Eat Shit.

I am currently wondering about my mental stability.  My last two posts have been entitled with scary Freudian reference.  Maybe I need to see a shrink.  Or am stuck in the phalic stage of life?  God knows I change enough diapers…

So I’m just going to come out and say it.  I can’t stand the new fad of “eating clean”.  It’s been eating away me for months *giggle at self joke*.  Seriously though.  Since when did food develop the ability to act inherently “bad” or “good” or be “clean” or “dirty”.  If I wash my “dirty” chocolate bar with soap will that make it clean? Or happen to use the 3 second rule on my “clean” apple does that make it dirty?

I have come to the conclusion that I was blessed with a grand combination of genetics, motivation and general nutrition and fitness knowledge and know how to stay active, athletic and healthy.  My weight is stable. My BMI is well within range and I look fabulous.  (Side note: okay so I don’t think I actually look fabulous most of the time but this is coming from my husband, doctors, friends, and comments I have received from fellow gym members regarding my physical condition.)  So it can’t be half bad.  The truth is I eat healthy, whole foods, most of the time.  I only eat when I am hungry. (Trust me there are many other ways to sabotage yourself mentally without overeating.  None of which are recommended.) And I pay attention to my food.  Like actually sit down, put the phone/ipad/laptop/tablet device away and contemplate the flavours on my palate, type pay attention.  And I am grateful.  For the way I can taste food, and buy food, and prepare food.  And for the farmers and stores that make it accessible to me.

I am also vegetarian.

(Side note: Actually vegetarian is only a half truth.  I will only spend money on food that is vegetarian when given an option. Sometimes, on the rare occasion I am out for dinner and there is no vegetarian option, or such option is “plate of vegetables” I will order fish, and also when back home visiting family I will eat whatever my family chooses to provide me. My sister calls it freetarian  as I will eat free food!)

Anyway I find that in the 5 year transition to this lifestyle I have done years of research and reading and self examination about my beliefs, and diet, and health.

“So what?” You say

So I have spend a ton of my life paying attention.  I believe that you can live a healthy life by listening to your body.  And using the rule of moderation.  Including using moderation in moderation.

Wash your hands before dinner yes.  As for clean food, I do prefer mine without bugs or grit, but a quick rinse of the local, organic fare usually does the trick.

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Pain In My Ass

We returned from a recent vacation to Maui.  If you don’t know me I will tell you it was a good trip.  If you kinda know me I will say it was exhausting with two kids 3 years and under. And If you really know me well I will tell you all the nitty gritty details.

I do not recommend travel with small children if you have vacation fantasies.  It just does not happen. Period. No I really mean it. Just stop even thinking about it. Now.

Not that there is much to tell.  I’m not sure exactly what made me think packing up our lives, spending thousands of dollars and getting on a 6 hour plane ride (one way) to somewhere hot would make me feel happier and more rested.  I think I was deluded in thoughts and past pre-children memories of lounging by the beach, drink in hand reading a book.  Okay so in the thoughts the kids were there, and likely I’d have to forgo the book to supervise them happily playing in the sand.  But otherwise the image seemed grand.  The lounging, the sun, the drink, the sand.

Reality somehow didn’t measure up.  It’s true the lounge chairs were there.  I was staring at them as I scurried back and forth from our ground floor condo unit to the pool with extra sunscreen, water, sunhats, snacks, lunch and pool toys (no not THaaaaaaaaT one! The PINK one Mommy!)  I got to be in the sun whilst half my body was submerged in the cold pool (note: I am a sunshine girl, shying away from anything cold.  Including said cold pool; unless on the off chance the sea breeze dies, my icy drink has not been replenished and I happen to break into a sweat while doing nothing, all simultaneously.) But there I was, in the cold pool, getting a great (goose-bumped) arm workout bouncing the babe up and down while he splashed and I stared at the lounge chairs.  Not that bouncing wasn’t fun.  I could eat his little giggles up by the dozen.  But I can eat them up at home.

And as for that damned sand.  We tried the beach.  All I can say is sand + beach + sunscreen + small children is not a math equation which adds up.  Now that they should have taught in grade school math!  I dug sand out of crevasses for days. I’d really rather not talk about it.

