Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Used to be my Favorite Month

This week has marked the third round of stomach flu through our house in the month of October.  I am really tired of dealing with other people's bodily fluids and I feel like I want scream at the bleachy smell in my house and the cracked hands from scrubbing my hands like a surgeon and the non-stop hand sanitizer dousing.  I'm sick of worrying and not sleeping well and trying to figure out how to swing things so I can be home and still help at work.  I'm sick of begging favors and sick of feeling slightly sick.  To be fair, I have not caught the stomach stuff yet, knock on wood, but there have been plenty of days when I can only eat a few crackers or peanuts or yogurt, just enough to see if the feeling in my gut is hunger or sickness.  It feels strange to eat carbs, but right now I just need to get my family back on track.  I am coming down with a head cold and I hope it goes quickly.  I'd rather have a cold than stomach stuff any day.  My poor kids have been through their paces this month, I really hope it ends soon.  To put a cherry on top of it all, my car started running bad this week and the engine light is on, so I have to bring it to the shop this weekend.  
That is my sob story.  I just want a span of "normal" days.  I can't focus on a diet when I don't feel good.  
That being said, I haven't gone off the rails, and I could have.  The extra carbs came in the form of candied ginger for my upset stomach and cough drops because I was desperate for relief and couldn't get to the store because my son had to be dropped off at his grandma's house at the last minute, when I was preparing him for school.  There has been candy and cake all around and it doesn't phase me.  So I'm hoping that I can get right back on track once everyone's stomachs settle down.  My own stomach is very sympathetic, if someone around me has an upset stomach, mine feels bad too.  
Anyway, that's why I haven't been blogging.  I have noticed that crossing my legs is getting easier, I can do it with no hands now, something I missed when I gained the weight back.  That's my positive in the midst of a crazy month.   I have to find the silver lining in times like these or I'll go bOnKeRs!  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smooth Sailing

I feel really good.  And that feels really good to say!  My sons are finally getting over their viruses, work has been a much more manageable pace, and I am not tortured over this diet.  In fact, with all the veggies I've been eating, my skin looks more radiant and I feel...healthier.  My joints hurt less too, I'm not sure if that is from losing weight or nixing the sugars, but I am moving like a normal 40-something instead of looking like I'm a step away from needing a walker.  I can feel the slack in some of my clothes, and my mood is still much better than it was a couple weeks ago.  
Last night my husband was eating mac and cheese right next to me and my typical reaction would have been wishing I could eat it too, but I'd just eaten a taco salad I made myself, and his carbfest didn't even appeal to me.  Win for me!  This is getting easier, slowly.  I am starting to reap the rewards of not caving.  I think what will be my tricky part is keeping things sane on the weekends when my family tends to eat out a lot.  Last weekend we ended up at Chipotle and I ate a bowl of beans, veggies, greens and guacamole with their softritas, which is seasoned tofu.  It was OK, not the biggest fan of how al-dente they cook their beans and the softritas mix is not something I love, but my family likes it there and I was happy I could eat something at a restaurant.  
It has been more than a year since I've been in South Beach Diet, but every time I do, I am painfully reminded of how much I dislike protein!  Meat or meat substitutes, tofu (unless it's deep fried like the Chinese restaurants do), textured vegetable protein (that even sounds disgusting right?), I just don't like it!  I just ate a taco salad (using soy crumbles) and I almost couldn't even eat it I was so not enjoying the crumbles.  I'm going to switch to seitan (wheat protein) for a few meals and see how that goes, if not, I'm giving up and relying on dairy, nuts and protein shakes (beans on occasion).  One of the reasons I continue to fail on SBD is because of this whole protein issue.  This is my first time trying it vegetarian and egg-free.  I am weird about food, especially textures. I can't force my way through something I don't like (my husband can do that and it amazes me), so at least I'm learning even after starting and restarting this diet so many times.  I feel positive that if I can keep learning what doesn't work, eventually I'll figure out what does, and then I'll run with it long-term.  I feel like I am closer than ever to solving this food and emotions thing.  That will be a lifesaver for sure.  Literally.  It's true what they say, the first steps are the hardest.  Now that I'm past those first steps, I see smooth sailing ahead!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cracks in the Foundation

I can see how easily a tiny crack can compromise a strong foundation, and how several repeated blasts can make that foundation quiver.  
