You Must Chill!

More than once in my life, I’ve decided that I need someone like Lloyd Dobler in my life.  Today, I need him to tell me to chill. 

(Seriously, if you’ve never seen Say Anything, you need to ASAP).

Somehow, over the last 3+ years, I’ve lost the ability to relax.  Oh, I’ve always had a tendency to be a little over-analytical, and to over-think things too much, but I could always take a step back and chill.  Today, not so much. 

The littlest things overwhelm me.  A lot.

Dieting is an issue because I don’t know what I want to do.  Should I go back to Weight Watchers? Count calories on MyFitnessPal? Track electronically or on paper? If I track on paper, should it be a separate tracker, or in my planner?

Ah, the planner issue! I found a great app that could work, but I prefer pen & paper. But I can’t find the perfect planner that allows me to see my weekly appointments and keep track of my tasks. If you knew the amount of planner angst I have, you’d be…terrified.  It’s bad.  Very bad.  And something that, honestly, plagues me daily, and gets worse when I’m in the midst of the semester with a billion things to do.

Entertaining the kids overwhelms me.  I want to take KidPilgrim outside to play in his kiddie pool, but what do I do with BabyPilgrim? I don’t want him crawling on the ground so much, so do I hold him? Do I take the pack & play outside for him? It all overwhelms me to the point where we don’t go out much.  Which I know isn’t fun for the kids.

I need to relax. I need to simplify, and just go with the flow.  But I’ve over-thought myself into such a corner that it’s hard to dig out.

Plus, for me, summer is almost over, which is adding to my sense of…doom.  I start classes on August 26th, so fun time will be limited after that.  I wanted to enjoy my summer, and get healthy, and have fun.  So far, that hasn’t happened. 

Anyone know where I can find Lloyd Dobler?

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Disappointment and Identity

First, I want to think those who commented and messaged me after yesterday’s post.  Your support means a lot to me.  Seriously. 

After watching Brene Brown’s TED Talk about Vulnerability (at the bottom of the post, if you’re interested), I realized, I think, what’s been eating at me.  It’s best summed up by this Ani DiFranco quote: “Though I’m not really who I said I was, or who I thought I’d be” (from “The True Story of What Was”). 

Before I explain, I realize that what I’m about to write may sound whiny.  It may sound like I don’t love my husband or my children, or my life with them.  That’s not true at all. 

OK.  I always thought that I would be a writer and a teacher. I didn’t want to be a famous writer (too much pressure), but I wanted to be a published poet/writer. And I wanted to be an English Professor.  I wanted the office filled with books and photos, filing cabinets spilling over with papers, classes filled with students who couldn’t wait to discuss literature and writing. 

I don’t have that. 

The reality is that while I write, I haven’t submitted anything for publishing in a long time.  I haven’t made it a priority.  I constantly think that I’m just not good enough anymore.  I’m too old to get started. 

Yes, I teach English, but it’s not what I wanted it to be. I’m an adjunct, which means I’m a part-time instructor.  In order to make a (not very) decent wage, I have to teach at 2-3 colleges.  I don’t have a desk, an office, or even any space to store anything on campus. I have to lug my stuff around with me.  I teach whatever classes I can get (though at one school, they do their best to let me teach the classes I want). Because I’m at several schools, my focus is scattered, and I know that affects the quality of my work in the classroom.  It’s more difficult to connect with students because I’m not on campus much anymore. 

Also, I never anticipated how much motherhood would affect my identity.  I’ve come to realize that above all, I’m a mom.  I change diapers, clean up vomit, calm a child having a nightmare, cut the crusts off of the bread, and step on toys constantly.  I am incredibly lucky to have my boys, and I can’t begin to describe how much I love them. 

But, I feel like a failure.  I feel like, at 37 years old, I haven’t accomplished anything.  I’m an unpublished, part-time peon.

I can’t change the job situation.  The only school that’s hiring a FT English person started taking applications in January (I applied), and hasn’t done anything with them.

