I am a person who does not have her shit together.
Not only that, I’m a person that’s failing in every aspect of her life.
From the time I wake up in the morning, to the time I go to bed, I’m working. I wake up, get my son dressed, fed, off to school, get myself dressed, usually not fed, and off to work. I work. I pick him up from school and it’s bathed, fed, and off to bed for him, and cooking, cleaning, and preparing for the next day for me. Until I fall asleep, and do it all over again. I work most of the weekend, cleaning house, doing laundry, being a mother, and I still don’t get caught up.
And no matter how hard I try to get those things done, or how much preparation or even pre-preparation I put into my tasks, I can’t get on top of things. I can’t seem to turn myself into a functional person with her shit together.
And it’s taking it’s toll on me.
I’ve been so stressed and so anxiety ridden that I’m buckling. My confidence is drained, my thoughts are dark, and at the root of everything is my subconscious saying “you’re a failure.”
This weekend was a breaking point. Plans that I had set up fell to pieces. It was one of my favorite events of the year and I spent the whole time stress ridden and couldn’t enjoy myself. Everyone was disappointed in me, from my son, to my friends, to my husband. I even had a friend on Sunday night offer to let me back out of something because she understood if coming was just too much for me. I’ve become the person whose friends know that the mere act of inviting me to do something, and me making the plans to do it, might be enough to make me have a panic attack and throw off my whole existence.
I mean, it’s pathetic.
In my head, I keep a running list of “if I only had <insert thing> I would be able to <insert accomplishment>.”
The list is really long.
And I guess what’s really worrying me is that I don’t see an end. I don’t see a future where everything comes together magically and my life gets sorted. And when I think about the past, there has always been something, a cause, a reason, why my life wasn’t properly organized, but after so many events, you begin to realize that it’s you. It’s your fault. My latest batch of problems were directly related to my husband quitting his job without another one lined up, and before that his mom died, and his dad has parkinson’s, and before that we were struggling with personal marriage things, and before that, and before that, and so on and so on.
It’s my fault.
I think I’ve had a healthy share of bumps in the road, I think I’ve experienced a much different set of life experiences than most of my peers have, but after a while, it has to just be me, right?
I have to be the reason behind my own shortcomings.
They just span so far and wide, permeating every part of my life, that I can’t seem to get it under control. I’m failing at work, I’m failing at home, as a wife, as a mother, as a home-keeper, I’m failing at finances in a major way, I’m failing my friends, I failed at eating healthy, I’m failing at physical health. There isn’t a thing that I am doing in any part of my life that I feel proud of or accomplished about, or like I am doing my best. I feel like I’m working and working and working, and I’m just treading water, or falling behind. I feel like I can’t do enough.
I feel like all of the choices I make are bad ones. I feel like I’m letting everyone down, mostly myself.
And I don’t know where to start to make anything better. Because I feel like any plan that I get excited about and kick-start, I will just fail that too.
I’m embarrassed to even say these things. But getting the things out is usually the first step I take to feeling better, so there it is.
There it is.
Wah wah. I’m donig a terrible job at life. Wah, and wah some more.
Happy Adulthood, everyone.
The little guy and I took a long weekend to visit Les (my hubby) in Houston. We left on Friday and came back today, and it was a seriously fun vacation.
Les left at the end of January to train for his new job at Top Golf, and he won’t be back until mid-March. His life has become pretty hilarious, he and about 8 other people from all over the country are all on the same floor of a hotel, they all work together, and party together. It’s basically the premise for every reality TV show. This weekend I was one of 3 wives that came in to visit and we ate a few “family meals” with everyone. Which is how my weekend turned into a giant food fail-eo. But I’ll get to that …
We hadn’t seen Les for two weeks so we spent a lot of time lounging in the hotel room and swimming in the heated pool. We did a little shopping, some golfing, brunching, and Atticus and I took a mother/son date to the Houston Aquarium to see some aquatic life, and ride some rides. He braved the scariest ones like a champ. He also became Wolverine, so watch it …
I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am for Les’ new job. The Houston location where he is training is so awesome, and the Austin location is projected to be even better. Not to mention he is incredibly happy.
