Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Embrace our Differences

I had an old friend message me and ask me a question awhile back that she asked me to answer. She is a fiery and funny gal, nearing 30 and unmarried and the premise of her request was this: "Since I can't make anyone marry me, what I've decided to do is to focus on what I CAN do, especially since a lot of those things take quite a bit of time to implement & become habitual. Then when the time does come to get married, I'll have learned those things & be that much further ahead of the game." I thought I would share my insight here as her request falls completely in line with my life mantra "I only have control of myself." This has been especially helpful to repeat to myself in those moments when you are supposed to count to '10' before reacting/responding - I just repeat my mantra instead of counting. :)

Question: What is one (or a few) thing(s)/talents/skills you wish you'd developed before you got married/had kids or something you did that you've found to be very helpful/useful in your marriage. So, for instance, I've been multi-focal: developing an organizational plan & keeping to it, more consistent personal hygiene (don't freak out, I mean like flossing, & plucking eyebrows, make-up, dressing better), learing negotiation skills, getting out of debt/managing finances better, learning how to compromise when the stakes are high, facing fear, etc. etc. I'm sure you get the point. So my question is, what have you found most helpful? What do you wish you'd worked on?

Answer: I'm going with an overall viewpoint on this one, to embrace that we are different. Sounds simple doesn't it? But the real meaning of this kicks in when you and your spouse disagree on paint colors, couch fabric, china, humor in movies (my husband LOVES "Anger Management" and it's kind of a 'ehh' to me while I think "What's Up Doc" is hilarious and he'd rather work in the yard), disciplining kids, how to chop a red pepper or onion, how to load the dishwasher, what's a financial need vs. a necessity, or viewpoints on how I think laundry should be folded on its way out of the dryer as opposed to putting it on top of the dryer to get the next load in as quick as possible. As human beings, we grow-up trying to figure out how to get what we want and how we like things to be done. Our code of conduct and our viewpoints are what drive us and how we respond to every situation that arises in our day.

It is so easy to criticize someone else and honestly - aren't we just critical because it isn't the way we would do it or we think we have a better approach or solution? Isn't that why our gut reaction is to get defensive when someone questions what we do or how we regard something? Politics are so nasty simply because one person see's things one way, the other person see's them another way and both people think their way is right! And how much time and energy do we waste trying to get the other person to convert to our way of thinking? Too much if you ask me! Any change of heart or opinion is going to have to come from within. If we learned to accept each other's differences and respect their way of thinking, so many 'little issues' probably wouldn't be issues any more.

I was invited to dinner one night at a friend's house while my husband was out of town. They wouldn't let me help clean up so we chatted while they did the dishes. They started to bicker about how the dishes should be cleaned. She was the one cleaning and he was loading the washer and he wanted something done differently than how she was doing it. She simply said to him, "if you want it done a certain way than you are welcome to do it." It wasn't said with malice, she was simply letting him know that she was doing it her way and if he had a problem with it, he could take over. It was one of those 'light bulb' moments for me when I realized that if I wanted something done a specific way - I should do it. On the flip side, if my spouse wanted something done a specific way, he could do it. There isn't any point in arguing about it or wasting your precious energy on trying to convert the other person to doing it 'your way.' My way is not necessarily the right way, nor is 'his' way. The way we think things should be done really is just our preference. This is so applicable to parenting as well.

The other piece  of advice someone gave me but I didn't pay enough attention to, is to always look for the best in people, especially your spouse. If you focus on what is wrong, you will always find something wrong. If you focus on what is good and right, you will find more of that goodness. There is a balance here though that does include reality - if there is a major problem, that shouldn't be ignored. But for the day to day, focus on the positive. As for finding that 'someone' in your life, don't ever marry someone thinking you can 'change' the thing about them you don't like. You don't buy a Volkswagen and hope you can turn it into an Audi. If you buy a Volkswagen, it will always be a Volkswagen. You have to ask yourself if you can forever deal with the things that make you crazy about them (good and bad). You will forever only have control of yourself. And then choose to be happy!

