Sunday, January 25, 2015

My 800th post!!

What on earth could I have had to say for 800 posts?! And some of you have been here reading from the very beginning....2007! I have gone through all sorts of times with this blog...I have often wondered why I continue to spill my life out onto this screen for all to dissect and read. God only knows what people really think...but I have learned that that is none of my business. I can keep blogging until the day I decide I am done and I can talk about whatever I want, as long as I am not causing harm with my words. So here I still am. lol

I am fat again y'all. Remember back in 2012 when I went through that huge transformation and the stretching (ripping) of my comfort zone and going to see "little Miss Cutie Pie." I lost 50lbs. I have now gained 40 back. I have been living in my addiction off and on this past year or so and I will tell you that my food addiction, my coping mechanism of comforting myself with food, gives me so much compassion for our addicted kids. Because even when I set out to do what is right, even when I have a plan and I try do the very things I *want* to do...which is eat healthy and exercise and be healthy....the smallest thing can trip me up and I veer off the road of my food sobriety. I have said it many times.....my girl and I are more alike than we are different.

So I hired a new personal trainer who happens to be a dear old friend of mine. I love the times we get to see each other and now I get to see her once a week religiously at 6:30 every Saturday morning. I was there yesterday and it was good. No tears (if you were around for 2012 you will remember I sobbed my way through the first few weeks of getting going) but we did laugh a lot, talked about our kids (she was pregnant with twin girls who are 3 months younger than my Little One,) talked about our goals, and I felt comfortable.

Yes, I'm fat. So what?! ISIS is beheading people...how important is it that I am fat again? Not very....to anyone but me. So for my own physical health I am once again setting out to get strong again. That is my biggest regret...letting all of that muscle go! I loved feeling strong and fit. It wasn't even about being skinny. Although that part was fun too.

I am attempting to use a new eating plan called "Trim Healthy Mama" which so far has felt far too difficult and complicated for me to figure out. Today I spent the day trying some recipes out.....I used my spiral cutter thingy and cut zucchinis and sweet potatoes and then drizzled them with olive oil and garlic salt and pepper and baked for 12 minutes at 400 degrees. Yum. I made a quinoa salad with quinoa that was cooked in chicken broth, I added lots of vegetables and some black olives, and some 0 carb organic balsamic dressing. I also made a drink called "The Shrinker." LOL Its not bad....not as good as diet coke, thats for sure! There is something about the ingredients that are supposed to shrink my fat cells. One can hope! I will post the recipe at the bottom of this post.

I want to thank each of you who read here....some new, some for years now. Thank you for being here with me. You have read your way through some of the hardest times in my life. Your comments have meant so much and encouraged me to "keep coming back." You have no idea how much being able to come here and pour it all out and reason things out with other mother's who are walking similar paths to mine, has meant to me. Bless each of your hearts with something so special just for you.

Much much love to all.....
Annette

PS: And here you go.....


Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Soccer Mom's

I can talk about this because I was a soccer mom for more than 20 years. I went into retirement just this last soccer season when Little One hung up her cleats for the last time.

I have a friend who has a 5 year old who is just venturing into the world of team sports. She was asking me about team snacks, because word on the streets had freaked her out.

"Did you ever have to bring team snacks to your kids teams?"

"Yes."

"Well, like what? Because I am hearing that I need to pack the equivalent of a small lunch for each kid on the team, including the coach, and also include a small gift of a pencil, stickers, or eraser. Is that really how it is?!" 

We talked at length about what on earth could motivate parents to do this sort of stuff? When did soccer snack turn into "soccer buffet?" And why?

We decided in all of our down to earth wisdom that parents are so afraid of appearing to not be good enough at their job of supporting their little Loves, that even soccer snack day has turned into an event to prove their skill level. "Seeeee, I AM a good mom!"

When did parenting become a competition? It must have been a long time ago because I can remember back in the day being only too aware that others were doing "it" better and more insightfully and strongly and gently (depending on the day) than I was able to do it. And it felt downright shitty!

If I could tell a young mama anything, it would be.....spend oodles of time with your Littles, days upon days sharing the world with them, don't rush (they don't know how and it only leads to frustration for everyone,) gently and quietly be consistent, pick your battles, allow room for many mistakes (yours and theirs,) remember that you are their first teacher, the journey is not about us being in "control of our kid" but of us teaching them the way, look at the world through their eyes, keep it simple, their misbehaviors are not about you, its not personal, they are figuring out who they want to be and how they want to get there, raising kids is a lonnnnnggg process, its not done in fits and starts and there are no flashes in the pan with being a parent, you are in it for the long haul, sweet young mama, be gentle with yourself, pace yourself.... and most of all, a bag of orange slices and a granola bar is more than enough for a soccer snack.

