Horsing around

My kids have started to take horse riding lessons at a local farm our park system manages. This is a dream of my daughter and a surprising win for my son. My daughter wants to try everything. My son is the opposite and wants to try nothing. He is scared of heights and being lifted up. Even as a toddler he would panic when someone picked him up. It has been a delight to watch my daughter fall in love with these horses and try, without fear, to do something she knows nothing about. She is shining so bright right now. And its been a true amazement to watch my son, who is afraid of everything and won’t even let us pick him up to hug him, get on these big animals and walk around by himself. WOW, what a huge moment of growth for both of them!

After our first lesson my husband and I decided we wanted to do it to. We signed up and bought boots. Of course we need boots! 🙂 At the barn there are only two horses who carry heavy people like he and I. One is currently lame, leaving only the one horse for us to take turns riding. Jeremy went first and now it’s my turn and I’m having a moment of perpetual poppycock about it that I’m going to have to write my way out of.

I’m big. I’ve always been big. Falling when you are big is a big deal. Despite the extra cushion I carry, the damage I sustain when falling tends to linger a bit longer than it should. I am terrified of falling off this animal, at this size, and sustaining a real injury. This is where my perpetual poppycock is starting to scare me out of my decision to try this.

My husband jumped right up and had no problem. If he had any fear he certainly ignored it and got on the horse like he intended to. I, on the other hand, have been battling the idea of backing out before our Tuesday lesson to avoid the potential injury and in turn, missing out on all the fun. This is so very typical of me.

I know you are probably thinking, it’s smart to be worried. And you aren’t wrong. It is smart to be worried. My problem with backing out is that it’s what I ALWAYS do. And it’s clear that example is making an impression on my kids. They both comment about how mom can’t do this or that because of how big she is. They don’t say the same things about my husband and that is a result of the example he has set for them.

The thing is, if I am going to be big, I need to be big AND live. If my kids are big one day, I don’t want them to stop living because of it. I want their life to be full of adventures and trying new things. And so I am working through some fears and plan to get on this horse on Tuesday. YIKES, it scares me to think about!

I hope old Hildi, the big black beauty, is up for this challenge. I’m about 40 pounds heavier than my husband but the instructor assures me I’m not the heaviest person to get on a horse. If I am able to do this I hope it is a good example for the kids. Get out of my way perpetual poppycock!

Middle child, me

I’m a middle child. Pointing this out has become a religion over the years, but I think it holds a lot of explanation to the way I synthesize information. I use the statement, “I’m a middle child”, as a preface in conversations for the slapdash answer someone will get when asking for my opinion, on anything. “What do you think about pizza?”, says so-and-so. “Well, I love it of course! It’s delicious and probably my favorite food! But it’s not good for you. And it has gluten. So many people have trouble with gluten. Maybe I have trouble with gluten. It also costs more than it used to and there are way too many choices of where to order from. How would I pick?”, I say, spiraling into perpetual poppycock.

I don’t consider being a middle child a bad station at all. I am pleased as pickles to be surrounded by love and wouldn’t trade my place for anything. The good part of the sandwich is in between the bread, right? I am just taking some time to explore the way it has molded me into who I am.

Let’s take a minute to “unpack” my middle child excuse and how I think it plays a role in my illusive opinions. I think being a middle child has played a profound role in my chronic perpetual poppycock and inability to have only one opinion on a topic. My biggest struggle with having an opinion is I tend to see both sides of every story. I was born between two very confident siblings who preside over me with dubious influence.

I don’t always agree with both sides but I usually empathize with both. My husband calls me a chronic empath. There is truth to that monicker. It just seems like too much responsibility to pick one opinion and plant my flag in it.

My older sister is an enneagram 8. If you clicked on that link, welcome back from the rabbit hole you almost certainly just fell down. SOOOO, much information and its so interesting! If you didn’t click on that link an enneagram is a personality test that puts you into one of 9 categories based on your responses. It’s fascinating to read the definitions and self diagnose. I’ve always enjoyed doing some haphazard google searches to try and figure myself out.

