In the Morning

087e1ae7b24a41986b9bac958dd16940--chasing-lights-good-night-sleepEarly morning, when the sun is still slowly climbing, is my favorite part of the day.  No, I’m not one of those crazy people who likes to be up at 5 AM, dashing around in the dark while every sane person is still sleeping.  But that peaceful, quiet, gentle time, before the alarm goes off, is the best part of my day.

The house is quiet, chilly, but I am snuggled under the warm covers.  The room is still dim, but I can see the sun starting to peek around the curtains.  I roll over to my husband, who is still crashed out, but who reaches out and wraps me up tightly in his arms, pulling me in close to him.

Sometimes, it’s only a split second before the alarm goes off and shatters the moment. Sometimes, though, on the best days, I have several minutes, just relaxing in the happiness and comfort and calm, half asleep and half awake, with the whole world shut out and nothing but me and my husband and our family…and, of course, a hungry and demanding cat who leaps up beside me and tucks into the small of my back, impatiently waiting for his breakfast.  Just us.

For just a little bit every morning, at risk of sounding like a cliched 80s love ballad, I am in heaven.  The whole world screeches to a halt and just lets me enjoy being comfy and snuggly and happy.

When the kids were younger, that time of morning (or even earlier) is when one of them would peek around the door, then clumsily climb in beside their daddy, letting him wrap them up like a mummy in the covers.  Some mornings, one by one, they would all end up piled on their dad, and I would laugh and get up to feed the cat to give them room.  I would hear him say something about needing to get up to start breakfast, then one or all of the kids saying “no” and holding onto him even tighter.

Now, the kids usually prefer to sleep in, but I still wake up early, and I still slide over to cuddle up close to my husband during that little bit of quiet in the morning.  Eventually, the alarm will go off, we will hit snooze as many times as we can (and then one more time, just to make sure we are late).  And we will have to reluctantly let go of each other, emerge from bed, start the day.  There are places to go, appointments to keep, bills to pay, work to get done.

It was hard getting up this morning, hard to let go and head off to work.  My husband, who is a bad influence, tried to convince me to call in sick, but I have a lot to get done.

In a few more hours, I can turn off this computer and head home, where my mind has been all day anyway.   But for now, it’s back to the grind, wishing I was still curled up in bed, in the early morning, and the entire world was nothing but us.

More than Enough

This morning, for about the millionth time, I saw something like this posted on a female friend’s Facebook page:

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It seems to be a trend, women posting quotes for themselves or for each other, with the general theme of “Hey, you don’t suck quite as bad as you think you do.”

Most of the time, I scroll right past, ignoring it, looking for the funny cat pictures or jokes that make me laugh, stuff that matters to me, amuses me.  But this morning, so soon after writing about worrying about my stepdaughters, that quote made me pause.

Sometimes I feel like an oddity, because I don’t care much what other people think of me.  I know my talents, my abilities, my worth.  I falter, sure, since I’m human too.  Sometimes I doubt myself.  But ultimately, I like who I am.  I like me.

I never thought much, until now, how rare that seems to be.  Why do women, in particular, need to remind themselves that they are “enough”?  I don’t even like that quote.  I’m way more than just enough, thank you very much.  In fact, I am more than most people can handle!  And I like it that way.

But apparently, there are a lot of people who need to hear things like that, because I see it posted over and over again.  Obviously, a lot of people seem to like it very much.  I find it sad that our culture breeds people, especially females, who are constantly scrutinized and judged and inspected until they feel like they need validation from a quote on Facebook to bolster their shattered confidence.

If there is one thing I want to teach my stepchildren, if there is one thing I hope they take away from having me in their lives, it is to not worry what other people think about them.  To live their own lives, think their own thoughts, explore freely, be 100% themselves, no matter what anyone else thinks about it.  Even me.