Anyone have any other thoughts or words of wisdom for my good friend? What do you wish you had known or had done or developed a particular skill before getting married?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Relax and Your Body Will Thank You

I had the opportunity a couple of nights ago to have a chat with renowned personal trainer Pete Cerqua. I have been reading his book The 90-Second Fitness Solution and loving it! As I was speaking with him, there was one nugget of information that stood out to me the most and it wasn’t necessarily the fact he pointed out but the reason for it.

You will see greater results and benefit from a 30 minute walk once a week than an hour of running every day. Why? The psychological effect and the lack of STRESS that comes with the walking. When you go for a walk, you are calm, relaxed, you are outside taking in what is around you; it’s just plain pleasant. When you hit the pavement for a run you are on a mission and it has to be ‘x’ intense and it has multiple requirements (by us) and stressors that go with it (not to mention that running is stressful on the body and Pete actually has you make a ‘withdrawl’ from your ‘life balance’ sheet for it).

I also read some tips from Dr. Oz the other day and one of them talked about simplifying your daily routine and having the same ‘darn breakfast’ every day to make your life easier. Another point he made was that if you are NOT five minutes early to where ever you are supposed to be, you are late. Why are these points so imperative - the psychological factor and the stress that accompanies them takes a toll for better or worse. We all know how stress can affect us, but I don’t know if I have truly given stress the attention it deserves. We’ve heard about cortisol that actually helps our bodies retain fat when we are stressed. We also know that stress weakens the immune system (heavy stress actually depletes your body completely of white blood cells – and we need those to fight infections and disease!).  Stress leads to ulcers, migraines, inflammation, pre-mature aging! Yikes!

As I read and study, there is a constant conflict of information that is out there. Some people say High Fructose Corn Syrup is just like sugar and that there is no difference, while others say your body doesn’t know how to process it.  I wouldn’t doubt that for every study that Pete quoted, there was another study done elsewhere that had a different result. I’ve heard it recommended that our bodies need variety and we should have something different for breakfast every day! So what is right? I don’t have proof of this – this is opinion per Brittany – but I think what I’m about to say is pretty valid. What works for you, is what is best for you. BUT WAIT! Before you get all enthused, I have one caveat and that is you do have to make decisions based on good information, sound reason and logic and plain ole’ common sense and wisdom.  If you loved eating half a cake every night and felt just fine about it, you would still gain weight, if not balloon. When I spent two months in Europe and was eating out often, I didn’t gain any weight. I didn’t gorge when I ate, I exercised and I wasn’t worrying about food. The stress that comes with having to do something a certain way, it seems to me, is where the real problem lies. I tend to hang on to wait that I’m trying to get rid of when I fixate on eating and working out. I’m stressed!!

When I last met with Preston’s counselor, we talked seriously about picking and choosing battles and working on staying calm and asking myself,  ‘what is the main goal here?’ or “what is the point I am trying to get across?” The heart of the matter was me and my health and reducing stress. Getting all worked up over life, essentially, will put my health in a precarious position. I still discipline, and I still get frustrated, but I ask myself regularly – how much negative energy do I really want to put toward that?

One of the four main factors in Pete’s book is stress and I love the points and suggestions he makes. That is as a big of a factor on one’s health as what we put in our bodies and how we take care of them. Now go for a walk and enjoy the day!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back In The Saddle Again