My sister is the coolest. She has always been someone I looked up to, corny as that sounds. She is smart, successful, stylish, stunning…the list goes on an on! She is a total enneagram 8, like they wrote the definition for her and this has made her someone I listen to, a lot. She knows her opinion and can relay it with ease. In fact, challenging her opinion is something I learned to avoid over the years because she is convicted in hers and I’m incapable of defending one.

My younger brother is equally confident in his own mind. He is one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met. He’s had the same friends since he was a toddler. He’s passionate about organization and cleanliness, and religiously follows a routine of eating and working out to keep in shape. He also knows where he stands on most questions when asked. He can explain his answer with the same ease that my sister can. He is prone to rash decisions but also doesn’t mind changing his mind when he realizes his immediate reaction might have not really been his opinion.

These two people stand in direct contrast to me. I don’t mean to represent myself as a victim by any means. I’m only a victim of my inability to have one singular opinion. The middle child role has taught me to always look in both directions for information. There are two sides to every coin. I think the middle child upbringing, in combination with my perpetual poppycock, has magnified my inability to form opinions but that is exactly why I’m here.

My reason for this blog is try to examine the current way I live and look for ways that I can improve. Having an opinion is something I’d like to work on. It would serve me to be able to answer questions clearly instead of getting stuck in an endless loop of second guessing myself. Breaking the cycle is going to be rewarding work.

Perpetual Poppycock 5

Perpetual poppycock has been getting the last word lately. For the last few weeks every time I sit down to write a few words, my head starts getting in the way of completing the task. I’ve finally reached a point where there are no real roadblocks and plan to post this hodgepodge of a post no matter how incoherent it is just to prove a point that I can do it. I am the boss of me!

I’ve had some breakthroughs during my absence from posting, though. I’ve had a few sessions with a counselor that are teaching thoughtful exercises to gain new perspective. I don’t know if I’ve said this already but I love therapy/counseling. It just peels back the poppycock a bit and quiets the conflicts.

Right now what we are talking about and trying out is actually pretty hard for me. I’m unsure if I’m doing it right and that makes me wonder if it will be helpful but I agree with the hypothesis of the method so I wanted to give it a solid try before asking that we go at it another way.

The idea is that I tune into each of the voices in my thoughts and just be with them asking the conflicting voices to step aside. Once I feel like I have the attention and focus of one of the voices, I try to give it whatever attention it needs.

An example would be a judgmental voice that might be very critical of something I am doing or thinking. This voice might say things like, “you shouldn’t do that because it’s not good for you.” The conflicting voice might say, “you should definitely do that because it gives you a moment of joy so do it all the time, as much as you want.” This internal battle ensues.

The goal here is that once we give some time and attention to each of the voices/thoughts/feelings, they will find some peace and not try to fight amongst themselves in an effort to control my behavior so much.

I’m struggling a bit to know if I’m in the presence of the voice/thought or if I’m just pretending that I am so the exercise will be a success. My therapist understands and isn’t pressuring me to do it this way or that, but if I don’t get the hang of it soon, we will try something else. Just taking the time to-do some self help and investing in myself is enjoyable. I highly encourage it.

Other than that, I’m learning about real estate investing. It has always fascinated me and I want to pull the trigger on it at some point. It scares the bejeezus out of me but I know the long term benefits are real and that is why I will be rolling the dice on it soon.

Ok, I feel I’ve sufficiently beaten the perpetual poppycock here and am going to end this post. Now I can get back to working on another topic that might be interesting to read. I win 🙂

Perpetual Poppycock 4

Dear Perpetual Poppycock,

Its a new year! 2021 is off to a good start and I’m excited to see what it has in store. I am setting my expectations pretty low, but have some pretty exciting goals lined up. I’ve always been one to aim low and always be impressed rather than aim high and always be disappointed. Ha, thats probably another neuroses I need to explore, but for now it serves me so I keep doing it.

