Tag Archives: DP Challenge

Health Tips from a Failure

The internet is full of experts. Real experts with credentials and half the alphabet in their titles. Self-proclaimed experts with more confidence and bluster than knowledge. Wily capitalists posing as experts to cash in on our every fear and imagined flaw.

I am none of these things. In fact, some days I’m the farthest thing from an expert a human being can be, and still walk upright. Sadly, the older the I get, the more apparent this becomes to me. I’m doing my best. Usually, that’s good enough, thank God (literally… insert comment about grace and prayer and all the people who pitch in along the way).

When the Daily Press Writing Challenge came out this week I immediately deleted the link. Write a blog post on “Health and Wellness.” Ya, right.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got some things figured out. My house is pseudo-tidy, which is impressive to anyone who’s spent more than 20 minutes with our clan. My family’s routine is the right balance between flexible and predictable. My spiritual life is meaningful. My marriage is strong. My children are wonderful.

But I wouldn’t consider myself especially healthy in a physical sense.

I am overweight, overtired and overwhelmed.

I don’t think I’m unusual in this, although I do have a special mix of kidney problems, weak immune system and chronically injured/swollen/makes-creepy-noises-when-I-move joints. I may be developing arthritis. I’ve been tested for Lupus 3 times and they won’t rule it out entirely. Two of my four children have special needs and are A LOT of work. I have very little time to myself. Or money. Also, I love food. It is my drug of choice. Also, I’m not wild about exercise, never have been, probably never will be. I can rail about how unfair this all is and make excuses ’til the cows come home, but this is the way it is. This is the body I’ve been given and I need to take care of it. Probably more than most people.

I try. I really do. I’ve always tried. And I’ve often failed. Which brings me to this expert post. You see, I do have some degree of expertise in this area after all.

I’m the What NOT To Do Expert on Health and Wellness.


I have thoroughly and exhaustively explored these habits in my own life. I can say with expert certainty, they only ever make things worse.

  • Over-schedule yourself – you SHOULD be able to do it all. Anything less is weakness.
  • Stay up as late as possible. Then stay up even later. Sleep is for the weak.
  • Compare yourself to others – if someone else can do it, you SHOULD be able to too.
  • Don’t cater to introverted needs, that’s just selfish.
  • Obsess endlessly about your weight and appearance.
  • Diet.
  • Measure your worth on the bathroom scale each morning and evening. Naked. With all but one toe hovering in the air.
  • React accordingly. If you’ve lost weight – time to relax; you’re clearly a rock star and might as well celebrate (by eating and being lazy). If you’ve gained – time to give up; you’re destined to fail and might as well binge out on an entire box of Oreos.
  • New Diet
  • Realize that the latest health food craze or exercise routine or New Diet is your true Savior. Sorry, Jesus. You just don’t burn that many carbs praying.
  • Put life on hold until you feel comfortable in a swimsuit/little-black-dress/jeans-that-fit-in-high-school. It’s not like your kids are growing up and you’re missing out on it all.
  • Immediately assess how many people are skinnier/better dressed/prettier than you when you walk in a room (hint – EVERYONE).
  • Make careful lists of all the ways you need to improve. Don’t bother with all that gratitude crap, you’re not Oprah. Guilt and self-loathing is the key.
  • Take drastic steps to overhaul your life. Slow and steady is for losers and YOU DON’T HAVE ANY TIME TO WASTE!!!! Panic!!!!
  • Fad Diet.
  • Avoid being in pictures at all costs. Someday when you look perfect and act perfect and all the stars align… on that day you can show up in your own life.
  • Everything you do is a test of personal worth. Every mistake is a failure. Every failure is absolute. It’s all or nothing, all the time. (For a really good time, apply this standard to everyone you meet. Make sure you point their failings out. People will really appreciate that.)

So here’s me, I wish I could say all these habits are behind me. They’re not. There’s a few I still fall back into from time to time. But I know them for what they are. And according to G.I. Joe, “knowing is half the battle.” I never argue with plastic soldier toys.

My First Memory

I could feel the grit of sand beneath my toes, the heat pushing down on my head and the icy tickle of the incoming tide.

I could hear the roar of the surf and the gentle buzz of adult conversation.

I could smell the salt and tang of ocean.

6977659104Perhaps my mind has simply filled in those details, like an artist shading and highlighting to give the picture more depth. What I DO know is that as I stood at the edge of the ocean, an enormous wave knocked me down and dragged me under the water.





Until my Dad reached down, pulled me out of the water and held me tight in his arms.


It was a split second in time, so heavy with sensation and emotion that it imprinted permanently on my young mind.

It’s easy to overlook children’s earliest experiences, especially when they are too young to form lasting memories. But those first three years shape our understanding of ourselves and the entire world. In a way, those traumas and triumphs, however small, are the most important memories of all. Even if we can’t quite recall them. Even if they are hazy or incomplete. Even if they are only a feeling. They become the scripts in our psyche – how we interpret events, what we expect from life and, ultimately, who we are.

At a very young age I learned that the world can be a scary place.

