Monthly Archives: April 2014

Project Me – Oh dear I sound like an addict!

Sugar I'm breaking up with you.

Sugar I’m breaking up with you.

Last week I wrote a blog post entitled “Putting on My Oxygen Mask.”   I have now embarked on what I call “Project Me.”  I am in week two of Project Me and I’ve been getting quite full of myself….until today.  I will be the first to admit that I am proud , I’ve been eating right, exercising five days a week (stop chuckling those of you who saw that I first wrote five times a day) and I have successfully managed a fun and social weekend dinner at my house without scarfing down the chocolate cake or drinking a bottle of wine.

Feeling all successful and light-hearted, tonight I announced to my family that I would be taking a hot bath as part of Project Me and retreated into my bathroom.  As I soaked in the tub, reflecting on my progress, I had a moment.  Actually, if I’m being 100% honest I may have been talking to myself.  Here’s how the conversation went.  Que Ally McBeal.

“OK so week two.  You’ve got this.  Thank god you don’t have bigger issues.  Imagine if you had to quit drugs or alcohol?  Those people have huge mountains to climb.  I can’t imagine going to a party and not having a social drink or feeling awkward because everyone is holding a glass of wine.  Ah….at least I can cheat a little.  I can have one chocolate chip cookie once in a while, I can have a piece of cake in a couple of weeks and I can hide these little cheats because they blend soooo easily into the normal way of life around me.  Hmmm….I kind of sound like I have a problem.  After all, I did get my blood results back and the doctor said I’m once again pre-diabetic and my cholesterol (thank you cheese and sugar) is a bit high.  In fact I don’t ever have one cookie, I have one or three cookies and a couple of spoons of cookie dough while making cookies “for my kids.”  I socialize all the time, go to lunches with other moms and have dinners at my friends’ houses.  Carbs, sugar, alcohol are at these social gatherings in abundance.  I did write about how I felt uncomfortable around friends and the need to change my way of thinking.   Perhaps this is what addiction feels like?  Could I stay away from sugar and carbs if it meant saving my life?  Am I going to be able to say I can’t have that piece of cake for good?  Will I start hiding again, pretend I am normal and wind up with bad blood sugar results again?  Perhaps my problem is very similar to others who struggle with their own addictions.   Sugar is addictive.  My body is insulin resistant.  Houston we have a problem!” Continue reading

Putting on my oxygen mask

No one is going to do it for me.

No one is going to do it for me.

My name is Lorraine and I am an extreme caretaker to the detriment of myself.  I’m ready to put on the oxygen mask because it’s clear no one is going to do it for me.  I tend to redirect my frustration at my husband, and I now realize that I’m going to have to take full responsibility for the predicament I find myself in.

It’s not a matter of “IF” it will happen Lorraine, it is a matter of “WHEN.”  Those were the words my doctor spoke to me seven years ago regarding my predisposition for diabetes.  During the birth of my third child I had gestational diabetes and was diagnosed pre diabetic for one year after Max’s birth.  I have diabetes on both sides of my family.  For three years after those diagnoses my blood work was normal, I was as healthy as could be.   I refused to take medication and lost 17 pounds through exercising five times a week and cutting down carbs to a severe minimum.  My doctor told me I had no choice, I was a person who needed to exercise five time a week to stay on track.  I was never so healthy and happy.  My doctor was thrilled and jokingly said “can you speak with the rest of my patients so they can handle this in the right way as well?”

Then for some reason I put down my oxygen mask and misplaced it.  I pretended I was normal like some of my other friends.  By normal I mean that I could slip up, I could drink more than one glass of vino, have the poison sugars, breads and pastas that my body can’t handle.  I so badly wanted to be normal.  I have aged and have added not only the weight but additional challenges to my health as a result of my simple “phase’ of life.   I haven’t been back to the doctor in years.  I’ve been hiding the fact that I’ve felt sick, weak, tired, jittery and depressed.  It has now reached a critical point.

My turning point happened in the last three weeks.  I visited my 90-year-old grandmother who literally bent down in a squat position to pick up a piece of dirt off of her floor when I entered the room.  After picking up that piece of lint she bounced back up as if she was twenty.  I have an Italian grandmother, there are no filters in my family.  She looked at me and said “YOU NEED TO LOSE WEIGHT I HAVE LOTS OF ARTICLES ON DIABETES FOR YOU!”

The second turning point was putting myself on the scale for the first time in six months.  Enough about that.

The third turning point was the flu.  The flu attacked me with a vengeance and I was literally bedridden for over a week.  I am still recovering and have never felt so blah.

Today I found my oxygen mask and put it on.  There are some mental and physical challenges ahead of me.  I have to find the strength to care “more” about myself than I usually do.  I have to admit to my friends that I can’t have that piece of cake, and it is not OK for me to have the rice.  I’m not doing this to make them feel guilty about weight loss, I’m doing this to save myself.  It is difficult for someone like me to put that mask on first.  I am a caretaker to the extreme.  I care and love my children desperately, adore my extended family, sacrifice for my husband and friends and then I have nothing left.  I have now reached my bottom.

