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Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - I can't help myself

I had not planned on writing about Michael Jackson, but I can't seem to help it. Just yesterday, I was listening to P.Y.T. and Thriller on my MP3. I hadn't felt like listening to him in a long time, but yesterday afternoon it took me back to my youth. Strangely enough, I was reminiscing before I knew of his passing.

I was thinking about how great he was when I was young. His cool red leather jacket with the zippers. How he wore one white glove with confidence as he would slide across the stage doing the moonwalk. Everyone back then tried to imitate him and his outfits. It was definitely a strange time in fashion, but it was fun. I had my own parachute pants and did the moonwalk every chance I got. I was in elementary school at that time. I had two friends who even looked a little like MJ and dressed like him to boot. My friend Jen and I would blare his music on our boomboxes and tried our best to replicated his moves. We thought he was beautiful and his music was fantastic. I don't want to think about him the way he was in the end when he became weird and his relationship with children was under question. He was such a huge part of my childhood. I am going to remember him exactly the way he was in 1983 and 1984. Those were some good times.

R.I.P. Michael Jackson.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Keep a Journal

Journaling can be one of the most effective ways to do almost anything. I love it and that is why I write to you each week. It helps me keep myself in balance. It may not always work, but it sure helps.

Why should you journal?

Keeping records of what you eat daily can help you lose weight. Tracking what you are spending can help you save money. Writing down what you are thankful for every day can help you be more appreciative. It can also help you reduce stress and find areas of your life where you are wasting time. Keep records of your grocery trips as well. There are too many reasons here to list.

I hear so many people say that eating healthy is expensive. It doesn't have to be. Like myself, you are probably eating too much and still spending money on unneccessary items. How will you know for sure unless you are keeping track? You don't have to count all of your calories or fat grams to journal. Just write down what you have been eating and how much you are eating. If you are not losing weight after 1 week, review your diet. Eliminate the extra foods you consumed and start week 2.

Measuring your food and keeping track CAN help you figure out how much. Sometimes we think we are eating less than what we really are. Also record how you are feeling when you eat. Are you feeling hungry at that time or are you just eating because it's meal time? Are you anxious, nervous, upset, tired, frustrated, happy, etc? I know that I eat more when I am stressed, anxious and bored. I have been doing that a lot lately. I have also put on weight. I am now going back to my journaling to keep track of what I am eating for a little while. I will also record how much exercise and sleep I am getting. It truly helps to know what you are doing otherwise, how can you change?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Learning to Fight the Urge to Consume

One of my goals to help simplify my life is to learn to buy less stuff. I want to quit buying things that I don't need. I spend less money, I create less waste, I spend less time shopping and most importantly, I am not sucking the world's resources dry.

This can be amazingly difficult!

I have kept myself from going into stores unless it is grocery day. Then, I stick to two (maybe three) stores. I do this because the best deals are found at Aldi's and I go to Kroger for everything else. I try to stay out of Walmart as much as possible. I had been doing really well with this until yesterday. My husband and I stopped in Walmart during lunch. He had been wanting to buy a new tent and they had one on sale that he was interested in. We ended up leaving with a tent, a tennis racket, a new sleeping bag, car seat covers for my car and mascara.

We were completely overwhelmed by a need to buy, buy, buy! I had not felt like that in awhile. It was like a drug coursing through my veins!! I couldn't believe how much I wanted to buy things and thought I needed stuff. I also had the immediate feeling of guilt afterwards. I walked out of Walmart with my head hung in shame.

I realize now that working towards simplicity and fighting materialism is going to take time. I still need to take baby steps to get to a slower paced lifestyle. I am going to have setbacks, but I can't let them get me down.

There are many reasons that I want to change my life and to combat materialism.

What we do here in the U.S. affects the rest of the world whether we know it or not. We can not go on living selfishly and expect that there are no consequences. There are consequences even if they are not felt by you and me. We need to be more thoughtful, purposeful, and considerate when we make purchases. We also need to realize how lucky we are every day when we wake up under a roof most likely with air conditioning, ample amounts of food, good clothing, nice cars and plenty of extras.

I am currently reading "Tis a Gift to be Simple: Embracing the Freedom of Living with Less" by Sorenson and Sorenson. One specific line in the book states, "We must voluntarily, one by one, learn ways to live simply so that others may simply live." Reading this was powerful. I have to be conscious when I bring things into my home that are unnecessary to my survival and happiness. The more simply I live, the more money I can save. The more money that I have saved, the more likely I am to be able to live more generously.

We cannot continue to be a drain on the world's resources. If each family, "one by one" becomes more thoughtful of how they live and spend, we will begin to see a change.

Next time you find yourself at the front door of a store where you know you will be tempted to spend needlessly, just turn around and RUN.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Body Image Breakthrough!

I wore shorts this weekend - all weekend - in public. For those of you who know me, this is shocking!

I have covered up my legs since around my third or fourth year of college. I started gaining a little weight. I got pretty heavy in my early twenties and started completely covering everything. I lost the weight within a year, but never got over my body image issues. When I gained weight, my legs became really thick. I hated it. I still have issues with my legs. However, the past couple of years I have learned so much about my body. I can do a lot with the legs that I have. A lot! My legs are very strong and they can carry me a long way. I am proud of what they can do even if they do not compare (aesthetically) to a supermodel or one of my college kids (duh).

I began realizing lately that your body image is relative to where you are in your life. When I was a teenager, I was heavier than many of my friends. I am not saying I was heavy, just heavier. Sadly, some of my friends suffered from eating disorders and I was comparing myself to an image that was neither healthy nor ideal.

I continued comparing myself to my thinner friends through my early thirties. It has only been the past couple of years that I have begun to get over this mentality. Very sad. I also realized that many of my friends have gained a little weight and look healthier than ever before. I don't look so big compared to them anymore. It's time to get over it!

I have also realized the past couple of years just how much my self image impacts my daughter's self image. It really struck me this weekend when we were out at a picnic at my husband's work. I had taken two of my daughter's friends with us and I was in line for the restroom with one of them. Another woman said she had seen me come in with three girls and that one of them was shaped exactly like me. Of course she meant my daughter who has my frame. It is surprising that an actual lightbulb did not appear above my head and flash brightly. Here I had been loathing my body over the years and my daughter looks exactly like me. Does this mean I loathe her little body also? She is gorgeous. She has a very strong body with an athletic build. I love her and want her to be happy and secure. I was not doing her any justice by being concerned about my own flaws. I need to embrace them and love myself for the way that I am so I can be a good role model for her self-esteem.

What also occurred to me at that moment was that I was not feeding our bodies the way they need to be fed to be healthier and stronger. Over the past few months, I have not been very diligent about eating great. I have been trying to cut back on our grocery bill and had inadvertenly started overloading us with carbs. This weekend I was very conscious about what I purchased. I still focused on buying less pre-packaged and overly processed food. I also loaded up more on fruits and veggies. My uncle also brought me some veggies from his garden and asked if I would tend for his garden in exchange for all the fresh vegetables I could handle while he is away on business. That will certainly help me decrease my grocery bill while eating MUCH healthier.

I am so glad I have had this realization before I do any damage to my child's self-image. I hope to keep this in check by continuing with healthier behaviors and focusing on all of my good qualities. I need to remember to always be thankful for all of the things for which I have been blessed. I hope this gives you a chance to think about how you are projecting yourself to the world and especially to your loved ones.