The weekend was where I started to see some cracks in my own "diet" mentality, and the reason behind my subjecting myself to yet another diet.  The ridiculous way my mind works sometimes, makes me feel like I am simultaneously a child and my own mother.  When I'm not dieting, going grocery shopping is a refreshing adventure, and it usually inspires me to choose healthy foods to eat for the week.  It's a little strange that my positive mindset about food begins in a place where there are far more foods that take me from good health than toward it.  But the psychology behind that is, when I know I can eat whatever I want, I am inspired to choose healthy food.  Grocery shopping on a diet, especially such a restrictive diet as the ketogenic phase of South Beach, especially doing it vegetarian, is...well, it is a head trip.  While I was shopping over the weekend I was hyper-focused on all the things I couldn't have.  And I kept looking for vegetarian proteins that I can tolerate and the smell of the pizza being baked for samples and the rice and bread all swirled around me and I got so irritable that all I wanted to do was get out of there and go end my diet with a binge.  But I didn't.  I did question why I am doing this (like, a million times I asked myself that question over the weekend) but I just stayed on track.  I am doing this to heal my gut and my mind, and jumping right back into mindless eating would be throwing myself back into the fire of mental agony and physical hell.  I thought about the bloated feeling that was normal to me, but not comfortable.  I thought about where going back on the other road would play out, and I knew it would lead to an out-of-control place, which means I am not ready to add that kind of freedom back into my diet.  But I questioned and requestioned myself on the whole deprivation facet of dieting., which goes against the philosophy of freeing myself from emotional eating, as Geneen Roth teaches.  The reason her work resonates with me is because she explains how to explore those deep places where I am broken, so I can get over the habits of using food inappropriately.  It makes me think of my mind-food connection and promotes awareness as the key to overcoming my obstacles with food.  But when I began this, a little more than a week ago, I realized that both the South Beach Diet and the internal work and awareness are tools I can use to further myself toward normalcy.  I know that weighing less won't make my other problems away.  I also know that my weight is not the important part of my reconnecting with myself.  
So I have stayed on track, even though part of me has been pouting and wants to rebel.  My son has been sick with stomach flu the past two days, and my sympathetic stomach was feeling so off yesterday that I was fighting with myself over having some candied ginger that I have in the house, or taking some Tums. Both are loaded with sugar, so I told myself if I truly felt aweful I could have some, and instead are very light yesterday.  For the entire day I only ate dry-roasted peanuts and Greek yogurt.  Thankfully I woke up hungry and got some better nutrition this morning, I was actually craving steamed broccoli and asparagus, that's a change from this weekend when I would've about chopped a toe off for a slice of pizza.  
I hopped on the scale this morning, and it showed a 7 pound loss, which I will admit, felt good, but I was already quite aware of how much better I was feeling and how much a difference there is in the way my clothes fit.  Next Monday I will begin phase 2, adding in some carbs with one grain and one fruit each day, then the next two weeks I can increase it by one grain and one fruit. So in the third week, and pretty much from there on, I can eat three grains and 3 fruits per day.  My challenge has always been protein.  I may have to implement protein shakes at some point.  
I feel better. That was the point of this, and it is working.  I don't know what else will come.  I do know that I can face stress and feelings of deprivation with logic and I can live through it without  trying to numb myself with food.  I hope I can continue to fight for my own health using my mind instead of mindless eating.  I know I'm human and don't expect perfection of myself but at least I'm more aware.  No one ever said this journey is easy, but the lessons learned are priceless.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Handling it

 Usually when I don't blog for a bit, there's a pretty good chance it means I've gone off the rails, but I'm happy to say that is not the case this time.  I have been dealing with normal life-stuff, kids not doing well in school, changes in schedules, homework etc. 
