Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 December 19

"All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means "God is with us")." - Isaiah 7:14 (NLT) 

This was my encouraging word, via email today from K-Love. I actually read it! Often, I do not, in spite of often needing an actual, encouraging word. But, today, as I perused my inbox, the little internal voice said, "Read it." And I did. And I am glad.

Often we are hard on the church and its paternalistic structure and the dismissive attitude toward women. I have often voiced my own displeasure with being treated as "less than" during my 9 year sojourn with a Evangelical Presbyterian pastor and congregation. 

BUT, WAIT! Read this passage. What is your immediate impression?
"All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means "God is with us")." - Isaiah 7:14 (NLT) 

Mine was this: God held "woman" in such high esteem that she was CHOSEN to bring Immanuel into the world in human form! AND, not a married woman, who might have some status, but "a virgin" - a young, unmarried woman, without status, or property. Thinking about the fact that God chose a young, unmarried woman to bring forth the Savior seems to me, to be a major vote of confidence toward the female portion of the created populace. I am blown away by seeing this for the first time! God so loved the world...but s/he LOVED WOMAN so much that Jesus was born of Mary, a young, unmarried, Nazarene - a young WOMAN! 

The creator God chose a woman. Think about that. 

Are many of the world's religions, at best, dismissive of women, and at worst, much worse? Yes. BUT that is NOT the action of GOD! God, loves ALL of her/his creation. Today, I realized that the actions of institutions are NOT reflective of God's love for creation. Today, for the first time, I saw that God deeply loves WOMEN! This is such an enormous revelation to me, that I had to share it! 

If the Creator loved women enough to allow Immanuel to be born of a woman, as a helpless baby, then, by extension, the Creator loves all women. If the Creator loves all women, then regardless of the stance of a particular religion or church, we women need to embrace God's love for us and KNOW that we are LOVED! 

This is a seriously important realization for me, as a woman who wants to identify as a Christ-follower, but who has felt marginalized by churches as institutions. This may be my very own Christmas miracle.

Friday, November 25, 2016

November 25, 2016

I am sick. And frustrated. And tired. And headachy. 

I would like very much to simply cry until I felt better, but that is not even a possibility.

I am sick in spite of eating healthily, in spite of scrupulous hand washing, and flu vaccines. I am sick, and when I plan to spend the day resting and trying to allow my body to work its self-healing, some new frustration inducing item rears its head! All the stress is simply making it harder to get well. 

The frustration, is multifaceted, and caused by a number of things:
The actual car accident of 10/23; all the surrounding events swirling amid the vortex of that 7 car pile up, including the way I have been treated by the insurance company, who has no problem taking my money quarterly, but seems unable to make phone calls to communicate with me. Also, in that vortex is my panic and anxiety when I must drive, and the looming fear regarding the drive to Virginia to retrieve our car if they ever fix it! And there seems to be great difficulty getting, not just phone calls, but any information. 
The accident, the car and the insurance company are just one tip of my frustration iceberg!
Related to the accident, is the frustration caused by the apparent lack of justice and fair play with the seven vehicles involved.  

Then there is my job. While I love the kids I care for, I arrive frazzled after my long commute, which causes me to be more short tempered than I would like.  Add to that, the fact that too often, I receive a text asking me to work an additional day, because the kids Mom is herself, overburdened and frazzled, and forgot that she is required to work on a particular day. While I empathize with her plight, it doesn’t help my frustration levels. And, while I love my charges, I fear there is no Mary Poppins award for me. The kids are 9, 7, & 4. The 7 year old wants to act like she’s 27, or 37. It’s wearing on me.

I am frustrated by my inability to cope. With the kids, with the accident, with my illness of the past week. And I despise feeling like a whiner, yet I seem to reach that whine-inducing threshold more and more quickly lately.

I am frustrated by little things that I should be able to overlook. Minor incompetence by customer service. Words from a friend that my brain twists into something hurtful. My perception of simple day to day things, that take an air of being monumental. 

