Farming

I watched a harvest video this morning that had me bawling. It was essentially just 13 minutes of combines and harvesters moving around a wheat field, showing the process. There was some good “steward of the land” music playing, but beyond that, certainly nothing that would prompt tears. And yet, farming makes me cry. Any country song about farming? I’m in tears. Commercials for John Deere? You bet I’m blubbering. A facebook video about a harvest? Worthless and introspective for a solid 30 minutes after. Irrationale, yes. But farming just moves me!

This past weekend I was having a discussion with Dear Husband about pursuing our dreams (mostly rationalizing why I should finish my doctorate, and soon) and I pointed out that despite the fact that, “I hate farming,” I supported him in that dream. He looked a bit aghast for a moment. It was almost as if I’d said, “I hate chocolate” to a woman. Now, in hindsight, I realize my wording was a bit too strong for the moment (not that I’ve told him that yet). I will confess my blunder so he won’t worry about my mental state, but I just haven’t seen him yet to do so since he’s working out of state.

This man wants to farm. He wants it to be his livelihood, as it is his father’s. He wants to care for the cattle, oversee our crops, cut hay from sun up to sun down. He wants to buy more acreage, build fence for the next 20 years, and leave a big legacy of farming for our children. He wants to quit welding and be completely supported by the land. I get that – really I do. As his wife, it is my duty (obligation, responsibility, dare I say, joy?) to help him reach his dreams. As such, I’m a reluctant farmer.

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While he works out of state bringing home the bacon, I tend the farm in his absence. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking of the chickens I haven’t yet let out of the hen houses (I will soon) and the bottle I need to fix for the (mostly) blind calf we’ve been nursing back from a bad case of pink eye. I’m thinking of the goat kid I need to check, because we’ve also been nursing her for about a month from a bacterial infection, and the carrots I reluctantly need to dig out of the ground because it’s too hard to pull them out, and I didn’t “soak them a bit” last night (as he’d very logically recommended). I need 200 more carrots like I need a hole in the head, but I can’t abide the waste, so I’ll dig them out. I’m glad it’s not winter, and I begged and pleaded with him to be home for the winter so I wouldn’t have to break ice. I loathe breaking ice. I’m convinced my death will come from being charged by a bull (or arguably worse, a cow with a new baby calf), slipping down an icy hill side to get to the pond bank, and planting myself on the ax head. Still, I’ll do it for days, weeks, months if I need to because I want to support his dreams.

Being honest, though, that’s not my entire motivation. I idealize farming. With this one task, I feel a connection to the land, to time, to God, and to my family that I can’t get from the profession I love (education). I hate the feel of dirt when I’m pulling carrots, but I love producing our food, having fridges and freezers full of our own (healthy raised) meat, and canned goods lining my shelves reminding me of how much I hate August because its’ peak canning season. Spaghetti in the winter really tastes better with my homemade tomato sauce. Miles and Ruth both adore being in the garden harvesting. Telling these kids we’ll go pull carrots is tantamount to saying, “Let’s go to Six Flags!” Just sheer enthusiasm. In fact, as I was writing this, Miles schlepped in from the garden cheerfully announcing he’d picked some peppers for me (not sure what state the pepper plants will be in when I head out to check).

When I go out in the mornings to reluctantly chore (not overplaying the Martyr role here, just highlighting how very *reluctant* I am), the sun is cresting the neighbor’s hills to the east and the grass is wet and the smell here in mid-Missouri is just fantastic. My Zyrtec and Benadryl can’t touch the allergy issues, but you can’t beat the smell. Even the smell of damp animals is appealing – not wet dog smell, just the smell of sweet animals who nudge you when you come to feed and water them, reminding you that you’re connected to something greater. I feel so spiritual at these times. I feel so grateful to have these blessings, to have the health, the time, the energy, the means to mosey about my beautiful acreage doing rather mundane tasks (and repeatedly stepping in poop of some sort). I feel like I’m part of an incredible cycle of life when I am riding the 4-wheeler (with the kids seated behind encouraging me to drive faster, even though I never do) along the edges of the hot fence to make sure the calves (it’s always the calves) don’t get out the hot fence because the real fencing had to be put off again so he could go back “to work” to pay the bills.

