Finding a Voice

In trying to figure out the focus of my blog, I was thinking about what I like in other blogs I love.  The biggest feature is the feeling of the blog.  It’s that I feel like I’m getting a glimpse into another person’s life, their struggles, successes, and just daily thought process.

It doesn’t have to be beautiful (although I appreciate the effort they do to make it look nice) but it’s more about a connection that comes through.  Sometimes I can relate to the same experiences and sometimes it’s just an honest look someone else’s experiences that I can really appreciate.

The hard part?  Getting to the point of having my own voice.  I have read A LOT about writing, especially for blogs and the advice really is just start.  I’ve struggled with that over the last few years.  I purchased my domain and then have flip-flopped in my mind about what to do in this space.  I have lots of ideas but I often feel stuck in trying to organize them into something coherent and interesting.

One of the things that I realized through learning my MBTI type (I’m an ENFP), is that I like to process my thoughts out loud.  THAT is what helps give me clarity.  How do I do that?  I’ve been trying to have things more perfect or at least acceptable before I start writing.  But I think what I need to do is just focus on getting ALL or many of my ideas out of my head into this space and as I do that the clarity will come.

It’s as I’ve read many times.  Show up.  Write.  Do the work first.  This is what I need to do to find my voice!

Meal Planning

I’m determined to do a meal plan.  Nothing fancy but I waste way too much of my time and energy thinking about meals, looking at recipes no one will eat except me, and shopping.  I sometimes end up at the grocery store everyday as I only have thoughts of what to make one meal at a time.

This is such a waste and even thought I haven’t done time tracking, I know I could use my time more wisely to do things that I really would like to do but feel I have no time to do them.

Part of the spiral time waste for meals is having kids who are 7 and 5  and a husband who is a carnivore while I have been converting to a vegan diet over the last several months.  It makes for a lot of foods between us that no one will eat or only one person wants and trying to make healthy meals for everyone feels daunting.

My plan is to do a two week lose rotation.  For example Monday night could be pasta night which could be lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, or ravioli.  Tuesdays could be something Mexican like tacos or quesadillas, etc.  I plan to do that for two weeks (planning out which nights I will cook and which nights my husband will as he does cook sometimes).  His shift work goes in two week rotations so with this setup it should work and still feel flexible and enjoyable for everyone.  I will have some fall back go-to’s that are allowed when one person really doesn’t like a night’s meal.

My other plan as part of this is to make a pantry list and go shopping way less often.  I’m considering doing an online order that then just needs to be picked up.  I’m discovering that we don’t have as many options as others have such as groceries delivered but we do have the option of ordering on-line and then they bring out the order to your car when you arrive.  This would save time for the big pantry shops.  For little items or when I’m picky about produce I can do it myself.  I will let you know how it goes.

Connecting the Dots

I have a jumble of thoughts today about self-awareness or trying to figure out my own personality types and characteristics.  I’ve always struggled to take a test and figure out my type in the big ones like MBTI or the Enneagram.  It has only been in the last few years that I really researched different tests and read so much about them that I finally stumbled upon my types and it felt so liberating after so much frustration.

I am an ENFP (although just barely on the Extrovert side of things) and an Enneagram type 4.  There was a lot of reading, I read many books, blogs, and websites.  One of the sites I really appreciate for her honesty, talk of also searching and using of types is Anne of Modern Mrs Darcy.  It was through her posts that I finally narrowed down that I was a 4 and not a 9.  I will get into why in another post.  I also then figured out that I was an ENFP and not an INFP.  I narrowed it down letter by letter really.  I just find some of the tests are not easy for me.  I have better results with examining each piece and how it relates to the world and then I can choose.

As I was looking up Anne’s website this morning, I’ve stumbled upon some old posts where she is talking about personality and parenting.  I had forgotten about those!  I’m going back to reread those posts as I’m in the midst of parenting my child who does not easily know himself.

This post started with my thoughts on how, those of us that are cerebral may have a hard time in the knowing of how we react and behave to different scenarios.  This makes the personality tests difficult to complete and not always accurate.  I have many more thoughts and will pick out more coherent pieces to discuss in future posts.  Stay tuned!

