Friday, August 31, 2012

Curveballs and Compassion

Just when I think my life is coming along and maybe getting to the point where I am feeling good about  what is going on, life throws me a curveball.  I was going to use another phrase that has profanity in it, and it's not that I don't mind a good curse; I just changed my mind.  But click on the link to see the urban dictionary definitions of that other.  It made me smile, maybe even chuckle.

It is not a story that I can tell at this time, or maybe ever.  It is not mine to tell, yet it has affected me deeply.  If I don't write anything funny or witty or anything even for a little while, this is why.

I will keep plugging along and do what I need to do.  Now, maybe more than ever, that means taking care of myself first so that I can take care of the others in my life.

On another totally different note, a blog I follow, Momastery, had a recent back-to-school post.  As a teacher and a mother, I loved this post and this letter.  I totally plan on using it myself, both appropriately abbreviated now for my preschooler, and as is, with name changes, as Lilly gets older.  It is about compassion.  Please read it.  Use it with your children.  Use it as a reminder to yourself.

Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that We Belong to Each Other.” 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy New Year! (kind of)

I bet if you ask every teacher you know, most would say that they consider September to be their New Year.  If you are not a teacher, do me a favor and close your eyes and think back to when you were a student.  Do you remember that feeling of excitement and new revitalized energy?  The knowledge that this was your year?  That is how I feel every September.  How lucky am I?  I love the feeling of a fresh start.

I always think of the movie You've Got Mail at the point when Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan that he would send her a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.  I have a fond memory of getting brand new pencils and the pencil case.  And the Trapper Keeper!  My favorite had kittens on it.

But there is also a nervousness, a bit of anxiety even, about how everything is going to work out in the upcoming year.  There are always changes and part of being a good teacher is going with the flow.  This year I will not be working with my friend Julie anymore and that makes me so sad.  She is an amazing school social worker and friend and I was honored to work with her for 2 years.  Her new district is lucky to have her.  Also one of my team members is expecting her 2nd baby and I am so excited for her!  But I also know that means we have to ramp up our work to get it all done and get into those classrooms.

If you follow my blog you probably realized that I had a tough year last year.  If you know me IRL you know just how tough that year was.  I really wanted my home life to not interfere with my work life but is that realistic?  I was out for 3 days when Lilly had her EEG testing.  I was out for a few sporadic days when Nanny was getting sicker.  I was out for a week when she died.  You can see why the teachers saw less of me than I or they wanted.  I still think that I did a good job.  I just want to do even better this year!

Getting back to my New Year theme, I decided this year to really make some resolutions this September.  I actually don't like the word resolutions, because it always sounds like something that will be broken.  Maybe I should say that I made some decisions about how I am going to conduct and live my life during the school year.  Being that I am entering my 3rd year in my position at work I now know some things I need to do to be successful.  I have also been living a healthier lifestyle, so that necessitates change to my daily work routine as well.

Make and bring lunch every day
You might think this is a no-brainer and it often was.  But it needs to become an everyday routine, not a  "Wow I have enough leftovers" kind of thing.  I really believe that bringing my lunch every day to camp helped me lose weight and I want/need that trend to continue!

Prepare (wash and iron) outfits on the weekend
Again, you might think nothing of this.  I did well in the beginning of last school year but that went out the window by the end of October.  Nothing stresses me out more than trying to pick out an outfit at 6:00am.  Well, maybe trying to get Lilly to pick out an outfit at 6am is more stressful, but you know what I mean.

Get enough sleep
I have to be at work earlier this year due to contract changes.  I cannot be late.  I must go to bed on time so that I can get up on time and get my butt out the door.  Besides, I just need more sleep!  This leads me to...

I need to walk in the mornings before work
I always have wonderful intentions to exercise when I get home from work.  Or after Lilly is asleep.  This year I am trying to get more early intervention clients, which would get me home later.  After Lilly is asleep I tend to just sit on the couch.  And play silly facebook games.  I don't exercise.  Plus my dog needs a lot of regular exercise.  This is in line with the getting enough sleep issue.  I need to go to bed earlier so that I can get up early enough to walk in the mornings.  I would love to get some yoga in, too.  Maybe I can alternate or walking.

Be organized in general
There is a lot of paperwork involved with my position.  There is a lot I need to do to remain accountable to my boss, the superintendent, and the state.  I also need to stay organized at home so that I can follow through with all the above resolutions.  I am creating a schedule for myself and my family for cleaning, grocery shopping and even cooking.  I want to cook or prepare meals on the weekends so that I always have food ready to go for dinner.  I want to live in a clean, organized home.  We can do this!

