Monday, April 28, 2014

Is It Really Spring?

Spring! Spring! Spring! (Part One) 

Spring has finally sprung around here! I feel so elated, I hardly know what to do with myself! The sun is suddenly so warm on my skin…my BARE skin! Yes! I can actually wear less than many layers of clothing and I’m still warm!
My skin feels glorious as it soaks up the rays. I can practically feel the processing of vitamin D!
And boy, am I happy!
Happy! Happy! Happy!
I feel like a whole new person. Well, not new, but perhaps a me that I thought was gone long ago.
Through this long, cold, dark winter, I wondered how most people were so active. How they went through their every day lives accomplishing everything they need to.
I didn’t.
I couldn’t.
I could barely get out of bed.
How did everyone else do it?
Why couldn’t I?
After the last couple of weeks of feeling sunshine on my skin, I am reminded I suffer from seasonal depression.
For those of you who live south, and in sunny locations, let me explain. Seasonal depression is a form of depression that happens to people who don’t get enough sun. It happens to a lot of people around where I live.
We live in a place that sometimes goes weeks (one winter I counted months) where we don’t get sun, but only overcast clouds. Add in the whole darkness of winter on top of that, where the sun seems to set 5 minutes after it comes up.
Imagine it.
There are less than 12 hours of daylight, and most, if not all of them are cloudy.
Day in and day out.
No sun.
No bright, warm, yellow/golden light.
Just overcast, grey, and you are covered from neck to foot (and sometimes head, depending on the day) just to stay warm enough.
Sorry, did I scare you?
Because that’s what we live every winter.
Now, in order to get through without being depressed, we have great things to do in the winter, don’t get me wrong.
There’s skiing, sledding, ice skating, snowman building, and more.
Let’s not forget the holiday season…created to distract us all.
These things are good, great even, and they help a lot. But of course, you need snow for almost all of them.
That doesn’t always happen.
A lot of winters are just grey, dark, and cold.
This winter, thank goodness, we had lots and lots of snow.
I love snow. It allows you to get out in that cold, face it, embrace it, and enjoy it!
I did that this past winter.
I got out there with the kids and slid down the hill in our yard on sleds.
I took pictures of the beauty of the snow when it made everything look magical, sparkling, and white.
I made it to the end of February feeling good about the cold and snow. While everyone else complained, I was happy with the snow, the white wintery landscape it created all around us.
Somewhere between the end of February and the beginning of March, it hit me like a brick wall. I don’t remember if there was a particular lack of sunshine those weeks, or what it was, but I was done with winter.
I craved sunshine and warm sand between my toes. I yearned for it. I imagined it.
I had to. I had to get out of bed every morning.
I complained frequently about the cold and snow. Suddenly the beautiful, white magic turned into blistery, cold death.
I hated it.
For the first time in my life, I hated snow.
I never minded the cold before, as long as there was snow. Snow made it tolerable. Snow made the winter beautiful.
Until now.
Now it was ugly, evil snow. I wanted it gone.
It kept coming. We had two large storms which brought over 6 inches each during March and April. In between, it would melt, teasing and taunting me to hold on for Spring. When the last storm came, I thought I would lose it. I really thought I would go crazy. Stir crazy, winter crazy, mind crazy.
I felt tired all the time. It felt hard just to get up and do the things I did every day.
Really hard.
Through March and April, I came to accept this new found tiredness. I blamed it on age, on being out of shape, on everything but the weather. I thought I was fighting the winter well, and didn’t realize, it already got me.
I was depressed. Depressed but fighting. Waiting and hoping for spring. Telling myself that it was just around the corner. Thinking maybe it would come a little early this year.
Nope. That was way off.
So I lived with this feeling of tiredness and lethargy. I came to think it was just where I was in life now, and that’s the way it was going to be.

