Friday, November 17, 2017

Bear Season

Well, I stepped on the scale this morning. 

Not really! I just thought that sounded like a good opening line. I don't have a scale because I get too married to the numbers and forget what it means to have a healthy body despite the daily weigh session. However, I do judge my body by the way my clothes fit, and even though I didn't set foot on a scale this morning, I did put on my skirt and made a sad face when I couldn't get the zipper all the way up. (solution: wear a longer shirt that hides the half-open zipper.) And then I thought to myself, “Here it is, at last. Bear Season.” 

“Bear Season” is what my husband and I call Winter. It's kind of a pet name for the part of winter that we don't like so much—the part where we both eat too much food, don't get enough exercise, and therefore become fat. Like bears. Calling it Bear Season makes it easier to accept the changes that come with the season and keeps us from being bitter. (Not really. I mean, that IS the idea, but it doesn't really work. I'm still totally bitter.)  

Now I'm going to tie Bear Season into a thought I posted briefly about on Instagram recently:

mamapossum: Do you ever feel like no matter what you do as a parent, you're bound to be screwing up your children? It's just picking and choosing issues and baggage to load upon them before they're adults. We're all doing it wrong, we're just doing it wrong in different ways. Nobody turns out normal. Everybody's doomed. 
This is how I'm feeling today and I can't decide if I'm being a pessimist or an optimist with this line of thought. 
#honestmotherhood #parenting#baggage #doomandgloom#everybodyssomekindofcrazy

This is something I think often and really believe. When I think about the people in my life and all the issues and baggage we carry with us as adults, raising children seems almost hopeless. I look at the parents of my peers who did a great job raising my friends and family, and despite that, we still get together to talk about our issues over lattes or wine. And the scary thing is that the ways we can screw up our kids come in all sizes and shapes, some will go unnoticed, while others are obvious no-nos. Some are supposed to be off-limits, but we just can't help ourselves--it happens. Despite our best efforts, we pass on our insecurities to our children on a daily basis. And that's when I get to feeling hopeless. 

I'm sure you can take a moment and list off a handful of things that could be considered "baggage" that were loaded onto you by your parents. Maybe you feel like you can only run the dishwasher once a day at a specific time. Maybe you feel guilty whenever you choose to drive your own car instead of using public transportation. Maybe eating Taco Bell is a sin equal to cannibalism. We all have these little things, it's okay. And the baggage containers come in a wide array of styles and colors. So many to choose from! So many ways our well-meaning parents screwed us up! And we say to ourselves, "I'm going to do it differently. I'm not going to give my kids these issues. I'm not going to make them feel guilty about not riding the bus. I will not!" So we just choose different guilt trips to plant in their malleable little brains. (Not on purpose, of course. That's what makes this such an optimistic post. We're all trying really hard, this garbage is just going to happen anyway. That doesn't sound very optimistic, but it is.)

Here's what I know I'm passing onto my children despite my ENORMOUS efforts not to: NBI. Negative Body Image. 

I'm probably not the only one striving to raise daughters who feel beautiful in their skin no matter what, while staring into the mirror at our stretch marks and crows feet and muffin tops and cursing ourselves for "allowing" those "imperfections." And here's the really crazy part. I see other women and I think, "OMG YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFUL YOU ARE LIKE A GODDESS." Then I look in the mirror at myself and I think, "OMG YOU ARE A TROLL, PLEASE, FOR THE SAKE OF THE EYES OF HUMANITY DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HOUSE TODAY." These are my actual thoughts! Isn't that terrible? And I know my girls see it. I know they hear me saying aaaalllll the negative phrases we aren't supposed to say in front of them. "My nose is too big." "My hair is so limp and thin." "My skin is so terrible, what am I, thirteen?" (So, in that case, I'm doubling up on the insecurities: Not only is it unacceptable to have pimples, but also being thirteen must be the worst thing ever. I am such a sucky mom.) But the whopper of Negative Body Image Phrases that Must Not Be Said is any variation of: "I'm fat." 

"Do I look fat in this?" "Ugh, I'm so fat." "I need to lose weight." "These clothes make me look fat." "Look at my fat face." "Look at my fat arms." Fat fat fat fat fat fat fat. 


