Nothing like the birth of a baby to prevent you from writing for nearly a year. Since this was not my first child, you would think I would remember the challenges of having a new baby in the house. Now when I have a few minutes to spare I don’t think about writing. I think about eating, resting or just falling asleep. These are the things that new mothers do (or dream about) because the rest of the time they need to constantly focus on keeping the baby happy. Or at least not crying. Well, how about not crying too loud?
Motherhood has its ups and downs. Today as I look at my 10 month old Jacob I see so much of his father in him. His smile. His laugh. His plentiful hair. He is so much that I am not. He is innocent. He has very simple needs and I have the feeling he doesn’t worry like adults do. He really knows how to live in the moment. When he needs something he needs it now. Now you understand why babies cry all the time. Living in the moment seems so easy for children while adults spend time planning, organizing, and worrying. It is no surprise that so many people have depression due to all the worrying. Why can’t we just live for the now?
It seems our brains, although powerful, can also lead us down paths of thought that are not healthy. The mind is capable of so many things yet most days I would like to turn it off parts of it. Why can’t I just do a task or eat a meal without having all sorts of other thoughts going through my brain. I just want to enjoy a quiet moment and most of the time I can’t. Your brain is like a computer that shows one program on the screen while other programs are running in the background. Have you ever been driving along and suddenly realized you didn’t remember driving that last stretch of road? Somehow your mind wanders to think about other problems instead of focussing on the road. (Like keeping the car on the road is not a problem?)
Lately I have been so busy with one task after the other I haven’t had much time to think. No time to worry. My only concern was whether I had enough milk and food to feed my baby for tomorrow. Now I see that still was not living in the moment because I was worrying about the future! Our darn brains. I understand why we watch too many movies and television shows. Watch others makes us feel like we are living in the moment (albeit someone else’s moment) and this distracts us from our own worries and fears. How do we force ourselves to live more in our own life and worry less? How do we prevent distractions from impinging on our critical moments in life. The giggle from a baby. A hug from a loved one. These are moments to cherish and should not be interrupted by the solving of a work problem in our head or worrying about what we are making for dinner tonight.
I sit peacefully on the sofa in my living room with my eyes closed. I take a deep breath in. I listen to the sounds in my house to try to focus. I hear the whir of the washing machine, the almost inaudible hum of the television and the sshhhgg of the dishwasher. All the sounds seem to mix together, at least until I hear baby Jacob and his quiet whimpering. Again he needs something and my focus is back on him.The baby has forced me to live in the moment. The only other thing I have done lately to live in the moment was to write this blog. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t plan it. It wasn’t on a to-do list. What can you do today to live in the moment without distraction?
I hate headaches, yes I do
The pounding in my head boom, boom
Nothing can make it go away
Water, coffee or even Earl Grey
I can’t focus, I can’t think
I can’t eat, I can barely drink
Finally the headache begins to dull
I can’t believe it’s finally done
I wasted days fighting the pain
Then suddenly you just go away
Another day you will return
For now I enjoy a head without hurt
I sit here typing on my computer wondering when the pen will become obsolete. Is the pen being phased out like the typewriter? Or a watch? With computers, smart phones, ipads, and Kindles, do you ever need a pen any more? What about paper? At least with paper you can type something on the computer and then print it. We send letters via e-mail and sign contracts electronically, so why would we still need to use a pen?
Dare I admit that I actually enjoy writing with a pen? Even worse, I like writing cursive with a pen. My boyfriend still has no idea how to read my cursive so all my journal entries are safe from him. He always thinks I am writing about him (as if I had the time). I would have the time, but I don’t have a watch. I love to write cursive in my college-ruled notebook with no computer or phone in sight. Is it possible that I am single-handedly keeping all the pen and paper companies in business? For some reason the physical experience of handwriting is different from typing on a computer. I know words still end up on the page, but there is a difference in how the brain works in each process and how the words come out. When I am typing I can write 90 words a minute. When I handwrite the words glide onto the paper much slower. Writing slow is not a bad thing when you want to think.
Maybe instead of wondering about pens going obsolete, I need to look in the mirror. Am I next? I may be going obsolete because I still cook in an oven (not a microwave) and I prefer french pressed or Turkish coffee instead of coffee from one of those fancy coffee machines. I am talking about those machines that can make coffee, fold my laundry and wash my car. I am not sure they do windows though. At least I am still good for something.