None of us know what the future holds for our sweet little ones. I am here to tell you that soccer snacks, though they seem huge right now, are the least of our concerns. 

Annette




Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Mother's

I am thinking this morning about the mom's of the addicts. These mother's are unique. They live with constant heartbreak nipping at their heels, they continue to love and carry hope even when common sense would say that there is none....their mantra becomes "where there is breath there is hope." They will do anything to save their child, EVEN the unfathomable act of letting them go. The courage these women carry and walk in daily is unfathomable to most. The disease their children live with day after day carries an ugly stigma with it. There is no sympathy. No fundraisers, no home cooked dinners being delivered. The depth of the silence....all the words that are NOT said, is deafening. The shame that our children carry and that we carry as their mother's cloaks our shoulders with heaviness.

The things that these mother's do in support of their children is nothing short of Herculean effort and Mother Theresa gentleness. Recently a mother sent me a song that she wrote, a joint effort with others who love her child, a beautiful tribute to the love that all carry for that child. There are the mother's who face every deep dark corner of their own character defects, they make amends for not being a perfect mother, they agonize over what they did to create this illness in their child...only to find out that they didn't cause it, they can't cure it, and they can't control it, but depending on their actions of love, they can contribute to its daily sustenance. So they dig deep within themselves, feeling like they are ripping off their own limbs and they stop "helping." They love freely, but they learn through some unfathomable circumstances to leave the choices and the acts of free will with their writhing child.

I think of the mother's who are now raising their grand children, the children of their addicted children. They sacrifice the entire length of their lives to care for these babies and young children. They hope with every fiber of their being that they can guide these children, teach these children to avoid the paths that their parents took. We talk to our younger generation about the gruesome details of addiction hoping to scare them straight. The genetic predisposition, where to seek help, how to seek help, its ok to need help to figure out how to navigate life healthfully in this crazy world.

I think of the mother's who stand still not knowing what else to do and the fear and the sadness they hold....all while putting on a smile to carry on at their jobs that they desperately need to keep, to afford the credit card bills for the multiple attempts of rehab, trying anything to save their child, who is now back out in their addiction.

That any of us find a way to survive this anomaly of regular life is a miracle.

For me personally, Alanon saved my life. It taught me how to live my life and detach from my daughters. I love my program and am forever grateful for it. However, it took time, years, and I am always still learning how to love my girl in the healthiest way for both of us....and not feel guilty about it for not being what I had always envisioned for us.

Like anywhere, there are people within the program who will tell you how to do it....which is why most of us find our way into those rooms to begin with. We think we know what is best for everyone else and if they would all just listen to us, we could lead them to the promised land! Even within the walls of Alanon, we get to learn at our own speed, take action at our own speed, learn how to keep the focus on ourselves and move forward as OUR path unfolds in front of us....no matter what any well meaning person says. There are no musts in Alanon. There will be a lot of first tries, a lot of false starts, a lot of mistakes, but that is how we learn and have it reinforced for us what does and doesn't work. So don't give up! Keep coming back!

This morning, I tip my hat, I honor you, fellow mom's of our much loved addicted kids. You are beautiful, and smart, and loving. You are tired but strong. Bless your kind and gentle hearts, my kindred sisters. 

Annette


Thursday, January 15, 2015

There are always two sides to every equation......

When a child is riddled with anxiety should we push them to face their fears and find their way through day after day? Or should we acknowledge that a change may be in order and allow them to take an easier, more comfortable route....and have faith that in the long term there will be lots of life situations that will provide ample opportunity to work through their discomfort in smaller increments? These sorts of dilemmas have always been my parenting nemesis.

This post is going to be about anxiety....school and social anxiety, to be exact. The roots of "My Girl's" struggles began so many years ago with social anxiety and depression. Fast forward to today and Little One is now battling similar wars within herself. She has given me permission to write about it here. These two sweet girls who look like twins that are 12 years apart, also share this genetic brain chemical glitch.