Before I launch into my new exciting goals, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank 2020 and bid it farewell. The past year was exceptional on so many levels. The pandemic changed everything and not all of it was for the bad. I finally lived my dream of working from home AND was given the opportunity to homeschool my kids. Both of those tasks were wonderful and I hope, hope, hope to continue them!

We were all forced to slow down and find simple pleasures around us. We connected with neighbors, cherished our loved ones, and found happiness in less. All of this was a very positive experience for me and my family. I rarely felt deprived or punished by the quarantine and only suffered a manageable amount of anxiety as I learned to navigate the new world armed with a mask and sanitizer.

The sad parts of 2020 did not overshadow my grateful heart. I’m alive and my family is healthy. The pandemic, election drama, and unknown economical terrain are not what I will remember most about 2020 but they were the catalyst I needed to clearly see my priorities. Thank you 2020 for the opportunity to live and learn!

Now onto a new day! Here are my 2021 goals in no specific order:

  • Go back to my therapist – I know I need a good bit of help with clearing up my scattered thoughts and perspective so I’m going to invest a little money in my mental health to insure the rest of my goals are given a chance to thrive. Perpetual poppycock is real and tends to roadblock my forward momentum. This one thing will go a long with with making sure I am self aware enough to overcome whatever I do to sabotage those efforts.
  • Keep blogging – I have wanted to blog for a long time. I plan to make this a priority and even launch a couple niche blogs to highlight topics that I’m excited about.
  • Body power up – I love to exercise. It has always been a pleasure and not a chore for me, yet I tend to let it get pushed to the bottom of my list every day. This year I want to keep it towards the top in order to feel better and stronger. Getting the pep back in my step is important to me. And as a small side goal, it would be nice to be able to run 1 mile without stopping.
  • Paying off bad debt – I am within 12 months of paying off my bad debt. This has been a long road to whittle down the 80k of debt we had but its one I’m proud of traveling and have learned A LOT from. This will be one of my niche blogs. Debt and budgeting are a language I’m fluent in and have navigated for years. I want to share all I’ve learned.
  • Cooking videos – Ok, ok, I know I am so late to the game but I LOVE the cooking videos on YouTube and want to make some! This will also be a niche blog and just a fun way for me to share some of my favorite recipes.
  • Launch a product line – I know I’ve already mentioned this but I’ve started a business with my siblings. We have two product ideas we want to bring to the market and this will be the year that happens.

That list gives me the tummy tickles. I’m so excited to get going on all of it. I hope to continue to homeschool my kids for the foreseeable future and continue working from home for the awesome company thats employed me for the last 20 years. I would be so grateful for that.

Wish me luck! 2021 will be a year for the books…or blogs as it were.

Perpetual Poppycock 3

Dear Perpetual Poppycock,

It was a fantastic Christmas weekend! We tippy-toed slightly outside our bubble and had immediate family over for the holiday. It was so much fun! Now we wait the 14 days to make sure no one falls ill before we can breathe a sigh of relief.

I don’t take these jaunts outside of our regular day to day lightly. We are doing as much as we can to ensure we don’t become infected or infect anyone. I’m sure some of it seems overkill to several but its what we are comfortable with so that’s what we are doing at the moment.

I’ve enjoyed the mental vacation that leaning into intuitive eating brings. It is actually a big tool for reducing the perpetual poppycock that plagues me most days. One of the principals of intuitive eating is to remove all judgement around a food choice. That means ALL judgement. It’s harder than it sounds.

A good example of the poppycock that happens when I make a food choice would go something like this. I’d like to eat something, but what? Am I hungry or am I eating for fun? So what if its for fun?! So what do I want to eat. I want to eat that last piece of pizza. But what if my kids are hungry later and they want pizza? I would have caused them to be deprived of what they want and that would in turn cause me to have uncomfortable feelings because I caused them the discomfort of deprivation. Not to mention the whining that will come when I tell them I ate the last piece. And pizza isn’t the healthiest choice for someone of my size. So maybe I’ll have a sandwich. What kind though? I would want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but that’s just as bad as eating pizza. So maybe I should go to the store and get a salad. Why don’t I buy more salad stuff. That would make this easier if I had everything readily available to eat. Isn’t a salad a better option? But I don’t want to have to go to the store. I should have planned better. I guess I’ll just snack on these leftover Christmas candies. They are going to go bad and I can’t have them again until next year so I better eat them while I can. Its not ok to make Christmas candy any other time of the year so its now or never. I should only have one though. But I’m going to eat 4 because that is when my head and taste will be satisfied. Great, now I’ve eaten 4 big candies. I might as well eat the pizza too. I’ve already blown it.

