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.

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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.

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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, Poetry

Winter and her metaphors, part 1

 

Greetings from Alaska. Winter endlessly fascinates me…she is my muse. I am excited to announce that my first collection of poetry, The Latent Talent of Conception, will be published later this year, so keep visiting this blog for updates. Enjoy.

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The Selfish Act of Winter

No matter how it falls,
Snow can never fall hard,
And that is the posture
I now adopt,

The occasional pine
Dusted with snow.
Hester’s wedding dress,
Exposing all her secrets.

I beg in three seasons now.
Spring finds me pleased with color.
Summer wilts me with my own heat.
Autumn begs to differ until

Blessed winter comes again.
I can quit roving the grass—
The hair of the earth
As Whitman said.

I make of you dirt,
Baked fields of warm sod,
While you assert
That you are ash,

Charred remnants of holiness.
How can I argue with that?
Our paradigms
As different as fall and spring,

Opposing poles
Pointing in some
Unknown direction.
And which is worse?

That you always sound
So composed,
Or that I’m still
Writing you,

This stalled facet
Of my inner life,
A brave faction
Holding out

In the face of all
Physical evidence.
The probability
As unlikely as the spring.

© 2016-2017 Mindy Goorchenko All Rights Reserved
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Fiction, WIPpets

WIPpet Wednesday (one day late): Frog Prince

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WIP = “work in progress.” This group of bloggers publishes a snippet of work each week that somehow relates to the date. Your feedback is welcome so that I can become a better storyteller. I first heard about this concept through my dear friend ReGi McClain, so hopefully this shameless mention of her will successfully pressure her into participating next week. 😀

Yesterday was 11/9/2016 and 11+9=20, so I’m going to share 20 lines from my take on the “Frog Prince.” I hope you enjoy it.

Isadore occupied a unique position in the galaxy. As far as was known, theirs remained the only planet which hosted a life form known as kyrie, an unassuming, iridescent water organism which produced a secretion lethal to the deadly reptilian species. The kyrie were carefully cultivated in protected lakes, filtered not only to optimize the organisms’ happiness but to collect this precious byproduct which assured the Isadorians’ unexpected level of power in the galaxy. Their benefits had been found out rather unexpectedly when the banks of their rivers and lakes had become scattered with the corpses of dead reptilian warriors after their first albeit very successful invasion and slaughter.

Lily had only a vague memory of her sister being born to her mother almost immediately after their father’s death. That was the last birth of an Isadorian that was known in these parts. It was a very crude and almost totally deprogrammed experience. Her mother’s body had little interference with the task. She had no attendants other than Lily, who quietly observed, and the midwife whose face squinted like a prune.

She remembered her mother being very stoic in that undertaking. Her belly stretched taut and smooth like a ripe pear, her breasts pendulously resting atop, dark nipples readying to enter into an ancient rite wherein youngsters fed at the bodies of the females but without harming them. Lily occasionally pondered her own form, with its gentle initially budding curves that had since become more defined and more prominent, smooth apples that turned her body into the shape of a snake that she secretly found lovely.

On this particular day, the waters pulsated diligently along the river’s bank, whirling around boulders and capturing with it the falling leaves that floated at a slant through the air…

The election and my toddlers’ poor adjustment to Daylight Savings Time have made for some very tired days and not enough energy to wake up early to write, but this morning, I’m back to it and enjoying the idea that presented itself.

Have a good week,

Mindy

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