Sunday, March 11, 2012

Moving on up...

Hello! I have recently relocated this blog to will also get you to the new blog.

I hope you can follow the trail of chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and nips of gin I left to guide you there...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

One Week: Progress...

A week ago I committed to joining Pish Posh in her get fit challenge. To that end I have been doing the following:

Getting on the treadmill 5 out of 7 days a week.
Recording my food intake in my handy FitnessPal app on my phone.

I have lost 2 pounds.

I sort of am not rushing to be all HOORAAAAY because honestly, most women will tell you they can gain or lose (or both) 2 pounds in a day. But it IS progress. It helps to maintain the momentum.

Recording my food/beverage intake, as I said last time, isn't so much about restricting what I eat, because I really don't believe in denying myself the things I enjoy. But it does make me stop and think about what I am eating. Do I really want the 40 calories from those chocolate kisses? Yes, yes I do. But I don't really, so no thanks, not this time.

I like that this app asks me what my goal is (lose 20lbs) and then gives me a timeline for that based on losing a realistic amount of weight per week, as well as how many calories I would need to consume in order to achieve that goal in said amount of time. Again, I don't look at it as prescriptive. More of a suggestion.

This makes me think about the quality of the food I am eating. One bagel has around 300 calories. One cup of fruit has 45 calories. Fruit is on the whole better for me, and I really like fruit, so I am going to choose the fruit and some cheese over the bagel this time. I will still eat a bagel every so often. Especially if I happened to have worked out that day.

It is about balance. Finding the balance.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Things I can hear...

I came home at lunch today, and when I let the dogs out back, I stopped and let the sun shine on my face, and I listened. It has been a relatively mild winter here in Boston, but it has still been winter. I have not sat out on my deck in months. I wear three layers of clothes every day. There are no leaves on the trees, and I have no plants growing in my yard.

And yet...

I could hear the birds.

I could hear the melting snow trickling in the yards around me.

I think I might have heard a few buds budding.

I think I can hear spring...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On Owning Who You Are

There are many things I am (in no particular order): A woman. A mother. A wife. A daughter. A sister. A friend. A Christian. A singer. Funny. Intelligent. Caring. Sensitive. Strong. Assertive. Human. Selfish. Weak in the face of popcorn or a good piece of carmel and chocolate candy.

I could go on, but the point is there are a lot of things that I KNOW I am, and I am willing to own all of these things, good and bad. No one is perfect, no one is all bad. At least I choose to HOPE that no one is all bad. Let's say we do not have to be defined by only the good or the bad in ourselves. We can always rise above the very worst thing we have ever done or thought, and we will always fall below the very best thing that we have ever done or thought. It is the way of being a human. We are flawed creatures, and if we are doing our jobs, we are on a never ending quest to be better than we were yesterday. Or even earlier today. We will fail, but we cannot let that define us. We need to accept that we will fail miserably sometimes, but also revel in that we will succeed spectacularly too.

The flip side to knowing who you are is being aware of the messages that we are given by others, whether that is delivered by an individual, an organization, or some subset of society. Some of these messages are positive, but unfortunately more often than not it is negative in its connotation.

Messages I have received over my life from others:

- The most important person in my life should be me. Delivered by my viola teacher of a few years, who was an ancient, small Italian man. He was also the first person to suggest that I needed to FEEL the music as much as know the notes.

- "You are a know it all." Delivered by the mother of a boyfriend. Not surprisingly that relationship did not last.

- "Men need to feel needed in a practical sense. You are too self sufficient, men won't feel needed by you so it will be harder for you to find a man." Delivered by a male VP of Student Services at my first full time job after grad school.

- As a woman the most important things I can hope to accomplish is becoming a wife and mother. Delivered in a variety of ways, by a variety of people in college as an undergrad, and in various churches I have attended in my life.

- "You are doing a good job." Delivered by my dad, to me, as he was saying goodbye to me the last time we visited my parents. He was referring mostly to how I am doing with Cooper. And I appreciated the unsolicited feedback!

There have been many other, positive messaged, delivered to me over time by a variety of people. My mother is a constant source of positive reinforcement, as are many of my friends. Many times it is not what a person says, but how they treat you that sends the message. And often the message is not about YOU, but about themselves, and the values THEY hold. When that guy that cheated on me, I realized much later that it had nothing to do with how he felt about me, or even my value as a person. It spoke volumes though about his own self esteem, his own value system.

You cannot make a person believe something, you cannot make them feel something. You can however, live your life according to your own values, bearing witness to your own belief system and own your own power. If people get who you are and value that, BONUS. If they don't, it is their loss. But mostly, we need to own who we are and be proud of what we have accomplished.

