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So, it’s been almost a month since I was last here.  I had started the blog again in the hopes that I would post at least once a week.  I joined the club at Whole Foods hoping that I’d take yoga at least twice a week – that’s happened once.  I wanted to be under 190 lbs, that’s happened for one day.  I just don’t seem to have much “stick-to-it” ness going on in my life right now.  I guess you could say, I’m still tired. 

Will it do me any good to set goals when I don’t seem to stick with them?  Am I too hard on myself?  I know that second question is true.  I rarely give myself credit for anything.  I have been trying to change that, but still a work in progress.   I guess the only way to find out is to set some definitive goals instead of just having some ideas floating around in my head.  If I give them to you, I will be held accountable (since I know my sister always reads my posts 🙂 )  Here goes:

1.  I want to finish the quilt that I started for my nephew Lucas and also my nieces Eliana and Kerrington.  My stated goal is to finish in order to give them at Easter when the family is together.  Kerrington’s might be a stretch (still a little piecing to do) but there is no excuse for not finishing the others.

2.  I will post to this blog at least every other week.  We’ll start there and hopefully work up to more time.

3.  I want to get below 190 and stay there.  I will set lower goals, but first I need to hit this one.

4.  I will take some form of exercise class at least once a week.  I’d love to do four, but at this point, one would be a great success.

So, there are my goals for March.  They are a good place to start.  Oh, I have one more!  My son bought me two books on Feminism for Christmas and I’ve only read one of them, Woman by Natalie Angier (I highly recommend it to everyone).  My final goal for March will be to finish reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir.

Let’s see if having something to accomplish will help move me forward.  In fact, I will revisit this at the end of March and reevaulate for April.  Perhaps this will be the right way to stay on track.

As someone who is overweight, I know a thing or two about food.  Mostly, how much I like to eat it.  My husband is a great cook.  When I went back to school, he took on the responsibility of feeding the family and even does half the shopping every week.  He soon found that he loves to cook and our family soon discovered that we love him to cook for us.  We were just shopping today and realized that we were shopping the perimeter!  We are eating healthy, we know that, but why aren’t we losing weight?  Probably because we eat lots of the deliciously healthy food that we make for ourselves.

We’ve also been going to the gym.  So far, I’ve only averaged two days a week, however, I am working my way up to four.  Still haven’t lost any weight though 😦  It’s all very frustrating.  My husband keeps reminding me that we are doing this for our health and if, and when, the weight loss comes, it will just be a bonus.  We love each other no matter what, so if our bodies change for the better, great!  If not, well it won’t matter because we have to be getting healthier with these new habits, don’t we?

Being a student of sociology, I know intellectually that society is encouraging me to think less of myself because I’m not thin enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not…enough.  But if I continue to allow my heart to listen to that, I will never be satisifed because I will never measure up to societies standards.  However, I already measure up in plenty of ways: I’m good at my job, I’m a good mom, I’m a good wife, I’m a pretty good quilter and I’m a thinking person, in addition to the many other things that I am.  So why is it so hard to filter out all of those shoulds? 

I guess the trick is to constantly remind ourselves of who we are and why we are good enough.  The advertisers are good, but they can’t beat good ole self-confidence.

I am being self-reflective these days, most likely due to the death of my grandmother.  After her memorial service, I had to go into work for an important meeting.  Now I know people think, what could be that important, but this meeting involved a huge responsbility that was given to me.  As an admin, I don’t get that feeling of authority and importance too often.  I’ll revisit this later.  So anyway, because of where my grandmother’s service was held and where my work is located, I had to drive past many of the places that were important in my childhood.  As I drove through, I couldn’t help but think that this would be the last time that I might see many of these places.  After all, I have very little reason to ever go back to the town where I grew up since my grandmother wasn’t there anymore.  It almost felt, at that moment, that my childhood had officially ended. 

Understand, of course, that I’ve been supporting myself for over 20 years now, but still, that did not seem to define the end of childhood.  I lost track of old friends, had children on my own, and yet, I still felt like one of the “younger” ones.  I am the oldest granddaughter, so at the service, my aunt gave me my grandmother’s grandchild charm bracelet.  Although I do not have any grandchildren and won’t any time soon, my children are the oldest of my grandmother’s great-grandchildren.  I guess it felt like the crown was being passed.