I know that it may seem like a lot, but the truth is that I have been doing a lot of this already.  I just need  to be consistent and follow through once the school year begins.  Sometimes that can seem so overwhelming that I lose my routines.   But I know that routines in the face of transitions and change are when they are most important.

I feel blessed to get this fresh start every September!  What are your New (School) Year resolutions?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jersey girls have sand between their toes

I used to have a sweatshirt that said that but it got a terrible stain.  I think I need a new one.  I feel so at home down the shore, to the point that I would consider moving down there.  Last week Lilly and I had lots of girl time with friends and 2 of those days were down the shore.  I think it is safe to say that Lily is as Jersey girl as they come.

First we went to see my friend Janice.  We also saw my friend Giselle and her baby Matty.  We stayed to see the sunset on the bay.  There is probably nothing more magical and centering to me than watching a beautiful sunset over the water.

 Two days later we went back down (to only a few blocks away from Janice) to see my friend Jane and her daughter and grandchildren.  There was hardly a minute that the children were still.  Lilly slept so well that night!

If you are my facebook friend then you have seen these pictures already.  There is just no better way for me to express how much I love the shore.  I hope everyone had some relaxing days this summer!

Friday, August 17, 2012

More on weight loss...

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on weight loss.  Later that afternoon I happened to catch 15 minutes of Dr. Oz.  It was the episode about kicking your carb addiction.  He had on the stage three women who had all struggled with weight loss and carb addiction.  He showed them the fat that surrounds our organs and what a healthy and and an unhealthy pancreas looks like.  Dr. Oz then told them about a 28 day plan to kick the carb habit.  Seeing the organs and actual fat motivated me that much more to continue losing this weight.  It also helped me appreciate what I have done so far.

On another part of the weight loss spectrum I saw an article (of sorts) on iVillage entitled Why I Quit Dieting!  I say another part of the spectrum and not the opposite end because these women were not against losing weight, just against dieting.  I totally get that.  I need to make life changes, not quick fixes.

Reading about the journeys of the featured women led me to the website Health At Every Size.  I do agree with the movement's standpoint.  If you take their pledge, this is what you agree to:  Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.  Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.  Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

I agree with all of that, for sure.  I also believe that I need to see cold, hard facts sometimes.  I was reading another article linked from the Dr. Oz show page about Treating Morbid Obesity through gastric bypass.  I am not going into that whole issue, but it did have some interesting information about the stages of obesity linked to BMI.  I copied the pertinent paragraphs below:

At this point, you have to ask what do the numbers mean? You are underweight if your BMI is less than 18.5. You are normal weight if your BMI is 18.5-24.9. You are overweight if your BMI is 25-29.9. You are obese if your BMI is over 30. Now, it does not end there.

All obesity is not created equal. There are different levels or stages of obesity. Stage I is 30-34.9, Stage II is 35-39.9 and Stage III is 40-49.9, and a BMI of 50 or greater is considered to be super obese. To put this in context, there is an obesity elevator and each stage is a new floor. An alarm bell should ring as you go up each floor to warn you that you are in danger. The higher the floor, the higher the stage, and the more your life is in danger.

I don't know about you, but I had never heard of those stages of obesity.  It was actually very helpful for me to see this.  Even when I was thinner I was considered overweight, BMI-wise.  I have been considered obese medically-speaking for ages.  It was rather easy for me to just see the obese label and not think about how obese.  I went to a website to calculate both my BMI before I lost the 15 pounds and now.  I have reduced my BMI by 2.1in 8 weeks.  That is awesome news!   I need to see those numbers.  I need that dose of reality.

Using the Lose It! app is necessary for me right now.  I know how to eat healthily.  I know what to eat and what a portion is.  But I was not doing it.  It is like any habit...once you get out of a good habit, it is hard to get back into it.  Bad habits are easy to stick to!  :)  I was not choosing the correct foods to fuel my body.  I was eating a lot of food but I had no energy.

What is my point after all this?  We all do what we need to do.  I am doing what I need to do.  I am so appreciative of the support I receive from everyone.  I am remembering to not judge foods.  Chocolate cake is not bad and salads are not good.  They are foods with different nutritional values.  I know that there will be days when I am in the mood for grilled chicken over salad and there will be days when I want chocolate chip cookies.  All of it is okay.  Only I can decide what is okay for me.

p.s  There is a an option to be "friends" on Lose it.  I don't really know what that entails but let me know if you are interested!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Just Lose It!!!