So today I woke up at 4am.  Before you get any ideas I did NOT get up to exercise.  I stayed in bed reflecting on how I felt and realized that today was the day.  I put on the oxygen mask, I took a 3.5 mile walk and I made my healthy breakfast.  I then proceeded to make my doctor appointments.  Time to face the music.

Day 1.  I choose me.  There are many others who don’t have my choice.  For those that do have a choice, It is not too late.  If you have felt down, unhealthy and blah…..put on the oxygen mask.  It’s time.

Teaching kids about disappointment

These two love to ski!

These two love to ski!

Six months ago we booked a ski trip for spring break.  For six months we could hardly contain our excitement.  The plan was to put the kids in school on Friday and then take them out early and whisk them away to Sweden where we have relatives and friends waiting for us.   Then I got sick with the flu, but had a week and a half to rest up and wasn’t concerned about my ability to get better.  We did everything we possibly could, my husband did the cooking and cleaning and I was separated from the kids, basically quarantined in an effort to minimize exposure.  There was only one flaw in my plan and that flaw was called “school.”  Unbeknownst to me a little boy in Max’s class had the flu. Max said it sounded like he had laryngitis and this little boy told everyone he was really sick.  Did I mention he was at school?

Four days before we were leaving for our spring break trip, Max came down with a 103 degree fever.  As I type this he is fever free, it is the Friday of our departure and I spend the entire night up with a coughing and miserable child.  Spring break canceled.   Yesterday when I picked my healthy ten year old up from the bus stop I broke the news to him.  We would have to cancel our vacation.  His big blue eyes stared at me, the disappointment clearly visible on his face.  As I spoke to him about the risk of further infection for myself and Max, the risk of bringing this flu to others on the plane and our family in Sweden, Ryan stared at me and didn’t say a word.   I told him that even though he and Dad were healthy (we considered letting only the two of them head out), there was a chance that he could get sick on the plane and that they would still carry germs with them.    Ryan tends to be asthmatic during croup and certain upper respiratory colds.   I couldn’t bear to have him so far away from me and in possible distress.  It was a risk I wasn’t willing to take.

Then with one sentence my son Ryan made everything all better. “Mom, even though I want to scream and cry I can’t because you are the best mom in the world for making this hard decision.”   It was at that moment that I realized I was doing my  job.   I might have even teared up in front of my son because I was so affected by how he handled his disappointment.  Ryan then turned his disappointment into a positive situation and told me he was going to prank his friends who were home for spring break and make lots of fun plans with them.   I was ordered NOT to tell the other parents so he could surprise them on Monday.  Operation plan B in full effect!

My first instinct after seeing how well my kids handled the news was to make alternate, fun,  off-the-hook plans when everyone was better.  Visions of a short trip to Williamsburg, an amusement park, picnics, and campouts came rushing into my head.  Then I realized that by making these plans, or even setting my kids up to believe we had alternative plans, diminished the lesson they were learning.  Life is full of disappointment, but what defines us is our ability to handle those moments with grace and strength.  Being healthy, being together and having a break from school surrounded by our friends is a gift in itself.

“The more we shelter children from every disappointment, the more devastating future disappointments will be.”  Fred G. Gosman

My plans for spring break will be about moments of love.  I will cuddle my coughing 7 year old and I will nurse him back to health.  I will support my 10 year old with plans of his own making and we will gather as a family and be thankful for all that God has given us.    Have a wonderful and safe spring break!

 

Forgiving myself, releasing my inner hostage – My Messy Beautiful

photo credit: • peyote via photopin cc

photo credit: • peyote via photopin cc

I tell my sons “don’t play a part in another person’s bad childhood memory.”   There is power in this statement.  I remember my own childhood and the feeling of worthlessness that I felt when I experienced the wrath of various bullies.  I now know that some of those bullies were children who were hurt and lost themselves, victims of abuse, alcoholism and neglect.  Childhood memories are powerful,  they help define future adults.  Don’t play a part in a person’s bad childhood memory.

I’ve always been a little bit obsessed with forgiveness.  There’s something uplifting, something cathartic about asking for, and receiving forgiveness.  As a child I was taught that it was not enough to just ask for it, you had to ask for forgiveness with the intent not to repeat that sin, that mistake.  You didn’t get a “hall pass,” contrary to what others may believe about penance. Forgiveness requires an understanding and an accountability for your actions and an intent to do better.

I was between the ages of 11 – 13 when I played violin in the orchestra in junior high school (aka middle school in today’s terms).  I was primarily a shy girl, fairly smart but not yet comfortable in my own skin, in that awkward stage of teen normal.  It was during this time that I participated in being the primary player in someone’s bad childhood memory.  She played first chair violin and was incredibly talented and introverted.  I can remember hearing her play the solo of a popular country song.  I have not been able to listen to that song for years because of my guilt and shame.    First Chair and I were friends, we waved to each other and said hi in the halls, we were friendly in school and she was a classmate that I looked up to.