I heard/read a quote recently that was so brilliant I have kept it at the forefront of my mind, not just as a reminder for myself, but also to be able to say it in appropriate situations. The quote is: "Fat is not something you are, it's something you have." So perfect, so true. Fat is something we have and it's something we need to have. And yes, obesity is a problem, and yes, we need to live healthy lifestyles. But guess what? Fretting about whether your bottom looks a little bit "too round" in your jeans is *not healthy.* Standing in front of the mirror and verbally putting your self image through a shredding machine is *not healthy.* 

What is healthy? Loving our bodies the way they are at their healthiest. Loving our bodies even at their less-than-ideal level of healthiness and trying to get to that place. Not hating ourselves for the natural changes that our bodies go through, be it through pregnancies, surgeries, age, or seasons. We are grownups now, we're going to have some scars that mark us as such. Some are easier to be proud of than others, but really, every mark is a symbol of our story, every line on our face, all the fading elasticity of our skin, each gray hair is part of who we are today. And you can say, "You know, I love that I am 35 and have this peppering of grey, but I really like how I look with red hair," and you can dye it and fall in love with your hair again. Or you can say, "You know, I've noticed my favorite shorts don't fit since I've gotten into the habit of having ice cream every night at midnight," and you can move that habit to a time earlier in the day when your metabolism is working more efficiently. There are always things we can do to help us reach or maintain our best health, but even if we're falling short, we're still US. The scale doesn't tell you who you are, just as fat isn't an adjective. 

This all leads back to our current season, Bear Season, when maybe it's natural to put on a few pounds. During the summer I walk a lot and I prefer walking as my main form of exercise. In the winter, I mostly hang around my warm kitchen and eat. Yeah. The natural outcome of this lifestyle is that I tend to plump up in the winter months, then I work it off when summertime rolls around again. I've always really had a problem with that, and felt that no matter how much I try, there's nothing I can do to not gain weight in the winter. (Somebody might have mentioned at one point in my life that baking cookies every day wasn't an effective weight loss regimen, but whatever.) Truly though, my husband and I often talk about "eating the seasons" and the rhythm of our diet at home. In the summertime we eat a lot of greens and raw veggies. I think most days our lunches were just a plate of vegetables and fruit, with a popsicle for dessert. And between those types of meals we ran around outside all day and worked in the garden and played hard and walked everywhere. These days, as the weather cools I want warm food. I want heavy food. So I make stews and curries and big steak and potato meals. We still eat our veggies, but we cook them so they warm us up. We add them into the soups and have them with big chunks of bread. And while we're eating that yummy, heavy food, we're sitting around the table talking to each other. After dinner, instead of rushing out to ride bikes before bedtime, we stay in together and draw, knit, or read. It's turned to a quiet, slow, warm existence; quite the contrast from the burn-all-the-calories Summertime. But definitely not something I would categorize as bad.

So here I am, at the beginning of Bear Season, unable to zip up my blue skirt with the cute eyelet edging (waaahhh) and I'm thinking, "Am I really going to spend another winter loathing my body? Is it really worth it?" I know I'll likely shed the pounds when spring rolls around again when it's easier to get outside. (And maybe this will be the year I don't, because I know that year is coming.) In the meantime I'll do boring inside exercises that keep me healthy and active enough, but I'll also eat a lot of yummy wintery foods, and I'm going to work really hard this year to love my body during Bear Season. Bears don't practice self-loathing. They don't stand in front of the mirror whining about their tummies and wondering if they look "too heavy" in their fur. I have never seen a bear do anything like that. So, I'm deciding right now that I'm not going to either, because I want to try to love my body through all the seasons, just like the bears do. 

My hope in all this self-love jabber, of course, is simply that the baggage and issues my kids take away from their years with me will be different from my own. My optimistically doomed little bear cubs! 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

O Unifying DST

It's that time of year again! Last night we saw 1am twice (Or 2am? I was actually asleep, so I missed it!) and we all relished that extra hour of sleep that was so rudely stolen from us back in March. Well, some of us relished it. Likely the people who didn't have kids who just woke them up an hour earlier than had been the usual wake up for the past eight months.

Being a Hoosier, Daylight Saving Time is a relatively new experience for me. We didn't jump on the bandwagon until 2006, so I was an adult, and it really threw me off those first few years. While I'm used to it now and not so bothered by it since my kids are older and we homeschool (homeschooling offers a perfect schedule for people who have a hard time with schedules,) still every year at this time when we "fall back," I feel like my internal clock is snapped back to normalcy. I don't mind the sun going down so early and I love the earlier sunrises. This is the time when my body rhythm is peaceful again after feeling off all summer, even though it's more subconscious these last few years than it was when DST was first introduced.

