Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Being the “Fat” Mom

Today’s post is from Caty Dearing who blogs over at www.catydearing.com. Caty is wife to Justin and mom to K and is a high school English teacher where she loves her job and says that it motivates her to be awesome every day. Caty’s blog is a safe space for her and her readers to stretch, grow, and live. She promises honesty in her posts, which as we all know is pretty hard to come by these days.

Being a mom is difficult. No one tells you just how hard it is. The pressure of raising a human being to be kind, intelligent, and gracious is a heavy burden to bear. I remember being pregnant and reading book after book about how to be a good mom. Now, my daughter is 3 years old, and I think that I’m just now learning what difficulties have been present for me as a person, removed from my kiddo and husband. One of these, and probably the biggest one (no pun intended), is my weight.

“Fat” is a no-no word. We use words like “curvy” and “voluptuous” to mask the negative connotations of overweight-ness. Being called fat would have completely broken me a year ago. I’ve spent a lot of time telling myself about my large bone structure and that the curves on my body are just part of who I am. I’ve also spent a lot of time spewing hateful words towards myself, avoiding cameras, and wearing oversized clothes. Years later, I’m finally at a place where I think I’m ready to face the fact that I am not healthy, and to do something about it.

If I’m being 100% honest, I used to judge overweight moms. You know exactly what I’m talking about: the cute child, dressed to the nines, the handsome and fit husband, and the mom who looks like she woke up 15 minutes ago and just barely pulled herself together to be out and about. I remember the condescending tone I used in my head, an almost smug self-declaration of “That will NEVER be me.” Now, here I sit, weighing more today than I did the day before giving birth, and I’m faced with a choice: how will I handle this issue, and what example will I set for the tiny set of eyes watching my every move?

I found the answer at Disney World.

If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you know about the Photo Pass feature. If a professional photographer takes your picture, you can scan your Magic Band and the photo immediately becomes accessible. I felt like there was a professional photographer every 10 steps or so! I packed the only clothes that I could feel comfortable in: Disney t-shirts and work out pants. It wasn’t my cutest look.

When we got to Magic Kingdom, a photographer offered to take our picture in front of the castle. She asked Justin and I to squat down beside K, which immediately brought to mind the image of fat rolls, awkward posture, and all of my other insecurities on display. I looked at my daughter’s face, smiling up at me, at the castle…and I smiled. Then, I squatted down and took the picture.

Caty Dearing picture 1

When my daughter is looking through photos of our family, she’s not going to care if I was overweight. She’s going to comment on the fact that I wore ridiculous Mickey ears the whole time, or the facial expression she made when we rode a fast roller coaster. I HAVE to continue to be present in photos, and to speak positively and full of grace towards myself.

At the same time…(here’s where it gets murky)

My body was falling apart the entire trip to Disney. My feet ached, my back hurt, my knees throbbed…due to the extra weight I was carrying around. I struggled to fit under the airplane seatbelt, and in a couple of the seats on some rides. People can argue all day long until their faces turns blue that you can be healthy at whatever weight, but there is no way anyone can convince me that being overweight and the symptoms that come with it are preferable to a less injury-prone existence.

Caty Dearing picture 2

It’s a delicate balance, brutal honesty and loads of grace. And, to be frank, this pairing isn’t an idea I see being preached. It’s not one or the other, people! You can love yourself and still recognize that you aren’t your best self. As a mom, I want to show K that it’s possible to live a healthy lifestyle and not constantly struggle with food or fatigue. But, even more so, as a person, as ME, I want to prove to myself that it’s possible to love myself at 270 without accepting it as my final reality. Because, to me, loving myself means pursuing my best self.

I was the fat mom at Disney World. But I was also the happiest mom at Disney World. Next time we go, I might not look the same, or I might. But I really hope that the changes I am making, both internal and external, are growing within me a person I can be proud of.

What has been your most challenging moment of introspection? How did you respond?

 

 

Dare to Reflect – In Reflection is Life

I write out of my weakness, it defines me, the inability to reflect on life. In that weakness I write to discover the divine thread, the God-leading words, the gratitude for the mundane. When I do not write, I am restless and lost, forgetting what I’ve learned, where I’ve been and from where I have come. Despair results and addiction to food, reading, and coloring fill the void, numb the pain.

Coffee flows and steams where I write and obsessive amounts of journals live in jumbled stacks, all written in at one point or another. Coffee paraphernalia, grounds, and mugs strewn all over the kitchen. Pens, pencils, post-it notes, laptop, and lamp.

It is in the reflecting, the looking outside of myself where I find true life. My people busy me with needs, wants, schooling, and general chaos. But it is in the reflection where the purity and beauty of life is lived. The scarlet red cardinal singing on the branch in a background of grey, white, black. The orange pink skies appearing only five minutes at dawn, swept away by the blustering wind. The cherub cheeks of sleeping girl, hair matted, fuzzy sleeper draped. The strong arms of him holding me.

