Saturday, March 26, 2011


A bit of election fever over here -- have been so anxious to talk about how things are playing out for each party, who is likely to win, etc. that when I had both sides of the family over for some cake tonight, I froze. It was clear from the onset that none of us shared the same views and everyone could feel the tension, so thankfully the conversation went no where. I didn't want to challenge my Dad -- I didn't want to ask my BIL why he thought Ignatieff was untrustworthy -- I just wanted everyone to be happy. Perhaps the timing was wrong, it was my son's b-day after all. But I think it goes deeper than that. Politics are 'incendiary'. Talking about it does not really inform and educate, it isolates and can even insult. I'm passionate about my views and I feel that those with opposing views are uninformed and hell I even think a lot of them to be selfish and naive. And this makes me feel awful because I should realize that a person's political aflictions say nothing about the people they truly are. Judging is wrong D. I need to be accepting of other viewpoints and try to learn from them. And yet, here I am only talking politics with those who share my views. Why? So we can agree and pat each other on the back? K, I feel like I'm turning this into another identity, that is strengthened by vilifying the other side. 'Us vs them' is not what I need more of. Time to be more objective.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm better than you

Has parenting, environmentalism and spirituality become my new religion? My mind is always a buzz trying to think of how I can improve in all of these areas -- "I should be doing more" is my mantra. But what does this say about my own sense of self? Is this just my ego screaming out for more? Am I sending out the message that I am better than everyone else who does not make these things a priority? A psychologist friend of mine sees the pressure in perfectionist parenting as people's way of seeking an identity, one they feel is superior to others. She says that it takes having a strong sense of self to not fall into the rat race.

I condone my old man for falling prey to religious zealots, but maybe I'm doing the same thing with my own beliefs? A friend of mine tries not to cling to opinions or become too emotionally attached to anything he thinks. After that happens, you are defending your own dogma. EVERYTHING should be up for questioning and debate -- when proven wrong, simply appreciate that you are better informed.

I think this goes back to intent. How often do I brag about what I am doing? How often do I try to convince others that I am right and they are wrong? How often do I judge people by their choices rather than by who they are as people? What about when I fail to see that it's a matter of choice and compromise -- every one's circumstances are different afterall. I may do x, y and z but at the expense of a, b and c. Respect for others is key!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More Parenting Woes

I keep thinking about the power struggles I've gotten into with the kids lately and while we usually sort things out, the same types of problems keep repeating themselves. I keep waiting for them to just learn how to 'do the right thing', but it's just not happening. I hesitate to question myself (one of the worst things I do as a parent), but some adjustments might be needed since my partner and I want to slit our wrists by the end of the weekend.
As a general rule, my partner and I try to avoid bribes, threats, rewards and punishments. Our goal as parents is to teach the kids to make good choices, to take responsibility and to have self-discipline. Rather than force them to comply, we try to educate by giving reasons about why they should do what we ask of them. This works some of the time, but not always. It requires patience, empathy, and more patience -- not my speciality.
It's hard not to resort to threats because they work. Some parents feel these are acceptable tactics because they are short lived -- kids quickly learn to listen. But then there are some that never learn -- they grow up without self- discipline, needing someone else to always tell them what to do. They are ME. What if this happens to my kids? Here's another case in point -- a friend of mine, plagued with guilt over an extra-martial affair, finally confessed to her husband and afterwards said to him -- "I'm ready for my punishment now." WTF! She needed him to discipline her. *Sigh*
When I'm disciplining the kids, I try to think back to my own childhood. I remember being really angry with my parents for punishing me -- rarely would I learn that what I did was wrong. Instead I'd be plotting revenge on my sister who ratted me out or vowing to not get caught the next time. I want my kids to learn from their mistakes, know the difference between right and wrong and take responsibility. The only rewards for their behavior will come from within their own heart and conscience, because I won't be there to do this for them when they're adults.
So where does this leave me? If I want to stick to my 'no threats, punishments, bribes and rewards' philosophy, I have to factor in more time and patience. I cannot peacefully come up with logical reasons when we are always scrambling to get out the door. Our plates are way too full again -- I need to simplify. I also have to get better at instilling consequences ... which are kind of like punishments but more closely linked to the behaviour and framed so that they seem logical -- it's a bit manipulative. My partner is the master of coming up with and communicating these. I'm just lazy. He can turn a "you don't get to have dessert until you finish your supper" bribe into an informed consequence using the 'When/Then" rule --WHEN you finish your supper THEN you have dessert.
Lastly, I have to cut myself some slack. There are no hard and fast rules and I should not be disappointed in myself when I can't live up to these ideals. Nothing is ever that absolute. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. I'm sure I am causing other neurosis by some other action -- it's normal. Golden Rule, once again -- I would never dream of using threats on my friends, so why should I do that to the three little people who mean the most to me?

Friday, March 11, 2011

If you can't see yourself doing this for the rest of your life, then the weight is going to come right back.

*Sigh* My plan to abstain for dessert until I reach my weight goal is really pointless. Because permanent lifestyle changes are the only way to get a hold of your weight. *Sigh* The bright side is that abstaining for a few days has shown me that:

I do have self-discipline (way down deep)
I snack on sweets way too often ... sugar addiction, perhaps?
I will appreciate dessert more once I finally let myself indulge

Dry periods are a good thing for me. However, it's more bipolar than healthy. I do not want my life to be a constant yo-yo. In addition to these tips that are still not entrenched, here are some other strategies I was reminded of today:
1. close the cupboard: I reach for little handfuls of snacks all the time without even thinking that they do in fact COUNT. Just walk away. It's difficult the first few times, but each one is a victory for self discipline.

