Thursday, October 29, 2009

Responsible vs Sacrifice

I’ve heard a lot lately, “a parents’ duty is to sacrifice”. I think we’ve mistakenly taken Responsibility and replaced it with Sacrifice. They are not the same interchangeable words.
Responsibility = the state of being reliable and accountable.
Sacrifice = to give up as a means to an end, to sell at a loss.

Since when is life supposed to be about how much you lose? Think about the lesson you are teaching your kids with the sacrifice attitude. You are telling them through your actions that they are the center of the universe right now but once they become adults and parents they have to lose everything about themselves….their identities, their joys, their passions. How depressing to have those expectations!

“You can either hold yourself up to the unrealistic standards of others, or ignore them and concentrate on being happy with yourself as you are.”
―Jeph Jacques

I think this quote is right on. And the hardest to live by. The expectations I used to have for myself were off the charts in the unrealistic category. I honestly thought I could work full time, be a full time mother, a full time housecleaner, a full time cook, a full time wife, a full time daughter, a full time friend, a full time nurse….all the while not asking for help from anyone or be thought of as weak and not worthy. That is pathetic! Seriously, there are only 24 hours in a day and nowhere in the schedule was relax, enjoy, savor, pleasure, a full time me.

I want to show my children that life is a pleasure even while they are responsible. I never want them to think that sacrificing their whole lives is the best and only way of life. I love to read, watch movies, do the puzzles in the paper and play volleyball. I am not giving these things up for my children. They have asked if I can stay home and not go out and I tell them that Mommy needs to have some play time with her friends. It makes Mommy happy. And when I’m happy I want to do extra nice things when I’m home.

“If you can give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.”
―Bruce Barton

Maybe you should make a list of what you feel are the sacrifices and expectations you have placed on you : from yourself, your parents, your spouse, your kids, your friends, your boss. Now, which of those do you hate and resent the most doing? Come on, I know there are some if you are very honest with yourself. Okay, delegate those. Right now. Find someone else to do them. Tap into your deepest resources. Think outside of your norm. Start shifting things off your plate. Once they are off, do not put anything else on your plate…better yet, trade in your dinner plate for a dessert plate.

Here’s a few ways I’ve downsized to my dessert plate:
Scheduled time off on the family calendar. Even if I just sit at Barnes and Noble I’m out of the house.
All the grandparents are on Facebook and can see updated pictures whenever they want.
Dry cleaners will pick up and deliver if I need it.
The grocery store will gather my list up. Only used it twice but they are better at sticking to the list than I am!
Dishwasher cleans more than just dishes!
Take the time to organize (and throw out) closets, holiday decorations, cupboards, fridge, and freezers.
Food Swap with others. Fills your freezer up so you are just heating and eating.
Delegated half the chores to my husband and remind myself they are his and not my concern.
Live by the “touch it once” policy. Take care of things right then, don’t lay them on the counter.
Send the kids to the neighbor’s once a week. It’s a trade because I take theirs also.
Christmas is one gift from Santa, one from parents, one from sibling, and stockings. That’s it.
Each kid can do one activity at a time. Right now it’s Scouting on Thursdays.

Now, I have time to spend with my kids teaching them the real lessons I want them to learn in life – take care of yourself, take care of others who truly need help – which, to me, is being responsible.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keeping Healthy

These tips are from Dr. Vinay Goyal who has a bunch of dignified letters after his name.

1. Frequent hand washing.
2. Hands off the Face approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of the face.
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (or Listerine).
4. Clean nose once every other day with warm salt water. Either use a netti pot or blowing nose hard and swabbing with Q tips soaked in warm salt water.
5. Eat natural foods with Vitamin C. If taking a supplement, be sure to also take Zinc to boost absorption.
6. Drink as much of warm liquids (tea, coffee, soup) as you can all day.

Viruses can only get into the body by the portals of the nose and mouth. It's not as much a problem coming into contact, but the proliferation. These 6 steps help avoid the proliferation by ridding the body of the germs at the start. They are cheap and easy ways to help keep your family healthy, or at least give you a boost in the odds.

(Thanks mom for the list)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Overcoming Obstacles

Amazingly enough, my children are in a heated discussion yet again in the car. Why is it they only fight in the confined space of the car? So, here’s the tale end…

Me: I do think that baby [doll] is wonderful! You can save your money for it.
Her: You are not being a nice Mommy!
Him: Yes she is, Sis. You just can’t have every doll. (This from the boy who wants every Lego and Hot Wheel)
Her: I’m going to run away to Grandma’s. She’ll buy me a baby.
Him: You can’t run away. You can’t even walk.
Her: Oh, then I’ll crawl away.
Again, I’m laughing, to my daughter’s disgust and indignation.

How quickly she thought of an alternative to a problem! Remember when we were kids and our minds could run free? Not thinking of obstacles as permanent “no’s” but just as a detour? When did that stop?

Well, I’m here to share a few obstacles we run into with Sami. She is only 33 inches tall and probably won’t clear 4 feet as an adult. Making our home usable for her and us is quite the challenge. My husband and I are around 5’9” and our 9 year old son is already close to 5 ft. We also need to take into consideration her brittle bones, not just her height. She isn’t like the average dwarf/little person who can climb things. Her muscles are affected by her disease as well and falling isn’t an option.