Then there were the nights.  Usually with my small children I am up about once a night.  Not in Maui, the ‘away from home-I need water-can’t sleep-awake in a different bed and need mom’ vacation destination.  I averaged getting up 4 times a night.  And few naps.  It was kinda like Mommy jail where sleep deprivation was the choice torture.  Okay bad example, I was in Maui.  I have never been to, nor want to go to jail.  The comparison in real life is not valid in the least.  But it FELT like torture.  Very expensive torture onsite a beautiful location.  I would forgo the naps when we were on the road to get the kids to sleep so they would wake up refreshed at our exciting destinations (mountains, other little areas of the island, the hula dancers etc.)

And the last straw.  My back.  Granted I have a history of a low back injury.  But the combination of the constant carrying of small children, the not so great mattress and fate, my pain came back.  The pain, although a ‘low back injury’ is actually in my sacroilliac joint.  In English: my ass.

So what did I get for paying thousands of dollars, flying two small kids in a small contained area for a total of 12 hours, running myself ragged and being sleep deprived?

A pain in my ass.

Thank god for our fabulous insurance plan and physiotherapy! Note to self: next trip sans kids!

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Yoga Polka

I taught my first non-family, non-friend yoga class recently.  Yoga to complete strangers.  A class made up of a local mommy group.  I was so excited.  I spent way to long making a music playlist…okay I’ll be honest most of the time was spent figuring out how to work itunes playlist settings and attempting to get music onto my iphone.  I NEVER do things like this.  It’s Jack’s territory.  I tell him what I want (usually by humming tunes, because I can’t actually name artists or songs) and he magically makes them appear on my devices.  So for my first yoga class I geared up my tech savvy.  I’ve been creating a list of songs in my head for a few weeks now, trying my best to recall artists and songs.  Just FYI: humming doesn’t work when you’re speaking to a computer.  And once I had a list (written down on paper or course!) voila onto my iphone the songs went!

Also note to self: need to gently break the news to Jack that my awesome list of songs may have included a few too many itunes song purchases.  Despite our MEGA drive of his music, it is sorrowly lacking in the music I hear in my head.  Yes the music is there, next to the judgy voices and a few other things 🙂  It’s a crowded place that head of mine.

Next up I revamped my wardrobe.  Side thought – is it called a ‘war’ drobe because at some point in time people were gearing up for war?  Most of what I do is for fun…would that make it my fundrobe?  After all, for the past 2 months that Sawyer was allowed at the gym’s childcare I think I have been 5-6 times every week.  Some weeks I go everyday.  This makes my life full of laundry loads as I only have so much “war” gear for athletic activity that will wick away sweat and look good doing it!  So with added weekly teaching of yoga I need some new gear.  Can you feel my rationalization here?

Note to self: Also need to prepare Jack for upcoming credit card bill with added “war”drobe essentials.  Remember to mention the great 15% discount I now get for being a yoga instructor! (rationalize, rationalize, rationalize)

Then onto my yoga practice plan.  I have spent hours fawning over my teaching training yoga notes and contemplating how to teach a practice that not only leaves the participants physically worked (but not overworked) but balanced.  Picking and choosing poses so as not to overstimulate the nervous system (this class is a late night one and I greatly value the need for sleep).  So after all this preparation I was ready.  And excited.  Oh so excited.  Not scared-excited like before international border crossing, airport travel with a small child, unattended by the father where I need a signed parental release, passport, VISA verification, marriage certificate, birth certificate, vaccination status and history of preschool attendance, sick to my stomach the whole time, unable to eat, run to the bathroom every 15 minutes ‘excited’.  This was the good kind.

Fast forward to the yoga.  Only two of the three participants showed up. Granted we are all moms, with multiple small kids.  (Anything could have gone wrong, especially if the kids get wind we want to do something for ourselves.)  So off to practice two out of three!  After my relaxing and centering breathing sequence my new students starting chatting about how they knew one another, and asking about what brought me to this city.  One had to also check for texts…in case hell was breaking loose with hubby and small children at home.

Enter screaming child in the background.  (We were afterall at another mom’s home.)  No problem though, her husband was learning how to deal with parenting 101: calming the crying infant.

Refocus.

