Monday, November 29, 2010


Now just because I didn't post a specific "Thankfulness" post for Thanksgiving does not mean that I am not indeed thankful. Last week a storm came in, so we rushed off to beat the storm up to my parents house. It was about 15 hours of driving there and back.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, but right now I need to do miles of laundry, get some food made because we are all starving, finish unpacking, and bring in some more firewood. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Today I'm thankful for my husband's incredible skill driving on horrible, horrible roads. And his amazing calm while he does so. It helped me a lot. I'm thankful to be safe and home.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sound Body

First off I will start with by confessing my current sin to ease my guilt: I am listening to Christmas music. It is normally a rule with me that I do not do this before the 1st of December, but I was in the mood. It is so gloomy out, we have a blazing fire going that my dear hubby started before he left for work, and I am excited for Christmas this year (every year).

So there you have it. Now on to some other things. I have been reflecting a lot lately on things relating to having a sound body. You see, on Wednesday I somehow tweaked my lower back and have been in nearly constant pain since. I have been living off of ibuprofen which is something I always avoid until life gets too unbearable, so I guess that puts this in perspective. It is very difficult to be the mom of a baby that still needs lifted a lot when you are nursing a bad back.

On top of the back pain something has gone awry in my diet. I have been exhausted and having horrible stomach aches. I'm not sure if I'm eating a food that my body would rather not have me eat, or if I'm coming down with something. No good. My husband woke up sick this morning, and poor Cormac is still tugging at that right ear. We are a broken bunch.

Generally my tone on this blog is one of lament over my size or physical appearance. I have realized lately that I don't give my body nearly enough credit for all that it is and does. While it is true that I am no stranger to pain, the pain I experience has not kept me from doing my normal activities the last couple months. Even when the pain has been at it's worst my body has somehow gotten me to the places I needed to be and gotten the things done that had to be done. Stomach aches are usually foreign to me. I can walk and talk and learn. Really I have been blessed with a remarkable body.

Even my little family, though we have been sick a lot lately, is usually pretty healthy. There isn't much for us to complain about when it comes to our everyday health. So today as I sit here wishing for a new back for my birthday or at least for Christmas I am thankful for the reminder that my normal complaints about my body are so superficial. Our bodies are amazing and beautiful things. I have been reading about the functioning of the body lately. It blows me away how intricate and amazing our bodies are.

And if nothing else, my body gave me this:

which is something to celebrate.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Throwing fits

Things around here have been a bit frazzled lately. First of all, I have not been eating well. I have gotten lazy. Part of me feels that with the holidays upon us I might as well give it up because I'll never be able to eat the way I want. It's been an internal battle. I know that when I eat sugar, gluten, and dairy I don't feel well. Yet I constantly give in. My energy is down. My mood is bad. My body is beginning to ache all over again. Sometimes I forget that changing our habits doesn't happen over night, it takes a lot of time. We need to expect the occasional backslide, but not let it ruin our resolution to change. I need to remind myself of that constantly right now.

Secondly, Cormac has another ear infection. This is his second one in six weeks. I'm anxious about it. I had horrible ear infections as a child. The doctor is concerned that if this happens again soon (before we are even really into the season for ear infections) that we may need to get tubes put in his ears. I know that many children have tubes in their ears and they do just fine, but I'm anxious. That, and I'm trying to comfort my sick baby.

Thirdly, Cormac has decided that he likes to throw temper tantrums. When Ammon is home this is not so bad because Ammon has more patience than almost everyone I know combined. But during the day it is another matter. I do not have patience. In fact, I have a little temper of my own. So I watch as my child throws himself on the ground and continually bashes his head into things. It upsets me and makes me mad which I am ashamed of. We are trying to get him off his bottle and I think that is largely his problem; he really wants his bottle. I want to give in, but I don't. It has been hard. Any advice for stopping tantrums? His poor little head is covered in bruises. I have tried to stop it, but I've found lately that I just have to let him scream it out while getting most things out of his way.

Lastly, I'm anxious about Thanksgiving. I have a whole list of things I'm going to bake so that there will be fun, healthy treats available, but I know what is going to be on the table during the meal. It's not that I feel like I can't eat these things. I know that I can. It's just that I know how horrible I feel when I do eat these things and I don't want to feel that way. For whatever reason I struggle to keep in good spirits when I'm with my family. I stress that things need to be just right from my own personal appearance, to the behavior of my husband and son, to how much fun everyone is having. I feel personally responsible for all of these things. Ridiculous I know, but there you have it. So the last thing I need is a low because I'm not eating well.

