All in a Day's Words

Tag: advice

Cookie for a Skinned Knee

Whether a cookie, ice cream, or brownie grace the table with each bee sting, academic or athletic achievement, food rewards are a challenging habit to break. Skinned knees, A’s on report cards, holidays, hurt feelings, achievements, and pain rewarded by food is a common response, fostering the “I can fix, heal, remove, celebrate that feeling” with food. Reeling us into the pantry for a sugar-laden medal and eating sweet honors, goodies celebrate the victories, or ease the pain of falling down, burning a finger on a stove, or triggered hurt feelings. Junk food consumption for regular relief from feeling uncomfortable or emotionally hurt pack on the pastries and pounds. Reframing food’s purpose and releasing the connection between food and emotion is vital for change, successful weight loss and maintenance.

Food as fuel negates food reward needs, and fosters respect for healthy choices and the body. If food’s sole purpose is energy, emotional responses must reroute elsewhere. Gathering alternatives for discomfort, emotional releases, and successes is imperative to reframe food’s function. Not an easy transition, but it changes the way we look at things; therefore, the response alters course. Exercising and building the muscle to modify eating behavior, takes practice, perseverance, and motivation. As a repeated reminder, food’s function as optimal energy, fueling muscles, and sending nutrition to the brain, is essential. Physically feeling good is the prime goal, while cravings dissipate, energy resumes, and mental clarity returns. Imbalanced sugar levels cloud judgment, energy levels, and fool the appetite by misguided hunger.

Proper nutrition provides a balanced chemical response that enhances quality of life. By rewarding emotion with unhealthy foods, we threaten the body’s optimal functioning. Equilibrium, the natural response, causes the body to eliminate the incoming threat of toxicity or unrecognizable ingredients within processed foods, by becoming inflamed, digestively distressed, or eventually diseased. Treating ourselves respectfully with healthy, edible options, and utilizing “food as fuel” circumnavigates this problem. Anything that bandaids rather than cures is counterintuitive to healing. Treating feelings with food addresses symptoms of discomfort and emotional celebration; it misses the damage it does. A cookie for a skinned knee eventually causes additional pain, sometimes irrevocable. Healthy food as fuel can temper this future predicament.

When the Shift Hits the Fan

External transformation causes an internal stirring of emotions. On the periphery we alter our bodies and environment: reduce inflammation, cleanse the closets, release toxic friends, clear the clutter, and eliminate consumption of artificial ingredients. Inevitably an emotional shift occurs when we lose significant weight. Clean food choices, exercise, and community support change our energy, physically and psychologically. Deadened, dormant pieces of ourselves arise from their slumber and shift our awareness. Deep-seated, internal, heartfelt secrets emerge from the soul, awaken for healing, retrieval, and release. Speaking our truth, illuminating the untold stories and guarded spaces of ourselves, ultimately sets us free to live an enlightened existence of self-love, peace, and happiness.

When we physically change, the sacredness of secrets hidden within awaken our senses. Releasing imprisoned emotions requires courage to bare the bones of our hurt, alleviate our pain from the past, and shed the stale crusts of our core, ignored, buried, and shut out from the light. These shadows deter life’s full potential, limit possibilities, and diminish self-worth. Shielding ourselves from truth, we fear its existence and the vulnerability that lurks with possible exposure. Yet that vulnerability is the exact necessity for strength and healing. The hidden pieces of ourselves must find light, awareness, and visibility in order to heal, mend, and alleviate buried pain. Without this nakedness of being, we lay injured, in disrepair, and immobile. Love, worthiness, and healing are the precepts for change, strength, and connection.

Hardwired for connection, vulnerability, truth, and empathy are its foothold. To have a sense of belonging, we must feel worthy, illuminate our authentic selves through truth, and access the deepest depths of our hearts. Mutual exposure with others forms human bonds where empathy lives. Accessing “me also” from another strengthens vulnerability, an empowered feeling and weaving of connection. Even if our experiences are different, we walk in the other’s shoes in our mind’s eye to share the sacred space. Taking the risk to reveal our inner selves to entrusted friends, therapists, or relatives, has rewards. Exposure to those who do not have our backs, may warrant some falls in the process. While failed connection may occur, entrusted confidantes holding your story and pain with safety, empathy, and love is worth the risk.

As the body transforms into a stronger, thinner, and exposed version of our old selves, so, too, will our insides shift. A supportive network of people is necessary to carry our truth, healing, and pain. Aloneness, independence, and sole survival were never meant for humankind. Delving into our past reveals our true selves, alleviates the wounds, and stirs inner change. Although an internal process, community rises up in support. When the shift hits the fan, life happens. It spins, sputters, and spits out the dust of life experiences, awaiting cleanup. Should we allow the dust to settle upon the sills of our lives, it remains untouched until stirred by the winds of change. Body transformation is the ultimate in unsettling our dust. Worth exploration, worth risk, and worth pain to heal the inner wounds, we enable true worth of our existence to rise from the ashes with the support of community. We are worthy of this greatness!

Worry Not

My father lives the advice, “never worry about anything until there is something to worry about.” He has a calm demeanor during prospective crises, as everyone around is scurrying for cover. If there is no proof of danger, alarm, or grave disappointment, he calmly walks through life with ease. Why he is wired this way, while others fret, expend energy needlessly, and hearts race with a deliberate sense of danger, is anyone’s guess. I suppose growing up with an ill sister who needed 24/7 care prepared him, as well as being an avid Red Sox fan for many decades, while the team often appeared on the verge of winning it all. He does not get too excited about something until it finally happens. Perhaps it is simply in his nature to remain even-keeled, keeping his blood pressure low, and awaiting the outcome. He simply does not waste energy on the prospect of events. Either it happens or it does not.

