Wednesday, March 30, 2011

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master

I love poetry. I don't write it very well, but I have memories of creating silly little poems from the time I was five or six. This is before my phase where I was going to be a fashion designer (that one stuck until I was about 19 and realized I couldn't draw or sew).  I never even realized how much I wrote until I found a box of old paper work in some kids things my mom sent out to me. It was a Nike shoe box, and there was horrendous poem after poem in there about heartbreak (my own), boys I liked (I had totally forgotten who they were until I read them, and then I laughed), and even about my cat. 

The best part of that box was that it showed I was always writing. Somehow or another, writing something, anything, has kept me together all of these years. Even if I don't remember writing it. 

Now my kids are into poetry in a small way. Although they were somewhat forced by having to perform a poem they picked for an oratory contest in school, they both really got into it. My son memorized his poem, "Steve the Super Hero" by Ken Nesbitt and did hand actions with it as well. My daughter and I picked this poem by Rudyard Kipling. You may know him for writing The Jungle Book which was the basis for the subsequent Disney movie, but he was also an amazing poet. When she recites this (from memory, I'm so proud), I get teary. Its beautiful. 

Happy rainy Wednesday

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Kick depression's butt with Couch to 5K By Felt Tip Inc.

I have never thought of myself as a runner. Or someone who was into exercise for that matter. Sure, I like to ride my road bike around Langley in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, but given the duration (at least an hour) and the difficulty in getting out the door (impossible), I have never ridden as much as I'd like. I always thought that getting fit would happen at some point in my life, but I never knew when nor did I have the motivation to make it happen.

As one gets older, one takes a critical look in the mirror and thinks, "Wow." One then walks away from the mirror feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and in search of the whoopie pies that your daughter was making the other day. It seems easier to stuff our faces for comfort than actually figure a way out of your rut. Well, this winter, I had enough of the rut.

Anyone who lives in Vancouver knows that the rain can be constant. If it isn't raining, its gloomy or about to rain. Sometimes it rains sideways, other times it can be so loud that it sounds as though your roof will come crashing in. Unless you have a gym pass, you don't get out much. This winter, the rain threatened to eat me alive. I was getting so down in the dumps that I knew I either had to see a doctor about depression or get out of the house. I choose to get out of the house.

I downloaded Couch to 5K 8 weeks ago. This is an app for my iPhone that helps you get your fat butt off the couch and begin a running program. I began this program as a way to fill my day, get some exercise, and alleviate the feelings of gloom. I've began running before, only to stop as soon as the shin splints would kick in or my built in lazy gene took over. This time, for whatever reason and most likely due to the app, I managed to keep going.

Couch to 5K takes you through a cycle that breaks you in slowly. You run for 30 seconds, walk for a minute, and so on. Each week you go further and run more. The app mixes up your runs, so that you don't feel bored or expect the same thing day in and day out. With ear phones plugged in, it tells you when to start and stop, and even gives you the option of tweeting your results (I choose not to tweet).

Perhaps it was the challenge. It becomes almost like a game. As each day ticked by and I completed the run, I became really interested in going again. Given the break in pace, I never had shin splints. I can also credit the shoes that I purchased from my husband. Zoot makes a great pair of running shoes. I've never had a pair that comfortable and more suited for my big, flat feet.

I'm on the end of week 7 of the 9 week program, and I can say that I am now well and truly addicted to running. This app makes it so easy to get out there, that even people with fat butts and a plethora of children in tow can do it. I have my three older kids ride their bikes, and I run with my toddler in a Mountain Equipment Coop jogging stroller. I was so determined to get out there and run though, that I was hitting the track with a double stroller and a pissed off baby.

In short, Couch to 5K does exactly what it says it will. It gets you off the couch and turns you into a runner. 8 weeks ago I never thought I would run for 25 minutes without falling over. Now I can do it and still walk after.