So today I'm feeling anxious and frazzled. I guess I feel the need to throw my own temper tantrum, but you'll have to excuse me, I need to go see if my son has cried himself out yet. I feel like a terrible mother...

Monday, November 15, 2010

A worthwhile poem

One of the blogs that I enjoy looking at is the beauty of different. I enjoy the things she writes. She recently posted a video of a woman reciting a poem that made me cry. The way that she ends this poem is so powerful and is what I want for my children. I have posted the edited version here (although the unedited is more powerful I felt uncomfortable posting that version here since my dear nieces read this blog).

Please take the time to listen. This is truly beautiful and inspiring.

Friday, November 12, 2010


My family growing up: Me, Dad, Mom, Nick, and Sera 
(as a side note, I'm now the shortest in my family and little Nick is a giant.)

Growing up my mom was amazing at getting a family meal on the table. Some days it wasn't anything fancy, like Hamburger Helper (which I still despise). But even with our less than fancy fare we always ate together as as a family. We even kept it up during the years when my dad was traveling a lot and wasn't around to join us for dinner. Most of the meals that Mom made were just fantastic. She really put a lot into feeding our family.

I usually volunteered to do the dishes because I didn't like to cook very much. This worked fine for my mom since she generally dirtied every dish in the kitchen and needed someone to wash some of them a few times before we even got the meal on the table (this is something I picked up from her much to the sorrow of my poor husband and someday poor little Cormac). One of the things that would drive me the most crazy was the way she would cook something in a pan and then put it in a pretty bowl to set on the table. I thought we should just set the pan on the table and save ourselves another dirty dish, but Mom was strict about this rule most of the time.

Lately I've been striving to make our meals at home more fulfilling. Did you know that a meal that is presented in a beautiful way is more satisfying and usually leads you to eat less? It's true. When the food is beautiful with many different colors next to nice dishes it makes the meal more pleasing. In my own family I make it a point for us all to eat together. Even when Cormac was strictly on baby food and couldn't eat what Ammon and I were eating, we still sat at the table together and ate together (usually my food was cold before I finished with Cormac and got to it, but still, we were together). I wanted to set the standard for the rest of our life as a family together.

The more I learn about having meals as a family the more impressed I am with the idea that in order to create a healthy relationship with food and with each other family meals are incredibly important. So much so that I believe we need to make more effort to eat at home at any cost. Home cooked meals are so much healthier for you (most of the time). Plus you eat less than when you are at a restaurant.

I decided to write about this today because I read an interview that Nie Nie did. You can read it here. In a world that emphasizes quick and easy shouldn't we take back at least one area and demand that it be special, slow, and enjoyable? We would all be so much healthier, both in mind and body.

So to my mother: Thank you for all the times you made us set the table nicely, even though I had to do more dishes (it had it's good side effects too, I don't know anybody who can wash as fast and well as I can, ahem toot, toot). Thank you for taking the time to feed us well, even though we weren't always appreciative. And most of all, thank you for making family time a priority. I hope someday to be as good at making dinner special as you were.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day

In my family we happen to have quite a few soldiers. I'm thankful for all of them. I worry about those who are currently away, but am so proud and thankful for them. I am lucky to be related to such wonderful and devoted people.

My Great Grandpa is one of our Veterans, and he's still with us. I'm thankful for him. Just this last October my family went to see him. We wanted Cormac to meet his Great Great Grandpa. Grandpa was rather taken with Cormac. I think Cormac was a fan of Grandpa as well.

This plaque hangs on the wall next to a plaque with all of the other stories of the veterans living at the facility where my grandpa stays.

It reads: "Harlen Garrison, U.S. Army WWII

"Harlen Garrison enlisted in the Army at the age of twenty three, even though he had a wife and four children at the time. He volunteered to be a paratrooper, jumping from C-47 aircraft so he could earn an additional fifty dollars a month to send back to his wife and family. Harlen was aboard the McAndrews, a troop carrier, with 1,900 soldiers on board when it collided with a French aircraft carrier. "It was like going to hell" Harlen said. According to news reports the collision tore a hole in the side of the ship, and sent 135 soldiers into the cold, choppy water. Sadly, rescue efforts were only able to save 14 of the 135 soldiers who went overboard. After surviving the collision on the McAndrews, Harlen was then shipped to England and later went on to France. From France, Harlen travelled to Germany via boxcar. While in Germany, Garrison joined a machine gun squad as a rifleman and they were given assignments to clean up towns. Before leaving Germany Garrison had the opportunity to see the remains of Hitler's bombed house. Harlen still wears his 82nd Airborne wings around his neck."