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It’s ironic that working on the farm is about 10 times harder than MY work, and I’m going to presume, also harder than HIS work (probably not 10 times harder, though, since welding is some seriously manual labor). Then again, it’s about 10 times more rewarding (beyond a monetary valuation). I imagine much of the connection comes from knowing that rain (or drought) or critters or too much sun or too little sun or bugs can affect the crop that comes in at the end of the season (and I’ve long bemoaned to my farmer-girlfriend how I hate the insecurity, the financial insecurity, of farming). Thanks for always letting me gripe, Christy. We could lose the cows to pink eye, we could lose them while they labor, we could lose out on the crop costing more to put in than it yields. All that being said, it makes one more aware of the inter-dependency of Man-Land-God. I think that I idealize farming because it’s I honestly can’t think of any other vocation (or livelihood, if one prefers) that has such a splendid inter-dependency, and such an inspiring opportunity for introspection.

Last, I think I idealize farming because I was such a wanderer for *so* many years, and never really sunk in roots anywhere. Seriously — I’ve moved 34 times in my life. Although Addie and Rebecca turned out splendidly as a result of those gypsy days, and know greater diversity and love and acceptance than any parent could hope for, Miles and Ruth will grow up with a tie to ONE place. I can’t begin to imagine how that will influence possible differences in their upbringing, but I know there’s very little sweeter than watching a 4-year old boy run out to the driveway so he can hop up in Grandpa’s tractor, even if it’s just to unload a pallet of wood pellets and won’t take 5 minutes. I mean, this boy will RUN to a tractor. Ruth will sit there and cry because she wants a turn, but is too little to bounce around on the buddy seat at this point – but the day will come when she’ll get to ride in the tractor (because Mama is all about equality of opportunity and none of this sexism stuff). Someday (soon) they’ll be running out to gather the eggs and check the afternoon water levels for the animals, and (continue) to traipse all manner of dirt in on their boots, and Miles will bring in 10 buckeyes that get dropped around the house for me to pick up when I’m cleaning. They’ll have a tie to land and community that I didn’t know growing up, and while some part of me envies them that, the other is so glad that they can decide one day if THEY want to farm this legacy their father and I have left them. That thought gives me goose bumps. Sure, they might hate farming, decide to sell the land, or have a nasty sibling squabble over the estate when we die, leaving no one with enough money to actually run the farm. Still, they *could* farm it if they wanted. That’s justifiably weepy, isn’t it?

Now it’s time to put on some Willie Nelson, cook for my Labor Day camping trip, and clean my house.

 

PS — Pavla, I’m not smart enough to write about the harms of Monsanto, but I AM smart enough to know I like my food grown naturally, without chemicals when possible or genetic modifications.

Church and Politics

It’s been a very long time since I’ve blogged. Admittedly, I’ve been super busy. My older teens are leaving the nest, my younger two are both well entrenched into toddlerhood (aka, the years of getting into everything) and husband is busy much of the year traveling for work to support our hobby farm (with the hopes it will no longer be a hobby farm at some point). So, I just haven’t had anything move me enough to take time from family and work to write.

However, I’ve really been pondering an issue lately, and want to sort through my personal responses via writing, which indeed helps me process better. A few weeks ago, I was sitting in church and had finished hearing a wonderful sermon, when the Pastor announced some changes on the horizon to be added to the church articles. The statements would pertain to marriage equality, sexual identity, and rights of the unborn. I immediately felt a bit ill. I’ve known for a long time I was one of the more liberal members of my church. I’ve even visited with Pastor, one-on-one, about my position and why it made me feel uncomfortable to actually “join” the church (formally, officially) because I know my position on many social issues would differ significantly from my peers there. I also understand the church’s position – in a litigative society, they want something on the record so they couldn’t be compelled to marry someone they may not want to (like gays, or transsexuals).

