Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 3: Food

Jeezy creezy it has taken a bit to get another post up. Sorry. I'm currently trailing behind an incredibly active 16 month old.

Dude is on fire. He wakes up and it's on. We are running up and down the hallway behind a truck. We are picking up books and wanting them read to us instantly and then another one. We are grabbing the drawer handles and pulling and seeing what's in there and taking things out. Even though he's sweet and funny and we go on awesome walks and trips to the park, mama is tired at the end of the day.

So, on to the topic. FOOD.

I have a love hate relationship with food. Love in that I love it. Very much. And hate in that I love it, maybe too much.

The Pro:

Food is the one luxury I feel I can give myself all the time. I don't make enough for extravagant things. I mean, I live a decent life and I have it better than a lot of people. For one thing, I'm blogging right now, not searching for safe drinkable water. I mean, I am on top of the world in that regard. But you know, I buy most of my clothes at Target and I do it fairly rarely.  We don't go on vacations and when we do we feel super guilty for a two day trip to Vegas for like the rest of the year. Almost everything of Jack's is a hand-me-down or a gift from friends or family. I own a lot of beat up handbags and shoes that need inserts in order to be comfortable. Almost all of my jewelry is costume jewelry. I suppose I could have fewer things that are of higher quality. I suppose.

Anyway, the one place in my life where I feel like I should have an overabundance and the highest quality is food. Food has chemical properties that can increase dopamine and serotonin levels, so I know it can literally make you feel rewarded and happy. But besides the biological, there are cultural rewards as well. Food offers me the opportunity to be creative, to feel enjoyment, and to provide for other people. It's like my favorite thing. I enjoy trying different flavors, and I love working on recipes to get them to the most pleasing taste and appearance. I have great food memories and as a Cuban American, great food experiences going back to childhood. I think food can make you all kinds of happy. That's obviously a red flag.

I make amazing Turkey Andouille Chili that is only 3 Weight Watchers Points.

The Con:

Food can make people happy. That's a good thing. You can't always afford a gift, but you can make a great tasting meal that is pleasing and enjoyable. But using food as a route to happiness can lead to trouble. I mean, emotional hunger doesn't stop just because you're full. You eat because you are trying to get that reward feeling, that satisfaction, not because you're particularly hungry. I find myself saying (internally) things like, "I deserve this big serving of pasta, I've had a bad day." Or, "you know what, screw this diet, I shouldn't have to be deprived all the time." It can be a slippery slope once you make that choice.

I have struggled with weight for, oh about 8 years. A lot less than people who've been husky their whole lives. Before then, up to my early 20s, I ate whatever I wanted and stayed the same 125 lbs. I think I'm bitter that age changes things and I can't live like I did before. I am totally mad that my body led me all the way through 26 years of food abundance only to one day just decide to turn off whatever metabolism switch is in there without notice. I watch what I eat more now than ever, and I can't even see a time when I'll weigh 125 lbs again. There are days when I relapse and enjoy cheese steak sandwiches, or fast food burgers. It creates a cycle of guilt and shame that makes it very difficult to look at food without all the emotional baggage. I love vegetables and fruits and all sorts of things that are good for me, but you know, I also really love bechamel based sauces. I enjoy a croissant sandwich, the most secretly decadent of sandwiches. A devil's food cupcake with buttercream frosting is a beautiful thing.

A beautiful thing. And it can be a horrible thing if you feel guilty about having it after a big dinner. Or if you think you don't deserve it because you've been lazy about getting to the gym. I make batches of cupcakes like the one above, take out four of them for us, and send the rest with M. to work.

I'm on Weight Watchers again, just to have some semblance of control over my portions. After a while you forget how much food "costs" and you don't think about how many chips you're eating. The WW plan at least makes me feel accountable. I'm working out at the gym on campus the two days a week I teach. It's a hard road, but I'm feeling optimistic. I'm also, you know, feeling hungry.

So that's my issue with food. Next time:  Places!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 2 - Habits

You didn't thnk this was going to be every day for 10 days, did you? Ain't nobody got time for that!


I have a lot of bad habits. I let laundry pile up, I bite my nails, I procrastinate, I worry over dumb stuff that will never change. Probably my worst habit is my negative outlook or more specifically, negative self talk. I am my own worst critic. I feel like it is good to have some humility and to be self-deprecating. But it can veer off into self-hate. I'm trying to get better. Here's one small way: 

Just a little daily encouragement in the morning and at bedtime. I have been trying to meditate but it gets hard to find a quiet place and a quiet time. This upcoming semester I will have more solo time when I am on campus. Maybe that will give me an opportunity to work on it.