Recently we have been hearing a lot about the debate around whether or not certain organizations should be required to offer coverage for contraception when it is in direct contrast to their religious belief system to use contraception. The current administration in the oval office has mandated that all insurance companies must either carry it as a covered expense, or make it available to women free of charge if the company for whom the woman works refuses to offer it as a covered medication.

In 2012 we are actually having this conversation. It baffles me. Back in 1992, when I was working for the state of New York at a college, contraception was not a covered prescription. Not because the state of NY had any religious or moral stand against it. I perceived it as one of those medications that society was only beginning to acknowledge as medically necessary, not an arbitrary, whimsical choice made by only loose women looking to satiate their carnal instincts. As an employee of the state, I was also a member of a bargaining unit, or union. I would attend the meetings for the staff union, and one day the meeting involved discussing medical coverage. The gentleman who was our union rep said if anyone had any questions or concerns about what our insurance did or did not cover, to let him know and it would be taken to the higher ups and possibly negotiated into our coverage.

In looking back, I feel a little badly for this guy, who was my senior by easily 30 years and who most assuredly did not want to have a conversation about birth control with this 24 year old woman. But to his credit, he did have that conversation. I did not bring it up in the meeting, I caught him afterward, and explained that I felt very strongly that he advocate on behalf of all of the female employees that oral contraception be added to the prescription coverage. I explained that the cost to the insurance company, and consequently to the state and college was far less for the medication than it would be to deal with unexpected pregnancies or other physical ramifications of not being on the pill. I explained that I took this medication for reasons other than pregnancy prevention, which were legitimate and medically diagnosed reasons. My doctor prescribes this medication for me, it should be covered.

He did his job as a union rep, and before my 3.5 years were over at that particular job, oral contraception was added to the prescription medication coverage. TWENTY YEARS LATER I cannot for the life of me understand how we have come back full circle to this conversation.

I understand that from a religious stand point, some organizations, like the Catholic church, do not condone the use of contraception. But that should have nothing to do with whether or not an insurance company covers it. If you as a priest believe that your flock should not be using contraception, it is your job to preach that message, to counsel and advise your community. And then it is up to the individual to decide what to do based on their own relationship with their God. It is not something that should be regulated via the insurance company.

This discussion is disturbing to me because it says a lot about how far we have NOT come as a society with regard to how we view women and women's health concerns. The Catholic church does not have any problem covering Viagra as a prescription, but won't cover contraception. Men get to have their medically induced, church sanctioned hard on, but women are not allowed to have a medication that will allow them to prevent pregnancies after having to deal with those hard ons. Women are being told that if you need to be on oral contraception to prevent ovulation so that you reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, too bad. Ovarian cysts, so what. PMS? It is all in your head anyway. Oh, you might die from the HELLP syndrome or pre-eclampsia? TOO BAD.

As women we should be PISSED OFF. We should be raging mad. We should be demanding equal and fair consideration for all of our medical and health concerns. And above all, we should not tolerate people suggesting that the only reason a woman would want contraception is because she is a slut and a prostitute. People also need to be clear on the kinds of contraception available. Most that are used regularly prevent ovulation, which means that fertilization is not possible because eggs are never released. Taking oral contraception is not akin to abortion. We are not baby killers.

It is astounding to me the anger and hostility this conversation brings out in people. But we cannot stop the fight because people get nasty. We know who we are. We know that we deserve equal and fair treatment. We need to own that.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Things I Don't Want To Deal With...

I have said before I never intended to become a mother. I didn't get married for the first time until I was 34, and that was to a man who didn't want to have children because of health issues he had. That marriage ended when I was 39, and I didn't marry The Bob until I was 40, and he had 2 kids already so we were of the same mind that children were not part of The Agenda.

The universe laughs when you make plans.

There was also this little thing about kids that, quite frankly, I did not need to experience. A little thing I like to call The Pain and Agony of Dealing with Other Kids. You see, I have already done my time. I have already BEEN a kid, I have already experienced the basic nastiness of other children, survived the teen years filled with hormones and angst. I have earned my stripes. This self confidence, this ability to be happy in my own skin, it is the result of years of dealing with both making good friends and feeling loved by others as well as being disappointed by people over and over again. Because that is life.

It is one thing to experience these things for yourself, to say OK, that sucked but I am still here and I am a good and worthwhile, lovable person. At 47 years of age I have learned to make different choices than I did at 7 or 14 or 24 or even 34.

It is an entirely DIFFERENT thing to experience it all over again through the eyes of my child. Now when disappointment strikes, not only do I get to feel the annoyance and frustration, but I get to watch my 5 year old experience it, and begin to figure out how to navigate these treacherous waters of life. And that SUCKS.