Now I’m in a conundrum. I really love my church. I love the way we worship (very contemporary), I adore the Pastor (a charming, educated, personable man who is clearly devoted to God’s Word). I love the congregation (they’ve always been very welcoming to me and others that I’ve observed). Many of my dearest friends have gone there for decades, and I’ve always enjoyed their Bible studies. Their youth program is top notch, and my girls have grown in their faith through their participation. I have wholeheartedly looked forward to raising up Miles and Ruthie in this youth program. These statements, though, counter most everything I personally believe in. I struggle with having politics in my church, and previously, that has never been something I’ve felt conflicted about. I also struggle with *these* statements, because despite my religious convictions (I feel Jesus and I are pretty tight), I disagree with them.

I absolutely want separation of church and state. I recognize that for many Christians, this harkens the death toll for society, but I think they’re overlooking the fact that what they really want is Protestantism in our State, not “Religion.” If we have a Protestant-based governmental system, how would that really differ from an Islamic-based governmental system? What if, by chance, the religious ideologies of the nation shift, and we become, in the U.S., led by a faith system other than Protestantism? If you open the door to faith-based government, you run that risk. I don’t want to suffer persecution for my beliefs, and the only way to ensure that is to eliminate religion from the government. I also don’t want to see other faith systems persecuted for their beliefs under a Protestant-based government system. I love me some Jews, some Muslims, some Buddhists . . . one of my dearest friends is Wiccan, and she’s a *good* person. I can never convince myself that people who don’t believe as I do are bad people – it’s a judgment I never want to make, never want to pass along to my children as I DO try to actively socialize them to love Jesus.

I have many gay friends I love. I want them to have equal rights (marital rights, economic rights, decision making in health care rights). If I have some of my (gay) loved ones over, can I not bring them to my church? Would they feel welcomed? With such a statement on the books, I think we will intrinsically adopt a position of exclusion towards gays, and frankly, I believe Jesus would have loved them, too. Likewise with transsexuals. I realize many people subscribe to the belief that there are only two gendered options (male or female). If you believe in the idea that God didn’t make them that way, how do we explain mixed genitalia from birth? They’re called intersexuals, and as one might expect, they indicate in self-identification that they feel very torn about how to identify. In my teaching, I have a full week in class devoted towards not discriminating against transsexual/transgendered individuals. How can I be comfortable attending a church where I feel discrimination *could* be supported? I’m not positive that it *would* be, but it *could* be. Last, while I am firmly in favor of the rights of the unborn, I also support Roe v. Wade. I don’t think that the dichotomous position (pro-rights, pro-choice) are the only means to describe people (like myself) who really support life, and want to see people make alternatives to abortion, but yet also don’t want to revert to a culture where women (who don’t feel as I feel) are pursuing abortions in back alleys. Is the church taking a position that any woman who’s ever had an abortion cannot belong to the church? Cannot serve? Is there no consideration for circumstances? Is there no gray area?

Then there is how very much I have to GIVE to a church. I have a big heart for service. I admit I’m not a regular attender (err, anywhere), but I attribute that to working 50-60 hours a week, running a farm, homeschooling, and raising up toddlers. Sometimes Sunday morning rolls around and I’d rather take 15 minutes to give it up with Jesus in my personal (daily) Bible time and prayer journaling, and then cook a big breakfast for the family. And yet, I love to sign up to help with things! I can’t sing (regretfully) and I can’t work in the nursery (too much commitment), and I can’t run anything electronic (Luddite). But I can serve in many other ways! If I believe differently than these articles of faith indicate, am I to be discouraged from giving to God with my talents?

I’m in a bit of a pickle. I’ve been praying for wisdom and discernment about withdrawing from my beloved church home altogether, but I’m not there yet. I’ve tried out a couple other churches, and while they’re seemingly good places, I’ve yet to do my “Pastor talks” (where I sit down with the pastor to get a feel for church doctrine). I really wanted to raise Miles and Ruthie up in this church, which I have considered my church home for 6 years. Conversely, I don’t want to be a hypocrite about my ideological positions.

I can’t convince myself I’m the only person who loves Jesus but seeks middle ground politically. I’m sure I’ve got contemporaries out there, but I’m floundering a bit now in finding them (especially here in rural mid-Missouri). I also don’t want to bring on a “poor me” party, because I’ve got many lovely friends (many from my church) who love Jesus, know my ideologies, and love me despite them (since they don’t share them). I’m very fortunate in that regard. It might be that, even in this church, there are more there who feel as I do, but perhaps just aren’t as vocal as I am.