And here we are, five generations of Garrisons.

Grandpa and Cormac checking each other out. Grandpa kept saying what a "good one" Cormac was.

It was a really neat experience to see Great Grandpa and to be all together as a family. Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served and are serving our country.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


And while we're on the subject of my imperfections here's another one that I need to work on. I still want/need the praise of others to validate my actions. I don't know why, but I'm just not secure enough to take pleasure in the fact that I have changed the way I eat, exercise, think, and feel about myself. I need others to know what a great gal I am (hence the blog?) and to praise me.

Poor Ammon gets the brunt of it. When he comes home I proudly tell him how hard I worked at the gym today, what I ate and how I made sure all the food groups were represented, and then I give him my stats on how much weight and inches have been lost. He humors me and tells me he's proud of me (which I think he really is, but how many times does the poor man have to say it).

When other people notice that I've lost weight I'm just exuberant with joy. It's to the point where I have caught myself leading the conversation in that direction in the hopes that they will compliment me in some way. Lame. And when they don't I feel disheartened.

In fact, there are people that I truly expected to say something the last time we met, and instead I found that they sort of felt like not much had changed, and that I still had a lot of work to do. I was crushed. For a few days I felt like all my hard work had failed and that I would never reach my goals.

As I thought about this particular incident though I realized that I'm missing the point. Wasn't my goal to like myself as I am and to be secure with myself as a person? When did my goal shift to what the scale said about me? I think it shifted when I started losing weight. At that point I felt that I no longer needed to love myself where I was at because I was changing that, and soon I could just embrace my old pre-pregnancy self.

That's a good theory. I would love to be at my pre-pregnancy weight again, but as we have discussed several times on this blog, that thinking is flawed. First of all, I will never be totally rid of the marks that pregnancy has left on my body, so why should I expect that the number on the scale will be enough to make me happy? And secondly, what happens if I get pregnant again and gain weight because of it. At that point do I no longer feel like myself or like my body anymore? Do I suddenly drop back into self-loathing until I can once again reach that magical number? And what if I can't maintain that magical number? What if my body naturally needs to weigh more than that? Should I do unhealthy things to get to that number and stay there and battle with it for the rest of my life until I am so sick of all of it that I give up entirely and run with open arms to the junk food aisle at the store and shun anything healthy...

So what I have realized is that I need to stop seeking praise. I need to stop worrying about my size. I'm not going to stop my efforts to lose weight. I need to lose weight to be truly healthy, which is my ultimate goal. But I need to be at home in this body where it is. Just like I need to act and be confident in my own skin in the gym, I need to appreciate my body enough to stop seeking praise and to not feel discouraged when it doesn't come. What others think and feel about me should not have much weight in how I feel. Compliments are lovely, but aren't they more so when they are given spontaneously? I think so. Just another thing to work on. It's hard to figure out just how to feel at peace without the validation of others, but like the rest of this journey, I'm sure there is a way. I just need to keep looking.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Secure in mind

I know this is blurry and not a great photo, but it's the most recent shot that I have showing more of me than just my face. I don't know if you can tell based on my last portrait, but I've gone down a dress size.

It has been awhile since I had a break down or spilled my guts on my imperfections and short comings, but alas, I still have them. Most days I do alright. I can see the improvements that I have made in my health just by how I feel and how I look in the mirror. I'm usually just fine, except for when I'm at the gym and feel like the fat kid that no one really wants around. Seriously, I do. I should get over it, I know. Realistically I'm sure no one is actually even thinking about me and what I'm doing at the gym, but I still feel like they are just annoyed that I'm taking up space on their precious machines. But I need the workout just as much if not more than they do.

I realized the other day that I'm the one to blame for these feelings that I have at the gym. The looks people give me are probably not dirty, and if they are dirty perhaps I bring them on myself. How? Well, I'm the one walking around feeling self-conscious and avoiding any conversation. I'm the one who doesn't want to be in people's way because I feel inferior to them because of my body type. The truth is, I can lift as much and work out as hard as many of those gorgeous women in there. I've just had a harder go this last year which has left its mark on my body. I'm the one who didn't take care of myself like I should have, but I've repented of those ways and am working on it.

