Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm a Wanna-Be Fixer


Being at peace with an "issue" is a whole lot easier when those involved are not close to you. I am of course speaking of difficult issues.  Issues that could be prevented or resolved with a change in thought.

  I come from a long line of "wanna-be" fixers.  I want to help "fix things" in other's lives but at times I'm  a bit afraid to voice my opinion.  Whether I voice my true opinion or not depends on how the person is behaving in that moment.  For example, if they come to me complaining about this, that or the other thing, and it's something they can do something about,  I first determine their tone.  An angry tone is one in which listening skills should be applied first. Also if this person is one who poo poos all of my thoughts, suggestions, ... they are not going to get my true feelings but they will hear what they want to hear.  I am in no way shape or form a conflict seeker.  That to me would be confrontational.

On the flip side are those who  may not even ask for my opinion but I, on the other hand,  feel compelled, or comfortable enough with them,  to give it.  This is especially true if it's something I feel strongly about or if I can see their decision is not within my ideas of what is right and what is wrong.  Nevermind that the ideas I have may be different, but no less damaging, than theirs.

This level of comfort is usually only found in the relationship I have with my kids.  After all, haven't I earned the right and am I not obligated to let them know when the path they are on is not a good one?  Maybe this feeling of having earned the right to lead them is because I gave birth to them, I fed them, bathed them, ... They need direction and more specifically they need to know what should be happening instead of what is happening.

When they stray I let them know they better pick another option because the one they are thinking about choosing or the one they chose isn't the best.  I need to work on my delivery though.  It's hard to let them make mistake after mistake without getting frustrated enough to use the, "I told you this was going to happen.  Why didn't you listen to me?  If you had listened to me, and actually did what I said,  you could have avoided this whole mess."   I'm also trying to get it into my head that I need to settle myself down before embarking on that part of the lesson, realize that I would not want to be spoken to like that and do more listening than talking.  The most important clue into this whole puzzle is that what is happening is not a mistake.  Whatever the difficult time,  there is a lesson in there somewhere for all involved.

It's really hard to watch other family members and friends do the same.  I try to put myself in their shoes and respond accordingly.  It's difficult though when you miss the mark on understanding or just plain can't figure out why they are doing what they are. I need to work on just asking them why they do what they do but many times the conversation can get defensive and then the confrontation begins.  I'm definitely not good at responding to conflict in any shape or form.  The moment I can sense that things are headed in that direction I head in the other.  I either deflect or run.  What do you do?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Self-Sabotage







Why is it that we set ourselves up? It would be nice if someone could tell me why.  I not only see it in myself, I have witnessed it in my husband, son, daughter, and brother as well as anyone else I come into contact with.  We are aware of it but do nothing about it.  Okay, maybe not everyone is aware but I know I am.   It is a conscious choice that I make.  It's almost as if I'm drawn to it.  I cannot quite decide if it's a comfort thing.  What is that saying,"Better the devil you know than the one you don't."  That carries with it a scent of insanity.

My husband and I were having a conversation about this very thing.  We were talking about the comfort some find in abusive relationships.  Sounds nuts but people stay in these relationships out of fear.  It may not come from the same source that you think it does.  They are afraid of what their life would be like without all of that craziness.  In that relationship they know what's going to happen.  To break out of that relationship is difficult because it's the unknown.

You can apply this theory to anything.  For example, I have a son who somewhat consistently sets himself up for failure.  He's a good student but every semester he does something to sabotage his success.  It's not that he didn't give it his all on a particular project, paper, homework,.. he didn't do anything in some instances.  A zero on a project tells me, tells his teacher and tells himself that 0 was done.  We've been through all of this before.  At least 4 times since the 5th grade.  He's now in the 8th grade.  He knows better.  I know that compared to the previous example this is not as volatile or is it?  It stems from the same thing and sets him up for failure every time.  After talking with him he let me know that  he was afraid. If he were to turn into that straight A student, which he is perfectly capable of, how would he be treated differently?  How would this affect him?

 I can say the same thing about myself and my struggle with losing weight.  I would like to drop 20 pounds but what would that mean?  Obviously that would require more exercise, less food and a better attitude but although that's scary that isn't the scariest thing.   For 5 years I've been in the cycle I'm in of on again off again exercise, eating okay most of the time and wishing that I was thinner/more in shape than I am.

  It would be difficult to change and do I really want to?  If I did, what else would change?  How I'm received by those I encounter on a routine basis would change for a little while but how I'm treated in public, especially in retail stores,  would change more permanently.  Believe it or not I have lived the truth of that one in particular.