I love being his mom, don't get me wrong. There are so many awesomely astounding milestones and it is truly mind boggling that these little people grow and figure things out and become fabulous people. But the flip side of this is that they have to deal with other people. Specifically other kids. And if you have spent any time around more than 2 or 3 kids in your life, you know that kids can be mean. They are just condensed versions of grown ups and have even fewer filters than most adults.

Recently Cooper has been experiencing the disappointment of someone who has been one of his best friends at school being mean to him. It is not unusual for alliances to shift at this age. You spend a few months being best friends with one kid, then all of a sudden this other kid is the only one you want to play with. But this is different than that. All of a sudden this small fry began teasing Cooper, specifically by calling him names and telling him he is stupid, or can't play with him and this other kid unless he behaves a certain way.

The names are nonsense. He calls Cooper things like ballerina and pawpaw and tells him he has to have googly eyes in order to play with him. Cooper doesn't even know what that means. But it is a distinct shift in attitude toward Cooper. I don't think there is a particular intention to hurt Cooper, but I do think this kid is testing boundaries and much of it he is learning, I believe, from his older brother who is almost 8. That kid is someone we have spent some time around, he is someone who borders on being a bully. He always wants to be in charge, he looks for opportunities to make fun of someone or say something slightly hurtful. I think our friend deals with this brother at home, puts up with all of his bossiness and then tries to assert some control in other places in his life, like at school, with my son.

Cooper is not a fan of this behavior. Coop is just about playing and acting out super hero stories and riding bikes and having a good time. When he tells me that this kid called him names at school, or told him he couldn't play unless he did something, I can see the hurt and confusion. I can tell it is changing how he feels about this kid, because I asked Cooper if he wanted to set up a play date with him, and there was a very long pause, and then a distinctly ambivalent "Okaaaaay..."

The thing I cannot decide is should I do anything about it. If this was someone who lived in the neighborhood, someone we saw all the time, I would probably be able to help Coop negotiate this as it happened, because I would be likely to witness it, or I could have a conversation with a parent and ask if something was going on that was bothering the child in question and making him behave this way toward Cooper. But this is someone he only sees at school. They live in another town, and at the end of August they won't go to school together ever again. The only way they would see each other is if I make the effort to arrange getting together.

I could talk to his mom. We exchange emails to set up play dates periodically, we have spent time chatting during these play dates. She is approachable. But the question is should I? I would need to find a way to say "Hey, your kid is acting like a little shit" without saying it that way. I would want it to be productive, not hostile. But there is a good chance that no matter how I said it it could be perceived as hostile.

I have been telling Cooper that if he doesn't like what this kid is saying, tell him he doesn't like it, that it is mean and he is hurting his feelings. And if he doesn't stop it, he won't play with him. There are 15 kids in the class, there are other people to play with. I tell him I don't know why this kid is being mean, but he does NOT have to put up with it.

Right now that seems like the best we can do. Give him the tools to deal with crap from others and console him when disappointed by other people. Because that is never going to not happen. We can just hope that there are plenty of people who come through as true friends to offset the other stuff.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shape up all around

Via The Simian Idiot, a blog that is irreverent, sparkly, and at times just a HOOT I found Pish Posh. And Miss Posh (or is it Miss Pish?) has launched a very courageous and necessary campaign in her life, to GET IN SHAPE. And not just in the physical sense. She wants to get in shape physically, mentally, emotionally, and professionally. She has set for herself quite the challenge. And she has invited us along for the ride.

I will admit to needing to get physically in shape. It is an endless and forever and always campaign. So for that and that alone I will hitch my wagon to hers, and try to be diligent about working out, eating right and blogging about it.

To that end I am putting this little app back on my phone called MyFitnessPal. It helps you keep track of your food intake and your energy output. It tells you how many calories you should consume daily based on your weight loss goals. It also tells you if you have ridiculously unrealistic weight loss goals. It has a humungous database of food already in it, so you can put in what you ate and it will help you calculate the calories for that item. This is the part that is hard for me, judging an item I prepared myself in terms of calories. Is my roast beef and potatoes the same as the one someone put into the database already? We shall see. At least it is an IDEA of how much it might contain, so it keeps you on target.

I am not interested in massively dieting or depriving myself. Life is too short and annoying on so many other levels, I do not need to eliminate ALL the foods I love and adore. Like CHEESE. I think just being aware of what you are putting in your mouth, and making the conscious choice to do so, is a good place to be. I already eat pretty well, but this will help refine that.