Little One has struggled with going to school since she was tiny. Actually with leaving the house.....she would walk around as a two year old asking the big kids if they would be home to babysit her while I went out to do errands. She has always loved being at home the most. Then came preschool..."surely she will outgrow this." Kindergarten was fine (she had a teacher that was like a grandpa and had been at the school for years) then first grade...again, "surely she will outgrow this." Second, third, and finally in fourth grade, the sobbing meltdown outside the class, the worrying and obsessing for entire weekends about classroom seating arrangements, tears, begging, refusing....until one day I told her she didn't have to go back. It wasn't working. She wasn't outgrowing it and she was miserable and so was I. So we changed things up a bit. She homeschooled 3 days a week and went to school 2 days a week. A perfect blend of both worlds. The relief we both felt was tremendous. Her teacher was of the opinion that I was indulging her. I was of the opinion that I was meeting her where she was at and ensuring her emotional needs were met for the time being.

We used this schooling option until the 7th grade when she went back to school full time and again, the anxiety hit. We limped along through the year....not ideal, but she made it.

This year, the 8th grade...her best friend has gone on to high school, her favorite teacher got promoted to principal, and her big brother moved several states away. Three significant losses of people that were her touch stones, her security.

Soon after the school year began it all came to a volcanic and emotional head and we decided to stop simply putting out fires and slapping band-aids on the hurt spots and urging her along because "surely she would outgrow this."  We began to acknowledge fully and forthrightly what she has battled for so long. It was like we took the cork out of the bottle and it all came spilling out all over the place. It was hard, and scary, and sad, and I was so afraid it wouldn't ever get better. But we looked it in the eye and eventually the bottle's flow slowed and we could catch our breath and begin to formulate a plan to nurture her into functioning at her optimum and true self....which is a magnificent human being I might add. 

So what does social anxiety feel like? "Bad. Stressful. Like you can't sit still. Like everyone's watching you. Like everyone's judging you," says Little One. I would add shortness of breath, heart beating fast, lack of focus, limbs feel like they weigh a million pounds and you just want to lay down and sleep.

Fortunately we have a tremendous support system of doctors and school staff who truly care and are doing everything possible to help her through this time. And she has the dad....and me of course. I am here to tell you that really, it can be very advantageous to have at least one recovering co-dependent on your side. I am recovered just enough to know to step back and give her space to figure her own stuff out, but not quite enough to not jump if she stumbles and love her and hug her and clap as she finds her way and tell her how awesome she is, and of course she is able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound!

We have spent a lot of time learning who Little One truly is. How she operates, what works for her and what doesn't and accepting that it is what it is and its ok. Each of us are created individually, with beautiful strokes of color and texture, none the same as the other. Sometimes we have to learn how to work with and how to appreciate the unique traits that make us who we are. Even when they are challenging.

So during this latest episode, it was brought up over and over again that she needed to stay in school. She wanted to stay in school and find a way to make it work, but I did present the idea that if it wasn't working, we could always find something different that really did work for her. I am the guru of alternatives to traditional schooling....charter schools with a certain educational focus, farm schools, Waldorf schools, part time schools, virtual schools.

There is the side that says she needed to push through, overcome her anxiety, dig deep, stick with it until it isn't uncomfortable anymore. Exposure therapy-ish.

Then there is my thinking that if its not working, there are many ways to skin a cat! Lets find something that does work. If I was stuck in a job that I was miserable in, I would move on and find something that suited me better. If my kid is an octagon shape then I refuse to shove her into a square spot. However I am seemingly in the minority...."you must be a part of the whole" is the mantra.

So where is the balance? Personally for Little One, things are settling down and going much better and through avenues I never expected. Bless her brave and courageous heart, she gets up every morning and heads out to do what she needs to do. She doesn't complain, she will discuss what she is feeling, but there is no drama. She is insightful and articulate beyond her years. She co-operates and we work together toward solutions. She is a joy. She is finding her way in her own time and in her own way. For me, that is more than enough.

One resource that was very helpful and helped her to share her needs was this website.... Worry Wise Kids. I printed up this page and had her highlight the things that she thought pertained to her and we shared it with the school staff. She has a volunteer job at school helping the developmentally and physically handicapped children, that they gave her more time to commit to, they took away time limits for assignments and tests, they gave her the freedom to step outside of the classroom if it became too much, to visit a teacher friend's room and either help or sit in the back and read. She has a scheduled check in each week with her two teachers. I LOVE these people for loving my child and making themselves available over and beyond what is expected. It has been a team effort in the truest sense.