Then it happened.  For some reason I was goofing around, sitting next to one of my best friend’s during practice.   I have no explanation for my actions, no justification, no understanding of why I decided to do what I did that day.  In fact, I simply remember being shocked and horrified at myself.  I decided that when First Chair stood, I’d slightly pull her chair out.  When she sat back down she connected to her chair improperly, and she fell.  Beautiful, talented, shy, introverted, sweet girl fell in front of everyone and I was the one who caused it.  I was the main player in her bad childhood memory.  I  acted before thinking, was goofing around, and was not developmentally connecting my actions to the consequences.  It doesn’t matter though.  The fact remains, she was embarrassed and I hurt her.  I can remember that our music teacher glared at me, and I often wonder if she saw the look of shock on my face because she didn’t say a word, she just turned away and continued with class.  Perhaps the mortification in my demeanor was punishment enough.  I believe, however, that she wanted to spare First Chair any further negative attention.

To this day I am devastated by my actions.

Before Facebook, before the explosion of social media one could go on classmates.com.  I found First Chair’s name and wrote her an email apologizing and asking for her forgiveness.  I never heard back from her.  I believe I was 30 years old when I wrote that email.  I wrote it for two reasons.  The first reason was because I wanted to hold myself accountable and to let her know that I understood that what I did embarrassed and hurt her.  The second reason was that if she did remember this incident and had any feelings about it, well….I wanted to let her know that the only ugliness that day existed in my stupid and careless action, that she was beautiful and innocent.

Over the years of my life I have thought a lot about forgiveness.  As an adult I have made many mistakes but I have gotten very good and being accountable, honest and intent on improving my soul and living my life with love and intention.   I believe that these things; accountability, love, acceptance, honesty and intent are all required to properly ask for and to receive forgiveness.  However, the hardest part in all of this is not saying “I’m sorry.”  The hardest part in all of this is not saying “you are forgiven.”  The hardest part in all of this is forgiving oneself.

When you say you’re sorry to someone it lifts them up also.  It says “you are not to blame, I accept my own actions.”  I think that this is messy beautiful.

This morning I told my mother this story for the first time and she recited a quote from Maya Angelou.  She remembered words she heard on an episode of Oprah where Maya Angelou said these words about forgiveness.

“You did in your twenties what you knew how to do, and when you knew better, you did better.  And you should not be judged for the person you  were but for the person you are trying to be and the woman you are now.”

After I finished my conversation with my mother, I searched the internet for Oprah, this quote, and Maya Angelou and what I heard broke me down into tears.  Oprah said:  you don’t have to hold yourself hostage.    “Who has lived and hasn’t made mistakes?  You can be free.  And now that I know better I know I don’t have to do that again.  It is one of the most powerful lessons any of us can ever know.” (http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/The-Powerful-Lesson-Maya-Angelou-Taught-Oprah-Video) 

This is messy and this is beautiful.  I can honestly say I have never done something so inconsiderate again and I have become a woman I can be proud of.  I have chosen to share this example, from childhood, and yet I know that we all have other examples, other mistakes that we have locked down inside the recesses of our hearts.  It is an act of courage to look inside your heart and identify who you need to be accountable to, whether that is yourself, a spouse or a friend.  Make amends.  Forgive others.  Forgive yourself.  Accept love and release love into the universe.

Life is indeed messy; it is indeed beautiful.  Writing this post has been healing.   For the first time in over thirty years I have played that country song and smiled.  I forgive myself.

messy-beautiful-700b-1

When “one day” becomes “now or never.”

College graduation

College graduation

This past weekend I went away with three of my childhood friends.  One of these girls I befriended when I was around 9 years old.  The other two I met in middle school, and therefore we were probably around 12 or 13 years of age when we became friends.  As we talked, ate, laughed and joked I could picture in my mind’s eye where we have been and how far we have come.  Then it dawned on me, the number of “one day” in our lives is diminishing.    “One day” has become “Now or Never.”

One day I’ll lose weight.

One day I’ll get a new job.

One day I’ll learn how to play piano.

One day I’ll learn a language.

One day I’ll buy a house.

Tick tock…times up!  One day just left the building!   She was young, she was vibrant and full of possibilities, and  “now or never” has walked through the front door.    One day was an amazing feeling, you could make mistakes and have plenty of time to fix them.  Now or never is a much different task master.  She demands that you stop putting off your goals and seize the day!  Change is scary but if one does not find the courage to try new things, and make positive changes,  then the risk is waking up in our sixties, seventies and eighties with nothing but regrets and could haves and should haves.

So be conscious of what you want and who you want to be when you grow up, because now or never has walked through the door.  Seize the day.  Be brave.