This app also gives you the chance to plug in any exercise you have done for the day, giving you a few extra bonus calories to play with. But I will tell you this - you do not burn off as many calories as you think you do doing most of the stuff you do to burn off calories. Which is why, GOD HELP ME, I am trying to RUN on the treadmill more these days. Some days are better than others, and basically most days I am just happy I got my 2 miles in. The more I can run the more mileage I will cover. But my knees do have a way of reminding me I am not 24 anymore.

So to Miss Pish Posh, I say I see your challenge and I join you in your quest. If we can be of support to each other, excellent.

Tally Ho.

Monday, February 27, 2012

And then my kid went to school and talked about hell fire and the devil...

Today I had to give my son's preschool teacher a heads up. Because the life of a preschool teacher isn't fascinating enough, isn't fraught with all sorts of difficulties, what with the having to negotiate all manner of arguments such as "He called me a ballerina!!!!" and "She won't stop LOOKING at me!!!", I needed to tell these particular teachers that because of a certain obsession of late, Cooper might talk about the devil and hell fire.

No, we have not gotten all evangelical here at MidLyfeMama. No, Cooper has been watching the Ghost Rider movies.

For those not in the know, Johnny Blaze, brought to life on the big screen by the toothsome and never overly dramatic Nicholas Cage, is a stunt motorcycle rider with a circus. In an effort to save his father from death by cancer, Johnny makes a pact with the Devil, played by a somewhat creepy but not terribly scary Peter Fonda. In exchange for Johnny's soul, the Devil will cure dad of cancer.

Note: Pay attention, this may come in handy in the future - when making a pact with the Devil, make sure you have read between the lines on the contract. Chances are Mephistophiles will, given the opportunity, screw you over.

Not surprisingly, Johnny does get screwed over. Dad is cured of cancer! YAY! Dad dies in a fiery crash during the show the next day. Boo.

Time passes, Johnny doesn't hear from the Devil for quite some time, but then the Devil needs to reign in one of his sons, Black Heart, who wants to destroy life as we know it. The Devil shows up, tells Johnny he has a job to do, and suddenly Johnny's head and hands and motorcycle are on fire with Hell Fire. He is the Ghost Rider. The Devil's bounty hunter. He turns into this dude at night, any time he is in the presence of evil. During the day, he is just plain ol' swaggering, slightly befuddled Nick Cage.

The rest of the movie is not important, unless you would like to know that Sam Elliott is in it, and I love Sam Elliott doing what he does best, COWBOYS. His character was once a Ghost Rider too, only his trusty steed was a horse, who turns into a fire breathing stallion when he becomes the Ghost Rider. Which looks really cool.

So. My beloved boy watches not one but two of these movies this past weekend, and then is acting out the Ghost Rider all over the house, in the car, everywhere. And he is freely talking about the devil and hell fire. And then I realize that this might not end when he gets to school Monday morning.

Awesome. In my head I am imagining Charlie and Will, two of Coop's favorite people in the world, going home to their lovely parents and telling them about how Cooper was talking about the devil and hell fire and a horse that breathes fire. Cancel all future plans to make plans for play dates. Check.

I did attempt some damage control. I explained that if Cooper talked about hell fire, he would get in trouble, because it might be too scary for some kids. I suggested if he HAD to talk about it, he call it ghost fire. Then I made him call it ghost fire for the rest of the day yesterday.

And I explained it all to his teacher in case it came up in conversation. You would think that these movies were too scary for Cooper, but they were not. He certainly asks a lot of questions about what is going on while watching them, but since good wins and evil loses, he walks away from them feeling the world is a just and fair place. He has had very little personal contact with evil in his own life, THANK GOD. Literally. I would like to think he will be able to live his entire long life never questioning that this world is a just and fair place. The chances of that are about as slim as getting a fair deal in a contract with Mephistophiles. Until then it is not such a bad thing that he learns you can take a bad situation and make it better if you try. The Ghost Rider rids the world of Black Heart, and then tells the Devil that he will use this curse against the Devil. He will use it to right wrongs against the innocent. A curse becomes a blessing. You are never too young to learn that lesson.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Hallmark Ruined Valentine's Day

Once upon a time I was a but a wee adolescent gal, and I got a job in a Hallmark Gold Crown store. At the time not all Hallmark stores could boast the title of Gold Crown. I cannot remember what it was that a store had to do, I think it was a certain amount of sales, to achieve this illustrious status, but Sells Candy Store in Bay Village OH achieved it.