I am so grateful that we as a society are learning how to gently meet the needs of kids and acknowledge their reality and teach them coping skills and strategies to be successful within the realm of their abilities.

So that's our story for today....

Bless us all, each and every one of us, whoever we are, whatever our struggles and our strengths.
Annette


Monday, January 12, 2015

Such Complicated Issues

The other day little one and I were driving all over the place and I noticed her nails painted....all black, except for the middle one which was bright pink. I commented that I liked her nails and she proceeded to tell me that it was in support of the "transgender project."

I gulped.

"Whats that?"

She explained that a young person (I can't remember which gender....one of the perks of being an older mother.....I can only remember parts of the story, but I know my heart was beating fast) Anyway....she explained about this young person who wanted to change their gender, but their parents were very religious and would have none of that. They told their child that God doesn't make mistakes. The child ended up committing suicide and this paint job was in support of children worldwide who may feel like they are in the wrong body, the wrong gender, and that they find support and love.

I listened and then I prayed...."What do I say to that? I have always been fairly certain that you most certainly DO know what you are doing and that mistakes are not a part of your agenda. Show me what to say that will be loving and kind and accepting but true to myself."

She went on to other topics but after I settled myself, I circled back around to it and said, " I wanted to comment on what we were just talking about. I too have always believed that God doesn't make mistakes, but no matter what issues you ever will deal with, you will always have our love and support and acceptance. We would never ever want you to be afraid to tell us something because you would think that we wouldn't approve. We always always approve of YOU."

"Oh gosh Mom! I'M not transgender if that is what you are thinking!" 

I really wasn't thinking she was, but anything....I want her to know that there is not anything that could change how we feel about her or our acceptance of her as our child. Despite whatever our own beliefs on various subjects may be...she was given to us to love and care for and we fully intend to do that come hell or high water.

However, this last year has been filled with issues like this, big gigantic issues. Not just her own stuff, but kids I come into contact with through various involvements in the community. Kids making the proclamation that they are bi-sexual, kids cutting themselves, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use (of course...thats an oldie but goodie,) Or kids dealing with the significant dysfunction and/or mental illness and/or substance abuse issues of their parents or guardians and walking around carrying those burdens on their shoulders. I have heard of parents not being willing or able to acknowledge their child's deep depression and refusing to take them to the dr. Telling them they will be ok, shake it off, think happy thoughts. I won't even go into the political and worldwide concerns our kids carry.

What happened to the days of their biggest concern being if so and so likes them or not. I feel like these are such big, deep issues, and they are real. I feel like how we respond as adults can really
affect these precious and fresh souls.....we can crush them or empower them with just a word, just a glance.  Somehow their needs need to be met. Even if its just, "I hear you. Lets figure out what to do together. You are never alone."

All I know to do is give a big hug and a kiss on the top of the head and then listen. I can only hope thats enough.

And pray a lot. I am not the answer to what ails just about anyone, but I can sure be a conduit of God's love and grace and compassion. I hope we all can begin to step out and show God's love. None of us are alone and I especially want our young people to understand that at the deepest level of their soul.

Annette





Thursday, January 8, 2015

My God Box

I posted about this same exact box several years back....I went and searched for that post and read what I had written there. I placed your children's photos in my box when you gave them to me....they are all still there safe and sound. Some of those parents don't blog anymore, some have lost their child to this disease, some are still around occasionally, some have kids, like mine, who are still in very active addiction. Just know that where ever you are, where ever your child is, I still hold this box in my hands each day and hand everything over to God for His care and love to surround. I pray that each of those precious faces and the spirits attached to them, will eventually find their way to a Higher Power who is patiently waiting for them to allow Him to walk beside them and show them the way.

Someone commented on my last post that they wanted to hear more about my God box....

An artist friend made this box and I bought it at one of her shows several years ago. I place my concerns, my cares...in the form of photographs or written little scraps of notes, into my God box. For me its a symbolic way of letting go and turning them over to my Higher Power. Once I place them in my God box, I don't have to carry those cares and concerns with me anymore. I light a candle while I pray, only to make it a special time....different from any other time, to honor those I am praying for and the One I am praying to.