That is not an exaggeration. My thoughts run wild with every thought about anything and ESPECIALLY about food. The rabbit hole after rabbit hole that I fall through makes it hard to see the path below my feet. So when I say I get a vacation from the perpetual poppycock when I practice actual intuitive eating the path is a much more navigable one. It goes something like this. I’d like a piece of pizza. I’ll eat one. THAT’S IT! Do you see the difference, LOL? It’s such a relief.

And the win goes beyond not dealing with the thoughts. Because I had the piece of pizza, I am not eating other things in confusion while trying to scratch the wrong itch. It’s amazing the difference that makes when you do it consistently.

I’ve also managed to make some to-do’s off my list removing some of the perpetual poppycock that is very similar to my struggles with eating. I bought new dining room chairs and playroom chairs. This has been a 4 year struggle.

I have always struggled to spend money on things that seem overpriced. Chairs are a great example of that. I’ve been buying cheap chairs for decades trying to not “overspend” on them. Instead of just putting a little more money into the purchase to buy what I actually wanted and getting a quality product, I buy lookalikes that are poorly made and cheap, resulting in new chairs 3 times over the last four years. Let me do the math for you. I spent $600 over the last 4 years on chairs that fell apart and looked ragged, causing emotional strain because they aren’t the end result I wanted in addition to the cost of replacing them.

All I had to do 4 years ago was invest a little more up front and I would have loved the chairs and they would have lasted much longer. Its just a constant struggle in my head to choose what I actually want and be ok in that choice. I don’t know who needs to hear this right now, but its ok to want what you want and then to give yourself that exact thing.

Between practicing intuitive eating for the past several days and buying some beautiful, quality chairs I wanted, my mental exhaustion has greatly diminished and I’m happily relaxed for a change.

This trend will be my goal for 2021. I’m feelin’ fine.

Perpetual Poppycock 2

Dear Perpetual Poppycock,

I’ve been heavy since the age of 9. I started overeating and put on weight making me look and feel different than my peers. Athletics and a busy schedule kept me from becoming extremely overweight but the propensity to get there someday started from the very beginning. I have always loved food and eating.

It wasn’t until late college that I really gained weight to the point that I was physically suffering. It was the perfect storm of happenstances amplified by my first real heartbreak. Pain and lethargy from the extra weight set in and along with it came depression. In one year, my already heavy body, gained 100 lbs and I’ve held onto most of that since.

Recognizing my depression at that time was key. It was very hard to see it on my own and I’m thankful for the therapist who set me on the path to healing. I got help for the depression and used medication to catapult me back to a life I wanted. The weight and depression had robbed me of my social life and I was dealing with social anxiety for the first time. Thankfully medication did the trick to boost my mood enough that I could regain some of what I had lost to the depression. I was on an antidepressant for a year.

The thing that medication didn’t change was the weight I had gained. My new physique remained and I’ve pretty much been “morbidly obese” since then. That brings me to the point of this post, my breakthrough. I’ve finally remembered how to let go of the rules and fear around food!

Over the past 20 years of being “morbidly obese” I’ve lost weight several times. Never more than 40 lbs but still I’ve managed to lose that much on more than one occasion. Most of those successes were due to a diet. The diets did their job but only for a moment.

Keto, low carb, calorie restriction, fasting, you name it, I did it. And they all worked according to their claims. I lost weight and saw the physical results I desired. It was fleeting, of course, because in case you weren’t already aware, diets are short term fixes. But once upon a time, I unlocked the door to embracing my love of eating to bring personal understanding and compassion into my life, and my second real heartbreak.