With a positive spin to conclude, I’m grateful to live in a country where I’m able to worship as I want, vote as I want, support whatever political causes I choose without fear of retaliation or threat to my person. So, there is that.

On Drama, Conflict, and Epiphanies

I wrote a pretty extensive blog post, and it was remarkably healthy to then hit, “delete.” I think after exploring my feelings on the matter, I’ve developed a nice epiphany for my 2015.

Over the course of many years, I’ve learned not to let others’ emotional drama infringe upon my own personal health. In fact, I would contend I’m very disciplined about this, and it’s intentional, and something I benefit from.

However, I think yesterday I also determined that I don’t have an obligation to smooth out family conflicts, even if they have to do with me or touch upon my life. I had an interesting lesson, causing me to reflect on why I desire harmony in relationships where there just may never be any. If people don’t like me, either because they just don’t mesh with my personality or perceive me to be different than I am, that’s okay. I don’t need to sort through their issues. I don’t need to discover a “why”. I don’t need to get sucked into drama, even if it’s well-meaning because I’ve desired positive relations.

Ultimately, I concluded if I know that I’m living my life trying to be kind to others and doing the best I can to not harm my loved ones, I am a step ahead of most. That’s a good place to be before 40.

Goals and Motivations

A few blog postings ago I indicated I would be covering my goals soon, and it’s probably a good time to reflect on those now. I’ve been fighting a good fight for the last 11 months. I started my weight loss journey on December 26th, 2013. I’m *almost* at my 70 lbs lost mark. I keep creeping down. Initially I lost about 2 lbs a week, and it came off a lot quicker. The last 3 months it’s been more like 1 lb, and sometimes even only .5 a lb a week. As long as it keeps going down, I’m content, but it does get discouraging that it takes so long (especially when it goes on so easily!). I know the concept that 3500 extra calories equals 1 lb gained, and you’d really think it isn’t that easy to eat 3500 calories. When I examine what I used to eat, compared to what I eat now (about 1500-1700 calories a day, since I’m still breastfeeding), it floors me. I could easily have been eating 3500 calories a day! Revisiting my goals (mentally) is important because not only do I need to “scratch them off” once I’ve reached them, but I can see how they tie into my results, which I just love. Yes, yes . . . you’ve already ascertained I’m a spreadsheet kind of gal. My goals fall into distinctly different categories (some are tangible, some are intrinsic). Here we go . . .

I’m 32 lbs from my goal weight. I recognize this is going to be the slowest coming off. To reach it, I’m watching the calories still, working hard on strength training (muscle burns fat, and it’s not going to make me look bulky like a body builder), and *not* missing my cardio more than 2 days a week.

I want to be able to sleep better each night. I’ve noticed that I am already sleeping a lot better than I have been over the past few years, but I know that somehow (not sure how yet – I need to find a book on this) the quality of my sleep does correlate to being overweight. I want to be satisfied with my 5.5-6 hours of sleep. This also ties in to not really *needing* a nap each day. Sometimes I’ll tell my girls, “I just need to lie down for an hour”, but I tie that in to also staring at a computer monitor for hours on end. It isn’t just physical fatigue – it’s a need for a mental break.

I want to be able to keep up with Miles and Ruth. This is a huge motivator for me. I want to be able to spend their childhood running and doing things with them (which, for the most part, I was able to do with Addie and Rebecca in their younger years). I want to be able to walk places with them. I want to be able to ride bikes – never mind that we can’t ride them around our house because Missouri is crazy hilly – I want to load up bikes and go to the Katy trail or something. I want to be able to run up and down the bedroom steps as much as I need to if someone is sick and needs Mom (without becoming winded). I want to be able to encourage them to be healthy themselves (to exercise!). This is important to me.

