Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Moving My Matter

Christmas tree hunting last Saturday
Sorry to Katy Bowman for pretty much plagiarizing the title of your book that I haven't even read (yet!) for the title of today's post. Her book, Movement Matters, looks really good, and I definitely want to read it soon, but I've been listening to her podcast recently, and thinking a lot about how I move and why I move and how I can improve both of those things.

For so long time I haven't taken as much ownership as I should for where I am physically. For the past 11 years I've spent a lot of time pregnant or nursing, and a lot of times it almost felt like my body belonged to those little people more than it belonged to me. These past few months I've been thinking about how I'm moving out of those years, and how my idea of "me" is a little less clear than I want it to be, in many ways, physically, mentally and spiritually, and how I want to move into the future more mindfully.

This last summer I had So. Many. People. ask me when I was due (it's a little insane how many people asked me). I have a really short torso, and do carry any extra weight right around my middle, so I do end up looking pregnant if I have any extra weight on me. I think I was really lucky in that my metabolism was really high when I was pregnant and nursing, so I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted during those times and stay at a pretty comfortable weight, but as soon as I stop nursing the weight starts to climb back up, because I have a hard time stopping the habit of eating whatever I want... So my weight had been slowly climbing the last year, and I finally decided I wanted to change my habits and figure out how to keep my weight where I am comfortable sans pregnancy and nursing.

But I'm realizing I'm not really all that good at the whole fitness and nutrition thing, so I'm trying to start learning more and moving more, but I want to do so in a way that is sustainable and that fits who I want to be. For now I'm not planning on joining a gym, I have always hated gyms, and am not fond of the idea of leaving my kids to go run around, and am hoping to find ways to do things with my kids instead. This may end up being a terrible idea, and I may join a gym in the future and become a gym convert, but I want there to be a way that fits me better.

I've been looking at GMB programs a lot recently, specifically Elements and Focused Flexibility, and I like the focus of the company, and that I could do those programs at home without buying any equipment, and that Jefferson and Duncan (and probably Karl as far as his attention span goes) could do them along with me if they wanted, so I think I'm going to try starting with one of those and see how that goes.

Katy Bowman also keeps telling me I need to walk more, which is very true, but I struggle wanting to go outside when it's below 50 degrees outside... Which is going to be most of the next 6 months, so I need to get over that somehow. Anyway, this post was pretty ramble-y, but I guess this is a "here is where I am, and I'm trying to make a plan to be somewhere else" post.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Creating Space

The other day I read this quote by Ezra Taft Benson:

"The biggest business of any life is making decisions. While one of the greatest gifts of God to man is … the right of choice, he has also given man responsibility for these choices. … We put our own lives in the direction of success or failure. We may not only choose our ultimate goals, but we may also determine and decide for ourselves, in many cases, the means by which we will arrive at those goals, and by our industry or lack of it determine the speed by which they may be reached. This takes individual effort and energy and will not be without opposition or conflict."

Superimposing this quote onto all I've been thinking about technology and how I'm using it has left me thinking about how I'm creating space in my life for my goals, and trying to make sure that I'm using technology in a way that is helping me reach those goals. I definitely felt a little pang of regret when I read the quote feeling like I have not really put forth sufficient industry towards reaching my goals often in the past, and it gave me the motivation to renew my focus on what I want for my future.

One of the themes that the Bored and Brilliant podcast and the End of Absence talked about a lot was distraction, how we are pulled in so many different directions at once, and how really our brains aren't that good at multi-tasking. So the past couple days I've been trying to focus on doing just one thing at a time. I guess so often I just feel pulled in so many directions at once, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed. So when I'm doing the dishes, I try to just do the dishes, and finish them, before I start doing something else, or even thinking about doing something else. When something I need to do comes to mind I try and push it aside and just focus on what I'm doing at the moment.

It's harder than I thought it would be, and I still get side-tracked a lot, and obviously it's not always possible to just do one thing and finish it before getting pulled to something else, but it has given me a little more space for just thinking, thinking about life, and goals, and sometimes nothing particularly important,  but it has actually been pretty nice. And when I am able to really focus on one task I do feel less frantic.

I think the highlight for me was today when I was feeding Simon his bottle, and I just sat, and watched him eat, and studied his little eyes and face, and just soaked up the feeling of holding his tiny body close to mine, and it was really nice. It's made me really want to be more present and mindful, and it's definitely a habit I want to keep working on.