Best habit? 

I make sure that every day I read with my son. 

Sometimes it means letting him go through every book at lightning speed, and other times it is quiet and he pays attention. Yesterday I took out Where The Wild Things Are. He hadn't seen it in a while because he was tearing up pages on his books by accident, so I have mainly kept him to board books and soft books. Yesterday afternoon he was restless and cranky on account of new molars. I was tired, he was tired, and it was 4:30 so it was too late for a nap and too early for dinner. So I decided to try it. He sat in my lap and said "oooh" and "wow" on every page. He wanted to read it again and again and feel the pages. I know it is a good habit to start early on reading, and it is definitely something he likes doing, but it is also so sweet and cute that it makes me very happy. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Real Me Project Day 1

As a little self-esteem/introspection project, I've decided to do a 10 day photo challenge (30 days is way too much for me!). I have mixed several challenges together to form this one, so I'm hopeful that it will do the job. What is the job, you ask? The purpose of these challenges is usually to make you feel better about yourself by having you post pictures of things you like about yourself. That kind of project might be good, but I was more interested in a project that doesn't shy away from the stuff I don't like about myself.

Part of the impetus for doing this is to get to like the parts of me that are not perfect. It's been a year and three months since Jack was born. I definitely have things to work on, but also, I'm changed forever in some respects. So this challenge is going to consist of doubles. Each post will be about something I like/am confident about balanced with something I don't like/am not confident about. The only rule I have is no Photoshop. I can use filters to change things color-wise, and I can crop pictures, but no retouching! Let's start with the list, shall we? 

Day 1 - Body Parts
Day 2 - Habits
Day 3 - Food
Day 4 - Places
Day 5 - Outfits
Day 6 - Hair
Day 7 - Personality
Day 8 - Creativity
Day 9 - Friendships
Day 10 - Loves

So here's Day 1: Body Parts

Dislike: Even before baby Jack, I had a battle with the belly. It's truly the part of me I dislike the most. I didn't get stretch marks, but it definitely got looser. It wasn't exactly tight and flat before Jack. I could stand to lose a few, and I see it daily when I look down. Now that I'm looking at it in a photo, it doesn't even look too bad. Here's the front view in a shirt that isn't billowy.

I have taken to wearing loose shirts and my favorite are the kind that billow out over the belly area. It's hard not to veer into "tent" territory with that kind of wardrobe, so I'm trying to like regular shirts. I long for a flat belly, but even thinking about the work I would have to put into it makes me want to just go take a nap.

Like: The "like" side of the photo is my rear end. I do like it, even though it is quite ample. I didn't use to like it, and for a very long time tried to hide it by wearing only dark pants. I'm still only comfortable in dark pants, but something happened in the past few years and I now own a few pairs of bright colored pants or light colored jeans. There's a trick to showcasing a larger backside, and despite what Nikki Minaj tells you, it's not neon spandex. It's all about pocket placement! Check out this tutorial on how to shop for jeans here. I found it life changing. 

There are things you cannot fake in this world. A nice ass is one of those things. Padding looks like padding, and don't get me started on implants! You've either got it, or you don't. I'm happy I've got it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

working on it

Ok, so 2104 is here! I gotta say, even though 2013 had some dark days, it was a good year. I watched Jack grow grow grow. I got to know his little personality. He has some things about him that are just his. He is pretty laid back and just likes to take things in and observe at public places. If you get your timing right and don't interrupt a nap or meal, he is content to hang out in a restaurant high chair or his stroller. After about an hour, though, he wants to get out and play.

He eats very neatly. I have not really worked on him eating with a spoon too much yet, but when we feed him he stays neat and not messy, which is strange for a baby! He decided  he wanted to give himself the bottle and now there is no other way he will have it. Very independent, is how I would describe him. He has not really thrown tantrums when mommy or daddy leave, and he is fine to play on his own for long periods. He hates when you try to grab his hands to teach him anything. 

One thing he does seem to like to do with us is reading. He will come at you with a book and say THIS and then turn around and sit in front of you. Whick means put me in your lap and read this book to me. He can be forceful about it sometimes.

He makes amazing faces. And he can tell that everyone everyone everyone loves him. He pretty much walks around all day happy. Did I mention that? Dude is totally testing out walking all the time. He totters and falls and then decides to crawl the rest of the way, but he seems to always start out walking. 

So on the Jack front alone, amazing year. Much better than 2012 Jack who tested my sanity. 