 So as far as South Beach goes, I am doing great.  I feel better, physically, than I have in a long time.  I weighed in the first couple days and lost some weight, water weight, as I was so thirsty and flushed a lot of stuff out.  One of the main reasons I started this diet again is because I was feeling so miserable, bloated, constant heartburn, achy, no energy, sucking wind after climbing a flight of stairs.,, those things are getting much better.  So when I think longingly about the times when I ate whatever I wanted, I remind myself of how uncomfortable my stomach feels when I eat all those carbs all day.  Being vegetarian makes food tougher, I am not a huge fan of most vegetarian forms of protein like tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers etc.  and I am not an egg eater.  So I'm 
going to have to be a lot more creative in my food choices.  It didn't help that I started this diet so abruptly that I didn't plan well enough at the grocery store.  I'm making progress though.  
The best side effect of this for me, right now?  My mood is so improved!  I don't remember that from the last time.  Or, maybe I attributed it to the weight loss instead of the nutritional aspect.  It's interesting, I have been prone to scoffing at all the fad diets like Paleo, Caveman/Primal because I could eat sugars and gluten and not notice any changes in how I felt.  Now I know why, because that is how I have been used to feeling, that was my normal.  It feels better to feel lighter on my feet, less stuffed and stuffed-in.  So I am hoping that realizing this will help me stay in control.  My ideal is to be able to eat whatever I want, but to choose this healthier food most of the time, and the times I do have something less healthy I can try savor a little bit of it as a treat, not try to use food as a way to avoid certain emotions or feelings.  That's the goal.  And I think that is kinda what Geneen Roth is talking about.  I have been able to talk myself out of eating when I'm not hungry on a few occasions this week, by asking myself if I was truly hungry or if something else was going on.  Honesty, due to my "monthly disaster" about to begin, there were times that I honestly wasn't certain, then I followed the 'when in doubt, don't' rule, and ate again when I was sure it was hunger.  It holds me accountable and makes me live in the moment, aware of what is driving me to eat.  That's where reading Geneen Roth and meditating have helped me tremendously, even though dieting goes against Geneen's philosophy.  In combination, I think these techniques all compliment each other really well.  
Another thing I like about this phase of the diet is that, because I'm truly hungry when I eat, and because I am so restricted, everything feels like a treat.  One night I had a ginger rootbeer Zevia soda (stevia sweetened) and usually I don't like that flavor, but because the rest of my food for the day was veggies or soy protein or low fat dairy, that soda felt like a dessert!  
That isn't to say that I'm not looking forward to adding carbs back in, especially rice and apples, but I know I'm in control, and I know that keeping this balance will help to keep me feeling better, especially my gut and my mood.  I'm not as easily overwhelmed and stressed out as I was on autopilot.  
It is interesting that this whole thing began as a meditation experiment for school, and is blossoming into a whole different journey.  Sometimes the universe speaks in whispers, we just have to turn into the wind in order to hear it.  
Happy Friday friends!  Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Meditation and Day 2

 I have been pretty consistent with meditating and like everything in life, some days are easier to settle my mind and get inside than others.  I don't pretend to spend long periods of time doing it, usually 10 minutes or less, then my mind starts wandering.
My husband is a huge fan of chanting or resonating (Om), but I've always felt like it distracts me from getting past my external universe and going inside.  
Tonight was a rare night when there were a few quiet moments in my house, so I jumped on the opportunity.  Usually when I begin meditating, I focus on a subject I want to get inside of to solve.  Usually that is a question that pertains to my weight, and usually my question I am asking leads me to some dark places.  I am a very visual thinker, so I find that I can rarely get anywhere with meditation if an image doesn't come to mind fairly quickly in the process.  In a way, it is like the feeling of being in a dream, but knowing you are dreaming.  Most of the images I see are like dreams too, or maybe déjà vu where I feel like the images are real memories from my past, but I'm not sure.  They could just be a visual reputation of my emotions.  In most of the food/"Mommy" ones, I see the same image many times I blog, myself as a little girl about 5 years old.  I am sitting on the stairs in the house where I grew up, sad.  It is in that imagined state that I can easily ask questions and usually get answers.  