I entered the summer with a expectations that were just a tad unrealistic.  I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could lose 30 pounds.  Give or take.  Yes, I know, you are all shaking your head right about now.  I am smh at myself.   I just found out that smh = shaking my head.  Had to use it.  :)   The thing is, I had never really voiced those expectations.  I am sure if I had someone would have laughed corrected me.  I was not really saying anything to anyone because, well, I did not want to fail.  I hate failing, maybe more than anything.  How silly of me...I don't want to fail but I set expectations that would have been impossible to meet.  But I had mentioned to a few people that I wanted to take the opportunity of working in a structured, busy environment to start anew on my weight loss journey.

So the results are in...I lost 15 pounds from the beginning of camp.  Yay!!!  I ate healthier than I had been, was working outside and on my feet in the heat for 8 hours a day and walked a good bit.  So now here is where the real work is going to begin for me.  I am home for the next 3 weeks before the school year begins again.  I have lots of time to snack.  I am not sweating on my feet for 8 hours a day.  If I am hungry, there is food in my house, unlike camp where I brought my lunch and any snacks.  Even though I was cooking all day and even tasting small bites many times through the day, I did not eat what I was cooking all that much.

I know I have to move.  That is always a big part of weight loss for me.  I also know that I need to pack and bring my lunch to work.  I found a few lunches that worked for me this summer.  it can be a little boring, but I think that's actually a good thing for weight loss.

The big change I have made since I am home now is that I am diligently tracking all my food and exercise.  I had used this app before but then this summer it was more difficult because we were not allowed to use our cell phones during camp.  Plus I was taking lots of "tastes" but not full servings, so it was challenging.  The app I am using is Lose It.  I find that it is easy to use and I love that I can scan foods.  I have also put in some of my "usuals" in the recipe section so that instead of adding my coffee, cream and sugar separately I can just add my coffee for which I already measured and calculated everything.  Additionally, when I scan in, say 2 chocolate chip cookies, and I see that I just ate 160 calories, I am less inclined to grab a few more.  A cup of grapes for 62 calories versus 2 cookies for 160.  There is a reason why the author of the "Eat This Not That" cookbooks is doing so well.  I just needed to see it for myself.

Along with using the app I am measuring most things again.  Years and years ago I lost a lot of weight by measuring and writing it all down.  That is how I will do it again.  I know it might take me a long time and I might even have setbacks here and there.  That is just being realistic, and I really don't want to trick my mind into thinking I can lose all the weight by Christmas.  It's just not going to happen!

I know beyond a doubt, that this is a journey.  And I also know I have to be patient with myself and have realistic expectations.  And also, like a journey, there are twists and turns, valleys and mountains but I just have to continue along.

One more note... Whenever I am tempted to think that 15 pounds is nothing compared to what I need to lose, I remember what my BFF Michelle told me another time I was on WW.  I think of a 5 lb bag of sugar, even pick one up next time I am in the grocery store.  It's heavy!  That is a lot of weight that is no longer surrounding my organs!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Camp is over for the season

Lilly the mermaid

 The last day of camp was a stormy one.  There had been a few rainy days over the 7 weeks, but none as crazy as this one.  There were rivers of mud passing by my cabin.  The annual last day cookout was smack in the middle of the heaviest rain, so the campers ate in their cabins or other rainy day locations.  It was a bit hectic, to say the least!  But in true camp fashion, everyone made the best of it.
My view outside one part of my cabin.

It stopped storming in time for the closing bonfire, which I missed because I was cleaning up my kitchen for the winter.  There is a bittersweetness to the last day of camp.  We were all, counselors and campers alike I think, ready for a break, because it is hard work and tiring.  But then I was thinking of how much fun I had, the people I met, the campers I got to know and how much I learned this summer and it did make me a bit sad that camp is now over.  I am planning on going back next summer, though, so I will have a chance to do it all over again!

See you next summer!

Lilly, too, was sad when she realized that she would not be going to camp this week.  She cried for a few minutes after we got home.  But I think she is physically and mentally ready for the few weeks of a break that we have.  If only she would start sleeping past 6am!  
Last ride home on the bus - Queen Lilly!

I was able to visit Lilly's free swim on the day before camp ended because it was Carnival Day and I had no groups that day.  She was having a great time in the pool and you can see that she puts her head completely under water.  I had hoped she would really be swimming by the end of the 7 weeks, but for a multitude of reasons she was just not ready for that.
She had been completely submerged!

Happy camper!