Our solutions: Her bed is a mattress on the floor, cloth boxes in cubbie shelves turned on their side hold everything at her height from clothes to books and Polly Pockets, mini chairs that are heavy and sturdy are for her reading, but all of this takes up considerable floor space. Imagine only being able to use the bottom 3 feet of a room to store everything. Yes, we could and do put things on higher shelves, but that takes away from her freedom of independence….though it does help with her ability to communicate what she wants and ask for help.

Our latest “Freedom Project” was the toilet. Tired of using baby training potties, we bought Sami her own tiny toilet (like they use in pre-schools). Unfortunately, it’s still not short enough. So Grandpa, Daddy, and I got to work on a platform that would be safe enough Sami could climb up on and wiggle her pants down to do her business. It’s not a quick process, but she can do it on her own with some finesses and patience. (Just don’t tell her that her dad and I are close by for an emergency. We aren’t ready for that much independence yet. No one needs another ER visit J ) I measured and drew up the plans, the men made the alterations and built it in a day. Carter even helped with the painting.

Here’s 2 pictures of the great work the men did! There’s always a way to get around the obstacle. Open your mind, free it from conventional “wisdom” and let the ideas flow. Heather

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Amazing Women

Believe it or not, I’ve added another hat to my life – Daisy Scout leader. My son has been in Cub Scouts for three years and loves it, so my daughter has been waiting patiently for her turn. I thought it would be much easier for me to be the leader than ask another mom to adapt everything for Sami. Luckily, I have a neighbor who will be my co-leader if something happens (gee, like a break) and I can’t be there.

The good little student that I am, I’ve been reading about the Girl Scouts for the past week. The founder is Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low. Infections made her mostly deaf, but she used that excuse to never take “No” for an answer – literally pretending she didn’t hear someone’s protest of not volunteering. Started in England as Girl Guides, the program was adapted from the Boy Scouts. Not only did the girls learn to tie knots and survive in the outdoors, but also how to be proper ladies with manners and kindness for others. Daisy was from Savannah, so she brought the Girl Guides program to the US in March of 1912, funding the project in both countries with her own money.

This started me thinking about all the amazing women in history that I don’t know about. My education in school was most male centered. Not that it was bad, but lacking representation of ½ of the world population made it incomplete. I did some searching and came up with a small list of women who have made a huge difference, but not always everyday-household names.

If there are women who you think should be known for their greatness, tell us! Our sons and daughters need good role models in every shape, form, skill, talent, and country. This list is in no way all encompassing as there are just too many to name, but it’s a good jumping point….

Mary Kay Ash
Clara Barton
Elizabeth Blackwell
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Olympia Brown
Dorothea Dix
Mary Dyer
Sylvia Earle
Marian Wright Edelman
Temple Grandin
Hypatia of Alexandria
Helen Hunt Jackson
Harriet Jacobs
Pope Joan
Ada Byron Lovelace
Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low
Sybilla Masters
Rigoberta Menchu
Maria Montessori
Lady Deborah Moody
Christiane Northrup
Ellen Ochoa
Huda Shaarawi
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Sally L. Smith
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Merlin Stone
Niara Sudarkasa
Mary Church Terrell
Madame CJ Sarah Breedlove Walker

For a more extensive list to search, discover, and share with your kids go to .

Wish me luck with this new endeavor. And give me a shout if you are in need of some cookies :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Depression Update

I’ve had some people ask, so I thought I’d give an update on how the medications are going. The generic anti-depressant I started with made me horribly sick. I’m talking violently sick and so exhausted I could barely function at work and had nothing left for when I got home with the kids. Not a good combo but I stuck it out as prescribed hoping my body would adjust to the foreign meds.

Well, eventually I gave up (more like my body revolted) and asked the psych doctor for help. He switched me to Lexapro – the pure stuff. Again, it took some time for my body to get used to it, but my moods are much more even keel now.

Though it might not be the best phrasing, it feels like I just don’t care much about things. If the house isn’t picked up I notice it, but it doesn’t send me into a mini rage. I stopped making decisions about things, letting my husband do it. I ask the kids to do their chores, and if they don’t, I can calmly go in and take their favorite toys away. No yelling or anxiety, just “matter of fact – tough it out – consequences for your choices – it doesn’t affect me” kind of attitude.

To be honest, it’s really nice! I don’t feel responsible for everyone and everything anymore. I only have to worry about my inner-instant circle and the rest can fend for themselves. It’s freeing! I can say “No” and “I don’t care”. Maybe empowering is a better word.

It’s sad that I needed the meds to give myself permission to let go, but that could be a symptom of our society. I resisted meds for many years thinking only weak people took them, but that’s not true. I think it’s more from overly high expectations and not enjoying the moment. It’s from living the “shoulds”.

One huge change is my thinking from “I’m stuck” to “I can, it’s my choice and I’m choosing this”. I don’t have to stay in this job, this city, or even this country. I’m choosing to and that makes all the difference. Practical and possible are not always opposites if you are doing what you need to do for your health and happiness.