Dropping my son off for work this morning, I gave him a fist bump and told him, “Have a good day, Bud.” It’s the way we like to do things in our family, trying to have our final interaction with someone be positive and supportive instead of leaving them with a negative feeling or stress.
That’s the way we like to do things. The reality is that for the past year, that isn’t how we’ve done things. My husband and I both left stressful jobs that took too many hours away from our family and didn’t compensate us honestly for our positions (we worked for family), moved into a rental in a new city, started new jobs, then bought a house and moved again. We justified that the upheaval was worth the relief from the stress we left behind and that once things settled, we’d be better off than we were before.
For the past several months, we’ve been in the upheaval. We hate moving, not just settling into a new location, but dealing with boxes and crap we’ve had for too many years (you know, the moment several months after the move where you pop open the box and say, “That’s where that is!” after you’ve already bought a new one). But we did it. We’re here, and a month ago I figured that we were hitting the ‘settled’ stage, but I still felt…unbalanced. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything. School was out and the day was more flexible, I had a good start on a novel that’s due to the publisher at the end of the summer, and we had plans to see a lot of family. To be honest, it all went well, but I was yelling all the time and felt like some kind of evil zombie soul had moved into my body and was fighting for control of my mind. I didn’t feel like me.
What it boiled down to was that I felt out of control. I struggled with the chaos of the summer after we had just figured out the school routine, I had been working out (P90X) and eating right (not dieting) and was fighting 15 pounds of baby weight that just wouldn’t go away no matter what I did. I felt tired and frustrated about everything else, and I tried to compensate by yelling at my kids for little things that didn’t justify the volume and anger. I felt like I didn’t have control over anything, especially myself.
I had lost my zen, possibly years ago, but I had been too busy with trying to be superworkingmom that I can’t even say when I misplaced it.
It took some long walks to decide to do something about it. I had to get over the idea that I should already have the list in my head ticked off as done and be honest about what was really bothering me—me. I wasn’t taking care of myself.
I grew up with an outhouse. For those of you who don’t completely understand what an outhouse is and what it means, it means that you’re poor enough not to have indoor plumbing and you dig a pit in your yard and put a little ‘house’ over it and that’s where you go to do your business. (I am grateful that it had a toilet seat, which was pretty cold in January when the temps sunk below zero and it was too cold to snow. But, let’s be honest, a cold toilet seat is still better than squatting.) I learned not to spend money on me, for anything, unless it was crucial to my immediate survival.
Because I married the most wonderful man in the world, he has been willing to take over much of the responsibility of spending money on me, especially on things that are not survival-related, pretty things like necklaces and cute shoes, and even indoor plumbing in a suburban neighborhood with weekly trash pick-up. But he can’t decide for me that I’m worth finding my zen.
So, I did two things that were long overdue. The first thing I decided was to ‘splurge’ on better facial care products. I have oily skin, which does two things for me: it keeps me looking younger than I really am :), and it still causes breakouts even though I’m old enough to have a son who is a junior in high school :(. I finally sucked it up and took some of our tight budget and bought Proactive.
To sum it up, that was an excellent idea. When something works, it’s not really that expensive in the end because you’re actually getting your money out of it. And I feel gorgeous, which will never have a price.
The second thing I did was go on an actual, structured diet. An expensive but good one (same philosophy as good facial care products).Technically it’s a massive detox, but what it detoxes is the fat that has been around your body storing stuff that you take in but your body can’t process and break down—the bad stuff. My husband did it first because I’m too skeptical, and he lost 32 lbs. OF FAT and kept it off. He looks amazing and feels better, younger, than he has in a long time. I’m at the end of the second phase of it, the ‘loss’ phase; I have lost 17 lbs. and might lose a pound or so more before the end of my last week, and I still got my guns. Oh, yeah, angels are singing—maybe not your angels, but mine are throwing a full out concert with an opening act and fireworks. I feel in control.
I feel my zen replacing the evil zombie soul.
Sometimes it takes a major loss or change for you to be able to look back and understand not only that you were doing something that wasn’t working, but to also understand what you were doing that wasn’t working. And when you figure it out, it’s amazing how much awe you have for hindsight.
Now, please, have a zen day. (fistbump)