The Hardest Part of Abundance

Bedside Books

I have a confession. My name is Gina and I’m addicted to printed matter.

Yes, I have an eReader and a cell phone with a reading app and spend an inordinate amount of time reading online, but I still love to encounter words attached to actual paper. I love books — no doubt — and have amassed quite the collection over the years. I’m also very fond of well-written magazines like Bitch and O and the ones that come with my Sunday New York Times.

Yes, I’ll confess to that, too. I take the paper. The paper paper. I read the daily Times electronically, but I can’t give up my Sunday ritual of coffee and the paper. I won’t. I savor them, flipping the crisp pages and map-folding them to the size and shape that allows me to read with one hand free for that cuppa.



The trouble with books is that they are so much easier to buy than to read.


I wish I could remember where I read this quote. Well, I remember where I read it. I was in my studio. But I can’t narrow it down any further than that. And looking to see what’s on top of the pile doesn’t help because there are more piles of books and magazines than would make that practical.

Anyway, the point.

I finished reading Truth & Beauty: A Friendship last night. It was heartbreaking and wonderful and I’ll review it soon. But finishing it left me with a conundrum.  What to pick up next? It isn’t like I don’t have any choices. I have too many choices.

I have at least 20 books in process. I do that — start a book and then see something shiny and then start that, too. I often pick a book back up and finish it months after dropping it for something else. So, is there something in that pile I want to revisit?

There are stacks of books that are the “and this too” group. When I get going with a favorite author or subject, I’ll be at the bookstore and see something interesting in the same vein and will grab it to read … next? … later? … ?

Then there are the new, new, new books from my most recent trip to The Bookloft, where I inevitably purchase a dozen titles. There must be something about being away from home and out of my regular routine that deceives me into believing that I have endless time to read.

There are the guilt books, too. I have a knack for being friends with folks who write and always, always, always buy a copy when they publish something. Oftentimes, I love them and read them pretty quickly, but there are a handful that I feel obligated to read that keep staring back at me from the shelf.

The final stack is from our library. I currently have 5 — five — not-small books from our glorious local library. If pressed, I’ll admit that there’s absolutely no way I’ll read all of them before they are due. Truth be told, I’ll likely only start one, get super-involved in it just as it’s time to turn it in, and then order my own copy. By the time it comes, I’ll have moved on to something else and it will end up in the “in process” pile.

So, fie on you, abundance! Choosing reading material is easy, but choosing what to read now is a mix of excitement, dread, anticipation, and overwhelm. Sigh.

Books, books everywhere and not a word to read.

I suppose I’ll head to the bookstore.

Homeschooling: Not my first choice, but a good decision.

A (School) Room with a View

As you may have surmised, I am the co-parent to several kiddos. A couple of them I birthed and a couple of them were pretty neat bonus gifts in my marriage to Ned Andrew. All of our kids come with a diagnostic code or two that makes parenting them a little different than the manual would indicate.

B is our only boy-child. He’ll tell you, right up front, that he has autism. What he might not tell you is that he’s scary smart. As in finish-the-Weschler-IQ-test-without-hitting-a-ceiling smart. As in that’s-okay-I-don’t-need-to-go-to-class-I-memorized-the-textbook-the-first-week-of-school smart. Yep. He’s that kid. He can’t tie shoes (seriously) but he could invent better ones.

I homeschooled both of the little kids (as we call the two I birthed) for four years back when I lived in East Tennessee. When we moved to Middle Tennessee in 2007 — so that I could take that job — we made sure to relocate to a county that has an amazing reputation for including kids with disabilities in their general classrooms. It worked for B’s remaining elementary school  years. It didn’t once he got to middle school.

I may sit down and write a long post as to why at some point, but I’ll have to work through some more stuff with my therapist before I can do that in something other than 40 point all caps and without using words that would inspire my grandma to soap my mouth. Let’s just say it wasn’t a good fit and move on, shall we?

Which brings us to the alternatives. It looks something like my being home with a child who learns at the speed of light and moves even faster. I wasn’t sure I was up for it again. I really do enjoy my work and was just getting re-launched in my coaching and facilitation bliss. But I also love, love, love my son and want him to be happy.

So, we came home. I purchased an online curriculum that allows him to pretest on every lesson. We have an agreement that if he scores a 90% or above on the quiz, he can skip the lesson. If he scores below that, he has to study until he scores at least an 80% on the test. This was weird for me at first because I am so not into grades and scores, but, please recall, that my kiddo has autism. He needs to  know the rules and they need to stay the same. Every day. Always. Except when I am teaching him to be flexible. But that’s another post.