Out of the Loop

I had an extremely busy year last year (I work at a community college) and this year I have purposely pulled back from activities outside of my teaching, prepping and marking responsibilities.

I’m past chair on a committee that I had chaired last year but I’ve been pretty quiet, adding support when asked but not taking on anything.

I sit on the daycare board where my kids have before and after school care and I do volunteer a bit for the school parent council (our version of the PTA).

It has been much needed rest.  At my institution we teach in intensive blocks and the first 8 weeks of the college year were intense.  I’m now teaching courses that are basic and don’t change much year to year.

I find myself getting restless and thinking about what to take on.  I’m not sure what that will look like.  I’ve found as I’ve pulled back, I feel out of the loop although there is not too much going on that I’m missing out on.  I think I’m just getting restless for maybe changing things up but I don’t know if I have the energy to deal with all the office politics.

I’m not sure there is going to be a full point here.  I’ve realized that to figure out my future, I need to start getting some thoughts out of my head and here is a good place to start.

I would like to shift my career but I’m not sure how or what yet but here is the seed.  I have no idea what will grow!

There is an Outside World

As my oldest child is starting to navigate friendships and the playground world, I am struggling with ways that I can talk him through these experiences and to give him good skills that he can use.  I’ve mentioned it already but he is a sensitive kid and it breaks my heart to see him sad to feel left out or to not have a friend to play with during recess.  He is such a good kid, why can’t other kids see this?!

Now he often does play with other kids and has especially one really good friend and also plays with a few other kids fairly regularly.  On Friday we were talking at the end of the day before he fell asleep and I asked him how recess was going as I hadn’t asked in several days and it was one of the tough ones.

We talked about it and some things he could do different.  He could have played with a group of boys but they were playing tag that was too rough and he didn’t want to do that.  Part of our conversation was that it’s ok to spend sometime just passing a recess on his own if he really doesn’t want to do what the other kids are doing but that in order to make friends he needs to find some days that he does play with them, especially on days where the activity is not so rough.

I think part of why this is so much on my mind (and the topic of the last few posts!), is that I see so much of myself in him and know how lonely I felt through my school years that I hope to help him navigate it better.  But as I discovered that I sometimes don’t understand other adults, I’m not sure that I understand kids  either!

I think my focus will turn to strategies of also noticing the good things and really getting him to see that a day includes both things that may not be great, but that there are moments if we look for them!

When I ask how is day went, he never remembers it which used to really frustrate me.  I’ve now started asking him to reconstruct his day with me so he can remember the things that he has experienced.  And I have realized that this is also me.  I hardly have any memories from my childhood and I easily forget what I’ve done early that day or week.  I think it’s because we both have a very internal, cerebral approach where we both have intense inner worlds and aren’t really focused on the outer world.

I also need to spend some time reconstructing and writing things down so that I will remember things afterwards.  I know we all forget with time but I really feel out of sight out of mind.  Once an experience is gone, it’s almost scary how easily it leaves my memory.

I think I need to research and find ways to be more aware of my days and document more as well so that I can help my son to do those things too.

Are we doing our Best?

I need to reread about highly sensitive people.  Today I’m tired and I’m sure that reduced my coping skills.  My daughter was wearing me down today with her constant chatter and demands to play with her.

My son (Big E) had a hockey birthday party to go to today.  He hasn’t skated since last winter but was game to go to this party.  It was with a few kids from his class.  It was at a larger multiplex arena I had not been inside before so we went early to scope it out as my husband was sleeping (he’s on night shift right now).

My son is also highly sensitive.  In the past he has had a hard time with some activities but he’d been to this same kid’s skating birthday last year so he was ok.  I dressed him up and made sure he made it out onto the ice ok.  He fell a few times but looked like he was having fun.  My daughter who was still challenging with her chatter and whining to go (arg whining drives me crazy).  We headed off to McDonald’s for some fries for her and so she could play a little.