The last two days, when I've been on South Beach Diet, I don't feel bad or sad or hopeless about my weight, so my mind was blank when I tried to imagine that little girl.  Last night I actually had some happy images about my dad.  I used to think it was his alcoholism that made me feel so distant from him, but seeing those happy images of time he spent with me made me realize, my dad made me feel special.  The sad part for me was that I felt like it didn't happen often enough for me, and here again I attributed his lack of attention to his alcoholism (which I am not dismissing) but the meditation helped me see through that belief.  My dad was gone so much because he worked two jobs.  He worked two jobs so my mom could be home with us.  As a parent, I wish that was a possibility for me to be home with my kids.  What a sacrifice he made for us.
Tonight my session started with an image of me being trapped in a sewer, lake water all around me, and a homeless person looked down on me, stuck in this place, and asked for food.  In the smallest, saddest meek voice I said, "I don't have enough."  This is a theme that keeps repeating since I've learned that the feeling of 'not enough' is hugely tied to my food issues.  I grew up in a financially-struggling household and the concept of not enough was something that made me feel shame so many times.  I'd be eating dinner and while heading to the kitchen I'd announce cheerfully how good it was and that I was going to have more.  Many times there wasn't any left, and I felt ashamed that I'd wanted too much.  I am not a very generous person today because of it.  Especially not with food.  Some of my coworkers bring a snack in and every time they will offer some to the whole office.  Not me, my snack is my snack.  Even if it is family sized.  
I digress.  So as I was stuck in my watery trap, someone came from a different place and found a way out (like coming out of a cave).  (It was about this time that I decided to try Om).  When I came out of the cave the most amazing thing happened.  The sun was so bright it was blinding, but it had this strange connection to me through the resonance my voice was making.  (Did you know that when we repeat the Om sound with resonance, we are actually copying the sound the energy from the sun makes?). In that moment, I felt like I was a part of the divine wholeness of the earth. That I am powerful, and am as much a part of the universe as it is a part of me.  It was so much bigger than dealing with questions about why I eat when I'm not hungry.  Not that that's not important, but in the scope of the universe, it's a little less sinificant.  
On the diet front, things went pretty smooth today.  I am finding that I didn't plan my groceries too well, and that left me eating some lentils that I burnt/underwatered but I was too hungry not to eat them.  Ick!  But I gave it a try.  My customer flow at work uncomfortably delayed some of my snacks today, and my stomach let me know!  I did have a craving today, for dry roasted peanuts and I had a couple servings throughout the day, but they have a little sugar so I am not going to make them an everyday treat.  They are too hard to stop eating once I start.  But they helped keep me fuller than I was yesterday.  
Tonight as I walked up the 26 stairs to leave work, it felt less cumbersome.  It may be mental tricks or loss of some water weight, but I noticed it and it made me happy.  I also felt like I could think more clearly.  It will be interesting to see if the clarity continues.
Whew!  Another long post!  It's a lot of day to get down in words, and I've never been good at word economy.  
Day two was pretty good!  I'll stop typing now. ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day One (yet again)

I made it through my first day back on South Beach Diet without much trouble.  I did end up feeling (hungry) all day.  Hungry is in parentheses because I am not truly sure if that's what it was all day.  My son had the stomach flu this weekend and was still sick last night, and I have a sympathetic stomach, whenever someone around me is sick I start feeling sick too.  I have been super gassy too, sorry for the TMI moment, but I am not sure if it's from eating all the veg or something else.  
What I did notice is that my stomach felt so much more comfortable not being stuffed full of unnecessary junk.  I could go about 2 1/2 hours between meals and them my stomach was growling.  It is strange to admit how strange it feels to be hungry.  I haven't given my stomach a chance to be this way in so long, is nearly forgotten what it felt like.  I must have been massively bloated- I know I was- because it feels like my stomach deflated.  I am amazed at how much of a difference one day can make!
I will say, this is way harder to do as a vegetarian as it was when I would eat Eggland's Best eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast everyday.  But I'm making things work, I'll just have to get a little more creative.  