I want to be able to keep up with my husband. Not so different from being able to keep up with the kiddos, really. Nathan is just a powerhouse of energy – the man can do more in a single day than anyone I know (physically). He can get up at 5:30 in the morning and run non-stop until 10 p.m. at night, and if you ask him if he wants a nap, he’ll follow up with, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I want to be able to haul fence posts for him, to herd cows (and as established previously, I need to be able to outrun the bull), and to go hiking or hunting or riding horses (although my butt and thighs weep at the thought at this point). I want to be in fabulous shape so I can really share more with my man. And, you know, the other stuff that comes with that. Which I won’t elaborate on, because my neighbor Ted thinks I overshare.

I want GOOD health. I want low blood pressure, healthy insulin response (reading a neat book my friend Amanda recommended called “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig that has me questioning relationships between food choices and hormonal responses), I want to never have to worry about diabetes (and have a healthy blood sugar balance), I want to have a really awesome resting heart rate. Who would have thought that I would care about this at 40? I want to tackle issues like heart disease and joint problems and breathing issues – all because I was overweight.

I want to look at pictures of myself and feel good. No shame, no embarrassment, no self-consciousness about the extra chins or always try to be in the back of the photo shoot because I want to hide my body. I know that’s not healthy, mentally and emotionally. Really, I know that. I know that I should love my body no matter what, but I also know that I am more uncomfortable with pictures when I weigh more.It’s actually easier for me to tackle weight loss than it is to learn how to love myself fat, and with so many other benefits to tackling the weight loss, why focus the extra emotional energy on trying to love myself fat?

I want to wear my lovely clothes. I have tubs and tubs still of beautiful clothes I haven’t fit in in years. Granted, most of them are professional dress. You’ll show up at my door to visit and I’ll be in a lovely pink silk suit (I bought it for conference travel), and the most overdressed farm wife you’ve seen. However, I’ll be delighted to be able to fit in it again. If you see me in my gorgeous beige beaded cocktail dress from Nordstrom’s while I’m shopping at Walmart? Just give me a bump for reaching that goal. I was tickled last month when I fit in my jeans (the last pair of jeans I bought, in 2007), which are still the largest size jeans I’ve ever owned. Yes, I was *tickled* I fit in my fat jeans. My next immediate goal would be the size 14 adorable boot cut Gap jeans sitting on the top shelf of my closet. I look at them each time I pull out my clothing for the day, and it’s just a little extra encouragement to keep moving forward (sloooooowwwly). In one of my clothing tubs, I have some size 8 Ralph Lauren jeans that I remember squeezing my butt into at some point. Those would probably be my “end goal” jeans. When I can wear those, I’ll know I’ve hit my target. I’ll probably use those as my “ruler” to know how to stay on track. They’re smoking hot. I can’t wait to wear them!

I want the extra jiggles gone. I have to say this with a bit of a caveat – I know some jiggles are never going to go away. I know that the baby-pouch from my 3 c-sections is not going to ever go away (short of a tummy tuck, which my husband would never be okay with). Cutting abdominal muscles repeatedly sort of negates any amount of sit-ups I can do. I also know that some jiggles will take longer than other jiggles (because my skin will take a couple of years to shrink down). I want the under arm jiggle to go, though (for good). I want the under-chin jiggles to stay gone. I want the inner thigh jiggles to disappear altogether.

This isn’t even the full list, but it’s enough of a start to get me out of my chair on my Monday (my busiest day) and take the time for ME to get a work out in. I need to eat, sleep and breathe in these goals because they keep me motivated. Just like Rocky chasing the chicken and catching it. That’s me, baby. I got this.

Miscellaneous Clothing Rant

I was out with Addison yesterday dress shopping at Macy’s. I saw some really adorable, fit young (20s) girls walk by, both wearing leggings. It wasn’t the leggings really I had a problem with, it was that they had really short shirts and jackets on with them. In essence, they were showing every possible curve of their lower half of their body. They were lovely curves, young and firm still, but *every* curve. When I later commented to Addison, “When I get my body all smoking hot, remind me not to wear leggings like that,” and then she and I had a discussion about judgment of women wearing leggings. Her point was that leggings aren’t that much different from skinny jeans, which I agree with, because I think in many cases, those also show curves I don’t want to see.

To clarify, I’m not judging those sweet young girls. I’m not thinking they’re promiscuous because they want to show every curve of both the front AND back halves of their lower body. I’m thinking they are a reflection of the culture, and quite possibly, when women started wearing swimming suits out in public for the first time, the older generation had a similar response. Does this make me old and unhip? Possibly. In this instance, I’m okay with that.