When I arrived back he was already in the dressing room having taken off his skating gear and seemed sad.  There was still cake and the party room so we didn’t have a chance to chat right away.  And is it just me or is talking with other mom’s and dad’s often awkward and just feels like so much work.  I feel like I’m friendly enough but engaging other parent’s in small talk is not my idea of a good time.  At all.

Once home, my son finally told me that he was hit twice with a puck and had a tender bump above his knee.  Poor guy.  I gave him an ice pack and he seemed in good spirits.

We were all tired today.  I really, really dislike time change.  Whoever came up with that idea, did not have kids.  We were all tired and ready for bed today.

I’ve been reflecting and I know it’s my sensitivity showing. I just feel that interactions could be so much easier if we all had intentions to be friendly and kind.   Why does it feel so difficult?  Are we really doing our best?  That is always my default saying and my thought normally.  I think for the most part we are all trying to do our best to live good lives.  But after interactions like today and over the last couple of years, I really wonder, our we really doing our best?

When is a Fib a Lie

I’m struggling right now with my 7 year old who will tell stories of things that he is experiencing that I know are not true.  I think part of it is the desire for attention or to feel like a part of a funny or interesting story.  They are not meant to hurt anyone but I don’t know what to do with them.

I’ve tried telling him that I know what he is saying is not true.  The other day I was telling my husband a story about our 5 year old who came out of her room just as I was walking up the stairs to go to bed.  She turned and went into our spare bedroom and proceeded to turn towards the wall and kept trying to walk but was just bumping into the wall.  She was sleep walking which she does sporadically.

My son then proceeded to say he saw her too.  That he came out of his room and saw it.  He didn’t.  I steered her back to bed and he was fast asleep in his room that had the door closed.

This is the type of story.  I saw a raccoon once on our back fence. He says he saw it too.  He didn’t.  It was early morning and I was alone for at least another hour before he stirred out of bed.

These fibs are not hurting anyone and I think just an attempt to feel a part of funny or “cool” happenings.  I worry that if he is doing this with his friends that can also clearly see sometimes that these stories aren’t true that they will turn away as it can be so annoying.  When I do call him on it he will just keep insisting that his story is true.  Is this a normal part of development?

I haven’t really googled about this.  Sometimes I just want one answer not trying to sift through everyone’s opinions but is there really an answer that is trustworthy?  Parenting each child is so different that trying to figure out what works for one person and their child might be the exact wrong thing to do.  The older I get, I see that I really don’t know many of the things I so clearly thought I did in my 20’s and 30’s.  Raising children really highlights this too.

Stories

Stories can be amazing, truth-telling, gut-wrenching, real, connecting, sad, inspiring, funny, relatable, revealing, raw, vulnerable, strong.

Stories can also be fake, manipulative, cold, controlling, deceptive.

What stories do we tell about our selves, to others and to ourself?  What stories do we hear from or about others?  Are they amazing and real?  Or are they deceptive and fake?

What are we basing our whole belief system on, how are we judging others?  Are the stories we hear real?

We can only know if we open our hearts and listen.  Our hearts know the real story if we listen closely.

 

It’s Done Already?

I watched an interview with Bruce Lipton yesterday.  I had read his book The Biology of Belief a couple of years ago and when I saw that he would be speaking about the biology of spirituality I carved out the hour to watch.  He is certainly an energetic speaker and can go on many tangents but his topic is fascinating, that we are not our genes.  Environment matters.  We have more influence than I grew up believing.

Part of this interview (which was through the health platform ph360), was focused on our unconscious mind and conscious mind.  That 95% of the time we are operating from our unconscious because we are “busy” thinking in our conscious mind.  We are going about our days thinking about the past, future, worries, things to do and not focused in the present.

The unconscious mind is running how we are behaving most of the time.  The part that really struck home for me is that the programming of our habit-based unconscious mind was imprinted from when we were born until age 7.

My son is 7.  What has he seen in my behaviours, my husbands, and the world around him?!  That stopped me in my tracks for a moment.  What ground have I helped to pave for him that will be the basis of his behaviours for most of his life?  Yikes!

I have tried my best to teach understanding, kindness, I think!  Although I’m not perfect and what programming have I unknowingly passed on to him?  My marriage is going through a difficult time.  We don’t have yelling fights but what tense moments has he absorbed?

