Category Archives: Uncategorized

If You Weren’t Adding To Body Image Issues, I Might Buy Your Video

I love Gwyneth Paltrow. I admire her, I think she is beautiful, I think she is talented. She seems like a smart, sensible person who likes to have fun. I’m a smart, sensible person who likes to have fun.

I also admire her physique, which we do not share. Ms. Paltrow writes about her trainer, Tracy Anderson, like on this blog post about how she got into shape for the new Iron Man movie. In it, Paltrow links to an Anderson butt and leg work out you can buy. I’ve been to Anderson’s website and tried her 9 minute enticement video. It was pretty good.

But here’s the problem: Anderson used the word “perfect” when talking about the kind of body I can have. That seems wrong. I can’t have the perfect body because I don’t have the same DNA as Gwyneth Paltrow. Or any other other celebrity who has a body I think is amazing. I have my DNA, which is decidedly NOT perfect. I can lose weight but I’ll always have hips and boobs. End of story.

Words like “perfect” are red flags for taking advantage of people’s insecurities to sell weight loss products.

Then there’s the “baby food diet.” Apparently, Anderson is out touting her idea that women can eat baby food all day and then eat an adult meal and lose weight. It probably works. Baby food is low in calories and fat. But is healthy? What do doctors and nutritionists think of this diet? Is Anderson a nutritionist? It sounds crazy to me. Wrong. Again, manipulative. (Thankfully Paltrow admits to eating actual food – what I like about her – and gives some recipes on that blog post.)

Anderson is pretty but not real. She has the “I’m amazing!” look that women in the Victoria Secret catalogues have but she does it on her videos. She is mugging during the work out. That’s weird to me. I want my trainer to be a regular person who doesn’t think she is better than me, just further ahead.

The butt and leg video is interesting – my ass is showing my age more than my wrinkles do. If I give this woman my money, though, it says I approve of her sales message, which I don’t. In fact, I think it perpetuates a myth that is dangerous to women. So, she won’t be getting my money and I’ll have to live without knowing the secret to a smaller, perkier butt  and how to never need squats again.

And I have to admit that the more Ms. Paltrow helps Anderson sell that message without questioning it, it knocks her pedestal down a little.

Put down that corkscrew! Slowly, slowly…

My husband and I quite drinking for January. Bottom line, we were drinking too much. It just wasn’t healthy any more. Speaking for myself, I was using alcohol as a crutch for stress – but now I see that I was caught in a vicious circle. I’d feel stressed, drink some wine…(repeat for three nights in a row)…feel crummy from dehydration and poor sleep…less able to handle stress, I’d drink some wine…stop for a night out of guilt…feel stressed, etc. It just wasn’t working. I didn’t want to admit it because then I’d have to deal with, well, whatever I was avoiding by drinking.

I also have a view of “evening” as “Adult Time,” and I used wine as the delineation of that time. But, at some level, the symbolism became more important than the impact of it. In other words, when I struggled with parenting, having a glass of wine was like my way of saying, “I’m not a parent now because I am drinking.” Which we can also call, “bullshit.”

J easily agreed to this little break because he is trying to get back into good health, too. Instead of wine, I drink tea. Quite a lot of tea.

Here are some things I have discovered so far:

1. I no longer enjoy the taste of cheap wine. I don’t care if it has a decent rating on the card at the grocery store, if it is on sale for $4.99, it isn’t going to taste full, or rich, or pungent or any of those other classy words used to describe a bottle costing $40 or even $20.

2. I have energy all the way through the day, rather than slowing down around 3pm. In fact, I have been significantly more productive and able to handle my busy life.

3. I’m not yelling at L in the mornings about getting ready for school. (That’s worth its weight in gold, really.)

4. I’m not bloated. Enough said.

5. I generally just feel better.

I am not swearing off alcohol. I enjoy the taste of beer and wine. Instead, we will purchase good tasting beverages, enjoying them as special occasions, a choice done with thought and care.  I am very much looking forward to that delicious red wine that’s coming in a couple of weeks, because it will be something earned.