Convinced (Part Two)

Then Spring sprung.
Thank God!
Like a miracle it warmed up. Gradually, teasing with days into the 60’s, then back down into the 20’s, then back up again to 50’s. But more and more, the days were warming, and the sun was shining, and the snow melted!
All of it! It was gone!
I’d actually forgotten what the landscape looked like without it! It looked different!
The colors outside were now like mud. Everything looked dead. I wondered how it all would ever green up, but I knew it did every year, and this one wouldn’t be an exception. But I was going to pay attention to it, because I was curious.
Now, the days are longer, the sun shines more frequently, and I don’t wear layers of clothing anymore. I can feel the heat of the sun on my face and arms when I walk my son to the end of the driveway every morning for the bus.
It feels so good!
In fact, everything feels good! I can wake up and get dressed and ready to walk after my son gets on the bus!
Where did I get this new energy?
When did it get easier to get up in the morning?
Why do I feel so chipper?
It feels good to be back to myself again!
Hello self! I’ve missed you terribly!
Time to catch up on the slacking off of winter, and get to work!
Ok, let’s do it!
There. Just like that, a few days of sunshine on my skin, and I feel whole again.
Seasonal depression, how could I have forgotten you?
I bought my mom a sunlamp (I believe it was called a “happy light”) for her seasonal depression. Next winter I plan on buying myself one as well. This winter cinched it for me, and I will not go through that again.
I can see why people say they get too old for winters. It’s tough. So is dealing with depression. Those two things together…not everyone is equipped to handle that. You need help to get through it sometimes.
I get it, for sure.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Shower Thoughts: When the Past Sneaks Up On You

Sometimes when I’m in the shower, my mind wanders to the past. Some past event in my life that for some reason caused me stress or sadness. I hate it when my mind wanders here. Who wants to find stressful things to think about?

Sometimes I let it play out. Maybe for some reason there was something my mind needed to work on with this memory. Sometimes I just get mad at my brain and yell at it and then think of something else on purpose. Either way, I never seem to understand why my mind wandered there to begin with.

Perhaps I was talking about a person, or a place, or a time recently, and it made my mind come up with this event. Maybe there was a song on the radio that brought my brain to these moments. I don’t think I shall ever truly know.

Lately I find that if I let it play out, it fizzles and ends up down the drain with the suds. As much as I may not like them sneaking up on me, something in my brain feels satisfied with playing it until the end. Maybe I just didn't have the energy to fight it off this time.

Mostly I think I just don’t like the sneak attack.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holidays: Happy Holy Week

Some people are celebrating Passover right now...

Happy Passover.

I think Passover is a terrific holiday to remember, and was impressed as a child that it had been celebrated for so long throughout history. I think it should be celebrated by any nationality. It is a good thing to remember and be happy for.

Others are celebrating Holy Week...

The week of Easter.

I am one of these. I was raised Catholic, and I now raise our children Catholic.
Easter always held a special place in my heart.
Of course, as a child, I looked forward to candy filled baskets (after I got over my fear of the Easter Bunny), but my Catholic upbringing soon brought deeper meaning to the holiday.
I remember many occasions when I hear or see (in many movies) the Passion of Jesus and I feel sad and heartbroken.
I cry all the time when I hear it. Still.
Even though it took place over two thousand years ago, I still cry for Jesus' death on the cross.
Remembering this every year is important to me as a Catholic. It is, after all, the cornerstone of our faith. It is the reason Catholicism exists.
I believe that is an important thing to remember, and to teach our children.
Jesus led a beautiful, peaceful, loving life. If we all aspired to live like he did, it would be a pretty great world.

Now, people spend their lives studying world religions to become versed in them, and knowledgeable in their faith.
This blog is to acknowledge the holiday, so I don't plan on getting too religious.

The neat thing about holidays is you can make of them what you wish. You can celebrate religiously, you can celebrate with the bunnies, you can simply celebrate Spring's arrival. I love that we have the freedom to do that in my country. I like to mix them all up into one celebration.
Easter will always hold a special place in my heart. It is the reason I am Catholic.

This week I will start the celebration by making unleavened bread on Holy Thursday.

I will attend the Passion in Church on Friday, fasting as much as I can.

Saturday will be preparing for Easter morning, as I assist the Easter bunny.

Saturday night I hope to have time to attend our Church's Easter vigil celebration mass.

Sunday I prefer to enjoy the morning watching our three children, two nieces, and one nephew hunt for their baskets, enjoy the charge they get from eating sugary treats for breakfast, then have the rest of my family over for dinner. We also sneak in a luncheon and egg hunt with my in laws.

It's a day of family...

of love...

of remembrance...
of celebration of life.

