I Need to Speak With You About Grace….

Ok, it’s 10:55 time to pack up my water and reading materials and walk down the hall to pick up Grace. This routine has become habit now twice a week for going on 3 weeks. Grace is enrolled in a mini get ready for school program at a local community centre twice a week for an hour and a half. It has been great, Gracie gets to hang with little people her age, learn structure and routines of a classroom and I get 1.5 hours of time to relax….it’s great, until today.

Its 10:57 and I am walking down the hall to get Grace and go home and bake cookies….so cliche right? Same as the past couple Monday’s until I walk in. The lady leading the class walks to me and asks if she can speak with me about Grace. I say sure smiling as I try to swallow the lump in my throat. Blair and I have been secretly dreading this moment, and, we kind of had a feeling it would come when she started school. I guess the bloom has fallen from the rose earlier than expected. We thought that by day 2 or 3 of school the excitement and newness of it would wear off and she would become bored and start acting out. I guess she couldn’t wait until September.

So here I stand smiling the most forced idiotic smile know to man as I wait for this “I have to speak with you about Grace” moment. I don’t know what I was expecting but I must have breathed a noticeable sigh of relief after hearing about Grace screaming during circle time, not listening to direction, not maintaining eye contact and, having a one sided “adult” conversation by herself which included the words; whatever, you are so silly, they act stupid sometimes and, I don’t even care. Maybe I should have gasped or acted shocked but, I wasn’t. Grace has been behaving this way for about 6 months now, since we moved. Some of these we have attributed to her just being a kid and some just her personality. There are other things we have concerns about and are dealing with them through professional means. All of this is racing through my head as this woman is now staring at me impatiently asking me for answers. Asking why she speaks like an adult, why is she screaming, does she do this often, do we speak to Grace like an adult? Ahhhh panic mode, too many questions at once…is she questioning my parenting ability? Does she even have a clue what I go through on a daily basis with my child? Can she tell I am ready to cry…I mean full on ugly cry at any minute?

This is where I back up the proverbial truck for a moment and explain and share a few things. My children are the loves of my life….period. Grace has always been different and special, ahead of the curve. She was lifting her head up from her bassinet and our chests by the time she was 8 hours old. Her vocabulary has always been off the charts and she never crawled she just stood up and started walking before she was 1. She has an imagination that is rivalled by none and a personality bigger than any room she walks in to. She can be moody, her listening skills can be more selective than most and her gross motor skills need some work, but she is ours and we adore her. Do we have concerns? Yes. Are we having them addressed? Yes. Are we ready to share that with the entire world from the mailman to the crossing guard on the corner? No.

I explained what I could and what I was comfortable with and left the rest as it was, explained we are dealing with some of her behaviours, grabbed my child and left…..I left frustrated, embarrassed, slightly insulted and worried. I worry about what is ahead for my daughter. I worry about how others will treat her based on assumptions they make about her behaviour. I worry that she won’t get the same opportunities as others and that she will be left behind because her behaviours are different and unexplainable. I worry about the patience of those who will be teaching her and their patience or lack of with her quirks.

Now it’s my turn to talk to speak to you about Grace.

Grace is defined as …a virtue coming from God….a special favour…disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courage or clemency…the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful… At least this is what Webster tells me are the highlights. In my opinion, never has a child been more aptly named than our Grace. She is and will always be our gift from God, she is our special favour received.  She is kind in disposition and brave beyond belief as well as having a great many moments of consideration for others and thoughtfulness. She does not embody these qualities or attributes at all times but then again who does? But she does have them and resembles them as can we all. Grace is special.

When I speak to you of Grace I am speaking to you not of my daughter but of the act of Grace. Specifically of kindness, consideration and thoughtfulness. I am speaking of considering that yes my child is different in some ways, of being considerate of her feelings and of ours as her parents. I am speaking to you of being thoughtful and not just in what you do but of what you say and what you think. Take that few extra moments and be thoughtful before you judge her or us, before you speak about her behaviour or our parenting skills or your belief in the lack of them. Be kind in your intentions towards others that God had blessed to be different.

When I speak to you about Grace I see opportunities and possibilities, I see a gift that we continue to unwrap and discover each and everyday. When I speak to you about Grace I see my child, not a little body full of behaviours I don’t understand, of moods that can’t be explained, I see my child, my perfect gift and blessing. Perhaps we could all benefit from taking a walk with Grace.