I can change the writing situation.  I can suck it up and start submitting.  I can carve out time every day to write. I need to do this.

Above all, I need to recognize who I am now, not who I thought I’d be, and stop feeling sorry for myself.  I need to stop trying to squash that feeling of failure with muffins and Oreos.  I need to love myself for who I am.  I’m not saying that I’m full of self-loathing.  I don’t think I am.  But I do need to love myself better.  And I’m going to work on that.

I constantly feel like I’m letting people down.  My family, my colleagues…it’s so frustrating.  And tiresome.  The one college I teach at is where I got my AA degree, and where I met my mentor.  He’s my colleague now, and I still worry about letting him down.  And I think that causes me to hold back and not try new things or take risks.  I need to change that. 

Anyway.  That’s what I have for today.  Thanks again for reading, and for your support.  And, seriously, watch the video when you have a moment.  Brown knows her shit. :)

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Don’t Feed Me

I used to be a fan of MTV’s show “Jackass.”  Please, don’t judge, but I thought it was funny as hell.  Stupid humor, but it made me laugh.  Bam Margera ended up with his own show, and his father Phil was a featured “character.” Phil was morbidly obese, and always the butt of jokes.  In one episode, Phil is challenged to not eat for 24 hours. Bam told everyone not to feed Phil, even telling Phil’s favorite eateries not to serve him.  He also put up signs:

Image

Lately, I’ve felt like making a similar sign with my face, and distributing it everywhere in town. 

I can’t stop eating. 

During my worst eating phase, about 10 years ago, I worked mostly alone (my boss was there maybe 2-3 hours per week) in an office.  My days were filled with food to combat the loneliness.  I’d eat small ice cream cakes, order enough food for 5 people and eat it all myself…it was bad.  I was embarrassed when I ordered the food, but instead of letting that stop me, I’d write my order down on a list, to make it seem more authentic that I was ordering for more than myself. 

Once I left that office environment, my eating calmed down, and my binges were further and further apart until I just didn’t do it anymore.  I didn’t go right to eating healthy, but I was on my way. 

Lately, I’ve been eating more and more like that girl in the office.  Muffins, donuts, candy, ice cream, portions big enough for 2-3 people.  I’ve even starting hiding my eating from my kids because a) I’m eating food I don’t want them to have, and b) I’m ashamed of how much I’m eating.  I’m lucky that KidPilgrim will choose fruit over a cookie, and I don’t want to change that. 

I’ve tried everything I can think of.  I’ve planned out my meals ahead of time, stocked my kitchen with healthy foods, let Hubs know what my eating plan is so that he can “check” on me, texted friends when I feel the urge to derail, tried Weight Watchers, tried MyFitnessPal, tried moderation, tried quitting sugar cold turkey.  I’m still struggling.

I’m aware that every bit of food I put in my mouth is a conscious choice.  I’m aware that I’m eating to cover up feelings.  My life isn’t horrible by any means.  Honestly.  But I do get bored, or stressed, or frustrated, especially when I’m alone with the kids.  Instead of yelling, I eat.  Instead of allowing myself to just be bored or frustrated, I eat.  And eat. And eat. My problem time is the afternoon.  I try to keep myself busy, but most days that doesn’t work. 

I know that I’m the only person who can change this. 

On Sunday, I sat down and planned out my meals for the week.  My goal was to eat clean, vegetarian, and to cut out the sugar (not completely, but eat healthier sugar like fruit).  Monday was ok.  Not perfect, but ok. Today, I went to the store to pick up some things, and found myself standing in front of the muffin display.  I chose three muffins.  Because, you know, one just isn’t enough.  I just ate one of them.  It was too sweet, delicious, and I feel gross now.  But I keep thinking about the other two muffins that are waiting for me. 

And I seriously just want to cry.  Because this isn’t what I want for myself.  I should treat myself better than this. 

A year ago, I was 8 months pregnant, and couldn’t wait to get back to Weight Watchers.  I had plans to start running, and to run a half marathon this year.  This was supposed to be the year I finally reached my goal weight. 

