Tuesday, July 27, 2010

That's It. I'm Done.

Not with the blog, don't worry!
I'm done putting others' needs ahead of my own and my family's.  It's not that I don't feel for the small business owners who are having trouble keeping up with their taxes, or for the farmers (ESPECIALLY small farms!!!!), or anyone else.  But, y'know what?  My husband works FULL TIME at the V.A. hospital, caring for those who fought for our country.  I work outside the home part time, and the rest of my time is spent taking care of my Autistic kids.  They go to special ed and have therapies that cost approx. $60,000 a year. EACH.  Together my husband and I make just over half of that.  We NEED support from the school district, the Regional Center and, yes, sorry, THE GOVERNMENT.   And I am DONE apologizing for it!  My children did not CHOOSE to have Autism!  They cannot help it that they need extra support to do the things other kids do naturally.  I'm truly sorry for those whose businesses are struggling to survive, but my kids are struggling to survive, too!  If they DON'T have these therapies, they will have to be institutionalized.  Clothed, housed, and fed, 24/7, for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!  Paid for by, you guessed it, the taxpayers!  Trust me, sending them to special day classes and therapy NOW will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run!
People with disabilities have the right to live.  They have a right to as equal a quality of life as the rest of us.  Most of them grow up to be productive citizens; they have jobs, they buy stuff, and yes, they pay taxes!!!!! Isn't that better than being dependent on the state?!?!?!
So quit calling my kids leeches!  They work harder in a single day than most adults do in a week! When YOU are a parent of a child with special needs, then you can pay for it all yourself, but most of us don't have that luxury.  Most of us are too busy WORKING and taking care of our kids!  How many nights last year did YOU stay awake all night with a screaming child?  How many occupational/speech/physical therapy sessions did YOU attend, just do your child could walk? How many dirty looks and nasty comments do YOU put up with in a single day, simply because your children are "different?" How many nights have you lain awake, wondering what will become of your kids when you are no longer around to take care of them, wondering if they will end up in the street, unable to care for themselves, because all of their programs were cut?!  When you've walked a mile in the shoes of anyone with a disability, or the family and friends of anyone with a disability, THEN you can lecture me about what a DRAIN my family is on society!  Until then,

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm Not Undisciplined, I'm just Terrified

I'm sure this will come to a surprise to...absolutely no one, but when I was younger I was an complete perfectionist.  Perfectionism, I've found, takes many forms.  Some people become ultra-competitive, deciding they have to be THE BEST, at everything, in every situation.  And it can make them mean.  They like to play mind games, psych others out, make them afraid.
I was not one of them.  I hated competition. I quaked (and still quake) in my boots at the thought of confrontation.  I dreaded gym class, unless it was a group activity like an obstacle course. (Have I mentioned swinging on a rope and landing on a gigantic mat?  FUN!!!!) I constantly deferred my opinion to others who were much louder and more obnoxious than I was. And, yes, I was often a target for bullies, because they knew I wouldn't fight back. (My main weapon against them?  Kindness.  Not out of the goodness of my heart, but because I found it to be an effective deterrent.  They never saw it coming, and were surprised by it, lol!)
I COULD make this an entry about the bullying going on in our culture today. Not only in schools, which, I don't care what the experts say, IS a huge problem and NOT just "kids being kids," but by so-called adults; on the internet, in government and, especially, on TV.  People who call themselves G-d-fearing, but act in a way that is, to paraphrase the late, great Douglas Adams, almost, but not quite, entirely unlike G-d. And, in the process, give a bad name to the people who really are trying to act in a way they believe to be real and genuine and G-dly.
But that's a different post. 
Today I want to write and think about perfectionism and what it does to a person. While it causes some to lash out against others, it causes the most damage to the perfectionist her/himself.  I think we all know that people who strike out at others do so out of fear, most of the time.  And insecurity. 
For those of us who didn't torment others, we turned ALL that fear, pain, doubt and hatred inward.  In my case, I gave myself stomachaches, and, ultimately, an ED.  I also lived in a state of constant fear, and would, eventually, lash out at people who tried to help.
I was also called a few names; undisciplined, a person who played it safe, a coward, too sensitive, not sensitive enough, selfish, it went on and on.
I wasn't any of these things, really.  I WAS terrified and angry, cynical and sad, lonely, depressed...
And no wonder!  Studies have shown that our thoughts shape our neural pathways.  When you are bombarded by negative thoughts, you start to follow that same pathway over and over again. You also create blocks, over which things like seratonin and other "feel-good" chemicals cannot pass.  The same with positive thoughts, although the good stuff can pass easily.  It's like digging a trail in a mountain; will that trail be a smooth, gentle ascent, or will it be rocky, steep, and full of brambles? 
Mine was the latter.  I truly believed that if I couldn't do something perfectly on the first try, it wasn't worth the effort. And yet...I stuck with certain things.  Like performing.  Rehearsals were hell, because every note I got from the director was a failure on my part, according to the Book of Alyssa. You can imagine what classes were like!  But I still kept with them, through 4 years of college, 3 years of grad school, and various studies here and there.
Because it was the devil I knew.  Classes were horrid and uncomfortable, but it was a horridness I was familiar with.  Going out into the world was a whole NEW kind of hell, so I put it off for as long as possible.
And then a funny thing happened; I was eventually pushed out into the world and it was...NOT horrible!  I was no longer the wee student who had to be taken by the hand and guided every step of the way.  I was a professional, expected to find my own way and treated like, well, an adult!
As a student, my every step was watched over and critiqued.  As a professional, no one gave a hoot how I got where I needed to be, as long as I got there.  This was, like, freedom!!!!! I was working with people who had been my teachers in the past, but were now my colleagues.  They were no longer judging and critiquing me, they didn't have time!  They had their own stuff to worry about!
I will admit it took me a while to realize this.  Of course, when you spend your entire life being self-conscious, self-judgmental and, yes, constantly judged by others, it is difficult to wrap your head around the fact that the entire universe is NOT watching you and finding you lacking.
(This is what we need to realize about celebrities; they act so weird because they are SOOOOOOO insecure! Even, especially,  the uber-successful ones. Because, in their heart of hearts, they don't believe they deserve their success.  And they believe people love them only for certain things, like how they look.  It is NOT a healthy way to live!)
I also started to learn a VERY IMPORTANT LESSON;  just because someone says (or writes) something, DOESN'T MEAN IT IS TRUE!!!!!!!!!
I first learned this with my first college acting teacher (the one who hated me on sight).  She was wrong when she said I had no talent, no potential, and would have no career.  She could not have been MORE wrong!
But I also realized this more and more as I got closer to 40.  For example, just because someone believes I'm mothering the "wrong" way doesn't mean I am.  Or if someone thinks I'm too sensitive, well, tough shit.  Their problem, not mine.  They don't have to talk to me.  I'm  too fat?  Don't look at me! (On another blog, a woman wrote "If the sight of my fat offends you, I will happily assist you in gouging your eyes out with a fork." I love that woman!)
(Going back to Hollywood for a moment; one of the BIG power plays there is to tell an actress she's too fat.  Pretty much THE WORST thing you can say to her.  And, because these power players are insecure themselves, they like to be bullies and treat others in ways that would get them sued in any other industry. Because they have the "power" to give and take jobs away, most people just take the abuse.  But, in reality, if you stand up to them, they not only back down, they'll fall all over themselves to make you happy.  It is a sick, twisted industry, in so many ways!)
OK, so this entry has been kind of all over the place, but that's OK.  My main point is that, once again, I see how much fear has ruled my life.  It makes me sad, for all the things lost, but it also gives me hope, because I don't have to live like that anymore.  And, G-d willing, I'll have plenty of years to live, if not ENTIRELY free of fear, at least knowing what it worthy of fear and what simply is not.
Yup. Freedom.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, Anna!

