Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye, 2008

It's the last day of the year. Kinda hard to believe.
We've been inundated with all the year-end stuff: Lists, year-in-reviews, all the resolutions that were or were not fulfilled, etc.
Me, I'm not big on New Year's resolutions. If I think of something I want to do or change, why wait?
(Unless it's resolving to stop procrastinating. I'll do that next year.)
But looking back over the past year, there has been a lot of good. And a lot of bad.
Like any year.
2008 will, for me, be the year I finally started teaching Pilates. But it will also be the year I lost my dad. Pretty suddenly.
It is the year when the economy went into the toilet, but we elected a man to be president who gives us hope. The first non-white president. A year when two of the major contenders for the job were an African -American and a woman. And a VP candidate was a woman. (And the president-elect takes his daughters to lunch at a shopping center right down the road from my Sister-In-Law's house! The same place where we sat next to a couple of guys from "Dog the Bounty Hunter." Forget Hollywood: if you want to see famous people, go to Hawaii, lol!)
Instead of resolutions, I think I'll say a little prayer for us all. Every one of us on the good earth. And try to keep good thoughts in my head and good feelings in my heart.
So, on this last day of the year, I want to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year. Thanks for stopping by. I'll try and post more often in '09, lol!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Silent Nights Here

Our little girl is screaming. Again. Once a year, at different times of the year, she goes through a 2-6 week period of being uber-fussy.
Actually, that's putting it mildly. Kinda like saying the Grand Canyon is somewhat large.
Her fussiness is akin to a nuclear meltdown. Actually, several nuclear meltdowns a day.
But it's the worst at night. Like clockwork, at 1 AM, she wakes up and the screaming commences. We've tried everything. And I mean EVER.Y.THING.
She doesn't sleep. She cries, she screams, she beats her fists in the air and kicks her legs. Then, after about 45 minutes to an hour, she calms down and is happy. She plays in her room.
Until the screaming starts again.
We've given her music. Water. Snacks. Medicine. Baby Einstein. Lots and lots and lots of cuddles. We've changed her diet. Taken her to the pediatrician. Talked it over with her teachers, behavioral therapists, occupational therapist, other parents.
No one knows a damn thing.
No one knows how to make it better.
So the screaming continues.
Until, miraculously, it stops. And she's back to her usual, happy self. The girl who tucks herself in at night and wakes up early, happy and excited for the new day. Who gives hugs and kisses, who giggles and wants tickles.
But we're not there right now.
She can't tell us what's wrong. Where it hurts. What she needs. She doesn't sleep. We don't sleep. We try to be patient, but sometimes it just gets to be too much. There is sometimes yelling. Or crying from the grown-ups. We are exhausted, worried, and heartsick. We can't make it better for our little girl.
And it kills me.
Every time.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

HMMMM. Biggest Loser.

So, I watched the finale of "The Biggest Loser" last night. I don't watch it much during the season, but I can't seem to resist the finale. It's like seeing a fender-bender on the freeway; cringe-worthy, but you can't stop looking. Especially when the contestants crash through life-sized "before" photos and pose, to the thunderous applause of the studio audience.
One of the finalists (I can't remember her name. I know, shocking that I can't remember something, lol!) came out in a slinky dress and high heels, then almost fell down the stairs. Luckily, Trainer Bob was there to catch her before she fell.
The other female finalist won (yay, girl power!) and is now a spokesmodel. Gawd, I hate that term!
And ALL the contestants talk about how miserable they were before they lost the weight. Believe me, I understand how cruel the world is to fat people! But doesn't a show like this just reinforce that? It's all about taking ridiculously drastic measures to lose a lot of weight fairly quickly. (7 months is a short time in which to lose over 100 pounds.) And every week the contestants strip down to shorts (and, for the women, sports bras) and getting on a giant scale. To top it off, if they lose fewer than 5 pounds IN A WEEK, they're deemed a failure. And one of the finalists had actually GAINED 2 pounds in the last week at the ranch! GASP!!!!
Yes, they give lip service to how it's the changes on the inside that mean the most, but it's the person who loses the most weight that wins $250,000, not the one who gains the most confidence. They're showing off their new slim physiques, not the self-love and patience they've garnered.
And, needless to say, once the contest is over, the weight tends to creep back on.

