Flipping the Switch

I believe in the attitude that I – well – make my own attitude. I believe in it whole-heartedly. I believe that I can change my outlook and my view from positive to negative to positive. I can make it a good day, if I try hard enough. I believe I am in charge of that completely and I have the power to change it.

Do I believe you can do it? No. I’m not you. I would never post some cheesy sunrise picture with a platitude that says, “Make today great!” because some people do not have brains that allow them that power. Some people need medication or therapy to learn that power.

But me? I have that power. I’ve always had that power. And the second start to feel like I no longer have that power? Is the day I seek help from a professional.

However, what I don’t believe is that it’s easy. At all. And some days? Even though I truly believe it’s entirely in my power? I just can’t do it.

I’m not saying today is one of those days.

(It might be.)

But some days I try to just make it a GOOD DAY. Be positive! Be awesome! Be joyful! Be the light in the darkness! And I can focus on that and I can do it and all is good in my little world.

But many, many days, I try. I flip that switch 100 times but the light just flickers…and stays dark.

And then there are some days – only a few, thank goodness – that I don’t even bother. I just look at the day, I see it’s a dark one, and I just say screw it and I don’t even bother looking for that switch.

Wes started puking last night and had a fever of 101. You would think (if you were me) that a solid week after Thing 1 got a stomach virus that Thing 2 must be in the all clear! But if you thought that, and you were me, you would be wrong. Evidently.

He’s been up all night tossing and turning and he’s actually had cramps due to the dehydration so I’ve been doing more foot-rubbing than puke-cleaning, thank goodness. He also had a much better instinct for what was going on with his body than his sister did, so there’s not as much laundry waiting for me.

But I’m tired. And lately I’ve been working really hard at flipping that switch every day. I just keep trying and trying and eventually…the light stays on. But these last several weeks have had such an assortment of chaos, some I’ve dumped on you guys and some I haven’t, that I’m just tired. I poured my coffee, sat down, and thought Ok, Kim. We’re making this a good one…DO YOU HEAR ME? And I went to flip that switch on for the day and I just never even made it to the wall. I just sat down and thought Nope. Bullshit. I’m sick of taking these shitty days and trying to make them better. I’m sick of this pervasive gray that I’m fighting off every day. I just want to bask in the darkness for one day and just feel sorry for myself.

IMG_5769And then I heard my sickly son calling me from the bathroom. He’s finished his 4th soak of the night, baths soothe him like they do me. I went in there to help him dry off and get back in bed and he says, “Mom…thank you so much for taking care of me.”

“No problem, honey. That’s my job!”

“And it’s my job to love you.”

So…I tried to flip the switch on today. It flickered and turned off, so I’ll try again after another cup of coffee. But I’ll keep trying to get this day on the right track. I still have that power and I feel like I waste every day I don’t use it when there are so many out there floundering in the darkness without hope or strength and have no idea there’s even a switch in the room. As long as I have this power, I should try my best to live in the light and hope that my light helps others until they can find their own power.

It’s just going to take a little more coffee today.

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Exceeds Expectations

Remember how we fell into the 3″-5″ band of snow predictions yesterday? Well look at the band of totals at the end of the 24-hour day.

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Huntsville ended up with an official tally of 8.1″ I believe, breaking all sorts of single-day snow records, and February snow records, and Sled Improvising records. The Pool Intertube Float Sled is the BEST improvised sled I’ve ever tried. I’ve done laundry baskets, rubbermaid lids, storage containers, but the intertube? THE BEST. I actually was able to go pretty fast since I’m heavier. When I wasn’t filming I could push Nikki so she’d go faster, but she needed a good push whereas I just needed to not face plant when I did a jump start down the hill.

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Donnie didn’t get out in it at all because he has major issues with The Cold since that unseasonably cold triathlon 2 years ago where he experienced early onset hypothermia and had to be picked up on the side of the bike course by the Fire Department. I swear it’s almost like PTSD, he just can’t handle being cold now. And Wes only played in it a little, which is INSANE. He didn’t even intertube sled with us! I’m hoping to get him out in it more this morning before it starts to melt off.

Basically it was Nikki and I intertubing down our hill for an hour last night after dinner. We haven’t seen this much snow since 2011, so I’m trying to savor it enough to last another 4 years. I want to get the kids out in it as soon as the sun comes up since it will start to melt off today, but I’m worried our neighbors might kill us. We’re the only ones with small kids at the top of the hill, most of the small kids are at the bottom. Although, I’m betting they’ll make the trek up this morning to do some sledding.

Or intertubing…whatever…

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Snow Day.

For the first time in WEEKS I slept solidly past 3am, only to be awoken at 3:25 when Nikki’s alarm clock went off. I’m assuming she had set it for 3:25pm as some sort of timer for reading time, but Taylor Swift woke me singing about that blank space and I sat there, laughing at my life.