I also want to quickly add that I don’t buy into the various crap that’s out there regarding women and clothes. E.g., “If you dress sexy, you’re inviting rape,” or similar junk. Women should be able to walk around naked, if they choose, and not “invite” rape (which is a really ignorant way of considering it, but has been a cliché surrounding sexual violence for decades). By the same token, I don’t buy into the sexist double-standard that we expect more modest dress for women, but men can run around shirtless and working some Magic Mike look. I really don’t want to see men scantily clad either, unless I’m watching Baryshnikov performing ballet. I also don’t buy into the fit/fat argument – it’s acceptable for fit women to wear leggings that show every curve, but not for fat women to wear leggings which show every curve. I don’t buy into the mindset that young girls shouldn’t be a “distraction” to young men by wearing certain outfits (which is the rationale of many school districts who are now banning leggings as daily wear in their schools). It isn’t women’s responsibility to shield ourselves from males – that’s not the point.

I guess, what frustrates me the most, and perhaps this IS judgmental, is the idea that I think women who wear clothing which shows more than “I feel” they should (see how I’m qualifying all this subjectivity?) just don’t love themselves all that much. I can’t help but think if you’re showing a camel toe that you just don’t value the many other components of your self-worth – your personality, your wit, your sense of humor. You feel the need to display your body, and this could be because you’re seeking attention from others because you haven’t gotten enough before, because you have Daddy/Mommy issues, because you are riddled with self-doubt, etc.

I’m not a prude — I think those who know me would contend I’ve got a fairly normal sexual attitude. I have no problem with soft core porn, no real hang-ups, and am open-minded about how people want to live their lives behind their own bedroom doors. Or in their kitchens, or bathrooms, or whatever. I just don’t want to see others’ body parts when I’m out in public. Arms, fine. Legs, fine. Butts, no thank you. Vaginas? Definitely not.

I also think, as far as Moms go, I’ve been pretty restrictive of what my girls wear out in public in their developmental earlier years. I haven’t permitted midriffs, cleavage (whether or not they have it, it can always be attained by a push-up bra), cut-away backs, etc. I’ve spoken out against shorts that look like Daisy Dukes, leggings that make a butt look naked, and even the low-necked shirts (whether or not they had any breasts at the time). They’re finally at an age where they can wear (for the most part) clothing of their choice, and seldom do I say, “You’re *not* wearing that out in public.” More often it will be, “Are you sure you want to wear that to —?”

I want them to consider how they’re presenting themselves. I don’t want them second-guessing their worth, but I don’t think clothes MAKE our worth – I think they reflect how we value ourselves. I want them to wear clothes that say, “I’m strong and confident and I don’t need to show my body to reflect that.” I wish that classy was sexy again. We are such a hyper-sexualized society, though, I think my perspective will be relegated to the “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free,” era. Good thing I have my own blog where I can rant about whatever I want, then.

On Fatness and Rewards

My name is Lisa, and I’m a fat girl. I could say I’m overweight, I’m curvy, I’m still losing baby weight (my youngest is about to turn 2), or I could just say I’m a fat girl. Frankly, admitting the problem (that I eat too much, and have packed on the pounds the last 15 years) is very cathartic to me (remember – I’ve 12-stepped before). Soon I might be contacting you each individually and discussing my transgressions . . . Saying, “I’m a fat girl” fills me with the motivation to change that to “I’m a fit girl.” Now, before you get juiced up, I’m not judging anyone else who is fat. That’s your body, your business. I just needed to make a change for me, in my own life, and since this blog is quite self-centeredly devoted to me and my interests, I’m going to blog about my fatness today.

I’ve been overweight since I was 14 years old. It’s escalated with each child I’ve had (three by caesarean), and all very hefty babies themselves. As I’m nearing 40 (really, really “nearing 40”), I find it harder to get it off, and easier to put it on. Add in a sedentary job where I work at my computer hours on end, and the time finally came for a life change. I’m not on a diet. Don’t ask me for dieting tips – I have none. Want to talk weight-loss tips or radical lifestyle adjustments? I’m your gal. I’ve lost 60+ pounds and many, many inches from various parts of my body (admittedly, too many from the boobs, I state with great reluctance). It has taken an incredible amount of work to get there (I’m at 10 months now, in this “lifestyle adjustment”). However, it’s so rewarding!

