Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Dear Little Man,

It's time for me to run out a buy a few things for work and I fear I will be up half the night getting things done. I've been working a lot this week and not getting home until the night is black and the air frigid. And tomorrow, I will get up at the break of dawn and do it again. But I just needed to tell you a few things. I have started so many posts for this blog and never get back to them because they get too long and personal. So I will keep this short and simple, but it's a record, a shot in time of who I hope we both can become.

Today, as I was driving to work, I saw a number of homeless individuals. Some I have seen many times before and they seem... well, almost like this is their profession. And it's possible that it is. There will come a time in your life when you learn that things are not always what they seem and that some people will take advantage of your heart. I will hate to see you learning that lesson, but it's also important and will hopefully help you define your own morals and how you can help people.

However, there was a man today that I hadn't seen before. He was far off the road and was not asking for anything. In fact, he didn't seem to want any help. His clothes were tattered and his beard was long and white. He had a shopping cart loaded with his possessions and he appeared to be looking for things to recycle. I passed him right before getting on the interstate and thought about him for the next 50 miles. His name, his life, his story. How he came to live in this way... if he was happy...safe...warm. If he loved someone and if someone out there loved him too. How little it takes to put people into that situation.

When I was 8, I thought I could save the world. I remember looking at my closet doors in the warm glow of my nightlight and think about going to Africa. I was simply going to build everyone houses and make them food and solve everyone's problems.

When I was 11, I was in the front seat of Papa's little blue S-10 truck. The back was loaded with tools- my brother and I were tagging along as he had to go fix something. We traveled down Rt. 48, a road we traversed often. We saw a grungy man walking along the side of the road and I guess I snapped. I cried until we stopped at a gas station and I was allowed to buy him some food. We turned around and drove by the man, slowing down enough to pull over and give him the bag and some kind words. Papa was tolerant, my brother was befuddled and irritated at my emotional outburst. But I felt that I did something good in the world. As we pulled away, we saw a cop car pull over to the man. I remember feeling so deflated- we were just trying to do something nice, and I felt like I got him in trouble.

At 18, I was going to be a psychologist. I was going to work in the United Nations. Or be a nurse. Or a teacher. But no matter what, I was going to help people.

The first song I taught myself on the piano was Phil Collin's "Another Day in Paradise." The haunting notes at the beginning and the lyrics touched something raw inside of me and I played it for years. I listened to a different version of it tonight:

This weekend, we are going to sit down and listen to this song. We are going to talk about being homeless and needing help. We are going to brainstorm things that we can do to make this a better world. And then we are going to do it.

We can't save the world, but we can do something important and good. You are my gift from God and I don't want either of us to ever forget that we have His love in us to share.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Is There a Baby In Your Tummy?

So much to write about and so little time. But I did want to take a moment for a quick service announcement for people to understand the manatees in your life.

This morning I dropped off my little man at preschool. I usually do it every Tuesday and Thursday and then take a brisk 1.5 mile walk around the adjacent business park. I've only been doing this for about six weeks. I am hoping to increase my health and decrease my waistline. I'm concerned with the way I carry my weight- despite that fact I have to much and always have, the way I carry it in my belly is shown to be correlated to higher risks of all sorts of nasty things I don't want, like heart attack, stroke and diabetes. I also want to increase my energy and general health levels.

I eat too much. There is just no way around it. Compounded with the fact that I have been obese since the age of four, I have also played havoc with my metabolism with a variety ill-fated ideas and diet attempts. But, again, the truth must lie in the simple fact that I eat too much and don't burn enough.

But here is my big secret and the one that people get angry about: I don't hate myself.

I'm not filled with self-loathing, nor do I pine for that "someday" when I will be thin so that I can start living. I am living and I have a happy life. Not perfect. And some days, not so happy. But my happiness does not depend on my size. It can't. If that were true, I would have wasted 34 precious, wonderful years.

That doesn't mean I will stop trying. I am going to try to eat less. I am try to stop eating to fulfill emotional needs instead of nutritional needs. I am going to keep increasing my physical activity. I find great peace in my morning walks, yoga and Nia. I can't wait until it gets warm enough to swim again. And there are a lot of other physical things that I want to add to my repertoire.

And trust me- I have certainly tried to apply self-loathing at different times and spent a lot of time with it as a youth. Most recently I have tried Overeaters Anonymous groups. And while there are some aspects of it that I think I can grow & learn from, the part that I don't like is the loathing. There are stories of people who were very, very unhappy when fat. People who hid from life, not wanting to go out, not having healthy relationships. And as I would listen, I would try to relate. I felt that it I couldn't relate that I wasn't trying hard enough or wasn't being honest with myself. Clearly I am fat, so I must be much more unhappy than I realize. Listening to folks talk about how happy they are now- I must be missing out. But the last group that I was at, I had a surge of emotion... and it was because I was feeling that being in that room was keeping me from enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning with my family. And I felt that I was missing *that*.

But here's the thing- we are have different, personal journeys. I will go back to OA and I will continue to read the literature and look to grow my serenity, courage and wisdom. And I'm going to continue to work on my nutritional and physical activity. But it's not because I think my life will begin when & if I am thin... but rather, because I love my life and my son and I want to be around for both as long as possible.

So, back to what started this post. On this frigid Florida morning, I finally lured my son out of his warm covers. My husband, who had to leave especially early for the end of semester catch up, left little man a sweet note in his room that made us both smile. The sun was streaming in the window as we got ready, happy and singing. Our little old geriatric wiener dog, Abby, stuck her snout out from under the baby blanket next to LM's bed and sent us into giggles. I had warm, clean laundry and I was just very happy with life. I put my hair in a ponytail and threw on my walking clothes- no makeup to cover the weird skin issues I've had lately- I'd be sweating off any attempts at it and was already looking forward to the shower I allowed myself after I got my heart rate up. A little coffee and sudefed to help with the cold I refuse to acknowledge and we were off to school.

Once there, a little classmate looks up and ask, "Do you have a baby in your tummy?" Now- this is not the first (or second, or even third) time that a wide-eyed child has asked me that. And honestly, I wish the answer was yes (that's a whole different post). But I said, "Nope!" with a smile. A little girl sitting next to him said, "Well, why is your belly, uh, ummm" and uses her hands to indicate roundness. My reply? "Well, sweetie, I guess I just eat too much food." One of Little Man's teacher- a young one, still a student- looked a little mortified and said, "OH! Kids are just too honest," or something to that effect. I didn't leave feeling sorry for myself- but I did feel bad that she was so uncomfortable.

I related the story to my husband on the phone as I drove away and he remarked that I still sounded in a good mood. Here's the thing- kids are innocent and curious. If that had been a malicious 45-year-old man in a bar, I may have felt differently. But not because he would point out something I didn't know (um, yeah, I may have noticed my size. It didn't just sneak up overnight) but because he would be initially trying to be mean and I hate that. I hate it anywhere I see it.

So that's it- PSA over. Plenty of work and sunlight await me... I hope the same for you.