Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My “Get Fit/Feel Pretty” Journey, 5

Follow up to the original series published on my blog, Soul Java, February, 2010. Links to that blog are at the end of this.

Wow! I have been sending people by the scores to my original blog about my weight loss when they would ask about how I lost weight. I just read pieces of it and realized that I am SHAMEFULLY overdue for an update!

As of today, November 12, 2012, I weigh 138 pounds. I have not taken any medication to assist in weight loss for over two years. I do take some meds to help me get to sleep as well as some vitamin supplements, which are chronicled in another blog.

I do fifteen minutes of cardio two to three times a week, that's usually a jog. I do *yoga daily. I usually include my yoga during my Happy Exercise,(Check back for a blog about my Happy Exercise.) which means I am doing a series of poses every hour. It only takes about 5-8 minutes, and it is a great break from my desk and also amazing for toning, and stretching.

I drink liquid almost ALL day. I drink water, coffee, juice, smoothies, etc. I go to the bathroom almost every hour, and I sweat a lot. Both are very healthy signs.

I eat an early dinner, usually around 5 p.m. Sometimes it can be as early as 3 p.m. and sometimes as late as 6 p.m. But I do everything I can to not eat within a couple hours of bedtime. I honestly just do not like myself when I eat too near bedtime. If I am suffering with PMS cravings, I'll have a spoonful of honey, and sometimes I'll throw in a few nuts like pecans, almonds, or walnuts stirred in with the honey. I may have some hot cocoa with some honey stirred in if I am needing a chocolate fix.

I have gotten to a place where I truly do not like a full stomach. I get sick, sad, and moody if I'm too full. So I have become more attuned to my stomach than my tongue. I used to eat based on how much my tongue enjoyed the food. Now I eat based on how much my midsection feels full.

I eat whatever sounds yummy. That could be a salad, or it could be rice. It could be a hamburger from McDonalds, or it could be a cup of broth. I'm not strict about what will not go into my mouth. When I exercise, if it hurts, I take a break! Period. I do not follow the pattern of "no pain, no gain." I do not subscribe to any philosophy that is inconvenient. This carries over to food for me. If I'm craving something, I eat it. So, clearly the health and nutrition experts will not be asking me to join their governing boards. But, I have succeeded for ME, I govern ME, and if I want to eat something considered "unhealthy," I do.

But I do so in moderation. If I go to McDonald's, I usually get a plain hamburger, a small fry, and a small diet coke without ice. If I want one of the "value meals" I'll get it. But it is rare for me to eat 3/4 of it. Since it is such a huge waste of money, I just get what I will actually eat. When I eat in a sit-down restaurant I usually ask for a to go box AS SOON as the food is brought to the table & I box half of it.

Sleep is very important to weight loss, health, and mood. By nature I would hardly EVER sleep. It's NOTHING for me to be awake for 36-48 consecutive hours. I can work, work, work! But guess what I am doing while I'm awake? Eating. And guess who suffers when my mood crashes? My kids. So I take meds to sleep. I rotate between melatonin, 5-HTP, Benadryl, etc. Honey is also helpful to calm you so you can sleep. As is chamomile, and no lights on. There are a million and one tricks to help induce sleep, I say try them all!

I started with Weight Watchers, and I still employee their basic ideas. But now that the weight is off, I have learned to focus more on "needs" than "wants," and it is AMAZING how little our body actually "needs."

It's been a long journey for me, but I've enjoyed every step. I've learned what works for me. I've learned which details to stand unmoving on, and which to give in a little for.

Don't give up on your journey to health and wellness! If you have questions, feel free to ask me. I am not a trained professional. But I can tell you what I did in my situation. I can speak of my experiences. I strongly encourage you to seek out a professional. But, don't let their rules make you feel like it is impossible. Either filter what they say, or go find a different professional with a viewpoint closer to what you can actually live out. Don't give up! Losing .2 pounds in a week may not sound as awesome as losing 10 pounds in a week, but it's better than GAINING .2!

You can do this!!!

Denée Richardson, Le Muser

~Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing.

