Life, Parenting, Self-Care, Self-Medicating

Gratitude is the thought-zapper

Lately, I’ve fantasized about mental flypaper…some sticky substance to grab the ever-present thoughts that pervade my peace, to gather them in one place and keep them under control.

flypaper

Unfortunately for my inner peace, each one of these little thoughts is precious to me somehow. They are fleeting illusions, little what-ifs and I-long-fors and why-nots, tiny tortures. Each and every one. I let them fly about as though anything other than chaos has resulted.

I have an impossible time gathering them up. The swarm settles down and I almost lose sight of them for awhile, but they still dwell in the midst of it all. I’m so comfortable with them now that I can’t imagine life without them, even though they are each tiny exercises in futility.

After bemoaning this to my friend…again…I realized how tiring I’ve become to myself (and probably her, as she is the lucky recipient of all my gut-spillage and has graciously listened to me for hours). I mused about a circuit board of sorts. Have you ever wished your brain had a switchboard, so you could just flip a switch and…zap. Zap, zap, zap. Go away, thoughts. Would I use this if I could?

While cleaning dishes this evening, I reflected upon the blessings of the day. I sacked out on my bed for a few minutes before tackling the next ginormous stack of tasks, and my 13-year-old daughter plopped down next to me, wielding a glue stick (have I mentioned this was on my bed?) and finishing up a school project.

I lay there savoring this ordinary moment. This is life, these are my people. I experienced gratitude and watched my circuit breaker zap my thoughts of that other world into oblivion.

Gratitude is the thought-zapper:

~my four year old son, with his very damaged brain, spending most of his days laughing at everyone and everything;

~my 3 year old daughter, surreptitiously taking an alcohol swab from our drawer and keeping it with her throughout an entire bath (I kid you not–that one little swab afforded her at least an hour of entertainment for her and she was adorable);

~my very saucy 2&1/2 year old pushing me, spitting bubbles at me, biting me, kissing me, flinging herself into my arms, and just generally being the most passionate person in the house;

~a rather outstanding night away in Portland this month with my husband, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Trombone Shorty, and Jack Irons, a much-needed, uplifting, energizing time filled with all sorts of goodness. We even flew back on the same plane as John Cleese, and the flight attendant passed him my thank you note for all the years of laughter and entertainment.

~our upcoming road trip! We are planning to take the big kids on a grand adventure and they can’t stop talking about it. Even just planning a road trip proffers a delicious sense of freedom.

Zap. Gratitude is the thought-zapper. Gratitude is the key to staying in the present, where I absolutely need to stay. There is no other option; it is, frankly, a matter of survival at this point. The swarm is powerful. My will is weak. Zap. Zap, zap, zap.

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Life, Self-Care

Thank you, Target dressing room.

As the mother to ten zillion children, I have never frequented fancy stores to purchase things for myself. We aren’t rich, and even if I was, I’d probably spend a lot of that money on the kids’ activities/needs and still manage to put myself mostly last, such as what mothers normally do (which is, yes, sad).

Also, I’ve never been a big shopper and it is pretty much last on my list of ways to spend time. My default response to the need to purchase anything for the home is to wave goodbye to my husband and children while they drive away from the house so that I can do anything else.

Thus, it had been a good long while since purchasing something which necessitated the use of a changing room for myself. I wanted to buy a new dress for a family event and several of my kids also needed items. I did what any self-respecting Alaskan would do and took the kids to Target, graced by the presence of my amazing sister-in-law who makes everything in life easier and more filled with laughter. We unloaded the kids, piled into the store, treated ourselves to Starbucks, and began the long process of Meeting Everybody’s Needs, my own included this time (for once).

I found a few options and went to the changing rooms. The clerk let me into the largest one with about ten mirrors circling the perimeter of the stall. I stripped down to the bare essentials and looked up, realizing I had this rare opportunity to See It All.

hello friends

There I was. At least 15 versions of myself from every angle, a rather embarrassingly good view of each and every inch of my exposed body.

Ugh. It had been awhile since I had really looked at myself in this way. I do not even have a full-body mirror in my home, and I’m fine with that. I am approaching 40, and I’ve never had to work very hard to maintain a healthy weight, for which I am grateful. But I also haven’t done much to build muscle. Also, the aforementioned kids. Cough, cough. Especially the twins…my massive babies who weighed a combined total of 17 pounds and completely traumatized my abdominal muscles and skin.