I’m nowhere near any of those goals. 

I have no idea what to do, and that scares me.  What if I can’t stop? What if I gain weight back? What if I never live a day as a healthy adult? What if my kids develop these same eating habits?  What if I never run?  What if I don’t live to see my kids grow up?

I need help.

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Breathe

Forgive me if this post is a bit jumbled.  I have a lot to write, and I can’t guarantee that it’ll make sense. 

I am not happy….with anything, really.  I’ve been depressed for months.  Not depressed to the point where I can’t function, thankfully, but depressed to the point where I’m just not fun to be around.  I don’t smile or laugh much.  I yell too much.  I don’t want to be this way.

Let me break it down…

  • Work: I am frustrated with work.  I am so, so tired of being an adjunct.  While there have been benefits to teaching at multiple colleges (exposure to different philosophies, technology, students, professional development, etc), I’m tired of it.  I hate having to drive so much.  I hate having different bags for each school.  I hate not having an office, or even a desk (though I did luck out and get to share a real office at one campus this spring, and it was fantastic) or file cabinet.  I hate that most of my work is done at home, and that it interferes with my family. I hate that despite working my ass off, I barely break $20K per year.  I understand that I chose to teach and leave corporate life (where I had my own office, a real salary, and benefits), but I didn’t think I’d still be part-time after 7+ years.  Full-time teaching gigs are rare in these parts.  I don’t know how much longer I can do this financially or mentally.
  • Kids: I love my kids.  I really do.  But I find myself getting frustrated at the littlest things.  I find myself not wanting to cuddle or play.  I’ve been yelling too much instead of just listening and showing compassion. That’s not the kind of mom I want to be.
  • Marriage: My therapist warned me years ago that marital satisfaction declines with each child.  I didn’t believe her.  But, oh boy, was she right! Hubs and I are in constant parent mode, and rarely have time alone together.  We’re disconnected, and I hate it. 
  • Food: Seriously.  I’m so tired of thinking about weight loss.  I’ve been maintaining since February, but I need to get my ass in gear and do something.  I don’t know what the answer is. 
  • Personal: I want to write. I want to garden.  I want to make food from scratch, and learn how to be self-sufficient.  I want to run. 

I know that I am the only one who can change my situation.  I know that I have to make some changes.

But first, I need to just breathe.  If I try to make everything better at once, I know I’ll get overwhelmed and fail. To me, the most important things I need to focus on right now are my kids and my marriage.  This weekend, I’m going to just enjoy them, and be grateful that I have my boys in my life.  I’m going to count to 10 when I want to yell, and hug them instead. I don’t want them to be afraid of me. 

The boys both just fell asleep, so I think I’m going to put away my to-do list and my food journal, and just read a book.  And breathe.

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End of the Semester CrapFest

You’d think after being a student…for a long, long time…and then teaching for 8 years, I’d be used to end of semester stress.  I’m not. I know when it comes, how long it lasts, and what it entails, but I still haven’t learned how to deal with it.

As a student, I would eat candy while I wrote my papers.  My favorite was peanut M&M’s because, well, at least it had peanuts, and peanuts mean protein.  I’d eat and eat candy, drink soda, write my brilliant papers, and survive the end of the semester.

As a teacher, the end of semester may not mean writing papers, but I certainly have to read and grade a lot of them. A TON of them. So many papers that I often consider using them to build a fort.  I haven’t grown out of my crap eating habits, though.  At the end of each semester, I make sure that I have candy, cookies, and cupcakes, and I eat my way through grading.  I’ve tried eating carrots, grapes, and other healthy things, thinking that it was simply the act of snacking on something, but I always found my way back to the sweets.

This past week, I’ve been eating healthy meals, but my snacking while grading has been out of control.  What’s making it worse this year is having two small children who just want to play with their Mama.  The guilt over not being able to cuddle or play when they want to has made the eating worse. I bought several boxes of Tastykakes at Wegmans, raided what’s left of the Easter candy, have been drinking way too much soda, and…well, you get the picture.  I feel like crap.  But I continue to eat these horrible, unhealthy foods.

