Monday, March 5, 2018

Mason Made Me Cry Today

This morning my 14-year-old made me cry on the way to school. Y’all know Mason and I talk a lot, probably way more than most 14-year-old boys talk with their mothers. We talk about drugs, girls, dating, sex, and video games. Mason and I have been talking about video games and my dislike of any violent video games since he’s been a very little boy. Having a father who is in the military makes it difficult for me to forbid guns from being in the house, but we talk about the danger of them all the time. 

After the Florida shooting, I walked into Mason's room and he was playing a video game where he was creating his virtual weapon. It was an AR, and he was mixing and matching handles, and what looked like different parts and pieces to customize it. It made my heart sink. I made a snippy comment to him that was something along the lines of, "I bet the kids in Florida who watched their friends die would be aghast watching you do this." He gave me the teenage-robot reply, it’s just a game mom. That was a few weeks ago and this morning we were on our way to school and he was telling me about a dream he had last night and the dream, like most, made no sense except it ended with him killing a bad guy with a gun. He assured me it was all good because the guy he killed was a "bad guy." I asked him who assigned him the decision maker of who is good and who is bad? Even if someone is bad, is it his right to kill them? He then gave me that same reply, it was just a dream mom. I noted that the things in our subconscious often come up in our dreams, and the video games he plays are absolutely fed into and recorded in his conscious and subconscious minds. I then made the analogy that kids who are bullied at school, year after year, if they have access to these kinds of games where they can customize their virtual weapons, do those kids not think that what they’re doing is okay because they’re killing a bad guy when they get a real gun and actually kill people? Mason noted that a bully isn’t necessarily the same as somebody who is breaking into someone's home, or kidnapping a child to which I countered, "If this child has been picked on and tormented year after year to the point that they don’t want to go to school, why is that bully not as bad as the everyday criminal? I would argue a bully is worse." My point was to shine a light on compassion and empathy, I said to Mason that a teenager who is stable looks at those games and says, mom, it’s just a game, where the mom looks at that game and imagines those kids who saw their friends killed and thinks, why does this game even have to exist? Are there one million other games that could entertain and challenge children that don’t involve virtual guns in their hands and killing other people, bad or not? I said to Mason, "Real empathy would be to look at that game and say, I can forgo this form of entertainment so that the one person who can’t handle it and thinks it’s real does not have access to it." He said to me, "Mom my friends want me to play GTA (Grand Theft Auto) and though I’m curious about it I told my friends no. They pushed a little more and peer pressured me, but I told them, you know what you guys, my mom doesn’t want me to play that game and I’m not gonna play." He went on to say that another kid was being peer pressured to play the game and Mason stood up for him and told the other guys if they wanted to play GTA they could go play on the other platforms, they were there playing the game they were playing so please drop the subject of GTA. To hear Mason say he wouldn’t play the game because his mom doesn’t want him to truly made me cry. It chokes me up now just writing this. I looked at him with big tears in my eyes and said, "Thank you, thank you for hearing me, thank you for respecting me, and thank you for being you." I really would like to see the day that these games are not available because I don’t think there’s anything fun or educational in them, a game should be fun and why anyone would think killing is fun, I don't know. 

I am sure the day will come that Mason will not be so strong in the face of peer pressure, but I am sure glad he is right now. I'm so happy another child was witness to someone holding their ground when being pressured, and I'm elated that the other boy experienced someone standing up for him. Mason is an amazing kid and for as much as he can be a pain in my butt, and we knock heads, he is way more an impressive human being and I'm glad I get to be his mom. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Not You?

