Friday, September 30, 2011

waxing poetic {stupidity}

It's been sitting in the bathroom cupboard for weeks.

I cringed every time I opened the bathroom cupboard door and saw it sitting there, daring me to try.  I've been professionally Brazilian waxed a couple times this year, and though it's no walk in the park (it's more like a forest), it's easy to recover from and the results are outstanding.  So when I saw the box in the grocery store, I smugly put it in my cart and rejoiced in my hairless yoni resourcefulness.  Besides, I'd seen them wax me twice now.  I knew how to do it.  I have a friend who told me SHE did it!  How hard could it be right?

I took the box up on it's triple dog dare yesterday.

This is when everyone who's ever used an at-home-wax-kit on their yoni is cringing and sitting back in their chair preparing for the gore which this blog post is about to become.

  1. Heated wax:  Check!
  2. Instructions read and nearby:  Check!
  3. Oversized popsicle sticks:  Check!
  4. Swaths of hair yanking paper:  Check!

I started by smartly trimming things up and had myself a private little chuckle as I remembered Jason Bigg's character in American Pie Wedding where he shaves his pubic hair before his wedding and tosses it out of the window where it gets accidentally blown onto the wedding cake. 

That's about where the humor in this whole mishap ended.

I tested the wax temp on my wrist, and then laid down on my towel in the bathroom, got a stick and applied the wax to my unsuspecting bits.  The hair yanking paper applied, I pressed down firmly and quickly removed the paper, per the directions.  The memory of this specific sensation of pain all came flooding back from my cerebral cortex.  OUCH!  I quickly glanced at the paper, expecting to be gratified.  Nothing but wax.  "WHAT THE FUCK?"  I searched my brain for a reason and came up with nothing.  So of course I tried again.  RIIIIP!  OUCH!!!  Nothing again.  After a few attempts I realized that I was not going to be able to pull hard enough to produce results because I was starting to freak the fuck out.  My brain was halting my ability to inflict any further pain on myself.  That shit hurts and it hurts bad.  And to not be actually removing any hair, but instead just yanking on it, well fuck that.  FUCK THAT! 

So I'm laying there with wax covering half of my girly hemisphere, wax on my wrist, wax on my inner leg, wax everywhere the paper touched, and start wondering how I'm going to dig myself out of this mess.

I could hear "Calliou" and his annoying little whiny voice playing in the next room where my 3 year old was watching on my computer.  Ugh.  At least Max was occupied and happy and not going to walk in on me and be traumatized for life. 

I reached for the "after wax oil" and applied it, hoping desperately to remove the wax.  It worked a little bit, but I needed a full fix, so I sat on the ledge of the bathtub and attempted to shave.

By the way, body wax + razor = highly ineffective gluey razor.

An hour and 2 razors later, and several interruptions from Max, who wandered in, discovered my plight and offered his most vile "EWWWW!!!" comments, I was still sporting a 5'clock shadow, but I didn't care at that point.  I used more oil to remove the rest of the wax and hopped in the shower, disgruntled.  Then I noticed that the bathtub floor was covered in bits of curly hair covered wax drops.  Fuuuuuck.

At this point I had like 12.3 minutes to finish my shower, dress the kid and get to Aric's school to pick him up, so the hairy bathtub was going to have to wait.

I'm now resolved to just suffer through the grow out, learn my lesson and pay professionals to do what they're trained to do. 

Just another one of those "don't attempt this at home" lessons.

Lesson learned and filed under "if you've paid a professional to do this, you are probably not qualified to do it yourself." 

Friday, September 23, 2011

the employment gap of the sahm

*I've been tossing this idea around for a while and I wanted to share it here to encourage other parents to think about it for their own peace of mind and security*

I've been a "stay at home mom" since 1996 when my first baby was born.  Before that I'd done office assistant type of work, nothing much of a "career" to leave behind, but still, if I'd stayed in the workforce, my skills, abilities and experience would be much different and more valuable than what they are now, had I not been out of it for 15 years.  Being able to stay at home with your child is an amazing experience and one that benefits the entire family.  It's a tricky situation though because you're dealing with relationships.  Specifically a marriage.  And with half of marriages not making it, chances are you'll end up in a position of putting whatever education, experience and talent you have back to work at some point to help sustain yourself and your family.  Even if your marriage makes it, you'll probably venture back out to the workforce or build a business eventually.

I think this is a common issue with stay at home parents:  what to do in the child-rearing employment gap to keep up your skills, sharpen your saw, give yourself a greater feeling of success (let's face it, parenthood isn't the greatest "feel good" career out there), maintain your sanity, and make a difference in your family's well being.

Parents who stay at home know that they have some pretty amazing things going for them, as raising children is full of personal growth opportunities and experience to discover new talents and abilities, whether we like it or not.  How these opportunities, experiences and discoveries translate to your resume though?  Whether you are seeking employment now or not for many years down the road, do yourself a huge favor and begin to track, develop and expand on those resume rich experiences.

Here's some tips on how:

#1  Treat your job as a sahm as you would a professional career.

In your outside of the home career, you'd be having to master things like prioritizing goals, (ehhh...and making goals!), time management, organizing, synchronizing calendars and schedules with coworkers, making appointments, making sure your supplies are stocked, attending or facilitating meetings, managing employees, etc.  All of these things are also presented for mastering (or at least presented with the opportunities to master) in your sahm world. 

Here's a list of things that most parents juggle as they stay at home raising healthy happy kids.  (those of you who work outside the home while juggling kids do ALL of this at work AND at home.  Dude.  Major props!!)