OK, so I learned at a fairly young age that many guys lose brain cells when confronted with the image of a beautiful woman.  OK, maybe they don't physically LOSE brain cells, it's just that the blood rushes out of their brains and goes a little further south.
And, to be fair, it's not just men.  Women are known to become stupid when in the presence of a good-looking fella, whether he's in the flesh, on celluloid, or in a photo.  (On that note, can I just say to the women my age who lust after Taylor Lautner; um, EEEWW!!!!!! He's 17!!!!! He's a KID! If the situation were reversed and a 40 year-old guy was drooling after a 17 year-old girl, you'd call him a PERV, and rightly so! So just STOP IT!!!!!)
But it seems that we, as a country, lose maor IQ points every time Anna Chapman's name, or, worse, image, comes up.  If you don't know, she is one of a number of people accused of spying for Russia while living in the U.S.  She is 28, a sometimes-redhead, very attractive, and can often be found posing half-naked.  She also has a Facebook page, which she posts on from her new home in Moscow, and she apparently REALLY wants to return to New York.
And many are hoping she will.
Which makes me wonder; what are we willing to forgive in attractive people that is inexcusable in those we consider less attractive?
In centuries past, beauty was considered a sign of goodness.  A lovely woman (or man) couldn't possibly be anything other than angelic.  (Then it turned around; never EVER trust a good-looking person!  They are PURE EVIL!!!! More on that later.) Today we look at someone who is attractive and see them as superior because they have the "discipline" to take care of themselves; to avoid junk food, to go to the gym every day, etc.  We still make A LOT of assumptions about people based on what they look like.
One of my LEAST favorite expressions is "S/he's out of my league."  I've written about this before, I think. We walk around thinking we are either too good or not good enough for someone because of either looks, income, or both.
Are we really so willing to welcome back with open arms a woman who may have been stealing government secrets and passing them on to the Russian government solely on the basis of her hotness?!?!?!  What if Al-Quaeda started recruiting young women and putting them in thong bikinis laced with Anthrax, then shipping them over to Embassies?  Yes, that's an extreme example (and I certainly don't want to give anyone any ideas), but I think you see my point.  Just because someone is "hot" doesn't mean they get a free pass for bad behavior.
And the truth is we may never know the truth.  Maybe Anna wasn't a spy.  Maybe NONE of them were.  Maybe they ALL were.  But we're not hearing ANYTHING about the others, because they're not half-naked redheads.
There are those out there who will say I'm merely jealous.  But there;s nothing MERE about it.  As a not-ugly-but-not-smokin'-hot-either woman, I can tell you that I've had to work A LOT harder than my hot friends and acquaintances for certain things.  I also went through a period, in my early-to-mid-20's, when I was considered quite attractive.  (I know, hard to believe, lol!) And got A LOT of attention for all the wrong reasons.
I have studied people who, because of their wealth and/or looks, soak up that attention as if it is their due.  It is one of the side-effects of privilege. They have never been treated any differently, so they don't really know any better.  But when the looks go, or the money runs out, they get lost.  They don't get the freebies anymore, or all the attention.  All of their so-called friends have deserted them.  And it's REALLY sad! It's why women spend copious amounts of money on cosmetic surgery, and fool themselves into thinking they look exactly the same at 60 as they did at 30.  It's why men buy sports cars when they turn 50, to fool themselves into believing that they are still the same guys they were at 25.  Stereotypical?  Yes.  But in these particular stereotypes there is a kernel of truth. (And if you live in Los Angeles, the stereotype usually, sadly, BECOMES the truth.)
The other side of the coin is that attractive people are ALWAYS assumed to have gotten by solely on their looks.  We think of them as less intelligent, less capable, and less trustworthy.  So attractiveness is a blessing and a curse.
A number of years ago I learned that my middle-of-the-road looks are actually a blessing.  I learned to develop my talent, rather than rely on looks to get me acting jobs. I learned to cultivate my sense of humor, and to listen to and empathize with other people.   I started exercising in an effort to lose weight, not being one of those naturally thin types, and discovered a love of exercise that has led me to my current career. I am learning that eating fresh, healthy food is not what I HAVE to do in order to lose weight, but rather, is what my body craves, and what will keep me healthy and energized, as well as (hopefully) around for a long time to come.
Privilege can make life easier in some of the superficial ways, but it also makes for a lot of lessons unlearned.  Going back to the whole "the unexamined life is not worth living" thing, I see that I have been truly blessed in so many ways.
And the blessings, along with the lessons, just keep coming.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Accountability, Part Deux