Catwalk vs. Rock Wall

Photo from AP, originally in http://www.dailymail.co.uk

I’ve been thinking a lot about my child’s birthday.  Hard not to, since she has been talking about her 6th birthday since 5 minutes after her 5th birthday. I discovered why that is, why kids are so focused on birthdays: they are a kid’s only source of power.  L says frequently, “I am NOT inviting so-and-so to my birthday!” Sorry, kid, everyone in class gets to come if they want.

Last year, we had a princess party. Friends came and dressed up, got their hair, nails and make-up done. Then, the guests played games and had cake. It was sweet and silly and pretty easy. I was pleased.

Over the summer and into Fall, L was invited to three girl birthdays and all were Princess Parties/Fashion Parties, or a combination. The first one was small – even the boys had knight costumes and, of course, fought with the plastic swords.  Mostly the girls ran around the house playing with toys and trying to get the birthday girl to be with them. It was quite low key.

The next party was similar to Lillian’s own with a twist. The girls dressed up in costumes, got their hair, nail and make-up done, learned a dance and then did a fashion show.  The place was tiny with chairs for the parents facing a small runway. L picked a Snow White dress, and I was relieved she didn’t pick the rockstar mid-driff bearing t-shirt.  Girls who were done being primped stood in a mirror and sang to themselves – they weren’t even playing together! The dance was okay and the fashion show was, well, disturbing. As I watched this display of “confidence” with all the parents cheering and laughing at the adorable kids (and some were really adorable), I had a sinking feeling. I mean, I spend all this time worrying about my child’s self-image while she is drenched in a culture that is set to destroy that self-image. It just seemed…wrong. This is a child’s fantasy? To play out being a model? What are we doing?

The next birthday party my husband attended because I was out of town. Apparently, it was a princess party (girls wore their own costumes) with Cinderella reading as story about manners, and then the girls took a CARRIAGE RIDE WITH A REAL HORSE around the neighborhood.  According to J, the house and the party were quite over the top (pictures show a stage with a movie marquee with the kid’s name on it), which isn’t surprising given the location. It’s a suburb that basically wrote the book on McMansions. At least the party dealt with being a Lady and not a model.

Why are we allowing our children, no, encouraging our children to engage in celebrity culture fantasy play? I have no issue with the general dress-up play, but having a bunch of parents “ooh” and “aah” over glittery eye shadow and an exposed belly is just wrong. What’s next? Fake papparazzi? A fake film premier with fake fans? Fake cocaine in the bathroom stalls?

Even though I told L I won’t discuss her birthday until March (actual birthday end of May), I have been thinking about it. And I’ve decided it is going to be a very athletic birthday. Something where the kids run around and get sweaty. Where they use their bodies in ways that helps their growth. Where they get to laugh and have fun being kids. Thankfully, my child is completely into the idea of having her party at our gym, which could include rock climbing or swimming if we choose.

I’m done pretending that a child’s most special day of the whole year is time to act like a prissy adult. As we know so well, getting to act like a kid is special enough.

What is Up With Me, Part 3

I haven’t been posting because my writing brain is clogged by being dumped by my friend in September.  I’ve wanted to write about it while simultaneously putting it off. On the one hand, I don’t want to seem like I am soliciting sympathy because that would be gauche.  On the other hand, there’s all these things I want to say and can’t say to her since she cut off communication before I could respond.  Perhaps the biggest issue is writing about it and possibly exposing her identity. I am somewhat concerned about hurting her in a malicious way but also, if you, my friends, see me break someone’s confidence, even someone who betrayed me, you’ll think that I will do that to you. And your trust is extremely important to me.

With all that in mind, I am going to write about this break-up in an attempt to express to you what she would not allow me to express to her. I will do my best not to let her identity out of the bag.  I am not planning on being nasty nor will I attempt to drum up support for me by bringing her down. But I won’t promise to be nice. Because while I am trying to be a decent person, I am also angry.

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Stacy (not her real name, obviously) claimed in her break-up email (Seriously. An email.) that I wasn’t a good friend to her during a particularly difficult year. (She had some medical issues that kept recurring and her doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on.) She also claimed that I am too negative for her.

