Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Herd of Cats

Anyone who has just two wolves is pretty lucky. I have found that I exist with a herd of cats living inside of me. A whole bunch of cats, each trying to be the "alpha" cat. Each frolicking and trying to out purr the other. Life is difficult with a whole bunch of cats chasing lasers inside of you.

Meet Lucy. She is wise.

One cat, let's call her Lucy, she is a conscientious little one. She wants us to eat organic, and be a dedicated yogi. She likes to look at new recipes of green smoothies that have odd ingredients like kelp, chia seeds, hemp and who knows what else. She likes the idea of eating paleo, or carb free or whole grains. She believes in meditation and doing sun salutations to work through emotions.

And then there is another little kitty, Susie. She is a hellian. She loves marshmallows and Cheetos. Working out is hard work, and therefore should be avoided. She really likes netflix. And lounging in the sun. Sleeping is the number one priority. Followed, of course, by eating the delicious and easy things in life.

I hope Helen has a cat-stache
Now, these two sweet felines sure like to tustle and fight and make me crazy. Let's be honest, Susie usually wins because hers is the path of least resistance. And it has the cheetos. I don't know if you know this, but (for me) cheetos trumps chia seeds. But, like I said, I live with a herd of cats. I'm hoping that within the tumbling fur balls and emotions there is one that promotes moderation. I hope her name is something sensible but quirky. Like Helen. You don't meet many Helens these days.

Truth is, I've always struggled with the concept of being moderate. I've been an all or nothing gal since I first made up my mind. Honestly, that isn't a horrible thing to be. It has its advantages. I dig in and I don't give up when I make up my mind. Its how I navigated college at fifteen. But finding middle ground is something I struggle with. Something I'm not comfortable doing. Some find that they can easily make "healthy choices" and allow a few "unhealthy" things to slip in now and again. Those "unhealthy" things don't ruin their diet, their exercise plan or their desire to be healthy. It isn't the end of the world or an era or anything. It was simply a choice.

To walk the path of moderation is a mystery to me. It just doesn't make a whole lotta sense. In my black and white brain, you're IN or you're OUT. Being healthy isn't one of those lovely sloping pools where you can splash around in the shallows - half in and half out. Slowly making your way deeper if that is your desire. Sun bathing in the shallows with a veggie platter and a slushie. Its an Olympic sized diving pool, and its sink or swim.

Progress might be in my future. At least that is what I'm hoping. I mean, the first step to change is seeing that change must be had. And the second step is the desire to make the change. Granted, sometimes this is both the easiest and hardest part. But still. I'm on my way. I read this article last night and I think this might be the path for me. Who knows? It is a starting point.

What I DO know is that it is important to accept yourself. All of you. Every individual cat in the herd of cats. It frees you from all kinds of unhealthy emotions. So, here is to Lucy, Susie and (hopefully) Helen, To the impulsive and lazy parts of me. The passionate and peace-loving frolicking felines that all make up who I am.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Real Life - the Spider Incident

Let's talk real life for a second.

I hate spiders. I might have lived in India, and I might now have a much higher tolerance for sharing my space with bugs. But spiders? Nope. Not gonna fly (ha, see what I did there? Punny! No? Ok. Nevermind.)

So last night, I walk into our tiny little bathroom. And there is a HUGE spider above the mirror. And I'm pretty sure it locks eyes with me. It has me in its sights. And the thing is growing by the nanosecond. By the time I run screaming from the bathroom it has taken on Hobbit proportions.

I am NOT as brave as Bilbo.
Of course, my husband comes to investigate his frightened wife's screams. Only to also retreat to the bedroom where we can both peek at the terrifying, awful thing from around the door, with the safety of a wall between us and IT.

While Stephen watches to make sure the monster does not disappear, I run to the kitchen to find something, anything, to capture it. We didn't just want to kill it. Not because we are against killing spiders (we aren't. At all. Ever. Kill them. All of them.) But because we wanted to see what we were dealing with. I mean, if the thing was a poisonous, procreating, spawn of Satan we would need to spray for spiders.

All I could find was a vase. And not just any vase. The one vase I have left over from my wedding. We decorated tables with these beautiful vases. But it was now all that stood between us and imminent death.

Stephen carefully placed the vase over the spider. And the spider immediately went berserk and started to attack his hand. I, being the brave soul I am, freaked and hid in the bedroom. I'm not proud of my actions. I just want to say that. I am not a brave soul. There is a reason I was born in the 21st century.