Another reason I became concerned with my obsolescence is that I recently discovered that my ability to concentrate on one task for long periods of time is disappearing. Hold on. I need to go put the laundry in the dryer. Sorry, back now. What was I saying? Oh, yes, I was talking about concentration. Sorry again, just one moment. I need to heat water for coffee now. Yes, back again. Where was I? Concentration is the problem. Actually the problem isn’t me. It is society’s inability to focus that is becoming the problem. Is a society with people who don’t have the ability to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time a good thing? Who will do research or design the next i-device? Who will be the heart surgeon? Can you tell I am worried about society going in a direction that is not necessarily good? I feel like life is moving too fast and there isn’t time to relax. No time to concentrate or focus. One might call it information overload. We get on-line and find ourselves bouncing around from e-mails to Facebook to an article about killer bees. How can we do this with such ease? Or do we? Is this hurting us in ways we don’t realize? Are we becoming dependent on information being thrown at us instead of sitting down and creating something or just plain thinking?
As I type this blog on my MacBook Air I wonder if I should grab the pen and paper sitting on the table next to me? Can I be more creative through the process of writing with a pen instead of using technology? For now, the pen and paper industry is still safe because I love to sit outside or in a coffee shop and write with my Papermate Profile Elite pen on college ruled notebook paper. Maybe the ability to write cursive with a pen on my computer is just around the corner with one of these note taking applications. I can only hope that even if the pen goes obsolete, that thinking won’t.
I finally discovered that when you buy mousse (for your hair, not moose, the Maine variety) price does matter. You do get what you pay for. I had used mousse by Aussie and I thought it worked fine. I was mistaken. Yesterday I was at Walgreen’s and bought Matrix Biolage mousse to try something new. I had no idea the impact this $14.99 can spewing white foam would have on my hair.
My hair is naturally curly so it is usually easy to make curls with the application of mousse and a specific hair drying method (upside down). In just one use of Biolage I noticed a huge difference in the shininess, smooth curls and waves it created. I was amazed. My head is usually overcome with frizz, but no longer! This mousse has changed my life. I had no idea my hair could look so much better with no extra effort. The mousse does it all.
The experience made me question, “When did I start using cheap mousse?”. Now that I know what I know, I won’t ever use cheap mousse again. I don’t care how many signs are displayed for discounts and half-price, I will pay a premium for this product. It just isn’t worth it to use something inferior. Funny how something so simple and relatively inexpensive can have such a huge impact on my daily life. I was lost, now I am found. Actually, it is the phenomenal mousse that was found. What simple products make your daily life easier?
My little pepper plants are uplifting to watch as they grow. It is hope eternal. The seeds get a new beginning and a new opportunity at life. What about people? Can we plant ourselves in the ground and add water for growth? I think the dirt would mess up my hair and get under my fingernails. There must be another way to grow people.
As I sit here watching over a dozen pepper plants as they push their way through the dirt and up to the sunshine, I can’t help wonder if all the plants will survive. In 2 weeks how many plants will I have? Do seeds weed themselves out like poor students or bad ideas? Surely the fittest plants will survive. Like people, it is all about genes. No matter how many survive, I will definitely have plenty of peppers to eat. For me, the growing isn’t the peppers (the outcome), it is the adventure of growing something. It is my internal growth that results from this growing experience. Isn’t life just one long journey for growth?
A child learns to walk and suddenly they are running. Next they are learning to run a marathon. Learning and growth should never end. Even if I stop getting taller like a plant, I hope I am getting smarter. Not to learn results in moss under your feet. Boredom. No will to live. Whether you plant your seeds (or yourself) and watch the growth or you travel the world, it is the growth inside that is critical. How are you growing today?
A hike in morning to clear the mind
Space inside my brain I find
Nature draws away my stress
Feelings of relaxation are the best
Soon it is a quiet afternoon
A time to rest and whistle a tune
I write down thoughts as they come
Word after word, there’s more than some
I seek a book I can read out loud
No one can hear my voice, a sound
And so I close my eyes for a nap
Then my book, it falls in my lap
Another great Saturday, its’ a winner
Before I know it, it’s time for dinner
Having the day off today was nice. The weekend was busy, but a nice kind of busy. I was able to escape from work more this weekend than I have in the last few months. I enjoyed getting time to totally focus on something besides work. A regular 2-day weekend just doesn’t seem like enough time off. A 3-day weekend is just slightly better. What I really needed was a full 2 weeks, but that is not always feasible.
The extra time this weekend allowed me to clear my mind to establish new norms in my thinking. Sometimes ‘getting away from it all’ is less about physically getting away and more about mentally getting away. Trying something new or unusual brings your mind to a place where it can focus. This weekend’s escapes included a hike at McDowell Mountain Park, a birthday party at the Phoenix Zoo, and lunch on the patio at Chelsea’s Kitchen. What I realized today, is that there is always more work for us to focus on, but not always more time to enjoy family. Maybe it is time to put focus and emphasis on things that do not always include work?