Well, I've gone and done it.  I've joined "The Biggest Loser Club" online.
Because I don't believe in diets (or "food plans" or "lifestyle changes" or whatever the marketers are calling them these days), I won't be following theirs to the letter, but WILL be using it for inspiration.  I have a whole bunch of healthy cookbooks, and therefore plenty of ideas for meals. For example: this morning I was "supposed" to eat 2 slices of whole wheat toast with neufchatel cheese and strawberries.  Well, I didn't have any strawberries.  So I started out with a cup of grapefruit juice, followed by 2 slices of whole wheat bread with low-fat cheddar and tomatoes, along with a cup of coffee. Good enough!
I'm also ticking off numbers of things like servings of veggies, carbs, protein, etc.  It gives me a picture of what I'm ingesting and, if I can continue to do this without becoming obsessive (like I usually do), then I think I'll be much more aware of what and how much I eat, as well as if I'm eating from hunger or from something else.
I'm also tweaking the workouts a bit. Since I just joined, they have me doing the ultra-easy-peasy beginner strength workouts.  Phooey! I'm teaching 7 Pilates classes this week, so THAT will be the mainstay of my strength training!  And, not to toot my own horn, but the workouts I teach are a lot tougher than the ones I'm being given.
(I got a very nice compliment from a client the other day; she said she likes my class because she gets a good workout without really knowing it at the time, lol!  So my evil plan is working! Killing with kindness, mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!)
And, yes, cardio is part of the plan, as well.  They leave that up to me.  I plug in what I did and for how long, and they tell me how many calories I burned.  Although I sometimes think the calorie count is a bit inflated.  Maybe not.  What do I know? Last night I swam laps.  It took me 30 minutes to swim 20 laps, however, because I had to pause a lot to play with the kids.
Anyway, the point of all this is to get myself to pay more attention.  I've started paying more attention to my emotions and hunger cues, now it's time to put more focus on what, when, why, and how much I eat.
I have to say, I'm  not a huge fan of the "The Biggest Loser" TV show.  I think what they do to those poor folks is dangerous (and one former contestant has come out and said that the show gave her an eating disorder, which I TOTALLY understand!!!) But I like the workouts and the recipes.  So we'll see how it goes!

