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I generally post every Monday, but Monday came and went without a thought in my brain!  Oops! 

Posting soon…

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Singing The “Obesity” Blues

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“I am gorgeous!”

Last week, I went to the doctor for a refill on my asthma inhaler and walked away, not only with a refill prescription for my inhaler but also an unexpected weight-loss treatment plan.

My doctor kindly informed me that I am “roughly” 20lbs overweight.  According to my BMI (Body Mass Index), I am one notch away from being “obese!”  My so-called “targeted” weight is 123lbs, but technically, for my height, my weight should be between 92 -110lbs!  Man, I haven’t been 110lbs since my early college days!

Well, that all sounds dandy, until you take in account of my body type: A top heavy, petite little thing who might pass as 5ft tall on a bad frizzy hair day in heels.  Basically, I am super short and all the extra pounds are stored in my chest.  It makes swim-suit shopping a nightmare!  

Anyways, its difficult to wrap my head around the word “obese” when I can still crawl through the doggie door when I am locked out of the house, wear Junior size clothing, and my 7 year old step-daughter wears the same size rings as me.  So, obese is just a tad bit extreme, but I get it!

I admit, I am a bit… “puffy.”  I wear the extra pounds well, but I am beginning to notice the weight in my face now.   After having my second kiddo, I had to move up a pant size in juniors.  Although it was just one size, it was just as emotionally devastating as the time I discovered my first couple of strains of grey hair before turning 30!  It’s just another adult milestone, I guess.

I Am Beautiful, But My Health Is Ugly

One thing that bothers me about being “overweight,” is how often I am told how beautiful I am.  I know I am beautiful!  I am gorgeous!  But, people are missing the point…I am truly doctor certified over-weight.  Doesn’t anybody care?  Or does the concern come after the weight-related health issues arrive?  A little encouraging support to nip this overweight thing before it gets out of control would be much appreciated!

At this very moment, my self-esteem is not crushed by weight-gain.  In fact, I am not really worried about being beautiful or not, I more worried about my overall-health.   My health is absolutely ugly!  My health is what needs a major make-over and an episode  of “What Not To Wear” can’t help me!

Walking 5 Miles

I am out of shape!  The most I can walk in one workout is 3.0 miles; in which, is totally not bad, but supposedly it can be better.  While walking, I realized that I begin sweating before reaching the sidewalk, everything rubs together, and forget running, because my chest is not the only thing that unpleasantly “jiggles.

My goal is not only to walk 5 miles a day, but also exceed 10,000 steps a day.  It’s a big goal for this Netflix couch potato, but I am confident, with the warmer weather coming and a new pair of walking shoes I can do it!  (Yeah, I blew out my old pair of walking shoes last week).

1300 Calories A Day, ARE YOU INSANE!

My weight-loss treatment plan has me on a low-calorie diet in which I am not to exceed 1300 calories a day.  Honestly, 1300 calories is just my morning coffee (sarcasm, but also semi-serious).

I actually maintain a pretty healthy diet for that I really enjoy the flavors of Mediterranean style dishes.  I love cooking with olive oil, rarely eat red meat, and like veggies more than fruit.  BUT, I totally know where all the extra calories are coming from….I drink lots of soda, drown my coffee in creamer, stuff all my food in delicious bread, and hide chocolate in the freezer.  Those are my kryptonite foods stretching out my waist band.

The Game Plan Is Simple

The game plan is simple:  Nix the junk food and bread, get a couple of miles in walking, do some strength training by lifting a weight or two, and keep my calorie intake under 1300 calories a day.  Easy peasy, right?

Well, not exactly.  Today, I ate 4 granola bars in one sitting (that is 400 calories) and drank who-knows how many sodas today.   Let’s not even mention the half of baguette (bread loaf), I ate yesterday.  I am so embarrassed, but I don’t regret it!  None of it!  It was delicious!

Tomorrow I will do better, I promise.  I just have to “do” it!  I can’t plan it.  I can’t pencil it in anywhere.  I just have to get off my squishy butt and do it!

What motivates you to exercise?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being A Step-Parent In Between A Parental War

Please bare with me as I woke up this morning to discover I had no more creamer for my coffee.  “Sad face!”  In fact, my pantry is looking a bit bare this morning, as it usually does after my step-children visit for the weekend.

Before my step-children leave, they always raid the pantry of granola bars and raisins (candy, if any, left over from Nana).  “Can I have a baggie,” my step-daughter always asks, and she fills it up to the point it’s difficult to seal, with the intent to sneak it home.  Their mother doesn’t allow “candy” or any other kinds of junk-food in the house; however, sometimes there are exceptions.  So, it never hurts to try, I guess.     

Step-parenting is suppose to be simple…

Two weekends of every month, summer break, and alternating holiday breaks, I am a step-parent.   The job should be relatively easy.  I mean, I have step-parents.  I understand how this is suppose to work.  I know my place as a step-mother.   Plus, it’s only a part-time gig that requires more “supervision” than “parenting,” right?  Unfortunately, Life has a way of always passing me the funky lemons.

I try extremely hard to respect my step-children’s mother’s (often times odd) parental choices, because at the end of the day,  they are her kids.  But, every time my step-children visit us, they have a new religion, new diet, new hair style, an interesting twist on certain facts, and sometimes a confusing strange outlook on life.  Most of the time, I just nod and smile.