The tiredness probably goes hand in hand with the other things, because I have not been sleeping well, due to whatever bug is bugging me, and because of working extra, and worrying more. My sleep is disrupted by stuffy sinuses, the ache from coughing, and the ache from the accident. I have tried napping and resting when I am at home, but I need a stretch of several days, which I do not seem to be able to accomplish.

The headachy stuff is both physical and mental. The physical, related to the sinuses and lack of sleep. The mental, related to trying to wrap my mind around the astonishing levels of cruelty in this world, and how things seem to be escalating beyond our control. It hurts my head and my heart.

All things currently seem just beyond anyone’s ability to control, or even explain.

YEP. I am sick, frustrated, tired, and headachy. And heartachy, too.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Emotional Eating

21 May 2016

Today has been a bitch! See, I am an emotional eater, first class! What I mean by that, is that when life gets tough, I eat. Pizza, cake, ice cream, candy bars. Usually high sugar, and/or high fat items. I should also mention my history of depression. When life gets tough and I indulge, I open the door to allow in the depression, in the form of isolation, self-loathing, sadness, and a general feeling of emptiness.

54 days into using Medifast on the Take Shape for Life program, and today is the first day that has been seriously hard for me.

For those unfamiliar, Take Shape for Life is a health transformation program that includes weight loss. The weight loss is accomplished using meal replacement foods, produced by Medifast. The combination of nutritionally balanced meal replacements, along with one meal daily consisting of lean protein and low glycemic veggies, as well as the support of a personal coach, books by TSFL founder, and an online community of other folks also doing the program, are usually enough to keep me on track. 

I came to this program as a 66 year old woman with borderline hyperglycemia, borderline high cholesterol, and borderline low density lipoproteins, an inactive lifestyle, and a body weight of 212.4 pounds. My goals were to get my borderline blood values into the normal range, lose weight doing it, and learn what  got me to this weight, so that I could address the appropriate changes. I wanted to be healthy and learn to eat like a healthy, thin person.

Yesterday I was to have a shortened work day, with only 2 of the usual  3 children I care for with me. I was looking forward to spending some time with just the two older kids, who only had a half day of school. The plan, as communicated to me, was that I would pick the kids up at their elementary school, and take them out to lunch, followed by some time at the park. Sounded good. But, due to poor communication, on both my part, and their Mom’s, I hadn’t realized I was stepping into a situation fraught with children’s anger and disappointment. 

Yesterday was "Kennywood Day". (Kennywood is a local amusement park) And, the kids were not going, even though the original plan was for the family to go. Personal family issues made changes necessary and these had been discussed with the kids the previous evening and again that morning. Although, I knew nothing about any of this at the time.

Within 10 minutes of picking up the children, things were headed on a severe downward trajectory. So great was my frustration, that I even told the kids that I had no idea how anticipation of time together could turn to dread within 7 minutes! (Yeah, I know, no freaking nanny of the year award here!) But, we did, after a phone call to Mom, some intense talking time among the three of us, finally rescue the day. At lunch, I had a salad with only items allowed on my low glycemic plan. It was what we on the program refer to as a "NSV", or non-scale victory. But it wasn’t enough to remove the darkness of the days earlier experiences. Nor could the fact that one child reported, "it was a great day!"  How could it?  Especially when the other child still thought it was "the worst day" of her life?       

OK, so why is that included here, in this saga of mine about a bad day on my lifestyle change plan?  Because those kind of bad feelings linger with me. It’s as if those kinds of feelings have some sort of emotional stick-um, which prevents me from just shaking it off. As a result, when I got home from my shortened day, I was feeling emotionally drained and very tired.

We had our dinner, without any drama, thank goodness. And I was still on plan. We sat down to watch my beloved Penguins play game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. I was tired, but really had high hopes for the game. As the drubbing of my guys at the skates of the Tampa Bay team progressed, I became even more dejected. At the end of period 2, I went to bed. I was feeling overwhelmed by those sneaky feelings that creep in and can result in a full blown depressive episode, - the sadness, lethargy, need to isolate, emptiness, and self-loathing. But, at that point, I really thought I would wake up feeling "normal" in the morning.

