Category Archives: A Better Me

finalversion

Just Keep [Insert -ing word here]

I’m very frustrated lately at all of the backtracking I’ve been doing in my life. My efforts to be a better Mom/Wife/Runner/Eater have all backslidden and I found myself stress eating a box of donuts in my car again yesterday. It was like “Throwback Tuesday – Food Addict Style”.

But I woke up this morning reminding myself: There is no “final” version of me. I don’t get to just say, “All right! This is it! This is the final Zoot Release package! No improvements needed!” Nope. That’s not me. That’s not reality. That’s not life. Backsliding is just part of the cycle of improving myself and I can either wallow in those failures or I can acknowledge them and move on, move forward, move SOMEWHERE other than the land of self-hatred.

My training has been faltering. My diet has been horrendous. My parenting has been embarrassing. But I recognize that. I see those things and I can also see all of the progress I have made in improving all of those areas and JUST because I’m backsliding, doesn’t erase all of the progress I made in any of those areas before.

So. Back to the grindstone. I didn’t run this morning but I’m going to try to later. I’m going to remember that I like my kids, even if they yell and punch me in anger sometimes. (Yes. We’re back in that phase again. I thought it was gone for good. Nope. WHEEE!) I’m going to try to eat for my BODY and not for my ANXIETY. (My anxiety likes donuts. My body likes beans.) I’m going to allow myself failures but NOT allow those failures to erase the pride I should feel over past successes.

And I’m going to smile more. I’ve been stressed lately thinking about my inadequacies. I miss my smile. I deliberately tried to smile more yesterday and it made me feel so much better. Such a simple thing. But such a necessary one.

finalversion

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wrong

I Was Wrong.

We are in an era now, with the popularity of the internet and social networking, that we can quickly discover that some people are affected negatively by our words/actions where we might not have otherwise known. For example, because I’ve always had friends and family in the LGBT community, I’ve been aware of the negative impact of using the word “gay” as an insult or a derogatory statement for all/most of my adult life. However, I didn’t grow up around anyone who was mentally handicapped so I was already an adult before I learned that saying something, “is retarded!” hurts a lot of people in a lot of communities I don’t want to hurt. I had to retrain myself not to fall back on using the word “retarded” as a synonym for “crazy” or “ludicrous” or “ridiculous”.

It’s embarrassing to realize you’ve been doing something wrong as an adult. It really is. So embarrassing, I’m not going to tell you how old I was when I learned that the word “retarded” was an insult to use so casually. (I will say this: It was BEFORE the “End the R Word” campaign. Thank goodness. I can have pride in at least that.) I also won’t tell you how old I was when I learned that you don’t use “Oriental” to describe people (Donnie had to teach me that…I’m still mortified) and that some behavior – like dressing as a geisha for a concert – is referred to as Cultural Appropriation and an be offensive to the group from whom you’re “borrowing” elements of their culture.

Some people get irritated because they say there is too much “political correctness” going on in our society. But I don’t look at it as a rise in PC, I look at it as a rise in the ripple effect of our words. If you were isolated from the LGBT community, you might go your whole life not knowing that saying, “That’s gay!” is offensive. But now, that community within reach of your Facebook statuses and you have a choice: Do you say, “I’m so sick of political correctness!” or do you say, “Wow. The ripples of my actions reach further now so I need to be more aware of the communities they touch and how those communities react to my words/actions.”

And we need to boldly say: I DID NOT KNOW. I WAS WRONG. I AM SORRY.

It’s embarrassing to say that. VERY embarrassing. I know a friend of mine growing up had a sister with Down Syndrome. I didn’t know her sister, I just knew of her, but did I ever use the word “retarded” casually around her? I have no idea. I think that was a trend that popped up later in my life, but I’m not sure. Did I upset her when I said it?

EMBARRASSING.

But it’s a GOOD thing. Yes. There is ALWAYS someone who gets offended at EVERYTHING. We can not make everyone happy. But I tend to judge the room. If a lot of people on my feed are talking about something being offensive, or posting links to articles on Twitter or Facebook, then I take notice. I think I’ve developed a wide range of sources of information from the ultra-conservative family members to the ultra-liberal friends. I can get a pretty accurate gauge on whether or not something is offensive to more than one person. For example: When Katy Perry performed as a geisha at that show? I saw no less than 5 well-written and thought provoking articles or statuses about cultural misappropriation. So, I took notice. I learned something new. I admitted I was wrong.

(You know, that time I performed in front of 20,000 people dressed as a geisha.)

It’s hard. But we have to be able to do it in order to really embrace the positive that a diverse online community can give us.