As for food, I arrived with a cooler and two grocery bags stocked full of meals that I worked hard on for days. While Les was working, I stuck to the plan, but I told myself I had worked hard and lost 5lbs already and that I could indulge a little in Houston. It was a vacation, after all! Our first night out we hit up a Mexican restaurant, and I was thrown into the mix with a huge group of people I didn’t know, and a sleepy kid, so while everyone was drinking and getting to know each other, I was pretty boring with my no-alcohol rule. I ordered a huge plate of Mexican food and ate everything not-paleo: chips, bean dip, rice, cheese, the works. Honestly, it wasn’t worth it, but, emotionally, it felt good to indulge.
When I woke up on Saturday I ate one of my paleo meals, felt back on track, but was super sluggish. I blamed it on sleeping somewhere new, but it wasn’t until I was watching my boys eat breakfast later that I realized I needed caffeine. I haven’t felt like I needed caffeine since I stopped drinking it, so it was strange. Oh well, it’s vacation, I thought, and I drank a sweet tea. It wasn’t until the afternoon when I was feeling terrible that I realized what had happened. The carbs from the night before made me wake up sluggish and I craved the caffeine and sugar to keep me going, and then felt even worse by afternoon.
Saturday night was another big meal with the new work buddies and this time I had sushi and two beers, and the alcohol definitely aided in joining in socially, but I woke up the next morning feeling sub-par (not hungover, just not energetic) and it was off to Sunday brunch with the gang again, where I had two mimosas, and another beer back at the hotel. At this point, I just needed to sleep. I crashed for 4 hours. I didn’t eat any better last night or this morning, and I took another nap when I got back to Austin.
I mean, look at this adorable sushi roll.
The point of this long winded story about my food? I see the cycle. I started with one innocent meal of carbs, beans, and dairy, and was off-enough in the morning to drink caffeine, which prompted more cravings, and while the acohol was more social than anything else, it just made things worse. The result? I’m more determined than ever to keep up with paleo eating. I’m so much more in tune with how the food I eat is making me feel, and I really didn’t like how I felt after this weekend.
I don’t regret anything I ate, but I’m beyond jazzed to get back to my paleo ways. I have more energy, my stomach feels better, I’m happier, and I don’t feel the constant desire for a nap.
Falling off the wagon was fun, but not fun enough. For now, we will be resting. Tomorrow is school, work, and paleo. Back to business.
Last Tuesday, a week tomorrow, I started my new eating plan.
Let’s consider this my Week One Check In.
Basically, I’m doing the Whole30, but with two caveats: bacon, and time.
There is only 1 Whole30 approved bacon on the market. And it is expensive. What makes it Whole30 approved is that the bacon is cured without sugar, and I have decided for myself that I can’t afford to have expensive bacon shipped to me just because of whatever amount of sugar it contains. I’ll buy the happiest farmed bacon I can find locally, and that’s that.
I also haven’t gone into this new eating plan with a time frame in mind. A month sounds like a healthy amount of time before adding other foods back into my diet, but I want to eat healthier and better foods permanently, so it’s not going to just be over and back to business as usual.
When I’m asked, I say I’ve gone paleo. I’m just doing a strict form of the paleo diet, and I’ve added a few other personal goals in the mix.
So, here’s what I’m officially doing:
- I’m eating a palm-size amount of protein with every meal, and filling the rest of my plate up with mostly vegetables, a little fruit, and even littler amounts of nuts or olives.
- I’m eating good fats. Oh, glorious fat.
- I’m not eating any form of grain, beans/legumes, any dairy, or any sugar that doesn’t come from fruit, or the aforementioned bacon, and maybe a kombucha a week. (A word on sugar, I’m not having natural or artificial sugar, so no honey, agave, sweeteners, no nothin’. If it’s not in a fruit, on a piece of bacon, or in my once weekly kombucha, it’s not in this body.)