I am certain we are always harder on ourselves than other people are on us, but let me ask you, how much confidence do you really have in yourself? Watching the Super Bowl four years ago, Russell Wilson said (and the story was told about him many times that day) that his dad asked him, “Why not you Russell? Why not you?” He could have said, “Because I’m too small, because my arm isn’t strong enough…” he could have said to his father all the things his critics were telling him, but he didn’t. He held on to his dream and let his father’s voice echo in his head, “Why not you Russell?” This in turn became, “Why not me?” To his team, “Why not us?” So who are you? Are you like Russell Wilson or are you the one who caves in to the critics. Dave suggested that some people succeed to spite their critics. Okay, I suppose the, "Tell me I can't and I'll show you I will!" isn't a bad thing, but why are we not all simply lifting each other up? I preach to Mason almost daily, "Are you a friend people want? Do you lift your friends up by encouraging them, or are you being the kid who will say, "Yours sucks, mines better!" Well, the truth of the matter is, he's a boy and a very competitive boy at that, he has to work to remember to not compete but to lift his friends up. It is my hope that by starting this message with him now, by the time he gets it, it will have shaped him to be someone who lifts others up and encourages them to ask, "Why not me?"

I’ve been the one who listens to all the people who say things like, “You can’t be an actress, you are not the right type, you are not tall enough, you are not thin enough, and you are not like a model.” “College isn’t really for you, eh, er, I mean, you are not really the college type.” “It would just be good if you could follow something through, you never follow through.” “Oh no, she has an idea, you know what that means, it’s gonna cost me money.”  Where does one find the strength to not listen to those naysayers while still loving them, and still have the gumption to ask, “Why not me? I can do it, I can be it, I’m enough.” Do you feel like you are enough? I don’t. I also don’t think that many women do, especially women who are wives and mothers. As women who feel so much responsibility for the lives of others, it is incredibly difficult to focus on anything else. Heck, truth be told, we can’t focus on any one thing because there are so many one things to do, how is it possible to focus on just one at a time? From keeping up with the housewifery, the kids school work, after school schedules, medical and dental appointments, grocery shopping, in my case, real estate that I am trying to do more of while working for another top producing agent, and more…so I’m told to drop some of these things and focus on me, my business, what I want. Really?

And where does talent play into this equation? Dave brought up the example of the people who audition for American Idol, the people who can not sing. Is it a good idea to encourage these people and set them up for failure? I would say in life, this example is more an exception than a rule. We live in a society that is not one of encouragement but of competition and the belief that we can make people stronger by continually knocking them down - some people, yes, others, no. And to the singing point, certainly not everyone can sing, as I well know! But could we encourage one to sing for pleasure yet say, "Singing may not be your professional calling - how can you craft a career around music so you can be in the environment that you love and feel successful?" Again, it's all in how it's done, and keeping the message positive.

So let me be very clear, I am not complaining. What I am hoping my message will come across as is this, if we really see big things and lots of potential in someone, why don't we focus on growing that? Let's not focus on the failures, or what appears to be shortcomings, let's focus on continuing to encourage the ideas for success - no matter what someone else might judge or evaluate. Many will say without failure, success is impossible. I don't know if that's true, but I can attest to plenty of failure. Russell Wilson held on to the voices that were encouraging him and he dismissed those that told him he wasn't good enough, big enough, strong enough, or enough enough. Let's all take a moment today to first acknowledge that we are enough and can be anything that we want, and second, find someone else to lift up and encourage - really make it matter, touch them, look them in the eye and make sure you have their attention and lift them up. Be the voice they can hold on to next time someone tells them they are not enough.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Day 14 on The Virgin Diet

The Virgin Diet
I started the program on 1/2/18. Even though my weight is up and I do want to reduce, I started this program because I was not feeling good physically and I have been in a lot of pain the last quarter of 2017, maybe a little longer. My low back, my neck and shoulders, my hips, the bottoms of my feet first thing in the morning hurt like they are terribly bruised, and I was not sleeping without the help of sleep aids. I was going to the gym, and that hurt, too. My weight kept climbing, my workouts were getting more painful - even yoga, and it just seemed like I was continually looking for some kind of pill to take to help make the pain go away and make me feel better. It wasn't working. I spent the last 2 years attributing all these negative changes to menopause, which is real, but I don't think it's the whole picture. My best friend had referred me to JJ a number of years ago and I finally made the choice to look at what I have been eating and see where that takes me.