So there Stephen is, holding our wedding vase over the spider. Stretched out, practically on tip toe, because the stupid thing was above the mirror. The spider is periodically trying to attack his hand. And this is when he announces that he really has to pee and that I need to come and hold the vase.

Guys, I tried. I gathered my shredded dignity, my non-existent courage and I tried. But instead, I pretty much started crying and screamed, "I can't! Just pee in the sink! I can't!"

Of course, he protested. And I did this little dance where I would come close-ish to the bathroom and then hastily retreat to the safety of the bedroom. And, in the end, in a cowardly act of terror I shut the bathroom door and just yelled, "JUST PEE IN THE SINK!!!!"

And that is what the poor man had to do. Because his faithless wife abandoned him in his time of need.

In the end, after I calmed myself down enough to stop shrieking, I found some cardboard, we took the spider outside and.... threw the whole kit and caboodle over the neighbors fence and did the "Is it on my dance" while booking it back to the house.

Yes, my vase is in the neighbor's backyard. I'm not sure how we are going to explain it to them when we go to retrieve the vase. "Ummm we threw a huge wolf spider in your backyard with our wedding vase. Hope it doesn't get in your house... Mind if we retrieve the vase?"

We are cowards. We are bad neighbors. We pee in the sink. Our shame knows no bounds.

But, the silver lining? While this aggressive, awful, nightmarish spider turns us (me) into sniveling cowards, it is NOT poisonous. According to the internet it is a wolf spider (thus the aggression) and does not "pose a medical concern". That is, if you don't count heart-attacks and abandonment as medical concerns.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Tribute to my Grandpa

There have been many people in my circle of friends and family who have recently lost someone. Sometimes they have lost a loved one, a friend or coworker. But the overwhelming theme lately seems to be loss.

I'm not sure why that is, but it prompted me to think of the deaths I have experienced in my own life. I've lost two grandpas, and several of my husband's grandparents/aunts have also passed in the last two years.

But, for me, the loss that stands out the most is the loss of my great-grandfather. Grandpa Asay is a staple in all of my childhood memories. He was there for violin concerts, birthdays, baptisms, baby blessings but most of all every Sunday evening was spent with him. Every Sunday evening my mom would pack us all in the car and we would head off to Grandma and Grandpa Asays. There we would watch Bambi on repeat, play with lincoln logs, old fashioned telephones and mostly explore their magical backyard.

I would ask Grandma for a candy, and Grandpa would sneak me two. Outside, Grandpa never failed to push me on the swing, sending me soaring into the clouds. He would show me where to find the best of the raspberries, and he proved my mother wrong by showing me that money DID grow. Just not on a tree. He turned his, then, giant backyard into a magical land full of elves, cowboys and baseball.

When I was learning to write my numbers he painstakingly taught me how to write my 2's. Curly and distinctive. I write my 2's the same way to this very day, and I often look back and smile at the memory of him patiently showing me how to make that 2 just right, dim lights: yellow counter top and squeaky pencil.

Easter egg hunts were better in his backyard. And Christmas wasn't Christmas without going to Grandma and Grandpa's house, where all the unmarrieds would dress up and act out the nativity and then sing Christmas songs until Santa made his appearance, because Grandpa asked him to drop by. And then the brown paper bags with candy and little oranges were given to all. And I would sit on Santa's knee and boldly ask for ponies, puppies and a little sister.

Even as a teenager I looked forward to those evenings at Grandpa's house. There is something about being in a place so full of love that not even the babies want to fight. But as I grew older, so did he. That didn't stop our special connection. He often told me how I was his "special girl, and I love you more than you know."

Soon, the dementia set in and instead of seeing me for me, I was my mother in high school. I happily answered to, "Shirlyn" and cherished what moments I had with him.

Soon, but really a few years later, he was suddenly gone. I remember the night of his death so clearly because I knew he was gone before the phone even rang.

I had been engaged, and just a few weeks earlier my fiance had out of the blue called off the wedding and broken my heart. I had gone home for the weekend, wanting to be cuddled by my understanding mother. That night, I was laying on the hood of my car staring at the bright summer stars. In the country the stars are so clear and close they can take your breath away. I was feeling so alone and discarded, like I had done something horribly wrong and deserved this broken heart. My eyes had just filled up with tears wondering how I was supposed to move on with my life. And then, Grandpa was there.

His presence was so strong that I felt if I just turned my head I would see him sitting next to me. I had that, "you are loved and safe" feeling he exuded just wash over me. And, clear as a bell, I heard him say, "Jeannie you are my special girl, and I love you very much. You deserve the best things in life." And then he was gone. And I knew that he had transitioned from my earth angel, to my guardian angel. Just as sure as I knew that I would and could go on with life.