In the bigger picture, things are changing.  I've felt a number of seismic shifts inside lately.  I think it might be called "growing up."  I'm wanting to spend less money, earn more, spend more quality time with the kids, and I'm not as bothered by certain things as I would have been just recently.  (Except campaign ads.  I still HATE campaign ads.  Doesn't matter who or what they are for or against, I HATE campaign ads!!!!!!)
I also want to keep the house clean(er). I feel calmer with less clutter and crap around. I'm doing things like drinking green tea, because it's good for me, rather than reaching for a beloved froofy-girly-coffee-drink. I want to be HEALTHY! I want my FAMILY to be healthy!
My priorities are shifting, and I think I'm becoming more realistic.  (Sure, I'd LOVE to move across the street into one of those big, fancy, single-family houses, but we CANNOT afford it!  Maybe we'll NEVER be able to afford it.  And that's OK!  We have a beautiful townhouse, and the kids are comfortable here.  This is HOME! Yes, I wish we had a yard, and I'm worried that our ultra-cool next-door neighbors are moving and might be replaced with people who aren't as cool and as accepting of my crazy, loud kids, but there's NOTHING I can do about that.  So I just have to accept it.)
Then there's having faith.  Faith that all will work out as it should.  That worrying about things usually doesn't affect the outcome, and only leads to ulcers.  Faith that, just because someone is frustrated or angry, it doesn't mean that a) it's my fault or b) it's my responsibility to fix it, and faith that they will eventually get over it. Faith that WG is going through a scratching, hair-pulling phase, and she,too, will eventually get over it. 

Finally, I'll end with some GREAT news; LG is starting at a new school in the fall, and we were worried that his new teacher wouldn't be a fabulous as the one he's had for the past 2 years.  Well, she, the teacher, has decided to switch schools and take over the class LG will be in!!!!! There are also 3 other kids from his class moving to the same class with him, so it'll be a tiny adjustment instead of a huge one.  We are VERY happy about this!
I hop all of you have something to be really happy about today.  Have a great one! 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Politics (Fair Warning) and Personal Beliefs.

You've probably guessed, if you've read this blog before, that I am a liberal feminist democrat.  I consider myself a true believer in equality across the board.  Everyone, whether gay, straight, or unsure; liberal, conservative, or in the middle; male, female, or unsure; wherever they are from, whatever they believe, whatever their skin tone, is equal. I am a believer in G-d.  I was raised Jewish, but am open to all possibilities.
My kids have taught me a lot about, well, everything.  Because of their autism, they have more than their share of challenges.  But they are also kind, happy, incredibly loving kids.  And when I am around their peers, in an environment where EVERYONE is accepted and embraced, no one is "weird," and every accomplishment is applauded, I see the world as it could be. It makes me happy and a little ashamed of my own prejudices.
We live in a world in which we believe we must defeat and dehumanize anyone who is unlike us. IMHO, it's easy to blame everything that is wrong with society on one or two groups of people.  The truth is, we all hold at least some of the responsibility.  We are not just responsible for ourselves and our families, but for the community at large, whether it's a neighborhood, school district, state, even the country. But these days it seems all we hear are "Those People" are destroying the economy, "those people" are putting us out of work, "those people" are ruining the country, etc. etc. And "those people" differ, depending on who is speaking.
A few years ago, I think it was '04, I watched the state of the Union address.  Now, I'm not a big fan of President Bush's administration, but listening to the reactions from both sides during the speech made me think that Congress needed a time-out. (And that my kids, who were 1 1/2 and 3 months old at the time, were more mature than the congress!) And I still think that.  In fact, after the time-out, they need to be forced to sit together (get rid of the Aisle) and learn to play nicely together.  Regardless of which party holds the majority, if they don't get their act together and work together for the good of the country (and not just the good of the party, or to appease either Glenn Beck OR Keith Olberman), we are in serious trouble.
Civility and respect have gone by the wayside, and that is the beginning of the end for most societies.  If you look at both the British and Roman empires, you can see that they fell apart from within. Is that what's happening with us?
I am embarrassed by the way we behave sometimes.  Calling the president, ANY president, a liar during the State of the Union address?  Yelling out "Baby Killer" at a congressman because he voted for healthcare? Although, apparently, he was referring to the bill, not the senator, but still!
And to both Fox AND MSNBC: the snarking you think is so witty and clever?  It isn't. It's obnoxious.  (I like Rachel Maddow, I think she's savvy and whip-smart.  I just wish the network would let her be a journalist! I also like Shepard Smith, and I think I misspelled his name.)  Why is it that the only people capable of seeing the ridiculousness on both sides are on Comedy Central?  It's kinda sad when "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report," much as I love them both, are seemingly the only voices of reason out there.
When President Obama was elected, I was, like many others, truly hopeful.  His message of unity was one that I truly believed in.  I still do.  I think that hope is still there, somewhere.  But we are a society that is becoming un-governeable, it seems.  Because as soon as a "winner" is declared, the opposition wastes no time in doing whatever is necessary to bring about their downfall, and the cycle starts all over again. Politics has become a big game of King of the Mountain, and we all end up losing.
I have learned a big lesson in the past few years; I can disagree with someone without hating them.  We can disagree on EVERYTHING, but that doesn't mean we have to insult one another.  We don't have to scream and yell and demean one another's ancestry in order to "prove" one is are right and the other is wrong. But that is EXACTLY what we, as a society at large, are doing.  Falling on each other like a pack of rabid dogs. And who loses?  All of us.
I understand people are angry; the economy sucks, unemployment is ridiculous, we're involved in 2 wars.  But does the blame game solve anything?  I don't think so.  It's time the politicians and the pundits STOP trying to get the last word in and START getting over themselves enough to work with their rivals and help out the country.  Yeah, this isn't the kind of talk that generates huge ratings on TV or sells millions of (hardcover) books.  It's the plain, boring, unexciting work of getting the country back, for EVERYONE.  And that doesn't show in any polls. There's no instant gratification.
So, to all the politicians; please I BEG you, just buckle down and get the job done!!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Holding My self Accountable

Unlike Mel Gibson, who apparently likes to blame his racist/misogynistic/homophobic tirades and girlfriend beatings on A) alcohol or B) girlfriend herself (after all, she was baiting him and pushing his buttons, so she DESERVED to have her teeth knocked out and called a whore, right?), I have decided that there are some things I must take responsibility for and change.

