Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Spur of the Moment trip to N.O.

Sometimes no planning can be the best. I'm on a high that we had a great family day and it was totally off the cuff. George and I woke up on a Sunday morning, tried to have a cup of coffee before the girls woke up but no such luck. I tried to mouth the words, "skip church and go somewhere" but the man cannot read lips. I thought it would be really nice for the family to have a day together and an educational field trip. George will be working more weekends now and we decided to take advantage of this day and try the new Insectarium in New Orleans.
I think the reason I was on a high is that I've begun to stop worrying so much. My anxiety level is not so high any more. This is a huge obstacle to overcome. I actually spent the day in New Orleans and felt it was pleasant. You say, why is that such a big deal? I grew up in the country and the parental guidance was such that if you drove to New Orleans and got out of the car, then you would get shot and die. I don't think they ever said that per say, but that was the message none the less. And that is how I have lived my first twenty years or so.

And then I met my then boyfriend, now husband and we "courted" (I think I am the only one in my generation to use the word courted, but I love it!) in New Orleans where he lived attending medical school and it was not that experience of getting shot and dying. I would come in for weekends and there was a plethora of activities going on. We took part in the Crescent City Classic as well as the Greek Festival with some killer food. We danced on the grounds of the Tad Gormley track stadium during an outdoor Jimmy Buffet concert. I know we hit Mardi Gras parades (where I was waiting to be shot, or mugged), Kentucky Derby parties and I'm sure we attended a Saints game. We hung out with his super smart science friends who were getting advanced degrees but really liked to party. Beyond that, there are so many activities that cities of that size have as compared to our beloved Baton Rouge. The downside is that there are so many people and so much traffic and you have to learn your way around. That is the killer for my parents. Too many people, too much traffic, too many unknowns.

I believe I had progressed in an unconscious way in getting over some of my fears instilled in childhood. And then I had PPD (post partum depression) that knocked me down to the ground flat and in ways that I wasn't even aware of. For some the anxiety is more intense than the depression factor. It has taken years to get over the anxiousness especially as a parent with all that you can worry about with having a child. I think yoga is helping me to relax and that is why I have really taken to it. So a spur of the moment trip to New Orleans, is a big deal. I didn't worry about where we would park, where we would eat, or if it would rain. Also, I no longer have to worry about breastfeeding, diapers, sippy cups, and all of the other paraphernalia. That is such a freeing feeling that we have no diaper bag. We still have an umbrella stroller, temper tantrums and contemplate if there is a children's menu but it is getting easier to be mobile and go with a little less forethought, which is what we did.

And it is not that the way my parents live is a bad thing, it is just that I want to live with less anxiety and still want to get out and experience more of the world, even if it is just a daytrip to The Big Easy, right now. And I just realized that wow, it was such a free and easy day in New Orleans and it hasn't been that way for several years and I really, really enjoyed it. Now it could be better without the whinos and foul odors here and there, but that is New Orleans, love it or leave it. I like to go and visit and then return home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Day 2 of Summer

Here we are day two of my children's summer vacation, and I'm already feeling like it is going to be a long summer. I waver in my optimism versus pessimism outlook. We actually had a very good day yesterday, it was Memorial Day but my husband worked all day and we had swim lessons. My littlest one, Mallory did not want to swim, she was going to sit on the side but she ended up doing everything the instructor asked her but not without saying, "I don't want to do this" each and every time it was her turn to go. But the main motivator for her I believe was the bowl of lollipops sitting on the patio.

In a strain of it's a small world, the other two children who we are sharing the 1 pm time slot were the youngest children of my dentist. We've been going to him for years and I finally met his wife.

I was able to start the process of reorganizing our toy armoire, and get rid of some things which is a wonderful feeling. I need to go work some more now before the natives get restless. The only problem yesterday was that my dust allergies were stirred up in a massive way (sometimes it happens, sometimes not) and I felt horrible. Sitting by the pool stopped the nose and it was quite pleasant.

I've got quite a grocery list going and I've realized I'm beginning to really look forward to going to the store. I think that's why I realize it's going to be a long summer. The equation of how much I'm looking forward to a trip to Target is reflective of how desperate I am to get out the house!!! And I might have to variate it and break down and go to Walmart. I hate Walmart but it is something different. Here's to Day 2 of summer.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Well being

I never thought I would pick up a magazine about yoga. What do those yoga people have to elaborate on about yoga? At times, I am one of the small, closed mind type which I detest in other people and especially so in my own self. I also couldn't understand what magazines about hobbies that I was not interested in at all would have in them. But the funny thing is I picked up the yoga one just to see and have found some very interesting articles. As I have written before, I am really "getting in" to yoga. Now this doesn't mean that I go more than once a week, it is just that I can now name why I want to go every week. It is a heightened sense of well being and balance. How can you beat that?