I enjoyed working at Sells. It was family owned. They made all their own candies and me and my teenaged metabolism were allowed to eat all the candy we wanted. I mean, they were only paying me $1.80 an hour (1981 dollars) so the candy seemed like a good side benefit. Most days I loved working the candy counter. I loved packaging up the various orders people came in for. I got to know the regulars and their favorite candy. There was the little old lady who loved the chocolate covered sponge candy that could only be made in low humidity weather. There was the man who always wore the dapper hats who loved the turtles - pecans, caramel, and either milk or dark chocolate on top. I had never had a turtle before, and the dark chocolate ones were a revelation.

What was truly a revelation though, the turning point where I recognized that there was a certain taste combination in the world and that no one had ever introduced it to me before that moment bordered on betrayal: Dark chocolate covered pretzels.

I know, really, a pretzel? Yes. A thin twist of pretzel. Covered in high quality, 70% cacao dark chocolate. Sweet and salty and crunchy. It was like watching a whole new universe open before my eyes as all that taste sensation happened on my tongue.

There were a lot of benefits to working at Sells. But it was also disillusioning. Dream crushing. Jading. You see, when you work in a Hallmark store, you have to begin hawking the next holiday anywhere from a month to 6 months in advance of the actual holiday. At first it seems harmless. You are putting out the Valentine's Day cards in late December, right after Christmas. Sure, why not. You are tired of all the Christmas cards and ornaments anyway, since THEY have been out since JULY. I am not kidding. Six months of looking at, organizing, dusting and reorganizing Christmas in all it's commercialized glory.

But it was the lesser holidays that were ruined for me more than Christmas. Especially Valentine's Day. Sell's was right next to one of the bus stops that delivered the working people from Cleveland back to Bay Village every evening. On February 14th, beginning around 4pm, every bus meant an onslaught of men leaping from the bus, dashing into the store, hollering "One box of whatever you've got" while grabbing whatever card was still presentable and not bent in the For My Wife section of the Valentine's cards. We always had variety boxes pre-wrapped, in various sizes, so we could just pick one for the man in question, ring up the sale with the card, which was often signed right there at the counter as it was paid for and off he went to rush home to look like he actually meant the sentiment inside the card.

A small part of me died working in that store, from the summer of 1981 to summer of 1982. As I watched people express affection for each other just because the calendar said they should, in the way that society deemed you should, I realized that I hated Hallmark. I love Hoops and Yoyo but even they have gotten too commercial. You have to pay for the best of their cards to be delivered electronically. But they are really funny. But I digress...

I want people to pick a day, just any random day in the year, that isn't a holiday, isn't an anniversary or birthday, and buy flowers, or a card, or a stuffed animal, or a cake, whatever the person you are going to give it to would REALLY appreciate, and give it to someone you love or care about. JUST BECAUSE. Love, appreciation, gratitude should not be scheduled, commercialized or otherwise prescribed.

Go forth and celebrate Valentine's Day if that is your thing. Give candy, flowers, cards. But do it again sometime, for no reason whatsoever, because you appreciate someone.

So sayeth Mid Life Mama.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Things I Cannot Do...

A recent post over at Chookooloonks by the lovely and talented Karen W. inspired me to write my own list of Things I Cannot Do.

1. A cartwheel. Never have been able to. Actually, this entire list could be made solely of gymnastics related activities, such as back bends, climb the damn rope, do a split, etc.

2. Ice skate. I have tried, throughout my 47.5 years in this go around at life to ice skate. I fall down. My ankles, which generally are quite reliable about holding up my body, even in heels, collapse like a bad souffle the moment I stand up in ice skates. Roller blades present the same issue. Old school, four wheeled, two sets, side by side roller skates are not as problematic. Then it is more of a stopping before I die issue.

3. Whistle. I am, always have been, much to the amusement of my brother, completely whistle impaired. Nary a toot, tweet or other whistle related sound can be issued from my lips. I cannot produce a whistle with my fingers in my mouth either. I can however make a thick blade of grass shriek, causing all dogs in a 5 mile radius howl.

4. Make an omelette. Not that I have really tried that hard, but at that critical point when it should be folded over into an omelette, it becomes scrambled eggs. But in general I am OK with that. Still tastes good.

5. Grow a Chia Pet. I can grow a lot of things plant related. So far I have failed in the Chia department. It is humbling.

6. Do a head/hand stand. This is sort of related to the gymnastics issue, but is more of a yoga issue at this time in my life. I have never been able to maintain a head or hand stand, even when I was 5 and made solely of core muscles, unlike now where my core muscles are less muscles and more gelatinous mass. I resent that almost every yoga class beyond a beginner level insists that we should not only DO inversions, but LOVE THEM. Have you SEEN ME I say to the instructors. This body was built for strength poses like warrior. My center of gravity defies inversions.

