Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The trip to Vegas is always so much fun. I love the totally relaxed-no one to worry about but me atmosphere of the trip.

This year we stayed at the super plush Encore with beds like warm, fluffy clouds and remote controls on the bedside table to control the curtains, sheers, lights, privacy indicator on the door, TV and radio. That, by the way, is what I have been talking about.

One of the things that Mormons do in Vegas is eat. I have two favorite spots, one is The Buffet at the Wynn and the other is Postrio (Wolfgang Puck) at the Venetian. While having our late lunch we got to talking about food. One of my friends said she feels protective around food, meaning that she doesn't want to share it, and if it's delicious she will order more to be sure that she gets enough of it.

Thinking about this I realize that I don't usually approach food this way. When I go out to McDonald's or food of equal caliber, I tend to not want to share and I like to over-order. But when I go out to a place where I know the quality is superior and the dishes creative, I like to share and get little tastes of everything. I feel like I'm doing delicious research. I feel like my findings should be shared so that our whole group is edified, and I feel sad when I don't have anyone to share these foods with.

I have no idea what this means!

However, as I was processing this information over the next day or so it occurred to me that I am all-or-nothing with my food, just as I am all-or-nothing with my play, work, relationships...I am shocked by my black or white nature and my lack of resilience when it comes to rules for myself (I tend to be very accommodating of most others, but intolerant of myself.) As the caboose to this thought I realized that if I made sure that my day was balanced between work and play, delicious and nutritious, rest and activity, that I would be less likely to get burned out.

Of course, I feel almost retarded for just now seeing this. I believe my sponsor, therapist and friends have been trying to tell me this for quite some time!

Here's a specific: I was rock solid boot camp and perfect eating girl for about 9 months. Nine months seems to be the outer edge of my ability to be perfect (I lasted 9 months without diet coke, but 2 years without sugar...strange tangent, sorry). Now, I've been about 6 months with zero interest in boot camp and eating right. I've been "recovering," or swinging back into balance if I couch this in terms of my realization. What if I did a little swing toward to perfection and a little swing towards progress every day? For example: what if I ate nutritious and delicious food and planned a treat into my calories every day, or even every meal? What if I exercised every day and planned some down time with television and/or a book (or Pet Society -- THE SHAME!) each day? It almost makes sense, right?

I've been processing the realization that I tend to take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. The net is progress of 1 step, but I feel so bad about myself for being "inconsistent." Would it be possible to keep myself rigidly "good" (oh, how I hate that label) and confidently relaxed on a daily basis...taking my two steps and one step on a daily basis rather than making an annual cycle? The biggest benefit I see is the opportunity to embrace the notion of balance, to see myself as making daily progress, and to hold a heart full of forgiveness and acceptance rather than judgment and negativity.

Oh my!

Am I brave enough? Are you? How do you do it?

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Last night I sat in Brandon's room watching some DVR and playing Pet Society on Facebook while Brandon had some of his priest quorum friends over for game night in the living room. (See x-box reference in previous post.)

I looked over at his closet doors which are mirrored and I gasped. I have gained back 30 of the 75 lbs I lost last year and there they were. I started pushing on my stomach to make it disappear. It didn't. When B came in to ask if I'd like a beverage and a slice of pizza I said, "am I really fat again? how come you didn't tell me?" And he ignored me and went on counting change for the pizza delivery guy. I said, "you need to tell me I'm not that fat." And, he did...but it was insincere and forced. (I forced him to be insincere and forced!)

The self-reproach/punishment started. Somehow I still believe, after years of evidence stacked to the rafters, that punishing myself will make me into a better person. It never works, but I am like a dog going back to its vomit. I found myself humming cruel songs (Breaking Dishes, I'm getting nothing for Christmas) and telling myself, "How could you let this happen again?" I told myself, "You don't deserve to go to Las Vegas and have fun, you're too fat! You won't even fit in the airplane seats!" Then I heard, "you have no one to blame it on but yourself, you let your friends down, and they stuck with you when you didn't deserve it."