I gave myself as much time as I wanted to take in the sight. It was, frankly, eye-opening. I have always had high cholesterol but a very healthy BMI (it’s a genetic thing). In two years, statins will become the default medical recommendation, and I had committed to attempt to fix this issue with exercise and nutrition before taking medication. The exercise had not been happening at all. Not one bit. Frankly, it was much easier to pop a couple tabs of fish oil, slightly easier to eat less crap, yet seemingly impossible to get myself in the habit of regular exercise.

But look. My ass. My legs. Not terrible…but not what I expected, either. I hadn’t realized they were so devolved from their original state. I started thinking out loud to myself, appreciating my husband in a whole new way. Never once has he made me feel that I am not physically attractive or in need of alteration. But he totally could have made that case. It was a humbling moment, realizing that he has only ever focused on bettering his own body, which is muscular and has received the appropriate attention, but never made me feel like I am lacking in that department.

Still, I could see for myself that attention to my physical health would pay off in the form of more resilience, endurance, longevity, and capability in the long run. My grandmother is approaching 100. Barring some accidental death, it is likely that I will have longevity on my side if genetics are any indication. I want to go into this next stage of life in a dramatically better state of health.

Oh, and I can guess you are probably wondering when I am going to tell you about some amazing weight loss program I’ve joined, and oh, by the way, I’m a health coach now, and just message me for details.

Nope. For reals. Just sharing the journey. 🙂 In fact, I realize this is a highly anticlimactic testimony of fitness. If you want to read a REAL account of life transformation par excellence, head on over to my friend Taylor’s blog and follow her story from drug-addicted recording artist to yoga instructor who is getting ready to launch her online yoga studio. She’s amazing.

By the way, a funny thing happened after I got done having a whole conversation with myself in the changing room. It turns out, a work acquaintance was in there at the same time and heard most of this commentary of mine, who also happens to be a competitive bodybuilder. You can’t make this stuff up. It was hilarious. I imagine she did not have much sympathy but she was compassionate. In my defense, I have 900% more children than her. I hereby wield this as my excuse forever.

Anyway, I did manage to get my buns moving. I have started doing aerobic exercise and yoga several times a week. I’d like to do this daily but I haven’t carved out the time and space for that in my life. I’m doing the best I can at the moment. I even went back to Target today to pick up a couple pairs of jeans and deliberately picked the changing room that afforded the most thorough view. I felt encouraged by the change. It turns out, this stuff works. I do, in fact, have muscles, such as what my anatomy textbooks claim. But if I don’t use the darn things, they are not going to accomplish very much or be trim and effective.

It’s still extremely uncomfortable at times to carve that time out for myself. I know I am not alone. It seems most mothers have a lot of guilt about unabashedly doing something purely for their own betterment and self-development. This sense of guilt, and even shame, should not be given much credence. The whole family benefits from its individual members being in better mental and physical health, right? So let’s do this thing.

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Creativity, Life, Nonfiction, Poetry, Self-Care, Self-Medicating

Winter and her metaphors, part 2

icicles-and-moon

The moon behind icicles

Greetings, readers. I wanted to share another piece with you all, continuing with the theme of winter, along with a few paragraphs scrawled recently about loss.
~~

Dark Circle

I think I’ll fly to Barrow.
No one there throws anything away.

I try not to email you about this,
As nothing tangible has ever stemmed
From our occasionally thawed surface.

Do you even understand
As I think you must understand
Why I need to translate
The Arctic Ocean into poems?

Aurora borealis
Does the same quiet dance like us
Through sixty-seven continuous days of darkness.
~~

The village of Barrow has a new name but my poem does not know that…my apologies to Utqiaġvik.

~~

 

Wanting Winter

In Alaska, we are obsessed with weather. We talk about it all the time because it is endlessly interesting. There is always something to say. It is never small talk. I love that about us.