This life also deals its pain, but this reflection is necessary also. Sitting in the chair where my father died, seeing the world he saw in those final moments, leaves swaying and shushing, light fading. Entering in the brokenness of sister standing over infant son’s grave, days marked in black ink that blur as I hang my head. Daughter asking me to read dates on them all as I kneel in damp grass overcome. Friend lost and shattered when brother leaves this world. All life involves loss and each story, experience shines a light warming us to stand and move on, broken, but full of purpose.

I drag myself from warmth in early darkness, stumbling for coffee, shuffling to favorite chair, soft light. I read always, books stacked to my right. I crack open black journal, embossed flowers and words flow from my heart. And when they are typed in, I look back at what I have missed those months. I marvel at the words, the images. Who wrote this? Surely, not me?

Yet, it is only me as I pause in the half-light. I have found and remembered those things I wanted to forget, lost those things that I wanted to remember. They are here, if I have pause to write about them, this scrawl crooked and slashing on page, small and perfectly formed on the next.

My passion rises from this broken down, ugly, stricken world and finding joy, gratitude, divinity as close as my living room, back yard, and across the miles. They are all there if we look, but we must have eyes to see, time to pause, and practice to truly celebrate it. I am not always good at it, but when I make it a habit, I always find it.

My friend, dare to reflect. Even in the pain that we inevitably all must face. And in that pain there is always joy hiding at the next turn.

Reflections From the Spray Park

I always struggle at places where tons of moms are because I can’t stand the Pinterest-bragging-cooking-from-scratch-organic-food-designer-kid-bathing-suit-perfectly-coordinated-everything that is here. The talk at times is the worst – I did this, I did that – the constant “one up” banter. Since when did we decide that we were all in a competition? That somehow being better is the goal?

This is my cynicism talking and I know not everyone here is in the perfectionism race. But I feel it around me here and it makes me grateful to be alone scribbling in my notebook. But I’m looking too – seeing the two moms who can still sport bikinis. Wow – that’s never going to happen here. The mom with the over sized t-shirt and hat hiding her beautiful face. The momma nursing her newborn, bleary eyed kissing her baby’s head.

Maybe the truth is that I hide here alone because I don’t want to take a chance on truly knowing others when the external fronts we all display are so off-putting. We all struggle and we all fight guilt and self rejection and perfectionism and is my facade better than yours?

Finally, after all this time, the community I’ve longed for I have in abundance. Friends and invitations and I am humbled by God’s providence. Yet how do I allow a larger community in – always allowing new interactions? To become what I longed for back then – to return it back? Mostly its laziness, tiredness, excuses.

But I know I need to change, so I offer the ice pack and the band aids and she smiles and thanks me. And I realize that we all are looking for acceptance and love and we can easily give a smile, a hand, a kind word.

Seeking the Light

I recently wrote a post for my church’s blog. Read the introduction here and click on over to check out the full post.

There is a mourning, a fog of sadness that covers me when I take down the Christmas decorations. For five weeks the sparkling silver, red, and green have overtaken our house. Lights twinkling in the darkness, glowing, guiding me during my early morning reading. But today, it will all be put away. The white cold, stark days begin. Days of waiting until we can decorate again. And as much as a dread the undoing, I crave the cool, clean crispness of January unfolding forward into spring, summer, and beyond. [read more…]

Knowing

It is 9:18pm and I am spent, empty, listless. Mondays can be like this, but today cast a heavier burden than usual. I drove to the kid’s school three times – almost four when I realized Kayla forgot her gym clothes. I baked bread, did dishes, made dinner, baked chocolate chip cookies. Helped Zach with four times as much homework since he missed school today. I drove to two stores and got my eyebrows waxed in an hour’s time. My activity tracker should say I walked the equivalent of five miles, but it only says 2.5 – a typical non-exercise day for me.

This weariness started at 5pm when I realized that today was all “doing” and not “knowing”. I did a plethora of things for those I love, but I didn’t invest in knowing them more and for that, I am sorry. I spent my time unwisely today. Yet, this is a typical pattern for me and I’m not sure how to change it. I sit in the living room, at the table, and look at their faces. I marvel how much they have changed over the years. In a few weeks, Abby will be five and do I remember how she looked when she was nine months old? Memories fuzzy, tasks always at hand. I don’t know how to get to know them better, to help them understand that they matter to me.

My failure to know haunts me with icy words. “They will leave you and never come back.” “You are missing out on everything.” “Why try to know them better, the time is so short.” And I withdraw into this gnawing pain. I don’t have an answer, I only know the question. And I usually have it together, which makes this all the more difficult. I understand the mechanics of the solution, but not the heart of it.

So I am quiet and listening and looking towards tomorrow, searching for grace.

31 Days

I don’t easily become emotional, but there are a few movies that get me every time. At the end of Night at the Museum, the director of the museum fires Larry the night guard and as he is walking him out and sees multitudes of patrons walking in, he silently hands Larry his keys and flashlight because he knows that it’s because of him that they are there.