Even though I'm used to it, though, I still think Daylight Saving Time is dumb. I think it's a silly practice and while Ben Franklin seems to have been a brilliant person in many matters, this one idea I consider an epic fail. Every year on the dates of falling back or springing forward my husband recites the Native American bit about the blanket-- "Only a white man would think that by cutting off the top of a blanket and sewing the piece back onto the bottom you'd get a longer blanket." I don't know if that's exactly how it goes or even where it came from, but it's so true!

HOWEVER, there's a bright side!

--Oh! Last night I read this article (ahem, "article" might be a stretch) on Facebook about how people who are always late are not actually terrible humans, but we are OPTIMISTS and ENTHUSIASTS! We tend to remember only successes, even if they were few, and forget about the massive piles of failures we've collected in trying to squeeze too many activities into a limited amount of time. We live in the moment! And get this--we are MORE SUCCESSFUL (I really can't understand how that's possible) and WE WILL LIVE LONGER than all you timely pessimists! Which really just means all of humanity has to put up with our tardiness for an extra long time. Tee hee! Sorry!

Oh gosh, last night I was supposed to play a show from 7-8:30. And we really would have been on time, everything was going well, but then my friend showed up and she had randomly adopted a dog from the animal shelter that day! And it was hard to leave. (She got this dog and said it was a "boxer mix of some sort," and it was CLEARLY a boxer/pit bull, and it was growling at us so much that we just admired it through the screen door. I'm not saying I don't like Pit bulls, but the stereotype irony of the situation was hilarious.) Anyway, I ran up the steps to play the show at 7:05 while the (albeit small) audience just quietly stared at me as I frantically unpacked my instruments and hoped none of my dress buttons had come undone during my frazzled run.

Where the heck was I? Oh yes, unifying events. Remember how the Solar Eclipse this summer really brought people together? The whole country was so excited and very few of us had experienced it before and it was so neat and unifying. Well, that's kind of how Daylight Saving Time is, except it's twice a year! It's practically like Christmas! We wake up one morning in March and share our yawns and gripes about losing an hour of our lives over social media. "WHAT IF I DIE THIS SUMMER," we say, "I'LL HAVE LOST THAT HOUR OF MY LIFE FOREVER." Since it's always on a Sunday that the clocks change, on that fateful Sunday in Spring EVERYBODY is late for church. I mean, everybody. One of the first years of Indiana being on DST we actually missed like four Masses throughout the day because we just could not get it right. And we didn't know if we'd gone backward or forward. It was very confusing. (This was before we had smart phones that switched automatically for us.) Some years I wouldn't change the clocks at all, I'd just do the math in my head for the off months. (That was a bad idea, I don't suggest trying it.) And there are so many clocks! Just today I saw a friend posting on Facebook that she was staying at a friend's house and didn't know if the clocks had been changed and what time was it really?! We've all been there. These are unifying experiences.

And then in the fall, when we gain back that hour, we are all so joyous and on time for everything, possibly even early! Sometimes a whole hour early, haha! We still gripe together on social media, of course. "Little Johnnycakes woke up at 5:00 instead of 6:00. Doesn't understand DST. I'LL NEVER GET MY LOST HOUR BACK." More yawns in parental unison. *sigh* It's so hard.

Now, you might think that where I'm going with all this is to advise that we all embrace DST and be happy that it's something a nation can experience together and stop whining so much about it. Not quite! I'm not going to suggest than anyone stop complaining about Daylight Saving Time. That's exactly what's so unifying about it! Instead, I'm going to ask that we recognize our vexation and celebrate it! Fix up some hot buttered rum and toast with the rest of the perturbed, yawning citizens of Standard Time Zones across the nation--Daylight Saving Time knows no race, religion, or political party! Daylight Saving Time is nondiscriminatory! Cheers to Daylight Saving Time, the best worst thing to ever happen to a Nation!

Per mug:
-Dash each of Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice
-Spoonful of Brown Sugar
-Thin pat of Butter
-1 Jigger of Spiced Rum
-Add Hot Water to fill mug and stir.
(personally I prefer a tad more rum and a tad less butter)