Heartbreaks can be big life disrupters. I know the two big ones I’ve had were the launching pad for me to a new phase in life. I do not take them lightly and have really grown to appreciate the work they force me to do on myself when they happen. My second heartbreak was a doozy. I again sought the insight of a therapist to help me listen to my feelings and love myself through them. It’s during this time that I was introduced to intuitive eating.

Intuitive eating was a totally new concept to me then. It seemed way too simple to be real. This post isn’t about intuitive eating exactly but I will go into that another time. If you can’t wait for me to unpack that topic in what will likely be the longest post of my life, you can read the the book that changed my perspective forever. It’s called Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. For now I just want to explain a piece of it.

Giving myself permission to eat without fear or judgement, even from myself, was and is transformative. I removed all rules and threats of restrictions from food. Doing that changed everything for me. Again, this post isn’t about intuitive eating exactly so I can’t go into that much without spiraling off the point I’m hoping to make but I just wanted to give you an idea of what the concept is.

After doing a lot work healing my relationship with myself, I enjoyed some of the best years of my life. I was able to just relax and the result was a renewed enjoyment of moving my body and a greater appreciation of the food I ate. This brought physical strength and a slimmed down body but neither was my goal when I decided to work on intuitive eating. Again, read the book! The outcome was that I started eating food I wanted and enjoyed when I was hungry and I didn’t eat more than I needed because I knew my next meal was available anytime I wanted it and it could be whatever I wanted it to be. I ate when I was hungry and only until I was no longer hungry.

The hardest part of reaching this level of food normalcy was that I had to let go over the thought and desire to lose weight. Now if you are like me, you have been dreaming about losing weight your entire life. Everything you’ve ever wanted is probably tinged with the thought that if you just lost weight it would be possible. Like extra weight is the reason for everything bad in your life and the barrier from everything good. That extreme way of thinking was exactly why it was difficult, to say the least, to let go of wanting to use intuitive eating to lose weight. It seemed impossible at times.

After some focused effort to remove the perpetual poppycock plaguing my thoughts about losing weight, I was able to stop letting weight loss be the monkey on my back and just live. Wow, what a huge relief that was! I really did embrace who and what I was and just gave myself permission to put thought into other things I wanted in life that had nothing to do with weight loss. Exercise became a right not a punishment and I LOVED it. Eating became necessary to live and not my reason to live. Delicious foods were in every bite I took but eating for fun was far less frequent. Instead I was eating when my stomach actually needed food to process and I chose foods based on taste and nutrition. Crazy!

As the years went on, I fell in love for the third time in my life and that love created two of the coolest people I know. I’m now a household of four and still madly in love with the people in my world. My husband and kids are my highest life achievement and my number one priority. I’m lucky beyond words! However, I’ve also realized that I really do mean they are my number one priority, at the cost of my personal health and mental/emotional stability. I think this is known as #momlife.

I’m a full time working mom of two school aged kids and with the onset of the pandemic, we have been homeschooling them to better fit with our schedules. This is actually a dream come true for me. Working from home and homeschooling the kids was always a goal so I totally recognize the bone life has thrown me. I’m loving every minute of it and thankful we’ve remained healthy while so many others are suffering but this has brought on more responsibility and less time to allow myself. That shift has put me back on the slippery slope to eating for comfort/self care, (not all self care is healthy, its whatever you are doing to make yourself feel better and sometimes thats an unhealthy choice) and dieting to combat the extra weight that has piled back on.

You might be tempted to think that because I have been granted something I really wanted that happiness would make me treat myself better and that stress would be gone from the scenario but I will correct that thought here. Happiness comes at a cost for me in the form of guilt and fear due to a lifetime of thinking I don’t deserve happiness (that is a topic I’ll explore another time). AND stress is still very much a part of this new world I live in. My job, even though I love it, is extremely demanding and homeschooling is adding many hours of work with the kids to the awake hours of my day. Stress on some levels is greater now than it was before the pandemic.