Or when Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, is at the Emerald City watching the hot air balloon fly away without her and she is overcome. Glinda the good witch appears and tells her she always had the power to go home. She clicks her heels together and chants, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” It’s scenes like this that bring a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. Times when the hero of the story knows that he or she has finally made it past their fears.

Today is that day for me. I have met my goal to write and post to my blog for 31 days in a row. I’m honored and humbled that you have gone with me on this journey and I’m grateful for all of the encouragement and comments you have shared. Writing everyday has been a long term goal and I was too mired in fear to believe that I could do it, but here I am! Praise God!

What’s next? I will continue to post here a few times a week, but it is time for me to write quietly for awhile, to come to terms with what is stirring in my soul. There is a book in there, I’m sure, but I don’t really know what that means or what it looks like.

Thank you all again for reading and I will be back here soon.

Blessings to all, Jennifer

Perspective Changed

My husband is a sweetie and indulges me with jewelry whenever he can. Every once in awhile, I need to get my jewelry repaired or resized. It is then that I get the chance to wear items I don’t usually wear. As I put on my original wedding set, I am reminded of the first time I saw it – how it looked like nothing else you could buy at the time. The center round stone and teardrop side stones look like a flower with petals around it. The center stone is one of the clearest and most beautiful diamonds I’ve ever seen. The jeweler even remarked about how pretty it is as we stood in a sea of precious stones! I’ve been wearing my anniversary set for so long that I forgot about how remarkably beautiful and simple my original set is.

I often pursue the next, shiny thing without pausing, looking around, appreciating, and remembering what I have. Isn’t that how life is? We forget about the gifts we have because we don’t remember or write down all that God has done for us over the years. Our perspective changes when we focus on God and look around at the abundance we have already been given. November is almost here. Let’s prepare ourselves for a month of gratitude by soaking in all that is before us.

Captivated By Child-Like Faith

I’ve been a bit down the last day or two. Overwhelmed by the impending holidays, the dark days ahead, the time change, and my over committed schedule. Times like this, make me wonder how I can make it through each day.

Today started out sunny orange, reflecting the last remaining fall colors so brilliantly. But as I drove my little Abby to school, the inky gray clouds had settled in promising rain. As we rounded the corner of our block, I noticed a row of trees that had just turned yellow red in the last couple of days. “Look at those pretty trees, Abby!” All she said to me is “Glory to God”. Yes, my sweet baby girl, of course. Glory to God for the beauty he gives daily if we just slow down enough to look. Then she started singing the song of the same name.

I need to remember to look at this world through her eyes, in child-like acceptance of what God so freely gives to us. This child inspires me daily and I can take no credit for her faith. It is a gift from God and for that, I am grateful.

Sucker Punched

I’m not one to whine and complain, but there are times when a day attacks and wins. I’m not sure when it started, but by mid-morning, the headache began. By noon, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and by mid-afternoon, I was angrily yelling. In my self-inflicted time out, I asked myself the same question I always ask, why do I fall victim to this madness?

I crawl out of my hole, apologize to the kids. Start slow and quiet, helping with homework. Understanding fills the room. Hugs and silliness and laughter follow. Yet, I still face off to the fear, the sneaky lie that tells me that I push the kids away every moment and that someday they will give up on me. Yet, I know that even when I’m irrational, I always love them. And this broken, tarnished mom will always start again.

Halloween Decorations

Halloween decorations, I don’t get it, I don’t understand. The tombstones, gore, skeletons – what is this celebrating, really? It seems natural to compare Halloween decorations to Christmas decorations. It seems that if you decorate for Halloween, you should do an equally awesome Christmas display, right? Well, that doesn’t always seem to be the case. Does that mean we have officially crossed over to the dark side by focusing on Halloween more than Christmas?

Halloween decorations glorify death, dismemberment, gore and evil. For what purpose? Why do you want symbols of death and horror on your lawn, in your house, on your body? Really, someone, somewhere, please explain this to me, because I just.don’t.get.it. Are you doing it because it’s “fun”, “silly”, “everyone’s doing it”, “I never really thought about it”. Yes, that’s what I’m getting at.

Have you thought about it? What you are doing, why you are doing it, what it represents? We all want to deny the spiritual unless it’s convenient, but the truth remains that there is a spiritual world around us. What are you glorifying or unwittingly supporting? Do you want death, dismemberment and gore? It seems that decorating this way invites this into your life. Maybe I’m going too far, getting too deep into something that isn’t your intent. OK, maybe, but how do you feel when you see tombstones and gore in front of someone’s house? Does it seem “frighteningly inviting”?

Maybe it’s time to ask questions about what the decorations represent and how they are perceived by others. What are the consequences and thought behind the display? Do they glorify depravity or a twisted sense of values? Do they represent a lack of respect for the dead or dying? Do they disregard the sensitive nature of children?