Here I am two weeks in and I'm happy to report that I am feeling really good! My aches and pains have not gone away but I have not had any hip pain in the last 4 days, my feet still hurt in the morning when I get up, but way less, and I have been sleeping for the last 3 nights without the over the counter sleep aid I normally take. I also didn't disclose initially that last year my doctor prescribed me a low dose of phentramine to help me lose some weight. It has not really been effective with weight loss, but it has given me a boost, sort of like most people think of their morning coffee. If I missed a dose I was pretty useless, I would literally sit on my couch doing nothing. Nothing, not scrolling social media on my phone, watching television, nothing, just sitting. The first time that happened, I came to present time and realized I had not taken the phentramine. I went upstairs, took the pill and got about the rest of my day. I'm sure the stimulant was contributing to me not sleeping, that's kind of a no-brainer, but I didn't want to stop taking it because even though I wasn't losing weight, I wasn't gaining it either. As of today, not only have I not taken the sleep aids, I've also not taken the phentramine, and guess what? I feel great! I'm not feeling lethargic or like I'm going through any kind of withdrawals, in fact, I haven't had any of those kinds of symptoms at all. I thought for sure I would feel some side effects of cutting out the sugar, but there haven't really been any to speak of. I don't miss the alcohol at all, but I do miss my coffee with cream and sugar. I can do a natural sweetener like Stevia or Xylitol, but nothing really replaces cream in my coffee. I've had coffee with the Xylitol and a coconut cream and it's just not the same. I'm just going without for now.

With all of that said, on January 1, 2018 I weighed 184.4 lbs. I started the program on 1/2/18 and this morning I weighed in at 175.9, that's down 8.5 lbs. I also measured and overall I've lost 4 1/2 inches. The weight and inches is absolutely great, but even better is that I am not mentally foggy, and I am feeling better physically. I'm excited to be able to reintroduce some foods back in because I want to see what my intolerances are, and I don't know that I can give up sugar forever. That remains to be seen, but for now I'm hopeful, very hopeful that I can work on living the rest of my life eating more healthfully, feeling physically better, not taking a litany of medications, and getting older without growing old.

Monday, January 8, 2018

New Year Goodies Lingering

My traditional new year peppermint cake is cupcakes this year. We had too much food New Year’s Eve so I tossed them in the freezer and whipped them up for poker night. They just make me happy. Peppermint cupcakes with peppermint whip cream and candy crumbles with silver stars. Happy new year #2018!

What makes you happy? Are you practicing happpiness on a regular basis? It seems to me that we spend so much time working to please others that somehow the martyr in us women shows up and we let all of our dreams and joys fall by the wayside. Maybe the new year is a good time to re-commit to your own personal joy, even if it's just a cupcake with silve stars that makes you happy. If you can invest in something more, like a mani/pedi, or massage, do it. The best gift we can give our loved ones is a whole, healthy, completely happy us, you, me, however it is correct to say it, you get me! What makes you happy? Tell me what you are doing to do more of that. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Welcome 2018!

Ringing in the New Year at my 2nd highest weight. Not for long!
I love my life, the ups the downs, all of it. Those of you who know me, know I have struggled with my weight and body image my entire life. It seems redundant to keep resolving to make changes when the fact of the matter is, I make changes every day. I don't wait until January 1 of any new year to start, I start when I feel ready to start. With that said, as I get older I am noticing that some things are not adjusting as easily as they used to, or that aches and pains are getting more intense and actually inhibiting my daily activities. I've been looking at the effects of the onset of menopause and thinking that indeed that could be creating some of the drama in my body, but I think it's also time to really look at what I am eating and how it is affecting how I feel.

Today I started the 21 day, phase one cycle of The Virgin Diet. This is the idea that I am eliminating the top 7 body food-intolerances (sugar, soy, eggs, peanuts, dairy, corn, and gluten) so I can be completely free of them so in phase two, when I start to add them back in one at a time, I can see what my body does and how I feel. I'm really ready to make this change and I will document my journey, honestly and for better & worse. Feel free to follow along and chime in, I would love to support you in whatever you are planning to achieve this year. Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Merry Christmas Crash!

The rare Tuesday post in The Monday Motivator...