And I’m giving myself permission to do it until the grading is over.  I’m hoping to be finished with everything by next Friday.  That’s 9 more days of crap, folks.

I just feel like I can’t deal with the life stress, work stress, and kid stress AND try to stay on track with Weight Watchers and eating healthy.  That  makes me feel incredibly weak.  I should be able to balance everything and take care of myself.  I shouldn’t turn to candy & other sweets.  I should find healthy alternatives. It’s not that difficult.

I think what’s making all of this worse is that I’m having major doubts about my career right now.  I’ve been teaching part-time for 8 years.  If I didn’t have my husband, I couldn’t live on what I make, and that scares me.  I could go back to a corporate life, make a good salary, have benefits, and not have to bring any work home with me.  I keep telling myself that I’ll give it one more year, and then a year passes without any hope of a full-time gig, and I fall into the academic cycle again.

I don’t know what the answer is, or how to fix anything right now.  I’m just trying to survive the end of the semester.

Thanks for reading.

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Freeze-Frame

Folks, I’m tired.  TIRED.  So tired, I think I could sleep for a month, and I’d still be exhausted.  It’s a combination of stress (work), kids (waking up every few hours during the night), and…I don’t know what else. 

I started off well this week, and have since devolved into eating chocolate, sweets, and any other bit of crap I can think of.  Not good. 

I’m going through one of those periods when I feel pressure to FIGURE SHIT OUT, but I’m not quite sure what I need to figure out.  I think I’m experiencing a burn-out of sorts with teaching, for sure.  I haven’t had a semester off since…2007?  I didn’t take any time off when I had the boys, and I haven’t taken any summers off.  I wish I could afford to. 

I need a break.  Seriously.

I also feel this pressure (from myself) to start focusing on my writing again.  I want to apply to MFA programs in the next year, and start submitting pieces for publication again.  Along with that, I want/need a website devoted to writing, which has led to the debate about social media, and what I want public or private.  I don’t know that I want my students finding this blog, or my Twitter account.  But do I need to hide everything?  Do I want to?

All I know right now is that I need a break.  No grading, no diapers to change, or mouths to feed.  I need a date with my husband.  A real date, not a trip to Target or the grocery store.  We haven’t had a real date in…I can’t even remember. 

I just want to catch my breath before I move on.  Is that too much to ask?

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Weight Watchers and Me: It’s Complicated

I teach a creative writing class Monday evenings, and I always bring a snack with me.  Until this week, when I didn’t.  During the break, I went to the vending machine (the cafe was closed) to investigate snacks.  All crap.  But there were nuts.  I chose a 1oz bag of cashews.  Not a bad snack.  But when I plugged it into my WW tracker later, I discovered that snack was 5pp. Seriously.

I know that in theory, I have my 49 weekly points to use, and I can earn Activity Points, to cover the nuts.  “Spending” 5pp on nuts shouldn’t bother me.  But then I started to think about how I started buying the bread that I only “sort of” like instead of the bread I love, because it’s only 1pp per slice instead of 2.  I’ve been skipping my 4pp yogurt (which my guts love) because on some days, I don’t have the points available.  I’ve made a few other changes like that over the past few weeks; choosing more processed foods rather than whole foods because they are less in points.  Not good. 

I considered trying the Simply Filling plan, but I need to track things. Not tracking leads to…well, not so good things for me.  Not that my eating has been stellar lately.  Clearly, I’m struggling.  And I’m my own worst enemy. 

So, again, I’m left wondering if I really want to be in this relationship.  I know that WW works for so many people, and I really, really wish I were one of them.  I know that the problems I have with the program are, by and large, my problems, not necessarily the fault of the program. 

I don’t know what the answer is.  Whatever “program” I decide to follow, I know that I have to do the work, and focus on making lasting changes. 

Weight Watchers folks: how do you navigate eating whole, healthy foods v. food that’s simply low in points?

 

 

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