Now, I can see how this would turn her off. It would turn me off, too. Except that neither of these things are true. Stacy said I was not caring, sensitive or compassionate regarding her medical problems. Funny, because I recall being quite attentive to her when the problems began. But as the year went on, she rebuffed my attempts to be there for her with, “I’m fine,” or “I’m good, I’m staying focused on work.” I trusted that.  I believe that people are capable of asking for what they need. I won’t shake that belief just because Stacy wasn’t able to do that. In fact, in her break-up email (Yup. I said it again.), she admitted that even though she might have said she was fine, she wasn’t. And I was supposed to know that. Right.

In reality, if Stacy had asked me months before she made up her mind to end our friendship what my reaction was to her medical situation, she would have found out that I was concerned for her, that I felt badly and that I didn’t know what she needed. I was staying quiet about her health because I thought bringing it up would remind her of something upsetting. When Stacy said she was going “underground” to think for a while, I left her alone. I sent her a few emails that focused on some things I was dealing with because I was trying to make her laugh. I believe she thought I was needing her and that needing her when she was so unhappy was insensitive. But she never asked.

In my response email (that I am confident she deleted before reading), I told her that she sent mixed signals. But I was wrong. She told me exactly what to do – let her be. I am angry that Stacy implied I am a self-centered person based on directions she gave me on how to be a friend to her. That’s kind of messed up.

Regarding being a downer, well, I was for a while. But I think this complaint is more a reflection of her envy of my life and accompanying annoyance that I was depressed when I had it easier than she did. There. I said it. I think she was jealous of me.

Now, let’s get something clear about that statement. If say “She’s just jealous,” then that implies that I am worth jealousy, and that is arrogant. I think of it this way: jealousy is a human condition. I am guilty of envy, too. The cost of this envy has been great. How I deal with it now is I face it – I admit it to someone, usually my husband. This way, I can work through it as an emotion, not reality. I am not looking down on her envy; I am trying to call it like I see it.

Also, I am basing the accusation of jealousy on times I have shared myself and her reaction hasn’t been terribly supportive. Not necessarily cutting me down but commenting how “different” her life is.  And there was one specific conversation about where I buy my face cream that has lingered, even with her apology.

I believe, if I’m right about the envy, that it had little to do with me and more to do with a family member she had issues with (as so many of us do). And if that is the case, then I wasn’t a healthy friend for her. But that kind of realization would have been closer to the truth than the bullshit she wrote in her break-up email. (Yup. I’m still appalled she wrote an email.)

As I wrote previously, I went through a rough spot in the Fall. But Stacy didn’t know what was going on with me other than reading my blog, my Twitter stream and my Facebook updates. Now, I’m truthful in all of these communications but they can never replace a person to person conversation. And I purposely didn’t call Stacy about my issues because I didn’t want to bother her with my life – she had enough to deal with. Apparently, she read all of my “moments” and concluded I am too much of a downer for her. She even took a tweet I wrote when I really frustrated with Lillian (“I’m over motherhood.”) and put it in her goodbye letter as an example of what a negative person I am. I dig, I suppose.  What kind of person does that? It would be laughable if it weren’t so disrespectful.

A few miscellaneous things:

  • Stacy had a thing about being “honest.”  My response? Honesty needn’t trump good manners or thoughtfulness.  Sometimes, Stacy would be honest at a time or in a way that was inconsiderate. I won’t miss that part of our friendship.
  • I don’t think she liked my daughter. I met Stacy when L was at her worst with the tantrums, so I can get her concern. I’m glad that she didn’t tell me the truth about that.
  • Because of several of L’s outbursts and Stacy’s subsequent uneasiness about L, I felt that she judged my parenting. More often than not she would say that I was being too easy on L or that she was being manipulative and I didn’t see it.  Her comments made me question my motherhood. That isn’t healthy.
  • I am a competitive person. Stacy is highly driven. Her drive brought out my competitive nature and I spent a lot of time trying to be as successful as she was in a career. I asked for her help and she gave it (I am thankful for that). But I don’t need to work as hard as she does in a job. I have my own path to follow and if I am comparing myself to her, then I am not following that path. Stacy brought out something negative in me, and that isn’t her fault. But that does make her an unhealthy friend for me.