Drawing attention back to practice we started with music.  Great music, which they immediately wanted to know the name of the artist so they could also get said music (wtf? I don’t know it’s on the paper list at home. Yoga people! Yoga!!!!)

Refocus.

Back to breathing.

Now sweep arms up… Attempting to cycle through a sun salute one of my students fell over. Literally.  Lost her balance and fell over.  Granted she did warn me before class she was new to this.  And perhaps not the ‘athletic’ type.  I looked at my perfectly balanced prepared yoga practice notes.  My ego fell over.  Literally lost it’s balance and fell over.  I was new to this!  How do I teach without a lesson plan?  We as a class couldn’t hold downward dog without falling over and I had high hopes of triangle pose?  Half moon? HA! So after I brushed off my bruised ego, I remember my very first yoga teacher training class.  The words were clear in my head.  It was almost like when people speak of having epiphanies and a voice just comes to them out of the cloud and booms: “You are all BABIES at yoga.  You will be teaching beginners.  You need to learn to teach BASICS.”  Thank god I listened because for the next hour, between texts and a screaming infant that’s exactly what I did. I think we did a total of 3 poses.  And my students were happy (well at least that what they said, as one rushed out the door to save her husband and still-not-sleeping kids and the other went to the room of the in-house crying child to try and get them to sleep).  I think it went well.

Next time I’ll lower my expectations.  Maybe show up in sweatpants and just play whatever album I’m listening to that day and see where it takes us 🙂  I love the shaking up and breaking of life patterns this yoga class provided.  The A frame of my personality needs a good shake now and then.

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Karma.

What I tell you: I am a certified yoga instructor!!!

What you interpret: Wow this youthful, pretty mom has two kids AND teaches yoga!! I can’t believe it! (okay, maybe I’m exaggerating here a tad)

The truth: I got certified as a yoga instructor in my 7th month of pregnancy.  Do you have any idea what that means?  It means while carrying a small child in my belly I did silly things like inversions where I was upside down.  If you ever want to do something that feels odd I recommend trying that!  Your centre of balance is totally off, your organs and guts are internally shifted on the way up to the inversion and back down, and whilst you do it and teach others to do it the kid inside of you is kicking and punching your kidneys to let you know that something is most definitely wrong.  Not that they have actually officially found any problem with those poses in pregnant women.

This also means that I gave birth before I started formally teaching (friends and family don’t count) and had to wait a good many months before I resurfaced and had gotten enough sleep to feel like I could formulate sentences again.  And then with the international move I am now in a new environment, and not an active part of the current community of yoga.  Trying to break in is hard.

I am a member of a gym which I go to almost everyday as they provide awesome childcare…leaving me free to do what I want BY MYSELF within the gym area.  This usually includes working my muscles past the point of exhaustion, then having a shower by myself *heaven* aka no peek-a-boo sessions with a crying infant, and maybe a few minutes in the sauna.  I engaged this wonderful facility in the following conversation: I would like to teach yoga, for FREE, if you provide the childcare.  They jumped at the opportunity.  Only to find out that I have to be an employee…problem numero uno. Or an independent consultant…problem numero deux.

Problem numero uno: I am not legally entitled to work in this country as I am a dependent on my husband’s work permit (which brings up a whole other ball of wax I will address at a later date.  I HATE being dependent!)

Problem numero deux: I am not legally entitled to work in this country as I am a dependent on my husband’s work permit.  So even if I founded my own company, as a foreigner I still could not work without the proper permits.  And as a yoga instructor…we are a dime a dozen, so the likelihood of a permit for a foreigner is next to nil.

Which brings me to my local community listserve…where I advertised free yoga.  Good idea? Bad idea? So far a bunch of moms have contacted me saying they would love free yoga and for me to let them know where they can attend.  Sigh.  If I knew that I wouldn’t be advertising, because if I had access to a studio, that would mean I knew people.  And if I knew people that would mean I am already a part of the community.  And as a part of the community I would already be subbing for other people’s classes or doing my own studio-endorsed karma yoga.  I think I need a better business plan.  Nothing ever comes for free it seems.  Including teaching ‘free’ yoga.