Happy Holy week in whatever way you choose to celebrate!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Personal Week: Okay, So I'm Fat

Yep, I said it, the F word. No, not that one. Hell, that one is so over used, it’s hardly bad anymore! (But it is though.) The other F word. The one nobody wants to be called, let alone actually be.
There. It’s not such a bad word. Three simple little letters put together to describe something the opposite of thin.
It used to be a good thing to be fat. Desired even. (Way, way back, but just sayin.) It meant that you were wealthy. Wealthy enough to have food every day. So much so that your body showed it. The wealthy and powerful were fat. It was cool. They were the “in” crowd.

(Tangent Time!)
I considered blogging about how I got this way. How somewhere around when I was little I became very self conscious about how fat I was, even though I wasn't fat at all. I was an active kid., when I got hungry, I ate. Somewhere along the line that changed. Then lots of other stuff, people I could blame (and did for a while) and circumstances happened.
Life happened.
Today I am fat.
I’m okay with that. It doesn't bother me. I can look at myself naked in the mirror and see my flaws, but fat never seems to be one of them. Gravity. Now that is a whole other story.
(End of tangent.)

Turn to present day in our society and fat is a four letter word. It’s about the worst thing you can say about someone. In fact, it’s hardly used to describe someone at all. Heavy, big boned, curvy, large, XL and more are used instead to try to soften the description of someone who is the opposite of thin. Fat has become an insult.
Or funny.
You can be fat on television or in movies, as long as you are funny. Try to be taken seriously and the roll goes to someone else. So you’d better be funny, or be what I call the fat chick behind the scenes. If you've ever watched a red carpet event. Ever. Look in the background. Everyone behind the person on camera is a fat chick. Doing the work that doesn’t get seen and probably wishing they were the ones on camera, but just happy to be in there somewhere.
What a goofed up society we live in.
I could really go on and on about this topic. The long story of how I got here and how I feel about it and blah, blah, blah. Maybe someday I’ll blog about that. For now, I’m fat. I’m okay with that. Society isn’t.
They tell me it’s not healthy. They tell me I’ll have troubles.
I do have troubles. I have knee troubles from a car accident I had 23 years ago. I was in pretty good shape at that time. I was never what you might call thin, but I looked good. I exercised and walked a lot. Of course, I was young, so I  had that on my side too.
Now I’m fat, my knees have extra weight on them. They probably hurt a bit more because of that. But here’s the kicker; I can’t do certain things to exercise because I hurt my knees, so I am heavy, which hurts my knees.
I used to like the stairmaster. Yes, the stairmaster. That junk rocked my legs like nothing else! Nope, not after you hurt your knees. Now I avoid stairs. A stairmaster is out of the question.
My blood pressure probably isn’t ideal. I don’t obsess about it and have been told by a second opinion that a normal increase is okay with age (ugh, age…don‘t even get me started), so I leave it at that.
Otherwise I am healthy. I don’t eat take out, fast food, soft serve ice cream…all those things that people think fat people eat all the time. I don’t drink a lot, I don’t smoke or do any other type of drug.
Then there’s sugar.
Apparently sugar is the new cocaine. I believe it. It is the most addicting thing I consume. It’s everywhere. It is the hardest thing to stop consuming that I have ever tried to give up.
I’m an addict. I admit that. It makes me glad I never did smoke or anything else, because this is hard enough. This is my vice.
For years I told myself that it wasn't so bad. Of all the things out there in the world you could be addicted to, sugar was practically harmless. So I’d put on weight because of it, so what? What did that really mean?
What it really means is that I have to cut it out. It’s the one thing I do to myself that is definitely not healthy.
I know this.
I tell myself this every day.
Every day I start off with the intention of doing better than the day before.
Most days I fail.
Some days I succeed. Some weeks are great.
Some days I try not to think about it at all.

Mostly I believe in being healthy. I don’t like being out of shape, getting winded taking a flight of stairs. That’s not good. But being fat doesn't mean you are unhealthy.
Being sedentary and not eating right = unhealthy.
Fat does not equal unhealthy.
I know a lot of people have very strong opinions on being fat, being thin, being in shape, being healthy.
These are mine. I chose to share them to give you a better iDDea of who I am.
This is my life.
My experience.
My blog.
Here you go.