I'm still working on more ideas for creating space for working on my goals, but I guess I'm starting with mental space :).

Book Thoughts - The End of Absence by Michael Harris

I want to use this blog to kind of keep track of the books I read this year, but I'm not really sure how I want to do it, so I'm trying a few different things here...

This week I finished "The End of Absence" by Michael Harris, and while I'm not sure I whole-heartedly recommend the book, I did like the thought-paths that reading it started me down.

It has definitely left me evaluating how and why I use the technology I use, and the technology that the boys use. Grant has started me listening to a podcast called New Tech City, and in a funny coincidence the week I've been finishing this book the podcast started a "Bored and Brilliant" challenge, encouraging people to step away from their technology a bit to create more space for boredom, for being creative. So it's been kind of fun to be reading this book and also listening to Manoush Zamarodi, the voice of New Tech City, talk about the benefits of less technology in our lives.

I have been thinking about the constancy of information that we are surrounded by in this age of google and wikipedia, and how I really do spend less time trying to figure things out myself, and am so quick to just ask Siri when the boys ask me a question.

One thing he talked about several times was how the youth of today are so inundated with technology that they can't really separate themselves from it, they will never have a separate identity outside of technology that those of us who grew up before the age of the internet had as kids. While I can see his point, at times it felt a bit over blown to me. My kids have time with technology every day, yes, but I, and most of my peers, did too. Sure, it wasn't the internet, it was just TV, or Nintendo, or archaic video games, but growing up in the 70's and 80's wasn't like we went from a complete dearth of technology to being completely submerged in it.

I guess I think that while today's technologies may be more prevalent and more accesible and probably more addicting then the technologies of yester-year, but I knew plenty of kids growing up where the T.V. was on constantly at their house, and teenagers who wore their walkman like it was part of their clothes, and I think people found plenty of ways to avoid thinking deeply then without the internet. I think the primary problem is a choice to put away the easier mental tasks and commit to digging into the harder ones, and while the technology of the day may provide more ways to avoid that, it's an old problem, not a new one.

But I guess the constant availability of So. Much. Information. does really make us need to be much more mindful of what we are using and why. So it was a good read overall.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review - Voyage of a Viking

Book Review - Voyage of a Viking, by Tim Marks 3 stars out of 5

I feel like I'm not giving anything very high marks this year... Maybe I'm just in a critical mood recently. This book was recommended by Oliver DeMille, whose recommendation I value highly, and currently has 5 stars on Amazon, so I went into it expecting to really like it. 

On the plus side, it is chock-full of pithy, motivational quotes like:

“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.”

"Imperfect action is better than no action."

"Defeating those negative instincts that are out to defeat us is the difference between winning and losing, and we face that battle every day of our lives"

"Jean le Rond d’Alembert said, “The difficulties you meet will resolve themselves as you advance. Proceed, and light will dawn, and shine with increasing clearness on your path.”"

And the like. I will say that it did inspire me to dig in a little deeper and focus more on my goals, so hopefully that motivation sticks, and it wasn't all bad. But overall, it just felt so... canned. Like to me it felt like a compilation of a whole bunch of "how to succeed in business and life" books all crammed into one. The ones with the message "I was a failure. But now I'm not a failure! I teach people how to be not-failures for a living! And you can be a not-failure too! Just find that thing you love, and do it! Do it nine times! Do it nine times nine! Never quit! And you will win, just like me!". 

Overall I was trying really hard to be inspired by it, and I do think it has some good messages, and while I don't regret having read it, I just had a really hard time connecting with him, and with his stories. He is very much a "macho man", all about powering through whatever is in front of you, action over thought, and had several stories about his super "manliness", and I have a hard time with that type of personality, so maybe that was part of my problem. 

In conclusion, if you are feeling short on inspiration to finish a large life goal or something, maybe this book will provide you with a large enough collection of motivational quotes to get it done. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To Be Enough

Last year I listened to the audio book for And Both Were Young, by Madeline L'Engle. I don't have the exact quote since I was listening to it instead of reading it, but there was one line in it that stood out to me. It was something along the lines of:

"She is a very nice girl, when she is not too caught up in feeling sorry for herself"

I thought about how much time I spend feeling sorry for myself, and how quick I am to think of the "hardship" in my own life, and how little time I spend thinking about the hard things that other people might be going through.