I did try to break in to the yoga community here.  The one class I was able to find which offered childcare included an hour and a half session of “opening my heart and bouncing off my cosmic trampoline.” Now I’m not one who has ever done drugs, or studied advanced physics of parallel universes where cosmic trampolines might exist.  But I do know that thus far they do not exist in my world, or my yoga practice.  So until then I’ll stick to regular trampoline bouncing, and leave the cosmos to star gazing on clear nights.  And maybe keep my fingers crossed that opening my heart might just be enough.

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Toxic.

The happy gloriousness of children, according to my cousin.

So every year around the holiday, ever since my daughter was born, I have this cousin who comes over to me and says “Wow, aren’t they great? Kids? The BEST!  Don’t they just make life worth living? Doesn’t it feel like your life has so much more meaning and purpose.  And how magical is it being a parent?  Betcha never thought it would feel this good hey?  And can’t imagine what your life was even like before having them!”

I force a smile and nod.  My cousin moves on and my thoughts begin to spiral.  Of course I remember what my life was like before kids.  My husband and I had a standing date night at a sushi restaurant which included wine every Tuesday night.  I slept in on weekends while my husband got to catch up on MIT physics lectures (his weird hobby/interest).  I got to go shopping in New York and buy clothes, we took great vacations.  I went for runs with our golden retriever Haley.  There was even a time when Jack and I would get up early and watch the sunrise on runs before work (we lived in Bermuda at the time, the sun rose up over the most perfect aqua blue ocean and our run route was on the south shore where we would overlook the sea from cliffs above.) Yes. That good.

This year when my cousin started up the yearly conversation with something to the effect of “what a blessing, how life changingly amazing children are…” I actually tried something new.  I was completely brutally honest.

“I’m exhausted. Most. of. the. time. My daughter gets up at 6am everyday.  I still get up at night to nurse my son. I can’t remember the last time I slept through a full night.  I’m really not sure I’d do it again.  I say that now that I’m in the thick of things.  I really really really love them. And yes they have changed my life.  But they’ve also infringed upon everything I ever I thought was important to me.  My yoga, my nightlife, my sex life.  Things I never even thought would be affected.  Like daily showers. Or brushing my hair, or teeth.  Yes somedays it is that bad.  Not everyday.  But it’s really really hard.  More than I ever thought.  I feel like there is none of me left in my life.”  My cousin was shocked.  Then other family (mostly moms) also joined in.  How hard it really is.  That nobody really talks about fighting back tears when all your kids are chorusing their screaming together.  The days when the old you has been shoved so far back you never feel like she will re-emerge.

The little voices in my head start up again “You will NEVER get your life back. By the time the kids are old enough to be independent your sense of self will be long gone.  You will be a stranger to yourself, with no current interests, hobbies, friends or life.”  Oh the voices.  So I pack my shit up, and head to the gym.  The kids get dumped at childcare there and I work my ass off for an hour. (Literally, I lost my ass…there is a vast flat area where my ass used to be.  The kids; or pregnanies rather, took that away too.) I get to shower and sauna and get the voices to shut up.  See I did something for myself.  Don’t think I’ll be back again tomorrow.  Five days in a row is enough.  Actually the truth is I don’t think my body can take another day of it.  My levels of lactic acid must be so high they are toxic.   Maybe the toxicity will kill off the voices.  I smile.

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Boxes.

My life is comprised of little boxes.  Everything fits into a box or is compartmentalized into a neat order.  Black and white.  Very little grey in this world of mine.  I organize, prioritize and feel a twinge of anxiety if everything isn’t in it’s place.  As a matter of fact, when my husband and I would have a great night out (or have a great night in with friends) it wouldn’t be uncommon to find me cleaning the kitchen at 2am.

So my question the past week has been: Is this type of behaviour something I can change? I mean really change?  It has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.    And made my life difficult for just as long.  Needing things a certain way, getting anxious if they weren’t.  It is not OCD, but I think I may be borderline (I say jokingly).  Jack wonders why I want to change at all…I mean all the organization in our life helps tremendously.  Especially when it comes to packing the kids up for anything.  I remember everything…things to do, diapers, food.  Oh someone isn’t feeling well? Yup I brought medicine…which type do you need? Bandaids? Got ‘em! Oh we stayed out extra long, no problem! I packed extra snacks just in case.  And everyone’s clothes got dirty? Twice? No Problem!