Why would I decide that I have had enough of the extra weight and then within an hour devour 3 different snacks?  Not all of them are horrible snacks but bad enough because I'm not hungry.  Everything I know goes out the window in that moment.   Later, upon reflection, I realize that it's emotional eating.  I'm taking a break from feeling because I don't want to feel.  Feeling is hard and it is so draining.  Eating when I'm not hungry, on the other hand,  doesn't start out exhausting but it definitely ends that way. On top of feeling like crud, the feelings I was trying to avoid come back to me even stronger and louder than before.  That's when my mood shifts as well and I start attacking the ones I love.

Self-Sabotage is just easier for some. We already know how-to go about it.  Some of us are pretty good at it.  What are your thoughts?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Standardized Tests: CRCT Mania

Standardized test and pencil
Does anyone else struggle with the CRCT mania in schools these days?  In Georgia it is crazy and I'm sure we Georgians are not alone.  Whatever happened to using those standardized test scores just to see where a school and student stand instead of instituting major repercussions for the student, teacher and school if the student doesn't pass the portions they need to?  That is a lot of pressure for a student. There has got to be another way to have accountability for teachers and schools.  The focus seems to be on passing this test instead of focusing on the reason kids are in school in the first place.  They are in school to learn.  The teachers do not have control over this and I wish the school boards would give flexibility back to the teachers.  I feel the same way when a  benchmark test is averaged into a student's grade.  A benchmark is supposed to show where a student is in the learning process.  I don't think the student should be rewarded or penalized for what they scored.  What if a student isn't a good test taker?  What if the student just had a bad day?  What if the student is an honor roll student and they didn't pass a portion of the test they needed to?  There are so many variables in CRCT testing that it just doesn't seem like a good barometer for measuring the success of a student, teacher, school or school system.  I won't even get into erasure marks!  No Child Left Behind needs a major overhaul.
http://standardized-test-and-pencil.jpg

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Best I Can Do

Today was one of those crazy days that just seemed to get away from me.  Half of the stuff I can't even remember doing.  Did I have lunch?  When was the last time I let the dogs out? Have I even gone to the ladies room? All I wanted was a half an hour to myself, just a half an hour to breath.  It didn't happen.  The dog threw up and it just so happens the steam cleaner needs to be overhauled.  I never thought I would need to invest so much time, energy and money into cleaning up dog messes.  Just when I think I'm done for the day something else comes up.  Today was my day to volunteer at school.  I would be there all day.  This happens 2 times during the year which I know doesn't sound bad.  It isn't bad it's just challenging.  For two weeks I tell my husband, my kids and my friends that they will have to forgive me.  My brain is on overload and I can't help myself so I certainly cannot help you.  Forgive me for forgetting and please if you can do it yourself do.  This isn't the time to ask for last minute help, last minute errands and last minute loads of laundry.  I'm sorry but it's the best I can do. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

There's Nothing Like "The Chick"

I was running behind schedule and I didn't make it to the grocery that day. What to have for dinner ? Let's see, I can get creative. We have tuna, peanut butter and cheese. There's always plenty of cheese in the Campbell household. Tuna needs to be mixed with other things that we don't have because I didn't make it to the store. I was contemplating the mystery dinner when my daughter walks in from school.

She declares it's "Chick-Fil-A Night" for her school. Do you all have those fundraisers in elementary school? We do. It seems every other week there is "Knox Night @ ________" fill in the blank with your choice of pizza, hamburger or chicken place. It does give parents more of an opportunity to get out there and support their child's school but I also feel guilty that we don't go to everyone they have. I also know that goes hand in hand with being a mom. We feel bad most of the time about alot of things that are out of our control. Anyway, she makes her announcement and in the same breath says her usual,"but I know we can't go. We never go." I decided to skip the lecture on the use of always and never and instead answered, " We can go." She continued trying to defend her position not hearing what I just told her.  After a second or to it sank in and she broke into a smile and said, "Okay, let's go!"  We hoped in the car and away we went.

