wow And Baby Makes Four

background

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Quick, Have Some Cake Before One of My Kids Throws Up

Bridget turned 2 on Sunday. We have terrible luck with birthdays and vacations. Inevitably, someone comes down with the flu or lands in the hospital. I think this dates back to my own birthday curse. I got Chicken Pox on my first birthday, Mount St. Helen's erupted on my second birthday, and other birthdays were characterized by stomach flus, break-ups, tornadoes, and medieval-like tortures such as hugging ant-infested trees at camp.

Fortunately, we outwitted the birthday Gods with a Saturday celebration with family. So, when Bridget started throwing up on Sunday, it was all good. You know, except for the part with all the puking.

I vacillate between loving this age (the talking, the cuddles, the baby fat rolly-polliness) and hating it (the tantrums, the tantrums, the tantrums).

I finally dusted off my camera for a few shots of this lady before she decides to go off to college or run for president. I'd apologize for the photo bomb but I don't feel like it. Bombs away!




 





Thursday, April 10, 2014

Battling My Vain Princess

You'd never know I'm vain. I don't wear much makeup. My wardrobe has devolved into sweats and ball caps. I don't look or act like someone who cares about my appearance. And I've worked hard to project a casual attitude about my looks. Because I really want to be a person with depth. I want to be the kind of person who radiates "I've got my shit together."

But here's the thing- I'm a superficial person. I'm a vain princess. And while my look is "casual," it's still put together (on a good day). Brendan could tell you it still takes an excess of minutes for me to get ready to leave the house, even if I'm only taking the kids to day care.

And this superficiality totally extends to my body and my weight. It extends to my pants size. To how I look in a dress. I have a mental list of cosmetic procedures I would consider getting (I know, I know). I have a goal weight. I catch myself looking longingly at other women's bodies.


I'm so vain. I probably think this selfie's about me.
I don't want to be this way. I want to be a role model of confidence, self-acceptance, and health for my children, especially my girls. I want to say my food choices, my running, my weight-lifting - They're 100% for my health. I want to say I don't give a shit about how I look or what the scale says. I mean, sure, I can say those things. But I'd be a lying liar who lies.

So, I put the scale away. I try not to fixate on my looks. I focus instead on how far I can run. How fast I can run. How my body feels. How much weight I can lift.

But then I start to fixate on how far I can run. How fast I can run. I beat myself up when I don't perform the way I hoped. My thoughts devolve like my wardrobe. I wonder if I've swapped one unhealthy measuring stick for another. I think maybe I'm full of myself, narcissistic, self-involved. I think maybe I'm failing myself and my girls.

I don't have the answer to all this existential navel-gazing. So, instead, I focus on my health. I hope I can kill my vain princess if I lie enough. If I love myself enough. I tell myself I don't care about the scale. I tell my body I love it. I thank it for carrying me a mile, two miles, five miles. I thank it for letting me carry my children. And I turn up my music. I keep running. And I try not to think about how my ass looks while I do it.



Thursday, April 3, 2014

What She Lacks For in Hair, She Makes Up For in Faces

I don't know what it is about the girls I make in my uterus. They don't grow hair.

Bridget just moved up to the 2 year-old class at daycare in anticipation of her birthday this month. (Unreal). It gets me all nostalgic each time I drop her off. It's the same class Finn and Cassidy were in. I used to take them there while I was on maternity leave with Bridget. I carried her into that class in her infant seat countless times. The two year-olds used to go crazy over Baby Bridget. Now she's one of them. 

But she looks so small. Being in the fifth percentile combined with being a baldy makes for a toddler who looks like a baby. In fact, people often say to me, "She's walking so well!" Which is hilarious to me, because she walks, run, talks, and climbs. After all, she's almost two.

In addition to all these wonderful daredevil toddler skills she's developing, Bridget has become adept at making faces. I wish I had a picture of this new face she has started to make. She looks like she's being really naughty and is super excited about it.

Until I manage to grab a picture of that, here are some of her other faces:









Wednesday, March 26, 2014

They Should Write Country Music Songs About Blogging

Warning: Existential Crisis and Abundant Whining follow

I have a love-hate relationship with this blog. These days, it's more hate than love.

It's ridiculous to blame my busy life. We're all busy. Complaining about how busy you are is like humble bragging for those who lack creativity. The truth is, I don't blog because I don't feel like it. There are things I'd rather be doing - Like spending time with my kids. Spending time with my husband or friends. Binge watching Fringe on Netflix.

Blogging is more than just tapping out some half-baked thoughts on my laptop and sending them out into the interwebs. It's social. Commenting, commenting back, reading other blogs, commenting there - on and on. Then there are people who are really into it- They link up, submit postings to other sites, read and comment like champs.