That waves are stronger than me.

And my Dad is stronger than the waves.


So here’s me, at age 2. I am convinced that this memory, and countless others like it, are the foundation if my confidence, resiliency, intimacy, trust… and faith. A good reminder that the endless menial tasks of parenthood – keeping babies safe, fed, warm and comforted – have lifelong effects.

little mirror, little me


When I look at you
 I see myself
 potential untapped
 brilliance undiscovered
 creativity unexplored
 vacuum sealed in the 
cellophane of childhood.

When I look at you
 I see myself 
 impulses unedited
 words unscripted
 feelings unrestrained
 the stark honesty of an 
undiluted soul.

I see the me I wish I was.
 The flesh and blood reflection of all
 my could-haves
 and would-haves
 and should-have-still.

I see the me I wish I wasn't.
 The pint-sized mimic of all
 my fearfulness
 and mindlessness
 and my selfish will.
little mirror
 little me
 Be better than I am,
 Better than I could be.

little mirror
 little me
 Like me, but so much more

So here’s me, waxing poetic for National Poetry Writing Month.

Eat Your Heart Out Mona Lisa

I hate looking at pictures of myself.

It comes second only to listening to my voice on the answering machine in the line up of cringe-worthy activities-to-avoid-at-all-costs.But when I came across this Writing Challenge: tell the true story behind the picture of a smile, I knew immediately which story to tell.

Because I remember exactly what this little girl was thinking in this moment.



I’m so glad to see you!

You look great.

In fact, you’ve never looked better to me!

I’ve missed you! I know it’s only been a day, but what a day.

I have so much to tell you. Nothing seems real until I tell you.

Have you seen my Grandma’s hat? All blue feathers. You’re going to laugh. But try to be cool. She’s awfully proud of it. It’s cute.

Guess what we did last night? My cousins and I pulled out Mom’s wedding gown and her bright yellow bridesmaid’s dress from Aunt Lois’ wedding. We tried them on and looked at pictures and giggled like crazy.

I couldn’t eat at all this morning, I was so nervous. And I just wanted to talk to you and I needed you to hold my hand and make me laugh. But I sucked it up and pasted on a smile and tried not to throw up.

Everything feels right again now.

You always make me feel better.

I have so much to tell you. It’s only been a day, but what a day.

There are so many people here. Our whole gang from highschool is here. I even saw some friends we haven’t seen since graduation. Did you see Jason? He looks like a movie theatre usher. He’s wearing a bright red suit jacket. Of course he is.

There’s family here I haven’t spoken to since I was little. Yes, I consider third and fourth cousins family no matter how much you roll your eyes.

Also, it’s weird to have your parents together under one roof, isn’t it? But everyone seems pretty happy, so don’t start getting stressed.

There was some kind of problem with the decorations. And you’d think that kind of thing would make me nuts – you know how I get. But after all the planning and the choosing and the fussing and the debating and the detailed schedules with each person’s part carefully highlighted, I don’t actually care about any of it.

I’m just SO glad to see you!

Can you believe we’re doing this?

I’m trying to pay attention now.

Come on, Christie, get it together.

Mostly I’m waiting until we can leave. And it can be just us again.

Just us from now on.

Just us forever.

It’s only a day, but it’s OUR day.

I’m so absurdly happy that I get to keep you!


So here’s me, still a grinning-like-a-fool bride. That cute boy is still my best friend. And as I’m sure you can imagine, he does a lot of listening.

Starting Over

candycornI blame Chinese food. And Dairy Queen. And the bag of Christmas candy corn I found in my daughters toy box.

Because who can resist the siren song of stale, month-old candy?

Not me apparently. I devoured it like a junkie who happened upon a forgotten stash. It didn’t even taste good.

The only thing worse than stale, month-old Christmas candy corn is the guilt from eating stale, month-old Christmas candy corn.

So much for eating healthy this year.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all failure and embarrassing binges around here. Some days I win. But even then I have to watch myself. It’s stunning how quickly I can move from fatalistic self defeat to overconfident delusions of grandeur.

Case in point, the day I cleaned the house from top to bottom (withOUT eating anything I found along the way) and elypticalled myself to the moon and back. Feeling smug, I spent the rest of the day watching the Food Network while ignoring my children.

I don’t even like to cook.

So much for being a more attentive parent this year.

Soar or stumble – I can twist it into an excuse. To indulge. To give up. To sabotage myself. Time and again, it’s the one task at which I rarely fail.

This year I’m trying to change the game. I will focus only on TODAY. There is no tipping point. There is no pressure to be perfect. There is no tomorrow or next month or the rest of my life resting on what I do right now. There is only TODAY.

Thank you to Melanie at onlyabreath.com for the graphic!

I seem to function better without the weight of all that still-to-come. I still fill in the calendar and keep track of “things to do” and make plans for our family. I’m still mindful of the things I need to do better. But I only hold myself responsible for what I can get done between “Mama… up” (boy-speak for: wake up and pay attention to my cuteness) and “…but I’m almost done this chapter” (preteen-speak for: none of my friends have a bedtime so lights out is lame and besides I’m not even tired yet).