 

 

I Left My Label Maker at Home

For the past few weeks I have started getting up early and walking for an hour.  Part of this new habit involves my desire to get fit and, the other part is to help me keep sane. It is my one hour a day to be alone, to sort out my thoughts, plan my week or, just simply empty my head. It is so peaceful at 6am I can breathe, I can turn off my hearing, no listening for a child being too quiet, no refereeing between a warring puppy and an overly combative pre schooler! Just me and my thoughts….sometimes not the best company.

So, this morning as I walked I choose to rehash the last week in my head, maybe not the wisest choice for my alone time but hey, that’s where my head chose to go. I am certain I have mentioned my incredibly active preschooler before, she is a handful to say the least. Loveable but, a handful. 

The last few weeks she has been more of a handful than others so that was occupying a huge piece of realty in my head. I was thinking about our latest trip to the grocery store, the trip where Grace decided not to listen. I don’t even know where to begin describing this visit. Maybe it was the running, the 3 times she tipped over her “shopper in training” cart ( by the way retailers who offer this…please don’t. You may think it is helping parents occupy their children but it makes some of us more work) or perhaps it was when she was screaming “I don’t love you get away from me you bad mommy.” Nope, I think it was when she refused to stay at the cash register and fell into a bin resulting in a lovely bruise on her face. Sigh. What else can you do but sigh. 

This morning as I walked and replayed this scene and a few others like it in my head I started to think about a few things. The first thing was the way people looked at us and the things they pretended to whisper as I ran past chasing my little one. I thought about the apologies I muttered as I ran past as well as the thinly veiled insults and defences I not so quietly whispered back. I started to think about the excuses, “sorry she is a little Cranky today,” “she had a cold and isn’t feeling well,” “she is a very spirited child.” Were they really excuses or were they labels? What was the difference between a label and an excuse? What did Grace hear and then use as her excuse? What did she hear and choose as her label?

I suppose we all do it quite often in the run of a day…give people and situations labels I mean. The overweight person at the grocery store with a shopping cart full of chips and pop, the one we label in our head as unhealthy or lazy, that is shopping for her teenagers slumber party. Or the preschooler running around the grocery store screaming, the one we label a brat. The parent chasing after the toddler that we chastise for having no control, the one we label a bad parent. How much does the person we are labelling hear? How much do they sense what we are thinking? How much of our label sticks with them and to them? How much of our labels do they begin to feel are their own and start to use themselves? How many times a day do I do this?

I think I know why I use labels….it’s a comfort thing. Being able to name something, to,label,or classify it gives me comfort, it also gives me an excuse. When I first started noticing Grace’s behaviour was different and difficult to manage at times I did what all modern moms do…I took to the internet to search for an explanation. I found one that seemed to fit and I liked it…Grace was spirited! Nice ring to it huh? Spirited, now there was something I could work with, it seemed to fit the behaviour and didn’t require any thing more than a few good books. It was great for a few weeks, so nice to meet those judgemental and labelling eyes with the a judgement and label of my own of “she is just a spirited child.” I didn’t even know fully what it meant but it was a label I could live with, an excuse I could live with. When I was that overweight woman eating chips and cookies for lunch I was a “busy mom” or, “taking care of everyone else first” I became the overworked under appreciated martyr mom, a label I wore well for quite a while. 

Something in me changed and I decided to change my weight and lifestyle. I chose to flip a switch in my brain and think differently about myself and change my own label. And, I am so happy I did, I choose to ignore the labels I hear others use about my weigh gain, to only listen to the positive new labels I create for myself…..so if I can do that for me why couldn’t i do that for my daughter? Why couldn’t I ignore or redirect the labels I heard? Why wasn’t I helping my daughter make positive labels for herself about herself? Why was I contributing to or even allowing her to make labels at all? All good questions right? Well why was or wasn’t i? Simple, a label, an excuse gave me comfort. It’s easier to deal with something if you think you know what it is. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Living in an age of instant information, vague self diagnosis, and a growing culture and atmosphere of less discipline and more freedom for children to “discover” who they are sometimes helps create more labels and more excuses.