I am trying to think back to my first 7 years of life.  I don’t have lots of memories from that time frame.  I have struggled with self-esteem, anxiety, and being too critical.  Is that the programming I experienced?  Of course not all of it.  I had a stable base for childhood but it was very lonely.

I still have years to be more conscious, to work harder on not downloading my programming (or to stop as much as I can) onto my son and daughter.

Lessons of Health

A couple of years ago I was ready to face my health, my eating habits, and my inability to make positive changes.  While munching on chips or eating sweet desserts, I have read magazines, books, and articles about eating healthier.  I knew my eating habits were terrible.  I knew that I needed to actually make some changes to have a better quality of life and to prevent serious health issues.  One step I took was seeing a naturopath and to do food sensitivity testing.

Back story: I have had rheumatoid arthritis since I was about thirteen.  I was officially diagnosed when I was fifteen, after months of tests to rule out other possibilities.  Diet was never considered.  I grew up on a farm and had a very meat and potatoes diet which included home grown vegetables.  It seems like that should have been a good start.  I felt very alone and isolated and used to steal cookies and other foods, and once old enough I would buy treats to eat in secret in my room.  Hence a very unhealthy relationship with food was created in these years.

When I moved away from home at eighteen I was then free to eat unhealthy as much as I wanted.  I became vegetarian in my earlier twenties.  The basis of this diet was not vegetables but bread and cheese were often mainstays along with the unhealthy “treats” that I continued to use as emotional support over the years.

When I met my now husband, meat slowly made an appearance.  That was fifteen years ago.  I have had some success over the years where the treats were managed a little better but they have never gone away as my constant companion.

I have never been able to stick to a “diet”. My weight has been up and down with 20 to 30 pounds over a healthy weight in my 20’s to late 30″s.   I could control my overall intake of food but I had to have treats every day.  They are my coping mechanism.

At 38 I had a son and then at 40, a daughter.  My weight came down with breast feeding and just being busier.  I have about 8 or so pounds I could lose but overall now it’s not about weight, it has become about health.

I still can’t stick to a diet.  But back to the naturopath.  Almost three years ago the testing came back that I am sensitive to the protein casein in milk – which meant the yogurt and cheese that were the mainstays of my diet were actually causing inflammation in my body.  Ironically, I grew up on a dairy farm.

Over the last few years, I have struggled to keep dairy out of my diet – there are milk products in so many things!  When I can keep it to a bare minimum I feel so much better.  I’ve made strides at incorporating vegetables a bit more vegetables in my diet.  But I often derail and have some days were the main things I eat are not healthy and can often include dairy in them.

The other big hurdle AND was the starting thought of this post, has been trying to find good advice and guidelines to make sure that I’m getting what I need.  My arthritis has been in a “remission” since my 20’s but I do get some swelling when I overdo things, either from physical exertion and from overeating crap.

There is much debate about paleo and other diets that may be best for auto immune conditions. None of which I have been able to follow.

I would hate to think how much time I have wasted in my life reading magazines, books, and articles about diets.  What would the world look like if we took all the advice and selling of stuff we need to exercise and eat right.  The supplements, the products, the programs.

It makes me crazy and sad.  I’m 45 and I know that the best thing I can do for myself is to stop the insanity of reading, reading, searching and searching for I don’t know what.  The miracle that would fix me.

What I’ve found is I now have a full on desire to go vegan which is a challenge in feeding myself in a way that the rest of my family is not interested in.  I know though that I can incorporate this way of eating, I can feel the joy in it that nourishment can give me.  I have committed myself to step by baby step stopping the insanity of looking to others for the miracle answer to my health and trusting my instincts.

I feel tired in my bones some days from working, caring for young kids, and life but that in trusting myself I will improve my health.

Part of that is limiting in some way the outside messages and voices that I have been reading every day for years.  There is so, so much competing information, some of it good and a lot of it horrible and self serving of those looking to profit.

Honestly this feels so new and daunting.  I will use this space as a way to not just keep myself accountable but to share my learning journey towards a saner, healthier, and more compassionate life.