This makes me wonder whether expending energy and anxiety on bad news, is worthwhile. Case in point, I have been living my life quite peacefully in the past years, believing that I am healthy. In the past week, I have become privy to information that states that my body is not in the shape I assumed it to be. As someone who hoards information, dwells in the splendor of the more, the better, I am beginning to wonder to what end is this grand state of being. When is too much, too much? I am typically a believer that information enables people to make informed, conscientious decisions about their health. Without it, you live blindly, enabling the body’s systems to conflict without treatment. Eventually it comes to a head, and often is too late to treat.

As I recently awaited blood test results (from the twelve vials taken from my left arm), I took my dad’s advice to heart, and thought there is no reason to worry until there is something to worry about. Yet the test results confirm that my body contains Lyme disease, my thyroid is malfunctioning to a degree, I have some vitamin deficiencies, and I am headed for a variety of treatments. From these diagnoses, I contemplate the degree in which I expend energy on anxiety. My first reaction was, fantastic, now I can make informed choices and put an action plan into place. I also caught a glimpse of the difficulty of diagnosing what are called soft symptoms, such as exhaustion and joint stiffness. Although impressed by the technology that has made diagnosis a tad easier, thinking about the road ahead has given me pause.

With little negative reaction to the diagnoses, (In fact, I was elated to discover that years of symptoms were not “in my head”), I began to relay the outcome to family members and friends. Their response has been slightly disturbing to me, as the need for others to share their experiences with these diseases, has caused a level of anxiety. Twelve hours prior to telling no one, I was cool as a cucumber, and then a day later, am worried about immediate treatment, and the “what if “scenarios. The fact is that I feel no different today than I felt last year or the year before. What has changed solely is the information that I have now been privy to. The energy that others expend upon my diagnoses ought not to affect me, but has.

In order to protect myself from other’s anxious need to help, share, console in a disconcerting way by relaying the stories of other’s nightmares, I wish to remain in the dark, uninformed hemisphere. I recognize their hearts have good intention and are full of empathy, but the objective listener would have cause to stop them in their tracks. No more discussion with others; it rains on my happy parade.

The way I choose to accept this information is that there is nothing to worry about until there is something else to worry about. By living in the present moment of how I feel physically, anxiety not among those feelings, I cannot take in anyone else’s issues. That does not mean that I will not take action. It simply indicates that I will be at ease during the action plan I wish to implement. This is my body, my life, and other’s opinions of my ailments, and me is really none of “my” business. I choose the calm demeanor my father so eloquently demonstrated. He chooses the path of least resistance, the heart beating slowly until something worth his energy comes to fruition. I am fortunate to have been in his tutelage, and learned the behavior he displays. He is a wise man and living in a state of bliss, not ignorance. His footsteps are the ones I choose to walk in, along a path I now follow.

The Perfect Stroller

My sister gave me professional mommy advice on purchasing strollers.  She said, “Forget about buying just one stroller.  By the time you are done, you’ll have to buy at least three that all serve different functions.”  Yet as SUPERMOM, I was able to research faster than a speeding bullet and purchase in a single bound.  Therefore, I bought my first, all-purpose, perfect stroller prior to giving birth to baby number one.

Why not?  I had read the reviews in Baby Bargains (my motherhood buying bible), on multiple websites, in Consumer Reports, and within a few other publications that reviewed strollers in detail.  I was one-step ahead of all those mothers who had initially purchased the wrong stroller.  Convinced that my sister had been one of those fools, I proudly purchased the perfect stroller.  I was convinced that this was a lone investment for the all-in-one only stroller ever needed, according to the experts.  It arrived “like new” from an Ebay seller, except for the hole in the bottom basket.  How that happened is anyone’s guess.  I picture some mom, exhausted, frustrated, ready to explode from discovering that her stroller did not meet all her needs, lighting a match and putting it under the stroller, trying to set it ablaze.

Clearly, I can relate to this.  Yeah, you guessed it.  This was not the end-all, be-all stroller.  I mean, yes, it moved and turned and held the baby.  Yet our first trip to Chicago to visit grandma and grandpa with our newborn gave me a fortune cookie warning I have not learned well since motherhood began: attempt to control the outcome and you will find yourself disappointed.   We checked the perfect stroller at the gate, signing our life away not to hold the airline responsible for damage incurred by them.  It should have read, sign here so that we may rip apart your stroller and get away with it.  Because no sooner did we reach Chicago did we find it missing a wheel.  We waited at the gate discussing how we signed away any rights to compensation, while the stroller killers found the missing wheel.  Our perfect stroller was no longer perfect, nor usable.

Here is where we thank our very handy, ready for anything daddy, who just happens to be traveling with Duck tape.  Do not ask.  Just know that he is possibly the most dependable travel guy I have ever met.  Taping the wheel back on, wrapping the gray tape around repeatedly until it looked like a gray cast, we were again mobile.

Rather than dump this imperfect stroller, we held onto it for five more years, through the birth of a second child; it has become our travel stroller. It has always looked like a decrepit victim since its violent crime by stroller criminals disguised as airline baggage handlers. Additional bruises from the normal wear and tear of childhood disasters have also taken their toll.  For example, the chocolate milk explosion that left a major stain on the seat, the handle that fell off one summer that needed a duck-taping repair, a new cast if you will for its arm, and a bungee cord that now holds it closed. Since then, we have bought an additional four strollers: an umbrella stroller for quick errands and short distances, a jogging stroller for the beach and walks around the neighborhood, and a double stroller for the new edition kid that arrived two years later.   I stand corrected and apologetic for my self-righteous behavior.  My sister was right.  Forget about getting the perfect stroller; it does not exist.  Save yourself time and energy, and succumb to the inevitable.  You, too, will purchase at least four strollers before it is all said and done.

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