*Yoga: Not the "spiritual" yoga. I'm sorry if the word is offensive, but it's the only word I know to describe the toning and stretching workouts that I do. But I'm an absolute, Holy Ghost filled, tongue-talking, Pentecostal lifestyle living, chick. Scouts honor. Yoga is no more "spiritual" to me than it would be for an atheist to jump up and down, wave his hands, sing, run an aisle and those actions make him "Pentecostal" because he did a few "exercises" that are similar to our church services. Those actions DO NOT make that person Pentecostal. It merely gives them a great cardio workout! Just because a person balances on one leg while holding the opposite leg straight out behind them, with both arms outstretched, sweating bullets as they try not to fall over does NOT make them an actual Yogi. It does not fill them with an ancient evil spirit. It merely makes them look hilarious while building muscles and exceptional balancing skills. That's it. I will not permit nor reply to arguments on the topic. Get your own blog and write against it if you need to.

Part 4

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Handling the Hurting

We have to use wisdom in handling the hurting because until you've experienced something for yourself, you do not have the ability to truly understand someone else's experience. You may try to do so by using your imagination, but that's based on your solid opinions, which was formed via your upbringing, which was shaped by your parent’s culture.

I had both of my kids by Caesarian section, so I relate more to people who have had surgery than to women who have gone through the natural childbirth experience. I am AWARE that the pain the mother experiences, the length of time enduring labor, and the concern of the dad, all adds up to an amazing dramatic moment when the child is delivered. But it is strictly my imagination that conjures up what that is like. For me, I was groggy from anesthesia, then within a very short time a slimy, tiny human was displayed from behind a sheet/curtain for about five seconds, then I went to sleep. No tears. No drama. Just baby. Therefore, I never have that "Yeah! Right!" moment other moms have when they connect over their birth stories.

I've discovered this is the case in traumatic life events as well. You may have experienced the pain of divorce, but it is NOT the pain of death, and the two can only relate as closely perhaps, as someone who’s experienced natural childbirth vs. Caesarian, or adoption. All cases resulted in parentage, but they are NOT the same. Divorce, death, losing a home, having a child run away; they all produce confusion and pain, but they are not the same experiences with slight differences, they are very different experiences with slight similarities.

So, when you are trying to help someone who has been wounded by a tragedy of life, the most important posture you can take is one of very little opinion. People trying to offer advice and instruction mean well. But it doesn't feel like love or kindness to the one hurting. It feels judgmental. It does not feel like support to the one hurting. It feels like what little strength one has is being stripped away.

It is hard to trust people. That is why we should be cautious in sharing our opinions about how people should be handling THEIR crisis. We love these hurting people. We can see how vulnerable they are. So we do the only thing we know to do; describe to them what we see they've done wrong that got them in their present dilemma. We also tend to be driven to tell them what they should be doing now. It is not out of malice. It is not some devious, twisted plot to make their life even worse than it is. It is actually because you love them very much! However, diving into their storm armed only with concern and emotion is the equivalent of watching a loved one wrestle a bear. EVERYBODY is freaked out by the event. But if we are not careful, in our attempts to shoot the bear, we shoot the loved one.

When you have been thrust into the awkward position of handling the hurting, you should know that the most painful things well-meaning people do is to say what you think the hurting person is thinking and doing based on your own imagination. Do you really KNOW what they're thinking, or WHY they're behaving or deciding what they are? Have you bothered to ASK?

What generally happens is, we assume, then form our own opinions based on our own assumptions. The one we're trying to help has not participated in any part of the process; except maybe at the end where what is meant to bring them clarity ends up confusing and simply adding to the weight of their pain.

So, if you have a friend or family member scaring you because of behavior being acted out due to life-upheaval, the most helpful thing you can do is not to offer guidance, but rather ask gentle questions AND LISTEN.

"Are you afraid? What are you afraid of?"
"Do you need me to do anything differently?"

If they trust you enough to answer your questions, likely they will start spilling out more of what is causing their pain and behavior. When they tell you more, you'll be better able to "diagnose" them and properly "treat" them. But even at this point you should not necessarily start advising. What you want to do is sit there quietly, listening with a heart of compassion, and you're going to keep doing that until something AMAZING happens, which is that they ask YOU a question, "What would you do?" Or "What do you think?"