As I walked, all of this was bouncing in my head. Some things were answered some things weren’t. As I crossed the street with the right of way only to have a car race thorough the intersection inches away from me, I made a choice. Instead of labelling him an a-hole, or yelling and being angry, I thanked God I was far enough away to avoid being hit and, I left my label maker on the corner I had just left. Another switch was flipped, I decided to really make an effort to just walk away from my label maker, to leave it at the side of the road, I wasn’t going to be needing it anymore. Leaving it behind may be even harder than leaving behind my unwanted pounds, but I am going to try. Self improvement shouldn’t happen in one area of my life but in all of them. 

So how about you, can you forget your label maker at home when you leave your house today? Can you leave it in your garage or your attic with all of the other junk you don’t use or need? Try it just for a day, you may discover you never really needed it.

 

 

What if…..

Lately I have added some new rituals to my day. I now get up early and spend an hour walking, just walking no music just the early morning sounds of the neighbourhood and the thoughts and worries that occupy my head.

This morning as I walked I started to ask myself what would happen if…? What  if I wasn’t afraid? What if I didn’t worry? What if I wasn’t afraid of change? What if I let myself feel good about myself? What if….

I have made some significant changes in my life recently….all of them for the better and some of them scary and out do my comfort zone! Hence all the what if’s.

So here we go…what if

What if I wasn’t afraid? While I am not afraid of the dark, spooky houses or strangers, there is a lot I am afraid of. For the past few years I have not felt comfortable in my body and, as a result everything has been scary. There has not been enough material or layers of clothing to make me feel comfortable in new situations or with new people. Removing that fear has been really hard. I have always known the feeling of not fitting has come from me but was reluctant to give it up. If I started to acknowledge that I wasn’t allowing myself to fit I would have to change….now that is truly scary…change.

All of those what if questions I had bouncing in my head this morning as I walked all came back to the same place….change. So why is change so scary? What is so scary about breaking out of a shell and becoming what you really want to be?

I guess the fear lies with exposure, with sharing and showing your true self to Yourself and to others. It’s a scary thing to really step back and look at yourself and where you are versus where you want to be. To remove the what if and replace it with why not is scary.

So this is my question for myself, and for they few who read my little musings.

Why not be brave? Why not be carefree? Why not change? Why not let go? ( no, not let it go….love the movie but enough is enough)

Why not indeed? Life is full of possibilities for anyone willing to say why not. So why not try? Why not enjoy? Why not grasp each experience and be grateful for the opportunity to have it and share it? Why not try? Why not be myself and feel comfortable there?

So now as I look toward my day I am choosing to say why not! I am accepting possibilities and obstacles as opportunities. Opportunities to grow, to shape my own future and grow.

So now I ask you, why not take your what if’s and turn them into why not? What do you have to lose aside from a couple pounds of emotional baggage? So come one, let’s start a why not revolution……it feels pretty good, too good not to share! Why not?

The Anniversary

It’s almost here. It’s almost that day. I can feel it in my bones the same way I feel when it’s going to rain. It’s a dull ache in my body, it’s a feeling of restlessness, it is a pain few understand. I hate this day. I hate that so few remember it and I hate even more what their response is when you tell them. “Oh I am so sorry”, or ” what a shame.” It makes me want to scream, but, I guess what else do you say?

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day my father died. It will be 9 years tomorrow and yet it still feels like yesterday. The phone call, the long drive home, the feeling of disbelief and emptiness, it’s all still there. Those feelings never really go away they just lessen slightly with each passing year.

My father was someone pretty special although, I suspect, he never really thought he was. He was as solid as they come and larger than life in so many ways. Have you ever heard that expression “he was a mountain of a man?” Well whoever said that must have known my dad. He was tall with an imposing frame and hands that would completely engulf yours when he shook it. When my brother and I as children would tease “my dad could beat up your dad” we meant, it he really could! 

He worked hard to support his family as all fathers do, and, he always put us first. If times were lean my brother and I never felt it. At birthday’s and holidays we never really knew what to buy my dad and used to joke ” what do you buy for the man who wants nothing?”

He wasn’t a saint and, may not have been anyone else’s ideal father and truth be told sometimes growing up,he wasn’t my ideal father either. He was strong, dependable, honest, hard working and tired. That’s right tired. 

So right about now some of you reading this are beginning to wonder what all this has to do with getting fit. Some of you are wondering why I am eulogizing my father and what it has to do with my weight loss and health goals. Well, it has everything to do with it. 