Letting go, surrendering the determination to do everything my own way, learning how to be still, how to wait and let things unfold, acknowledging that I may not know what is best and that its ok to not have the answers, have been life changing, life giving, lessons for me. It is safe to say that my God box was the beginning of those lessons. Placing things inside of that box and letting go of any control over them was my first step to learning how to live a life of trust vs. frantic efforts at control. My God box opened the door to my first days of living in freedom. Freedom that had been swirling all around me just waiting for me to grab a hold of it and let it carry me where it would. To the unknown land of sanity and peace and serenity....and when I lose my way, because I still do occasionally, I know what to do to find my way back. The land of crazy is no longer a comfortable dwelling place for me. Thank all that is holy!

Much much love to all of us who are finding our way the best we know how to. Our HP see's our efforts and honors them.

Annette

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I let them in....

Do you all remember awhile back when I posted about wanting to begin to have company over? How we had stopped several years ago....it wasn't a conscious choice. It was just something that happened. We were always in crisis mode and we never knew what was going to happen next and we gradually just stopped having people over. We were too tired to navigate all of the in's and out's of having our friends over. To company clean the house. To buy special groceries to feed them something nice. We were too tired to stay connected. To worn out to let them see us, raw and vulnerable and afraid, and have to deal with the questions, the comments, the advice, the sad looks on their faces. It was so much easier just to go home and close the door and savor the peace.

In stepping back, our fortress walls began to be constructed without us even knowing it was happening! Its safe at home, its our refuge, and we also happen to live in a somewhat isolated area surrounded by mountains and pine trees, so it was easy to hide out there. Its off the beaten path so no one was just going to be driving by and drop in. I have been known to spend whole weekends in my jams and slippers, no make-up, no bra, my hair tied up in a knot, plodding along.

This past weekend though, was different. I had committed to giving an essential oil party (not thinking of it actually being AT my house) and since I can't ever break my word....I had to do it. I invited "a ton" of people thinking no one would come. If I got 3-4 I would have been happy. Instead right around 20 people came...some brought friends, there were kids playing video games and air hockey, everyone was just doing their thing, and the dad orchestrated parking for all of them in our driveway.....walking around with a flashlight like an air traffic controller. lol

My house was super duper clean and I indulged my fear of judgement by buying a new throw rug for the kitchen. What ended up happening was so wonderful. It was fun! Everyone had fun and it started at 5:30 and the last person left at 10. I served dinner.....tortilla soup with the fixings, tortillas, and water flavored with citrus fresh essential oil. I saw old friends who came. Met new spouses. Got to introduce the dad to my beautiful sponsor....it was just so great. I was nervous to let them in to see me, how we live, my life away from work, away from a meeting, me in my environment....but they liked it!

The girl leading the oil class opened it by saying, " I have never led nor attended a class for any group...Mary Kay, Tuppperware, anything,  that has been this well attended. Annette, you are well loved." So I do have friends! LOL

So with this new freedom of opening the doors and letting people in, I've now invited my walking group over in a couple weeks for a potluck dinner and a night of knitting. They are real knitters, I am a pretend knitter.....anything that is square or rectangle and in the knit stitch is about all I can handle.

So much has gone on......Christmas was hard, uneventful because I didn't turn anything into an event but there were lots of potential "event" happenings all through out. I just kept letting go and saying, "its just one day" and this is her journey. My far away job ended the last day of Dec. and wouldn't you know that one of my other long time clients had been very sick and they were waiting before I even got a day off to snatch those days up. There are a lot of valid reasons why I didn't say no. My goal of being home with little one after school is achieved though. That was a non-negotiable to me. I have had so many job referrals the past 2 weeks....its like I made up my mind to cut back and Satan himself went into overdrive trying to bury me and make it impossible. I feel like I have literally been fighting to grab the time and protect it as my own. I even had a woman offer to pay me several thousand dollars a month to let her mom move in with us. "Then you could be be home with little one." There are so many reasons why I couldn't commit to that....being housebound, the legalities, the mom has very advanced issues, my loyalty to my current clients.....the list can go on and on.

When I was cleaning my house for the party, I went through my God box and looked at each precious face inside there. You know who you are if you sent me your child's picture. I stopped and prayed for each one....they are each being held in my heart and in God's hands. Some I know are still in active addiction, including my own girl, some have passed away which is beyond my comprehension, and some I don't hear from their parents anymore so don't know the outcomes.

Anyway, lets keep all praying for each other.
Much love......
Annette

PS: I am LOVING my oily journey!! Truly!