It might take them a while to come around to the point where they are comfortable answering your questions. Especially if they are gun-shy by previous conversations, with you or someone else. But if you will patiently and compassionately play this role right, they will come around.

If they are not talking freely to you about their pain, and not asking you for advice, then they are scared of you. I know if you have always considered them your best friend, or you are the family member, or the counselor, that is hard to accept. But be encouraged, because if you create a healing, loving, environment, they WILL come check it out. If it is legit you will be allowed to be a part of their healing. Feeling frustrated you can't seem to do anything right is understandable. But being angry at them will accomplish nothing in your relationship. If they're the "patient" and you're the "doctor," you have to explore the "medicines" until you find the cure. And pray, pray, pray for them.

The other way to help someone going through a pain you have not experienced is to support them. This can be tricky if you do not approve of what they are doing. But it is possible. It is possible to hear someone sob and you not say anything except, "I'm sorry you're hurting. I love you." It may not be easy because your instinct wants to point out the stupid thing they did to bring on this pain. But it is POSSIBLE to use self control and simply support.

The most comforting people I have talked to in the midst of the pain and trauma of divorce, were other people who have gone through divorce. Not because we sat around approving of divorce. But because there were so many "Yeah! I know!" moments about the pain experienced behind closed doors. I've opened up to less than five people about my pain in this matter, and for three years the most helpful one was a very quiet, unassuming, tiny lady. I think it is important for you to know that description of her because I am generally thought of as loud, bossy, opinionated, and stubborn. Do you want to know what eloquent advice and direction she gave? She simply said, "I know. I know. It's awful." Sometimes she would add, "It will get better." But that's it! It turned out that in my larger-than-life personality I did not require a Mack truck kind of approach to calm me in the midst of a raging storm. She never said, "You need to..." Or, "Stop doing...." Do you know WHY and HOW she ministered so effectively? It was not because she graduated from a school of theology or psychology. It was because she went through the school of hard knocks. Very particularly, she was thrust into the same classes I was in. Oh, my goodness! She can lift my spirits like no one else! And all she does is listen and say she loves me!

It's also important to accept that you alone do not have ALL that your hurting friend needs. In the beginning, when all Adam had was God Almighty himself, the Creator. God labeled Adam as "alone" and created another source to fulfill Adam's needs. If God accepts that his offspring needs more than only himself, we must each acknowledge that our hurting loved-ones need more than just ourself to meet all their needs.

I will write soon to the hurting people and give my two-cents about how to cowboy up and move forward. But this particular blog is to the strong, healthy one wanting to know how best to be a part of their loved-one's healing.

It really doesn't matter what our title in their life may be; parent, friend, sibling, pastor, mentor, etc. If their boo-boo hurts, and EVERY TIME they see you you're trying to apply healing salt water, you may find yourself with an abundant supply of healing balm, but NO ONE to apply it to. Create an ambiance and atmosphere of gentleness and you'll find more willing patients than you know what to do with.

If you've faced the same pain as your friend you will naturally know how to help. But if you haven't been in the SAME situation, I suggest you try asking questions and listening, not offering guidance unless you are asked for it, and just create a judgment-free, peace zone. And perhaps you'll find yourself becoming a part of helping that person you love be nursed back to spiritual and emotional health.

Denée Richardson, Le Muser

~Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing.

Friday, November 9, 2012

When I Drank Bug Juice

When I was sixteen years old, my parents took me to several countries in Europe. The most memorable ones were Russia and Yugoslavia because we had church there. And our point in going was most definitely more than to have inspiring worship services with our spiritual family in another language and culture. We went to share the gospel with those who had not had a chance to hear it. So one afternoon we were having a meal at the home of some people who were clearly hungry for the gospel of salvation. We were also on our best behavior knowing that you win souls one impression at a time.

I do not remember everything we were served to eat and drink, but I do strongly remember not liking the drink that was offered. It was part juice and part soda, and this spoiled, American, junk-food loving kid did not have a pallet for such an "oddity." But clearly, it would have been rude and unappreciative to not consume whatever they put in front of us. I also need to mention that this was a poor family which was obvious from their clothing to their furniture. We had been in many homes while in Yugoslavia, and this was not up to the standards of the other places we had visited.