For the last three or more years, I’ve been yoyo dieting again to try and lose the weight I’ve regained. Same list of offenders as far as diets go and they have all worked again. I’ve lost weight but regained it right back. The goal has 100% been to lose the weight. Realizing the flaw in these repeated efforts has taken me a while to figure out but it led me back to the book I read years about about intuitive eating and now I’m finally ready to do the real work again. My breakthrough is that I forgot what I learned all that time ago. Giving myself grace and loving myself is where “health” thrives for me. Understanding that patience and freedom from judgement give me the tools to find my way through stress, bad thoughts, and hard times, is where my work needs to be. Not on losing weight or shaming myself for wanting to eat more than I need.

For a lot of people these thoughts are obvious. I’ve read those words hundreds of times from others who’ve experienced the enlightenment that comes from living them, but until they embed themselves into actual understanding, they are just words. I’m happy to say my memory of this understanding has resurfaced and now the work can begin to treat myself with the same love, time, and respect I give to my most important people. The perpetual poppycock of dieting is hard to shake but I’m going to write my way through it.

Perpetual poppycock 1

Dear Perpetual Poppycock,

It’s December. It’s Thursday. A typical day of work and school for all of us. Nothing notable to report but I could talk for hours about all of the thoughts and feelings today provoked just the same. They are countless in number. But I’ve had a break through that needs to be documented.

This is going to be my first journal entry so help me, God. The perpetual poppycock I’m struggling with trying to write a single solitary journal entry is crippling, so I am posting this no matter how terrible it reads. This is my triumph. Anyone who is also a PP suffer knows what I’m talking about.

To recap our current situation, it’s month 10 of the pandemic in the US. My house has been playing by the rules as much as possible. We have a bubble and we pretty much stick to it, with the occasional jaunt out or visit with family. Frankly, I’m pleased as pickles with so much about this way of life but it feels scary to say that out loud. I don’t like to tempt fate in either direction. To tell the universe I’m happy seems selfish. Also, calling attention to happiness has always scared me. Like the moment I say I’m happy something bad will inevitably happen. I hope that is not the case.

There is a lot to be afraid of right now, but I’ve been living a couple of my dreams and its AMAZING! On one hand theres the virus, economy, politics, the mental health decline for members of our community, the unknown future of our children post pandemic quarantine, the list of bad goes on and on. Those are heavy topics.

Instead of giving into my fears of those heavier topics, I’m focusing on all the good that I’ve lived this year. I am working from home and homeschooling my kids. We are THRIVING in both choices! It is an absolute dream come true to be able to wake up each day, accomplish so much for my job AND be able to homeschool my kids at night, with the help of my mom. The days are packed to the brim but I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

I wake up, shower, walk down the hall, and start each day with so much peace. My mornings are a joyous start to the day instead of the MMA fight they were before March. Now we all wake up and welcome the day rather than dread it. Even the kids are voicing how happy they are with our new life. It feels dreamlike sometimes.

I don’t state those things lightly. I actually struggle with how lucky we are during such a hard time for all of humanity. And here is where the perpetual poppycock kicks in and tries to steal my joy. Just to restate the perpetual poppycock melee, my thought tracks constantly hijack my ability to evolve or live my truth. Each and every goal, decision, idea, opinion is riddled with thoughts that squash any actionable items I could do to baby step my way towards my desired end result. Its like I’m constantly running as fast as I can but the ground never moves under my feet.

You would think that living a couple of my dreams would mean less stress and greater joy but the reality of pp is that my stress level is quite high and my joy is tinged with the stain of worry. Its ridiculous! I’m stressed about being happy! Who the heck does that? Well, I’m determined to stop. I don’t know how but I’m going to figure it out.

The breakthrough today was a promise I made to myself to start a journal and I’m fulfilling that now. This journal might be the key to helping me focus my thoughts enough to synthesize and take some action. Today I am happy to have the chance to live a couple of my dreams. I LOVE working from home and homeschooling my kids. It’s everything I hoped it would be!