- I completely cut out caffeine. Cold turkey. I’m only drinking water, or sparkling water. There are low amounts in kombucha, but again, I’m maybe drinking one a week.
- Absolutely no alcohol.
- I’m eating a full meal within one hour of waking up.
- I’m making my best effort to buy local, to buy nothing that has been factory farmed, to avoid processed foods (or anything that comes in a package, for that matter) and to be an awesome label reader.
Got it? Meat, veggies, fruits, a few nuts, a few olives, some water, and that’s it, yo.
Honestly, it’s been easy. I read a lot of information about how for the first 1-2 weeks, and sometimes beyond, that people suffer from the “carb flu” and get headaches, feel terrible, get irritable, and lethargic. I haven’t experienced any of that. And I haven’t had a ton of cravings, which I was also expecting. The hardest parts have happened at work, where free freshly baked pastries and cold sweet tea are ever present. But, I powered through the first few days and now my cravings have subsided. I also didn’t suffer much from cutting caffeine, in fact, I didn’t suffer at all. I haven’t missed it.
These are huge surprises for me, I was expecting the worst.
It’s taken some adjustment in my daily routine to prepare myself 3 meals a day and to actually make sure they get eaten, but now that I’m (almost) a week in, I think I’ve got that down too. I’ve made my own sauces, condiments, stocks, and even a confit. I’m having a lot of fun filling up Mason jars with different concoctions, especially because I know they will make me healthier.
Basically, completely changing everything about what I eat and drink has come easier than expected. I even survived a trip to a mexican restaurant (hey, Kara) without caving. I was confident I could change up my eating habits, I was confident I could go paleo for a month, but now I’m super-confident. I made it through the first week with nothing negative to report, only positive, so I really feel like I’m doing something right, that will last way longer than a month.
For now, I’ve got a pot full of chicken stock and some homemade mayo to tend to…
So, I got antsy, went grocery shopping, and started my paleo eating last night. I won’t update you with every single thing I eat every day. I don’t have time for that kind of nonsense, but I will tell you that I made some delicious meatballs with ground pork from a local farmer, and I was damn proud of cooking up my seriously beautiful locally farmed multi colored carrots with my seriously serious leaf lard, also local.
Local, local, local.
I have plans for a more descriptive post about what I’m avoiding doing, and why, and such, but for now, consider me paleo.
While mindlessly playing on the internet one day, I stumbled across someone starting a Whole30. I wasn’t sure what that was, and after a little research, I learned that the Whole30 is a challenge to eat clean and whole foods for 30 days. And through that little bit of research, I stumbled across many articles and blogs about eating paleo. The Whole30 is basically a challenge in extreme-paleo-ism, and if you are so inclined, you can read about the Whole30 and The Paleo Diet, and I’ve included links down at the bottom.
I’ve now read multiple books on the subject, and I’m following blogs and perusing recipe indexes. I’m being thorough.
For whatever reason, this way of eating is calling to me. I’m just now learning about it, I mean, I’ve heard the term “paleo” for years, but I didn’t give it much thought, because diets are not my flavor. But, eating better and making healthier choices are definitely my flavor, and while going paleo would be seriously extreme for me, I’m drawn to it. I can’t soak in enough information about it.
Probably because I haven’t felt right “in my insides” in a while. I appear healthy. I appear to be a healthy 27 year old gal. But I assure you, I am the opposite of healthy. I was just born with a decent metabolism and body type.
Under the surface is a girl who hasn’t actually exercised in a year and a half. Who eats terribly. Who has two bad knees, emotional attachments to food, wonky blood sugar levels, a closet full of clothes she can’t squeeze into, bad skin, rollercoaster energy levels, and moods for that matter, atrophied muscles (I do not use the term lightly,) and a myriad of other problems that I will do you the favor of not disclosing. Trust me.
I actually feel like I’m falling apart.
And I so want to feel good again. I’m not talking about emotions here. I’m talking about physical health. I mentioned my moods because they are tied in with physical health, but not because I was seeking a way to change them. I was seeking a way to feel like a strong and healthy human being again.
I will have to exercise, obviously.