It is certainly not my place to correct them and even though my husband does have some parental rights, I often just elbow him in the gut to keep quiet.  Correcting and expressing our own different opinions can be misinterpreted by the custodial-parent as undermining their parental decisions.  So, its just best to let it go and choose the battles we can win.

The One Who Must Know It All

When children become teenagers, us adults, know nothing; but we are still at an age where everything is all about “WHY,” “HOW,” and “WHAT!”

This weekend, I was expected to know what happens if lightening were to hit glass (I assume it would shatter).  I am not sure how we even started talking about lightening.  But, that is a much easier question to answer than the other questions they tend to throw at me.  In general, it is “I” who my step-children often seek answers to the worlds most difficult questions and the answer is never as simple as 42 (The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference).

Often times, I am asked extremely, difficult (totally not my area of expertise) kind of questions that are probably best suited for the biological parent.  I cannot tell you how often Google has assisted me in answering and solving many interesting mysteries; like the time one of my step-children came to me with a “marking” on their neck that they claimed they “just woke up with” one morning.  It turns out it was a Pagan symbol drawn in what appeared to be brown eye-liner as part of some protection spell.  Totally not judging!   I have total respect for all religions.  If it works, it works!  Again, not judging, but I must admit, it was one of those difficult things to explain to a child who thought they were magically marked overnight.  Just saying,

I never invite these type of difficult conversations unless necessary.  Sometimes, you can tell something heavy is weighing on their tiny little shoulders and they need someone to talk to, otherwise they become an emotional mess.  The most difficult part of difficult conversations, is when they look to you for validation regarding their parents feud.  “Who is right?  Who is wrong?  Who is good?  Who is Bad?”  Although I would certainly love to give them my 10 cents about their parents, I try to focus on redirecting those questions back onto them, allowing them to formulate their own rational opinions about their parents.  I try to largely emphasize on the fact that a person cannot be truly defined as “good” or “bad” just from hearsay nor from the actions of others that we may not fully understand, as there are always two sides to one story.

I’ve been a part of my step-children’s lives since they were very young.  I’ve heard a lot of drama, seen a lot of drama, and dealt with a lot of drama (99% of it being completely unnecessary).  I might have even grown as a person with all of the drama.  More importantly, I certainly know that  I learned a lot about mental health through this step-parenting journey.

Not My War To Fight

The first four years, I found myself fighting a war that wasn’t mine.

The drama between biological parents is none of my business, unless their drama crosses over the boundaries into neutral territory threatening our family’s fortress of solitude; then, of course, I must suit up for battle.  As a heavily suited General, I spent the first four years, wasting unnecessary energy leaning over a dusty table of worn war maps and quirky figurines contemplating our next move in battle.  Our fortress was constantly under heavy attack by every kind of artillery an uncooperative parent can throw at us.  I was constantly ordering unsuccessful counter-attacks from the sidelines; because I didn’t exactly understand how to deal with irrational behavior in a rational situation.  The details of this war is not my story to share; however, I eventually realized that between everyone involved, I was the “only” one suffering emotionally.

 

Dropping Emotional Weight and Fortifying The Boundaries

Two years ago, I threw down my shield and sword, hung up my white flag, and walked away from a war that is not mine to fight.

I blame my grey hairs on four years of emotional drama (okay, grey hair is technically genetic).  Not only was I having to help my husband deal with his uncooperative ex, I was also having to help my step-children emotionally cope with unrelated issues that were happening outside of our house, either at their mother’s house, at daycare, or at school.  Whatever was bothering them, they came to me  for advice.  It was extremely stressful and very emotionally for me, especially, when many of these things are completely out of my control.

Nobody carried as much emotional weight as I did.  When I abandoned the war, everyone was extremely upset with me.  They didn’t like taking over all the weight I carried; so much so, they kept pushing me to stay in the war using manipulative tactics that were no better than those that came from the so-called enemy.  It took me several months to officially walk away.

Today, I am much happier and extremely stress-free. I have fortified our boundaries with one simple rule: “What happens at mom’s house, stays at mom’s house.”  Simply, Don’t bring that drama over here!  I have also established consistent rules and a simple routine for our house that my step-children love.  Most importantly, both my step-children know that they must leave their bad mood from their mom’s house at the front door.  They love that idea and if something is bothering them, we certainly talk about it, but we no longer allow it to ruin our visitations.  It’s all about being positive, understanding, and enforcing boundaries.

As for my husband and others that are involved in all this drama, I have established personal boundaries making it certainly clear to everyone that I don’t want to be involved nor do I even want to hear about it.  I might step in every so often to assist my husband in providing clear effective communication to his ex, but other than that, I am not much involved anymore.

I have learned to accept that there are some unfortunate things in Life that I cannot control, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the best out of an unfortunate situation.  Breathe, smile, and always keep a positive attitude!

 

Disclosure:  I have no intentions on making anyone look bad in this post.  I did my very best to share and express my own personal experiences without disclosing personal details of an unfortunate situation between two other people.  Please keep in mind that an uncooperative parent doesn’t make them a bad parent.  Co-parenting is not always easy.

 

 

 

 

Parenting With A Partner With Asperger’s: A Book Review

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

IMG-1023All this time, I have been blabbing about my OCD. How totally selfish….so, lets talk about Asperger’s!