I'm not an ambitious blogger. I have no dreams of becoming famous or rich from my blog. I couldn't even tell you how many people visit this site (I mean, I could if I checked. I just don't care enough to check).

And that's the real issue. I don't care enough. It's not a priority. And maybe it's all driven by my general misanthropic approach to social media and the world in general. I have a handful of blogs I visit on the regular, but I'm not going to spend all my time trying to read and comment just so people can follow my breadcrumbs back to this neglected space. What for?



I was never hardcore about this blog. I went through phases where I wondered what might happen if I tried. I'd give it a month. Maybe two. Traffic followed but my heart never did.

But I'm still here. Something keeps me hanging on. I don't know. Maybe it's nice, just having this here. A bookmark for my thoughts.

How do you know when to cash it in? When to keep going? When to just "take a break?"

And, just because I love this movie so damn much, here's another GIF for you:


If you came to this blog's funeral, I hope you would wear really ugly clothes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Searching For Redemption

"I better not be pregnant."

This is a statement I made as I talked on the phone to a friend, Wednesday. I was walking home after finishing the latest of a series of bad runs.  I was feeling defeated and confused. Over the past couple weeks, my split times and my mileage had gone to Hell. I couldn't figure out this fatigue.

I knew this was more than that inner voice telling me I can't. This was straight up physical. Something was going down. What else would explain deteriorating energy, speed, and endurance?

I'd gone from 12 minute miles to 12.5 minute miles to 13 minute miles.

2.5 years ago I was running regularly. I'd finally worked my way up to 2 miles and was feeling great about that mileage when I suddenly lost my mojo. I could barely get through a mile. Then it got worse. Pretty soon, I was barely making it through the first song on my play list. Turned out, I was pregnant with Bridget. Growing a human in your uterus can really interfere with a newbie runner.

Back to Wednesday- Pregnancy just didn't make sense. So, I looked at my food journal. My calories have been pretty low. Too low. 1200 low. And I'd only had around 700 calories before my run.

Yesterday, I was supposed to lift. But I wanted to test out my theory. I ate over 1000 calories, drove to the park, and psyched myself up.

I kept repeating in my head, "Redemption. Redemption. Redemption."

A half mile in I felt like stopping. But it was familiar. It was mental. My body felt strong.

Lo and behold, I finished 3.1 miles in under 36 minutes. Slow for most people. A personal best for me. In fact, my last mile was faster than my second. How about them apples?



Turns out, I'm not pregnant. Just hungry. And redemption? It tastes pretty damn good, too.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Love Doctor: Making Your Love List

Let's have some real talk. Leaving a relationship, no matter how omg horrible it is, is omg horrible. I've been there, had that boyfriend, got the t-shirt.

I remember how hopeless it felt. Howe I couldn't see my way out. I had wonderful, well-intentioned friends who told me how awful my relationship was. But there's something that happens to your brain when you're in an unhealthy, abusive relationship. Those relationships don't just break your heart. They break your brain. I'd respond to my friends' help with defensive arguments for why things weren't so bad. Why he wasn't so bad. How they just didn't get it.

I was like my very own Johnnie Cochran. My black glove argument was, "You just don't know him! We aren't always miserable! We laughed once last week, I think."

All I knew was I had to fix it. I had to keep the relationship afloat. I needed it. Even if it killed me (and it nearly did).

And then I started to work on me. Truthfully? I started my Me Work to make him happy. He blamed me for all our problems and I bought into that. But as I started to do the work- exercising, eating right, therapy - I also went looking for clarity.

Today, I'm going to share with you an exercise that helped me find that clarity.


This is easy peasy. And it's a lot less expensive than therapy. 

Step 1: Make a  list 

In the first step, you make a list of every quality you want in a partner. I don't care how frivolous it is.  You get to be as unedited as you want. Make this list nice and long. The point is to be thorough. You're painting a picture of your Dream Partner, ala Weird Science.

When I made my list, I included things like - good looking, funny, plays an instrument, likes sports
I also included serious items -  He had to like me, be loyal, tell the truth

Step 2: Make a shorter list

In this step, you take your original list and pull out the items you NEED in a partner. I'm talking non-negotiables here. Where can you absolutely NOT compromise?

Again, there's no limit on the length of this list. Just spend some time thinking about what you really need in a partner. Focus on yourself and be honest.

Step 3: Think about your current partner

During steps 1 and 2, you gave yourself permission to be really honest with yourself about what you want and need in a relationship.

In this step, you bring your current partner into the equation. Looking at your second list, circle the qualities your partner has. Be honest. Don't make excuses for your partner. Don't back track.