This morning as I was grooming for the day I told myself I didn't deserve to do my hair...let it be greasy and stringy it would match your stomach! I tried to convince myself not to wear makeup or jewelry and to wear some muumuu that I don't even own any more. And then something (finally) snapped. I envisioned myself on this trip. I saw myself asking my girlfriends to assure me that I wasn't fat, just the way I'd manipulated Brandon into telling me what I wanted to hear last night. I saw myself feeling sorry for myself and dragging down everyone else's fun time. And it occurred to me that I've been at this heavier weight for a few weeks and I've been still dressing as well as I can and wearing make up and jewelery. I even bought myself a few new necklaces a week or two ago. So, how was I able to be cute and happy when I was fat? And, if I could do it then, couldn't I still do it now? And the answer is yes. I can be really fat and I can be happy and fun. I still have the same personality. I don't need to weigh others down with my self0deprication and loathing. I can be totally present in what we're doing. I can have fun. And I'm going to do just that.

As I paused for my morning prayer this morning I admitted that I resent my subjugation to food. I hate that I have to count calories and exercise. I loathe how hard I have to work to look good and how confused I get when my mind is fat--even if my body is thin. It occurred to me that my friend Michelle works just as hard as I do (should) so that she can have her body. And her body is smokin'. The difference is not the amount of work we do, it's our attitude about the work. She accepts that it takes the work to have what she wants. And I am not willing to sacrifice the food and comfort/pleasure cookies bring in exchange for the healthy and hot body that can go to Vegas and have fun, and that has to work to get the stomach to the thighs in yoga (this is a very natural condition to me and the instructor makes it sound like laying your stomach on your thighs is difficult!). Michelle accepts and I reject and resent the need to watch what I eat.

I am a slave to my appetite (emotional and physical) and the only way I an be freed from this slavery is to exchange it for a different master. I have to be enslaved to something else. God. I have to trade masters. This hit me profoundly this morning and I was filled with anger! Why do I have to be a slave to anything??? I want to be my own master!

Here's where acceptance comes in. I can accept my dependence on a substance to get through my life and when I do that substance will shield me from all others. Food shields me from God, forcing me to live in misery and self-loathing, finding only patches of life between meals...while God could and has and will shield me from food giving me another way to cope with life, relief from self-hate, and a bounty of love for myself and others.

I pray for the humility and wisdom to make the right choice.

Molly the Owl

The last few days the owlets have been on their own. Molly has not been "home" during the day. I feel angry with Molly and worried about the owlets.

Since February 15th Molly has sat on those eggs every day and night, barely sleeping, unable to leave for more than 10 minutes. She didn't get enough food, she didn't get enough rest, she was a slave to their every cry until this week. So, for a full 8 weeks, maybe longer, she did her duty.

The life span of a barn owl is 2 years. She devoted 8-9 weeks of her life to this group of babies. If she has another nest next year, she will do the same, but so far she's given 8% of her life to her children. (I did the math.) (I did the math using a calculator.) I am 44 years old. I have 3 children. I gave them all of my attention, food from my own body, diaper duty, vomit cleansing...with breaks only to take care of my own personal needs for about 6 months of their lives--give or take. It's a total of less than 2 years or 4% of my life so far...

Someone on the website said, "Where's Molly?? Do you think she's gone to Vegas for a girl's weekend?" Ouch!

My flight leaves this afternoon around 2. I'll be in Vegas with girlfriends until Saturday night.

What's the moral? the lesson? I don't know. I'm still pondering it.

It seems important that even the paragon of instinctual motherhood (Molly) has to separate from her children. In fact, my children separate and come back, fly on their own and come back to the nest, if you will. I don't have to give them baths any more, but I am still responsible for teaching them how to fly. And I like feeding them, doing their laundry (they don't let me any more, but I feel so motherly when I fold their clothes for some reason), and giving them some sort of direction. I'm not a fantastic mother. I'm not really even a very good mother. But I am deeply in love with my children. They are the most beautiful people I know. They are more beautiful than my siblings, my husband, my parents. They are miraculous in every single breath they take and I adore them. My heart rejoices when they are happy--it literally vibrates with contentment when they are content. And I mourn when they are sad, or frustrated, or having growing pains.

