Thursday, May 19, 2011

The skinny on the heavy.....

There is something to be said for being overworked and overtired.  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to over committing and taking on too much.  I am a full time mother, full time wife, full time friend, full time daughter, full time niece, full time teacher and coordinator, full time chef, full time house keeper, on-and-on-and-on-and on goes the list of full time responsibilities. 

Ask for help you say?  Ha!  Never.  Actually, I have had to succomb to the fact that I do need help.  Let me share with you how I most recently came to this conclusion....

I have to work Saturdays!  I received an email stating that I would be receiving a small, but well earned stipend for the extra work I have completed through my coordinator's position.  Do not get overly excited, it is not enough to go out to dinner on - but it is something.... All I would have to do is work an additional 3 Saturdays between May and June.  Okay, I can do that, but seriously, 3 Saturdays on top of what I have already done?  I'm a team player, so I look at my calendar and send off emails stating that I will have to leave early one of the days and so on.... NO!!!!  I don't have to work Saturdays.  I have to enter the time I have worked into the computer on those Saturdays.  FAIL. 

Every morning I try to maintain the same routine.  This is hard to do when you do not get much sleep at night... dirty birds- it is from the baby!  My routine: I get up, let the dogs out, shower, do my hair, feed the dogs, get everyone else up and ready to go, and then we are out the door. Yesterday,  I go through my list, everything gets done, and I am ready to walk out of the door when I am stopped and asked, "Why do you have a towel on your head?"  Yup - I never did my hair and simply was walking out the door with my hair wrapped in a towel.  At least I had my clothes on.  FAIL.

I flashed my ass at work.  This was not done on purpose, I can promise you that.  It is also not the first time my ass has been put on accidental display.  When I was a swimmer I forgot my suit for States at the hotel, I borrow one not realizing I was given a drag suit with a hole in the butt- so 1000s of people sitting above a pool deck saw my big round ass framed by a big blue swim suit.  I never thought I would say this - but thank god for that moment.  No one remembers that it happened but me (I hope), but it totally prepared me for what happened to me this morning.  First of all - the laundry never finished drying so I am wearing a pair of Brent's boxer-briefs; and although I cursed this morning it may have been a saving grace!  This is the skinny on the heavy..... I go to the bathroom at work, do my business, and pull up my drawers.  I hit the sink, wash my hands and take a quick look in the mirror.  I adjust the front of my dress and decide I am good to go.  I walk out the door and am immediately hit by a draft.  The back of my dress is tucked into the back of Brent's boxer-briefs.  "Holy shit!" I yell and proceed to pull the back of my dress out of the back of my drawers.  Needless to say, Mr. Meise's door has been shut the rest of the day....a first all year.  Poor man.  FAIL.

So, I can't read an email, forget to do my hair, and flash the school staff.  These are just three examples of how I know I am overworked and overtired.  There are so many other examples - I keep thinking that everyday is Thursday, I overdrafted three checking accounts through one check, I drove to Webster instead of Penfield, I had to ask if I was on a committee that I have been working on for months, I left Noah in the car when we got to daycare.  HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

There are times when we all need help and we cannot shy away from asking for it.  I am a better mom, wife, teacher, coordinator, friend, daughter, niece, dog walker, poop changer, food maker, baker, and all around better person when I ask for help.  So, if anyone wants to come over and do a load of laundry, cook me a meal, change my bed, or just bring me a glass of wine I welcome you with open arms.  Just be warned - I cannot be responsible for when my ass may make a surprise appearance.   

Monday, May 16, 2011

The only truth I know....

The only truth I know is my truth.  Today I lost another one of my school children and I am in pain.  The first time I felt the pain of losing a child I was but a mere child myself.  It was my first taste of anger and complete helplessness...of despair and anguish...of hatred and I was five

That feeling of being completely out of control of my world came again in October 2005. Hearing the words, "He's gone..." float through the phone broke me and I fell to my knees and I wept.  Devon was not my biological child, but he was mine nonetheless.  I loved him unconditionally and with all of my heart.  There was nothing I would not do or give for that child.  His mom Shauna, a sister to me, was a single mother and I felt blessed that she let me share in her love for her boys.  We were so close that I felt like they were our boys. 