This step is the hard one. You might not like what you see. When I did this exercise 13 years ago, I was surprised that my boyfriend only had a few of the qualities I needed. These were qualities I said I had to have. It was a massive WTF moment for me. Because the things on my list were reasonable.

A guy who liked me for me
A guy who was faithful
A guy who was honest

And for the first time, I didn't believe his argument that I was "too needy." Instead of believing that I demanded too much of him, I recognized that I demanded too little. I put up with too much. I finally gave myself permission to have needs.

Untangling yourself from a relationship is hard. I don't think this exercise will that that away. But if you're unhappy, it might provide you with a little clarity.

And me? I saved those lists I made in the thick of a relationship-induced depression. I stored them in a journal and forgot about them until 4 years later, when I was looking for something. I was a couple months into my relationship with Brendan. And as I read that paper, I was shocked.

Brendan had every single quality I outlined. Not just on my needs list. He had every quality on my wants list. (Except one- He doesn't play an instrument.) Oh well, who needs to be serenaded anyway? He's my very own Weird Science McDreamy.





Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Love Doctor Is In (It Must Be Tuesday)

So, believe it or not, I had someone email me with a Love Doctor question. It turned into a little bit of an email dialogue, so I won't post the conversation here.*

Quick breakdown- Wonderful woman has been in a relationship with a man. He suddenly says he wants an "open" relationship.

After some more questioning, we figured something out  - This relationship is not even the issue. What our reader wants is this:

"I would have complete and total confidence in myself. I would jump out of bed ready to face the day instead of dreading it."

You're normal
Here's the deal. It can be really hard to like yourself. We're constantly barraged with conflicting messages of what you "should" be, how you "should" look, how you "should" dress. Mommy wars, diet commercials, Chris Brown, "real rape" and "she wanted it." The world is a nasty place for women. In fact, I'd say that having confidence and liking yourself in this hostile woman culture makes you WEIRD. Struggling with self-esteem? Of course you are. Congratulations. You're totally normal. [Side note - As the mother of 2 girls, I'm kind of shitting my pants about how to make sure they're weird.]

So, how to get past all this? First of all - It's hard work. It takes awhile to learn to love yourself. And you might not know where to start.

Your inner critic
We all have an inner critic. It's that voice inside that says you can't do it. You're worthless. Nobody loves you. Give up. Where does this voice come from? Maybe from neglectful, abusive people in our lives. Maybe from past relationships. Maybe from the media (see above).

The thing about your inner critic? The more you argue with it, the louder it gets. I find that whenever I go for a run, that voice shows up. Instead of arguing with it, I've accepted it as a glitch in my brain's programming. It's there. It's just part of the process.  For example, I know the inner critic shows up right after I put on my tennis shoes and when I'm a quarter mile in. It's actually predictable (I suspect this inner critic character doesn't have much imagination).

By accepting it, I take the critic's power away. You can do this, too.

Your compassionate witness
Your compassionate witness is that other part of your brain. This is your inner best friend. The voice that tells you "Yes, you can." And it's that part of your psyche that loves and cares for you- No matter what. The compassionate witness recognizes your inner critic is a programmed part of your brain and chooses to ignore it.  

Spend some time cultivating your compassionate witness. The best way to do this?

Self affirmations
They're cheesy. But they work. Say them aloud. Say them while you look in the mirror. Say them EVERY DAY- "I love myself, exactly as I am. Right now." [Your inner critic is going to have a tantrum every time you do this. Those messages will come. Accept them and ignore them. After awhile, those messages will get quieter and may disappear completely]

Keep it up and pretty soon, something will start to shift inside. Those words won't just be words.

Take care of yourself
This is kind of the "kitchen sink" part. Do things that make you feel good about yourself. Avoid things that make you feel bad.

When do you feel proud of yourself? - Do more of that
Do you have an outfit that makes you feel pretty? - Wear it
Do you have a quote that inspires you? - Post it where you'll see it everyday
Don't love yourself yet? - Surround yourself with people who love you until you do

And finally, about the boyfriend - Start with what you want. Move to what you need. Recognize what you deserve. Demand nothing less. [I'll blog more about this later. Maybe next week]

And consider this metaphor:


 Treat your body, your soul, your life with care. You are precious. Drink water, spend some time in the sun, meditate, listen to your favorite song with the volume turned up, go out with your girlfriends, dance, get plenty of sleep, avoid processed foods, move your body.

If you're still struggling, consider meeting with a therapist or talking to your doctor. 

The late, great Whitney Houston had it right. Loving yourself is the greatest love of all, Sister.




To everyone else- What do you do to build self-confidence? 

This is the second installment of the Love Doctor. Got a question? Email me at ebrooke631@yahoo.com.

* Posted with reader permission. Cause I'm not a total dick.