Friday, November 30, 2012

Home is where the ♥ is

"Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home." - Philip Phillips, Home

On this last day of November, I find myself sprawled out on the new carpet in the new family room of my new house, reminiscing about pretty much everything in my life that's led to this moment.  To do this properly, I crept down to my semi-scary unfinished basement and dug out my "memory box" - a rubbermaid storage container I've had since high school that is filled with the most ridiculous content - notes passed in class; funny pictures from school dances; dried up flower petals; sentimental greeting cards; sappy love letter-esque emails from long-burned-out old flames. As you might imagine, there are lots of laughs and lots of tears (and LOTS of embarrassment) stuffed in this old container.  It's sort of funny and perfect to see that over the course of the last 13 years or so, I've pretty much stayed the same person.  Always biting off more than I can chew and enjoying even the most stressful parts of it.  Passionately throwing myself into opportunities and relationships. Always hoping for more and fighting for the way I think things should be. And - always feeling bittersweet around the holiday season. 

At the age of 30 and for the first time in a loooong time, something feels different.  A good different.  A warm, fluffy, sunshine and rainbows kind of different.  I suspect it has to do with the fact that I am very happily settled in my new home.

Starting to decorate for Christmas

Looking forward to preparing many great meals here!
 Cozy Master Bedroom

That's right - we've only been here for about three weeks, but it has definitely already made the transition from house to home.  Cameron loves running from the window in Brian's office down the hallway into our bedroom and smashing his face up against the glass panes of the door that leads to our balcony. On Saturday mornings, Brian clicks on the fireplace in our room and we stay put until Cameron peeps.  I have a kitchen that fits all my goods and gadgets and have already gotten to make all kinds of fun messes while cooking meals full of love.

And Mowgli, our burly little Westie, has all kinds of nooks and crannies in which to hide his chew toys and a cozy place to lay.

Cameron visits his new neighborhood playground

Mama and Cameron snuggle on the couch before bedtime

 So, on this last day in November, a month where most people pause to consider all the things they are thankful for, I'm content to share that I'm most thankful for 30 years worth of memories and experiences I can look back on AND the opportunity to make another 30 (or 60!) years worth in our new home.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Road to Cleanse (a preface)

I can tell you how this nonsense started- so follow me on my crooked path to cleansing!

Earlier this year, my wonderful primary care physician took a new job across town. Rather than stick with her, I took my cardiologist's suggestion and sought out a practice closer to where I live and work.  Happily, the suggestion had an opening (for me & Brian) and jumped at it.  Because of my colorful medical history, I set up a "meet and greet" appointment with my new doc. My one nagging concern was that I didn't want to have a doctor that treated me like their personal science project/side-show freak.  There have been a few time since my heart attack where I've actually seen a medical professional's eyes light up as they reviewed my chart..... and I really want a primary care doc whose sole purpose is to treat me for the flu and see me once or twice a year.  Brian, who was stricken with mono during the late summer/early fall, got in to see him first.  To my husband, our new doctor was nothing of note - he did a good job, ran the appropriate tests and sent him home with instructions to take it easy. 

The day of my meet and greet, I was having a typical manic-mama morning.  Getting myself and Cameron out the door was shaping up to be an enormous task and I was the first office appt. of the day.  So I threw on the first hanging dress I grabbed (to avoid time wasted ironing), microwaved a Morningstar breakfast bun and made sure to stop at Russell's for my regular 8 oz. of Kaldi's coffee. When I climbed out of the car to drop Cam at daycare, I realized that I hadn't shaved my legs.  Oh well, I thought.  I only have two meetings today - it's not like anyone will notice my legs behind my desk or under the table at lunch. And on to my doctor's appt. I went.

Upon arriving at the office, I sipped on my coffee as I filled out my new patient paperwork.  A nurse called my name and I headed back to be weighed/measured/poked/prodded.  "101!" she proclaimed, rolling her eyes and muttering tiny thing under her breath.

I paused. 101.....?!?!?!?!?!  Yes, this is a small number.  Yes, I am a "tiny thing".  But the reality of this small number hit me hard - since moving out of my home in July, I had gained weight. Approximately 5% of my total weight.  I knew that I hadn't had the time to exercise as much as usual or cook as much as I'd like - but I tried to make up for these realities with purposeful food choices throughout the day, longer workouts when I made it to the gym and more activity in the work day. It was clear that I already knew what worked for me and what didn't.  And, I was upset with myself and knew that, for my sanity and my health, needed to get my heart healthy lifestyle back on track.

I sat in the exam room, swigging my coffee and playing on my iPhone.  In came the intern.  He sat down, pulled out his laptop and prepared to get a verbal account of my medical history.  I wondered how far along he was in his training and if he'd choose general practice for his career.  I put my coffee cup down and put my phone away.  The intern turned towards me and introduced himself - Hello, Rachel. I'm Dr. XXXXXXXX.