There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Shauna, Randy, Devon, and Donovan.  If I could rewrite my own history I would spin a tale of weeping and healing together as a family.  The truth is, that while I cried some from time to time, I never let myself heal.  After I fell to the floor and wept, I picked myself up, rounded my shoulders back, and found a deep strength from within to not allow myself to fall apart again.  It truly takes strength to hold back that much pain and hurt. 

Not allowing oneself to heal is consequential.  Why did I not allow myself to heal?  I did not feel as though I had a right to my pain.  I believed that if I showed pain then I was robbing Shauna of her time to heal and I needed her to heal.  I desperately needed her to heal.  I needed her to be resilient.  If I poured all that I had into her then I could save her. 

What I needed to do was save myself. 

Consequence #1: I became useless to my friend, my sister.  As Shauna grew stronger I remained stagnant.  I did not know how to ask for help or if I even had the right to ask.

Consequence #2: The strength to surppress emotions runs out and has to be replaced with something.  In this case it was food.  So many people make statements that there is no reason for a person to be as big as they are.  There are always underlying causes.  When my father died I almost ate myself to an early grave.  No, I did not grieve then either and after I lost that weight I swore I would not allow myself to return to that place.  But, here I was once again.  The weight I gained this time was monumental and what finally led to my being diagnosed with liver disease forcing me to deal with the loss of Devon.

This past winter, AME Baber Church hosted a holiday memorial for people who have lost loved ones to violence.  I went and I wept.  Not only is the strength to suppress gone, but so is the reliance on food as a suppressor, or even worse, food as an oppressor.  I have learned to ask for help and to allow myself to rely on others to lift me when I am too weak to carry myself any further. 

There is power in healing.  Tonight I will pray for the family of Sammy Maldonado and ask that they are given the strength to heal in a healthy way.  I will sit back and remember my student for who he was - an intelligent young man with a quick wit and fantastic smile.  He made me laugh and this I will celebrate. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Being called FAT is hard to swallow....

Yes.  I was called FAT again.  And, it hurt.  It hurt a lot.  I felt like a I was 12 again and my peers were mocking me relentlessly.  It was not a fun experience and it was in front of my children.  I posted it on Facebook.  Why?  To garner sympathy of course.  No one wants to have their less-than-perfect physical attributes pointed out: big nose, crocked teeth, cross eyes, black gums, unibrow, pvs, muffin top, ect... 

Weight discrimination is the last socially accepted form of discrimination.  Star magazine makes it a game out of playing "Guess which celebrity belongs to this fat ass?" or People Magazine's yearly "Look who finally got thin!" issue (which truth be told, I want to hit that lottery someday).  Oprah has her weight loss stars, airlines have their special pricing options (real special - Buy 2 seats for 1 ass), Biggest Loser (...and then biggest gainer again), Ruby, Extreme Make Over Weight Edition, even Survivor!  Women still make significantly less money than their thinner counterparts - (you all did read my paper on weight discrimination against women in the workforce, right?!? I'll post a link).  Men also make less depending on their weight, however the percentage difference drops significantly. 

What are the effects of calling a person fat over and over again?  In my experience it was a fulfilling prophecy.  Notice I left the self out of it as it was not, and is not, the prophecy I have for myself.  Fat has a powerful hold over people.  The word is dehumanizing and the tissue itself is immobilizing.  I once had a doctor who told me that the only thing wrong with me was that I was fat and fat hurts.  I was so angry that I never went back to see her.  She let my "fat" disable her from being able to treat me properly.  Much later in life I came to the realization that she did have one thing right - fat does hurt.  It hurts emotionally, mentally, and physically. 

Part of my healthy living goal is to take the power out of the word fat.  This is a tall order and starts at home.  I teach my children that the word fat is not a bad word.  Noah can often times be heard saying, "Mom, can I give your fat a little love pinch?" to which I reply, "Of course baby, go ahead and give it a big pinch!"  There is not much we cannot attain through social and responsible education and living.  Teaching children that fat is not a bad word does not teach them that being fat is a healthy lifestyle.  It is also our responsiblity to teach our children healthy choices and  behaviors. 

One last thought.  Just because a young person is predisposed to being overweight does not mean that they are predestined to being overweight.  The freedom, glory, and wonder that comes from being a child is that there are no limits, no guarentees, and no final destination.