The plan for Saturday was to include some neighborhood yard sales, which I was looking forward to earlier in the week, my weekly weigh-in, and relaxation. Laundry was already done, and except for some dusting, so was the cleaning.

I slept in until 8:15 AM.  Still wasn’t feeling great, and since it was cooler outside and raining, that added to my feelings of dismay. But since today was weigh-in day, and I just knew I was finally going to be under 190, I was sure things would begin looking up.

WRONG! Weigh-in was 190.2 pounds. Now, to those who have not hitched their wagon to the numbers on the scale, that two tenths may seem insignificant. However, if you are sticking to a program, and wanting desperately to stop seeing the 190s on the scale, it is greatly significant. Just another in the series of small, crappy feelings that cling like dog poop to your shoe.

So, I thought, I should go to the support page for the group on Facebook and post my weight and my feelings of dejection. Which I did. Only I included a snippet from yesterday’s lunch at Steak & Shake, about me sticking my baby finger into the younger child’s hot fudge sauce, as a cheat. Really, it was a non-issue for me, so I really shouldn’t have even mentioned it, except for my need for full disclosure. The important parts of my post to the group were that I was still in the 190s weight wise, that my team lost an important game on the way to the Stanley Cup, that I wanted to go eat a freaking Blizzard, or giant piece of chocolate cake, AND that I really wasn’t feelin the whole Medifast/TSFL thing at that moment in time.

[In fairness, a couple of people "got it". But, there seemed to be many who thought my issue was that I had "cheated" with that minuscule bit of hot fudge! Those people irritated me!]

I don’t know, maybe I’m simply an angry, obtuse, slightly-less-fat-than-I was in March person. I still want to go get an order of Gorilla Fries at the pizza place in Zelienople!  I don’t think I will. But I want to. 

I know that everybody has bad days. I know that no plan is a panacea. I know that emotional eating opens the door to depressive behaviors that I want to remove from my life.  I know enough to know that if I didn’t write this down, I would continue in a downward emotional spiral, and that is not a healthy direction. I also know that this too shall pass, but for some reason this, Day #54 on my health plan, has been the hardest since day #2. And on day #2, I sat on my LR couch and cried, because I felt physically ill, and had a headache that would not abate. I think that was easier to navigate than this emotional quagmire.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Happenings of an Unexpected Day With Three Kids

Surprise! No school today. Until I arrived and everyone was still in bed, I had no idea. 
Perhaps it's a sign of age that I need advance notice if I am to have all three children on a given day.  Maybe it's a result of being sick yesterday, and still feeling less than 100% today. 

Thank dog the weather is reasonable & relatively dry. That means a trip to the park is possible. 

Of course, even the park doesn't offer immunity from the consistent arguments, fights, and yelling between Nick & Anamaria.  

When I explained that they need to either resolve their issues, play separately, or play without hitting, Anamaria declared I was being mean to her. The upshot was my declaration that continued fighting & arguing that was brought to my attention would result in a return trip home, where the two older child we will play separately in their own rooms. 

Then Nick got his head stuck! He was terrified. It was simply a matter of moving lower between the blue metal barriers along the elevated walk, so he came out unscathed. As I held him, sobbing, Anamaria piped up with: I can do it and not get MY head stuck! Which, of course, gained my immediate reprimand: Did you learn NOTHING just now? DO NOT STICK YOUR HEAD BETWEEN THOSE RAILS! Then, I continued in a more reasonable voice: You may indeed be able to put your head between the rails now. Nick used to be able to, too. But, you are growing children & eventually your head will get stuck, too. Nick was calm now. Anamaria was glaring at me, as if I had just ruined her childhood!

There are no other children here at the park today. The only other folks we've see are people walking their dogs, or young moms with babies in strollers, running. 

Sometimes I wish I could run... But I choose to be with these kids and I DO love them. Some days are just more challenging and require that I write about the challenge.