The hardest part, for me, is that I think Gillian and Bob, the two trainers, are great - when they're not on the show!!!! They both have books and DVDs out, and I've read bits and worked out to the DVDs. And they are full of helpful advice and great workouts. (I LOVE Gillian's "30-Day Shred!") I just have a huge issue with the tactics on the show, and the premise itself.
I'm of the opinion that weight loss is a deeply personal thing. Not everyone wants to lose weight. Not every fat person has issues with food. I know MANY heavier folks who are amazingly fit. If someone does want to lose weight, that is their prerogative. If they feel the best way to do it is to go on national television and get screamed at, well, I guess that's their prerogative, as well. But the demonization of fat, and, especially, of FAT PEOPLE, really bugs me! And a show that gives us a group of self-hating people who only learn to love themselves once they lose the weight is just...wrong!

Why is it "better" to be anorexic than obese? Why do we reward people who use drugs and starve themselves and exercise obsessively in order to stay thin? Why do we continue to use peoples' bodies, especially womens', as commodities? When will we realize that peoples' bodies are private, and none of our business?

BTW, there is a terrific post over on about a Rebellyon against the super-skinny ideal, as well as the music industry. Definitely worth checking out.

Finally, there is a BRAND NEW MUPPETS CHRISTMAS SPECIAL on tonight!!!!!!!!!
(It's the little things that make me happy!) And Miss Piggy NEVER goes on a diet, she just stays fabulous!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Confession Time