Here is that link to the paper if you are interested!  I wrote it my senior year at Brockport and have made several presentations since.  Interestingly enough - not much has changed in the last 12 years.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Limes, they're not just for and more

I promise, I have not abandoned all of my followers - I make it sound like I have started a cult!  Put the kool-aid down!  While I have been absent from writing I have not been so from my research.  Yes, believe it or not I do research for my blog.  My reading and research have taken me in so many different directions in the last month that I will try to sum it up in a few recipes.  Yes, you read it right - RECIPES!!!!  And, they are fantastic.

In preparing the menu for Lilly's birthday party I reflected back on past gatherings as guidance.  Knowing (praying actually) that the weather would hold out I wanted to honor the start of Spring.  Spring foods to me mean rebirth.  Our senses are rejuvenated with fresh tastes and reminders that summer is just around the corner.  Besides flavor there are numerous health benefits to spring flavors. 

According to a British researcher we can actually attain a healthy glow to skin from the carotenoids that give food their color.  Carrots and tomatoes are not the only skin healthy foods that the spring and summer have to offer.  Increasing your citrus intake can hydrate your skin and increase that glow as well.  Try adding these power foods to your diet.  They will not only help you rejuvenate but are packed with health-related benefits as well!

Power Foods: Grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, avocado, asparagus, artichokes, peppers, cashews, peas, olives.

STOP right there!  Yes, some of these power foods are higher in fat than others - do not shy away.  You can still enjoy these foods.  Avocados can be used as a spread alternative to mayo.  Cashews can be chopped and added to salads - a few chopped nuts can go further than a handful of whole nuts.  The same can be done with olives - a few kalamata olives can be diced and added to salads or even spreads.  You can even add a little of the juice when you want the flavor but none of the olive. 

Cucumber Miso Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)
In a bowl add and whisk together:
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of white miso (I use heaping teaspoons for added flavor)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon hot water
2 teaspoons of dark sesame oil (measure over the bowl so that a little extra drizzles in)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Add 3-4 seeded and sliced cucumbers 
*Note: to seed a cucumber slice in half and run a spoon down the middle to scoop out the seeds.

Fresh Salsa (measure by taste and make 12-24 hours in advance)
in a bowl mix together:
14 ounces of Hunt's diced tomatoes (Hunt's always has the BEST flavor tomato)
Some fresh diced roma
Finely shopped red onion (I use a lot)
Fresh cilantro (chopped - make sure it has a rich smell or it will have weak flavor)
The juice of about 3 fresh limes (I like to think more is better)
3-4 Concord Foods salsa packet

Summer Pasta Salad (Mine and Erin Wachowicz's favorite!)
Pick a pound pasta and make it. Add freshly diced roma tomatoes (4-6) 2 cans of garbanzo beans.
In a bowl whisk together olive oil (about 4 tablespoons)
White wine (sauvignon blanc) - pour in about a half cup...or more
Fresh lemon zest
Diced garlic (2-3 cloves)
Fresh lemon juice from about 3-4 potent lemons
Add freshly cut mint (couple small packages)
Add dressing to pasta and top with feta cheese. Let sit for 24 hours. Add a tad  more lemon juice and white wine then serve at room temp.

Perfect Beef Tenderloin
Season with black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and freshly cracked sea salt.  Heat grill to 450 degrees and add meat.  Drop heat to about 300-325 and rotate every 5-6 minutes until you reach desired tenderness.  Cooking your meat more slowly will help fuse the flavor.

Green Salad
Mixed greens
Mandarin orange slices
Green grapes halved
Strawberries sliced
red onion thinly sliced
Red wine vinegar dressing
Top with homemade croutons

Homemade croutons
Slice a ciabatta baguette into thin slices at an angle
Top both sides with spray butter, freshly cracked pepper, and freshly cracked sea salt
Place under broiler on high until both sides are crisped. 
*Note: This will not take long!

1 can of frozen pink lemonade
3 cups of smooth gin (New Amsterdam is nice)
Mix together in pitcher
Add 1 bottle of champagne
Serve with a lemon peel

Lastly,  get yourself some fresh spring rolls (aka garden rolls).  I have yet to make these myself, but will learn and share with you all when I do.  This is truly a healthy and fun party menu - not to mention easy.  Happy eating and welcome to spring!