My father passed away at 59. He was home alone, my mother had gone to do errands. He was outside in the garage getting ready to wash his car. He loved all things mechanical. He loved cars. He took pride in keeping his cars clean and well cared for. He worked with his hands, and the callouses on his hands, the oils under his finger nails told the story of his life in many ways. On May 21, 2005 my father went outside to wash his car, collapsed in the garage and passed away.

Ok so,those of you who have read this far without bailing on what seems like a sob story really need to pay attention…..this next part is going to really tie things together. This is where my fathers story ends and mine begins. In my fathers’s late 40’s through to his early 50’s his health began to change. Years of smoking and unhealthy eating had started to catch up to him. He was diagnosed with diabetes,hyperkeratosis, carpal tunnel, and ischemic heart disease. He tried to follow the new rules and health regimes his doctors gave him. He went to his doctors appointments, got a stint put in, lost weight, gained weight and then, lost it again. At 59 my father collapsed and died from what was assumed to be a massive heart attack.

There are so many ways I am like my father, and so many of his traits I would like to have. He was strong, physically and mentality, as smart as they come and had a humility few saw. He was also quick to anger and preferred his own company and opinions, often times ignoring what was best for him out of sheer stubbornness.

There is one way I want to be different from my father: I want to put myself and my health first. I want to live to see all of my grandchildren, should I be blessed enough to have any(my father never got to meet my youngest which is such a shame as she is so much like him)I want to grow old with Blair, my partner in all things. I want to have a life full of good times and experiences. I want to retire. I want to be blessed to do all of the things he didn’t get to start or finish.  

So, this year on the anniversary of something so awful, on the day I normally avoid everyone and spend my day comforting myself for all that I have lost, I am going to do something different. ( I will still probably have my ugly cry in the morning) This year I am going to start a new tradition for myself, in fact I have started it early! I started it the first day I began this blog. I started it when I decided to change patterns and break behaviours. I started this new tradition when I decided to fit! I have taken the greatest lesson my fathers life could have ever given me and put it into practice, the lesson he didn’t intentionally teach. 

So here it is…..Happy (not sad) Anniversary to a life well lived although too short, to a man truly missed and loved and, to a journey just beginning

I love you dad!

The Shortest Blog of my Life About the Longest Moment of My Life

 

Such a humbling thing to actually watch your video. I knew how much I weighed and I know I need to get healthy, but, to actually see what you look like to others is humbling. To see every inch of yourself,(normally I only look at pieces to save myself the self recrimination) all at once, all fidgety trying in vain to hide behind your clothes…sigh…that is hard.

Today was indeed the hardest step. To let go of that image, to post it for anyone and everyone to see….as painful as it is took every once of courage in my body. I am determined to be healthy again, to lose the weight and set a positive example for my children. I may have hated this step, but, it is the first step of many that I will be proud of.

 

 

 

The Body by Vi Challenge.

I Just Ate What?

“Maaaaamaaaaaa I am hungry. Maaaaaamaaaaaa I don’t feel good. Maaaaaaamaaaa feed me.” Thus begins the battle cry of the reigning Queen of Crank. My poor little Grace is under the weather and I am tempted to hide under the bed. Ok maybe not hide, but take a little quiet time until her sick-atude changes from  death throw whines to silent cuddle mode.

Once her “nest” on the sofa has been tucked, fluffed and folded to her exacting specifications I begin the arduous process of discovering what her picky tummy can tolerate.

“Grace baby, you want mama to make you some nice soup?”  There is no immediate response so I think I am getting off easy this time. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my children and Grace is generally a great kid…..unless she is not feeling well. A sick Grace is an unhappy Grace and she likes to ensure we all know it and she encourages us to flex our empathy skills to their outer limits. And then, it comes the answer to my question ” I don’t know! I don’t feel good I want cookies and lollies. I don’t want soup. Feeeeeed meeee please.”

A quick scan of the fridge gives me a great idea! I have melon I have strawberries how about some fruit salad? Sweet enough to make her forget the lolly and light enough it will fill her tummy without upsetting it! The wiggles were right it is yummy yummy. I am so busy singing the fruit salad song I almost don’t hear my own tummy rumble. No time for that at the moment I need to get my little sickie fed then it will be time for me to eat.

Ok little sickie has been fed now it’s my turn and not a moment too soon I am starving. What am I going to eat? I need something fast I am hungrier than I thought, my hands are shaking! Hey I will just eat that soup I was going to give Grace! It’s a fast meal just nuke it and go!