It’s also hard to navigate it. I know people who are REALLY offended when there’s not a prayer offered before a race and I know people who are REALLY offended when there IS a prayer offered before a race. The majority of the people want a prayer, but does that mean you ignore those offended by it? Do you offer a moment of silence instead and then offend people who thing our country is facing so many problems because we’re NOT praying enough and we’re doing more “moments of silence” than actual prayer?

I don’t know. There are times where you just have to decide to offend someone. And some people (as an atheist I can say this: atheists are the WORST) just like causing a scene about things that are quite benign. But still, we need to at least be AWARE of how our words/actions affect other communities and we need to be willing to make adjustments to our speech/behavior if it’s warranted.

So. I’m writing this to admit to you: I was very wrong at certain points in my adult life. I misused the word “oriental” and casually used the word “retarded”. I never performed as a geisha in from of 20,000 people, but I’m certain I borrowed things from other cultures without thinking about it at all. (I seem to recall carrying a beaded purse for awhile that looked like it was made by a Native American.) I’m not going to beat myself up about these things, but I’m going to admit I was wrong about them. Admit I did not know my words/actions offended people.

Did you learn anything as an adult that you were embarrassed to find out was offensive to other groups/cultures/communities? Can you share what you learned as an effort to maybe teach others? It’s never too late!

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DSC_1169

Monday + First of the Month = New Beginning Dream

I knew this day would be a good one. It’s Monday, first of all. And while Mondays are difficult in many ways, they are still – to me – blank slates for the week. I don’t like my rest day being Monday because I want to start the week off on a good foot. I like to get my eating on track on Mondays. I like to get my weekly schedule on track. I like Mondays as beginnings. Even though – as the end of the weekend – they still suck donkey balls. And then there’s the first day of the month! A great day if you like significant “Start” days. New diets! New fitness plans! New calendars! There are so many things you can start over on the first day of the month. So! Make today a Monday AND The first day of the month and it’s like: BAM! MAJOR CLEAN SLATE BONUS POINTS!

New month! New week! I haven’t screwed up anything yet!

Full disclosure: It’s 4:45am…I haven’t had too much time to screw things up.

Add the fact that a new 30-day Subtraction Project has started and this has the recipe to be a kickass September!

But man…we have so much going on. I’m trying not to be overwhelmed.

This is the dreaded month where we have an overlap between Autumn Soccer and Winter Swimming. Actually – they overlap September AND October – but this is the FIRST month when we decide whether or not we can handle it. We could wait and sign them up in November, completely after soccer, BUT! They’re still in the swimming groove…they’ve made HUGE progress this summer…without a reason to get them to the pool, I’m afraid they’ll lose all of that progress and we want swimming to be THE winter activity. At least for Nikki, Wes may do basketball for awhile. So! Soccer AND Swimming. We swore we’d never put the kids in two activities at once. Yet…YET…here we are. We weighed the pros and cons and decided the pros were high enough to warrant an attempt. If we end up taking October off from swimming because September was too crazy? That’s fine. At least then we will have only had one month of a break, hopefully not enough to lose any progress made in the skill department.

And this is the month of THE IRONMAN! Donnie has been in official training mode, with a coach and a schedule that he’s stuck to PERFECTLY since May. That’s 12+ weeks of a full commitment to a race that is now less than 4 weeks away. He’s peaked most of his training levels, but he does have a half-Ironman distance race this weekend. Then it’s basically taper mode until 9/28…the big day.

So! Great day to start with a clean slate, and I really want to start on the right foot because this month has more than it’s share of challenges.

After I go for a run, I’ll be taking the kids south to see E at Montevallo. I can think of no better way to A) Spend a Holiday or B) Fill up my tank with energy to start the month. I miss that kid terribly. He’s working three jobs and school has started so we will never see him again. We’re respecting his need for sleep and showing up around lunch and leaving around 3:30 so he can go to work. I’m hoping to soak up as much love from him in that 3 hours as possible to hold me over for awhile.

Happy Monday, people. Happy September. Happy Labor Day.

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Some days I wake up ready to RULE THE DAMN WORLD.

Let’s Get Productive/Fit/Happy/Calm/Positive/Healthy/Organized!

Some days I wake up ready to RULE THE DAMN WORLD.
Some days I wake up ready to RULE THE DAMN WORLD.
I’m the kind of person who is always trying to better myself. Some days I think this is how everyone is because I am just surrounded by those kind of people – both online and IRL. (In Real Life. It’s how the cool kids speak.) But then I hear periodically that there are people who just stay with the status quo, probably wanting to be better in some way, but never really trying. I don’t know any of those people but I’d like to think if they hung out with me for a day, they’d change their view. There’s is something intoxicating about trying something new in the hopes that it brings you closer to the you that you want to be. I think that’s why I used to buy a new calendar/planner every few months. It gave me an excuse to start clean, start over, and try again at being more organized and that was always such a good feeling. I think that’s also why some people try so many diets – because that hope that this will be the one! is almost euphoric.