After a brief consideration of which Chick-Fil-A we needed to go to, yes we have more than 1 within 2 miles, we decided to risk it. I'm thinking pretty soon Chick-Fil-A will be like Starbucks, one on every corner. We'll go to the closest one. Bingo, that one was it.  I really didn't mind going to "The Chick", as we like to call it, because the food is decent, it is fast and most importantly the employees are nice. They are so nice that it's scary. I have yet to encounter an even remotely rude Chick-Fil-A employee.  I placed our order, and then heard the ever familiar "It's my pleasure!" When was the last time you heard that in a drive-thru? We pulled up to the window and, after money exchanged hands, we were given our food, a smile and a "Thank you".  I love Chick-Fil-A! I grabbed the bags of food and the drink. We  pulled away making our way to the traffic light.

 It's kind of a pain in the rear getting out of this location of "The Chick" because you can only turn right and 99.9% of the time I need to turn left.  To make it easier I go to the traffic light.  I'm sitting at the light, waiting for it to turn green as I'm handing food back to my daughter.  She is starving. It's not like I never feed her, she is just always hungry.  This is one instance the use of always is permissible.

As I'm handing food back to her I look around for her Coke and guess what? Her Coke wasn't given to me. Now how many times has that happened to you in the drive-thru?  It's happened to me more times than I would like to recall.  Usually it's when I'm on a trip, headed down the highway.  Those times it really stinks.  It would be a hassle to go back but I would. My daughter piped up,"It's okay mom. I can have a coke at home." I asked if she was sure and she said she was.

I thanked her for taking one for the team and about that time she yelled "Look!"  I turned my head toward the driver's side window and at the same time saw someone knocking. It was the Chick-Fil-A employee that helped us in drive-thru. I couldn't believe it. He said,"I'm sorry mam. I forgot to give you your other drink." I could hardly contain myself. He had run, with my daughter's Coke in tow, about the length of a soccer field and did it before the light changed to green! It was awesome. Now that's customer service!!

Who Am I?

Interestingly my last blog has parlayed into today.  Yesterday I spoke of a mid-life crisis, not mine mind you,  and finding yourself.  You have a crisis because you don't know who you are and you begin your search. This I already went through about 4 years ago.   


Today began like any other Friday.  I woke, fixed breakfast,  got the kids off to school and then headed to yoga. Bruce, our yoga instructor, ended class today with a meditation. As most meditations do, we were reflecting on ourselves.  As we were in savasana or "corpse pose" he asked us to think of all of those things that make up who you are. He wanted us to make a list in our heads. "Okay, once you are finished with that then think of all of the things that you do." Okay, that was pretty simple yet extensive.  Now I knew where he was headed with this. I was ready for the next question.  Then he asked, "Okay, now who are you?"


   I thought I had this in the bag.  I have been studying this for a while, reflecting for a while.  I know that I am not defined by what I do or the labels that I or others put on me.  While I am a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, teacher, taxi driver, soccer mom, lacrosse mom, volunteer, and the list goes on, just like yours does, that is not who I truly am.  Those are things I am involved in, born into, married into, ... but that isn't who I am.  


Saying it is the easy part.  It makes perfect sense. I read Eckhart Tolle's books as well as a couple by Gary Zukav.  In these books they discuss this very thing.  I also get "lining your soul up with your soul's needs."  I do understand that but at times it is hard to take it to heart.  It is hard to look at your life and make those changes. Those changes usually are not easy ones. You see your life headed in one direction and you want it to go in another or you try to maintain who you are in the eyes of others but in the end you will loose the struggle.  The things in our life that do not belong there will eventually go away.  Nothing, in my eyes, is permanent. 


As my parents said to me when I was growing up,"We can either do this the easy way or the hard way." The more you fight the stuff you don't want the more it will pop up in your life. The more you deny your authentic self the more of a struggle you will have.This was awesome until I really started feeling it.  I mean really feeling it. This is also another benefit to yoga.  For me it's not just about the poses, it's about the reflection. For me it is therapy. 


During this meditation I really began to get upset on the inside.  The emotions of the morning had settled into my soul. My coordinating efforts for the school book fair weren't enough, my daughter reminded me that I didn't make it to the store yesterday so she didn't have a bagel to eat this morning, the laundry is still laying in the bedroom from the day before, I didn't make those phone calls, get those donations in, put that load of laundry in, ...  Pretty soon in my head I am a complete failure.  


My physical body reminded me that I need to get rid of all of the garbage, negative talk,  so I started crying on the inside and slowly the tears appeared on the outside.  My physical body gave my spiritual body what it needed, a good flushing out.  I tried to dry my tears as best as I could before class ended because heaven knows I can't appear weak in yoga class. As you can read I am still learning. 