School is out and the Governor declared a State of Emergency in advance of the snow storms rolling in today. Oddly enough, most of the snow is predicted to fall South of us, meaning E may actually get hit more than we will. The latest forecast I saw said 2-4 inches for Huntsville, which is enough to shut us down as a city. People up North like to make fun of the South and how we can’t handle snow, and it always bugs the shit out of me. I don’t mind when my neighbors make fun of us, just like it’s okay for your siblings to mock your parents, but not your spouse. If you don’t live in the South, you can’t make fun of it. You have no idea how little our infrastructure is prepared for cold weather. Why should our cities spend money on those chemicals and trucks to treat roadways in advance of a storm when it only happens once a year, if that much. And also? We tend to get ice more often than snow. So people die in wrecks and downed trees even if there’s not an inch of snow on the ground. I have friends in Tennessee who went days without power. I suffered through 5+ days without power once when a tornado took out a huge node on our electrical grid and all I kept saying the entire 5 days was, Thank goodness it’s not cold.

No part of me understands why any of that is funny.

But if my friend down the street makes fun of us and the fact the city shuts down at the first flake? That’s a okay because we’re all in this together.

People also get really irritated when offices/cities/schools close before we really know for sure if there’s bad weather. But, here’s the thing, it’s hard to wait until the last minute when you have buses that start school runs early and staff showing up to cook breakfast. It’s much easier to make a call the night before, so that noone heads to work when they shouldn’t. And you know what? A girl in the town I attended college ended up paralyzed in a wreck when schools didn’t get closed early enough. I’ve also had to hide in the back room of a store across from one of my kid’s schools when they let school out too late and the tornado warning happened while we were supposed to be picking them up. So I’d much rather err on the side of caution. Give me 10 days of delayed school with dry roods just to avoid one morning where I wreck leaving my hill to take the kids to school.

AND! We have several highly populated areas at higher elevations in this town. Those families get ice/snow when I don’t, should they keep school on time when those families will risk their lives trying to make it of their mountains? No.

URG. These last two weeks of “winter weather” here have just irritated me. People complaining about school systems being over-cautious and making fun of us for shutting down city offices before there’s any hazard on the roads…WHY? Why waste your energy even expressing those words? What good does it do? And if it’s because you’re THAT angry or irritated, then let me try to locate the family of that girl I went to college with and maybe they can get you to chill the hell out. I know it’s a burden to deal with childcare. But our whole city gets delayed, so everyone in the office is dealing with the same crap. I know you can’t go to work if school is out. But let’s focus on the big picture, here. Bad weather could start as early as 11am, sooner in areas of higher elevation. Should they go half day and risk the kids who live in the higher elevations being stranded away from their homes? We have a whole city to be concerned with. Should we say, “F you!” to the ones who live at higher elevations?

And the one day they let us out half day last week when other school canceled entirely, people got made about that because the roads were slick on their way home. So, with that fresh on their minds, OF COURSE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM CLOSED IN ADVANCE OF THE STORM.

I just don’t understand why people get so angry. I mean, the people making the call have to make the call for the ENTIRE COMMUNITY. And they have to make the call based on the predictions of our local weather people who are sometimes just wrong. This is not an exact science.

So…I’m off to work with the kids surrounding me again today. Last week, on top of several shortened days of school due to bad weather, I also had 2 days with kids home sick. Lucky I work from home so I can do my best to get work done early and late if the middle of the day is not favorable. I’m fortunate in that regard. And I tend to just give the kids unrestricted access to screens because it gives me peace while I work. I’m not going to win any parenting awards, but I’ll make it, and if that keeps my community safe? I’m not going to complain.

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I made something pretty!

I always assume that – when I’m new to something – I’m the last one to learn about it. I probably should have linked to some information yesterday about malas since several of you were new to them too. But, I’m going to talk about them again today, so I’ll add some useful information this time.

A basic primer is here. Buddhists are the main religious group connect to malas, I believe, as it seems to be a dominant tool in their meditative practices. However, they’re used by many non-Buddhists and I actually have read the most about them simply by people who practice yoga seriously.

I read the basics about what mala should consist of. There are many different instructions in terms of types and colors of beads. Some say certain types of materials are meant for certain types of affirmations or mantras. Or that you use all wood only, except for a few colored beads where you meditate on something new. Some say specific minerals mean specific things. Others put no meaning in the material, and just in the intent. It does seem that, no matter who you are, 108 beads is always the way to go. Some say those 108 are supposed to be the “mala” and then there’s one dominant “guru” bead to hold while you string through the mala. However, I decided to just string the 108 and keep something different at the end to hold on to.