Does any of it work? Most of the time? No. But I’m about to celebrate my one year anniversary with the Bullet Journal system and I’ve not stuck with one calendar/organization system for an entire year…EVER. I’m also about to register for the Huntsville Half Marathon which I did as part of my first training class in 2011 and I’ve been running ever since. So, yes. Sometimes we try things and they don’t work. But sometimes they do work and we find ourselves in a better place because of them. SO WHY NOT TRY?

Today I woke up with this weird sense of urgency. TODAY! TODAY I WILL IMPROVE ALL OF THE THINGS!

I am even typing this urgently, if you can believe it. I woke up at 3am and just thought that this would be the day I would try different methods for EVERYTHING. Because I’ve settled into so many ineffective systems of living that I just need to try new things. I’ve gotten really good at focusing on my work now that the kids are in school, but that means I’m not moving from my desk for – sometimes – 8 hours. I sit down at 4am, get up sometimes to run, always to get the kids ready for school, but essentially I’m here until 2:20pm when I leave to pick up the kids. And depending on the day (like if I ran or not) I sit back down again until 4pm. HAVEN’T YOU HEARD? Sitting is the new smoking! It’s going to kill us all! So today? I WILL SIT LESS. I think I’m going to figure out a schedule, like…every hour on the hour I’ll get up, make a circle around the house, and then do 10 pushups, 10 situps, and 10 squats. That will get me away from the desk for less than 5 minutes, but if I do it 10 times? I’ve done 100 of those things a day! I don’t know…we’ll give it a try.

And I’m going to open Facebook less. I’m a funny girl, did you know that? I am. And I like to share that funny with Facebook. I only friend people on Facebook I actually know, so if we’ve never met in some capacity we’re not FB friends, but if we are? You know that I post articles/pictures/statuses 100 times a day. I can’t help it! I take a cute picture of my cat on my printer, or my kid says something funny, or someone sends me a great article…all of these things I want to share with the world! Which is fine…except that once you open Facebook, you’re stuck there. You have to read your updates and check your feed and the next thing you know…12 years have passed. So today! Today I will only open Facebook to post what I want to post, and then I will close it until a designated “CATCH UP ON FACEBOOK” time.

I will not stop taking the phone with me to the potty, though. Facebooking while Peeing is the new Black.

I work on websites all day with my job. I love my work but it’s like Geometry was in school. Sometimes you have this theorem you have to prove and you work on it and you stare at it but you just can’t get the logic to connect from beginning to end. So! You get up and you walk away for a bit. Almost always, you sit back down and BAM! You figured it out! But still…you HAVE to get away to allow the productive part of your troubleshooting brain some quiet time to work it out while the rest of your brain shifts focus. So! I have decided I need to be way more conscious with how I use that time. Sometimes I just switch to another web task, but in reality, I should get up and from the computer and do something completely mundane for 5 minutes. Like do a load of laundry, or wash some dishes, or clean a toilet. Because the shift really does help my brain troubleshoot better AND it gives me a chance to knock a domestic chore off my list. Today! Today I’m going to be more productive with those “I Need To Reboot My Brain” moments.

I’m still struggling with stress eating, even as a vegan. It amazes me how easy that is to do. (It also makes me very sick some days. Overdosing on some kinds of fiber is not recommended by my digestive system.) I’m going to try to eat on a schedule today. I do get hungry more often because food doesn’t sit with me as long, so I do need to eat more, but I find that my stress eating habits get magnified in those moments of hunger so I’m trying to beat the hunger pains. I’m going to try to schedule snacks all day so I never feel that “hungry” feeling that sometimes pushes me down the spiral of overeating.

Parenting. Dammit. I’ve been an awful Mom these last few weeks. I know we all have bad days but my bad days have been so bad I don’t even want to tell you about them and that’s insane because I talk about boob sweat here, so you know it must be bad. But I have big hopes for a good parenting today. BIG HOPES. BIG DREAMS. GOOD MOM. Done.

Basically? I woke up ready to MAKE SOME DAMN CHANGES. I don’t know why. All I know is that if you’re the kind of person who likes trying to better yourself because sometimes something sticks…then you don’t want to waste those spontaneous urges to IMPROVE ALL OF THE THINGS. It’s the shotgun approach to self-help. Just change it all and surely some bad habit will fall to the ground.

