Monday, November 29, 2010

Some GOOD genes!

I shared in a past post that I had finally found a hobby that was for me, just for me...painting.  It is my release, my time to just relax, clear my mind and just create.  It is my therapy.  I am not saying that I am really good at it...I am saying that it brings me joy and having a hobby has become quite necessary in my life.  I discovered this passion of mine, in April, at a conference.  I learned that it has been hiding, deep within me, for a very long time. 

 My mom, whom I LOVE dearly, is an art teacher.  She is very talented and I grew up with art in my life.  My older sister is crafty as she designs her own jewelry.  My younger sister graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art Design...needless to say she has a LOT of ART GENES!!  

Growing up, I often joked that my mom forgot to share some of those creative artsy fartsy genes with me...did she have to save them all of for my younger sister and completely skip me?? 

My mom taught art in the school that I attended (and still does).  Heaven for bid I would take a class from my mom, other than the art classes that were mandatory in junior high.  I wasn't about to endure endless heckling from fellow classmates if anyone discovered I might want to actually take an art class from my mom and I might actually enjoy art.  Apparently when you are related to the teacher, you automatically get an A (or that is what kids would tease anyway). 

I wanted to make sure that others wouldn't think this of me, so I CHOSE to take "Small Gas Engines" my senior year of high school, instead of Art with my mom.  I was the only female, 17 guys and I were going to learn about honing cylinders, taking a lawnmower engine apart and putting it back together.  WOW!  That was quite an experience and my parents will tell you that their push mower never ran the same :) 

If I could go back, I would take my mom's art classes, as this would have helped me discover that I really do like creating!  Instead, I ran from it as I had convinced myself that I didn't have one ounce of creativity in my body. 


Last week, I decided to pull out my acrylic paints and make a few "Thanksgiving" gifts for my mom and my two sisters.  I created something for each one of them.  I began with a very simple piece of "raw" wood from Walmart.  (Super inexpensive at only $1.50 each.)

This was for my older sister, Stephanie

For my much younger and trendy sister, Rachel

For my dear mamma
as I am SO THANKFUL for ALL that she does!

All 3 side by side

And my human art easel, Nathan (my younger son)
who wanted to help and thought he should be in the picture too!

They were super fun and super easy to make. 

My older son, Kirk, looked at each one...he then looked at me and said "Mom, do you know what?...I think Grandma is going to be really proud of you!"  This melted me. 

My mom would be proud of me.  Those words resonated within my heart and a feeling of joy filled my soul. 

Painting.  Creating.  It is my release, my therapy and I LOVE IT!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Who knew I could learn something from Stuart Smalley (Saturday Night Live)?

Now this adorable little girl has more positive mojo in her entire body than a whole handful of adults could ever dream of having!  This has to be one of my FAVORITE videos ever.  (Click on the link below and then come-on back).  

Whenever I feel a little glum, I do a quick search and find this amazing display of positive self talk that can only put a smile on my face and perk up any grumpy mood.

I try and imagine what our world would look like if more people, men and women, started their day with a spirit like hers?  I am not sure if we all need to jump up onto our bathroom counters and do a little jig every morning (can you picture this...I know it would be an entertaining site in my home)! 

I have a choice every morning to either be an energy "giver" or an energy "sucker".  I have had my fair share of spending time with people that apparently have only one side of the bed in which they can roll out of each morning...the wrong side.  After spending time with someone who complains about everything, never seems to be happy about anything...I can feel every ounce of my positive thoughts and feelings being sucked out of me....all my good mojo is gone.  I end up feeling sad and negative myself.  YUCK! 

There are days that no matter what I try to do to lift my spirits, I just need to be an energy sucker.  The key for me, is NOT to move into "Glumville" and become a permanent resident there.  

It is a choice, no matter what is on my plate, to think positively or negatively.  I have noticed that the days that "negative" has chosen me before I even have a say, things just go from bad to worse.  It is like negative things continually find a big negative magnetic with 2 arms and 2 legs.  If I feel that I just need to have a bad day, because let's face it, everyone does, I just try my hardest not to SHARE my negativity with others.  Those are the days that I don't even like being around me so I don't expect others to appreciate my mood and want to hang out with me either!

A few months ago, I was having a chat with one of my sons about baseball, as he was trying to improve his techniques and success when swinging at the plate.  I asked him to pretend to step up to the plate like he was going to hit a ball.  He just rolled his eyes and probably thought...what is she going to have me do now!  My kids have learned to just go with it because I seem to have a persistent quality (putting it in friendly terms) when I am trying to make a point and be heard.
He gave me a look and I nodded my head for him to continue.  As he was doing this, I asked him what he was thinking at that very moment.  He thought for a while and I asked if it was good thoughts or negative thoughts.  He finally said, I just keep thinking about past times when I was up to hit and I struck out.  I looked at him and said, then that is exactly what you will do...strike out.   I explained that whatever you are thinking, your thoughts, your feelings, your self-talk have a strong impact on how things will turn out.  I told him to do this again but invision himself connecting with the ball and smacking it with everything he had.  He tried the experiment again, without even rolling his eyes.  Then he tried it with an actual ball...and he connected and hit it!  The next time he had an actual game, he looked over at me, his eyes met mine and I mouthed the words
"YOU CAN DO IT"....and he did.