The hardest part of it all, though, is that Stacy took away my ability to communicate to her. The end of her email said, “Good luck.” No invitation to listen to my side of the story, to let me feel the same closure as she apparently felt. Communication is the one thing that makes me feel whole, healthy and alive. When she took away listening to me, she took away my power. Writing this to you will never be the same as saying it to her over the phone and getting to a place where we can say good-bye and good luck with real honesty. I know that I could get to that point if we were speaking face to face. I’m not a vindictive person, and I am not cruel.

Apparently, she doesn’t live by the same standards.

As a result of this break-up, if I walk into my gym after 9am I nervously look at women who are around 5’4″ to see if they are her, terrified we might run into each other. I have less of a reason to hang around Twitter, a social networking tool she told me about and got me started on. I wonder how I am going to get an Etsy marketing business going without her connections, which she generously shared.  I slowly go through my Obama notecards she made for me because I know once they are gone, they are gone. Once and a while, something funny happens and I think, “Stacy would think that’s hilarious.”

But I don’t feel a real hole in my life, like I would of a close friend who ended our friendship. I guess because she wasn’t much of a friend for so long, the transition was made before she wrote her email.

What Is Up With Me, Part 2

(Please note: this post is not about anything but my personal experience. If you want to have a child at 46, don’t want to have any children or you have 7 of them, that is your privilege and I applaud you. But this post is about me and what I am going through. Please: don’t take it personally.)

I got my period this month.

That’s a good thing for two people NOT trying to have a baby. But for someone who doesn’t want to make that decision final, it isn’t so good. Sort of.

This business of having or not having another child is complex. Because of emotions. If it were only up to, let’s say, the meltdown of the global economic system or how much college education will cost us in 2021, not complex. If it were solely up to how old my husband and I are and that we don’t want to be 60 when our 2nd child graduates from high school, not complex. Or if based on how much parenting in the first year of our child’s life sucked, NOT COMPLEX.

Emotions are screwing it all up. I loved being pregnant and I loved giving birth. LOVED IT! And I didn’t use any pain medication either. (Yes, I am bragging.)  I would be very happy to get pregnant and give birth again. Then hand the screaming, crying, never-sleeping infant to someone else for the year while visiting occasionally. Not sure how we would work out breastfeeding (also LOVED) but that’s a problem to be solved later.

We love our child. We love being parents. Won’t having more kids just be more of that love? We sometimes feel guilty for not giving L a brother or sister because, in many cases, siblings create a bond not found elsewhere. But to have a child just so ours will have a sibling doesn’t make much sense to us, given the factors already mentioned. Besides, one of my favorite people in the world is an Only Child and she is AWESOME!

I also have this deep, deep sadness about not having another child, like I got cheated somehow or punished for being so screwed up in my 20’s that I couldn’t manage to get married early enough to have more than one child. I know, I know…then I wouldn’t have married J and wouldn’t have had L, etc., etc., Remember, we are talking emotions here, not logic. The female desire to have children defies logic. It must, because I have been wrestling with this question for 5 years and don’t feel any more resolved about it. Just older.

Bottom line is: I don’t want to have any more children but I’m resisting.

Conflicting thoughts continue.

Meanwhile, my husband and I would like to have sex without a condom. (Please, no advice on other kinds of female birth control. I’ve read all the information and I have rejected them. I’m not going to explain why, though. Just not for me.) Sex without is better, evidenced by the number of surprise babies, right? I mean, have you ever heard a man or woman complain, “We didn’t use a condom and the sex just wasn’t that great.”?

So, if we are in our 40’s and not having any more kids, then it is time to make this lifestyle permanent, something J is willing to do. You know, take one for the team, so to speak. At our 5th anniversary dinner in 2006, I confronted J about having another child and the discussion ended in tears. (Not because we were fighting – we both felt the same way. It was the sadness.) Last weekend, almost to our 8th anniversary, I announced that I have been putting off agreeing to a vasectomy because I don’t want to make that kind of decision. I have been avoiding it and hoping that each time we have sex and don’t use a condom right away, maybe the decision will be made for me. But then I’m left worrying that I am pregnant and how upset J will be about it and how our lives will go back to the baby life that I found so hard, and how much I loved breastfeeding L. I don’t feel relieved, I feel more stressed.