But I will also have to eat better.
And I’m giving myself a little research time to figure out what I think will work best for me, but the material that I have read about this lifestyle suggests that eating healthy will make me feel healthy. Duh, kid. Duh. Obviously I knew this, but I’m suddenly jazzed about that knowledge.
Anyway, I’m drinking the kool aid, but I haven’t jumped in and done the damn thing yet for … reasons. Excuses.
What I have done is started thinking about what I’m putting in my body in a different way. One of the most stand-out statements of the Whole30 is that (i’m paraphrasing) “anything you eat is either going to make you MORE healthy, or LESS healthy.” They state that there is no grey area when it comes to food. It’s either going to be good for you or bad for you, not “sort of ok for you.” That one idea is really resonating with me, and really fueling me to keep researching.
I want for the majority of the food that I eat to make me more healthy.
I don’t want to make quick decisions and plans that I won’t stick with, so I’ve been giving myself some prep-time. I’ve been doing my research, I’ve been adding paleo meals in with my regular diet, and I’ve been prepping some paleo condiments, and trying out a few things that will ultimately make my life easier when I jump in full force.
I started out the bravest of all brave to jump into the Whole30 straightaway, but I’ve become a bit cowardly, and I think I’ll try out PaleoLife for a bit before going extreme, Whole30 style. I plan to continue “practicing” throughout the month, and going FullBlownPaleo on February 1st. Wish me luck!
In case you are interested, this is my favorite book on paleo-ism, so far.
This is the website for the Whole30.
This is one of my favorite blogs I’ve found.
And this is my own spreadsheet that I made of foods that are allowed when going paleo. It’s a really rough draft. I needed something I could print and carry with me so I went for function over fashion. Some of the items I’ve never even heard of, and the whole thing is sort of a “including, but not limited to” compilation that I’ve made from a few different sources. It’s not an end-all. I’m just sharing my progress.
I haven’t been feeling much about the holidays this year. Last year I was into it. Like, really into it. I was emotional about the holidays. I needed them to be perfect. I needed all of the decorations. I needed all of the crafts. I needed to make it special. And, man, I was into it. But this year, they came and went without much more than a “hmph.” I was more annoyed than excited about decorating. I was more worried and anxious than happy and warm hearted about gift giving. And today I sat around thinking “it’s almost the end of a year, it’s kind of traditional to think about the year that has past.” But I didn’t really want to do that either. I didn’t want to wrap up my year. I certainly don’t want to make resolutions because I don’t like them one bit.
But, once the seed was planted, little tidbits started coming to me throughout the day. Tidbits of things that have happened this year. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that 2012 has been heavy for me. Not bad. Just … heavy.
I started out the year by attending a memorial service for my husband’s mother.
A woman who I loved dearly, and only weeks before, I watched her take her last breath. And there are no polite euphemisms to explain that I watched a person die in front of me. And I’ve spent this full year with the memories of seeing her in that moment. Where Les and I waited on opposite sides of the bed to see if she would breath again, and the silence that followed when she didn’t.
I spent the rest of the year alongside a man whose mother died.
And, when an event like that happens, a year can be a really long time. Looking back now, it flew by in the way that time does, but along the way there were more tests of my adulthood than I can explain with words. I don’t think I fully embraced what it was to be a wife until this year.
I helped take care of his father, who has advanced Parkinsons. And I know I had not fully embraced what it was to take care of and elderly or disabled person until this year. It is full of frustrations, and decisions, and realizations about what is to come in your own life. I was available for phone calls, for errands, for cleaning, for cooking, and for hospitals stays. I saw a fully functional man deteriorate into someone who needed his head moved from side to side because he no longer could. I, at 5’3”, lifted a 6’5” tree of a man from a couch, and back onto it. I cried. Oh man, I cried. And I watched him get better with new medication, and developed whole new worries about what would happen when that medication no longer worked.
