Friday, July 30, 2010

Fat Me

I'm about to return to work and am deathly scared that I'll gain back all the weight I worked so hard to lose. I hate fat me. She's insecure, jealous, negative, lethargic and downright impossible to live with. I cannot let myself get fat. I CANNOT. That should be good enough motivation to stay healthy. But then there's food. Oh, glorious food! Greasy muffins, pastries, chocolate bars downstairs calling my name. If I could just throw myself into my job, I might have a chance at avoiding temptation. But that's not likely to happen because my job sucks ass!

So why am I eating all the time? Emotional eating? Boredom? Cravings? WTF! The extra calorie burning boost from nursing is on its way out. I'm also riding that old familiar wave of depression again, which means my sugar cravings are out of control. I wish eating was not my nemesis. My Mom says that I have to make eating my new religion -- do something like counting calories, cutting out sugar or portion-control. Otherwise, I'll be back to fat me before XMas.

Here's what I'll have to do if I have a prayer at keeping the lard at bay:

bring my own lunch and healthy snacks (I've done this maybe 4 times in the past 4 years)
take a break that does not involve food (I've never done this)
weigh myself regularly (works when I'm eating well and exercising, not so well when I am off the wagon and afraid of the scale)
keep exercising (sadly it's been a steady decline since the Race and will only get worse once I am back to work - yikes!)

My sister also warned me that my new body will likely be met with contempt by some of the woman in my office. *Sigh* I know this to be true because I AM one of those women who cannot get past her own jealousy when she is not fit. Remember how badly I reacted to my sister's weight loss? Fucking karma.

I fear that dwelling on this will make it come true (the law of attraction, once again). It's like I'm thin on the outside and fat on the inside! Look at this pic of me, taken only three years ago. I remember at the time thinking that I looked okay at my brother's wedding. What a fatty-bomba-latty I was! Thankfully I have a new physique, although I still can't get used to how much my little boobs sag now -- I hear fat grafting breast augmentation is now possible...

Never again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Re-thinking praise

In an earlier post, I wrote about how praise was bad for kids -- how it turns them into praise junkies who grow up to be needy adults. Since then, my partner and I have cut back on praise. In fact when I hear other parents mindlessly telling their kids "good job" at every turn, it really grates on my nerves.

But something is amiss. I feel like an ogre for not encouraging my kids. Afterall, showing appreciation builds a child's self-esteem (Unfortunately that word brings to mind accusations of weak parents and schools who sacrifice educating children by not allowing them to fail and thereby preserving the child's self-esteem. I'll save that topic for another post though). A child's self image has a profound effect on their thinking processes, emotions, desires, values and goals. And it's my responsibility to help them create a positive and realistic image of themselves. It also feels great when someone else recognizes your struggle and congratulates you on a job well done. Who doesn't want to be appreciated by their loved ones? So maybe I shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater where praise is concerned.

I think the key to expressing appreciation is sincerity. 'Good jobs' for jumping off the bottom step on a play structure is completely and utterly meaningless! In order for praise to boost self-esteem, it's got to be specific so that the child can praise themselves. Here's how the book How To Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk suggests praising kids:

1. Describe what you see: "I see a clean floor, a made bed, and books neatly lined up on the shelf."

2. Describe what you feel: "It's a pleasure to walk in this room."

3. Sum up the child's praise worthy behaviour with a word: "You sorted all your craft materials into different containers and threw out all the broken pieces. That's what I call organization."

I really like this approach. It's easy to remember too. I can tell right away if my praise is sincere because if I have a difficult time describing what is so great then I know that it's not. Bonus is that this works with my partner -- I'm learning that spouses need appreciation too. In fact, they crave it (more on that later).