As I have mentioned before, my husband has Asperger’s.  His Asperger’s, to me, is just something that makes him unique.  I love that his brain processes information differently than my own; however, it seems to be a bit glitchy when it comes to parenting.  So much so, that parenting is the only thing we ever bicker about; or more accurately, that I ever bicker about…

I “get” my husband’s brain.  I studied biology and psychology; plus, I am extremely opened minded to the fact that everyone is different and I strongly believe that everyone, regardless how quirky they might be, still deserve love and respect.  So, for the most part, my husband’s so-called “odd” social behaviors doesn’t bother me; but I am beginning to see how his Asperger’s is affecting our children.

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!

My husband simply does not exist.  He is here, but not; and David Copperfield has nothing to do with it!  I think the biggest problem is that, my husband doesn’t acknowledge when spoken to; something I had to get used to.  When prompt to provide a response, you can certainly tell that his brain is searching for a “script,” a go-to, catch-all phrase that works for any kind of situation.  His usual response, for everything, is either “neat-o” or “oh-goodness.”  If the subject is not about him or something he is an “expert” at (areas in which he can confidently express himself), the tone is off and sometimes emotionless, making him sound rude, disrespectful, or a bit harsh.  Not knowing how to appropriately and quickly respond, the brain becomes anxious, and the tongue does its best to interpret and translate.  So, my husband never means to sound rude, disrespectful, or harsh; it’s just rolls off the tongue that way.

I am sure there is more to it, but I am guessing, this is one of the biggest reasons as to why our kids prefer to come to me, instead of their dad, even when he is standing two feet away from me.  They either feel their dad ignores them or their feelings get hurt, by his not-so compassionate responses.  Communication may not seem to be my husband’s forte, but he sure does know how to make the kids laugh!

Parenting Requires Social-Skills

Although, we are both biological parents, I am “the” parent.  I often struggle with this concept, because I personally believe parenting should be a joint responsibility; however, my husband’s Asperger’s makes it difficult to parent together.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, our joint efforts resulted in a “good” cop / “bad” cop parenting style.  It was confusing for everyone and we decided it was best that I just take lead for now on.  It isn’t that my husband doesn’t care or is lazy about parenting, he just doesn’t have that communication-bonding ability with the kids.  Parenting requires social-skills; something I am beginning to learn more about in this new book I started to read this month, called, “Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D.

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About The Author and Why I Enjoy This Book

Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D., has thus far, been an insightful read.  Kathy J. Marshack is a licensed psychologist who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning Autism; understanding Asperger’s on both a professional and personal level.

I am really enjoying this book, for that it has all that I like about a book: scientific-based facts, personal experiences, and great humor.  There is nothing dull about the way this book is written, making it much more relatable and easier to retain important concepts that will help me better understand and work with my husband during our parenting adventures.

Cognitive and Emotional Empathy

What have I learned so far?  Well, lots of things, really.  But one thing that truly sticks in my brain is the difference between Cognitive Empathy and Emotional Empathy.   Although better explained by Kathy J. Marshack, I think I got the gist of it.

Empathy is complex; however, Marshack explains there are two types of empathy.  Cognitive Empathy, to my understanding, is when the  brain assesses a situation factually, instead of emotionally.  Emotional Empathy is looking at a situation with emotions.  Those who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome, respond to situations with both Cognitive and Emotional Empathy; whereas, those with Asperger’s Syndrome, generally, only express one type of empathy at a time (not both at the same time).

Say, my kid comes to me with scrapes on their knees from falling down at the park.  They are crying and their knees are bleeding and require medical assistance.  I respond by expressing my concern for their emotions and provide comfort by expressing my understanding that scraped knees totally suck; and then attend to the scrape.  My entire response consisted of both cognitive and emotional empathy.

However, my husband would respond completely differently, whereas he would not be as comforting and skip straight to the fact that it “just” needs a band-aid.   He is responding with Cognitive Empathy, where he recognizes the facts of the situation (scrape on knee), but not the emotional situation (kid being upset).  Or, he may respond with Emotional Empathy instead, where he may respond extremely emotionally and irrationally by dramatically swooping the child up into his arms, rushing them to the band-aid box, and making a dramatic scene, in which only scares the child.

But, like I said, Marshack explains it way better by sharing a personal, yet relatable,  story from one of her clients; in which I strongly encourage you to read about in her book.

After I have finished the entire book (still have a couple chapters left to go), I will be posting an update on this review at the end of the month.  Maybe great changes will come or at the very least, I have gained, yet another perspective to share with you about mental health.

Have You Read A Good Book Lately?

I love to read when I am not busy being a mom.  If you have any book recommendations regarding Asperger’s Syndrome, Parenting, or Mental-Health in general, let me know!  I’d love to check them out! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being A Biology Student With Contamination-OCD

As a student passionate about learning Biology, developing Contamination-OCD felt as devastating as a surgeon losing his ability to work with his hands.

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What Is Contamination-OCD

Contamination-OCD is the fear of germs and diseases.