Finally, I told him it was time.  “I suspect that making the hard decision will be easier than not making one at all.”

My husband went to the doctor today, got questions answered, got a pamphlet full of helpful information (“A vasectomy will not solve relationship problems.” Who knew?) and received papers to sign. My husband sat down and while we talked about his recovery, etc., he signed the papers.

“You are doing that pretty quickly,” I said.

He didn’t answer.

I then sat down in my office and he followed, laying the papers on the desk for me. “I’ll leave these here for you sign, when you are ready.”

The final decision. Once I sign those papers, we are then talking about dates for the procedure and he’s making the appointment. It is up to me. I just need to sign those papers.

Conflicted feelings ensue.

What’s Up With Me, Part 1 or “Fuck You! I AM Happy!”

Recently, someone who is no longer my friend said I was too negative for her.  (More on the “someone who is no longer my friend” part in a later blog post.)

I found this characteristic surprising. Granted, I don’t know if she was trying to say I am negative in general or lately or what because she wasn’t open to speaking directly to me about ending our friendship. I couldn’t ask questions or get clarifications. Apparently, since we hadn’t spoken in several weeks, she was reading my tweets, updates and posts and decided that I am in too negative a frame of mind right now. She can’t deal with my issues because of her issues. (Again, more on that later.)

I am taking this viewpoint to heart, and kind of agree.  I HAVE been negative, at least from August 24th to about a week ago. Bottom line, when my daughter began Kindergarten, I was incredibly lonely. So lonely, I spent most of my time sleeping, reading depressing news articles and ranting about them online and watching season 1 of Lost.  The title of the show is an appropriate word for how I felt – I described myself as lost.  L was in school, my husband was working 12-14 hour days so was never around, and all my friends were taking care of their kids who were going back to school. I spoke to no one except my child and my husband for 5 days, minus 30 minutes of her ballet class on a Thursday. I felt like I was sinking.

Normally, I reach out to people and ask for help, especially when things are of an emotional nature. This time, I felt embarrassed to ask for support. “I’m a housewife. I don’t need to work. I can do anything I want. I don’t have the right to be depressed about, of all things, free time,” was the jist of my conversation with myself. I hid in my house, I complained to my husband, I called a couple of people and didn’t reach them.  That was about it. I just sulked.

Here’s the thing, though: I trusted myself to find my way out. I know me – I wasn’t going to stay depressed forever. I just needed to go through that space in order to find what I wanted to do with my time. Writing wasn’t it – that would put me deeper into alone mode. I needed to find things where I would be around people but not a job.  And I did. I researched, called around, weighed options, and found some shit to do.

1. I am taking an art class. I have always wanted to draw and now I am learning how. I am almost done with a chair that looks like a 3-dimensional chair, for realz, and can’t wait to be done.  Also, I am around a small group of women who are enjoying themselves.

Here is a photo of my very first drawing. IMG_0729

2. I am taking an adult jazz dance class. I love to dance, have done it all my life. If I’m not dancing, or don’t have a regular dance outlet, you might as well encase my feet in concrete.  Not all the women are experienced, some are beginners. But they like to talk and have fun. I could take the class every night if they offered it.

3. The political group has worked itself out, I am still the Chair and it is a lot more fun. We have a big training coming up that we are all organizing together and it is keeping me busy and talking to people.

4. I will begin a volunteer stint at Planned Parenthood of North Texas tomorrow. Once a week for 4 hours with my friend Linda. Again, an opportunity to talk to people while helping out a needed non-profit. I guess we are going to deal with old charts or something. Sounds appropriately boring – I am not in it for the interesting work, I am in it to be social and make good use of my time.

So now you know. I had a really dark period there for a while and I turned it around. All by myself. Sorry for not keeping you posted on my progress, or for leaving you thinking that I am an angry person in general. I get passionate but I am a positive person. I believe that about me and I hope that now, you do, too.

Total Eclipse of Logic, Apparently

This is why I love Youtube.  It is kind of long but it is worth watching the whole thing.