The catch-22 is that they will never know who they truly are until they let go of worrying what others think, what someone else will say, will this person be upset, will so-and-so be mad, whether someone will like them or not, etc.  If they can let go of worrying about what others think, and focus on discovering exactly who they are, what they want, who they can be, what they are capable of…they will be much happier people.  And that is what I want for them.

Maybe I’ve just struck upon why I don’t like that “You are enough” quote: it’s still relying on someone else’s validation to decide what enough is and if you meet the criteria.  I say, who cares if someone thinks I am enough or not?

There is only one me, and I get the honor of being me.  That is how I see it.  Don’t settle, then, for letting yourself be told you are “enough”.  Pfffttttt.  Enough is for amateurs.  Go be 100% you.  Embrace you.  Not everyone will like you for it.  That’s okay.  As long as you do.

Grumbling, Mumbling, and Swearing

4800025_0I promised myself I would work out last night, whether I felt like it or not. Well, I most certainly did not feel like it!  In fact, I could think of a million other things I would rather do, including a root canal, but I sucked it up and reluctantly put on my sneakers anyway.

I decided to try a step workout from Les Mills on Demand.  I would love to write a review for you of the workout, but let’s be real, I would have hated any workout I attempted last night.  I didn’t want to do it, I am out of shape, I felt like crap, and I just wanted to go curl up on the couch…with a pizza…and a soda…I mean, is that too much to ask?

I scowled through the entire workout.  I mumbled nasty comments under my breath.  I kept thinking of just quitting, or switching workouts, but I knew that I wasn’t going to be happy with any other workout either.  So I grit my teeth and stuck it out.

I made it through by barking irritated and rude comments at the instructors, who change out every few minutes, because Les Mills workouts seem to operate on a musical-chairs instructor model.  My witty dialogue included yelling “no” every time the instructor enthusiastically asked, “Are you ready?”

No, I wasn’t ready.  I was annoyed, I was uncomfortable, I was angry with myself for getting this out of shape again.  I wanted the hyper-fit instructors to take their high knees over the edge of a live volcano, shove their jumping jacks into intimate places, and chant “march, march, march” in hell, dagnabbit!

But I did it.  My cat curled up on his blanket on a chair and offered moral support while he napped, and I finished the blasted workout.  I experienced the victory of logging a workout on MyFitnessPal, fist-bumped myself, and then collapsed with my water bottle.

It’s going to take a while for me to like working out again.  I will make myself work out tonight, and then tomorrow, and then the next day.  It’s the only way to get where I want to be.  In the meantime, I am sure that grumbling, mumbling, and swearing just burns a few extra calories, right?

For Me

I like to analyze things.  Overthinking is a hobby of mine.  For the past several months, I have been doing just that: making things way more complicated than they need to be, and paralyzing myself in the process.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I whispered, “Are you awake?”

My husband, who is a diehard smartass, answered, “No, I always pat your leg in my sleep.”

I rolled my eyes in the dark, patted his hand back, then spilled my guts, everything I’ve been holding in for months now.  How frustrated I feel, disappointed, embarrassed about gaining weight back.  How I just can’t get moving again.  How unhappy I am about how I look, and how unhealthy I feel.

My husband gets right to the point and doesn’t sugarcoat anything.  It’s just one reason I love him so much.  When I was finished rambling, he kept my hand in his and told me, “If you aren’t happy, then lose the weight.”

I almost laughed at the simplicity.  Need to lose weight? Then lose weight!  Well, it really is that simple, isn’t it?  I know I need to exercise more and eat less.  There’s no mystery here.  I just haven’t been doing it.  Some things don’t need to be analyzed and thought to death.  They just require action.

He added, “But don’t do it because you think I’m not happy.  I love how you look right now.  If you do it, then do it for you.”  He told me not to worry about anyone else, or what anyone else thinks.

Do it for me?  For some reason, hearing him say that made me see all of this in a different light.  Doing it for me makes it feel more like a luxury, something special.  Something I should want to do.  Why haven’t I felt that way about it before now?