My whole parenting experience has centered around what I thought was the biological imperative to rescue my children from harm, to anticipate their needs and move into action before they even finish speaking their sentences...this reminds me of a story. Have you heard it? Once there was a boy who wouldn't talk. His parents assumed he was mute. Then one day, when he was 14 he said these words, "Mom, you burnt my toast." Mom was aghast, thrilled, confused, relieved...flooded with emotions. She said, "you can speak!! It's a miracle! Why haven't you ever spoken before?" And he replied, "you've never burned my toast before."

Have I created children who can't do for themselves because I've done too much for them? I don't know...yes, maybe, on some level. No, for sure on others. I gave them enough safety to bravely face the world. Heavens knows the Prince and Princess have traveled a great deal, made their own choices, friends... The Little Prince may be less likely to explore than the older two because he has an x-box and little need to move except to the kitchen for more chemically questionable energy drinks, and the bathroom to eliminate said drinks... Bottom line is that I did the best I could. I do hate that sentence. It feels like a lie. I didn't do my best. I really didn't. I was way too selfish and short-sighted. But, I do think that it might have been the best I could do. If I was just now having my children I may be able to do it differently. However, someone would still have to be the proverbial guinea pig that I experiment on in order to get it right.

So, the upshot (at last) is that I am gratefully in love with my 3 guinea pigs. I am grateful there are no more guinea pigs on the horizon for me. Although I do think I might be a good grandma. And I am really grateful for Molly who shows me that even what I have deemed "perfect" mothers need to get to Vegas with the girlfriends every once in awhile.

I'll see you at Thunder from Down Under.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


In February I called an entry The Nest...and here I am with the same metaphor again. I have always ascribed to the belief that when I come back to the same thing time and again, or if different friends suggest the same book/thought/solution, then it's God communicating with me. To be completely honest and fair, I used to believe that if something awful happened--the kids developing a chronic illness, a car accident, the death of a pet--that it was God's way of punishing me. More on punishment later. Right now I am asserting that God communicates with us, often, via other people, not via tragedies and disasters. Perhaps the tragedies & disasters God is a remnant from my southern roots--or perhaps it just feels the most comfortable to me as a religious person, a Mormon person, or as an adult survivor of dysfunction. But I am straying from my topic, which today, is not punishment.

Today it is about nesting. My friend Sherise sent me this link on Tuesday: http://www.ustream.tv/theowlbox. I have been mesmerized ever since. I showed the video to every class that visited the lab this week. I pointed out specific details to the 6th graders (many are dissecting owl pellets right now), and I surprised myself by watching it at home. I have teared up several times, I have shaken my head in amazement and wonder, I have told numerous friends about this miracle. And now I am wondering why I am so profoundly moved by this owl mother and her nest and her 4 owlets (it looks like the 5th one won't hatch, which is devastating and yet totally natural).

Take at look at the site and you will see that the eggs were laid on February 15th and the oldest chick is 12 days old today. You will see how tired the momma is and how hard she works to make sure her chicks are fed. She leaves the nest once a day for a flight, and last night, right before she appeared, I heard the most incredible sound of wind. It turned out to be the sound of her wings--her powerful and surprisingly large wings--bringing her home to her nest. You will be amazed that she does all that she does without hands, fingers or opposable thumbs. She does it all without a word, and with barely a break. She does it all day long while the dad bird is resting. And she does it all night long, alone. She is, in my opinion, in the trenches of motherhood. What drives her? What on earth makes her think, "I will now take care of babies. I will make sure they have enough to eat before I eat. I will make sure they are safe and warm before I get some exercise." ?

There's more in here. And when I scratch and peck and dig at it, I find that very soon, just a few weeks from now, her babies will be grown. They will be crowding her out of her own nest. They will be learning how to fly, and then they will. As Jeanine once said, "fly birdie, fly." And that's it. That's where all my hopes and prayers and energies are perched right now. The birdies need to fly. What will this momma teach her babies in less than a month that they will have to rely upon for the rest of their lives? What on earth will this momma do when her babies are gone and the nest is empty?

I am learning a lot from Molly the owl. I am learning, feeling, struggling and praying. I know this will not be my last nesting post. As long as Molly is being filmed I will be watching her to learn what to do now. Just as I watch all women to find out what to do next. Which dance step? Which behavior? Which duty? I am looking at mother's for mothering. And I am looking at birdies and praying they will fly.