It's said that confession is good for the soul, right? Having not grown up Catholic (even though my mother did), I don't have any firsthand experience with the confessional booth. (My dad was Jewish, and we were raised that way, with a smidge of Christianity thrown in.)
Anyway, there's been something bugging me lately, and I need to get it off my chest. Literally. (And when I say "latey," I mean for pretty much my entire life.)
My weight. And, yeah, one of the places I gain is in my boobs. It's not as great as some would think, lol!
Yes, I realize most women are plagued by body image issues (which, considering the number of women there are in the world, really sucks! That's a lot of issues!) and I could go on and on about how our culture promotes unrealistic and unhealthy ideals for what is considered attractive, or the fact that, as pointed out so well by Charlotte on "The Great Fitness Experiment," you have to have ribs and bones poking out of your skin in order to be considered thin nowadays, or that I think it's a vast conspiracy to keep people from meeting their full potential because how the hell can you when you're too busy starving and exercising to spend time on anything else? Or that many celebrities and models, who claim to have good genes and fast metabolisms, actually WORK REALLY HARD AND TAKE EXTREME MEASURES IN ORDER TO LOOK THE WAY THEY DO! Celebrities don't work out at home just because they can, or because they want to avoid being stared at while they work out (which, by the way, is completely understandable), they do this so they can keep their hard work a bit of a secret. Because, for whatever reason, their handlers don't want people knowing that they don't look that way naturally. Gunnar Petersen, who works with a lot of celebs, said that he just shakes his head every time he reads an interview with one of his clients and they say "Oh, I just walk my dog!" Meanwhile, he's at their house for 1-2 hours a day, 5 days a week, putting them through some tough workouts. He wonders why they're ashamed of confessing to having to work hard. Isn't hard work a good thing? And (I LOVE him for this), why not just be honest? Just say "Yeah, I work out a lot. It's hard. But it's part of my job, and I get paid a lot of money for it, so I do it."
I'm not gonna get into all the eating disorders, the cigarette-and-iced-coffee diets, or the drugs-to-keep-the-weight-down tactics.
Of course there are more honest celebrities, like my mad girl-crush Kate Winslet, who hates working out, is very honest about her weight struggles and body image issues (like when she ripped one magazine a new one for photoshopping her to make her look thinner), and the fact that she is now at peace with both her beautiful body and with food.
Which brings me, in my very roundabout way, to my confession. I started intuitive eating 2 years ago. It's also known as non-dieting. It's about giving yourself permission to eat whatever you want. From this, you learn to pay attention to your body's signals; hunger, satiety, thirst, exhaustion, etc. And you learn to stop bingeing, or restricitng, or both. I LOVE this idea, and I truly believe that it will work for me.
Because, like many others, I went into it as a way to lose weight. I started by treating it like any other diet; there are rules that MUST be followed, I'm a failure if I don't do it exactly right, I HAVE to do this or that, etc.
Eventually, you realize that there are no rules. Each of us is different. "Rules" go against our own instincts. (I'm still talking about food here, not things like stopping at a red light, lol!)
So, I bought and skimmed a bunch of books on the subject. I joined online groups. I even got help over the phone from an expert. It has all helped A LOT. (Although now I'm going back and actually READING the books!)
But I've still put on 20 pounds.
Then I went right back into diet mentality. The old, "what'swrongwithmewhyamIstillso"fat"whycan'tIloseweightlikeotherpeopleyadayadayada." Should I be a vegan? Should I go Primal? Should I train for a marathon? Do Bikram yoga? Oh there's so much confusion, SO MUCH GUILT! And, in the end, a lot of...
I know. I'm happily married with two amazing young kids who keep me on my toes. How can I be lonely?
But I am.
I think I always have been.
Because I never learned how to be truly comfortable in my own skin.
Which is strange, because I've spent more of my life alone than I have with other people. When I lived in Boston and then New York, I went everywhere by myself. But I always had a book or a walkman with me. (Yes, a casette walkman. I'm old, ok?!?) I also have a terrific fantasy life. If I could calm my ADD ass down enough to actually sit still for more than 15 minutes, I could probably be a great writer. But I was really good at spinning fantasies and stories so that I wouldn't feel the lonliness. Not that I realized it at the time, of course.
For a while, being an actor was perfect. I could play out all these different fantasies. But then it wasn't fun anymore. I was living someone else's story (the plawright's), intererpeting it someone else's way (the director's). And I was never quite good enough. Even with great reviews, accolades, compliments, etc., I never felt good enough. (And there were certainly many people only too willing to back that opinion up! Little did I know that it had everything to do with them and nothing with me.)
Last night I was alone with the kids. Again. My husband is in a show in San Francisco (yay!) and the kids and I hang out at home while he's performing.
And it's lonely.
Don't get me wrong: I'm SO glad DH is performing again!!!! And I hope he gets more work! But I need to find a way with being content at home when he's not there.
You see, a few years ago, when the kids were very young, he was away a lot. He was always working and I was home with the kids. They were not as managable as they are now, lol! and it was REALLY hard. I had no family around, and all of my friends were from my theater days. They weren't exactly gung-ho to come over and hang out with the kids. So it was the three of us, 24/7. (I'd looked into some of those moms' groups, but they were awful, lol! And it was hard, with 2 kids with Autism, finding play groups.) I was alone and overwhelmed and, yes, scared.
Last night reminded me of those times. I ended up eating. A LOT. To the point of feeling a little sick. And I fianlly realized that I was trying to distract myself from feeling lonely and scared.
Las night I dreamed that I was in a car, driving. There were people in the passenger and back seats. The person in back kept poking me, hard, and I was starting to bruise. Even when we got to our destination, he was still poking me. I kept telling him to stop, and hitting him with a fan (the kind you hold and flutter), but I felt powereless, and I knew he was just gonna keep on poking me. Like an annoying older brother. But I felt SO frustrated! When I woke up, I thought of something my therapist told me: every person in a dream is a manifestation of yourself.
I keep poking at myself! Annoying and hurting MYSELF!!!! Fighting MYSELF. There is a big part of me that wants to change, but another part of me, the frightened part of me, is fighting it. Because change is scary.
If I start meeting my own needs, doesn't that mean I'm selfish? Won't people stop loving me if I stop putting their needs ahead of my own all the time? Won't they leave me, alone and bereft?
Logically, I know the answer is no. But there is a huge part of me that fears it, just the same. Because for all the lonliness I've felt and continue to feel, the prospect of being left, alone and unloved, is one of the scariest things I can imagine. I've spent most of my life convinced that if I did ANYTHING wrong, that's exactly what would happen.
But I don't want my kids to learn that lesson.

So one thing I've just started working on is finding time for ME. A few weeks ago I realized that I'm either at work, at home with the kids, or at the grocery store.
Which is just kinda pathetic!!!!
So on Thursday morning I drove into the city, walked the dog along the Embarcadero, got some coffee, and just chilled. No classes, no workouts, no responsibilites (aside from cleaning up after the dog).
And it was GREAT!!!!!!!

And I'm gonna do that more. And, eventually, I'll find some friends to do all that hanging out with.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Enough, Already!