Those experiencing Contamination-OCD often avoid objects, people, and places that they feel might get them sick.  Contamination-OCD can include some of the following compulsive-behaviors:

  • Avoiding touching certain objects handled by other people (like door-knobs, elevator buttons, pens, phones, etc).
  • Avoiding sick people.
  • Avoiding crowded places, bathrooms, or places like hospitals and clinics.
  • Avoiding bodily fluids such as mucus, blood, saliva, urine, etc
  • Avoiding food & beverages prepared by others.
  • Excessive hand-washing.
  • Throwing away things that is thought to be contaminated.
  • Wearing protective gloves and facial masks to avoid germs.
  • Excessive health tests in fear of having contracted a disease.

Well, that is just to name a few; for that individual experiences vary.

My Contamination-OCD Fears About Cleaning Products

Although diagnosed with Pure-O OCD, I occasionally experience a bit of Contamination-OCD with cleaning products, as it falls under my OCD’s common theme: The irrational fear of having harmed others through some form of negligence.

An example of my Contamination-OCD would be the time I kept throwing away sugar.  We used to keep a sugar bowl on the counter to sweeten our tea.  One day, my husband left an open-box of powdered dish detergent on the same counter as the sugar bowl.    Intrusive thoughts flooded my mind that somehow the dish-detergent had gotten into the sugar bowl and I was convinced the sugar bowl was then contaminated with dish-detergent (because both were white and similar in texture).  I always assumed it was best to be safe than sorry and so, I always threw away the sugar whenever my husband forgot to put away the dish-detergent.  Let’s just say, I ended up wasting a lot of sugar, before realizing it was just my OCD brain being OCD.

My Contamination-OCD Fears About Germs & Disease 

However, I did go through a short phase where I was afraid of every known disease in the “Universe.”  It was so bad, that it even made me uncomfortable standing near a moon rock, displayed in a glass case at NASA.  Seriously, You don’t know what unknown terrible alien-brain eating, glass deteriorating, diseases are on the moon!   It was a terrible experience, because I absoultely love science!

Sadly, the worst part, was being a Biology student who was about to begin a semester of lab courses; where not only was I going to be exposed to sheep brains and twitching dead frogs, but also human bodily fluids like urine and blood.  I was also signed up for mandatory volunteer work at a hospital as a transporter (transporting sick people from one department to the other).  I wasn’t sure I could handle it!  But, hey, the things we do for science, right?   

Talk About Effective Exposure Therapy – Lab Class

In the beginning, my science lab classes barely involved any “lab” work at all.  Chemistry 101 was more math than test-tube experiments.  Geology lab was full of rocks.  Physics dealt mostly with physical objects.  Biology; well, Biology in the beginning was a snore.

The first couple of Biology lab classes consisted of long boring lectures with plastic model body parts.  The only thing in my earlier lab classes that totally set off my Contamination-OCD, were the students bringing in their drinks and food into the lab.  All different kinds of lab classes took place in this lab, so who knows what gross dead thing or toxic residue was left on the tables before we came in for a boring lecture.  

However, I remember a very particular and extremely uncomfortable lab session in which we had to work with blood and urine.   At the time, I was completely afraid of bodily fluids. Unfortunately,  I couldn’t ditch one lab assignment, for that lab assignments were a big chunk of our final grade.  Instead, I had to force myself through it…

The first lab assignment was more-so gross than terrible, as it involved testing protein concentrations in urine.  One person from the group had to urinate in a cup and each of us had to test his/her urine.  Although gloves and masks were required, touching someone else’s “pee” is really gross, even without OCD.

The second lab assignment was called ABO blood typing to determine blood type.  It bothered me more than the urine.  It involved us pricking each others fingers to draw blood into a tray where we then had to mix our blood with antibodies to determine our specific blood type.  Really neat stuff, when the OCD brain isn’t being so OCD.  Intrusive thoughts of all the different kinds of blood-transmittable diseases flooded my OCD brain and of course, I was extremely worried about leaving lab class with a disease or tracking diseases home on the bottom of my shoe!

Knowledge Is Power Against the OCD Bully Brain 

My OCD brain took full-advantage of my ignorance about how germs and diseases can affect the body.  I was uncomfortable sharing my drink with someone, holding hands, or even pressing the elevator button (try getting your foot up that high).   However, for me, Contamination-OCD didn’t last very long after I began my studies in Human Anatomy and Physiology.  Learning more about how bacteria and viruses actually work and how our body protects itself against their attacks, largely put my OCD brain at ease; furthermore, the lab classes and volunteer work at the hospital was great exposure therapy.

It is important to understand that germs and diseases do not transmit as easily as they do in the 2002 zombie-horror movie, “28 Days.” (I hate that movie!)   In fact, our bodies have an amazingly strong defense system in which requires extremely specific circumstances and conditions for diseases to “successfully” transmit to a person.

BUT, that doesn’t mean jump straight into surgery without gloves, go days without washing your hands, pet a rabid dog, stand in the mucus spray of someone’s sneeze, or go protection-free on your next date; that just isn’t very smart nor hygienic.  Just because the body is designed with a good defense system, doesn’t mean it is 100% effective.

Keep in mind, that on a microscopic level, our bodies are constantly fighting a war against bacteria and viruses; we just aren’t aware of it.  So, regardless how much we try to protect ourselves, we are always at risk of getting sick; but we can largely reduce the risk of getting sick by following the recommended simple precautions to stay healthy.