The move to Ohio has been hard in ways that I didn't anticipate, but there is so much good about it, and I feel like I keep going through this same cycle of being on a high and loving life and being able to be really grateful for the things that are going well, and then the next day I'll be in such a dark place, just feeling really overwhelmed and like I'm just not cutting it, and so desperate, and I really want to stop. I just want to stop feeling like I'm only okay if I know the people around me are happy, I want to be someone who is loving and kind and loves myself even when I make mistakes, especially when I make mistakes in front of other people.

I don't think I fully realized how much I need others approval until now that I'm living in someone else's house, and I spend so much time agonizing over if I'm doing enough, and doing things right, and I get SO anxious when things don't go as planned or when I don't do things the way that I think I should have. And it's really impacting the way I parent, and my inner peace, and I want to stop.

So I'm trying to find ways to stay focused on the positive, and to let go of the feelings of not being enough, and to find my sense of self-worth in His love. I think it will help if when I start to feel overwhelmed and sorry for myself if I try and step back and think of how this must be for Grant, and Dad, and the boys, and focus more on the love I show instead of my busy-ness.

So my goal for tomorrow is to when I start to feel that anxiety build up inside me to stop whatever I am doing, and do something to show love to someone in my life who is going through something hard. And really, who isn't going through something hard?

Friday, January 16, 2015


I finished listening to the This American Life podcast called Batman today - it was fantastic and really left me thinking.

The main theme was expectations and how they impact people, and balancing protecting our children with limiting their growth. It really gave me a lot to think about. Today we went to a place where they have a whole bunch of swing sets and trampolines and play equipment and the kids can just run free playing on whatever they want. I tried to be more conscious about my fears and expectations and stand back a little more and let the boys do their own thing without me interfering.

There was one time when Jefferson was trying this balance rope thing, and the first couple times he tried it he fell off right away. Instead of calling out "Be careful!" or trying to give instructions on how he should do it, I tried to think how I could be encouraging but not bossy, so I said "Those were good tries. I bet if you keep trying you'll find a way to get across that". And he did keep trying, and then he gave up for while, and then went back to it later, and before we left he was walking across the whole rope. And it wasn't the way I would have done it, but he figured it out, and he was proud of himself.

The most painful part of listening to the podcast and my experience today was realizing how often in the past I have been over-protective when my kids needed me to stand back, and even more painful, how often I have not been protective of the things that I really do need to protect - their little hearts. I will be so occupied trying to keep them "safe" physically, but I won't think twice before saying a sharp word when they make a mess or a mistake. It really hurts for me to realize how often I have fallen short, but I'm trying to be more mindful of the things I should be protecting, and the things I should be letting them figure out on their own.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review - Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, 3.5 stars out of 5

I am always on the fence if I can really say I "read" a book if I listened to the audiobook of it instead of actually reading it, but more and more I'm leaning on the side of yes. Probably because I have been listening to audiobooks more and more frequently. They really do make cleaning so much more bearable. 

And this was a very fun audiobook. It was narrated by someone with a British accent, which made all of the ironic humor even more enjoyable. This is a book that I decided to read mostly for cultural literacy reasons, and there were several things in it that made other things make sense, like the website Babelfish. 

I decided in my book reviews to write one thing I like and one thing I don't like about each book, to help me structure my thoughts a bit more. 

I liked: It really was fun to listen to. The book is so full of improbability and impossibility all told in such a hopeless ironic way, is that a horrible explanation? Yes. Yes it is. But regardless I thought it was really just fun. The bizarre friendships and the robots with personality problems, the 30 second life of a sperm whale, it was so weird but somehow it all worked for me and was funny instead of just being annoying, which I kind of went into the book expecting. I guess that's one thing about starting a book with rather low expectations, I should always do that, because when I have high expectations I tend to not like the book as well as I wanted to. 

I didn't like: Some of the more random parts were amazingly... random. But I wasn't looking for life lessons, so I can forgive it for that. 

All in all, if you haven't read this book, I would say go for it. If your library has Overdrive or a similar app for borrowing audiobooks, that is where I listened to it, and I liked the narrator quite well.