous while looking for our van. 

A nice looking man in a large pickup pulled by.  "Ma'am," he said, "Do you need some help?" 

I was so embarrassed.  "I lost my car," I admitted.

"Do you want a ride?"  he offered.

My feet hurt, but good upbringing took over.  I could hear the mingled voices of my own grandmother and several others shouting, "Don't do it!  He's probably a mass murderer or a pervert!"  I thanked the man, but declined putting myself, my daughter, and my daughter's dolly into a strange man's vehicle.

My emotion's must have registered on my face, because the man asked what my vehicle looked like and offered to drive around looking for it.  I told him that much and kept retracing my steps.  FINALLY, I spotted my van on the other side of ramp rail and down a half level.  I was so tired I opted to lift Margaret, and Margaret's dolly, and Margaret's dolly's stroller over the rail.  Then I proceeded to climb over the rail myself.  It was higher than I thought.  About the time I managed to hoist myself halfway, and had my leg stuck in an extremely awkward position, the man in the truck also found my van.  So there I was, hung up in the rail, clinging to my purse.

"Is that it?" said the guy.

"Yeah, thanks," I answered, hanging there.

He drove off, his emotions now registered on his face.  I believe he was thinking something to the effect of--"that woman was crazy! I'm really glad I didn't give her a ride!"

Anyway.  I do have a point.  For the last six weeks, I have been trying to accomplish a goal without setting any specific goals.  I think that's because I just needed to get into the MINDSET of what needed to be done (i.e. I am having commitment issues).  Well, I'm in the mindset now, but I'm just wandering around in the parking lot.  I'm never going to get on the scale, though, and find that I'm consistently LOSING, if I don't set some goals and tenaciously keep after them!

Last week, I indicated that I wanted to set some specific and reasonable eating goals, make myself accountable, and talk to my doc.  I have done all three of these things, and I want to share them with you now.

First of all, as you might have guessed from reading this blog entry, my life is clotted with some interesting challenges and distractions right now.  Keeping up with points last month proved difficult and making a meeting is going to be impossible.  Besides, WW is only going to work for me (like it did last time) if I commit to portion control, so I need to get back to that basic.  Hence, here are my eating  and life style commitments.
1.I will eat when I'm hungry, but only ever a portion of anything at a time.
2.I will eat an extra portion of protein each day, but two of my portions will be nuts or beans.
3. I will try to make my grains as close to nature as possible (whole wheat, oats, whole grains)
4. I will not eat more than one small piece of candy per day, no more than 3 dessert a week.
5. I will take a calcium supplement and increase omega-3s to decrease high fat cravings and meet my need for calcium while cutting back on higher fat dairy products.
6. When eating out, I will make the healthiest choice available.  No hamburgs or fries.
7. I will eat at least 6 portions of fruits and veggies each day.
8. I will get at least 6 (2 cup) glasses of water daily and take my vitamin.
9. I will exercise 30 minutes 5 times a week.
10. I will go to bed by 11:00 pm.

I started these last Thursday, and I lost 2.5 pounds.  They have helped me to navigate life wisely, but without taxing my already taxed brain overmuch.  I am committing myself to these through the spring months.

Secondly, I have arranged a Thursday morning accountability meeting with a friend of mine who has already succeeded in losing 19 pounds since the new year (go Connie!).  She is also seeking accountability.  We hope to invite others to join us, but for now, we're going to encourage one another to do right.  I will take my commitments with me to our first meeting tomorrow.

Finally, I went to the doctor yesterday and discussed my medications with her.  I learned that my current low dose should not interfere with weight loss, if I am eating right and exercising regularly.  Therefore, I am setting a weight loss goal of four pounds a month for the rest of the year. 

So here I am.  I have parked in the weight loss parking lot.  I have clearly made a mental reference of my space.  If I get lost along the way, I'll know right where to look to get on track again.  What goals are you making?  I would love to know where you've parked, and what you are doing that's working for you!