There we were, it was Christmas Day night, the cleanup had begun and the tree taken down. It was dropping too many needles and Gunner didn't help with his tail-of-mass-destruction taking out ornaments that seemed too high for him to reach. Amidst all the unwrapped presents, a full belly from a delicious Christmas dinner, and snuggled up in our warm house - here was Mason long faced and looking forlorn. I sat to talk with him and he expressed his disappointment that he didn't get anything on his Christmas list and not even a single video game. I shared with him a bit about what Christmas really means and when you get right down to it, it has nothing at all to do with gifts. I recalled a Christmas past. 

I was in my early twenties and out on my own, living in a suburb of Sacramento. I had a job at a local grocery store and was getting by, barely. I could pay my rent, utilities, car payment, and put food on the table but that was about it. Christmas was a luxury I could not afford that year. My apartment was not decorated and I was anticipating arriving home to a whole lot of nothing. Driving home from work on Christmas Eve, I saw a tree lot selling the remaining trees for one dollar each. I pulled in and got a tree Charlie Brown would be proud of. The lot attendant felt pity on me and didn’t even charge me the dollar. I brought that tree home and left it on the wooden cross nailed in the trunk, placed it on a table and wrapped a bath towel around the base for the tree skirt. I had a box of Christmas stuff from when I moved out of my parents house so I had a strand of lights, and a handful of ornaments I made in high school. I made some top ramen, added leftover chicken and some green onions and sat in the living room listening to Christmas music on the radio, and enjoying the lights on my little tree. That was it, that was the extent of my festivities that year. It wasn’t much, but it was more than I thought I was going to have, it was enough.

Back to the living room with Mason, I shared this story with him. It is a true story and I tried to impress upon him that you cannot always get every thing you want, and there will be times when it will be lean and you just have to make the best of it. He's heard me say it many times, "Money comes and money goes, but the real wealth is with the people in your life and your ability to see the bright side." You see, Mason was on the post-Christmas let down. He likely had more presents to open than the rest of us combined, he got some cool and thoughtful gifts that he was happy about, but he didn’t get a couple of things he really wanted. Maybe it was all the sugar he consumed through the day, but come nighttime, he sat on the sofa pouting and crying that he didn’t even get a single video game. Here's the kicker, he hadn’t even told me what he wanted until everything was already purchased, being wrapped, and our money already spent.

As we've said (sang) to him nearly his whole life, "You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some times, you just might find, you get what you need." Mason is not wanting for anything, in fact he probably has too much. That is our fault, but mostly Dave, who spoils him and then when he doesn’t get what he wants, he is left feeling let down. The "Dave's fault" is printed with his permission and even agreement. Mason will go through some tough times as he leaves our nest and is on his own. He will miss the family decorations, traditional Christmas dinners, holiday movies that we’ve seen hundreds of times, and spending time with family who loves him. Maybe he will get lucky some Christmas Eve and find that dollar tree lot and remember how good it used to be. I’d rather instill in him now that doing good in school, getting into the college he wants to go to, getting a good job, and working hard will make his holidays that much better. Time will tell. 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

For years I posted this poem as my annual Christmas wish. The last time I posted it was in 2013. It seems 2014, 2015, and 2016 brought more exciting news to share in my Christmas posts, but I want to come back to this because this year it means something more to me. You see, I had a falling out with some family members and I did not behave in a way that makes me feel very proud of myself. In fact, I need to step up and write an apology and hopefully mend a quarrel. I need to find the time, apologize, listen, and speak my love. I don't feel that I was completely wrong in my position, but I feel I was completely not kind in my reactions. None of that matters now, but I will be sending those apologies before the year ends. So for Christmas 2017, my Christmas wish for myself and all of you. 

This Christmas, mend a quarrel.
Seek out a forgotten friend.
Write a love letter.
Share some treasure.
Give a soft answer.
Encourage youth.
Keep a promise.
Find the time.
Forgive an enemy.  
Apologize if you were wrong.
Think first of someone else.
Be kind and gentle.
Laugh a little every day.
Laugh a little more.  
Express your gratitude.
Gladden the heart of a child.
Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.
Speak your love.
Speak it again.
Speak it still once again.