I didn't really crave anything in particular today, which isn't typically how my first day of ketogenic diet goes.  Usually the first 2-3 days are torturous until my body detoxes from the sugar, but I think this time my body is just so tired of the abuse that it is going along for the ride without argument.  
I also noticed that, by the time 4PM rolled around, I'd only had 2 caffeinated drinks all day, which is about half what I normally have, and I didn't feel sluggish at all.  And I drank a ton of water, which I've been slacking on over the past year.  
The day was a huge success in that the only time I really craved anything is when a coworker said she was having taco soup for dinner.  I've never heard of it, but I was already so hungry when she said it, that it took a while for me to let it go.  I had a spicy black bean buger over fresh veggies with a dab of vegan flax mayo.  It was way better than I would have thought it was a week ago!  
I think I can make this work.  I need to ditch all the sugar.  A girl I graduated high school with was just talking about her symptoms of what sounds like (to my untrained eye) heart attack warning signs.  It made me worried for her, but it made me realize that some people only get the one chance, not everyone survives a heart attack.  
This blog is not the most exciting thing I've ever written but I just wanted to say, day one went well.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm Guess I'm Doing this

In my last post I mentioned that I have been thinking of going back to my roots and trying the South Beach Diet again.  I have been on an emotional roller coaster since considering it.  I am at polar opposite ends of the spectrum, on one end is the fear of failure in the face of removing my favorite comfort foods, especially when I am still really sucky at controlling my stress.  On the other end, I am ready to not feel this way.  
I had to decide before grocery shopping this morning.  And I finally decided that the desire to not feel this way is stronger than my fear.  I fought myself over it for so many reasons, not feeling strong/ready enough, Halloween with all its temptations is just around the corner, I even chewed over the fact that it is against the method Geneen Roth teaches, a method I didn't really give a fair shot, but one that I think could help me.  I think it comes down to the quote that says something about whether you are looking for a way to make it work or an excuse for it not to work, you will find what you are looking for.  
There have been a million reasons why I need to take another shot at this.  Every time I take a bath, I am disturbed by how much of my stomach sticks out of the water, even when it's filled to the fill line.  My knees and hips are screaming for me to show them some mercy.  I can't find anything that remotely resembles "flattering" clothes.  My brain is fogged and reeling.  I breathe heavy going up stairs or even talking.  I have a near-constant feeling of bloat in my gut.  My skin is dry and dull.  I'm exhausted all the time.  I feel really un-feminin, unattractive in general and it makes me feel like hiding more and more.  
I could go on.  Anyone who's been overweight knows these and millions more.  
So I am going to detox from the garbage carbs and see where it leads.  I usually do well on the ketogenic phase after the first two days.  I didn't give myself a very long time to prepare for this mentally, but at least I had more time for this than the unexpected gym membership I signed today.  My husband wanted to join a gym that has an affiliation with the health clinic I work for and they told him he would get about half price membership of I came along when he signed up.  When we got there today they told us we can only use the discount if I joined too.  My husband would have paid more for himself without the discount than we are paying for both of us to join with my discount.  Now that my kids are old enough to stay home alone for a few hours, we can work out together in the evenings, once their homework is done.  So that was a surprise that might work out nicely with my other impromptu decision to give South Beach another try.  
So I'm hopeful that the next few weeks will be a turn around that I've been needing for so long.  What's different this time is that I'm not focusing on the idea that I can look like a fitness model if really push myself.  This time, I am feeling the urgency of fixing my health, my heart, my joints, muscles, my gut and my mind.  I hate feeling this old and broken.  
So this weekend I am eating some last treats, pumpkin pie, pizza, Starbucks Frappiccinos, to reward myself ahead of time for the hard work I am about to put in.  And to comfort me from negative thoughts about how tough it's going to be.  But in the end I know the truly tough part is the first couple days.  It will be nice to free myself from the ball-and-chain addiction to sugar.  That I don't already have diabetes is a miracle, but I know I won't always be so lucky.  I have to do this.  And there's no better time.  I've got more knowledge and experience than the last time I tried this, I have meditation and deep focus in my toolbox, and I have lots of people that believe in me.  I want my next blood panel to come back sparkling.  