2. say no to treats that are not 'splurge worthy': Sometimes I'll eat a dessert because it's just there, not because I really like it; the dollop of whip cream on my dessert that my MIL always offers me is not worth the extra calories -- save it for something heavenly.
3. keep checking to see if you are full: I don't do this. To stop eating when you are full would surely nix my eating problems. Even if I remember to do this 10% of the time, it's a great start.

I know what I should be doing, but can't seem to do more than bitch or blog about it. I guess if it was that important to me, I'd make it a priority.  Not yet there.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'll Give You Something to Cry About

My kid's crying and whining annoy me to no end. But I think it's my own poor response that bothers me more than the actual crying. Gentle Discipline Colorosso D is no where to be found once the crying starts. I am so desperate for it to stop, that I forget to be empathetic and comforting. Instead I accuse them of being overly sensitive and shout at them to ´quit their crying´ followed by numerous other threats and pleas.

So, I know it's wrong. How can I learn to deal with the waterworks better? Get to the root cause of the problem -- ask questions and gently guide them to see that what they are crying about is really no big deal. The most important part is that they need to reach their own conclusion -- telling them that they are crying over nothing obviously doesn't work -- it invalidates their feelings. And nobody wants their feelings invalidated, no matter how idiotic they may seem. It tells children that they should hide how they feel and pretend to be happy to please mommy. Ugh! K, back to the solution. EMPATHY once again -- listen, pause, let them tell you what's wrong. Wait for them to calm down, hold them, give their feelings a name, hugs, got it.
Just thinking about my own childhood should be enough motivation to make me want to get this right. "up, up, up" -- what my old man would say to us between our sobs while waving the back of his hand in our faces to get us to stop crying. Anything I do will be an improvement from this! Alright, I'm ready -- bring on the tears my babies, Mommy's here for you.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Where is my innerpeace?

I had it last summer -- quiet, calm, contentedness. I was present, my mind was peaceful, I radiated enlightenment (k, that's stretching it a bit -- small 'e' enlightenment). Where did it go and how do I get it back?

On the surface, my circumstances have changed -- I am back to work with dysfunction and negative energy invading my psyche at every turn. I have gained weight -- thankfully not a lot, but enough to make me dislike my lack of discipline which I know puts a negative spin on all my perceptions. I also don't exercise as much or as rigorously .... so maybe my enlightenment was just me being permanently high on endorphins?

When I dig deeper I know it's my mind that's keeping me from enjoying the place I now cherish. A quick re-read of 'A New Earth' is helping remind of what I need to get back:

presence: when my mind wanders and I focus on what I should do next, instead of just being in the moment I start to feel like I'd rather be someplace else than where I am. I end up frustrated and disappointed rather than content and relaxed. This weekend I tried to stay present by throwing myself into what I was doing. I love the feeling of losing yourself in a task to the point where time flies. I'm not talking about over-functioning here, just focusing. When I played with the kids, I did it whole-heartedly, I looked them in the eye, I listened, I let them lead, I did not let my mind distract me ... and it was wonderful!

acceptance: when I resist what is, I make myself miserable wishing for what I think I want. Last summer I put the brakes on complaining and it felt really good. I should remind myself that if I'm not happy with my circumstances I can A) change them, B) leave them or C) accept them. Complaining is not productive and creates more negative energy. It's my EGO screaming for attention -- "look at poor me and all the crap life has given me". Just stop.

gratitude: focusing on what's good in my life rather than what's missing is a great way to stay positive. It also does wonders for my relationships when I simply say thank you. I am better off than the majority of the world in terms of health and economic achievement. That alone is reason to celebrate EVERYDAY. Every morning I think of three different things to be grateful for before I get out of bed -- awesome way to start the day.

Making these things a regular way of life will go a long way towards regaining the inner peace I once had. Life is not my enemy. Want what you have, not what you don't have. Peace is within your grasp, just look inside.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Beauty of the Implicit

I'm finally reading Everything is Miscellaneous and I love how it's messing with my perceptions of IM. But for now I want to zero in on something I've just read in Chapter 8, "What Nothing Says". I've never really stopped to think about my deep desire to make the implicit explicit -- to put into words that which can't really be said. The book uses a great example from the movie High Fidelity -- John Cusak tries detailing some of his reasoning behind his playlists, but he isn't able to explain it to the tape's recipient. Even if he could, a statement of that reasoning wouldn't have the same effect as listening to the songs would. The explicit often diminishes the implicit. Here's another great example -- the author says "I'll never be able to tell you everything I know about my children. What I know about my children is too long and deep to be exhausted in words, too twisty, entangled and interwingled to be made completely explicit."
The implicit is life. I may try to describe it in my numerous blog posts, but it never quite captures how I feel about the subject matter. Words just don't give life justice. Yet we spend a great deal of our lives relying on words to communicate with one another. I feel like I'm not able to truly express myself if I can't say what I'm feeling and this is wrong. There's beauty in the implicit and there's nothing wrong with leaving it there.