Exercising every day has saved my sanity this year. What they say about releasing endorphins is true. If you need a pick me up, get off the couch and go for a run. You won't feel better overnight, but you definitely will feel as though you joined the human race again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Embace your messy self housewives: What you must and must not clean

I am a clean person stuck in a house full of extremely messy people. This is a major source of angst for me.  Why you may ask? Well, for starters, whenever I sit down to work I am surrounded by paper products. Cut out images of Ben 10, pieces of scotch tape stuck to the hardwood, and just today, a piece of gum wedged in the crack of the floor.

And the toys! There are toys EVERYWHERE. Handy Manny's head is somewhere in the corner (I swear I haven't tried to analyze my child for ripping his head off and casually tossing it) , Buzz Lightyear lies face down on his buttons on the couch, causing him to talk and move his head so that it looks like evil is sprouting from the throw pillows. Even the fish tank is not exempt from mess. I fished three toy cars out of it yesterday, although I'm sure the fish were delighted in suddenly acquiring a Hummer.

Amidst such a mess all the time, I can do one of two things.

A.) I can clean all day every day. Pro: My house would be clean. Con: I would spend all day cleaning, and I think cleaning is one of the most soul sucking actions you can perform on a daily basis. Its right up there with constant rain and shopping in Costco on a Saturday. It drains your spirit.

B.) I can clean selectively. Pro: Parts of my house would be clean. Con: I would need to turn a blind eye to the other parts. This requires me to wear ski googles as I walk throughout the house each day. Lucky for me, ski goggles are plentiful in my garage, but they scare the baby who has no idea who I am and frankly, they are itchy.

This leaves me with a conundrum. Obviously I am going to choose Plan B, because I'd rather have a half messy house than have my soul and my passion emptied down the sink along with the drain-o that may or may not dissolve the action figure that my son put down there. But in choosing Plan B, I have to decide what NOT to clean.This list could go on all day, and who has time for such things. Rather than focus on the NOT-cleanables, I will state what you absolutely must clean:
  1. Pets - Creatures that are alive and living in your home must be cleaned. If they need bathing, bathe them. If their litter box stinks to high heaven, clean it out. I never scoop the poop because I always leave it too long. Rather, I take everything in a plastic bag and I dump that crap straight into the garbage can. I also have fish, which I manage to neglect for at least a week longer than I should. Our poor Betta 'Ben 10' looks at me forlornly each morning as he dances for food, so he isn't as easy to ignore as the 40 gallon aquarium. When it gets stanky, I clean it.
  2. Your fridge - It is simple to ignore the fridge. After all, we stuff it with food that will cover up the shelves so we can't see how messy it is. Unfortunately, if you ignore your fridge for too long, the leftovers that you have shoved to the back will start to take on life. And as we've said here today, if it lives you must clean it. Imagine how disgusting it is to find that your toddler cracked an egg that somehow managed to get itself under the fruit crisper. You wrongly blamed the apples, until you discover that you had a colony of something living under the bin. It was a sad day in bacteria history when I wiped that one out.
  3. Your floor - I used to have carpet. When we first moved into the house and everything was brand spanking new, I would vacuum pretty lines into the rug every single day. The vacuum would be plugged up with new carpet fiber, which just made me more determined to keep it sparkling. Flash forward 5 years later, and after potty training two boys who decided that the rug was certainly safer than the actual potty, my carpet was toast. Out it came, to be replaced with pretty hardwood. And now I can't ignore the floor. I invested in a steam mop to make it easier, and I can say that this is the only part of cleaning that I enjoy. That steam mop just makes stains disappear. Its bliss, despite the fact that you can sometime see the tracks of mop around the toys that I leave on the floor.
The key to staying sane when you are a clean person living amongst the mess? Embrace it! Embrace your messy self! Don't beat yourself up (or the others around you) for their inability to keep your house as clean as you'd like it.You can use my mantra if you like:

Do what you can.

And I have a set of ski googles somewhere around here if you want to borrow them.