7. Put all of my clothes away. Ask anyone who has ever lived with me. I am constitutionally incapable of being that organized. I go in great spurts where I will get 99% of them put away, but there is always that last sweater, pair of pants, something.

I am sure there are more skills that I lack. I am, in general, OK with my shortcomings. I have come to terms with my lack of gymnastic prowess. I would not have ever made the Olympic team anyway. I have always been OK with my inability to ice skate, but other people in my life have found it baffling, irritating, or in one case, A CHALLENGE HE WOULD CONQUER. In college the adorable Dave M. who also smelled really good most of the time, insisted he could teach me to skate. 2 hours later he admitted defeat. It was not easy being that person, who crushed someone else's sense of self worth, but it isn't like I do not want to ice skate. I watch those lovely figure skaters and ice dancers every winter olympics and just dream of gliding across the ice, and then jumping and spinning ever so gracefully. But alas, I really cannot ice skate.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Closing For Business...

No, this blog is not closing for business. But my uterus is.

Has anyone else noticed the recent inundation of shows and movies about Snow White? We have Once Upon a Time on ABC, which takes Snow White and brings her into modern day. And then there is not one but TWO movies coming out based on the Snow White story, one with Julie Roberts as the evil queen and the other with Charlize Theron in the same role. I am not sure what is up with this renewed interest in this fairy tale, but I have a new take on it myself.

Snow White and the Seven Malicious Dwarfs of Menopause. There is our heroine, Snow White, (that's me) and we have as our seven little leading men: Cranky, Sweaty, Chubby, Itchy, Fitful the Unsleepy, Puffy and Forgetful.

I am currently becoming really good friends with six out of the seven of these little devils. My friend, Flo, has been missing in action for months. The last time she didn't visit for that length of time I THOUGHT it was Lady Perimenopause knocking on the door. But it was her cousin, Madame Midlife Baby. This time the Lady really has come for tea.

I recently saw my doctor to discuss the fact that I am on uncomfortably good terms with a few of these guys, and I would like to fire them from my crew. I have been working really hard to eat right, and working out 4 or so times a week. I have been enduring Lady Wii's mocking. Did you know it makes this little "Oooooh" sound when you step on and you haven't lost any weight but in fact GAINED it? Yes. It does. It is rude. I have been racking up the miles on the treadmill, even getting myself up to a light jog, on an INCLINE, for most of the 30 minutes. I hate running. And still, NOTHING. Or worse, the opposite of what I am supposed to see happening, I gain weight instead of lose it.

As I mentioned in a recent post, I am also itchy. I think I looked just insane enough because of all the itchiness at my appointment that the doc was like "Weeeeeell OKAAAAY, let's check your thyroid" and PRAISE BE it was finally decided I might benefit from some supplementation. It is my fondest and dearest hope that the itching will subside if not disappear, and that maybe it will help with a few other things. Time will tell.

In the meantime, while I am not experiencing night hot flashes, I am surprised that snow doesn't melt in my path just from how hot my face gets. It is both uncomfortable and uncomfortable. Yes, I said it twice. Food doesn't seem to trigger it as much as adrenalin. Like when I work out. So YAY! I work out, get all hot faced, and I don't lose weight. And when I sing. Here I am doing something I love, and I am positive that if I look in the mirror I am going to see this staring back at me:
Studies on global warming are going to have my picture in the sidebar.
(This is really Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider, new movie coming out in February. Check out the trailer here)

As for the other dwarfs, I am consciously trying not to let Cranky rule the day but by the GODS if my dog Poncho doesn't stop knocking at the doggy door and just COME IN ALREADY he may find himself stuffed and mounted over the fireplace. No not really, but I do get cranky.

I am trying to mitigate Puffy by drinking plenty of green tea and water, but that means the fact that the bathroom outside my office is lacking essential equipment like a toilet and sink becomes even more of an inconvenience. But hey! BONUS! I have to go downstairs to use the bathroom, which means extra exercise! That isn't doing anything!

My favorite dwarf is Forgetful. Much like Bashful in the original saga, Forgetful is cute, cuddly, and thanks to Sweaty is also rosy cheeked. But he is also freaking annoying. I hate making lists, but my iPhone and whiteboard have become my newest tools in the fight against missing deadlines and forgetting to buy milk at the store. I have been reduced to writing down we need milk. We use it ALL THE TIME, and yet I need to remind myself to buy it.

The universe finds me amusing. This is the only explanation I have for my life sometimes.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lessons in ego, humility and simplification...