My point is, staying healthy doesn’t require extensive protective measures, like lathering up on the antibacterial hand sanitizers, scrubbing your skin raw, or avoiding people who are living with preventable diseases.  In fact, some excessive precautions can be bad for your health, (like scrubbing your skin raw that could lead to bacterial infection), something you were trying to prevent in the first place.   Remember, you are the first line of defense, not the cavalry.

Bacteria and viruses have a negative reputation for being the bad guys when it comes to our health, but not all bacteria and viruses are bad.   Each can play beneficial roles in our health.  Click Here To Read More: sciencemag.org.  Microbiology is such a fascinating field of study!

 

Downside To A Smart OCD Brain…It Thinks Too Much

Unfortuantely, the downside to feeding your OCD brain with factual knowledge, is that the OCD brain thinks too much.   The OCD brain likes to debate and if you are not confident with what you know, your OCD brain is likely to win.  You don’t have to be an expert to convince your OCD brain that you are right; instead feel confident that you know more than your OCD brain.  Your OCD brain knows you are smart, but it doesn’t like the way that makes you feel- feeling good about yourself.  The OCD brain is a bully that wants you to feel bad and doubt yourself.  Don’t let it! 

You Can Beat This!! 

Don’t let OCD take away the things you love.   Contamination-OCD was an obstacle I had to overcome to enjoy what I love~ science!  I hope my experience encourages you to beat your own OCD challenges, especially, if it is getting in the way of something you love or enjoying doing in life.  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insomnia From An Insomniac

Given the chance to go to bed early, I would, because I am a natural early bird; however, something is wrong with my body clock. IMG-1002It isn’t broken, but “set back,” due to the insomniacs in the family.  My husband and our preschooler are natural night owls; whereas, our youngest and I, are far from nocturnal- we enjoy sleeping.  Sadly, each of our sleep schedules clashes with the other; making it extremely difficult, for anybody to enjoy a good nights rest.

Bad Habits Winning Over Good Habits

“If you live with a slob, you become a slob….”

In the beginning, my husband had a lot of bad habits (of course, I did too…we’re both human) and it was a constant tug-a-war between his bad habits (being a slob) and my good habits (being organized).  It took a couple of years, but we eventually found a balance.  Although my husband has better habits today, his old ways still kick in every once in awhile when I am not around; for example, his own personal space in the house is a mess (drives me crazy, but its his space).  But, I must admit, his messy lazy habits are extremely stress-free and there was a time when I took up on his bad habits (letting the house go).  I realized what had happened…subconsciously I had gone down the path of least resistance.  It was easier to be lazy and messy, but again, it was also unsanitary, gross, and stinky.  Fortunately, that phase didn’t last very long and “good” habits triumphed over the “bad” habits.   My point is, that it is so easy to pick up on bad habits without even thinking about it.  

Not True Insomnia

I do not have Insomnia; however, I cannot seem to fall asleep any earlier than 1am.

I developed poor sleeping habits by staying up with my insomniac husband. Totally not his fault that I cannot fall asleep at a decent hour anymore.

My husband has true insomnia and cannot go to bed until early in the morning (2am-3am) forcing his body to function on 5 hours of sleep during the work week.  I, however, require 7-8 hours of sleep or I get physically sick.  I have no tolerance for lack of sleep.  So, even though I am not able to fall asleep until 1am, I do manage to get in my 7-8 hours.  The problem with this, is that I sleep in late; something that must change when the kids begin school. Fortunately for me, I can readjust my sleep schedule back to normal; it just takes time. 

Without The Right Conditions, I’m Wide Awake

Falling asleep, when the rest of the family is wide awake, can be challenging; especially, if your own body requires more Z’s.  I have tried, many times, to coax my husband and our preschooler onto a healthier, earlier sleep schedule, but it doesn’t last for very long.

If the conditions are right, (with a dark, quiet, cold room), I have no problem going to sleep, but I cannot go to sleep with two insomniacs roaming around the house.  Our house is tiny, so tiny that if one person is up, we’re all up.

My husband is a late night video gamer; in which, I personally believe doesn’t help with insomnia.  However, without video games to occupy his time stuck wake, he’d just pace back and forth until dawn.  So, I say, game on!

I don’t mind that my husband plays video games, so long as it doesn’t interfere with family life.  Unfortunately, he is a loud video gamer.  Listening from the other room, he sounds like a soldier, loudly barking orders into his headset, as if he were on a noisy turbulent helicopter flying through a massive war attack.  Apparently, video games can be extremely exciting.

I have difficultly sleeping through the excitement; despite him being in another room.

The Defiant Little Night Owl

Our preschooler is a natural night owl (supposedly genetic).  Unlike her father though, she still requires about 10 hours of sleep; otherwise she makes Oscar the Grouch seem quite pleasant.  Anyways, as a parent, I have to get her on an earlier sleep schedule for school and her defiance (as a strong-willed child) is going to require that I start now rather than just a few months before school begins.  May the challenge begin!

Although we’ve always had a consistent bedtime routine (starting at 8pm), the sleep portion of this routine often varies.  So, even though the so-called experts say a consistent bedtime routine is the best way to get kids to go to bed early, doesn’t work for everyone.  It works for our youngest, but not our preschooler as I have discovered there are two things that affect our preschooler’s sleep schedule:

  • Strong-Willed Child
  • Premature Birth

Our preschooler was born 3 months early with a fiery strong-willed defiant personality.  She will not go to bed unless everyone is going to bed.  At first, I thought she was afraid of missing out of something, but later I realized, she just doesn’t think it is “fair” that she has to go to bed while others are still awake (even parents).