Just talking to him about it makes me feel so much better.  I feel more committed to this, and more accountable.  It meant a lot to me to hear him say he loves me the way I am right now, too.   He has said it before, but it’s always nice to hear again.

Today, my goal is to work out for at least 30 minutes.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  I just want to move this sluggish old body around and work up a sweat.  No more starting, then stopping.  No more promises, then breaking them.  No more approaching this with “I should…”, but with “I will…because I deserve this.”

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Worth the Effort

333958b607f8c42b87a00f7b8a3b59e2When I came across this quote, it struck a nerve with a hammer.  I have two stepdaughters, both teenagers, and I worry about them.  A lot.

It may seem like a million years ago, but I was once a teenage girl.  I remember the vulnerability, the insecurity, the self-doubt of that age.  The pressure to be “pretty”.  Becoming more and more aware of others’ unwanted and uninvited scrutiny of my appearance, my body, my weight.

Both of my stepdaughters are intelligent, talented, and funny.  Both of them have every reason to feel strong and confident.  Instead, much too often, I see the opposite.

I can do my best to educate them about unrealistic fashion magazines, how women are portrayed in movies and on TV, how the diet and fitness industry views them as easy targets and walking dollar signs.  But what in the hell am I supposed to do when it is the very people they should be able to trust, the people who should be building them up, who are instead ripping them to shreds and yanking their feet out from under them?

My stepdaughters are relentlessly cautioned (not in our household, of course) about what to eat so they don’t get fat.  My stepdaughters have been hugged by these same “family” members who then pat them on the tummy and tell them they need to start riding their bike more, or go running.  They are told they must “do what they have to do” to be skinny.

They are torn down to nothing but body parts, dissected, measured, and deemed not good enough, by people who are supposed to love them, support them, take care of them.  Being called fat by strangers is painful enough, but when that insult comes from someone you should be able to trust, it stings even more.  The wound is even deeper. And those hateful, stupid, belligerent words dig in to the bone.

Neither of my stepdaughters is overweight, not that it would be okay if they were…but it begs the question, what the hell is the purpose of intentionally pounding that insecurity in their heads, when it isn’t even true?

The truth is this: the kids are easier to push around, manipulate, and tell what to do if they are insecure, unsure of themselves, weakened by hateful words.

I remember one of the girls asking me why I work out.  I didn’t want to tell her “Because I’m fat and I need to lose weight.”  I wanted to give her a healthy and positive attitude, not a demeaning and punishing one.  So I told her, “Because I want to be healthy and strong.”

That is the attitude I wish the kids were exposed to all the time, but I can’t control what others do.  I shouldn’t have to.  If someone truly cares about the kids, they wouldn’t call them fat, take immature digs at their weight, pound into their heads that they are too big, too fat, just not good enough.

Those people can go to hell.  They are the ones who are not good enough, not the kids.  They are the ones who need to change, not the kids.  How pathetic do you need to be to bully kids? What kind of so-called adult takes cheap shots at a child, when the list of their own shortcomings is never-ending?  And how much of a hypocrite is someone who sobs crocodile tears about the same comments made about her by dysfunctional family members, but who condones and perpetuates the exact same abusive behavior being unleashed on the kids?

I want my stepchildren to feel strong, independent, confident. I want them to take pride in their abilities, accomplishments, and ideas.  By contrast, people in their other home deliberately do their best to make them feel like this:

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At a time when my stepdaughters are most vulnerable, their teenage years, they need the adults in their lives to reinforce them, remind them of their worth far beyond their appearance, help them grow into their full, strong, self-reliant selves.

My husband and I will do our best to do that.  It would be much easier, of course, if we didn’t have to fight the diseased and polluting behavior of others in the kids’ lives.  But we won’t stop trying.  The kids are worth the effort to us.  I wish they were worth it to everyone.