OK. I get it. Kids, by which I mean teens, are known for doing dumb things. Taking ridiculous chances. Not worrying too much about the future. But, really?
Teen girls and boys are sending naked photos of themselves to friends over the internet or texting them on their cellphones. And then they're surprised when the photos are seen by people other than the ones they were sent to. HELLO!?!?!?
Now, I'm not unsympathetic. It's a brave new world, technologically. What you think may be private usually isn't. And I certainly feel for any kid who finds themselves on the receiving end of teasing, or worse, from a naked photo that got spread around. But WHERE ARE THE PARENTS? Granted, most kids are more technologically advanced that their parents, but most adults know that sending a naked photo of yourself, in any manner, is likely to come back and bite you on your (naked) ass.
And the consequences can be dangerous. You put a photo on the internet and it's basically accessible to ANYONE ON THE PLANET. And there are some scary people out there! But the truth is, it's usually the person to whom that photo was sent who decides to share it with his/her friends. Or, y'know, post it on FaceBook.
And I have to rant about something else: why are we NOT teaching our girls about self-defense? About being smart, about how to handle being out in a crowd , how to keep themselves safe? And why are we not teaching our boys about treating people well, not taking advantage, and being respectful? I realize peer pressure is huge, but these are lessons that NEED to be taught.
A young woman has gone missing from a Manhattan night club, last seen leaving with a young man WHO IS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER.
First of all, how does a guy like that get to leave his home in Orange County, N.Y., to troll nightclubs in Manhattan?!?!?! Ever since this woman was reported missing, 10 other women have come forward saying that they were assaulted by this guy. He was arrested yesterday on a parole violation. WTF?!?!?!
Authorities KNEW this guy was a criminal. He was REGISTERED as a sex offender, for cryin' out loud!!!!! I KNOW we have problems with our judicial system, but this is ridiculous! We have GOT to stop treating assault victims as criminals, and START treating the rapists as criminals!

As parents, we need to teach our girls to be smart, strong, and to stop treating themselves like Playboy model wannabees. To, sad to say, be more distrustful of strangers. To take care of themselves.

Of course there are situations where an attack becomes unavoidable. So we place the blame where it belongs: ON THE ATTACKER. No one ever ever "deserves" to be assaulted!!! For God's sake!

Sorry for the rant, but I'm just SO ANGRY!!!!!!!

Enough, Already!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Um, Airbrushing Jessica Alba?!?!?!

OK. She's 27. She's freakin' gorgeous. Yes, she just had a baby, she's probably not getting a whole lot of sleep, but you'd never know it from the photos that have leaked onto the internet. (I don't have a link, but if you're curious, go and you can see the pre- and post- airbrushing photos.
(What's even weirder is that they even photoshopped the pool. Odd.)
I think the apocolypse is coming. If Jessica Alba has to be airbrushed, what hope is there for the rest of us ever living up to this supposed ideal?
So, I've stopped trying. Never mind. I''ve had enough. It's not physically possible, anyway, and I have far more important things to spend my time and energy on.
Do I still want to lose weight? Yup! But I no longer feel like a bad person because I've put on weight. And I don't see the point in torturing myself in order to look like an unreachable ideal that objectifies women and negates everything about them beyond what they look like. That teaches girls to focus solely on their looks, to the detriment of their health. Did you know that smoking among teenage girls is up? Because they don't want to get fat. And don't even get me started on the rates of EDs!
Having been on the receiving end of it, I understand the pressure for girls and women in the public eye to lose weight. But I just wish some of the highly successful ones would get together and refuse to do so! Just imagine; Angelina, Jessica, Halle, et. al. just said no. Nope. Forget it. I refuse to be super-skinny. Either take me as I am, or not at all.
Sure, some prducers might replace them with other people, but Hollywood is all about the bottom line, and if they believe that Angelina will bring the money in, they're gonna go after her. Even with 10 extra pounds.
I realize it takes a strong person to do this. But I keep hoping.

Anyway, on a lighter note, the "Charlie Brown" Christmas special is on tonight!!!!!!!! Hello, Snoopy! And, speaking of cute dogs, if you want to see one, google "Malamute/Corgi mix" and click on "Mahalo." She's a (now) 4 year-old mix, and so ridiculously cute, and I want one!!!!! (We used to have a Malamute, and our current dog is a Corgi mix.) She's got a Corgi body with Malamute coloring.
Did I mention that I want one?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Autism and Vaccines