One: My weight.  Yes, I've written about this too many times, and yes, I definitely need to focus on the emotional aspects of my weight and eating issues, but I also need to lose some LB's. I've been having lots of aches and pains lately, and my cardio endurance sucks.  There's a history of heart disease in my family, as well, so I really need to be proactive.

Two: My emotions.  Back in the bad old days when I was having panic attacks, I took a course about anxiety and depression.  One of the most important things I learned was that I cannot control what happens; I can only control my reaction to it. And I cannot rely on someone else to make me feel better.  As they said in this course, I am my own "safe person;' the only one who can talk me down is me. And while this worked really well for me in terms of dealing with situations as they came up, it's been a harder road when it comes to emotions.  See, our brains don't know the difference between a real scenario and an imagined one.  Since I am uber-talented at creating the worst possible-case scenario out of ANY situation, I am able to swirl up my own anxiety by imagining it.  My brain then sends signals to my body that I am in danger, and the adrenaline kicks in, thereby releasing cortisol, which, having no outlet (because I'm not in any physical danger), sticks around and creates things like belly fat and extra strain on the heart.  I may not have anxiety attacks anymore, but I live in a constant, low-level state of fear.  It has taken me nearly 41 years to recognize this because it's been there for as long as I can remember, and I thought it was a normal, typical state of being for everyone.  Little did I know...
And I do believe it is one of the chief reasons, along with my emotional, mindless eating, for the weight gain and my difficulty in getting rid of the belly bulge.
There are exercises my therapist has given to me which I haven't been doing.  It's time to start.  It's also time to buckle down and start meditating regularly. 
No one can deal with my swirling mass of emotions but me.  Rather than trying to control my external situations, I need to shift my focus inside. I also need to take myself out of certain stressful situations. Turning off the TV, unless it's "Doctor Who,"  "Spongebob," "Phineas & Ferb," or "30 Rock" would be a good start, I think!

Three: My Health.  I was supposed to get a mammogram last year, but didn't.  I need a dental checkup.  I skipped my OB-GYN appointment last January.  Not a great idea! I STILL don't wear as much sunscreen as I need, even after watching my dad die from skin cancer!
Just wrap me in gold lame and call me Cleopatra, 'cause sometimes I am the queen of denial! (Kinda funny, actually; yesterday I found an old picture of myself as Kleopatra, from a play called "Too Clever By Half," which we did in grad school.  They gave me the whole Cleo look, including the wig.  Foreshadowing? Hmmm...)

Four: Equanimity.  This kinda goes along with emotions.  There's a lot of talk about this in yoga, about feeling and seeing without reacting.  I used to think it meant having no emotions and no opinions, but it is quite the opposite. It means I don't let my thoughts and feelings take me over. 
In our culture we believe that whoever is the loudest wins.  Might makes right.  We CONQUER and are victorious.  Success has a very narrow definition. We scoff at peaceful people, those who have the capacity for great compassion and aren't afraid to use it.  But, more and more, I admire those folks.  I want to be like them.
I think living in L.A. turned me on to this.  Because I saw and knew hugely successful people there; they had power, beautiful (and multiple) homes, cars, sent their kids to tony private schools.  And, in the end, really had nothing that mattered.  They got divorced, their kids despised them, they were restless and unsettled and could never figure out why.
Sometimes I'd go to yoga classes at a particularly well-known studio, frequented by celebs.  The teachers were WONDERFUL, but it was definitely a "scene" for many of the students; a place to show off their skills, their perfectly toned bodies and their matching designer yoga duds.  Interestingly, the celebs were low-key and no-nonsense; it was the wannabees who were the show-offs.  But then, that's often the case.  I developed a theory that the smog hovering over L.A is NOT actually pollution, but the pall of so much insecurity.
I had hoped that moving out of L.A would get me away from all that but, unfortunately, our entire culture is becoming more and more superficial and mean.
Yeah, definitely gotta keep that TV off!

Five: Embarrassment. This has been one of THE greatest hindrances of my entire life!  Fear of embarrassment!  It seems so silly, but it goes deeper, to the absolute terror of Doing Something Wrong. Which is Not Allowed, EVER!!!!! Something I learned at a very young age and still cling to.  It has made me timid, afraid, and anxious. It has led me to some dangerous situations, in which I could not stand up for myself.  It has led to self-hatred, and to absorbing others' hatred of my "weakness."  Of letting other peoples' opinions, even people I don't know, matter more than my own.  To ignoring my instincts. To the belief that everyone knows more than I do, so I should just shut up and listen to them, even when what they say is conflicting.  It has led to bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating, as well as over-exercising. And, most of all, it has led to brutally repressed FEAR and ANGER. Because I became an emotional punching bag for everyone around me.  I let them insult, demean, and hurt me time and time again.  And, again, I thought it was "normal." And anytime I DID speak up, I was met with "I'm just saying this fr your own good."  Well, screw that!  You deal with your OWN own good, got it?!?!?!  I'll take care of myself, thankyouverymuch!