Also, being born as early as she was, she has some sensory issues.  At night, even though she is tired, her body is quite restless.  Also, she doesn’t like the feel of sheets or certain types of pajamas.  Even the temperature in the room makes her restless.  Finding solutions has been challenging.

Falling Asleep To Sleep Stories With Calm 

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With a few changes made and a bit of dedication, the kids and I, are generally asleep by 11pm now.  Not the ideal bedtime I want for my kids, but it is much better than going to sleep at 1am.  The biggest change was creating a better sleep environment for everyone.

When it is time for bed, the bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool; not frozen Arctic cold or anything, just comfortably cool.  As for our little night owl, strong-willed children (well, most children) have to feel in control.  She picks out her own pajama’s, chooses her own bedtime books, and turns off her own light.  There are power struggles every so often, but for the most part, it is fine.  The ultimate game changer to getting us to fall asleep earlier, has been ambient noises to drown out my husband’s video-game adventures from the living room.

I discovered an App called Calm.  

Personally, I like free-apps and rarely buy anything more than $1.99; but this one has proven to be worth the pricey subscription; plus, I like listening to Matthew Mcconaughey’s voice.  🙂

The Calm app is a mix of ambient noises, guided meditations, music, and more interestingly,  “Sleep Stories.”  What the heck is a sleep story?

A sleep story is a 15-45 minute audio-book that is narrated by soothing voices like Stephen Fry and Bob Ross (and other voices too).  The stories are quiet, slow paced, and relaxing.  Most stories sound like guided mediations for sleep as you embark on a sleep-story journey.

The best stories are those for kids.  We have yet been able to listen all the way through the Little Mermaid Sleep Story, for that we all fall asleep just before she rescues the prince from the sea.  This is certainly an App to have if you have trouble falling asleep.  My husband, when he is finally ready for sleep, enjoys the sounds of the ocean and he says, it helps him get to sleep faster.

Image result for Calm app
Available online, IOS, and Android

 

Wishing Everyone A Good Night’s Rest

I can’t imagine what it is like living with insomnia, but I do hope the little sleep those with Insomnia do get is at least pleasant and peaceful.

 

Do you use IOS / Android apps to sleep?  Which are your favorite?  Which do you least recommend?  

 

 

 

 

 

Answers Under The Couch: A Book Review

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

 

 

Hardly a coincidence, don’t you think?

Life is funny this way, as little things like this happen to me…a lot.  Coincidence? Perhaps not…

As you may know, I’ve been in paradise putting my minimalistic and organizational super-powers to good use, helping my mother get the ball rolling on finishing an endless list of unfinished projects around the house.  It is an overwhelming, stressful, sandal-strap breaking challenge, but I think I got her started in the right direction.  It’s all about setting goals!

Unfortunately, you can set as many goals as you like, but to achieve those goals requires motivation to accomplish them.  How does one gain motivation, especially, with so many overwhelming goals?  What needs to change?  As usual, the answer to my questions are never too far away and I am not talking about the Internet…

Is It Coincidence…Answers Under The Couch?

My mother taught me a long time ago to “listen to the Universe” or “God,” whomever you prefer, or frankly, whomever speaks the loudest.  My point is, that I strongly believe that the answers we seek can be found within reach from somewhere; you just have to be patient and open-minded, for that these answers can come from very unexpected places.

As I was cleaning, I decided I would clean underneath the couches; a place that probably hasn’t been cleaned in years….

Image result for grandma's boy cleaning under the couch movie

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, the only thing that was under the couch was a book.  A small black book, called, “This Year I Will…,” by M. J. Ryan from 2006.

I Bookdidn’t think anything of it and tossed it in the collection bin of other misplaced books I had found while cleaning the house.  But, without a cover, I was curiously drawn to it.

I like to read before bed, so that night I decided to check out the small book that I found under the couch.  It is a book about accomplishing personal goals….what a coincidence!

Insightful, Helpful, and Encouraging: A Book Review (Affiliated Links

“This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan, was exactly what I needed to read!  It was perfectly relatable to my mother’s current situation.  Furthermore, it even encouraged me to work on my own personal goals (like losing weight).

I like non-fiction self-help books that are mixed with relatable personal stories, suggested techniques to try, and references by “the” experts.  This book has everything that I like!  It talks about the neuroscience behind the habits that prevent us from accomplishing our goals as well as, providing clear, simple, to-the-point changes to overcome those habits.

The Power Of A Positive Mind To Change Bad Habits

The author, M. J. Ryan, references ideas by “organizational consultant, Robert Fritz,” author of “The Path of Least Resistance.”  He strongly believes that motivation is driven by positive, passionate, thoughts and ideas.

For example, the reason I cannot stick to my goal of losing weight, is because there is no positive, passionate, motivation behind it.  I’d like to lose weight to become healthier, but like clockwork every year, I jump into a routine that fizzles out by the end of January.   This is most likely, because I am not positively, passionate about becoming healthier.  Truthfully, I am not.  Not a single cell in body is passionate about becoming healthier, especially, if it means dieting and exercise.  However, according to Fritz, I can motivate my stubborn cells (myself) to accomplish my weight loss goal by thinking of a positive, passionate, motivating end result; such as doing it for my kids.  My kids need me to be healthy and I am super passionate about doing things for my kids.

