Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finding Courage

I used to love a good debate. Get me going and I could talk for hours. Not so much anymore. As I've gotten older, I've felt a lot more timid about "sticking my oar in." I like to say its because I don't want to get involved in other people's business. My best friend says its because I don't like getting my oar broken off and she's totally right. Who doesn't like to say their piece and then not get any flack for it?

Part of what I want to change about myself is the way I deal with conflict and adversity. I want to own my actions. I spend so much time worrying about what other people think about me and whether or not I'm on everybody's good side. I shuffle around trying to fix mistakes before anyone notices them. I try to please everyone. Its really exhausting!

I want to find the courage to take a chance- to step in when necessary, and be ready to face the consequences. I think that takes courage and courage is not something that I have in abundance.

Here is what I'm facing at the moment: a couple at church just had their first baby. The baby is three weeks old and is being left to cry it out at night. It sounds a lot like they are using Babywise. Who doesn't know that Babywise is a heap of garbage? But I digress... I, for one, do not like to be criticized as a parent, but like most parents, I tend to have opinions about the way that others parent. When I heard this, I became angry and fearful. Now, these are first time parents and they are making a rookie mistake, no doubt based on bad advice that someone has given them. I really felt the need to say something, but in a diplomatic way. I had the chance to talk with the mom about nursing (one of my favorite parenting subjects) and feel that I was able to get some good information in that way, however covertly.

Today, another friend sent them some links about Ezzo and whatnot and someone else immediately responded by saying that Babywise is "merciful" and that babies require structure and all that. Well, as much as I hated to do it because I don't want to debate parenting techniques in this particular format, I said something. Basically, I pointed out that the issue is not whether or not babies are depraved. They are. The issue is whether or not Babywise is safe for babies. It is not and that has been proven time and time again. I then pointed them to

I hit send, and immediately, this rush of fear and embarrassment came over me. Here is where the change needs to come in. I need to own what I said. I need to find the confidence to stand by it, defend it, and face whatever fallout might come from stepping forward and offering my unsolicited opinion.

The Bible has a lot to say about minding your own business. However, I think that when the well-being of a child is involved and misinformation is being spread that could physically harm someone, it behooves people who know better to stand up and say so. I have no problem saying that the people I'm concerned about or to the fellow who made the very bad statement about Babywise.

So, perhaps, I am finding my courage. Perhaps I am moving, ever-so-slowly, to a place where I feel confident to pick and choose my battles and then engage people again. May the Lord grant me grace, wisdom, and courage!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Cleanse

So, the title of this blog is "A Year in Fasting." January's "fast" is actually the cleanse that Kathy Freston recommends in Quantum Wellness. I'll be abstaining from all sugar, alcohol, animal products, caffeine, and gluten. I've decided to start on January 1st as that is an important benchmark day. The cleanse is supposed to go on for 21 days. On Wednesdays and Fridays, I will also be abstaining from olive oil. I'm hoping that doing this for 21 days will not only help me feel better, but also get me off dairy for good. I need to find some good herbal teas that aren't too fruity to supplement the coffee.

There are a number of collateral benefits to giving up caffeine, sugar, and dairy, not the least of which is the decrease in strain on my pocket book. No more Starbucks. I'm sitting here with my venti iced coffee, sweetened with a pump of toffee nut, and de-bittered with a splash of half and half. All my vices, right here, in one cup.

Right now, I'm doubtful that I'll even make it through on day. Conventional wisdom tells me that giving up ALL those vices at once will make me feel like crap and that its too much to do at once. But my question is this: why give up one thing at a time and "detox" each time? Why not feel crappy for a couple of days and deal with it all at once?

My plan is to stay as busy as possible for the first couple of days in January. Thankfully, January 1st is on a Thursday and I have that off, so keeping busy won't be difficult. Work on Friday- no trouble there. Saturday will be a Disneyland day and Sunday will be church. Hopefully by Monday, things will be better. I have to really prepare though. Going into it blindly is bound to cause trouble. Its pretty easy to avoid everything but gluten. This means no bread, no oatmeal, and I'm not even sure what else. I haven't really researched the gluten-free part of all this. Hmmm....

Anyway, this should be an interesting experiment. Looking forward to really getting started!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Who Do I Want to Be?

The first place to start is by setting goals. There is so much I want to change about my life, but I can't know how to get there if I don't know where I'm going. My mind is flooded with ideas, hopes, projects... and the best way to start keeping track of them is by writing them down. After they are written down, its much easier to break down the process of reaching those goals into steps.

I'm a fantastic list-maker, but I'm not always that good with the follow up. Maybe putting things out there on a public blog will help.

And so, without further ado, in no particular order, (see, I'm procrastinating even in this sentence!), here are some of the goals I have in mind:

1. Lose 35 pounds. No matter which way you look at it, I must lose this weight. I'm not trying to be super-skinny, although I'd love to look like Katee Sackhoff... but seriously, I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my daughter. I am in real danger of developing Type II diabetes, especially as it runs in my family. And, on a more positive note, I need to lose the weight, so I can gain it back again! Baby weight, that is :-)

2. Start homeschooling my kids. My son is ready. Daughter not far behind (at least for what is developmentally appropriate for her). I want to really solidify the pre-K curricula we are going to use and then get going. Son is ready to read!!