For the second time that morning, I paused.  The intern -this kid with spiky frat boy hair and sideburns - was not an intern at all.  He was my new doctor.  As I suspected (and what stalkerish googling confirmed) was that my new doctor was also younger than me. How in the world did Brian fail to mention that our new primary doctor was a fresh faced 20-something year old who looked like someone we'd have a beer with?!!!!!  I suppose that's something men don't really pay attention to.....

Dr. X started the physical exam.... and I started cringing.  Oh my god, he's touching my hairy legs. Why didn't I shave?? Oh no - he's sticking that tongue depressor in my mouth and I have the worst coffee breath.   And then, happily, logic and sanity regained control.  He was wonderful. He listened intently to my history, asked pertinent questions and explained everything he was doing.  I was not a science experiment or the side-show freak. I was a patient who needed to get her flu shot before she left the office. So, in the end, Dr. X is stuck with me because he is a good doctor.

I made it to my car before I started laughing out loud and texting friends.  But, a storm cloud loomed over my head - how am I going to get back on track?? It's not like I've been eating donuts and copious amounts of cheese.  As I've shared in the past, it's been a struggle to keep a heart healthy focus over the last few months - when the serendipitous moments arrived, they were perfect.  However, more often that not, quick and convenient slide in to replace fresh and health.  How unfortunate and silly it is, to live in a time where it is easy and convenient to treat your body badly.

I arrived at work and in a passing conversation about some looming deadlines the frenzied timeline ahead, my boss noted "I feel a cleanse coming on."  Over the last year that I've known her, she's undertaken a 21 day detox/reset cleanse twice.  It's not about losing weight - just about getting focused, channeling your body's energy, treating your body well and getting back on track (if you've derailed).  I always thought it was craziness - mostly because I didn't understand the diet suggestions and because, really, I thought I'd be a sad shell of myself without the treat of coffee and wine (8 and 5 ounces respectively).  As she explained the process to me and as I asked others in my daily scope of interaction to weigh in, I realized this could be a wonderful way to get my personal heart healthiness back on the track I want to be on, to celebrate moving into our new home, and to prepare for the inevitable eating extravaganza that comes with the holiday season.

So - cheers to 21 days without meat, dairy, caffeine, alcohol or anything processed.  I'm sure that when my cleanse ends (on Thanksgiving Day) I will be thankful for EVERYTHING in my life, especially the opportunity I made to take care of myself.

"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing." - William James


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Latte Baby (A note on diversity)

When I worked at Banana Republic, I consumed alooooot of Starbucks.  My drink of choice was a venti 6-pump vanilla nonfat Caramel Macchiato - I usually had two per shift. I cringe now at the thought of how much sugar and caffeine I needed (wanted? survived on?) or thought I needed to get through the day.  So upon leaving BR for Habitat for Humanity, I kicked the my habit and introduced plain old black coffee  into my routine. My friend Jeremy and I used to work together and he'd make our coffee run each morning (at least until I was pregnant) - my order was always the same: "grande coffee with 1 splenda and half & half to the color of this" - and pointed to the inside of my arm. And when my coffee came back, swirled with enough dairy to indeed match the color of my arm, I was pleased.

You're probably wondering why the heck I'm telling you all of this - and really, the point is to acknowledge that my skin is brown (well, duh).  And Brian is white and we made a freaking adorable dual-ethnicity baby.  I know what it was like to grow up a minority in my community - there wasn't another student of color in my grade school until I was 10 (not counting my brothers). I grew up in a predominantly white suburb of St. Louis and while I was used to being "different", from an ethnic perspective, I'm just one thing.

Relevant Sidenote: Thoughout this post, you won't see me use the word "race".  I understand race to be a social construct and make-believe way to segregate people.

Lately, I've found myself in a number of conversations with parents of multi-ethnic and/or differing ethnic background children.  And, like me, these parents are worried about something that they can't quite articulate yet - but are scared will happen nonetheless.  For me, it's this idea that, if I don't create a purposefully diverse & inclusive experience for Cam, that he'll feel lonely or like he's missing out on some part of himself.  Or that he'll feel like an outsider or the token mixed kid... Does this make sense? I mean, I think all parents worry about their kids happiness/adjustability...... but I guess I'm just worried that we live in a crazy world with racism and hate and people who hurt each other all the time over things like nationality and skin color and history.  And I don't want MY kid to be one that gets hurt. 

There were times when Cam was little and people mistook me for his nanny.  I had to laugh when an old friend shared the same experience about raising her daughters in NY.  Now, she's thinking about moving back to the midwest and thinks "it" (hating/judging/ignorance) will be worse here.  And, it might be, but they working to make it happen.  I do think you have to work at giving your kid(s) the experience you want them to have.  One of my co-workers is semi-step mommy to her boyfriend's daughter, who is white and black.  They want her childhood to reflect both cultures, which is a little challenging in a city as segregated as St. Louis... but they are willing to give it a go.  So it makes me feel better that there are other parents thinking about diversity as part of their child's upbringing.

So, I guess this will be an ongoing topic as Cam gets old and whenever BGS arrives on the scene (who'll most likely not be white, indian or a combination of the two!).

“A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world." - Barbara Kingsolver

"Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without. ” ― William Sloane Coffin Jr.