So this post is more a reminder to myself than anything. Sometimes I think that I must've been raised by wolves -- just look at how long it's taken me to start learning how to be a decent human being. XX

Friday, July 23, 2010

No one is interested

It's finally starting to sink in -- people are only interested in themselves, including me. The book How to Make Friends and Influence People goes on about it quite a bit. You want friends? Stop talking about yourself, ask questions of other people and listen. Deep down I've always known this to be true. It's just so difficult to be genuinely interested in other people's lives. How conceited is it to admit that?

I was lamenting to my partner the other day about how impossible this is. How can I feign interest? His response was that you can't -- you have to change your attitude. Sitting there and telling yourself to "listen and act interested" will not work. Bleh! When my interest is genuine, it's super easy. I want to know about everything that's going on in their lives. But that's only a handful of people for me. What about everyone else?

I really want to put this into practice, but keep forgetting. Just the other day I launched into a parenting tirade with my sister, only she wasn't interested. Her body language said "this is boring me to death, why are you telling me this anyways, do you think I'm a lousy parent; so shut up already!" Did I get the message? No! Like a religious zealot I proceeded to slam it down her throat until she got up to use the bathroom and I finally clued in (although I think I was still talking about it while she was on her way to the can!).

I have a friend who does this really well. I must do at least 75% of the talking between us. Sometimes my partner will ask me what's new with one of my close colleagues and I'm embarassed to say that I won't know because it was me blabbing the entire time. I think I'm getting better though. I try to bring it back, but it's not easy going up against someone so highly people-skilled. Thank goodness I'm at least in the awareness stage.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

You have the letter of the day

Just one of the small things I'd like to accomplish in my lifetime. Whenever I hear Jian Ghomeshi on Q read his mail, I'm in awe of the writing style. Unfortunately there aren't many topics that move me enough to sit down and write a response. Plus I'm chicken -- would hate to put my heart and soul into a letter that doesn't even get read let alone is the 'letter of the day'. *Sigh* My writing sucks. This blog is supposed to be helping ... of course when I use works like 'sucks' or drop the f-bomb like I do, it's no wonder that my writing has not improved since high school.

So, how to do it? I'm reading more, does that really help? About a year ago, I started keeping a list of phrases that were worded well. Maybe a writing course? I'd love to have my own online editor. I'd pay for a service like that. I dread getting my colleagues (or worse my partner) to proofread my work. They probably think -- "Jeesh, could this be any more wordy and awkward? ACTIVE VOICE for fuck's sake D! Where did you go to university again?" A pay-as-you-go editing service must exist, it's worth investigating. In the meantime, I still have a half lifetime ahead of me to fulfill this goal. Baby steps (yes, I know this is not a full sentence).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Few things get me more giddy then coming up with a brilliant plan. One of my most memorable plans was at work, an implementation plan for a new systems release. I had documented all the steps, considered all the potential points of failure, factored in contingency measures, had it team reviewed, had dry-runs performed against it, made numerous revisions (each one more perfect than the last). And when it came time to work the plan, it was a smooooth ride. We just turned off our brains and let the plan lead us. Ahhh, just thinking about my baby makes me really happy.

Now here's the bad. Planning for the future does not keep you present. Yes, here we go again The Power of Now. At some point I'm going to stop blogging about it and just live it. I'm learning that life does not go according to my plan, no matter how righteous I may think my plan is. And when life is no where close to my plan, I start to lose it. Like a spoiled child who does not get her way, I get really angry at life for disappointing me. And then I get angry at myself for not being more accepting of my fate. And then I go back to being angry that my planning was a complete waste of time.

I think the problem with me and planning is that I hang a lot of my happiness on the future. I'll be happy when ... I own a house, I get married, I have a child, two children, three children, etc. etc. By yearning for external pleasures, they can only bring temporary fulfillment because ... nothing lasts! Anything I gain can just as easily be taken away and so I'm left with emotional pain from the loss and a thirst for more to fill the void. Pretty much everyone is in this boat, except for maybe the Dali Lama.