The problem is when someone else forgets their kid needs diapers and has to borrow mine.  Or goes into my kid’s backpack at preschool because they know my kid has an extra set of underwear and pants.  (Which they didn’t pack for their now-urine-soaked child.)  Or sunscreen, or water, or lunch or snacks.  And it drives me crazy. And then I pull out the judgy eyes, and thoughts and anger as to why they can’t seem to plan ahead.

I have even gotten mad at Jack.  I mean who takes a kid out for the afternoon and forgets the diaper bag? (He came home after a stop at the drugstore for diapers and wipes and snacks and…)  Then again he is super easy going, can change plans at the drop of a hat (probably because he hasn’t spent an hour of mental energy gearing up for the necessities of said plans).  I don’t like to share and I have a really hard time having other kids come over to my house (hey, I like my white couches and non-finger marked walls!)  Sure my kids deal with different rules and know they have to be excused and wipe hands before leaving the table, but I’m also not having to replace furniture and repaint like some of my friends who have kids.  My self admitted neurosis are actually making me nervous now.  Admitting them to the world makes me feel vulnerable and scared.  Don’t judge me.  I don’t want to be the one looked down upon.  Hey I should know, usually I’m the one judging. Sigh.  Judgy judgy judgy.  Which is another thing I’m looking to change.  How does one rein in the ego and reclaim humility and inward kindness to others?  I am kind to others, but sometimes it is while listening to my inner voice scream at them for the stupidity.  I think the inner voice needs a time out.  In a dark, quiet, padded room.  Wine helps to quiet the voices.  I think I’ll pour myself a glass while I try to think of a more positive way of dealing with them.  Grain alcohol maybe?

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Meet Pippi

Sitting on the couch I am nursing the newest addition to our family.

“Read to me Mommy!”

“Sure Pippi, come on over and sit next to me.  You turn the pages and I’ll read.”

“NO! I caaaaaaaann’t puuuulllleeeeeeeez come here momma”

“Honey just pick a book and bring it over I can’t come to you while I am feeding your brother.”

“Buutt Moooooooommmmmy I caaan’t. I neeeeed heelp. I caaaaaaan’t.” throwing herself on the floor.

“Whining and crying doesn’t get you anything Pippi.”

“Pul pul pul puleezz can you read to me?” in between short gasps and sputters of sob

“Sure, bring me a book and I’ll read to you.”

“AAAHHhhhhhHH” the sound of a 3 year old as she tries to mimic being tortured

“one” I say trying to keep my cool

“READ TO MEEEEEeeeeeeeee” sob sob sob, scream.

“two.”

More screaming and crying from the puddle on the floor that is my darling sweet little girl.

“three”  I break the baby’s latch, and put down Sawyer, who now joins in the crying. Picking up Pippi from the floor I fight to hold her as she kicks and squirms as I make my way down the stairs to her room.  More screaming and exasperated crying ensues.

“It’s okay if you want to cry, but it is giving me a headache.  So when you are done feel free to come back up and join us.” The screeching jumps an octave.  I close the bedroom door, take a deep breath and head upstairs, picking up the now wailing baby and try to calm him to finish the feed.  I can feel adrenaline pump through my entire body.

5 minutes later: red faced and blotchy Pippi emerges from her room, diaper removed and bottom half of her clothes gone.

“I peed EVERYWHERE Mommy!” A smile as she happily picks up the book in the corner and begins to look at it all be herself.

Shattered, sleep deprived and unshowered for the past 2 days my eyes well up.  What happened to my life???

Back up.

In the past year: I quit my job. Gave up my 10 year career as a nurse. Moved internationally again (for the second time in three years.) Packed up our house. Sold our home. Purchased a new house.  Had a baby. Became a yoga instructor at 7 months pregnant. And put down our beloved family dog.  So yeah, maybe there is a reason for me to be overwhelmed.  That’s a lot of change to take.  And to ask of a small child who is going through it with us.  My husband Jack, got his dream job after spending a year miserably employed in the oil patch. So welcome to my world.

Fast forward.

Pippi has finished with the regression phase of potty training since the baby’s birth. Sawyer is 8 months old and almost entirely sleeping through the night.  Jack is still working his “dream” job, which tends to include way more hours than the day has.  And here I am, looking for an outlet.  This is my experience of the world.

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