So Monday I will step out of my comfort zone and give this thing a go.  I can't succeed if I never try.  

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Distracted

Sometimes I feel like I am so in my head all day that it doesn't make sense how little I actually have figured out about myself.  And sometimes, when I go through extreme periods of having way too much on my plate, I don't feel that I get the chance to be in my head at all, which leads me to getting really stressed out and pissed off that I am catering to everyone's needs but mine.  All of the months since April have been that way, extreme chaos at work, being the only person left in my department while scrambling to quickly get someone cross-trained and look for new hires meant (and unfortunately still means) that a lot got dumped on me that was never supposed to be my responsibility.  It leaves me constantly feeling like I'm cleaning up other people's messes after them.  I could go on and on about all the different areas of stress, but I'd sound like a broken record for sure.  One of the reasons I chose meditation as my project is because it forces me to spend that time on myself, sliding into the dark within and exploring what demons live there.  A side effect of that deep thinking and focus is that it opens the door for more thinking and focus during the day, and helps me shift my thinking a little bit.
This week is a good example of what the past several months have been like for me in my journey for myself (I'm going to call it that for now, because I wasn't really on a weight-loss journey at that point).  Monday morning I was doing my usual, waking up with a quick scroll through Facebook while listening to the morning news.  Someone had posted a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough bars, and my mind was hooked on the idea immediately.  I rarely look at the recipes and I never ever make them, but without a second thought I made my plans to get some cookie dough to eat at work, and then when I was ready to leave the house I did just that.  It made me giddy thinking about how good it was going to taste and the perceived level of happiness it was sure to bring.  When I got to the store, there were so many options, most on sale, most in that annoying plastic wrapper that only tears and doesn't keep it fresh.  Then I saw the gigantic tub of Tollhouse and it was amazingly low priced for the size.  I simply couldn't pass it up.  I was extremely extra agitated and stressed out at work because of a customer who was very upset with my office, calling me several times a day, and I just couldn't make him happy.  I ate and ate and ate until my stomach felt like it was going to blow up from fullness.  And then I ate a few more bites.  And later, a few more.  By Tuesday evening, I had eaten half the tub and was trying to decide whether I should bring it home and bake the rest or keep it there to snack on Friday, when I'll be back in that office.  I left it there, partly because I knew if I brought it home I'd have to explain to my kids and husband why there was only half a tub left, and partly because I still want it to be an option on Friday.  And if it's an option, and I've already gone to the trouble of buying it, I might just as well eat the rest.  That is my logic.
Today I was at a different office, one where I don't have a fridge in my workspace (I have to share one with the rest of the staff, oh the horror) and I wasn't really intending on bringing any sweets in, because of how awful they have been making me feel, but as I was grabbing some fall jackets for my kids at the store, I saw Starburst flavored candy corn and I just had to try it.  It is pretty awful, but I still ate most of the bag at work today.  Again, it made me feel so bloated that I felt like breathing was a workout.  THAT is BLOATED!
Sugar has always been a problem for me, a massive trigger.  Once I have some I can't stop wanting more and more until I detox from it.  The interesting thing is, This week I have been bringing fresh salads to work for lunch, and with some feta cheese and a little sprinkle of vegan ranch dressing, it tastes so good I actually can't wait to get home and have more.  But I never do have more at home, I slip into comfort mode and eat whatever is quick and easy- chick'n sliders or an Amy's organic burrito or something quick and easy.  So many times lately, I have looked through all the good food I spend a fortune on every week and say, "Ugh!  Nothing sounds good.  I'm so bored with all the food we have in the house!"  The salads I am having for my lunch are me finally listening to my body and what it needs, not what my mind wants.