There's nothing wrong with planning for the future and dreaming about a better life. Planning is one of my talents -- I think I can even make a career out of it. It's the obsessing about it -- to the point that I'm spending way too much time thinking about my amazing plans instead of just living my life and being present. That's what I've got to change.

Baby steps. I can feel things improving. For starters I don't waste time planning out details -- better to go with general plans. I also roll with things better when life starts to veer off the plan. I can thank my kids for teaching me that one.
It's also boring when everything goes according to my plan. Why be limited by my own creativity? Life is much more fun that that. I'm learning to relax and be more spontaneous and it feels AWESOME.

Time and place for everything once again. Planning is still a big part of me, but one I'm pretty sure I can control.... most of the time. :-)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Empathy redux

Another phenomenal parenting book, How To Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk has me thinking about EMPATHY ... again.

The books says that kids just want to be understood. Too often we parents dismiss their feelings and try to move them beyond their anger, disappointment, etc. rather than show that we understand and care about how they feel. Hell, this is true for everyone! I think we jump so quickly into fix-it mode that we forget about the importance of stepping into someone else's shoes. Personally, I'm also hesitant to give credence to emotions that I don't agree with. This is a major area that needs improvement for me. Just thinking about how frustrating it feels to be told that I'm 'over-reacting' or that 'I really shouldn't feel that way' is a good reminder to stop and FEEL.

So I tried it the other day with my daughter and it WORKED! Holy shit did it work! Here's how it went: She put on her favourite yellow sundress that is now too short for her and when we asked her to choose something else, she immediately refused. No amount of coaxing or explaining worked. We even tried to give her a choice -- find another dress or put on shorts with the yellow dress. Complete impasse. So I went in with empathy -- "It's sad when you outgrow your favourite dresses and have to say good-bye to them." "This yellow dress is one of your favourites and you love wearing it." Instant waterworks. We cuddled for a bit and then I told her that I felt the same way about putting her baby clothes away. My son even chimed in about a favourite monster shirt that he was sad about outgrowing. After all the tears were dry I left it alone for a few minutes and then asked her what her decision was. She looked at me and said "mommy, I think I'll find another dress to wear". OMG!

On another note, I find it so heart-warming that my daughter's favourite dress is yellow. Back in 1998 I was at an all-time low point, recovering from a broken heart. I decided that Spring to take a sewing course to get out of the apartment and to also learn to use the sewing machine his parents had bought me (I was at least wise enough to keep the $200 gift). Our project was to sew a little girls dress, which brought me to more tears because I felt like all the hopes and dreams for my future had been smashed to bits. But before long I started to enjoy not thinking about my sadness. I had fun sewing (and re-sewing because I absolutely suck at sewing) my cute yellow sun dress. It became a symbol of hope and I tucked it away for a brighter day which eventually came.

Now, back to empathy. The parenting book I read offers some helpful advice on how to start:
1) listen
2) acknowledge (it sounds lame, but throw in a few "I see", "Oh", "mmmmm"s)
3) give the feeling a name (e.g. that sounds frustrating)
4) give them their wishes in fantasy (e.g. you wish you could wear your favourite dress forever and ever)

As an added bonus, I've noticed that when I try to accept my child's feelings they become less annoying and I want less to dismiss them. I'm so excited about this working in my relationships that I find myself practicing all the time. I'm even trying it out with my partner and my mother. Let's hope it continues to work!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

So, what do you do?

Panic. What the fuck is it I do? I should really have that two minute elevator spiel ready -- I love feeling prepared after all. It's just really hard to describe what I do in layman's terms. Actually, it's hard describing what I do without people thinking -- ohhhh, that's so sad ... didn't you used to be an IT Consultant? How much do file clerks make these days anyway? So I stammer through some kind of half-assed job description until eyes glaze over and then I start talking about what I WANT to do which makes things worse because I'm basically lying at this point. And then I just desperately try to change the topic or make an excuse to leave the room.