Great story huh?  Well, here is what I realized after hearing me, myself, speak these important and powerful words to my son...I am my worst critic, like many of us are.  I have said some of the worst things to myself...thought some of the worst things about myself...things that I would NEVER speak to someone else as it would crush them and their spirit, hurt them in more ways than I could ever repair.  This thought stopped me in my tracks.  Why in the world did I think it would be okay to say these things and think these things about myself??  After time, you believe what you are being told...good or bad.  I realized this was no different with self-talk.  Finding a "New Kind of Normal" and my quest to embrace new lifestyle changes with eating and losing weight, as I have shared in a previous post, is something that requires me to totally change the way in which I look at myself and my self-talk process.  The first few days of repeating positive affirmations to myself, just like Stuart Smalley from the Saturday Night Live clips, was honestly very difficult and awkward.  It was different and a whole new shift in thinking.  But I continued repeating and telling myself good things about me, positive things, and what I noticed was I felt better.  My spirit and mood was better and happier.  My family even noticed as I became maybe just a little bit sassier (I like to call it "spunky").  Things just seem to be going better.  Whoever would have thought that in all of my conversations within myself I was doing more HARM than GOOD?  This has been a HUGE ah-ha moment for me...not an easy thing to admit and isn't easy to add to my "New kind of Normal" but so healing and so beneficial for sure!!

As Stuart Smalley would say "You're good enough, You're smart enough, And doggone it People really like you!"...and it is ALL TRUE!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What is a HOBBY anyway?

There it was, staring me in the face and I had "the deer in the headlights" look on my face.  The question on the sheet was asking "What are your hobbies?" 
What exactly is a hobby and who has time for a hobby anyway?  Such a silly question...I can't even imagine trying to fit something "for me" into my schedule.  So doing dishes, laundry, yard work, housework aren't considered hobbies, helping kids with homework, being a personal taxi for them, etc? 

What is it that I would enjoy doing?  I like reading and have read quite a few books...wait, let me rephrase that, I have started quite a few's the finishing part that I struggle with.  Honestly, when I find myself making time to read is when I am crawling into bed.  Getting cozy and comfortable and then reaching for the book of interest at that time.  Typically within a few minutes, maybe five minutes max, I am already dozing and the book continues to fall forward and hit me in the face.  I get a few pages read, none of which I can remember of course, as I was fighting to try and keep my eyelids open. 

My, oh so helpful hubby suggested "Why don't you try hunting or fishing as a hobby?"  Let's see, getting up before the chickens even THINK about rolling out of bed, putting on about 8 layers of clothing until you feel like a big old marshmallow and can hardly move.  Then opening the front door to leave to find it is STILL dark out and it is icycles on your nose kind of cold.  He looks over at me and says "Isn't this GREAT!!"  You have got to be kidding me!! 

So there we were, out in our "jill boat" (it is supposed to be a "jon boat" but I decided to rename it since I was with this time.)   I have never been on water when it is PITCH BLACK was scary and Og (my hubby) must have had night vision goggles on, that I hadn't noticed, as he said he was able to see where we were going.  I am still waiting for the "fun" part of this adventure to begin.  We went quite a way across the lake and then the motor stops.  I started panicking just a bit, okay a lot.  Silly me, this is the spot where we needed to strategically place the decoys....did I mention it was still DARK out?  I was instructed on how to throw the weight out along with the duck decoy.  After two attempts, and the decoy landing a great distance of about a foot or maybe two, away from the boat, I was voted off of the "placing decoys" committee.  Did you know you were supposed to be QUIET when you are hunting?  I finally have some time to talk with Og, free from childrens interruptions and I have to be quiet?  It shouldn't be a difficult task but IT WAS!  It wasn't long before I was picking up a few decoys and making them talk to Og, right by his ear, then whipping pieces of cattails at him.  I wasn't talking, I was just keeping myself occupied.  Then, as all women need to when it is least convenient, I needed to go to the bathroom!   At this point, I think my hubby was regretting ever trying to help me search for a hobby. 