OK, I know there's more, but it's 3:00 in the morning and I have GOT to get back to bed.  To be continued...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Possibly! Tomorrow after  dropping the kids off at school(s) I'm heading over to the gym to check out the brand spankin'-new interactive Spin bikes!!!!!!
Yes, it's a Spin bike with a computer console that let's you select a pre-programmed, pre-recorded spin class.  Which is great, since I usually can't make the scheduled live classes. There are only 3 such bikes at the gym, but I figure if I go in at 9:30 in the morning I'll have a somewhat decent chance of getting one.
Is it weird that I'm so excited about this?
Part of it is just being able to move again, period! My back isn't 100%, but at least I can go from sitting to standing without spending 20 minutes hobbling first. I'm being careful, but it sure feels nice to have mobility!  (That old saying comes to mind: You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.  And let me tell ya, teaching last week was a chore.  It's easier this week!)
In other news, my S-I-L, the one who works with Autistic kids, has been working with WG, G-d bless her!  She's helping us to help her curb the meltdowns.  When WG starts pinching, scratching, or pulling hair, we say "No" or "No thank you" very firmly, then put her down until she stops.  And we do it over and over and over and over again until she gets the message.  It'll take a while, but it's working!
And in OTHER other news, tomorrow (7/14) is LG's 9th birthday!!!!!!! I can't really believe it; it seems like just 2 weeks ago he was toddling around on chubby little legs wearing a diaper! Now he's going into 4th grade!  The pirate-themed decorations I ordered for his party (on Saturday) arrived today, and I think I'm more excited about it than he is.  I'm not sure he knows tomorrow is his birthday, but I'm sending some (gluten-free) chocolate chip cookies to school with him so they can celebrate.
The sad news is that Thursday will be his last day with this awesome, AMAZING teacher.  He's been with her for 2 years, and has made HUGE strides!  He's a reader now, and he's doing math.  He's able to focus, to concentrate, and he is so aware of other people!  He wasn't like this before. There's no way t truly thank her for everything she's done for him, but we're sure gonna try!
(And, in a moment of great mommy pride, our friend told us she's amazed at what a sweet boy he is.  And he is!)
Hubby is going great guns at his new job, enjoying it very much.  I've theoretically cut down on the number of classes I teach, but I've been subbing so many others that I can't really tell.
OK, it's 9:30 PM, I've been up since 4:30 AM, and my eyelids are slamming shut. Gotta go catch some stardust.  HAve a god night!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Such a Pain in the Back!

So I mentioned that I threw my back out last Friday after standing up.  Or maybe it was the way I was sitting. Or carting WG on my back so often.  Or a combination of all three.  Suffice to say, it hurts, and it doesn't seem to be getting much better.  Although today I bought Icy/Hot patches at Target, and they are a gift from the heavens, let me tell ya!
I was thinking about all the little things that have gone awry lately; last month was ridiculous, in terms of stressors.  I was NOT unhappy to see the end of June 2010, let me tell ya! Then, after weeks, I FINALLY had a few days off from work.  Of course, this was when I threw my back out, Hubby, LG and family went camping, and WG decided to break the world record for meltdowns in a single weekend.
We are now at the blissful point in which BOTH kids are in summer school.  I actually have 2 1/2 hours to myself in the mornings.  I WAS gonna work out and take yoga classes, but, well, the back. At the end of next week LG will be out of school, and 2 weeks later,WG will be out as well.  Leaving THREE WEEKS of vacation for BOTH OF THEM!!!!!! Luckily, my mom will be in town (along with her new hip!) and we can take the kids to fun places. I probably shouldn't complain; last year they both had 5 weeks of summer vacation, all at the same time.  But last year WG wasn't pulling hair and scratching.
Yes yes I know, most kids have 3 MONTHS of vacay, but most kids aren't Autistic. Trust me, it's harder. Not that I'm some great, all-noble, sacrificing mother.  I'm REALLY not.  But It. Is. Damn. Hard.