SO... Preston's first week of school was fantastic. He completed all of his work in class, did his homework and was thrilled beyond measure to not have any missing assignments. In fact, this morning he came into my room complaining about a sore throat and in worrying that he wouldn't be at school said, "Oh no! I don't want to miss any work and have missing assignments!" From that kid it was almost like the heavens opened and there was an angelic chorus singing - he has that internal drive to stay on top of his work! I am hopeful that he retains that, but it was something I hadn't heard from him before. The days are long and grueling for him which is obvious from his meltdowns last week, but I have been giving him a lithium orotate when he gets home from school and I do think that is helping. I also sat down yesterday to write out my expectations of him during the school year bearing in mind some of the issues we have been having of late (back-talking, whining, non-compliance, etc.). I tried to make my document funny which to him I succeeded in doing somehwat but at other parts he got very concerned and told me, "Mom. You are trying to be funny but it really isn't." Oh well! I can try right? I thought I would share the run down and I know I will add to it as I deem necessary. These kiddo's need specifics and to have it written down where they can refer to it is important. And I did get him outside very easily for Land Mine Deactivation Duty (cleaning up doggy bombs in the yard).

1)       All about a Happy Preston

a.       Respect for yourself and those around you at all times and in all places.

b.       No talking back. You are ALWAYS welcome to impart wisdom, humor and optimism.

c.        Worry about yourself. Braeden, Bentley and Gretel will be just fine without you.

d.       Stay in your space. Other people’s space has cooties and those are gross.

e.        Inside voices inside.  Eruptions and meltdowns can be enjoyed in your bedroom.

f.         Boomering and burping is for personal enjoyment in the bathroom or your bedroom only.

2)       The wonderful world of food.

a.       Dinner time will be enjoyed with Mom at 5:30pm on weeknights.

b.       You have to try what is on your plate whether or not you have or have not had it before.

                                                               i.      You have to finish what is on your plate to earn pre-bed snacks.

                                                             ii.      You have to have vegetables to earn dessert.

c.        Follow the chart for Table Arrangement Specialist night and Dapper Dish Duty

d.       Snacking may be enjoyed every 2.5 hours. Water your stomach in between.

                                                               i.      The Bunny Bowl is for happy, non-artificially flavored or partially hydrogenated bunnies (you get to enjoy the bunny bowl for avoiding naughty foods at school).

                                                             ii.      Bunny Gummies are yours should you choose to do the 1,2,3’s of the morning (make your bed, get dressed/put jammies away, brush your teeth)

3)       Paper Slayer (This is your title when it comes to Homework)

a.       Upon return from slaying classwork dragons at school, there will be homework (origami ogres) to slay at home. You have 15 minutes (or until 4:15) to fuel your body (snack) to prepare to conquer these horrendous beasts. We will work in sets of 10 minutes. You then get a 5 minute time-out to collect your wits before getting back in the ring.

                                                               i.      Playtime outside with fair maidens or fellow slayers will be enjoyed upon slaying all origami ogres.

4)       Team Plays

a.       When someone kicks the ball to you, it’s up to you score a goal!

                                                               i.      If we need your help (and we do!) please follow-through and do!

1.       Land Mine Deactivator (T, Th, S)

2.       Water Closet Whippersnapper (Main Floor) (S)

3.       Light Switch/Door Knob Inocculator (M, W, F)

4.       Anything we know you can do better than us (which is a lot)

5)       Count Momula (That’s me)

a.       I am Count Momula. I don’t drink blood, but do love garlic and unfortunately have very white, pasty skin that starts on fire in the sunlight. My job is to ensure compliance of said Home Regulatory Statutes or to be Chief Enforcer of all duties as outlined in above Constitution. We are all in this together and all have our part. Master enforcement techniques:

                                                               i.      Counting and Taking 9

                                                             ii.      Choices and Consequences (for better or worse)

                                                           iii.      Precision Requests

                                                            iv.      Loss of Privileges

                                                              v.      REWARDS!! Giddy Up!

More than anything, remember Momula’s job is to teach, train, love and enforce. My job is to help you become the best you can be and since I’ve already been where you have been, you are going to have to trust me that what I do is ALL ABOUT YOU AND YOUR LASTING HAPPINESS. We will not always agree, but I always love you.