It is kind of weird but I haven't ever been asked to go duck hunting again.  I have no idea why :)

A hobby, I am learning, is something that is NECESSARY as a release, a time to regroup, something that you ENJOY doing, something that gives you a chance to BREATHE and relax

At first I felt VERY GUILTY for thinking it would be okay to take some time for me.  But what I realized is I NEEDED it and quite frankly everyone DESERVES some time for YOU!  I am a giver and a people pleaser, these are two qualities that can consume you if you aren't careful.  As I am getting older, maybe finally growing up even, I am realizing more and more that I need to take time for me.  If I don't take care of me, I will not be able to give or help others.  It is as simple as that.  WE, are better wives and mothers, better women in general, when given a chance to recharge our batteries. 

And guess what, I found my hobby (no it doesn't involve duck decoys or 8 hours of marathon fishing in the sweltering heat) way to release, regroup and recharge my is through painting...through creating...that is MY THERAPY and I LOVE every second I get to spend with my hobby :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A NEW kind of NORMAL

Isn’t it funny that one day you wake up, look in the mirror and say… "How in the heck did this happen?”  I looked at me, spun around a few times and scratched my head.  It’s kinda like a few pounds here and a few pounds there seem to go unnoticed until, one day, it hits you…kind of like a truck…a very very big truck!
Thinking back, I often would dodge pictures being taken just so I don’t have to deal with a reminder in the future that I was a certain size or looked a certain way.  As a mom, we often find ourselves behind the camera instead of in front of it…which is just fine by me J 
I have been blessed with an amazing husband that has loved me, every part of me, no matter what size my jeans say that I am.  He is the kind of guy that says “You don’t need to put make-up on, you are beautiful just the way you are.”  That is of course, when I flip down the mirror in the car to take a look and see if I agree.  My response is typically something along the lines that he “needs to get his eyes checked” or “put his contacts in.”   Didn’t he see the blemish on my chin that is like a beacon shining brighter than Rudolph’s nose?  There are many days where I could lead the sleigh instead of our 4 legged, antlered friend J
This is what I LOVE about my hubby, Jason or Og as I call him.  (If you live in a smaller town and you are a male, at some point during your adolescent years you are blessed or cursed with a nickname that sticks with you forever.  Thankfully his reflects his last name…Ogdahl.)   He has loved me, tells me that I am beautiful.  Even when I wake up with hair sticking up in every direction (like a really bad 80’s hair-do) he thinks this.  I have a pretty great guy and I am SO VERY THANKFUL FOR HIM J
But there comes a time when you just have had enough.  You are tired of your current “normal”.  You want to feel the compliments that you are being told are TRUE…BELIEVE in YOUR HEART that they are true.  That is where I found myself a few months ago.  Trust me, this wasn’t the first time I was frustrated with my current weight.  But something was different this time.  It was like I got mad and was so tired of looking in the mirror and not being happy with what I saw.  BLAH!!!  Frustration filled me as I knew I was the only one to blame.  I also knew that the extra “padding” was a result from emotional eating.  Food had become the drug that I used to cope but it also was a way for me to run from my own issues.  Food was like my own personal band-aid.  Eating to make me feel good to cover whatever discomfort I was experiencing…stress, anxiety whatever it was.  I finally realized that if I peeled back the band-aid the issue was still there...DUH, Michelle!!  Whoever would have thought this was possible??   I was a CARB addict!!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE comfort foods and exactly what it did…comfort me when I needed it most (even if it was for just a few brief moments).
 I was HUNGRY for a NEW kind of NORMAL!  I was ready to take CONTROL and become a LOSER (well of weight anyway).  I wanted CONTROL back...something that seemed so simple but is so hard to regain at times.
What I realized first, is I needed to be happy and EMBRACE myself.  I had to learn to “like” me again, “like me” exactly where I was at.  A good friend of mine told me years ago as she was struggling to lose weight, “Michelle, I didn’t gain this extra weight overnight, so I can’t expect to lose it overnight either.”  What!!!  You can’t lose all of this with a snap of your fingers…but WHY??  I realized that I needed to embrace ME where I was at and LOVE ME no matter what the size my jeans currently said.  I then needed to accept the fact that it was going to be a LONG journey, there was going to be tough days and easier days.  Baby steps Michelle…that is what it is.  You just need to take the first step…that is it.
 I know that food is necessary for living but when it is abused, just like drugs or alcohol, it can become a dependency.  The hard part about this is if it were a drug or alcohol addiction, I would have to learn how to remove that from my life, completely.  Food addiction is so different as you need it to survive…the difference is it needs to be consumed when your body needs it…not when your MIND or your EMOTIONS think you do. 
This complete shift in thinking came about the same time when a good friend of mine recommended a book that truly WOKE ME UP and showed me that a NEW NORMAL is possible.  “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna has shed a new light on how I think of food.  The word “dieting” doesn’t exist in my vocabulary anymore… "life-style change” has taken its place. 
Here were just a few key points that started the journey of my “new normal”:
  • “Emotional hunger is sudden and urgent, physical hunger is gradual and patient.” 
  • “Emotional hunger cannot be satisfied with food; physical hunger can.”
  • “There aren’t enough cookies in the world to make you feel loved and whole.”  WHAT!!!  Could this be true?  The answer is…yes. 
I am now learning to listen to my body.  Pausing before I eat so I can ask myself if I am REALLY hungry or if I am eating for other reasons other than hunger. 
This is going to be a long journey.  One in which I CHOOSE to CELEBRATE each pound lost.  Taking the first step is the key and taking baby steps after that, setting monthly goals of weight loss to reach instead of focusing on that bigger it  isn’t too scary and overwhelming. 
I recognize that some days, temptation and old habits will win…but the WONDERFUL thing is that tomorrow is a new day and you can start out fresh and NEW again.  Refocus and get back on track...that is the key...just get back on track.
This is the first time in my life that I am losing weight in a healthy manner.  I am not starving myself, stressing out about points and measuring.  I am doing this for me as this is where it needs to begin. 
A new kind of NORMAL…nobody said it would be easy…but sometimes it is necessary.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Everyone has a Story