 As I got up to leave the room, we continued the conversation into the foyer.   I felt, if only for a brief minute or two,  that we are all one.  The energy in the room let me know that they were thinking the same thing I was.  We all struggle, we all have power, and we have free will.  A chance to begin again:) A new day! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mid-Life Crisis

The term mid-life crisis is usually an offhanded remark.  When someone reaches a certain age, and starts doing things not considered to be age appropriate,  it is referred to as a mid-life crisis.   An example would be a 40 year old man purchasing a sports car.  This might be construed as a an older man trying to be young again.  The way I look at it is at this age they have earned the car.  A 20 year old should not be driving an expensive sports car unless they can afford it. Even if they can afford it I believe they still need to pay their dues and anything before the age of 40 doesn't really seem to qualify.  For the person going through these perceived changes, it isn't necessarily about wanting to be younger.  The crisis a 40 something goes through is a little deeper than that. To me a mid-life crisis is not due to thoughts of your life being half over, it's due to questions you start asking yourself like  "Who am I?"  "What am I put on this earth to do?"  We 40 somethings are looking for meaning in a life that seems not to carry any.  We start searching for the person we are meant to be.  That's when we change careers, cars, styles, partners. We get so caught up in changing to find "us" that we don't realize we don't need to do anything. We desperately look around for our authentic or true self only to come up empty handed.   Right now I think I'm okay not to have all of the answers.  All I need to know right now is that I am a soul here on earth for a designated period of time.  I'm here to interact with others, to help others, and to learn. Above all I am here to love!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Medical Breakthroughs?








There has been talk in the medical community for a few years regarding red yeast rice. Red yeast rice has been found to lower cholesterol yet it is a supplement that you can buy over-the-counter. Well, right now you can buy it over-the-counter.  Currently the FDA is trying to decide whether or not this cholesterol lowering agent should be classified as a drug.  The dispute stems from a legal and industrial stand point.


 Red yeast rice has been used in China for over 1,000 years to improve circulation, as a digestive aid as well as a preservative, spice and a food coloring.  Red yeast rice is a product of yeast grown on rice.  It has naturally occurring statins. Statins are used in the prescription Mevacor, among others,  to lower cholesterol.  These lovastatin drugs were originally derived from a type of red yeast and can only be obtained through a prescription.


  In 2007 the FDA banned red yeast rice supplements that contained lovastatin. Was this because of a fear that if it wasn't regulated that people would be harmed?  I don't know but it does seem rather suspect. There are studies suggesting that it is safe because of the longterm use in Asian countries.  The FDA would like to reclassify red yeast rice as a prescription drug but in the same breath declares that red yeast rice without the beneficial amounts of lovastatin do nothing to lower cholesterol.  Maybe that would justify the price increase.  


Interestingly enough you can buy a 30 day supply of red yeast rice for less than $30.  How much do you think it would cost to fill a prescription for Mevacor?  Roughly a 30 day supply would cost around $80.  A 30 day supply of Altoprev , depending on the mg, can cost as much as $239.99, which is quite a difference.  You could request a prescription for Lovastatin, the generic, for close to the same cost of red yeast rice supplement but how often do you think a doctor writes a prescription for Lovastatin? Even if they did lower the cost of the prescription, think about how many cholesterol lowering drugs are out in the market? How many prescriptions would be written and at what cost? 


In 2007 150 million prescriptions were filled for lovastatin drugs. In 2009 lovastatin prescriptions amounted to $14.3 billion dollars in sales. Lipitor was a top seller coming in at $7.5 billion.  This is according to Consumer Reports.  An incredible amount of money to be made on something that has been around since 800 AD.  Banning oyster mushrooms is probably right around the corner.  Oyster mushrooms contain as much as 2.8% statin.  Where do we draw the line?  

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Resistance

When something isn't going your way have you ever thought to check your level of resistance?  The pain that we go through is self-created.  It's because we pushed back.  We judged a situation as good or bad.  If it's bad then that situation turns negative.  Ours lives do not have to be this way.  Even in the midst of a painful situation we need to learn to relax into it.  The more we fight it the more pain we encounter. By taking to heart "It is what it is" the sky is the limit.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

It's Amazing!!


It's truly amazing how a shift in perspective can change your outlook on the moment.  My son loves watching sports on TV.  He loves engaging me in conversation about what he watches.  This is really not my cup of tea.  On the other hand, it is my son and what he gets excited about interests me.

From a young age he has not only wanted to watch football on TV but also play football.  This to me was disturbing.  When he was 8 and 9 years old he would ask that question knowing what my answer would be.  I thought he was just to young and my husband didn't push the issue.  It just wasn't a big deal.  He did other things though.