The reason that I also marked this post as education is because being grown up, I feel like it’s time for me to figure out what I want to do with myself now.  I will be graduating with my Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts degree in May and I feel strongly that I want to continue, particularly if my company will continue to pay my tuition.  What should I do though?  Within the confines of my job, there aren’t many options.  Do I abandon my 20+ years of administrative experience and go in a totally new direction?  Or do I stick with what I know, my strengths, so that I can continue to grow with my current skill set?  I really don’t know the answer to these questions.  I do know that I cannot afford to pay for my own tuition since I will need to help my children with their college tuition in a few short years.  From that standpoint, it seems like it would be silly to find a job making less money.  But when do we finally say “uncle” and go for our bliss?  And how do you figure out what bliss means for you?

Well as I mentioned in my blog last week, my grandmother has been ill.  She passed this morning.  I have been going over this in my head all day.  What does this mean to me?  I’m still not sure.  I was with her on Saturday and she was not doing well so I know that she is at peace now and for this I am grateful.  I had visited her several times over the past month with my children and they were lovely visits and for that I am also grateful.  And I’m grateful for the chance to have this venue to reflect on what having her in my life meant to me. 

What I realize is that my son is more like me, than I even knew.  He tends to grab onto the bad things and remember them as opposed to remembering the good things.  I do not think I do that any longer, but upon reflecting on my grandmother, I think that I had that same tendency when I was younger.  I mostly remember my grandmother yelling at me, especially about getting out of the trees (we liked to climb them, a lot).  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there were a lot of good times.  We used to sit for hours and work on puzzles.  We used to play cards, a lot.  My aunts, my mom and my great aunts would come over and we’d have huge card games.  They were very competitive too.  We’d bet pennies and these games were viscious.  No one wanted to lose their $2.  I looked forward to those nights.

The most fun I remember having with my family, the times I felt most loved, was during those card games.  Working on puzzles taught me patience.  Being yelled at to get out of trees made me realize that whatever a lady was, it was not something that I wanted to be!   These were all important lessons.  I guess the most important lesson, though, was the lesson it taught about women needing other women.  I always came out of those card games feeling validated, knowing that if there was no where else in the world I belonged, I belonged there.   I was a member of the women’s club.  Thank you grandmom for welcoming me there, I’ll miss you.

It was a bittersweet holiday weekend.  On the one hand, it was spent with friends and family, which was great.  On the other, it is probably the last 4th of July I will ever spend with my grandmother.  She is not doing well and it’s only a matter of days before she is no longer with us.  However, because of her condition, the family picnic had the best turnout that it’s had so far.  It was nice to see relatives that I have not seen in a long time, particularly my cousin Tabitha.  She is 10 years younger than me, so my husband and I used to take her and her sisters to Great Adventure, the Zoo, or just to hang out at our house.  Those were always fun times.  Now she is a grown woman and we had not seen one another since she was pregnant with her first child.  It’s been too long, far too long.

How does time get away from us like that?  How do we stop it from happening?  My aunt emailed me a birthday greeting on June 15 and I finally emailed her back last night.  How did those 2+ weeks get away from me?  I think it actually happens more frequently when I’m not engaged, that is, when I have things to do to occupy my time.  I am better about staying on top of things when I have many other things on which to concentrate.  That sounds ironic, but that ‘s what works for me.  I feel like I am currently in a funk.  I have no deadlines, either at work or at home.  It is difficult to not let time get away from you in that situation, at least for me.  I prefer to have structure and most importantly, deadlines.  I guess that’s why I enjoy school so much.  It’s also why I enjoy having employment in which I am fully engaged, even if it’s over the required 40 hours a week.  I just feel more alive.

How do others stay motivated when there are not deadlines?  What do you love to do that makes you “work” even when deadlines do not exist?  These are questions that I am currently asking myself.  I will not be in school after May of next year, at least not for 8 months, so I will really need to figure this out or waste way too much time being unmotivated.

Well since I have vowed that I would post every Monday and low and behold, it’s Monday, I need to post.  There is nothing getting on my nerves in particular today, so I thought it might be fun to write about summer.  Watching the Phillies game prompted me to think about this.  I love baseball, although I have only just recently rediscovered just how much.  Last year, my husband and I went to a Phillies game for our 20th anniversary and we had a great time!  Almost as much fun as we have going to the theater (to which we also renewed our subscription this year).  We’ve already been to one game this year and have decided that it will be our new anniversary gift to ourselves every year.  So in August, we have great tickets for the ballgame on our anniversary.

