Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Domesticated Female

It is widely believed that the domesticated female is part of a dwindling group.  Not yet endangered, but certainly less frequently observed in the general population.  There are, however, pockets where they seem to thrive.  In fact, it seems they far outnumber their couterparts in these areas.

The domesticated female is easy to identify, although the traits used for classification have a wide range of compliance.  Some dabble.  Some go all in.  Let's examine a few of her qualities.

She is a strong nester.  She works hard to create a pleasant living environment for her mate and offspring.  From tidying the nest to adding those touches which make it more welcoming.  This is done to strengthen the home life attachement. 

She takes great joy in providing the sustenance for all who enter the dwelling.  If you are within her realm she will attempt to feed you.  It is her instinct to do so.  She is very skilled at this trait.

Her children and her mate are her top priority.  She will sacrifice food and safety so that they are taken care of.  She will even give her life to protect them.

In contrast, the feral female scores quite low on all of the above.  The state of the nest appears to be less important to her.  She will keep it in such a state that it doesn't endanger the family, but that's about it.  No extra effort is exerted to make it just right.

The feral female is more concerned with sustaining life than providing a variety of foods.  She will meet this need only to the point that there will be food available.  She seldoms prepares the food or insists that others eat, encouraging self-sufficiency.

She watches to make sure that her mate and offspring are safe, but she also works to meet her own needs.  Sometimes the family is ignored so that she can go off and stretch her wings.  She comes back often enough that no one dies, but the squawking upon her return can often be heard for great distances.

The domesticated female is generally preferred by males, although some lean toward the feral.  If a feral female finds herself in a pack of domesticated females she often tries to blend in, knowing that she is considered the lesser of the species.  An attempt to domesticate a feral female may work, but it is usually temporary as her natural state of being is wild.

Both types thrive best when allowed to follow their natural bent.

Guess which one I am.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Mirrors of My Mind

I look in the mirror and see what I am.
I start to cry.
For in the mirrors of my mind I see what I could have become.

Is that the ultimate in teen angst or what?  I wrote it when I was about fourteen, in my poetic phase.

Isn't it funny how at the age of fourteen I thought I was all I would ever be?  That who I was then was who I would be for life? 

I was such a perfectionist back then, absolutely unwilling to forgive myself for the smallest flaws.  I'm sure that depressive episode, aside from being hormonal, was about not doing well on a test or disappointing my parents.  It didn't take much to make me get down on myself back then.

Unfortunately, that fourteen-year old girl is still inside me.  I still tend to be a perfectionist about many things.  And it's still way too easy for me to get down on myself.

I'm doing better, but I still have room for improvement.

And now I know that.  I know that I will continue to grow and progress.  Trite though it is, I am a human becoming not a human being (I know - *big groan* - sorry to be so cheesy). 

I can always be more.  And my idea of what more is changes as I grow older.  I think smarter will always be part of it; I want to be smart.  But now wiser is more important than smarter.  Having lots of people like me is great, but having lots of people that I love is better.  Producing a lot that is visible to others is wonderful.  But the internal growth that no one else sees is of more value to me now.

Learning that I judge myself far more than others judge me was important.  Learning that I am the only one whose judgments matter was vital.

The mirrors of my mind are more forgiving now.  I see more clearly now.  And I am content with what I see.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Weighty Issue

It seems like half the people I know are either trying to lose weight or are training for something.  A 5k.  A marathon.  A triathlon.  Something.

When I hear that people are doing these things you know what I want to do?  I want to grab my soccer chair and go sit at the finish line and cheer for them.  I need the soccer chair because standing too long wears me out.  And I would really like to get a parking space close to where I need to be because any long walk or hike is going to cause some serious heavy breathing (and not the good kind).  And I can't cheer too loudly or long because I don't have the lung capacity that I used to have.  But I am behind you all the way; more power to you.

Yes, I know I'm fat.  Yes, it bugs me.  Am I ready to do something about it?  Some days, but not all of them.

Let me just tell you a few of the things that clued me in that I could stand to lose some poundage.
* I weigh more than I ever did pregnant.
* Extra large clothes don't fit anymore.  I mean, I can get them on but who really wants to look at that?
* Sometimes I accidentally catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror as I'm looking down and it looks like I'm wearing a whiplash collar.

But while those things do bother me, they don't bother me as much as the fact that I get so winded whenever I do anything.  And I mean anything.  Sometimes the stupidest thing will have me out of breath and I stand there humiliated and hoping that others can't hear me huffing and puffing.

It was bad enough when I was coaching my kids in soccer (a few years ago) and couldn't run around on the field with them for long.  Too much running in soccer for me.  But when a friend of mine wanted to go for a walk and I made it a couple of blocks before wanting to sit down I knew I was in trouble.

I am worried about my health.  I am worried that if I can't lose it soon then I never will.  In fact, I'd keep some of the weight if I just felt better.

And before you start commenting let me just say no, I don't want to go jogging, walking, swimming, or to the gym with you.  I don't need the pressure of a partner and the guilt of letting one down right now.  If I get to the point that I want one, I'll let you know.  I'm just not there yet.