In terms of professionally and emotionally, it has been up and down. I have gone through this in the past few posts, so I won't rehash, but I do want to let my readers know that I am working on some stuff. I have a decent therapist and I have an appointment soon. I am working on catching myself before I get into negative self-talk. And on a more spiritual level, I have been trying meditation and negativity-clearing rituals. I am a lucky person, to live the life I live. Typing in a coffee shop on my fancy iPad Mini, while my husband hangs at home with my beautiful baby and sweetheart dog. Positive mantras might be hokey and lame, but they are my new thing. 

I am also working on a 30 day self-esteem photo project. The ones I found online are really just vanity projects, which I am not interested in really. I found one that is less a "best version of me" project and more of a "real me" project. I will post the list soon and hopefully post regularly during the semester break. 

Whatever 2014 throws at me, I hope I am strong enough for it. Here's hoping it is a great year for us all!

Monday, December 16, 2013

I've been working on ways to build up self-esteem and see myself differently. There have been a few moments in the past three months that have left me with a low feeling. And they traversed the domains of "not beautiful," "not smart," and "not handling shit well." I have documented the feeling in the past few months here, but I don't know, maybe because the semester is finally (FINALLY) over, I'm allowing a wave of emotion that I was suppressing. When I feel that sad feeling, I go looking for good advice, and I found it in a place I already knew existed.

Here's Margaret Cho's advice to me (and also everyone) from her standup special Beautiful:

“If you are a woman, if you're a person of color, if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, if you are a person of size, if you are a person of intelligence, if you are a person of integrity, then you are considered a minority in this world.

And it's going to be really hard to find messages of self-love and support anywhere. Especially women's and gay men's culture. It's all about how you have to look a certain way or else you're worthless. You know when you look in the mirror and you think 'oh, I'm so fat, I'm so old, I'm so ugly', don't you know, that's not your authentic self? But that is billions upon billions of dollars of advertising, magazines, movies, billboards, all geared to make you feel shitty about yourself so that you will take your hard earned money and spend it at the mall on some turn-around creme that doesn't turn around shit.

When you don't have self-esteem you will hesitate before you do anything in your life. You will hesitate to go for the job you really wanna go for, you will hesitate to ask for a raise, you will hesitate to call yourself an American, you will hesitate to report a rape, you will hesitate to defend yourself when you are discriminated against because of your race, your sexuality, your size, your gender. You will hesitate to vote, you will hesitate to dream. For us to have self-esteem is truly an act of revolution and our revolution is long overdue.” 

Obviously, it's very inspiring, but even more than the words above is her discussion in that same special that she decided one day to call herself beautiful, and to believe it, and the idea became real to her. Not just real to her, people told her she was beautiful. I want that. I want to believe that I am awesome. I want to really truly walk around with that kind of...what's the word for it? Arrogance? Self-love? The sarcastic downer in me says "delusion."  I mean, nobody likes an arrogant jerk who is full of herself.


But I used to have that feeling. Confidence. I remember walking into class feeling very powerful and behind that power was this idea that "I know my stuff" and "my stuff is amazing." I also have memories of getting dressed up and walking into a restaurant or casino or bar and thinking, "I'm hot" or "I am looking damn good tonight." I embraced my weirdness. The odd combinations of things that made me ME. I'm a feminist who loves makeup, an academic who loves puerile comedy, a goth-riot grrrl-punk metal head who loves Star Trek, and a Latina who probably would never be referred to as a "hot tamale." I'm odd, and I there was a time when I thought that meant I was an amazing creature.

Blunt Card

What happened to that chick? Is this a rite of passage? Do you lose that along with all that other "know-it-all" junk from your 20s? That junk I am glad to be without, but that confidence at the core of it is frickin' necessary. So I'm trying to figure out ways to get that back.

The Plan:

1. More art. Making art puts me in a meditative state and I haven't been able to do that all semester. It also sometimes allows me a certain amount of introspection where I can deal with things and think them through. So it's sometimes a non-thinking/all-doing thing, and other times it's a route to thinking and getting out pent up emotions.I swear I think it also releases endorphins.

2. I'm an awesome mom. That I believe. I could do better, as anyone could, but I'm great at it. This is a good place to start with the self-love.

3. Focus on the future. This past semester I started a class from scratch and it was hard, but it will never be that hard ever again. I can make next semester better. I can make it truly mine.

4. Mantras. I'm going to have to do some self-talk and Stuart Smally it up over here.  "I am not a rejection letter." "I am not the number on the bathroom scale."  "I am not a slave to my loan debt.""I am an excellent cook." "I don't need your approval." "I look great in skinny jeans." "I can blend the hell out of eyeshadow and draw eyeliner with amazing precision." "I'm funny, and if you don't think so, you're not smart enough yet."

Anne Taintor

And finally, 5. Don't let other people get me down.

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