I am currently day three into an exercise program (walking), meeting my daily step goals.  I am passionate about it!   I made my routine exercise into a game; something in which Ryan talks about, stating that we tend to accomplish things that are fun rather than boring.  So, I am not focused on weight loss (although that is the preferred end-result), but rather on how many steps I am getting per day.  I try to do more steps than the day before (beating yesterday’s step goal).  It keeps me motivated and mildly entertained.   Unfortuantely, I have a long way to go, as yesterday, I blew out a shoe and my flabby fat arms rubbed raw with friction.  Wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but it is totally worth it for my kids!

A Book Worth Finishing : Don’t Think About Donuts

I was quickly motivated to start a workout program just by reading the first 39 pages of “This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan,   Very few books have that effect on me; however, there is just something about this book that I love and trust.  Plus, I am never shy of trying anything new, different, or interesting.

I like this book, because the author is very thorough in backing up ideas with psychological concepts.  Having OCD, I am well aware of the psychological mind game, “Don’t Think About Pink Rabbits,” or in Ryan’s book, “Don’t Think About Donuts.”  The point of this mind game, is that no matter how much you try to not think about something, you are going to think about it anyways.  It demonstrates thinking habits and Ryan ties this in perfectly to support the ideas that habits impact motivation and goals.  No spoil alerts, you just have to read it yourself, but Ryan actually explains, neurologically, why this happens, and it’s fascinating!

I always feel the first couple chapters of a book defines the value of a good book, so far, this book has caught my attention and seems worth finishing.  I am almost finished with this book and I am not yet disappointed.  The book dives much deeper into building goals and ways to stay on track with goals.  Whether this book leads to success, I am not sure; that part is largely up to me as I begin to embark on a daily workout routine to accomplish my own personal health goal.

Finding Positive, Passionate, Motivation For My Mother

Putting new concepts and strategies into practice is always “easier said, than done.”  Interestingly, this book explains why that is, in which is another reason why I recommend reading (or even just glancing at) this book.  As for my mother, I am sure my mother has read this book and I just have to encourage her to think of something passionately positive to motivate her to finish the projects she starts.  Changing thinking habits are challenging, I know (OCD), but it is amazing what one can accomplish with a new positive mind-set!

Have you ever encountered a helpful coincidence?

 

 

 

 

Brain Games: Netflix

I am a huge Netflix fan!  Seriously, I am a person who will spend an entire weekend binge watching a tv series until the very last episode of the very last season. Image result for netflix It is such an unhealthy addiction for me, especially, since it makes me feel like a zombie; shuffling in and out of the darkness every once in awhile for food and responding to family members with short zombie-like grunts.

Fortunately, it is only a seasonal addiction, as I only seem to binge watch tv when the weather outside is super cold.  With Spring just around the corner, I find myself being a little more active enjoying the warm weather, defrosting from a long Winter.

However, every month, my parents call me with a list of  “good” tv series they recommend watching on Netflix.  One of those series is,“Brain Games,” with Jason Silva.  To be honest, the way my parents explained it, I thought it was a game show.  Totally pass!  My entire childhood was spent watching Nickelodeon game shows like “Double Dare,” “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” and “Figure It Out.”  So, yeah, I didn’t even bother; but my parents kept asking me if I had watched “Brain Games” yet.  So, this week, I decided to check it out…

Not A Game Show

Okay, “Brain Games” is pretty interesting!  It is not a game show. Image result for Brain Games Netflix There are no contestants, prizes, nor is the host standing behind a podium with a handful of clueless cards.  Nope, “Brain Games” is seriously all about the brain!

This show talks about the fascinating and mysterious inner-workings of the mind.  It is an entertaining and educational series that is both fascinating and interesting with experiments, experts, and fun.  The best part of this show are the interesting games you can play that demonstrate how the mind works!

Ideomotor Effect Episode (No Spoil Alerts)

My favorite episode, so far, is about the Ideomotor Effect, a psychological phenomenon where our body moves unconsciously.  They demonstrated this phenomenon with the Ouija Board.  Basically, a group of volunteers call upon the dead, in which answer through the Ouija Board.  It was clear as day, until the volunteers were asked to call upon the dead again, but this time all the volunteers were blind folded.  The result, a fuzzy connection between the living and the dead.  Communication was not as clear as it was without the blind folds.

Of course, when they were not blind folded, this could easily mean that someone in the group lied and was actually controlling the wood-piece, called a planchette, across the Ouija board to connect with the dead.  However, when everyone in the group is convinced that they did not push the planchette; how do you explain that?

Interestingly, I’ve actually heard of the the Ideomotor Effect from one of my biology classes.  I am pretty sure it was one of my late night classes and I was half asleep, but I do recall such a term.  But, that is just it.  It is simply a term that rings a bell, but with no distinct sound to remind me what in the heck it means.  Well, the way “Brain Games” explains it, is extremely fascinating.  No spoil alerts here, but simply, the Ouija board is just the mind tricking the brain!  In case, you find their explanation a little too hard to believe, they show you how you can see the Ideomotor Effect with your own hands.  CRAZY! 

Like I said, I am not going to spoil it for you!

Personally, I thought the episode was really fascinating; however, I am still not going anywhere near a Ouija Board!