As people have asked me about yoga or I try to describe why I'm digging it, I have great difficulty to spit out an accurate response. The feeling is different than after a good cardio workout. In yoga, I have sweated and used muscles all over. After the treadmill or elliptical, I tend to have an energy boost, and a better mood that lasts for a few hours or so. Also, I generally sleep better at night. With my practice of yoga at this point, I have come to understand that I have an increased sense of well being. That doesn't sound like much in words but it is extremely powerful in real life. The effects of yoga last for days and the more I practice, the more I can see it would become a way of life or something that I want to keep doing, regularly. That is not saying that I will stop eating red meat, stop trying to look stylish, or lose my enjoyment of reading People magazine, but I am so enthused by what I get out of it that I'm now hooked and it has taken a few years to get there.

I recently learned the gist of yoga is to put yourself in uncomfortable physical positions and then hold those positions and breathe through the uncomfortableness. Anybody seeing a powerful analogy for life???!!! Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Golightly? Golightly, this is it, listen up, this is your way to find balance in your life! Put down the chocolate and practice yoga regularly.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Coming to grips

I had a funky day a few days back. My emotions were low, and I felt like crying for the first part of the day. And I always have to figure out, why? I have learned that in the years since my bout with postpartum depression, that I have not wanted to feel sadness anymore, a crazy idea but you know, it's what happened. I think I get scared when I feel the need to cry. I am so so utterly terrified to go back into that deep dark pit again that I have kept sadness or any negative emotion, bottled up when I felt it. And then I ate it. There has been something "eating me up" for the last few years. There was a movie, Four Christmases
recently with Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughan and there was a scene of them looking at a picture of her from when she was younger and heavyset. She says, "I ate my feelings" and he says, "She must have had a lot of bad feelings" Really funny and a really good laugh. This scene spoke to me even though it shouldn't have as it was a crass line making fun of heavy people but I could so relate to that line as I've had a lot of bad feelings. And I also really like Reese Witherspoon!

I did have some reason to feel discombobulated last week. Summer is approaching and as a stay at home mom, my schedule is about to be ripped wide apart. Some moms look forward to summer with fervor. Not I. We will have a lot of time to fill except for a few hours here and there with camp and the like. Having this much time with my children has given me great anxiety in the past, as it would harken back to my motherload of anxiety time, that time I will now refer to as PPD. I know it's kinda crazy that I am a stay at home mom and the idea of spending all my time with my children sets me off into a panic. But I've accepted that I'm not a kid person, and a room full of kids wears me out and it only takes minutes, not hours. And taking care of these two young lives is mentally and physically exhausting. The constant abundance of energy, the noise, the demandingness of young children, it just gets to me along with the fact that I never am able to finish anything. And here is the disclaimer, I am very appreciative of the fact that I am able to be at home with them, I love them dearly but I still have feelings that I desire to stay sane. I am bound and determined though to keep my sanity and learn to handle all the togetherness, bit by bit (and in the meantime create two well adjusted, thriving children that I only want the best for, no pressure there)

Summer is here. There is a lot of free time to fill. I think the older my children get the easier I will be able to handle it. The problems will get bigger but I think what zaps me is the amount of physical and mental care that it takes to maintain from birth to around age 5ish. At least that is what some of my friends have said. What put me over the edge last week was that we learned my husband's schedule was going to change for the worse. He will now be on call every third weekend of the year, instead of fourth as it has been for the last nine years we have been in Baton Rouge. And this means more call during the week and longer work days as well. Second disclaimer, I am grateful he has a job in this economy. It's just a significant lifestyle change and I had to feel funky for a little while. I felt sad about it and I have moved on now. I realize I have to own the feelings, don't bottle them up, don't eat them, let them out and then figure out how to deal with it constructively.