3. Deepen my relationship with my husband. I'm not going to get terribly personal about this on the blog. Suffice it to say that its something I long for and need.

4. Go vegan. There are so many reasons for this- personal, ethical, health... Its my happy medium between raw vegan and vegetarian. I'm doing it. I'm ready

5. Do the 21 day Quantum Wellness Cleanse- that means no caffeine, gluten, alcohol, sugar, or dairy.

6. Fast twice a week- not strict fasts, but the typical type that Eastern Orthodox Christians do- no meat, dairy, fish, olive oil or wine on Wednesdays and Fridays. For the most part, that's not a huge sacrifice if I'm able to meet my vegan goal, but no olive oil? That kind of terrifies me.

7. Incorporate religious life even more into my family life. I was so struck by Anne Rice's descriptions of her early childhood growing up in the Roman church. Her religious life was so intertwined with her childhood that her first memories were of her church. Her family celebrated feasts and fasts and commemorated any number of biblical events. I'd like to follow the liturgical calendar of the East. We will not be participating in feasts venerating "saints", but the big ones like the Great Lent, the Nativity, Epiphany, Pentecost etc. will be observed. I just like the idea of interweaving church tradition with daily home life. Its just another tool in the toolbox.

8. Develop an attitude of service and self-sacrifice and drop the martyr complex. My motto for 2009 is simple: Serve. Self-care isn't a bad thing. Self-obsession and self-pity are killers. I believe you can balance service and self-care and I intend to make this the year that I really start.

9. Declutter my home. Get it in good order. Full time homemaking/mothering is just around the bend and I would like to be prepared. Babysteps!

10. Give up television. I watch way too much. I have it on in the background even if I'm not watching it. I'll stick with my big favorites: The Biggest Loser, Big Love, BSG, and the Tudors and pretty much drop the rest. Yes, even America's Next Top Model and perhaps Survivor. Shoot, the list I'm sticking with seems like a lot, but all save one are very limited in scope with only 10 episodes each.

11. Learn to love quiet. I have quiet. Can't stand it. Must. Have. NOISE! I don't think that compulsion has served me well over the years.

12. Read for at least 30 minutes a day with my kids. Doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm not with them enough to extend it out.

13. Read every book on my church's reading list this year. Read at least two books a month.

14. Have fabulous birthday parties for my kids- with invitations and everything!

15. Keep my cool with my kids. Its a tall order, but it is absolutely essential. There is no excuse for my blow-ups and tantrums. Period. Gentle Discipline!

Okay, that's all for now. But be warned- there is more!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Beginning

If I take a step back and examine my self- really going deep- I don't like a lot of what I see. I spend all 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with myself and it gets kind of annoying sometimes. I don't want this first blog post to turn into some pity party, but I think its pretty safe to say that I don't much like where I am and where I am going when it comes to my own personal self. Don't get me wrong- I love my husband; I love my kids; I love my home and even my job!

But I don't love me.

I'm a Christian and I'm content with that... but I think I've been hesitant in giving myself a good look and really doing what it takes to actually love myself because I've been told so often that God does not want us to love ourselves. Now, that may be true in a sense... but I'm not talking about that kind of love- the love that makes us feel as though we are the center of the universe. I'm talking about the kind of love that gives us confidence in ourselves. The kind of love that spills out and serves others. The kind that makes you want to take care of your body because its this amazing gift from God and because you need energy to serve others. The kind of love that makes you turn off "The Biggest Loser" (my favorite show) and read to your kids.

Now, on my own, without Jesus Christ, I would not be capable of that kind of love, nor would I even be inclined in that direction. However, as a Christian, I am called, no, commanded to love. Love is Law, not gospel.

And what do I do all day long? I put my own interests before the interests of others. Heck, I put my own interests before my own best interests, if that makes any sense. (Meaning, I ate more than 3 pieces of cake tonight at my son's birthday party, even though I'm overweight and I knew I wouldn't feel well afterward. Am I trying to kill my pancreas, I ask myself... not sure what the answer is yet).

The bottom line is that I'm not where I want to be- not physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally... I'm certainly not where I want to be as a wife and mother. I lack discipline.

And I really want to change...

So, I intend to fast- not just from food, but from loads of other things. I'm reading Quantum Wellness right now... New Agey? Maybe, but it doesn't have to be... and I really like what she says about seeing the person that you want to be- visualizing your goals, changing your thinking. Maybe there is something to be said for that. I'm going to use this book as my guide, but I intend to incorporate my faith into all of this. I have so many goals, so many ideas and now is the time to put it all into motion. I can't sit back in my cave of self-loathing anymore. I have to get better. Time is slipping away and all my old goals are fading into oblivion.

I'm fasting from clutter, noise, sugar, caffeine, the phone, laziness, television, anger, selfishness, tantrums... all kinds of stuff. I want to simplify and, basically, to improve myself. To like what I see and enjoy being with myself. I really do believe that, if I can accomplish this, I can better serve others and that is my ultimate goal.