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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As I watch my daughter dance

 Eden’s shy.  She rarely leaves me, even to go to a friend’s house to play.  All her friends graciously oblige to playing at our house. 

Eden has many reflections of me in her little life; we both have a love of art, babies and Jesus.  Her room is a Barbie shrine and yes, she inherited that from me too.  When I watch Eden play or interact with her brothers, I marvel at her beautiful personality.  Like a little angel, she’s gentle, soft spoken and smart.  When I was a little girl, I was self-conscious and didn’t feel like I fit in, but Eden seems to have so much figured out.  She did not inherit that from me.

Eden is shy, but she is not without opinion.  Most days, as long as she’s within earshot distance from me, she gets along just fine, but then she started dance.

When dance class is called Princess Camp, you think your girlie-girl daughter who literally sleeps on a sheet of Disney princesses will love it, right?  Nope.  On the first day of class she wrapped herself around me and in a ball of tears, we politely excused ourselves.

I’m not sure what changed since that Princess Camp debacle, but with a little encouragement Eden decided to give dance another try.  I think her decision had something to do with make up, glitter and twirls.

As I walked her backstage the day of her first recital, again her tears came for a visit, but she was able to push aside her shyness and smile on stage.  Her determination came alive and a little star was born.

This year, she was like a pro.  “I’m alright, Mom,” she said when I dropped her off backstage.  She was with her friends and having fun coloring before their big number.

It’s not that I miss my little shy girl (although I do), and believe me, there’s still plenty of moments I wonder if she’ll come out of her shell, but I hope I nurtured her through that phase.  I hope she knows its ok to be shy.  I know it’s a fine line between pushing my daughter to take dance or taking her out instead for frozen yogurt with all the toppings, but luckily, we have enough time for both.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

My appetite had been exploited

Many of you who have followed my path with intermittent fasting know it’s healing my negative body image and food addiction issues. 
What have I learned?  Somewhere on my path of life, my appetite grew too big.  I know this isn’t rocket science, but I had to ask myself why?    I’m not exactly sure, but I think in an attempt to protect myself from pain; any pain be it emotional or physical, hunger became a feeling I would fill with food before it took hold of me.  There was already too much pain in my life.  I wasn’t going to let anymore enter, especially if I could suppress it with chocolate chip cookie dough. 
Intermittent fasting helped me realize when I’m hungry, I don’t have to turn to food.  My appetite had taken its toll on me and would hold me prisoner as long as I tolerated it.  Obesity had instigated my foot neuropathy, back pain and insomnia.  In other words, I had to understand my relationship with food and hunger or I would spend the rest of my life a victim to it.   

In my previous decades full of attempts to lose weight, I’d quit when hunger entered.  Hunger didn’t feel natural.  Food had a much stronger pull than my own will-power and like a rivaled opponent, I’d give into hunger before it took hold.  If I was truly hungry, that would be fine, but I’d adapted to a place where emotionally I was hungry all the time.  I wanted food to feel and fill all the voids in my life.  Intermittent fasting taught me a simple truth; sometimes, I needed to feel hungry.
Don’t get me wrong.  My primitive relationship with hunger didn’t change overnight, but after a few weeks of intermittent fasting I recognized hunger came at very meaningful times.  Hunger came when I emotionally wanted to slouch or weaken my posture, but if I allowed it, hunger could be a gentle teacher.  Hunger humbled my physical body and awoke my mind to become more alert and creative.  When every impulse and craving of my body was not satisfied, my confidence became stronger and I became more present in life.  Food was no longer a dysfunctional tool, but something to be grateful for.  When I was hungry, I was teachable.  My appetite was no longer destructive and my love for self has grown.

Mayer with his poetry award.
Once I understood my indulgent lifestyle of food created a world of ingratitude, obesity and procrastination, I could look hunger in the eye and not blame it anymore for my problems.  My appetite needed to change.  Intermittent fasting was an open invitation to hunger.  Surprisingly, hunger brought me the best gifts, but only by remembering those who do not celebrate it.  In most instances, hunger does not come by invitation like I had allowed it, but by famine, poverty or war.  It is reserved for the desolate and hopeless, sprinkled with fatigue and fear.  I had to remember those who truly suffered with hunger.  In a house full of food, I was not starving during my intermittent fast; I was practicing self-control.  Hunger became a teacher of reality holding me to a high standard of reverence and awareness.  I increased my financial donations to the poor and prayed for them throughout the day.  I learned food is a gift, not an indulgence.   

Monday, May 9, 2016

My Tribe - Teaching Kids to Write

Writing in my journal – a favorite past time for me since I was a kid.  My mom, the gifted writer that she is, gave me my first journal when I was five and I’ve been writing in it ever since.

Eden on Mother's day

While practicing intermittent fasting, I’ve become more present in my life; more aware of beautiful tiny things especially in my children.  Because I no longer live in a state of rush or procrastination, time has presented itself a bit more accommodating.  I kept a detailed journal the first 30 days of my intermittent fast, so I wondered “Why have I not taught my kids to keep a journal of their own?”  I knew the answer – I never had enough time.

On a quest to help my children learn to listen better to each other (and their parents), I came to the realization they first needed to learn how to listen to themselves.  Hence, journaling – the ultimate experience to understanding and listening to your own needs, feelings and emotions. 

I’ve been working with my kids on journaling now for several months and have seen huge breakthroughs in how they feel about themselves and treat each other.  Not only do we have scheduled one-on-one time, but I’ve learned more about them than if I just kissed them goodnight and tucked them into bed.  My boys aren’t big talkers to begin with, so at first I asked questions and they answered.  Of course, Eden was all into it from day one and it was almost impossible to turn her ideas off.  
Eden with Canyon on his 1st birthday

Anyway, with the boys we worked on gratitude, goals and funny experiences they had.  It didn’t take long before they decided the things they wanted to talk about and write.  Now, it’s almost a necessary bedtime routine.  With me as his scribe, my 8 year-old loves telling me funny stories while I write them down.  Mayer likes to write poetry and play on words.  He entered a writing contest at school and his poem won.  He now identifies with himself as a writer and I think this made me more emotional than anything.

Each of my children is a gifted writer, but more importantly they know I’m making them a priority in this time-starved world.  As their mother, this was a skill I needed to manage better and somehow, fasting helped me to it. 

I was asked to teach creative writing at a charter school here in Mesa for 2nd and 3rd graders.  Of course, I was thrilled.  I did some research to develop a curriculum, when I decided to use some of the techniques I’d stumbled upon while teaching my boys to journal. 

Let me tell you, I love working with kids.  After the first day, I was hooked.  They are the most loving, beautiful, talented little people.  

Our writing experiences open the door for them to put into words their ideas and feelings, their dreams and hopes.  They have so much to say and they say it so creatively.  

I tell you, my kids and these kids are my tribe.  This little audience is precious.