Grace comes dragging in complaining of all sorts of ailments real and imagined just as I open the can and attempt to dump it in the bowl. Gracie’s eyes get big as saucers as she looks from the can shaped soup that is starting to slide into the bowl like that green goop you use to clean your computer keyboard, to me and asks “what the hell is that?” “This is mommy’s lunch” I reply as I continue to tease the soup from the can, it just won’t come out! “That is so gross mama! It looks like that food you feed Sam (our cat) and it stinks.” I do a quick check in the expiration date and schoo Grace back to her nest. Then I look at my “lunch” it is in the bowl a gelatinous tower of stuff still in the shape of the can! I honestly can’t identify a single ingredient in the leaning tower, hold on is it melting? Out of the mouths of babes, here it is my aha moment! Well maybe it’s a little less Oprah and a lot more ewwwww.

I hate to admit it but my 3 year old is right this is gross! It does smell funny! I can’t believe I was going to feed this to her let alone myself. It’s not that I don’t buy or eat healthy food, I do I just don’t always have the time to make it. I am busy, I have a 3 year old who does not stop, ever, a husband pets, I am busy. This is where the actual Aha moment comes. It took me the same amount of time and effort to make Grace a healthy lunch as it did for me to coax that goo from the can.

I am always telling one or both of my kids to stop complaining about things they can change, to just move away from the dog who is scratching their arm, to stop hanging out with people who irritate them. So there it is. I am complaining about my weight, about the way I feel, all things I can change right? So why aren’t I changing it! Why am I buying this tower of goo….I really do think the heat of the kitchen lights is melting it now….why? Why am I willing to let my family eat this? The truth is I am not…not anymore.

No more complaining about what I can change, I am going to change it! I have the power to change myself! I have a responsibilty to myself and my kids to be healthy and to keep them healthy. I owe it to myself to care for myself from the inside out. I am the example my kids see.

Now, let me tell you what I just ate….fruit salad it really is yummy yummy!

 

 

My booty and it’s Baggage Won’t Fit in The Video Frame…

I can hear him rattle the doorknob and, with a mixture of mild annoyance and forced understanding say ” come on honey. It’s a 30 second video. You can do this. I know it’s scary ( insert exasperated sigh here) but, you got this.

in a way he is right. I got this. I got this lump in my throat. I got all this sweat on my palms. I got this oh so attractive sweat moustache. I got this body I DO NOT want to immortalize in a video or any medium for that matter. I got this fear of what others will see. I got this nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am going to fail. Crap.

My daughter yells at the door ” mom, what’s wrong with you? Getting your picture taken is fun. Come watch me do it. Daddy watch me dance. Come on mom dance with me it’s fun.” That hurts just a little. What kind of message am I sending to her? I am showing her how to hate her body. I am showing her how to be insecure. I am teaching her to be her own personal bully.

Aaaaghhh! I want to scream and I think maybe I did! I am frustrated. I want someone to blame. It is society’s fault for making me feel this way. Yeah let’s go with that. I mean look at all those fashion magazines that portray unreal body images and photoshop heaven. That’s right, that’s why I ate all those cookies last night. Photoshop made me do it. While Photoshop may not have opened the bag, it’s manipulation and twisted vision of making all things normal appear ridiculously perfect, goaded me into one more cookie. Photoshop made me feel so uncomfortable in my skin right? Can’t I blame them? Can’t I have a scape goat? Can’t I blame anyone in my life from the time I was born that was less than charitable to me? Can’t I blame every bully I ever met? That’s right they are all to blame. THEY are the reason I have locked myself in my bathroom because I am afraid to record a thirty second video about my weigh loss goals. Phew….wow I feel better. Those jerks…..if they could see me now….oh yeah, I am hiding because I don’t want them to see me. Hmmm if only I could see me now.

Wow! I hear my husband and my youngest outside dancing and laughing. I am jealous I want to feel that freedom to dance like someone IS watching and NOT care. ( if you could see these 2 dance you would know what I mean…let’s just say the beat and rhythm fairies passed them over)

I got this! I can do this! Come on it’s just 30 seconds. 30 seconds that can change my life. 30 seconds that can inspire someone else to make a change. 30 seconds to say screw you photoshop. 30 seconds to fit!

Here we go! Let’s do it! Let’s document my road to fit 30 seconds at a time!