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I pulled out my supplies yesterday, I wanted to use things that meant something to me. I didn’t want to get so focused on doing it a specific way, that it lost any personal meaning. I did keep the tassel and the 108 beads because those seem so significant across all groups. But beyond that, I chose things that meant something to me. I chose tiger eye beads as those remind me of trips to the science museum with my Dad (we got gemstone packs and that was always my favorite) with turquoise accents just because I’ve always loved those together. I choose an owl to go at the end as that “guru bead” just because I liked the idea of having the exact 108 beads only on the strand.

I started stringing my mala while I waited in the car line yesterday to get the kids. I enjoyed it so much that I finished while watching Donnie cook dinner. If stringing them was any indication, using them for a meditative aid is going to go really well. I wish I had an excuse to make more of these, just the act of making them was therapeutic.

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I broke the sections up by 9 beads, 8 brown and one decorative/turquoise. That “9” value seems so important so I kept that in my planning. I had three small personalizations I wanted to make on my mala. Things that were mixed in with a bag of broken-but-sentimental jewelry. The first was that “be brave” banner. That was part of a necklace I adored and it’s just such an important sentiment.

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The second was a piece of the 100-year old Dogwood tree that used to be at our botanical gardens. We camped by it and I’ve taken tons of photos of it. It reminds me of my kids, Donnie’s family, my Dad…and just general peace and beauty. I had bought several piece of jewelry made from it when they had to cut it down (it was a miracle it lived as long as it did) and that small rectangle is from a set of earrings that broke. So, that was added to the mala yesterday.

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The last personal touch was an infinity symbol off a necklace that broke ages ago. The necklace was a gift to myself because that symbol reminds me so much of Dad, I got it tattooed on my wrist on the year anniversary of his death.

The weight feels great in my hands and it just brings me joy thinking about it. Even if it fails in being a meditation aid, it was worth it just to make something decorative out of pieces of jewelry that had broken!

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I’m The Fad-Dieter of Meditation

Last week was RUFF, y’all. But! I think I’m finally caught up on sleep to the point that I might not actually sob randomly throughout today. WOO! I feel like now I have NO excuses, I have to get my shit together re: fitness and food. I stepped on the scale and I’m at 15lbs gained from my “happy” weight since I started getting fit and running in 2010. I was at that weight last Spring, but gained 5 over the summer and kinda kept it on. I gained 5 over the Fall/Winter and kinda kept it on. And I’ve gained 5 in the last 4 weeks of post-Grand Slam/Stress/Sickness/Weather storm of sadness and if trends predict accurately, those 5lbs will be sticking around too.

It’s funny, when you gain weight 5lbs at a time, you can easily discount it as “just 5lbs.” But then suddenly you’re 15lbs past where you were when you felt the fittest/healthiest and you’re like, “Wait. I thought it was just 5lbs?”

And – as a disclaimer – I know the scale is not a great evaluation of health. But, for me, I know that the numbers going UP on the scale coincide with my fitness dropping and my stress-eating increasing. So, it’s a convenient way to measure that. This body is not my healthiest body, not because of what the scale says. But what the scale says is a reflection of the negative changes in my lifestyle, so for me? It’s a good measurement. If you’re making positive changes in your lifestyle and the scale doesn’t reflect that? Screw it. There are 90 million reasons why it’s not an accurate reflection. But when you ate 3000+ calories several days this week and only exercised once? Then it’s okay to use the scale as a measurement tool.

(I feel like I have to put that disclaimer in so no one thinks my ONLY determination of a need to change is the number on the scale.)

So. My newest fad/gimmick (I AM THE WORST!) to help me with meditation (I finally looked in to the Headspace App, and unless I’m looking at the wrong one, it’s $12.99/month or $95/year and I can’t justify that right now.) are Mala Beads. I used to pray the hell out of the Rosary in my Catholic days, so Mala Beads have always intrigued me as a prayer/meditation tool. I think I’m going to make my own set, as I’ve been doing a lot of reading about it and they seem to be useful as a tool to focus on with intention so it seems like a good thing to make myself, as I can really think about my intention as I’m stringing the beads.

Also, they’re SUPER expensive. AND? It feels really weird to just “order online” something like this. Maybe it’s because I still have a very reverent feeling towards a Rosary, so it seems weird to casually place a prayer tool in an online shopping cart.

SO! That’s my goal this week. To make my own set of Mala Beads to hold while I make my very feeble attempts to meditate. I think my “affirmation” I should focus on with each bead the first time I use them will be, “I will really try to give meditation a try, instead of just talking about giving it a try non-stop every day until I die.”

I think that’s a super-meta affirmation for a set of Mala Beads, which might be the double whammy I need to get my brain in that type of therapy. It’s like I know with EVERY OUNCE OF MY SOUL that meditation is perfect for someone with my specific anxiety issues, but I just can’t seem to actually focus time/energy on giving it a dedicated effort. It’s like the part of me that needs meditation is the same part of me that sabotages my efforts to apply it to my life.

SO! MALA BEADS! It’s my latest gimmick to get me on the meditation bandwagon! Do you use them?

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a little bit of everything.