He tried his hand at soccer, gymnastics, tennis, soccer, among other things.  Yes, I mentioned soccer twice because he played when he was little then took some time off to pursue other activities.  Later when he was 10 he returned to it.  By the time he was 12 he encountered a coach with a loosing team.  The coach himself was down about it and I believe because of this let the team down. By the end of that last season,  I don't think there was a kid on the team that wanted to be there. During the game I would look over at the coach and there he was distanced from the team with his head in his hands.  What kind of a message does that send?

When the spring soccer season came to a close my son was glad and promised not to play soccer again.  That's when he started tip toeing around the idea of playing football.  By this time he was one of the bigger kids.  He was tall for his age and of medium build.  This time I said,"Okay."  I knew I had to give him that chance.  He did need a change.

Conditioning for football season began in July and the first game was at the end of August.  That week of training was rough on him but he hung in there.  Practices began the next week.  He had practice 3 days a week.  Two of those practices were in full pads and helmet.  It was crazy hot.  He didn't complain though.  He didn't complain until he realized that maybe this football thing isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

One of the drills involved two players lying helmet to helmet on the ground with their knees bent.  The coach would yell,"One, two, three go!"  At that point the two players would jump up and run toward each other full force.  You would hear the crunching of the helmets.  I couldn't bear to watch but to listen to it was worse. Also I couldn't comprehend what the players could be learning from this.  After the first time I could tell my son wanted to be a part of this as much as he wanted to walk into a room filled with spiders.  He's really not an aggressive kid.  This went so much against his nature that I would watch him do what he could to avoid that kind of rough contact.

 Some of the players were thirsty for it though.  They were "good" players but that instinct is what made them good.  After my son's turn at this game of torture, he would slide to the back of the line and do what he could to make certain that he stayed at the back of the line.  Several times I watched this happen and surprisingly he started making excuses as to why he couldn't go to practice that day or why he didn't want to play in the game.

Also, once again the experience he had with coaches wasn't the best.  Promises were made but there wasn't any follow-thru.  In the end he basically lost respect for men he should be able to trust.  I am glad he went through what he did.  Quite frankly, that was his path.  He needed to find out on his own that a change was needed and along the way he learned to trust his instincts.

At this point I don't even think he wanted to play another sport but he kept his mind open.  I started researching to see what else was available at the same time throwing options out to him and asking him his thoughts.  I asked about baseball and he immediately said no.  I was kind of glad because I don't know that would have been a good fit.  Then I mentioned basketball.  He plays basketball in the neighborhood with his friend and enjoys it.  Some of the other kids have remarked that he plays well.  He's tall so I thought this would be a good solution.

                                                       "NO MOM," was the response I got.
How could that be, I thought.  I ran down the checklist in my head and everything seemed good.  He later informed me that he just liked to play but didn't want to play on a "team."  Okay, I understood the logic.  If he's just playing then there isn't any stress.  If he misses a shot, no big deal.
 
                                                        "What about cross country?"

I watched him run laps with the rest of his team out on the football field. He was usually 2nd or 3rd in line.  He was able to endure the run because he was able to control his speed.  He was mature enough to know how to come in 2nd or 3rd.
                                                      "NO MOM," was the response I got.

                                                       "Why not?"

                                                     "I don't like running."

Okay, once again I get it.  I don't like running either.  What's left?

W

I could actually see a change in my son's attitude.  He liked the game.  Even when he found out that his younger friend would be playing in a different age bracket he was still okay.  Normally something like this would rock his world.  Not this time.  That's when I knew we were on the right track.  So far he doesn't check the weather to see whether or not there is a potentiall for practice or a game to be rained out.  He's ready to go to practice and actually practices on his own from time to time.  When his dad asked him if liked lacrosse better than football he didn't really answer directly but instead said,                               "It's a game with more strategy.  You definitely use your head more." It is amazing because that is the first time he has given positive feedback about a sport/activity he has been involved in.

The game of lacrosse isn't nearly as nonviolent as I thought.  It's amazing what you can get away with in lacrosse.  It's a good thing they are pretty well padded because there are few places on the body they aren't allowed to attack with the stick.  They wear helmets but at least they are not doing that senseless drill where they try to knock each others heads off or at least crack their skulls.  Maybe they were just doing a helmet check football style.

It's amazing how when you are open to change, you can change your world.

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