Some days it works. Some days there are temptations and trials and I slip back into worry-pressure-procrastinate-medicate-with-food/tv/Internet-hate-myself-STRESS. But even that isn’t the end of the world.

Every day I am starting over.

It’s only been a few weeks. The jury’s still out on whether I’m doing better or worse at: eating healthy, staying active, decluttering, being spiritually mindful, attentive parenting or solving the problems of the universe via blogging. But I did clean out that one toy box…

What I can say for sure is that I’m enjoying the sweet, fleeting moments of life better. I’m enduring the tough stuff with less angst. And most of all, I’m liking Me a whole lot more.

This is what I chose to focus on for the creative writing DPChallenge on Starting Over.

Hoos ll Family Portraits-41I’m not Who-I-Was.

I’m not Who-I-Will-Be.

I’m not Who-I-Expected.

Or Who-I-Dreamed-I-Would-Be.

I’m Me.

With new insights, and new struggles, and new dreams.

With a best friend who loves Me (better yet, still likes Me) after all these years.

With a heart full of four little people who make Me crazy, and make Me laugh, and make Me a better Me.

Changing and growing and learning and becoming Me.

With a little extra Me around the edges.

And even though those parts are the hardest to accept,

They are part of Me too.

Whatever size or shape or new configuration, I’m still Me.

I’m not Martha Stewart. I’m not Hiedi Klum.

I’m not You. I’m not Who-You-Think-I-Should-Be.

I’m not perfect or easy and I’m not ready to concede.

I’m not finished yet.

But for now, TODAY, I’m content to be Me.

So here’s me. You know that rumor about bloggers being totally self-absorbed… ummm… ya…

Once Upon A Time At Our House

I can feel the sun, warm at my back as I push through that final kilometer. My muscles are pleasantly loose. I’m invigorated by my early morning 10K.

Body and soul in perfect unison. The half hour I spent praying in the quiet of my beloved garden, while the sun inched its way up the horizon, has worked it’s magic. This is why I never miss a sunrise.

I sneak into the girl’s bedroom hoping to wake them myself, but they are already up, as usual. L is helping her little sister study for her french quiz while making her bed. C’s voice still sounds a little scratchy, so I suggest she stay home and take it easy. But she can’t be convinced, she’s committed to her school work and hates to miss a day.

After a long, hot shower I lean my ear against the door of the little ones. Not a peep. They are deep sleepers, and rarely stir before breakfast.

I pull out the loaf of bread I made from scratch yesterday. We’ve tried bread machines, but they just aren’t the same. The yeasty smell always puts a smile on my face. Free range eggs, whole grain toast and organic fruit salad are plated and ready to serve when Daddy carries the sleepy-heads to the table.

Our leisurely family breakfasts are always full of laughter and emotional connection. Together, we pray about our worries and hopes for the day, especially for the struggles of those less fortunate than us. I am humbled by the selflessness and empathy my children display.

The ticking of the clock seems louder and we realize it is time to head out the door. I’m so grateful that Glen has time to get the children ready for school each morning. They eagerly scramble into the clothes I carefully chose for them the night before. B is excited to be in panties “like a big girl.” The boy entertains himself quietly while we gather our school supplies. We get hung up making lunches; there are so many choices and they love them all. But this becomes a teachable moment about nutrition and wise decision making.

The kids groan in complaint as I lay a steamy kiss on their Dad. We’re running ahead of schedule again and he’s in no hurry to leave. When I turn around, my offspring are all buckled in to their seats and waiting in the van. We sing silly songs all the way to school.

The best part of the day so far is still to come: the hug and kiss I get from each one before they dance off to their class. “I love you Mom. You do so much for us and I’m going to miss you all day long.”

No wonder I’m a morning person.

Ha ha ha ha ha!

The Weekly Writing Challenge at Word Press this week is:

Try a different genre of writing

This is mine:


My true story bears no resemblance to this one, at all.

Except for the part where I woke up before dawn. That happened.

In the true story my day started at 3:30 with a wet-through-her-diaper bed change, then again at 6:00 with a poop-tastrophe. A husband away on business. A sick and crying toddler. A headstrong 8-year-old who refuses to wear socks (panties – don’t even get me started). An eldest daughter who leaves everything to the last minute and forgot to take out her contacts last night. A girl-who-has-too-often-cried-wolf insisting she’s really sick this time. And a Mom who made her go to school anyway, but got called back to pick her up after 1 hour.

But it also includes: the smell of freshly washed hair, footie jammies, a boy who just wants his Mom to hold him and no one else (as a new adoptive parent this is all kinds of awesome), a joke about cats partying which I didn’t understand, but made B laugh and laugh and laugh, a once reluctant reader who is happily ensconced in her bed devouring her 5th Percy Jackson novel right now, a big sister who asked “what can I do to help Mom?” without being prompted AND a man whom I love more than life who is coming HOME tonight!

Oh, and since everyone is in bed and it is quiet right now. A nap!

So here’s me, and life is good, even here in reality.

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