Friday, March 2, 2012

Hey there, March!

My view for washing dishes

Is it just me, or is February the longest, shortest month on the calendar? Good Lord. No huge dramas to report from my locale, thank heaven, but in spite of some really good stuff goin' on, I am happy to pack up the month and jump into the next one. Whew!

The Great: winter finally comes, otters! kid fun
Leap Day was quietly wonderful. We woke up to magical snow, which means the day began with snowflake waffles --  just regular waffles dusted with powdered sugar. It's a simple, lovely tradition we've had since the boys were very small. Such a good excuse to slow down, sit down and watch the flakes spiraling down outside our windows.

Later in the day, a group of three chubby, sleek otters visited our section of the river not once, but twice. Otters! Here! We were lucky enough to see them wiggling and wrestling on the ice for a bit, too. I was able to grab a shot of one staring straight at me before he decided to slip back into the water.

Tiger Boy was in a local play with a group of fantastic kids, which was an amazing experience all around. He's been pining to connect with some kids his age, and it happened. The play was The Activity That Ate The Month, but totally worth it. I'm glad to have my evenings and weekends back, though.

Oh! And I got a mandolin. I'll tell you the whole story later, but the Reader's Digest Condensed Version is that I saw a clip of Sarah Jarosz and was totally smitten. I decided I wanted to play. Now. This is probably my favorite piece, with this and this coming in right behind. I think this 20-year-old woman has redeemed bluegrass for me.

The Crunchy
I hate fake-positive words like "challenges" but I like the idea of a positive spin, so my code word is crunchy.

Winter is starting now (What?! Huh?!), which means that the past few months have almost been a bust. In November, Hot Husband and I were looking forward to weeks of cross-country skiing to get that much-needed hit of endorphins and outside time, but the snow has pretty much sucked. Skiing involves driving an hour only to find marginal conditions.  

Embracing the ugh
Result: one sluggish, frustrated mama. The worst of it was a two-week carb and sugar binge that made my skin break out and probably packed on five pounds. No, I don't weigh myself obsessively, but I do check in from time to time when I know I'm trending either direction. This was not the direction I wanted.

Luckily, age offers wisdom with the wrinkles. In past years, I would have berated myself for my lack of control and discipline. Soooo sexy and productive, I know. This year in a post-chocolate gorging haze, I remembered a phone call I had with a friend several years ago. We were both feeling blah and unproductive, and I was hip-deep in "I'm not good enough" mode.

She was older and wiser, and she simply said something like, "Yes, I noticed that I've been unmotivated. Then I remembered that it's February, so I just decided to go with it and hunker in."


That's a choice? I don't have to be a bundle of productivity all the time?

So I made that choice and honored this month of tucking in by thinking about what really nourishes me. Good movies, books that transport me, soulful music and naps made the cut. Corn syrup, not so much.

After deeply considering considering what food truly satisfied me, I decided to use Lent as an excuse to ditch carbs. I'm not getting all nutty about it, but they're gone.

The back story
This has happened more than I care to admit: I have sweet coffee and a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast, then down an entire bag of chocolate chips, a few stealthy grabs at a time. Once I start in on sweet stuff like caramels, licorice, or even bread, for crying out loud, I just can't stop. It's like someone released a runaway train that has no brake or reverse. Several times this month, I watched myself take one teeny handful after another, and another and another and I could not back away. I got a little scared.

This time, I chose not to go to shame. I connected the dots instead.

I know that my best fuel is pretty much veggies and protein. I know that three family members have lost about 30 pounds each by going low carb. I know that carbs from sugar and grains give me brain fog or the jitters. And I have known all of this for years.

A week later, I'm down five pounds. Yes, two big skate ski workouts last weekend sure helped, but just ditching grains and sugar has really made a huge difference. My head is clear, I have energy again, and I feel better in my skin. Ahhh . . .

The real gift from this switch is that I'm free of the compulsion to fill myself up on junk. I've been doing a lot of mental sorting lately about what matters, where I'm headed, and who I want to be. Restless. Yearning. Looking for a safe, nurturing place.

Sugar and the internet were impostor places. The wonderful Jennifer Louden calls them shadow comforts, which is a perfect term. Finding out what I really desired seemed too scary and inaccessible, so I took a nasty shortcut to sweetness. We all do it. I blew time aimlessly meandering online. I scarfed empty, meaningless calories. Lookin' for love in all the wrong places . . .

For now, I'm out. I'm turning to salads instead of Twizzlers. Making a burger instead of sneaking a cookie.

Am I here to preach the low-carb gospel to you? Nonononono. My solution is probably not yours. However, I'm happy to hand you a permission slip to take a look at what really, deeply satisfies you rather than the quick fix. Your deepest needs can't be stuffed away with a sugar, potato chip or  Internet pacifier.

Real, genuine nourishment in all its luscious glory, is your birthright and mine. Own it.

Here's to a wonderful March!

Productive? Maybe. Nourishing? Yeah, baby.

Opening night! Tiger Boy in the middle with his bros.

One otter staring

My mandolin


  1. I have exactly the same problem with sweets...I can't just have one. I really think it has something to do with my biological make up. And I have to swear them off for good - which I can do for 6 weeks or so : (

  2. Here's what I'm trying. I'm off of sweets, fruit, grains and other high-carb stuff for six days, and then I let myself have those things one day a week. After two weeks of this pattern, I've found that my body just doesn't crave them as much. I can pass the bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard. When I had a taste of the frosting for my son's birthday cake yesterday, it seemed completely over the top. It feels really good to just have control over the cravings. I still don't trust myself around potato chips, though . . .