Recently I had to change offices, as did my associate director. We moved from the first floor of our building, which is a house converted to office space, to the second floor.

I had been in the old office for 10 years. It was quite spacious, and had recently been painted a lovely color of blue that I picked out. Nantucket Fog to be precise, by Benjamin Moore. It had once been a porch and possibly sunroom of the house. It had pretty high ceilings, lovely windows and a back door that allowed both for easy access as well great cross breezes on a spring or fall day.

The two offices that we moved into are significantly different in size from each other. One was probably the master bedroom of the home back when it was used as a personal home. It is VAST. The second room is connected to it by a door, with a closet in between. The second room is smaller by more than half of the other office, and probably was used as a nursery or other kind of bedroom. There is a bathroom right outside this office.

When considering the needs of our office, and the fact that we were losing an outside space where we kept four large filing cabinets, it made sense that the filing cabinets go into the large office. That meant that whomever had that office would a) be looking at those cabinets all the time and b) would have to tolerate other people coming and going from the office as files were needed and then re-filed. Note: We are moving toward document imaging, SLOWLY, as a campus and someday may not need these cabinets, but for now we hold all 1500 awarded financial aid recipient's files in them.

As the director I got to decide, with my boss's approval of course, where to put whom. I decided that I could not be in the office with the file cabinets. I had spent the last 10 years in a space that was lovely, but I was constantly being interrupted because I was too close to the files, too accessible to the work study students, and the first stop most people made on the first floor when looking for our offices. Plus the small fridge for our office was in my office.

So I decided to take the smaller office, and put the associate director in the big office. I did offer him the option of swapping offices with our other staff member, who has an even smaller office, so he would be more secluded, but he made the choice to be in the big office.

My desk and the accompanying credenza/bookshelf thing was WAY too big to go into what was going to be my new office, so I decided to give it to my associate director. Anyone who is friends with me on FB or follows me on Twitter knows the drama I went through getting my new desk last week. But we are all moved in and settled. And the process of coming to terms with the move was interesting.

I don't like change much. Never have. I found I was sad to leave my old office, and was kind of grieving the loss of it. Add to that the fact that when you walk into my associate director's office, with the grand space and the big furniture, well, he looks like the director.

I will admit my ego struggled with this. My head said this set up is the right one for the use of the space and the needs of the office. I am more secluded, which will afford me more uninterrupted time to get my work done. But there is this weird thing that our society does to us, this thing that says we should have the biggest, best, shiniest, whatever thing it is we are talking about. And my brain went there at first. I found myself thinking "I should be in the big office, with the big furniture, looking important."

Then I slapped myself across the face, figuratively speaking, and said stop being an idiot. It makes sense for us to be set up this way. And you don't NEED the big desk, the big office. You ARE the director. The big office doesn't make you the director. You like the small office and it's cozy space. The big office has better window space for your plants, but you will work it out.

That is the one thing I have had to really come to terms with, the light in the new space. I really loved the light in the old office, and even in the big office. The light in my new space is like what you would expect in a smallish bedroom. But there ARE windows, which is more than some people can say about their offices, and I can open them, which is key.

But all in all I really had to have a talk with myself about what is important, check my ego at the door and be grateful for what I do have, which is a lovely, quiet, green space to spend 8+ hours a day in. It is better than a cubicle, that is FOR SURE. And if people think that my associate director is actually the director, maybe they will stop asking to speak to the director and take his answer as the final answer. I need to be grateful for what I do have, and not worry about status symbols and appearances. Because in the end, none of it really makes a difference.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just call me Miss Marvel...

In case you missed it the 12000 times I have mentioned it here, I have a 5 year old son. Honestly, most days it STILL takes me by surprise. I wake up, pull on some work out clothes and then BAM remember I am someone's mom. And despite my complete lack of training in this area (OK, I did my share of babysitting, but really, my own mom was only a block away most of the time, so I always had back up) the boy seems to be growing. The Bob has more experience in this area than I, since he managed to grow two other boys to almost adult hood. The funny thing about that is if I ask him something like "What age does XYZ happen?" he will be all "Uuuummmm, dude, I have no idea. Can't remember when that happened."

I added the dude. He never calls me that.

Anyway, I have been reminded recently, because I have this kid in my life, that other kids are mean and I already did all of this growing up myself I don't want to go through it all again but I really DO have to have a discussion about best friends, not leaving other kids out, and why sometimes Charlie doesn't want to do exactly what you are doing. Sigh.

There are times when being this mom person is so AWESOME. Like when I go in to wake him up in the morning and he is all cuddly and warm and I get to kiss his head and snuggle with him for a few minutes before the rocket ship we call life takes off for the next 12 hours. Or when I look in the rear view mirror and he catches my eye, and gives me the ol' wink and says "I LOVE YOU MOMMY."