I also remember when I was a kid, going camping.   We went camping every year, usually to Lancaster, PA, sometimes to farther away places.  We had relatives in Ohio who owned a campground and I remember driving out to visit them a few times.  Camping was always fun there.  I remember one particular time when we were playing softball and I caught a line drive and thought my thumb was broken.  But I kept playing because my dad was actually playing with us!  It was always a lot of fun.  I loved camping then.

With my own kids, we haven’t really established any traditions as far as summer goes.  I’m kind of sad that we didn’t and they’re teenagers now so I’m feeling like it’s too late.  When they were little, we used to go to Lancaster often because my son was a train fanatic and they have some of the best train stuff around.  We always stayed at the Fulton Steamboat Inn because they had an indoor pool and we had to get back to the hotel early enough for them to swim.  That was fun.  More recently, we have not really done anything spectacular and this year will be no exception, lol.

Mostly though, summer meant freedom.  Getting up every day to the new possibilities available to you.  Running barefoot in the yard, riding my bike, swimming in our pool, hanging out with friends, the possibilities were always endless.  I’m sure there were times that we were bored, what kids aren’t, but I don’t think of those times.  Summer is still refreshing to me as an adult.  It’s a break from all of the hustle and bustle that the school year can bring when you have children.  Work seems a little slower, but the weekends do go by much faster!  It still reminds you of all of the possibilities, if you only you stop a minute to dream about them.

I just read two posts by women who are anti-Natural Birth.  They seem to think that because doctors are involved, a hospital interventionist birth is the safest, best way to have a baby.  And these are women that are posting on the Skepchick blog (http://skepchick.org/blog/2010/06/reader-rants-doulas-vs-doctors-vs-dolphins-lexicakes/).  Women who supposedly look at scientific evidence and use their brains to come to logical decisions.  But see, here’s the thing.  You can’t prove almost anything about birth because you can’t do controlled studies.  Every woman’s birth is different, period.  So the OB’s don’t know any more than the midwives.  All they know is what others have taught them, what they choose to believe is true and what their observations have told them.  The skeptics use the example of an epidural slowing birth.  Apparently, there are statistics floating around that epidurals slow down the birth process.  She goes on to say that this can only be seen as a correlation, and causation cannot be proved because there is no way to know where the woman’s birth would have gone without the epidural.  I completely agree with that argument.  At the same time, OB’s will tell you that a baby’s heart rate dropping during birth is a sign that the baby is in trouble.  However, from what I’ve read, that’s a “cover my ass” response.  All baby’s heart rates drop somewhat during contractions. 

Which brings me to my main point – you cannot discuss birth in a purely scientific manner.  It is emotional and I will argue with you to the end on this.  For the same reason that you cannot prove the epidural slows birth, you cannot prove that it doesn’t.  For the same reason you cannot prove that a baby removed by a caesarean section was not in trouble, you cannot prove that they were.  Unfortunately, the only way to know these answers is to let the process go without any interventions and risk losing a mother or a baby.  Not an acceptable outcome.

Here is where we disagree and why I bring this up – I choose to give birth with no interventions.  That was MY choice and it was my right to make that choice.  With my second child, I was forced to have Pitocin (which really freaking sucked) and, if it were not for my husband, other interventions that may have led to a C-section.  If you choose to do as the OB tells you and you end up having a C-section, that is YOUR choice.  We should both be allowed to make these choices for ourselves and all of the choices in between without being treated with condescension and disrespect. 

Why should I have to listen to women who say that no rational woman would choose to give birth naturally when I am very rational woman and did a lot of self-educating to come to that decision?  Why is my decision less rational because it does not match theirs and why is it less rational because I chose not to put all my faith (that’s right, because during birth it is more faith than science) in the medical establishment?  Why can’t women support each other in their choices, no matter what form those choices take?  Until that happens, we are going to continue to be second class citizens in this world. 