I think things went really astray when I began reading Geneen Roth's books.  I learned so much from them, and made some great progress with beliefs I had that stemmed from childhood, that I wasn't aware of before.  But, she advocates for having exactly what you want to eat, to stop dieting and eat what you want.  The idea is that you will be satisfied with a lot less food if you eat what you want, and it will also take that food's power away a little.  The trick is, to only eat when you're hungry, and to stop the instant you are satisfied.  Oh and, to listen to your body and the way it responds to certain foods.  I never heard a word my body said because for the majority of my life I have eating crap, so I was used to how that made my body feel; that was my norm.  All of these ideas are way easier said than done.  I just took the 'eat what you want' thing and ran.  And now I am so big and unhealthy and I am finally waking up out of the funk.  The past week of sugar-stomach have shown me that I need to change things up.
I am toying with the idea of going back to my old friend South Beach Diet because they have a vegetarian version that would be quiet easy for me.  I think I need a sugar detox soon or I'll pay dearly for it with my health.  I will invest more time in thinking in planning this weekend and if I do it, it will probably start on Monday.  I have to do something, I feel so unhealthy, old and fat.  I know I can fix that.  I need to stop saying yes to everyone else and put my own needs back in focus again.  This is life.  You can't say it isn't interesting!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meditation Project

Oh me and my ever-predictable blog cycles!  Whenever a new semester of school starts for me, I get bowled over by my responsibility and usually end up too exhausted to blog.  As it is, with my son getting on the bus at 6am, there just aren't enough hours in the day and when the decision is between sleep or blogging, I will almost always choose sleep.  
This semester I have a class about critical thinking and I had to come up with an idea for a project to be completed by the end of the semester.  We were given complete freedom on how and what the project would be, as long as it incorporates critical thinking in some fashion.  Since I've been so stressed out at work lately, I chose to do my project on meditation, to see if I can reduce my stress levels during the day by meditating at night.  
I am not pretending to be some expert on meditation technique and I am using the quiet time to explore more than just my stress issues.  Maybe meditation is the wrong word, it is more like free-thinking focused on an issue I only react to emotionally without knowing what the driving thoughts or beliefs behind it are.  I used this type of focused thinking in the summer when I was using Geneen Roth's books to try and uncover the reasons behind my emotional eating.  It was useful but I stopped it and began living on autopilot again once my work situation got overly chaotic.  At any rate, I know most of the things I react to emotionally stem from things I experienced as a kid, thoughts about myself and my world that I believed enough to carry with me into adulthood.  
This project should be at least a little successful since I will be focusing on some of those beliefs.  Sometimes I just try to think about my actions on the surface, to be aware of what I'm doing and try to question it, but with the deeper focus, I actually focus on an image of myself as a child.  Sometimes it is a real memory that I freeze in time and manipulate, sometimes I simply witness without interruption, but most of the time I ask that younger version of me questions and without thinking or forcing anything, answers barrage me.  I need to record these answers to help me remember what I am learning but also I need a place to keep track of changes so I can form them into a paper for this class.  
Tonight I meditated for about ten minutes, including breathing.  When I found my younger self, she was sitting on the stairs, where I usually have the best luck getting answers because the stairs is where she goes when she doesn't feel good.  I asked her what was wrong and she asked if she was dumb because her mother had just done a really ugly thing to her, she twisted up her voice and put a nasally twist in her voice and said, "what are you dumb?!  You don't understand?" She told me that other people did the same thing to her when she didn't understand things that everyone else seemed to understand.  I told her that they were the dumb ones for not realizing that she was just a young girl and didn't know about suck things yet.  She started to feel better so I asked her what she wants from life and she said, "To make people happy". This surprised me at first, but when I related it back to my own life, I realized I do strive to make people happy, many times at my own expense. Then I asked her what she wants for herself and she said "to be loved".  
I know I was loved and I am loved, but when I was little sometimes I was treated so poorly that I didn't understand how someone could love me and treat me that way.  To me there was a huge disconnect.  
And maybe the larger lesson of today is, that the disconnect between my needs and my wants and everyone else's speaks volumes about who I feel is more important.  
More work to do.  I am going to try to focus/meditate most nights as part of this project but I am also aware of how finding out these hidden beliefs can help in multiple areas in my life.