Sometimes I watch as women with a shape like mine act like they own the place. They talk with others in there and are accepted as equals, not because they are incredibly thin and look the part, but because they have the confidence to know that they belong. They know that their body is fine the way it is. It's beautiful even if they have a few things they would like to work on. But they are at the gym, taking care of themselves which is most of the battle.

What do these women have that I don't? The exact thing that I've been striving for since I started this blog, confidence and peace with the person and body that they are. So lately I've been trying to act the part. I don't feel the part, but often thoughts and feelings can follow action. Like when you act with energy even though you have none it automatically lifts your energy level and brightens your mood. So far I think it's helping, even though I'm not exactly chummy with the others at the gym, but I have made a few friends and I no longer look away in shame when someone glances in my direction. I may not be a size 4 right now, but I'm taking care of my body, and I'm worth it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Last Year

Yesterday Cormac started taking steps on his own. Up until now he wouldn't dare take a single step without something to hold on to. So in celebration of my baby growing up I have made this movie. It's a recap of my little guy going from new born to toddler. As you know, I'm not great with videos, but I think it works for those fans of Cormac who don't see him often.
The songs are by Mindy Gledhill and I love them. I may or may not cry when I hear the second one and think of my little boy.
In other news, what do you think of the new blog? I love it. I would like to thank Amy at Designer Blogs who did the layout and designe for me. I still have a lot of work to do, but it's getting closer. So, once again, if you have a story or thoughts you would like to share that would fit the theme of this blog please let me know.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I have been asked many times what it is about Yoga that I like. So often people will tell me that they want to like yoga, but they really don't. I have been thinking a lot about this the last few weeks wondering what exactly I do like about yoga.

A few years ago I turned to yoga in desperation. I was living in pain. The pain was new and while we were bouncing around from doctor to doctor and from medicine to medicine I had to live my life as a student, employee, and wife. I had heard about the success some people have with yoga, so I decided to try it. I started small. I got a DVD with a little morning and evening routine on it. I can't tell you how difficult it was at first, but after 2 weeks of doing it I was stronger, more flexible, and hurting less than I had been in a long time. 

I was fascinated by yoga. The whole idea of it was interesting to me, so I finally looked up a yoga studio and began attending classes. It wasn't long after that when I began my teacher training. I wanted to learn as much as I could. For several weeks I would do yoga for at least 5 hours a day. I studied it and trained. I taught and learned. I found all of it fascinating. Those were some of my happiest days in a learning environment, out of all my schooling.

The most exciting part was they way the yoga made me feel. Doing yoga was the only thing that took away the pain for a few hours a day. That alone was addicting. But my attitude toward my body changed. Yoga is not about what you cannot do. So when people say they aren't flexible enough or whatever their excuse might be it bothers me because they are missing the point. Yoga is a celebration of what your body can do, even if you can only reach your knees when you bend over. As I started to see what my body was capable of I began to respect it more. My husband noticed a huge difference in my attitude towards myself. My self bashing almost disappeared. Then I got pregnant and stopped my yoga for a while, gained weight, and, well you know the rest.

The word yoga mean yoke. I find that inspiring. We can use yoga to help lift the burdens that we are under whatever those may be. There are eight limbs to yoga:

Yama - Ethical disciplines
Niyama - Self observation
Asana - Posture
Pranayama - Breath control
Pratyahara - Sense withdrawal
Dharana - Concentration
Dhyana - Meditation
Samadhi - A state of joy and peace

There are so many styles of yoga as well, but the purpose of all yoga is "to grow toward enlightenment." When I approach my practice I go into it with the attitude that this can help enlighten me. It can bring you closer to your God, it can shed light on your own abilities, it brings peace, it strengthens and nourishes your body. It's beautiful. Have you ever just watched someone practice yoga without a teacher. Just watch as they move from one asana to the next, it's beautiful.

Pranayama has become one of my best friends. I'm a stressor by nature. I automatically go into panic mode when things get rough, but learning breath control has made a huge difference. I can calm myself down and bring myself back to a place of rational thinking.

So I use my yoga in every day life, not just while I'm in a class or teaching a class. This may not be the answer you were looking for. It may not help you love it the way that I do, but keep trying. There are many types of yoga, experiment until you find something you like. But most importantly, before every practice set an intention and let that guide you through. I often set the intention of health, or self love before I begin. As I think about my intention through my practice it helps me take it to a whole new level of discovery and joy.