I watched my husband start and finish a job that drained his energy and his personality out of him completely. I watched him disappear into work, and reappear into alcohol. I watched him become a man I no longer knew. I “lost” him for most of the year. And there was nothing I could do about any of it. We fought, oh we fought. But we stuck together and made it. Because sticking is what we wanted to do.
When he finally left his job, he left without another one, and I learned a new way of experiencing fear.
At every turn, in every month, I thought I was facing the hardest thing of my life. But then something even harder would come along. And I want to pour out the details, to get them off my chest, but, sigh, the internet is not where I’m going to do that. You get the bones of the story, I’ll keep the meat.
I started a job. The first “real” job I’ve had in years. I job searched for months, and learned rejection. I landed a job, and learned that I derive a lot of happiness from work. I went from not working at all, to landing this job, to immediately becoming the sole supporter of our family.
And I really love what I do.
I sent my son to Kindergarten this year. And I wasn’t worried about that at all. But it is a huge milestone in both of our lives. And my pride swells everyday with how wonderful he is doing. I am a lucky mother to have a child who loves school, and who truly enjoys learning. I’ve watched him begin to read. I’ve watched his social skills blossom. I’ve watched him grow as a person and seen all of his personality traits come together in such a way that I feel confident about the future he will have.
And over the Christmas Holidays, I watched him learn to ride a bike. Something he had been avoiding with full force, until he just got on a bike and rode away without so much as a glance back.
I adopted a cat. I didn’t even know I liked cats. I’ve had dogs, but never in my life a cat. This one showed up on my 2nd floor doorstep, and then showed up inside my house. And now I’m attached to this cat.
I went on some of the best vacations of my life this year. And I have my best friend to thank for all of the crazy and hilarious memories we made along the way. We went from friends to seasoned travel partners, knowing each other’s routines in packing, sleeping, eating, and everything in between. And it is one of my favorite things that has happened in any year.
We had all of the fun.
My husband started a new job at the end of this year, and it has a better schedule, and lots of potential. I look forward to a new year with his new job.
I’m skipping parts and not including things, but what I really think about 2012, as a whole, is that I’ve grown up. I was thrown into situations that I didn’t know how to handle, and I did my best. I learned to speak up about important things, and to hold my tongue about others. I learned to pick battles. I learned real commitment. I learned that even if something is hard, sometimes there is no one else to do it for you, and you have to do it yourself. I’ve learned what I will accept, and what I will not. I’ve developed better boundaries. I’ve learned a mountain of self-sacrifice, and I’ve learned that people are not always grateful for your help. I’ve learned that you have to help anyway. I’ve learned that people will not always do for you what you have done for them. I’ve learned, I’ve really learned, how to function alone even when someone else is there. And even though some of those lessons have a negative tone to them, I don’t think they are negative. I think they are lessons that I needed in order to be a more functional adult. I needed to be better at drawing boundaries in my life, I needed to be more selfless, and most of all I needed to know that I was strong enough to get through anything that was thrown at me. Because always counting on someone else to help you doesn’t get you very far. This year, I’ve learned to be tougher. To be more sturdy. To not take any bullshit. And to think a lot more, and talk a lot less.
It’s been a heavy year.
More things were thrown at me than I could have ever imagined. Things I wasn’t prepared for, or trained for. Things I couldn’t really ask for advice about. I tucked the hardest parts away, and kept moving forward, because it seems that that is the only thing you can do. I’ve held more inside this year than I ever have before. I’ve become a person with thoughts that never get spoken and memories that don’t want to be remembered. I’ve changed.
And change can be really good. With experience comes wisdom. And with my personal experience I gained confidence in myself. In my capabilities. I know I can get through a lot, because I have.
This year is studded with some of the best memories of my life, and I’m grateful for it. For the highs, the lows, the lessons, and the laughs.
Keep it light, 2013.
Now that I’ve started again, there is a little matter of subject matter.
What to write about?
I’m not in my groove.
I used to write about hard times I was having with my son, but he’s not very hard anymore. I used to write about struggling with Motherhood, but I’m not feeling much of a struggle. I used to write commentary or opinions on topics affecting my friends, but I find myself much less opinionated, or maybe less willing to speak my opinions publicly. I used to write about my own relationship, but I have definitely grown more private about that.