These are my plans. I'm going to make it to yoga, somehow once a week. I'm going to park them each in front of a tv so that I can get on the treadmill for 30 minutes more days than not during the week or better yet, drag them to the YMCA and make them go to the nursery. We will get out of the house every day even if it is on small errands as I have learned that I begin to lose it without any outside world stimulation. I'm going to plan girls nights out and go through the hassle of finding a babysitter and coordinating friends' schedules. I'm going to keep blogging and letting my feelings out. I'm going to devote blocks of time for my children and play with them in their activities so that when I need time to myself, I will not feel guilty to turn them away. Those are my plans, I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My IPhone said, "Pray"

Our church is in the middle of a major capital campaign to build a new youth building. We began a 24 hour prayer period on Mother's Day before we hand in our pledge cards next Sunday. Weeks ago, I signed up for a 15 minute increment of prayer time for this morning at 6am. I had figured out how to schedule it on my iphone calendar and set the alarm and then I forgot about it. I do not use this feature on a regular basis at all. I do need to learn more of the phone features besides uploading pictures to facebook, but I digress.

So I'm up early as George was coming home from work at 5:30 a.m. getting ready to go back to work. And I'm thinking let me get my coffee before I sit down. I hear my phone go off and go to find it, and it says, PRAY. It was just a surprising thing to see, I had forgotten what I had programmed. It just seemed like a divine moment. Well, a divine moment that I had programmed but nonetheless a moment. A piece of technology sought me out and said, "pray." Could you ignore that?? It made me think perhaps I should put pray on the iphone calendar more often and surprise myself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Uncomfortable religious moments

This is a tough topic, very charged, very personal. Everybody has their beliefs, opinions, experiences, and convictions. This is my experience and I have been coming to grips with it and examining my relationship with God intensely the last couple of years. I have been coming to understand facets of my personality that I didn't before as a result of age, maturity and most importantly, therapy. Therapy has helped me understand psychological processes that affected my beliefs growing up. Who knew I would learn about my spiritual life when I showed up to talk about my inability to stop eating? But it has been broken wide open for me to get a handle on and I'm so glad to be going through this painful yet enlightening process and it is bringing me closer to God, a God that I can embrace.

I was in a church book study recently and the discussion rolled around to denominations, God centered vs Jesus centered and so on. I had an aha moment of all of the diverse and uncomfortable moments of "religion" that I had experienced. I felt I have been a little warped when it comes to religion lately and I think for good reason. These moments have been forever etched in my mind. I grew up as a Methodist but have had exposure to many different denominations including several Baptist churches, Catholic masses (including ones in a psychiatric facility!), Russian Orthodox, Episcopalian, Jewish services and then some non-denominational meetings that were not in a church building.

One of my first FEAR remembrances from church was sunday school talk of Armageddon and the second coming, with some devil thrown in as well. I think at this same time and continuing were some hellfire and brimstone style sermons. I had a major level of discomfort sitting through these services and distinctly remember them. It hit my psyche and not in a positive way and hasn't let go. Also, sometime in my tween years, I can still vividly picture sitting through revivals and at the end there were altar calls, where the pianist
played the last stanza of the hymn over and over and over again to goad persons to come to the front and accept Jesus. I had already accepted Jesus but didn't want to walk up to the front of the church in order to do so. I was a reserved, shy child and can still be a reserved adult. I was not comfortable in that service at all, but I continued to attend worship services like that for years because of where I lived, my family and who I dated. Some other experiences were a small group gathering where persons spoke in tongues (more uncomfortableness), attending a heaven or hell play production which gave me no further understanding of God but scare tactics and more calls to come down to the front and be born again. God has been with me from the beginning and the process is me becoming aware of his presence and relying on him and I don't need to be born again. These were examples to me of a god that was to be feared, not a God of love. I didn't understand all of this at the time, just felt it in my gut.

It has taken me a long time to let myself believe what I in my gut believe about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. There were circumstances in my life that made me feel that I had to believe a certain way about the Bible and God and now I am slowly freeing myself of them and it is fantastic. I don't want to fear God, I want to talk to God in a relationship that is open, a God that is more about love than rules. There is much love with God, but also with that love is pain, and events in life that we have no control over. It is our relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit and our community of faith as well as complete strangers that help us survive, thrive and move on.
When I began understanding why I had felt obligated to believe in a certain way, and having guilt for not believing in those certain ways and judgement that I felt from others, I then turned it around and began to judge those whom I had felt judged by. Not a good move for me, but one of reaction. I have been working to let this go as well. The more secure I feel in my beliefs, the less all that matters. My goal is too let go of worrying about denominations, and what other people think. I am embracing for the first time, my own beliefs from my heart and gut. Peace to all. Amen!