No more. I've been thinking a lot about the gist of my job and I think I can safely say that I am a Professional Organizer ... of information. You know those Designers on TV that expose people's embarrassing junk, force them to purge all their precious memories (the more tears the better) and then miraculously create a system that really organizes nothing because any mementos of everyday living (toys, mail, books and other shit) have been hidden off camera? My job is similar in that I preach to people about how sacred information is and how its access and storage need to be 'managed' (whatever that means). And just when I have people convinced that they are flushing their valuable knowledge down the toilet and they are ready to step it up ... I tell them that I have NO answers. Yeah, well we 'could' be using technology to describe and store all of your information so that it can be effortlessly found, seamlessly retrieved and re-used again and again .... but you know, there's never enough MONEY, and well it would require that everyone pitch in and work TOGETHER on this and besides, our group have their heads so far up their asses that it will NEVER happen. So just go back to doing what you've always done, it's just now you can feel badly about it.

K - the cynicism is not going to serve me well in my career. Problem is, I've lost my faith! I've got to find some glimmer of hope to hold on to. Work has to be more than a pay cheque for me. If I don't start adding value, then I'm wasting more than only my time at the office. Thankfully, I think there's enough flexibility to make my job what I want it to be. Now, just to figure out what that is .... stay tuned.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mutant Message Down Under

Props to my brother for recommending this gem of a book about a middle age American woman's three month journey through the Australian outback with an Aboriginal tribe. Rather than launch into a full review or synopsis, I'm going to make note of some of the parts that really moved me.

Trust in the universe
The nomadic tribe this woman travelled with carried very few if any possessions. When they needed water or food, they knew it would be provided. They had an absolute trust in the universe, which I find truly remarkable.

Respect for all life
The tribe believed in the equality of all living things. It wasn't just lip service either -- when they were fortunate enough to find a watering hole, they would only take what they needed and made sure there was enough water for other animals. As with other Aboriginal people, the concept of land ownership was also foreign to them -- why keep others' out?

God is everywhere and present in everything. Not a form, but a presence. Powerful.

The tribes optimism was relentless. Even when swarms of bugs covered their bodies, they would momentarily go limp and just accept it. They viewed the bugs as being necessary to clean the wax from their ears and the dirt from their nostrils. Everyone and everything has a purpose -- it may not be evident to you, but just accept it. Yes.

Personal Growth
Rather than celebrating getting older at each birthday, individuals would announce to the rest of the tribe when they were ready to celebrate having achieved some form of personal growth. Whoop! I would be having my first b-day right about now!

Inner purpose
Each person's role was to find and develop their talent and use it to help one another. They found it very sad to hear that many North Americans go through life not knowing the joy of service and also never knowing what their inner purpose is.

These kind of books really feed my soul. I checked out a few reviews afterwards and read about the controversial truth of the book. Fact or fiction, it matters not to me. The message is powerful. We can all learn something from it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dig It

My partner will be playing at Hope tomorrow and I'm ashamed to say I can feel the green-eyed monster's shadow at my back. Sadly, it seems to be an 'Arms Race' with us when it comes to kid-free activities. It not only hurts our relationship, but kills the fun the activity is supposed to bring. When it's my turn to go out, I can never really enjoy myself knowing that my partner is stuck at home with all three kids, resenting every minute of it. We should know better -- time to ourselves is essential to keeping our sanity. We should be supporting each other rather than keeping score. Time to dig deep.

Dig deep in the sand .... ohhhh the memories. Ten years ago I was at Mooney's Bay three times a week diggin' it up. I would lose myself in the game.

...The sun, starting to set, low over the water and in my eyes that would burn as sweat ran down my face. My body, caked in sand -- a salty shake 'n bake.