There are times when it is challenging but in a fun or interesting way. We had to spend time at Children's Hospital recently finding out that Cooper MIGHT have some sort of miniscus blahbittyblahblah thing that makes his knee pop and sometimes dislocates slightly, causing it to lock and cause pain. The short version of the visit is that we wouldn't know for sure if that is the problem without an MRI and well, that involves sedation for a 5 year old. Really? I said to the beautiful Benton Hayworth, sports orthopedic specialist with skin so perfect I questioned if he even has pores or grows a beard, as Cooper walked back and forth in the room discussing super heroes. Sedation to get that kid to lay still for an MRI you say. Shocking. No, we will not be doing that right now. It is not interfering with his life or otherwise causing problems. If it does in the future, we will make a different decision.

But that is not what was challenging. Cooper likes for me to make up stories about super heroes. We had time to kill and the power was running low on my phone, so I made up two stories about the Avengers for him. I was particularly proud of the one, which involved a bad guy I called The Weeper. His power was that he cried, and when he cried he made everyone around him so sad and depressed that all they could do was sit down right where they were and cry. While they were incapacitated by the crying, The Weeper's henchmen would rob them. When the Avengers showed up they all started crying too, which interfered with the whole defeating the bad guys thing. The Hulk cried so much he was creating puddles, Thor had no idea what was happening because he is a god, gods don't cry. Iron Man solved the problem by turning off the sound to his armor so he couldn't hear The Weeper, and then sprayed him with laughing gas, which is the only way to defeat The Weeper.

Cooper was so enamored of this story he immediately began telling the story to Dr. Handsome and the nurse when they came in. And as much fun as it is to create these stories, I find it also a little exhausting. Being creative like that on the spot is HARD man. But maybe if this college administrator gig doesn't pan out I can find a new career writing story lines for Marvel.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Happy 2012, the Year of the Dragon, or as I like to call it, The Year of MidLyfeMama. I am a Wood Dragon in the Chinese horoscope world. There are 12 zodiac signs, and rather than assign one to a month, they assign one to the year of your birth.

Characteristics of a person born in the year of the Dragon include being passionate, opinionated, caring, don't mind taking risks, and while others are drawn to the colorful personality of the Dragon, Dragons tend to like to be alone.

All of which could apply to a lot of people, but I like to pretend that they apply to me ever so specifically. Because I AM SPECIAL.

They break the signs down further into four of the elemental signs, Water, Wood, Metal and Fire. I happen to be a Wood Dragon, which makes me less prickly than other Dragons. We will actually entertain the opinions of others (although if you ask The Bob those opinions are not necessarily USED in any actual manner) and we get along with others really well, but still like to be in charge. Really. I hadn't noticed.

My mother, the great and wise Dee, is also a Dragon, a Metal Dragon to be exact. My poor father and brother just stood no chance whatsoever in our household.

I don't do resolutions. I find that just sets me up for failure. Instead I would like to put hopes out there for the year.

I hope this is a year of financial recovery for The Bob and I.

I hope this is a successful year for the Coop at school - he finishes pre school and begins kindergarten in the fall.

I hope for continued health for all of my family.

I hope for continued emotional well being for all of my family.

I hope to get back to spending quality time with my friends, who I have neglected during the last few years of being a mom among other things.

I hope to lose at least 20lbs. On that point, The Bob got us a Wii for Christmas, and Wii Fit for MLM. The first time you step onto Lady Wii, she evaluates you, mocks you, tells you how out of shape you are and asks you for your fitness goals. She also tells you your "Wii Age" which is based on you having performed some of the evaluation exercises. The first day I used it, my Wii age was 40, which is 7 years younger than I am. Excellent. I have great balance (thank you yoga classes) but I definitely need to lose weight.

The second day I got on it, roughly at the same time of day as the day before, and it told me I had GAINED 5lbs. What the WHAT. I hadn't even gone NEAR the Christmas cookies. But! After performing the body evaluation again, after working out on it for 40 minutes, Lady Wii told me I was in great condition and my Wii age was 31. YAZTEE! I gained weight but lost years. At this rate I will be the youngest, fittest fat person you ever met.

I will not be deterred. I will get back on that Wii, and I will continue to work out on the treadmill and work toward my goal of losing 20lbs. I will also roll the shaggy rug back before using it, because I think it confounds Lady Wii's ability to register my movements and possibly contributed to my 5lb "weight gain."

Finally, I hope for all of you a happy, healthy, and successful however you measure that 2012.