Another blog that I frequent, The Feminst Breeder, has the right idea.  Although I am sure if you were to direct the oh-so-thinking Skepchicks to the link, they would say she is too conspiracy theorist.  Maybe partially true, but she has the right idea (and she’s also a thinking, intelligent woman). http://thefeministbreeder.com/indepenent-women-will-be-cut/

Here is my serious effort to keep this blog active.  There are many crazy things going on in my life right now, so I’m not sure where this might go.  I guess I’ll start with my grandmother being on hospice care.  I grew up next door to my grandmother, so I saw her almost as often as my parents growing up.  However, she was not the stereotypical sweet, spoiling grandmom.  She was mean and I was generally afraid of her.  However, now she is dying and I feel that all of that does not matter anymore.  We have visited with her a few times since her diagnosis and they have been very pleasant visits, in fact, probably some of the nicest time I’ve ever spent with her.  I guess my problem is that I really just don’t know how to feel about it all.  My aunts have been taking care of her and one of them had just lost her husband in January.  She’s never really had the chance to mourn him and I’m very concerned for her well being once my grandmother passes.  Apparently, her son has already made it known that he’s not coming to my grandmother’s funeral.  Other relatives just can’t be bothered to rearrange their schedules to make sure they get one more visit in.  Let’s just say that I’ve learned things about some relatives that I’d just as soon not have known.  Has this happened to anyone else?  It seems people’s true natures come out when loved one’s are dying/die. 

These issues are also forcing me to look at my own personality.  Why do I have such a hard time accepting that people are different?  I really have strong feelings that there are right ways to handle things and wrong way to handle things.  I know, intellectually, that everyone has experienced life very differently from one another and therefore come to each situation with their own baggage.  However, I still just can’t get past feeling like there is right and there is wrong.  This causes me to take issue with many people.  Yes, I am judgemental.   Truthfully, I wish that I could get past this.  I actively try to and have conversations with myself over it.  Yet, I just can’t seem to let it go.  Why is that?  Is being judgemental wired into us?  Is it the next step in my “development?”  I think that the right way to be is to accept people for who they are, bumps and all.  But if everyone did that, isn’t it possible that the world would be a scarier place, not a happier one.  Doesn’t others judgements of us cause us to “behave?”  This is something that I struggle with and I suppose I will continue to struggle with it until I accept that it’s one of my bumps or manage to best it.

I view this whole experience as another journey of my life, an opportunity to learn more about myself and those around me, even if some of the things that I learn are not pretty.

I don’t really have a good idea of what I’m going to write this evening, but I feel compelled to put something down since I haven’t posted since November and I want this blog to thrive.  I will be better once school starts again as it will give me “food for thought.” 

We’ve recently attended two wonderful celebrations this month.  First my friend Carla’s wedding and today, my daughter’s good friend Meredith’s Bat Mitzvah.   They were both wonderful in their own way.  The most wonderful thing about them, however, is that we got to spend time with an extended family that we chose for ourselves.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the family I was born into.  However, that being said, they’ve all moved away and when my parents moved a few years ago, I was left feeling very alone.  This month has reminded me that I have family all around me, all the time.  At Carla’s wedding, I was reunited with women that I had met at her Bridal Shower, others that I met at her “Hen Party” and friends that we had in common before.  These are all wonderful, dynamic, interesting women with stories to tell and I was grateful for the opportunity to spend a little more time with each of them.

Meredith’s Bat Mitzvah was difficult in some ways and beautiful in many others.  Difficult because her father passed away last year and it was hard to not have him there.  However, I believe that we have become much closer to her family since that tragedy occurred.  I felt so proud of Meredith as if she were my own child.  She did great and honored us with lighting a candle on her cake at the party afterward.  I felt like I belonged there.  Again, I had the opportunity to reconnect with the many wonderful people that I’ve come to know through Meredith’s family over the years. 

It’s so sad how disconnected we become from those who mean the most to us.  I’ve made it my resolution this year to make an effort to stay connected in some way to all of those people who mean so much to me.  Also, I am going to finally listen to my mother and if I don’t have anything nice to say, I’m not going to say anything at all, even at work.   Well, I’m going to try.  This has been the best beginning of a year that I think I’ve ever had and I hope that it’s just a taste of the year to come.  Real family and the family that we choose for ourselves are the most important people in the world.  This year, they’re going to know that I feel that way.

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