OK, enough of that.  On a lighter note, I just finished reading "Undead and Unfinished," the latest in the Queen Betsy Vampire series by Maryjanice Davidson.  I know what you're thinking: Great, ANOTHER vampire series, just what the world needs!  But the first book in the series ("Undead and Unwed") was published in the late 90's, waaaaaaaay before the current vampire craze!  And these books are FUNNY!  (Have I mentioned the stepmother who was possessed by Satan for 9 months and no one noticed?) But parts of them are also incredibly sad and some are downright creepy!  Not in an "Eeeew, gross!" kind of way, but in an "OMG, I can't believe that just happened!" kind of way.  The ending of this book, the very last sentence, practically made me jump out of my skin in fear, excitement, and utter admiration.  I NEVER, in a billion years, would have guessed! If you haven't read the series, go to your local library and rent the books.  In order.  You really do have to read them in order, otherwise they won't make any sense.  Especially this newest one.  Especially that last sentence!!!!
The only problem I have is that the books come out once a year, and I read them in a day.  Then, of course, I have to wait another year before I can (sorry) devour the next one.  And, with this one's finish being a doozy, I reallyreallyreallyreallyreallyreallyreallyreallyREALLY want to know how or even IF they're going to get out of that situation!  And what the repercussions would be!  Because they'd be pretty darn severe!  I mean, I have ONE idea, but I don't think it would work.
Of course, Ms. Davidson is a very prolific writer, working on multiple series of books at a time.  Her first in a new series comes out in September, so there's that to look forward to.  (If you're interested, there's a 3-book series she refers to as "Bitch Out of Water," also known as the Fred the Mermaid series, which is REALLY fin-er- fun!  Especially the king of the mermaids, who learned to speak english by watching "Deadwood."  So you can imagine his language!)
The other thing, and this is kinda random and weird, is that every time a new Betsy book comes out I am reminded of shopping at my favorite mall.  It's near Los Angeles, right up the street from the Santa Anita race track, in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest.  Also near the really cool, small, funky town of Sierra Madre.  I went a few years ago to buy the latest book at the Borders there, then sat in the food court with a coffee and began reading. It's a fond memory of mine.  I know, it's weird; why should sitting in a mall in L.A County reading a book be such a fond memory?  I'm not sure myself.  All I can say is that the area is GORGEOUS, that I took the kids there many times to walk around (and to play in the indoor playground, which they're too big to do now), and that there ARE parts of L.A. that I love and miss.
Not that I want to move back, mind you; IMHO, San Francisco is THE greatest city in the world!  But there are times when I get a little homesick for the small, out-of-the-way places in SoCal that many people don't know about. The places I would take friends and family to when they visited.  Sure, we could (and often did) go to Hollywood Blvd. (which is a dump, let me tell ya!  I used to see these poor tourists walking wearily with their kids down the boulevard; sure, they saw the Walk of Fame, but no one told them most of the stars were hidden by sleeping drug addicts and prostitutes plying their trade), Venice Beach (An experience, but not terribly clean), and Beverly Hills (DON'T get me started!), but we also went to Montrose, La Canada Flintridge, and the above Sierra Madre and Angeles National Forest (where, as a puppy, our dog learned to swim.  She was trying to rescue me from the 2 ft-deep swimming hole.  It was so cute!).  THOSE were the places people remembered, and those are the places I miss.  Especially at sunset.
There's a part of me that wishes we could have kept our L.A house after we moved up here.  That way, we could visit whenever we wanted. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVED that house?!?!?!) But, not being millionaires, we kinda had to sell it so we could afford our current home (also not too shabby.  I just wish we had a yard.)
I guess, too, there was still a bit of youth and naivte left in Hubby and I.  He was still acting, I was a full-time mom, and, while we certainly had to watch our finances, the economy was in decent shape and we didn't have to worry TOO much.
Hmm...don't know why I'm feeling so maudlin all of a sudden. Ah well, blame the hormones!  I'd best be getting to the laundry and then to work.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Universe Strikes Again

I KNOW there are some things I just should NOT say out loud, or even think.  Like, in a recent post, "WG hasn't had a meltdown all week" which was, of course, almost immediately followed by the mother of all meltdowns, and further followed by a week of melting down that includes hair pulling and scratching along with the wailing.
I also shouldn't say/think "My back is so much stronger from Pilates!  I haven't had any issues in years!" Because I will then stand up and throw my back out. The night before Hubby, LG, and the entire extended family leave for a 3-day camping trip to Yosemite, leaving me alone with the inability to stand up straight AND a WG in seemingly perpetual meltdown status. And a dog who needs to be walked at regular intervals.
Luckily, a couple of weeks ago, Hubby found my old back support.  I guess the Universe was trying to tell me that I'd be needing it soon. So I can at least stand up a bit and walk. Yes, I look like a cross between Quasimodo and Jacob Marley sans chains, but at least I'm semi-ambulatory.
Of course, I WAS gonna do all these cardio workouts this weekend, start getting the ol' stamina back up.  But that's obviously not gonna happen. The best I can hope for is that my back will feel better by Tuesday, which is when I have to teach my next class.
Something is going on.  In the past few weeks I've had wrist, neck, and foot pain, all on my right side.  And the back pain is, you guessed it, on the lower right side.  I can't figure out if it's simply physical or something more. Am I overtraining?  ENTIRELY possible.  Is the Universe trying to force me to take a rest? Mission accomplished!  Is is partly due to stress?  Is there some kind of left side/right side imbalance thing going on?  All of the above?