So I had managed to eat all of the disgusting fruits and vegetables set before me. "Disgusting" not because they actually were disgusting. But I HATED eating anything that grew from dirt back then. If it did not moo, cluck, or snort, or wasn't bleached and filled with God-knows-what chemicals, I did not eat it. But, THIS WAS SOUL WINNING! And in my deep sincerity to be Christ's hands to the lost, I ate things I absolutely could not stand. Then the worst of the WORST occurred...

I had managed to swallow the last of that awful drink (again, it probably wasn't awful, but just my immature taste buds being bratty.) Then the hostess raised the bottle and offered to refill my glass. We did not speak a common language, so I gestured that I was full and "no thanks!" To my horror, she still refilled my glass, even emptying the bottle! I shot a glance at my parents, but they were no help! Their gestures were saying, "Wonderful! How nice! She LOVES it!"

I smiled weakly, took the glass and sipped. I sat the glass down just before a bug nosedived straight into my juice! Now, in my home that's an automatic reason to pour it down the drain while everyone at the table is resisting the impulse to hurl. But I KNEW that was not how this family dealt with a piddly insect in a valuable drink! Not allowing myself to dwell on it, I fished out the little beast and guzzled that drink as fast as my esophagus would let me. I honestly have no recollection of what anybody said or did from the moment I brought the glass to my mouth till we got to church. It's hilarious to me, but I absolutely blocked the whole experience out of my memory!

Their daughter received the Holy Ghost that night as a result of them following us to church. Obviously, it was definitely worth guzzling some bug juice!

Denée Richardson, Le Muser

~Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing.

Emotional You

I am a very emotional being. Actually, we all as humans are, because we were created in the image of an emotional God. Some of us have learned how not to express some emotions, while others of us have gotten addicted to specific emotions. But we all rely strongly on emotions in one way or another.

One way we rely on emotions is by how they make us feel. Internal feelings are very important to us. We like to FEEL in love. We like to FEEL happy. We like to FEEL like we are having fun. Those positive feelings cause us to repeat whatever caused that amazing internal buzz in the first place. It is also possible for us to start enjoying negative emotions. We can actually start liking to feel sad. We can get addicted to anger. We can start liking the feeling of jealousy. They same way we seek to repeat a behavior that triggered the buzz feelings, we will repeat destructive behaviors in order to experience the dark feelings. If the behaviors are destructive, you DO NOT have the "right" to conjure those feelings by repeating that behavior. You are not an island. You are connected to more people than you even physically know. You must be responsible in your emotions.

Another way we rely on emotional expression is to tell us if someone likes or dislikes something we've done or given. The funniest one is when tears are the response to a gesture of love, and the giver thinks they have done something wrong to hurt them! They expected big smiles as a reaction to the gift, or perhaps some girly hops up and down, but instead this person is shedding TEARS. We tend to imagine others’ behavior at something would be exactly like our own behavior, and we get thrown when their expression of the SAME emotion is very different from what ours would be.

But feeling emotions and expressing emotions is healthy. Being in control is what makes the difference in your emotions being constructing or destructive. The scripture describes controlling your emotional expression as controlling your "spirit." (Proverbs 25:28) It is rude to burst out laughing at a funeral. It is destructive to cry all day. It is hurtful to unleash a torrent of anger.

But it is also destructive to stop yourself from laughing or smiling, or to never cry, or to not let people know when you are angry or jealous. Building up a resistance to expressing emotions is hurtful to your own self, firstly. But once you have established all these lock-downs to expression, you end up hurting the people around you; your spouse, your children, your friends, and your family. As I described above, we communicate with each other by means more than words. We use emotional expressions to gauge how we should behave toward each other. If you are not demonstrating you are happy when someone says or does something you like and enjoy, how are they supposed to know to do that thing again? If you are not expressing pain or jealousy, how are they suppose to know how hurtful their behavior or words are to you? The scripture is, as always, absolutely correct in telling us how to handle our emotions; to "rule over our own spirit."

Is it okay to express anger? Yes!
Is it okay to express jealousy? Yes!
Is it okay to laugh? Yes!
Is it okay to cry? Yes!