And just a warning to all those of you who are young and can still eat whatever you want without really putting on much weight or are still in good shape without exercising and think people are lying when they tell you it won't always be this way -- they are NOT lying. 

And, ladies, when you hear that in your late thirties and early forties you will thicken around the middle, beware!  It sneaks up on you.  You look in the mirror and your shape seems to be about the same.  You're not really sure why your jeans don't fit the way they used to.  What they don't tell you is that you have to turn sideways to see it.  One day, for some inexplicable reason, you turn to the side and look at yourself in the mirror and WHAM!  There it is.

And you feel like such a fool.  When it happens to you, remember that I warned you.  And it happens to the best of us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Your Place or Mine?

My husband and I have separate bedrooms.

I'll just let you sit with that for a moment and get all the judgments out of the way.

Feel better?  Good.  Let's move on.

Okay, maybe you already knew.  Maybe it doesn't bother you.  Maybe it makes you just a little unsettled.  Maybe you think it's just plain wrong.  Whatever your reaction, it's okay.  I don't mind what other people think about it.

I was surprised when it bothered other people so much though.  I didn't realize that our sleeping arrangements were of interest to anyone else.  My elderly neighbor found out and thought it was his place to counsel me strongly against it as we were standing in line at the grocery store.  Most people just raise an eyebrow but keep their mouths shut.  My therapist was thrilled.

It was either separate rooms or divorce.  We tried separation, but we missed each other.  And sharing a room was too much.  When we aren't getting along sleeping on the couch just doesn't do it.  We need to be able to go to our corners.

There were lots of things that went into the decision.  There was a little worry about judgment initially.  We worried about how our kids would react. 

All in all, it's been great for us.  Our kids have even told me how much better things seem.

There are tons of benefits.  He snores and talks in his sleep; I am a light sleeper.  He goes to bed early because he has to get up early; I am almost never in bed before midnight.  He can listen to music to go to sleep; I can read in bed for hours.  My room can be what I want it to be and his can be what he wants it to be.  And many, many more.

Please don't think I am taking a stand on sleeping arrangements.  I have no idea what is best for you in your house.  It was the right decision for us.

We aren't forced to spend time together.  Because we have separate bedrooms, we have to choose it.  But it's okay, because we do.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

There Was a Time

There was a time when -

* I ran everywhere I went because I had so much energy.
* I was afraid all the time.
* After a long car ride someone carried me to my bed.
* I spent my summers on horseback, in a tree, or on the mountain hunting for monarch caterpillars on milkweed plants.
* I dreaded going home.
* I felt new life move within me.
* I was sad all the time.
* I bottle fed lambs.
* I danced.
* I was happy all the time.
* I slept over at my grandma's house.
* I felt anything was possible.
* I wanted to kill myself.
* I never stopped talking.
* I was afraid to speak up.
* I went to bed for a year and a half.
* I found hope.

Everything is transitory in this life.  I need to remember that more.  To help me endure the difficult times.  To help me treasure the beautiful times.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Choose the Burdens I Carry

I sat in a psycho-education group, a class full of women.  It was a rare day on which the class was being taught by a man.  He was talking about choices.  He told of a friend who had been raped.  In talking to her, he'd said that she'd chosen to be raped.

The room went silent.  I felt several women around me bristle.  I felt myself bristle.  But I knew this man.  I knew he had a good heart and a wise mind.  I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and listen to what he had to say.  I was hoping he'd give me something to grab onto so that I could comment and clarify what he'd really meant to say to the group.

He'd said that she'd had a moment when she knew that if she didn't allow the rape she would be killed.  That she'd chosen life over death in the only way available to her in that moment.  It was about the power of knowing that we have choices even when we think we don't.  It was about not letting ourselves think of ourselves as victims forever.

This is an extreme case, to be sure.  And, choice or not, I don't think I would ever say that she chose to be raped.  I would say that she chose to survive.

Maybe our burdens are large.  Maybe they are small.  We don't choose which burdens enter our lives -- but we do choose which ones stay.

I offer a couple of mine as an example.

I did not choose to get a headache that would last forever, nearly five years so far.  But I have chosen what to do about it.  I did everything I could to treat it.  And by making other choices, I choose to keep it.  I could choose to be heavily medicated all the time so that I can't be a mother and wife and friend.  I could even kill myself.  Both of these are options.  But they are not options I like.  I would rather keep the pain and enjoy my life.

I did not choose for my husband to leave our faith.  Having him leave the church was incredibly difficult.  And living with someone of a different faith is tough every day.  For both of us.  I could divorce him.  But that is not an option I like.  So we stay together.  He's too important to me and my children.  He's my best friend.  It's a lot of work trying to figure out how to respect each other and be true to ourselves, but it's worth it to me.  I would rather argue about it every so often than not have him in my life.

I am not a victim of my life.

Every day I choose to keep burdens.  We all do.  Maybe it's weight.  Maybe it's where we live.  Maybe it's our job.  If there is something that feels like a burden, ask yourself why you keep it.

Maybe you don't like the other options.  Maybe the other options seem harder than just keeping what you've got.  Maybe you don't see the other options.  But there is always another option.

Knowing that I have a choice is empowering.  It's not something I've always known.  But it's something I've always had.