So I sit thinking “I want to write in my new blog.” And then I come up with absolutely nothing to say.
But why not work through that problem the old fashioned way? Through writing it down.
You guys, I don’t know what to say.
I think that exercise may have worked, because now I’m having a train of thought worth putting down…
The same thing is happening to me at work. There is an environment in my workplace of … negativity? I’m not sure that that is the right word. But, everyone complains quite a bit, in the way where complaining about something joins you together against the cosmic force of being an adult. Of having to work to make a living in the first place. And honestly, at my job, there is a lot to complain about. It is a pretty structure-less business with plenty of broken gadgets and gizmos. Hardly anything works properly, and there is hardly anyone who can do anything about any of the problems.
It can be frustrating. For anyone.
Me? I love it. I see all of the reasons for everything that everyone says, but none of it bothers me. I’m just so happy to be working in a fun environment with other adults, and I feel like my job is necessary, and that I’m good at it. And I don’t need any more that that. I don’t need everything to work properly, and I don’t get mad at the little petty things that people do. I just sit around and enjoy.
In the past 6 years I’ve worked for my parents in the country, been a nanny, a stay-at-home Mom, and did some very part time work for a company who had no idea what they wanted me to do.
I’ve been itching to get back to a place where I have daily tasks, adults to talk to, and a fun working environment.
Anyway, the point is that I’m happy with my job, and for the first time in probably my whole life, I get made fun of for being the positive person. I get treated like “come on, Ashley, for once could you just NOT see the bright side?”
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m okay. I have reached a point in life where everything is okay. And even the things that are hard are okay. And that may not last forever, but for right now, that’s where I’m sitting.
I’m sitting right on top of okay.
And okay is hard to write about.
But I suppose I just did.
Today I’m going to go home from a job that makes me happy, I’m going to eat some dinner with my family, I’m going to snuggle my little boy and tuck him into bed, and then I’m going to kiss my husband goodnight.
And that’s my subject matter.
I am back.
Or, at least, I’m dipping my toes back into the water.
And coming back comes with a little explanation.
I have always kept a blog to chronicle the happenings in my life, and because I’ve never aimed for a large following, and I mostly write for my own catharsis, it has been surprising to me lately that my little circle of readers has been confronting me about why I’m not writing anymore.
And I guess there are lots of reasons. And I guess I don’t really want to talk about them.
But with some recent encouragement (if not pushing) from a few friends, I started thinking about what I would write, if I was writing, and some of the basics of why I wrote more before. And I think part of why I stopped might be that I tried to switch blogging platforms because I thought maybe I would try to market myself in some way. Maybe try to build a readership. But all of this thinking I have been doing about blogging has led me to the conclusion that Tumblr was the platform I really loved and used the most, and building a readership is not a goal of mine. If it ever happens, that’s fine, and I appreciate everyone that stops in, but this writing I do is for me, and for the people who have grown to look forward to reading my posts. And who I love for that.
One of these people asked me why, in the past, I have started new blogs so many times, and my answer to that is that even though I have loved recording my life, I have gone through a few stages, and in my own mind I draw distinctions between those stages, and often want to start fresh at what I see as the start of a new stage.
Perhaps it’s like moving to a new city where no one knows you, and you get to begin anew, and the only information anyone has is what you choose to tell them from that day forward.
So, for anyone who is meeting me for the first time, I’m Ashley.
I read food blogs before bed, and novels for fun. I tend to be loud, I love sitting on porches, and I spend hours making grocery lists. I work in a kooky bakery, with equally kooky characters. I drink way too much sweet tea. My newest loves are camping and Star Wars. My favorite sunglasses are shaped like hearts, I never like to be the DJ, and beer is my drink of choice. My favorite flowers are yellow, and I really love naps.
I have a best friend, and we go on all of the adventures, have all of the fun, and laugh all of the laughs.
I have a husband, and a son, and a cat.
My heroes have always been cowboys.
And I’m happy you are here.