I played a lot of mixed VB which meant that I got to set the boys which was the best part of the game. Trying to save a shitty pass and turn it into a perfect set meant that I had the privilege of being a part of every play. And then to just sit back and watch him SMASH it down. Beauty. I loved the feeling of serving it up just the way the hitter wanted it. Mark, short and quick, Rob, high and tight. Oh Rob Swan, such strength and grace. I would marvel at him fly through the air high above the net and put her down the line. There was never any ego, he even looked surprised with himself and he always thanked me for my sets. Plus the fact that he was crushing on D made him even more adorable. :-P

I know it won't be the same experience at Hope as the old days on the beach, but I'm going to suck it up and sincerely hope that D has a good time of it. And that means being supportive instead of jealous. I can do that.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Wingin' It

I'm enjoying a new sense of freedom at meal times these days thanks to ZERO PLANNING. When my kids ask "what's for dinner?", I honestly don't know. I have no idea what we we'll eat until an hour before we eat it. Maybe it's the lazy days of summer, maybe I'm just in vacation mode, or maybe I just trust that everything will work out regardless of how much or little planning I do. Whatever it is, it's a refreshing break from my over-planning mentality. I cook whatever my family is in the mood for that day. As long as I have ingredients, something WILL come together. And as long as I stay positive, wingin' it is fun! Hmmmmm -- how else can I apply this in my life?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How golf is helping me become a nicer person

It's a sport like any other but for some reason learning the etiquette has really helped me overcome some of my not-so-attractive selfish ways.

Here are some examples:

- removing and replacing the flag for everyone
- not walking on some one's putting line
- remaining silent and still during someone else's shot
- letting someone else go first
- making sure I'm ready to play when it's my turn
- taking notice of where someone else's ball landed
- helping someone else find their ball
- keeping score for everyone
- not offering golf advice even when asked, but when insisted up, very sparingly
- not taking more than one practice swing
- being patient when other players take lots of set up time
- resisting the temptation to cheat
- not gloating when I'm playing well
- keeping it together when I'm playing poorly
- being patient when the course gets backed up

there's definitely more that I'm not thinking of. For people like my partner and for some of my golfing friends, these things come naturally. I hope to get there someday, but I will need practice until it's automatic. I'm so grateful for these learning opportunities and for having such inspirational people in my life. FOUR!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yellow Card

I'd love it if I could just hand these out to people when they piss me off -- someone on the street or at work, even my partner. No words required, just here is your yellow card. Who doesn't know when they are out of line? It's a real challenge to be able to attenuate myself. How can I say this nicely? Maybe I should bite my tongue? If I say it like this, then he will react like this and before you know it we will be fighting. All of this would be avoided if I just had my own stack of yellow cards. ... and maybe a few red ones too. :-)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Million Little Pieces

I've just read "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey and I just have to write some of it down. The simplicity and honesty is so refreshing:

"From where I sit, all Religion and Spiritual Thought are the same thing. They exist to make People feel better about living, to give them some kind of moral code and to help them feel better about dying by promising something better when their life ends, provided they follow all of God's Rules. I think it's bullshit. I don't need something that doesn't exist to tell me how to live.
.... I think God is something that People use to avoid reality. I think faith allows life, this existence, this consciousness, or whatever word you want to use for it, is all we have and all we'll ever have. I think People have faith because they want and need to believe in something, whatever that something is, because life can be hard and depressing and brutal if you don't."

Here's some more, equally enlightening:

"What is more important, fame or integrity. What is more valuable, money or happiness. What is more dangerous, success or failure. If you look to others for fulfillement, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy. Be content with what you have and take joy in the way things are. When you realize you have all you need, the World belongs to you. is not difficult unless I allow it to be. A second is no more than a second, a minute no more than a minute, a day no more than a day. They pass. All things and all time will pass. Don't force or fear, don't control or lose control. Don't fight and don't stop fighting. Embrace and endure. If you embrace, you will endure. ... What is going to happen is going to happen. It is simply life and the events that occur during the term of life. ... I will accept the events in my life as they come. I will deal with them. Good and bad they will both come. I will accept them in the way that I am accepting myself right now. Let them come."

I could read this a hundred times over.