Rewards

  • I can finally fit in non-plus size clothes. I have a closet full of lovely clothes I can fit in again, and am about 3 months away from fitting into clothes I’ve stored for 10 years (yes, that’s vanity, and I’m okay with it). I can fit into what I wore to my wedding, and next month, I think I should be able to fit into what I wore when hubby and I first met (a lovely little white sundress – I don’t care if it will be too cold to wear it – I’ll be wearing it around the house with a sweater when I fit in it!). 🙂 Reward: Feeling pretty, and girly, and attractive (instead of draping myself in sweats and battling insecurities).
  • I desire healthy eating, *even* when I’m fixing crap food that my husband loves/craves (this is probably as much a psychological reward as a physiological one). I really no longer crave sweets. Reward: fewer energy spikes and nasty sugar let-downs. I love vegetables, and am trying ones I’ve never eaten before. Reward: whole new food options available to me!
  • Most days, I can go without a nap (I get about 5 ½-6 hours sleep a night), even when the two babies are going down for one. Some days, when I’m up at 4:45 in the morning and know I’ll be up until 10 p.m., I slip in a half-hour restie-poo, but I’m not dragging through the day. Reward: more energy, more time in my day.
  • I can get through an hour workout (or more – increasingly, more) – sweaty, but gratified and feeling good afterwards. I remember when I first started, emailing my coach because I felt like I was going to vomit throughout my workout (she explained the whole lactic acid thing to me). Reward: muscle definition, natural endorphins, and as Elle says “happy people don’t kill their husbands”. Not that I would want to kill my husband. He’s amazing. But the positivity from exercising is really awesome, too.
  • I’m running my first 5K this weekend. Okay, I’m running and walking, but my goal is to run more than walk, and I feel confident I can achieve that goal. I have to buy new shoes – not for vanity, but because I’ve worn out my current tennis shoes. Reward: I can measure improvement in my health – not just on the scale, not just on the inches, but in my stamina and stability and my heart rate! Here’s a pic of my poor ratty Nikes, just for kicks.

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I feel that since I can tackle this weight gain, and WIN, I really can tackle any obstacle that comes my way (lookout PhD). When I’m out in public, and I see the incredible problem we have with obesity, I think that I don’t want to be a statistic – I don’t want to have a shorter life expectancy, or problems with chronic health issues. I don’t want to die before I see my daughters marry – or better yet, see them elope, but happily settled with a partner, I mean . . . This is a BIG reward. Maybe the biggest. Self-assuredness. I know, I know . . . those who’ve known me for years might argue that’s never really been a weakness, and relative to many, that may be true. Still, feeling you can accomplish the task set in front of you is a good thing.

These are all incredible rewards to me. I haven’t even needed to do my other “goal rewards” I’d originally intended (like a pedicure when I lost 20 lbs, or a night out on the town, etc). These are just naturally occurring, free rewards that I value simply because I can see the way the hard work is paying off. Kind of like when I’m enjoying an immaculate house that smells good after I deep clean for 6 hours. THAT kind of gratification. It really IS better than a bar of chocolate.

My next blog is going to tackle the goals. 🙂 Goals and rewards should go hand in hand, but I have to revamp my goals since I keep reaching them! Sweet problem to have, I tell you . . .

Sunday morning stroll through the woods

I decided to do a Sunday morning hike (primarily motivated by the fact my treadmill is on the fritz — again, and it was so gorgeously fall-lovely outside, I wanted to be a part of it). I thought I would amuse myself with a little photo-journal of the hike, with snippets of my own reflections as I progressed. And, if it’s an enticement to draw some of my BFFs I haven’t seen in ages to come stay with me for a week, all the better!