And if not? The feeling of trying is at least euphoric in and of itself. The attempt at improvement is very valuable to motivating you to try again later. It feels good to try. Failing sucks, but it doesn’t overpower that feeling of, “Today! Today I will try this thing to better my life!” And when I wake up with the urge to try all of the things to better all of my life? I’m not going to ignore it.

BRING IT ON.

Edited to Add: This is the perfect time to tell you that the 30 Day Subtraction Project is starting again September 1st! Do it! Talking about an easy project to make you feel better about your life. When she did it a few months ago, I looked forward to the daily email prompts. They were GREAT. And the motivation for the before/after photos of practical tasks (some are not that concrete) was awesome. Loved looking at the progress on those days! GO SIGN UP! It starts Monday!

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Some days I wake up ready to RULE THE DAMN WORLD.

It’s A Stream of Consciousness Kind Of Morning

I’ve had four bad days. I don’t know how the bad days start, but I know they’re bad days when I stop logging my food and start eating all of the burritos.

(It’s the tagline for my new show: Real World: Food Addicts Anonymous)

While I know it’s a bad day if I binge eat, but it’s not always just the binge eating that makes it bad. There was some monumentally bad parenting that happened yesterday. And I haven’t run or swam or done anything in three days. And while I conquered some hella difficult coding challenge last week, I found myself stumbling on stupid stuff this week at work, making me feel like the dumbest web developer in all the lands.

So, bad days have LOTS of bad things, not just the Staring At The Fridge And Eating My Weight In Peanut Butter.

I told myself as I fell asleep last night: Tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a good day.

But I do that a lot, and the bad days still happen, so I’m not sure why I keep doing it. I think I need to work on saying it during the bad day and not only the night before.

And when I say “monumentally bad parenting” I mean it quite literally. In historical timeline and tourism spots of bad parenting, my behavior in the last few days would be the Devil’s Tower or the Mount Rushmore of bad parenting. Not something so phenomenal people set aside chunks of their life to visit, but definitely worth a detour out of your way for a visit if your within a couple hundred miles or so.

I’m kinda mortified by my behavior and am contemplating calling a child psychologist just to make them appointments where they can talk about how much of an ass I am.

But today! Today will be a good day!

Except Wes woke up in the middle of the night again, meaning I’m still quite behind on sleep, and I am THE WORST when my sleep is not what it should be. So, you know, fingers crossed there.

This is also the first week of school (this is the part of the blog entry where I defend myself) so my schedule is off and I’m just completely out of sorts trying to readjust. As are the kids as they’re still wanting to stay up late but having to get up early.

But I did stumble upon some awesomeness from yesterday’s entry. This article which talks about how people like me aren’t really suited for using the word “atheist,” which focuses on what’s missing in our lives, because – spiritually – there’s always so much more. I also was introducde to Episcopalian Bishop John Spong who seems wonderful and I was reminded of Rob Bell who I had stumbled upon via some podcasts recently.

There was also this article in Salon, but while some of it was great, I hated other parts. “God is not exactly welcome in our home” being the main one. I don’t like that attitude. I also don’t like that she spoke about “forgiving” people who might have pushed religion on her but in VERY benign ways. I feel like she needs to walk in my daughter’s shoes a bit, be told she’s going to hell as the center of a joke with friends at school. And even that is benign. What about being murdered in a town square for being different? No. I don’t need to “forgive” people who simply living a religious life around me. I’m not going to be that dramatic. That’s just me accepting that people are different and those differences might cross my life but I’m not going to focus on the dogma but on the spirit. If someone gives me a religious gift, I accept it in the spirit it was intended, I don’t say I need to “forgive” them.

ANYWAY…

So, where was I? Yeah. Great thought-provoking stuff from yesterday. Thanks guys.

Also? I’m totally going to have a good day today. I’m going to run this morning. As long of a run as I can muster in the allotted window given to me by my husband’s schedule. I’m going to listen to some podcasts that make me laugh/think (my favorite kind) and I’m going to try not to binge eat sweet potato fries. I’m going to count to 10 before yelling at my kids (even if they did just intentionally spit on my bedroom floor) and I’m going to not forget the awesome work I did on my job last week even if I got stuck by something stupid this week.

And I’m going to continue this positive attitude all day. It’s not good enough to say it the night before and hope it sticks. If I don’t keep the right frame of mind all day, it goes downhill SUPER fast around here and I knock people down on the sidelines as I fall. Those people are often my children, who don’t deserve to be caught in the wreckage of my bad day.

BLURGH. Thanks for letting me ramble non-stop.

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