I have learned never to judge a book by its cover.
On the outside, I may appear carefree, enjoying life, always smiling and trying to make others laugh and feel good about themselves.  But on the inside, I am a woman who is trying to hold on…flashing a smile just to cover the pain and hurt that hides beneath the smile, the laugh.  The laugh that is covering my past, covering the anxiety, covering the depression, covering the sexual abuse that happened when I was just a little girl.  Covering the fact that the past 5 years have been filled with tragic loss of life, multiple times, over and over again.  Covering the wounds that begin to heal, almost completely, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel…ever so close, almost being able to touch it with the ends of my fingertips, almost being able to feel the end of another cycle of grieving.  And then, we receive “the call" that another family member has died.  Tragically taken from this earth, without having the chance to say a final goodbye, a final “I Love you”.  Gone.  Covering the fact that I became am an emotional eater over the past 5 years, as this was, at times, the only thing that could bring me comfort, to take away the pain, if only for a few seconds.  Then realizing that this coping skill has added “padding” that truly isn’t me.  I never wanted to be this size.  I am realizing that I need to pull back all of the layers to get to the HEART of my HURT.  As I take the corner of each layer and begin to, ever so slowly, peel back each layer, I am finding more pieces that make up my past, my story, my hurt, my pain but also the
 GOOD things, the things that have kept me going, the things in my life that I want to keep and NOT let go of.  The things and people that have given me HOPE and the DESIRE to face a new day.  Each layer is a new realization of my past, it is a scary discovery, a scary journey…but one that needs to be taken so that I can HOPEfully one day, feel whole again.  To feel WHOLE again.
Letting go of fear.  Accepting my past as it is a part of my story and the past can’t be changed.  I also realize it doesn’t define me, who I really am, today.  It doesn’t have a grip so tight on me, on my heart, on my soul that I am unable to breath. 

Some days, the grip feels a little tighter than others, but most days, I am able to loosen its grasp and say... "Not today, today I am going to BREATHE…just BREATHE…I am going to be in CONTROL.”   Everyone has the opportunity to get bitter or get better.  I choose, daily, to get better.  I CHOOSE to look for ways to help others, to inspire others, to give others hope.  This is a genuine and real desire of mine, to reach out to other women that are hurting.  We all have a story, we all have our own hurts.  Most of these hurts are buried so deep, beneath so many layers, that we think they do not affect who we are.  The truth is, the hurts that are not HEALED, the hurts that have never been able to be shared, that are so hidden because of shame, sadness, pain or fear, do affect us in some way, great or small, each and every day. 
God has given me many gifts and blessings in my life.  I DO love to LAUGH, to make others LAUGH and FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES.  This also brings joy to my life.  It takes the edge off of pain, off of the hidden hurt that is buried.  Laughter is AMAZING medicine, to the HEART and SOUL.   It is free and can make someone’s day J  I have many layers, many hurts but also know that if I ever want to feel WHOLE again, I need to begin this journey of self-discovery.  For me, it begins with FAITH, knowing that God will be with me every step of the way, wiping my tears, laughing with me, holding my hand, giving me STRENGTH to continue.
I feel it is time to break the silence, peel back all of the layers, discover who I am to the CORE.  Nervous, anxious, scared, fearful but EXCITED to begin this journey.  Face my truths head-on, realizing that life is too short to live in sadness or shame.  Everyone desires peace, joy and HAPPINESS.   
Hidden hurts, hidden truths, we all have them.  Do they have a grip on you or your life, that is so tight that somedays you can hardly breathe?   I want you to know that there is HOPE.  I want you to know that you are NOT alone. 

Finding the HEART to HEAL. 
WE can do it…TOGETHER.