We have a semester behind us. Officially 100 days — the state requires 90 — of learning our way. I have to admit that I am enjoying it and B is too. We have a rhythm to our days — we work together in my studio in the morning and then he takes off for his Minecraft/Electronics/Lego NXT/Boy Mess in the afternoon. He educates us on all sorts of fascinating topics each night at dinner. (Yep. We all eat dinner together.) Since we have a no-electronics-after-dinner rule in our house, after his bath, he gets tucked in with a book and typically reads 3-4 titles a week.

Gone are the 10:30 am phone calls from the school to come retrieve my bruised and crying child from yet-another take down by their staff. Gone are the endless projects that require my boy with a significant learning disability in written expression to take that 8-lane-highway brain of his and express his thoughts via bicycle. Gone are the homework battles, the 4-hour IEP meetings, and the worry that all we are accomplishing is the isolation and desolation of this person.

Nope. Homeschooling was not my first choice, but it was definitely a good decision.

Hey! Even *I* Can Do This…

Having completed workout 30/200 today, officially hitting the 15% complete mark, and seeing 173.5 pop up on the scale it dawned on me that:

  1. I am actually doing this thing for real.
  2. I am making progress in spite of all of the reasons I sat on my ass and managed to end up weighing nearly 200 pounds without a pregnancy to blame.
  3. It isn’t nearly as hard as I worked it out in my head to be.
  4. 90% of it is emotional and only about 10% of my lack of fitness is truly physical in spite of plenty of – well see #2.

See, I have a medical diagnosis that gives me a “get out of guilt free” card on the fitness front. I am not going to tell you what it is right now because I don’t want every wanna-be-doctor on the web giving me advice on what to do about it. Just suffice it to say that I have used this diagnosis to buffer any thoughts of better health. As in: “Oh, I could never sleep through the night, lose weight, run a mile, etc because I have ____.” It is true that I have to be careful with myself so that I don’t push my body into a relapse, but there is nothing to say that I can’t move my body as long as I observe those limits.

Everyone in my family of origin is overweight. I am actually the smallest of the bunch. Yesterday, I saw a packet of information about WLS on my parents’ kitchen table and had to catch my breath. Without starting a blog war on personal choice, let’s just say that WLS would be a risky option for my stepfather, and the idea really caused me to pause. I have been following Allan’s progress as he follows the post-surgical diet without having the surgery, and agree with him on one major point: WLS does not remove all of the reasons you eat too much food, it just makes it physically difficult to do so.

When I asked my mom about the packet, she said that they had gone to the seminar because my stepdad’s doctor suggested it. They have decided that it would be too risky for him and are teetering between giving up on fitness altogether and looking for another solution. Seeing an opening, I mentioned that I had made a commitment to move 200 times this year and have lost about 15 pounds since the beginning of June. She looked at me like I had announced that I had earned a free trip to Mars and said, “How’d you do that???”

And that is when I realized what a zealot feels like. I have the answer, but it is going to sound like a brush off. The obvious answer is, “I exercise 4-6 times a week, and watch what I eat.” But the real answer is, “I came to a point in my wallowing where I decided that I had a choice in the matter and decided to make that choice. I still struggle with self-esteem, and all of the other stuff that gets in the way of my living my authentic life, but I am not waiting until I have all of the answers before I start moving in the general direction of where I want to be. That includes my health.”

What was the epiphany *for me*? It was redefining “fitness” from looking like a swimsuit model, running marathons, and wearing a size 4 to improving my endurance, making a commitment to move, and not giving up when that first rush of “I am going to look like a swimsuit model” wore off. The frustrating thing about an epiphany is that those aha moments aren’t easy to share. Of course, some folks are better at it than others. They are the ones who write the books, make the videos, and get the contracts. But maybe my writing that it isn’t magic or voodoo or money or talent that ultimately gets the pounds off, and that even *I* can do it – with all of my excuses and neuroses – it will inspire someone to say, “Hey, maybe I can tackle a personal goal, too. I have nothing to lose.”

Soap Box of the Day: Wendy has been ranting for a couple of days about some negative responses to the new Dove “Real Beauty” Ads. She has done such a phenomenal job of flogging the geniuses who think a size 10 female body is somehow defective that I am officially stepping off of the soap box for today to give her some extra space up there. Rant on, Wendy! (And in case you are a deluded schmuck who believes that a size 10 is “chunky” you probably ought to quit reading my blog, ’cause that’s the size I will be at my goal weight. So there!)


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