All these expressions of emotions, be they considered negative or positive ones, are okay because God, your creator, expresses them. The scriptures describe him as so much in love he sings! (I LOVE that one.) We see God as angry, jealous, laughing, and even crying. The key to emotional well-being is neither to build walls, nor to let it all hang out. God showed us by example. Emotions were not in control of him, he was in control of them.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.
Proverbs 25:28 KJV

Le Muser; Denée Richardson

~Thanks to Lisa Velie for editing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Homeschool Mistakes

I loved, loved, loved, homeschooling! In fact, I homeschooled my two children for eight years. I loved everything about it. From the time I got to spend with my children, to setting my own schedule, to laying a foundation for the love of learning, to the personal choice of curriculum... I cannot say enough good about homeschooling! But in THIS blog I am not going to tell you about the cool parts of homeschooling, because you likely already know about those parts. I am going to tell you some mistakes I made that I hope you can avoid. (Be on the lookout for my "What I Love About Homeschooling.")

Get Dressed
I have a VERY laid back, chill, personality. I do NOT like molds (as in "Jello" or "ice" or "cookie cutters.") Whereas I value rules, I also look at rules as "pick your battles wisely." And I don't think strict rules about a dress code is a battle I want to fight. I think we SHOULD get presentable for the public, like if we are going shopping or to church. But I do not see a need to prioritize how we dress at home. We were happy in our PJ's all day, thank you very much! And if we did put on clothes, we did not care what they looked like.

This proved to be dumb. Just because you can, does not mean you should. This approach seemed to make the school day "heavier" because our clothes made us feel like we were on some type of vacation, and so the school work went slow.

Getting dressed in "public ready" attire makes everybody take their job more seriously. Not to mention, it also keeps mom more aware of her body image; a needed focus in the romance arena with dad. It does not matter how bald, or fat, or old he is. His eyes still trigger his sweetness.

Full Day
It truly does NOT take six hours a day to teach or learn. We would be finished with school work in less than four hours. When the work was done, I was done. That left M&M bored. Boredom resulted in too much sitting, too much movies, too much snacking, and too much bickering.

I should have planned more experiences. So many ideas that pop in my head on the spur of the moment cost money, which we did not have too much of to just throw out on a whim. If I would have planned better, we could have accessed many freebies, which would have kept us from being bored, had us moving our bodies, and kept us away from continual snacking.

My kids have never met a stranger. Also, because of our role in church leadership, our family was among the first to arrive and the last to leave. This meant they played with lots of kids. They have never been anti-social or shy. But having rarely experienced peer pressure or competition, they were a little off kilter when they started going back to school.

It's not that I think a child should give in to peer pressure, but I think they need to experience it so they can learn to resist it. And while I do not have a competitive bone in my body, both of my kids are very competitive. They dealt with some rude awakenings when both teachers and students were affronted by my kids' inability to chill over things that were no big deal to kids who had been in school all their lives.

It is possible that if I would have been part of a weekly home school group my children would have learned this naturally along with their peers.

Homeschooling is great if you recognize it is a live, morphing organism. What worked last semester may not work in this one. What did not work last year might be perfect now. So, my advice is that you not give up, that you not be afraid to try, and that you not be afraid to change some things.

Don't forget to check back soon for some of the “out of the box” things we did, and other valuable experiences we had while homeschooling.

15 Minute Home Challenge

What can YOU get done around your home in a measly 15 minutes? A LOT!

Here's the rules:
1. Decide which task or tasks your going to tackle.
2. Set a timer for 15 minutes.
3. Work without distraction for those 15 minutes. No calls. No texts. No social sites.
4. STOP when the timer goes off and report on your social network what you were able to get done. Add a pic if u want! Be sure to hashtag #15mintask. & tell people to get the info here on my blog!

If you have the time and energy to keep working, then by all means, do so! But the goal is to not avoid tasks because you feel overcome by the enormity of it. It's ok to STOP & resume later. A messy, stinky, cluttered house doesn't feel like a home. We show respect for ourselves, our children, our spouses and our friends when we create a clean environment.

It's ONLY 15 minutes! YOU CAN DO THIS!!! :-)