I have a hard time thinking about his funeral, about saying that final goodbye. But I remember, after the service, they set up a mic while his many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren ate the food Grandma would make sure was on their plates. Anyone who wanted too could get up and say a memory. I couldn't manage to get up there. His final goodbye to me was still so near to me, and I knew that I would be incomprehensible if I tried to say anything else.

Its been years since he has been gone. But he has shown his presence in my life when I needed him most. At the time in my life I felt so alone and helpless and hurt, he was there. With those same words, and that overwhelming love. I miss him every single Christmas. And at my cousin's recent baptism I found myself in tears at his absence. Part of me still misses him every single day, even though he has shown how active in my life he really is.

Sometimes when I'm faced with decisions, the decision I go with is the one I know Grandpa would be most proud of. But I also go through my days with the complete knowledge that he loves me. No matter what. Forever.

"Because someone we love is in heaven, there is a little bit of heaven in our home."

Monday, November 3, 2014

On Fire

I woke up angry this morning. Like, raging, watch-out-world angry. At least, angry is what I thought I was at first. I don't know if I can necessarily call it angry for long, because it wasn't really "anger" in the sense that I am used too. I usually get angry when some injustice happens, when someone crosses a boundary, or I see someone I love hurt. This was different. 

This was an alarm going off in my brain. A loud, shrieking siren with flashing lights. It was a "Wake up!" feeling. One that said, "FEEL ALL THE FEELINGS." It was a shadow chasing, light shedding, alert. My body has had enough.

What I am about to say may put me in jeopardy of some judgement. See, I never get zits. Even as a hormone fueled teenager, I would have (at most) two zits in a month. I currently have more zits on my face than I usually get in an entire year. (6 zits, to be exact. SIX! With one bright red, volcanic little number that is trying to take root as my third eye.)

So, lets just add up everything that my body has finally said, "ENOUGH!" And is calling me to action about. (this sentence is driving me nuts, but I can't think of a way to fix it. So I am leaving it the way it is. Though it may drive me to the looney bin.)

My hair is falling out. In handfuls. I am shedding more hair than a pack of poorly groomed golden retrievers. (I so wish I was joking here, but I'm not.) I have to sweep and vacuum multiple times a week if we don't want to be wading through mountains of hair. Gross, I know. Sorry for the mental image.

I'm exhausted. Getting out of bed after 8 hours of sleep is one of those monumental tasks akin to spouting off the Gettysburg address, after being spun around a hundred times with a mouth full of marbles. While being attacked by a bunch of needy, claw-happy kittens. And that exhausted feeling follows me around all day.

The aforementioned zits.

I lost almost 15 lbs while in India. And in less than 6 weeks gained it all back again. Part of this is due to being malnourished in India (apparently you can't be sick 4 times a week, never eat fresh fruits or veggies and live off of snickers as your primary source of nutrition and be healthy at the same time). Once I returned from this little adventure, my body went "AHHHHHHHHH" and immediately started storing everything it needed for the next season of famine. Poor body doesn't know that short of being shot, returning to a place such as India and living there for any amount of time just isn't gonna happen.

I've gone to my doctor and had some blood work down (still waiting on results), but what I really know? Things gotta change. Eating habits, workout habits, sleeping habits. Mainly all my habits. Which, if you think about it, isn't entirely comfortable. Change is hard. And my relationship with food and exercise is complicated. But it is something I'm going to get over. Starting... now. Because my health is more important than just about anything (Except for Ross and Rachel, I mean, come on. Priorities people.) 

So what does this look like? I'm not sure entirely. I know for sure that is means all processed foods and sugar are a no-go. Starting..... NOW. (That ellipsis was me eating the only food in my office. A bagel. Cause I hadn't eaten anything for breakfast. So we can start now.) Yoga errrrrrry day. Cause, well, duh. Its yoga. And I shall take up running like I always said I wanted too. 

How all of this is going to play out, I'm not quite sure. I mean, I'm not going to be crazy about this. But what I am thinking is no processed foods/sugar until my birthday. That is only a few weeks away and totally doable. And then I can eat what I want on my birthday, and then go back to being prudent until Thanksgiving. Where I shall eat all the pie, because I've been looking forward to that pie since last Thanksgiving. Guys, I love pie. I'm not giving it up. You can't make me. 

So, that's the plan Stan. Feel free to offer all the words of advice/comfort/commiserating that you wish. Encouragement is always nice, so if you have any extra of that please pass it along.