I started out by the rail road bed. My first musing as I’m walking is how Gerald O’Hara I’m getting, “Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, that Tara, that land doesn’t mean anything to you? Why, land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts.” I really dig having property. It’s a lot of work, but when we leave it to the kids, hopefully one out of the six will appreciate it. 🙂

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This is actually part of the old M-K-T rail line that runs across the southern boundaries of our property. This is where the meth heads used to come and burn the plastic off the copper wiring before we put up the gate, and gave a copy of the key to the landowner on the south side of the rail road bed. Now the meth heads just come and ask to “arrowhead hunt” which my husband generally agrees to because, in many ways, he’s nicer than I am. Or, possibly not as aware that they’re in fact drug abusers — something which I can pick up on in about 30 seconds.

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This is the “road” up the hill where husband likes to cut brush. He really, really enjoys cutting brush. Like, it’s a hobby for him. If he’s got some chump to follow and “paint the stumps” (put something on the stumps that kills them for good, so they don’t regrow) then he’s in hog heaven. He also likes to brush hog, hence my many, beautiful walking paths (center picture). Then, I just loved this shot of some redneck’s “hunting chair.” I think this has been there 2-3 years.

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Oh look! Two paths diverged into a wood . . . you can surely guess which path I took.

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This looks like a passel of Sunday afternoon family fun. Haul up the wood splitter, and we’ll be good to go.

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This is my *most* favorite hiking path to take on our property. He’s got about 12 different paths brushhogged off of this one. I can never remember what he calls it, though. “The old logging road?” That might be it. I also love playing the game of looking for the No Trespassing signs, which are ancient ones he’s wired up in some capacity, generally as a marker. No one but family is back in the middle of this area. Still, you can always say, “Follow the old logging road up past the old barn foundation (which is rotted away, but the cement is still there), and you’ll see the white no trespassing sign. Beyond that is the white sleeper stand, and then you’ll go left  . . . . “

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This is the white sleeper stand (deer stand), but it’s somewhat creepy because critters crawl in there, and the only people who might actually want something this secure to hunt in (as versus a small seat with a small railing 30 foot up in the air, for the *real* hunters) are also likely scared of encountering a family of possums, in a small, urine-smelling stand at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark. Or namely, me.

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Who could fail to appreciate walking in such beauty on a quiet, crisp morning? Not this gal. I was half-tempted to pick up some of the acorns I kept coming across, because I was thinking like a 4-year old (or rather, thinking how delighted Miles might be if I showed up with a handful of acorns for him, since I left him wailing at home with sisters because I wouldn’t let him come along). However, I didn’t have pockets in my exercise pants (what’s up with that, anyway?) and the only other spot would awkwardly be my bra. This was my sweet hiking companion, Lady the Beagle. She was with me about half the time, but the other half she was off baying magnificently to let me know she found a trail of a rabbit. She’s sweet. She’s no Trixie, but she’s got a good heart, and the pup is on lockdown since he’s been killing chickens.

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The creek crossing was dry, but it was a doosy to get down the hill to that point. Very good for my thighs, I’m sure. My fat thighs. They need to see more hill action. Then, another lovely brushhogged path husband made for me.

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This one is interesting — evidently on an iPhone you can take pictures with your volume button. Since I didn’t know that, and kept trying to adjust the volume up or down on my morning hike playlist, I got home to about 150 extra pictures. Interesting, yes? Rather looks like a hippy-lover’s acid trip. And, I would assume the majority of my reading audience has not dropped acid, so you can just trust me on this. Just say no to drugs.

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Then, a dilemma. Here are the soybeans, and here is the pasture (with cows and ragweed galore). I decided to take the path along the edge of the soybean field. Much longer way home, but walking through rag weed on a September morning didn’t sound that appealing.

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This is one of husband’s favorite deer tree stands. He calls it the “Sycamore Stand.” Three guesses why! I was so tickled when the soybean field ended, and I saw the fence row home (mind you, it was still about 3/4 mile from home). Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that the soybean field ended at the bottom of a monster hill. This next picture is me stopping to admire the fencing handwork of my husband — truly the best fence builder I know. It had nothing at all to do with gasping for breath and screaming calves.

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Oh look! Home, sweet home! And one happy, sweaty Mama. Got in 3.15 miles all told, and a nice Sunday morning.