And there's another thing; I'm lonely.  It's July 4th, and everyone I know is off doing something fun.  I'm sitting here with WG (who's watching "Baby Einstein") having a little pity party.  But the truth is, everyone I know will be celebrating with friends and loved ones tonight, and I'll be watching "Pops Goes the Fourth" on TV.  Granted, WG and I will walk up the street to catch the local fireworks, as long as she's in a good mood. Then we'll come home and watch on TV.
I can't get in touch with anyone.  My own mother isn't returning my calls.  Maybe she's embarrassed by her pathetic offspring, lol! Hubby can't get a decent signal at his campsite.  And this is the second 4th of July in a row that he's been off camping while I've been home with one or both kids.
The fact is, I'm also overwhelmed.  When I'm not teaching, I'm home taking care of the kids.  I don't go on vacation often and when I do, guess who's taking care of the kids while others go off and do their thing?  I know I've mentioned this before.  I guess it's time I try and get through to Hubby.  Because he just doesn't understand.
I think maybe the Universe is telling me to get off my duff and speak up for myself, already! If I sit around waiting for everyone to notice my good deeds and "sacrifices," I'll end up with a martyr complex, and I HATE that!  Time for me to stop being such a good little girl, take a cue from WG, and let my needs be known! OK, I'm not gonna pull peoples' hair and scratch their skin off, but you get my meaning.  I need more than the occasional hour off every month.  I need some quality ME time!  And I need to NOT feel guilty about it, either because we're on a budget, or I "should" be home with the kids, or whatever!  Hubby is a GREAT dad, and he's perfectly capable of watching the kids!  And y'know what?  It'd be GOOD for him to get a taste of what I deal with whenever he goes away!
He once told me that he had no idea I was under so much stress because I seemed so capable and put together.  Which is funny, 'cause it was an act I put on for him so he wouldn't think I was incompetent.  Yeesh!  Where is my head at?!?!?!  Why are everyone else's needs SO MUCH MORE important than mine?!?!?!?!
This idea that being a mother means you put yourself last?  Is bullcrap!  No, I don't mean that I'm going to hire a full-time nanny and neglect my kids while I go to wine tastings and get in fights with other suburban moms, but I didn't stop being a human being just because I gave birth.
The other day, when one of my classes was canceled, I was feeling guilty because clients might be inconvenienced.  Now, my clients are extremely important, but more important than needing to be with my kids?  More important than my need to NOT exhaust myself?  I've been doing this for as long as I can remember.  Trying to not make waves, to be the good student/employee/wife/mom/girl.  And you know what?  I am so BLOODY sick of it!  I AM a good mom!  A good wife, employee, etc.  But I am SICK of being a GOOD GIRL!  I'm a grown woman,  and I don't need anyone else's approval. The only one who can (and will) take care of me is ME!
And it's abut frackin' time I started!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For (And, Can I Unload Some More of My Neuroses?)

Well, I wanted more time to myself, and now I have it!
More time with the kids, anyway.
Which is good!
For the family.  Not so much for the wallet.
My Friday class, the first reformer class I ever taught, has been canceled.  Maybe not permanently, but for the time being. It's kinda sad, as I've been teaching it for over 2 years, but also kind of a relief, as it was REALLY hard to keep clients in that time slot!
I've also given notice at the other studio, and they've been INCREDIBLY understanding and wonderful about it!  They're even keeping me on as a sub!
My big hope now is that the intensive training will go well and I'll have a bunch of new opportunities; ones that will let me choose my schedule AND make money.  And, of course, allow me to be BRILLIANT with the clients!
Maybe someday I can even help train the wannabe-teachers.  That'd be fun!!!!!

OK, on to a more neurotic note: Hubby and his family are going camping in Yosemite this weekend,and they're bringing LG with them.  I'm staying home with WG, as she is SO not ready to camp yet! (I can only picture her having a complete meltdown at 4 AM in a crowded campsite!  We'd be murdered in our sleep, lol!) She did go to Yosemite once, but she was in utero at the time.  (Word of advice; DO NOT go camping while pregnant!  Waking up 6 times a night to pee in pitch darkness and nearly coming face-to-muzzle with a bear is not fun! )
So usually Hubby goes by himself and meets up with friends to climb, and I worry about him (see last post, RE: Worrier Queen).  But now I'm also REALLY worried about LG, 'cause he has a habit of running off. I looked into getting him a personal GPS, but it wouldn't have been available in time (they're leaving tomorrow). I do have a Brickhouse, but it doesn't work very well.  On the other hand, my S-I-L is also going, and she has an eagle eye.  SHE'LL be his GPS!!!!!
Plus, there will be lots of other families there, so I really don't HAVE to worry.
But I do.
Add to the fact that PMS has arrived and, well, I'm actually FEELING my emotions instead of eating them, and we have a nice big ball o' nerves that used to be Alyssa.
I don't want to be this way!  A few days ago I started to cry, and LG looked at me and said "Mommy happy!"  Today I started crying AGAIN, and WG wrapped her little hand around my arm and put her head on my shoulder.  I don't usually cry in front of my kids, but I also don't want them to think that crying is bad or something to fear or be ashamed of.  On the other hand, I don't want to scare them.
Geez.  Being a parent is HARD, lol!
So I'm trying to be positive.  LG is going to have a GREAT time!  And WG, the dog, and I will have a girls' weekend.  We'll walk around the mall, go swimming, watch fireworks...OK, the dog will have to stay home for those.
But still.  It'll be fun!