Don’t Have Netflix!

If you don’t have Netflix, no worries!  This tv-series is quite popular; you can find a bunch of their episodes online with YouTube.

Have you seen Brain Games?  What do you think of the series?  What is your favorite episode?

 

Tossing Out The Overwhelming To-Do-Lists

Last week, I was invited to paradise, but when I arrived, paradise was nowhere to be found; it was buried in chaos!

My mother asked if I could come down and help her with some projects around the house.  Turns out those projects were bigger than the both of us and we ran out of motivation before we could even think where to begin; plus, the weather didn’t help.  When the weather is cold and wet, my mother moves like molasses as her poor joints lock up like a rusty old tin man.  So, instead of working on projects, my mother (being my mother) convinced me to go to her “fun” dentist for a routine check up.  Let’s just say, I came home this weekend with a broken sandal strap and 6 cavities.  It was a rough week.

All my life, I feared getting my first cavity.  So, it wasn’t fun getting the news that I have 6 cavities!  That’s a bit to take in, especially, since I have been cavity free for over 30 years!  Overall, my teeth are in good health and the cavities are “shallow.”  According to my mother’s “fun” dentist, it’s a “no-brainer” to fix.  I’m relieved, because I thought it was going to be rocket-science!  Ugh!

Too Many To-Do’s To Count

IMG-0843Cavities aside, my mother really needs my help!  She is buried in too many overwhelming projects.  My mother is notorious for starting projects and never finishing them; and she knows it.  Unfortunately, it has finally caught up with her; not only is it affecting her happiness, but also her overall health.

My mother is a natural clutter bug whereas I am more of a minimalist (with a few hidden junk drawers).  Our ideas clash sometimes, as she doesn’t understand how I can function without appliances cluttering the countertops, knick-knack “treasures” cluttering the shelves, or even a yard without on single piece of lawn decoration (like the Elvis Flamingo she gave me a few years ago) and simply, I do not understand how she can function in “chaos.”  

Tossing The To-Do List’s

Despite our different ideas, my mother has called upon my minimalistic superpowers to help her get things back in order.

Personally, I don’t like To-Do lists, but for some people, to-do lists are amazing.  I thought for my mom, a to-do list would help her organize her thoughts, but like her bathroom scale, to-do lists are also evil, wicked, mean, and nasty!  So, nix the to-do list idea!

The Light Bulb For A New Game Plan

I was so overwhelmed by my mother’s house that I felt exhausted by the time I got home to my own house.  My husband did a great job keeping up the house while I was gone  (he even made the bed) and the glistening clean countertops were a welcoming sight when I came home.  While cooking dinner that night, the fat moving hamster in my brain turned on a light bulb as bright as the sun!  I realized how I could help my mom with her overwhelming basket of to-do-lists.

Sadly, my mother’s poor health finally sunk in, making me realize she really needs my help.  Before, my mother would asked for my help just for the company.  Now, she really needs my organizational brain to kick into full gear and help prioritize chaos.

I quickly came up with a new game plan to tackle all her projects.  Instead of a basket full of overwhelming to-do lists, we start with a fresh slate and move slowly forward without my mother putting her hand in the project cookie jar.  See, my mother is also notorious for creating large new projects over night.

Her house is chaotic, because unfinished projects are EVERYWHERE, in which is causing her to feel overwhelmed; so, the first order of business is to put away all the projects creating a clean slate.  Then, deep clean her house to make it easier for her to manage on her own.  Then, finally, tackling the projects one at a time, by doing those that serve a functional purpose rather than those that serve a cosmetic purpose.  Basically, fix the leaky sink before painting it a “pretty” new color.

Accomplishing Large Goals With Smaller Goals

It is easier to accomplish a large goal by breaking it down into smaller goals.  The smaller goals encourage motivation to continue working towards the overall large goal.  But, when you have too many large goals, the best way to conquer them is to clear your plate all together and start over with one simple task at a time, focusing mainly on one goal.  It will make things go quicker and much easier.

Wish Us Luck! 

I am heading back, with a new pair of sandals in hand and the motivation to take back paradise from chaos!

How do you tackle your basket of to-do’s? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry, Gone Fishing, Be Back Soon

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If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is to never pass up an opportunity for a mental break!  So….this week, I will be 200 miles away from my computer with my toes in the sand, a warm sun on my face, and maybe toss a few hooks into the water!

This is an unexpected adventure and a great opportunity to relax, breathe, and reset my busy brain!  To be honest, I am not sure if I will be able to do much blogging this week.  I will certainly try, but internet in paradise doesn’t always work.  Perhaps, that is what makes it paradise, a world away from distracting devices.  Believe me, an entire week without Talking Tom notifications would be awesome!  (A kid app on my phone for my kids)

But, before I head off with sandals in hand, I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my readers! IMG-0740This blog recently received a 100 likes!  It may not seem like a big deal, but it is a big deal to me!  It greatly motivates me to continue blogging.  I greatly appreciate the likes, comments, and emails.  I do intend to blog more after my little vacation.  I enjoy connecting with everyone, sharing personal experiences, random thoughts, and interests in mental health and science.  Thank you again for reading my blog!   🙂

Stay strong, breathe, and remember to smile!  I will be back next week….I have some awesome books I am excited to share with you!

 

Coming Soon: Book Reviews