By August, even those of us with a great fondness for sun begin to weary and long for the deep reflection of January. Snow falls with silent abandon. And you have done that. You have become snow, the silent, absorbent purity which traipses and intrudes over everything. Every surface exposed to the fresh cold has lost its identity in this blanket; you can only be moved by an active effort. And then, I have to bring you inside, I gather you in my buckets and warm you by the fire and drink you and bathe in you and wash with you.

Your face intrudes like snow, upon everything. I can’t go anywhere until I patiently push you out of the way. I shuffle to my car (which is life, you see) and the wipers are sealed to the glass and the mirrors are covered, because there you are. Back into the cold you take me, and I lightly drag my brush over everywhere, watching you fall away and reveal the color again (vehicle, life…try to keep up with me).

I miss you. I miss you so much. It is easy to say this from January. The winter has no end. The cold you are is harsh, there is snow all around. Some days, I sail so easily in the dank grey, feeling pleased with myself for continuing on with life in a meaningful way. Then a thought starts to override it all and I’m utterly consumed with the thoughts of you. They hide in the form of physical tension, tight shoulders, a constricted chest. I begin to swell with anger and pain and it’s not clear to me at first until I open my inner eye and realize you are right there.

A figment of my imagination, a little brain piece that won’t shut down…though I need for it to atrophy…become small and useless, even countermanding. I’m still choosing to buy into this idea that the brain has physical cells which each hold something. It gives me hope that the cell or two containing your memory can be spliced away with a laser or enough intention. But if the brain is actually holographic, I am doomed.

A soup fog yesterday, leaving behind an appearance of candy on the trees. Chunky wraps which appear solid but easily shake away with a jutting finger. Or maybe they appear like corral, as though we are encountering an ancient reef and yet we give a shake and the entire edifice crumbles, its existence as fleeting as petals on a rose. And you want to take a picture to share this beauty with anyone, but a picture cannot capture its delicacy, and anyone who’s not from here will ever understand why this moment matters. There are a thousand brief moments in winter which cry out for capture but doing so is impossible, it simply must be savored in the moment and then let go. You see, there’s a metaphor here for everything. You are winter. I am the trees.

In another rotation around the sun, I suspect I will be well over you. At New Years, I opted to hibernate. I wished them well, I blessed them on their way. They can celebrate freely, I will never drag them down into my cave. I am the mama bear in every way right now, I want sleep, I want quiet, I want the dark. I want growth but will have to waste away for a while, and then wake up renewed and anxiously looking around in the very space that I am for food. I will feast on what is freely given, I will forage among the growth and the life around me, rather than sniffing among the dead.

There is nothing in the past for me. You have chosen to rot like the carcasses of salmon, and I can’t eat that, apparently. The wisdom of my foremothers grabs my chin with her pervasive hand, slaps me on the face, blinds me to the past. Let it go, let it go, she whispers in her wisdom. I beg her to let me sleep in my cave with these thoughts. She gives me a few moments and then tosses me back out into the daily hunt for peace.

~~~

© 2017 Mindy Goorchenko All rights reserved

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Life, Self-Care

Stupid ice in stupid Alaska

crutches

So I earned myself a pair of these yesterday when I took a reverse swan dive onto my rear end in a parking lot. Thankfully, I didn’t then get run over by automobiles sliding on aforementioned ice, and I hobbled my way to a meeting.

Then the time came to actually stand and move after sitting in the meeting, which didn’t go so well.

Of all the times to do such a thing to one’s self, it makes sense to have this happen at a hospital with an ER conveniently therein. Even better when the meeting has lots of medical types, one of whom is among the kindest on the planet, who stayed with me to make sure I was able to get home.

Things in the ER went well, other than my general loss of dignity accompanying the disrobing process and having to sit around in an ugly gown.

I couldn’t have asked for a more thorough doctor, and he got me through the process rather quickly.

The good news is, my pelvis is not broken per the x-rays (yay!), but that does not mean I can use it yet. So I am hanging out in bed.

Wah.

But yeah, it totally could be worse. I’m very grateful it’s NOT worse…I received the world’s best nursing care last night by my older daughters who were trying to outdo each other in nurturing awesomeness, and my husband is ordering me Thai food. The house is quiet. And there’s plenty to do right here in my bed such as drink coffee and read books and write blogs and stuff.

I really should do more of this relaxation stuff, minus the ER.

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