I just don't know what to think. I honestly don't know whether immunizations contribute to Autism or not. I tend to believe it's more about genetic and environmental factors than immunizations. Maybe because, with our kids, it didn't happen overnight. The symptoms came on gradually. With our son, he developed fairly typically until just before his second birthday. He didn't backslide, he just kind of stalled. And he'd had quirks even as a baby.
I remember one toy in particular: it had a little door that would open and close. If that door was open, he'd close it. He'd never open it. We'd open it, and he's close it. Even if he was playing with something else, on the other side of the room, if one of us picked up that toy and opened the door, he'd stop whatever he was doing, crawl over, and close the little door. I remember thinking one time "that seems like Autistic behavior." Then immediately trying to put the thought out of my mind because, of course, that was silly; our son didn't have Autism!
Our daughter didn't develop typically. She had a lot of delays, and cried more than seemed normal; huge, piercing crying jags that went on for hours, and we couldn't pinpoint what she needed. She still has them, when she's not feeling well (like this week). She doesn't speak, so she can't tell us what's wrong. I can only try and guess, and go from there. And when her little lip sticks out, and her big brown eyes fill with tears, it just rips my heart out.
Jenny McCarthy was on CNN a few months ago, and she told a doctor that she doesn't immunize her son anymore. "Give him measles!" she said. "I'd rather have measles than this!" (Meaning Autism.)
The problem is, it's not just about measles. It's about horrible, potentially deadly, highly infectious diseases that spread through populations very quickly. Especially populations that haven't been immunized.
Truth? I HATE that my kids have Autism! I worry about them constantly. I hate seeing them struggle with things that other kids do naturally. I'm angry and scared. But I'd rather they have Autism and be ALIVE than without Autism and seriously ill or dead from a preventable disease.
Ideally? We have immunizations that don't have the potential to harm. We don't force parents to choose between disease and Autism, as many parents feel they are doing. I realize we're in an economic slump, but this should be a priority, because A LOT of kids are going without vaccinations, and it's scary.
I try to focus on the positives, and there are many. My kids are happy, and physically quite healthy. They don't need to take medication (other than the occasional cold medicine or tummy remedy). We have met many amazing people through their Autism: teachers, other parents, social workers, therapists, and on and on. If our kids were "typical," we'd probably still be living in L.A., pursuing acting careers, and being unhappy. And I do believe that it has made us better parents, and brought us closer together as a couple.
I wouldn't trade my family for anything. I happen to think our kids are pretty amazing. Everyone who meets them falls in love with them. They bring a lot of joy into the world around them, and get a lot of love in return.
When I look at it that way, it's pretty darn good!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There Is A Cat...

Wandering around our complex, mewling like his heart is broken. I went outside earlier, and he came right up to me. It was a combination of wrapping himself around my legs, playfully batting at my shins, and hissing and trying to bite. He followed me onto our deck, then took off when he saw the dog. He's very cute, is a little schizophrenic, and he's clean and well-fed, so I doubt he's a stray. But his mewling is breaking my heart! I just want to bring him inside and cuddle!
Something tells me he and the dog might not be best friends, though.
Although it wouldn't be on her part (the dog's, that is). A couple of years ago I found a beagle puppy roaming the streets of our neighborhood. I took him home, put up notices, and he stayed overnight. Luna, our dog, wasn't thrilled, but being part Corgi, she looked after him anyway. (The next day his humans called, and came to bring him home.)
A couple of years before that, we found an injured baby bird in the yard. We put him in a box and brought him in, placing the box on the dining rook table. Luna stood guard by the box, and every once in a while would place her front paws on the table and peer inside to make sure the little guy was OK. (Later in the day, his mom came to our walkway, and we put him outside so he could skip over to her. She took him home. It was very cute!)
She's very protective of our kids. The other day I brought them out onto the front deck to play. She came out and sat by them, keeping them in sight at all times. She's also been keeping an eye on our daughter, who isn't feeling well and has been crying a lot. Luna stays with her, comes to her whenever she cries, and makes sure to check on her first thing in the morning.
She's also protective of any child she comes into contact with, as well as pregnant women. She was only 2 when I got pregnant for the first time. Overnight she went form being the somewhat hyperactive baby of the family to my personal bodyguard. And the day we brought our son home from the hospital, she very gently put her paws on his crib to look in on him, saw that he was sleeping, and very quietly took her paws off to lay down by his crib. When we brought our daughter home, we put her car seat on the floor with her asleep in it. Luna came over, sniffed, and sat down next to her.
She lets them pull her tail, yank at her fur, use her for a horsey, a slide, a stepstool, and a foot massager. She lets them play with her food, her water, and her toys. She understands that they come first.
A year ago, when I had to take her to the vet at 8:00 on a Friday night, she was very patient and let them poke and prod her. When we were in the lobby and another woman came in, very upset because her old dog was quite sick and was going to be put down, Luna went over and sat at the woman's feet while she cried.
She stands still when I clean out her ears, even though she hates it. She takes her medicine, even though she doesn't want to. She leaves the room whenI swear, because she's sensitive that way. And when our other two dogs passed away, she was very sad.
She's a wonderful dog. An old soul, I think. And I hope she sticks around for a long time to come.