What did you do this weekend for your mental escape? Did you get to spend the time with your family?
After several weeks of the flu working its way through the family, I realized that we had all become far too comfortable on the sofa. Instead of hiking, riding bikes or going to the mall we were stuck on the sofa looking for yet another movie or television series to watch on Netflix. I recall a saying that I learned in college physics class, “Bodies at rest tend to stay at rest, bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.” In the Nelson house these bodies were stuck at rest.
How was I going to get everyone moving? I decided to schedule a family hike each Saturday through my meetup group to get myself (and the rest of the family) to commit to some sort of activity on the weekend. Instead of a ‘gym buddy’ or ‘workout partner’ we will have family accountability. For some reason no one wants to get up early on the weekend. Therefore my approach is heavily reliant on peer pressure. If I am going to get up and get dressed to go hiking, I want everyone else to do the same (and suffer the same sleep deprivation).
I know my strategy may seem a bit extreme to some people, but it isn’t like I am scheduling the kids to make a 10 mile trek or even make the steep climb up Camelback Mountain. Instead I planned a few easy hikes to get the family ‘in motion’ and my hope is that once everyone is moving, they will keep on moving and possibly even help me find more activities for the family to try. Are you stuck on your sofa? And if you are, what are you doing to get off of it?
It is day 3 of the flu and I realize I am tired of being sick. I just want my head to stop spinning and my nose to stop running. Thank goodness for Costco-sized boxes of Kleenex and an old bottle of Ibuprofen. I lost count of how many shows and movies I have watched on television. I am definitely getting my money’s worth from Netflix this month.
My 7-year old daughter lies on the sofa across from me covered in her kitty blanket. Every 5 minutes she is asking for something to eat or drink. I think she forgot that I am sick and I don’t want to get up off the sofa any more than she does. We are fighting over the remote because she wants to watch a cartoon about a dog name Kipper and I want to watch Sleepless in Seattle and Runaway Bride. All the shows are lame, but you have to watch something when the thought of sitting upright or taking a shower seems like a chore.
I have been trying to rest this week but it is so much harder when you have other people to wait on. My boyfriend is far away in Tulsa, Oklahoma, otherwise he could help me. Maybe. If he was here he might also be sick, making one more sick person clamoring for a drink with ice, a cracker, or a sandwich. Hopefully flu only strikes once a year, because I am not sure I could take another week of this. My mind wants me to get up of the sofa and do something, yet my body has another agenda. I expect a few more days and I will be resembling my old self again. Flu season is about surviving whatever way you can and it may not always be pretty. There are dirty cups and mugs everywhere, the laundry is not done, and your hair is sticking out in all directions. How are you surviving the flu this year?
At the beginning of the year I had an AlCAT food sensitivity test that checked my food sensitivities to 200 foods. I am sensitive to 39. What does this mean? Well, some foods I can’t eat at all while others I may be able to eat after avoiding them for a period of time. Sometimes if you avoid a food for a while (6 months), you can eat it again occasionally. There is some hope for my taste buds.
The worst part was finding out I can’t eat chicken, rice, vanilla, and maple sugar. These had become staples in my diet, so it actually wasn’t a surprise that I developed food sensitivities to them. It doesn’t make going out to eat easy, that is for sure. When you can’t eat wheat, chicken and rice, what can you eat? Salad? Did I mention iceberg lettuce and romaine were also on my ‘do not eat’ list? The other complication, is that it is recommended to eat all foods only once every 4 days. If you eat barley on Monday, you can’t have it again until Friday. To manage this I have a chart on my refrigerator that has the foods I can eat each day listed by food category. I also carry a list in my purse for dinners out or when I go to the grocery store. How do you remember not to eat 39 foods? It isn’t easy.
It has been almost 2 weeks since I started this journey (or some would call insanity). I have been reading a lot of food labels, searching for simple recipes, and eating a lot of obscure foods (like brussels sprouts). As I try to navigate my food selections day by day I have found I like a lot of these foods but somehow forgot about them. Some I never tried cooking from scratch (black-eyed peas) others I cooked and ate for the first time (lamb). Although I have spent endless hours asking myself the question,”What am I going to eat?”, I have discovered that I like to eat almost everything on my “ok to eat” list. One night I actually craved broccoli. Who does that? You are only supposed to crave Ben and Jerry’s ice cream or a Crispy Cream Doughnut, or at least that is what advertisers hope. I am starting to see food differently according to the motto, “eat to live”, not “live to eat”. I am not sure what the next weeks and months will bring as far as meals go, but I am eating healthier than I was before. By eating more vegetables, fish, nuts and fruits I feel better already. What are you eating on Monday?