Duties of a stay at home parent:

  • organizing
  • managing
  • budgeting
  • problem solving
  • conflict resolution
  • calendar syncing
  • time management
  • goal planning
  • establishing core values (creating mission statements for your family)
  • efficiency planning
  • creating a strategy for meeting goals, changing habits, etc.
  • meal planning
  • space planning
  • interior decorating
  • research and development 
  • educating (homeschooling, tutoring, supplementing)
  • meeting deadlines
  • family management 
  • event planning
  • schedule management
  • menu management
  • health advising
  • personal training
  • coaching
  • active listening
  • counseling
  • home maintenance
  • vehicle maintenance
  • personal shopping
  • housecleaning
  • small appliance repair
  • social media marketing
  • liaison (between kids/teacher/school/coaches/doctors, etc.)

I could keep going but I think you get the idea.  Think about this list and what you do at home...what could you add to the list?  Keep in mind that not all of these things you are going to have MASTERED.  Even if you picked two or three items on this list and decided to deepen your skill set in it, you'd be investing not only in the health of your family, but also in yourself and your future professional goals.  This list is just a reminder of the opportunities that you have available to you to enrich your feeling of accomplishment, you know, beyond getting a daily shower or just making it to the store for milk.  Sometimes it's all you can do!!  It's all about reframing!!

#2  Get Involved!
Community and group involvement isn't just for high school students looking to fill space on college applications.  Being involved in volunteer opportunities is a win/win for everyone.  You get to focus on something other than the all too often emotionally and physically exhausting job of being a sahm, and the organization gets much needed support!  The bonus is that you are showing to future employers or business partners that you have an interest in making your community a better place and you have a drive to follow your passions.  Nothing is more inspiring than following your dreams and passions!

  • pta
  • mothering type of clubs (MOMS Club, local mom Meetups, look in the newspaper or online for groups)
  • local hospital
  • humane society
  • library
  • ywca
  • homeless shelter
  • women's organization 
  • preschool coop
  • political affiliations and groups
  • church groups
#3  Get a hobby!
This is a hugely overlooked aspect of being a parent.  Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with everything demanded of us (see above list!) that we let our own personal interests and talents slip by, sometimes for years.  Investing energy into yourself and something that gives you joy is a super benefit to yourself, your family and your future professional career!  What you enjoy doing is what you should focus on in a career, because what we are passionate about is what wakes us up in the morning full of LIFE!  And you'll be good at it because you LOVE it!  Lots of careers are started as interesting hobbies, so think about how your current interests and hobbies could be translated into a career or business!  

#4  Continue your education
Don't immediately toss that occasional mailer from the local community college offering community and continuing education.  You don't have to "go back to school" and finish your BA or apply for your Masters.  Sign up for any ole class that sounds interesting or something that you want to investigate further.  Want to make yourself more marketable professionally?  Learn a foreign language!  Take a business management class!  Community colleges are wonderful resources for adults returning to college after being out of the workforce or school for a length of time, so check it out! 

#5  Work at home
Working at home is a great way to earn some additional income and maintain your professional skills.  Whether you're turning your hobby into a business or starting an in home daycare, working at home is an impressive feat and shines brightly on your resume!  Just be realistic in your endeavors.    The trick is to strive for a balance in home and career, and working at home can make that line fuzzy and boundaries unclear.  Set realistic expectations and clear boundaries to stay sane!

#6  Keep your resume updated every 6 months!  
Keep a hard copy file on hand so you always have it available to you no matter what.  File it with your birth certificates and other important papers.  Every year ask someone you trust to help you update it and keep it fresh with your latest endeavors, even if just to write down what new skills you are working on improving or hobbies you are investigating.

Keeping up with your professional skills and talents aren't just great for your immediate state of mind and having balance in your life, it also provides security so that if you do end up having to dive into the work pool again, you are prepared on a moment's notice.  Being a stay at home parent is a monumental challenge, and should be accepted as a valid career choice, so treat it like one yourself by taking it seriously!  Who knows, maybe someday we'll get paid for it. ;)

Friday, September 16, 2011

remembering mark

My high school boyfriend died September 3rd.  We started dating when I was 16 I think...and dated off and on until I was almost 19.  Our relationship was full of drama and heartbreak.  I never really dated anyone from high school, Mark was already graduated and working when we met, so a lot of our relationship centered around going to fancy dinners and spending the weekends together at his place or camping.  Once for his birthday I got us a cabin at a lake but I was too young to secure the reservation, so I had my mom call to finish it.  At the time, I felt so much older.  Looking back, I was so naive about how young I really was.  I never felt young when I was with him.

We were together for so long, and it was so long ago that I have a hard time remembering all the details, but I do remember this:

Mark loved playing guitar...I remember his bony fingers picking up and down the strings of his guitar, attempting some Queensryche song or mimicking his Joe Satriani or Stevie Ray Vaughn.  He would play for hours, so focused.

Mark loved cooking.  He was a line cook and always got off work reeking of onions and mexican food.  He taught me how to chop..."just chop like you've already cut off your fingers" he said when I said I was scared of cutting myself.  I still remember him whenever I chop carrots.

Mark showered with his 2 ferrets.  They would scratch the hell out of him, but he did it all the same.  They would steal his socks and hide them down in the basement.

Mark and I had such a dysfunctional relationship.  He was egotistical, jealous, insecure, but at the same time, so comforting, adoring, loving and giving.  I was immature, flighty, greedy, and though I wasn't in love with him throughout our entire relationship, I always loved him.  In many ways, he took care of me and we gave each other something that we both needed at the time.  We broke up and got back together so many times...I remember once coming back from California for the summer, depressed and lonely.  I called him, and the moment we saw each other, we sank into each other like an old pair of comfy jeans.  The relationship, was great when it was stable.  Other times...

I wanted to break free of him so many times.  I had outgrown our relationship and wanted to be a normal teenager, see other people, explore the world myself, etc.  When I was 17 I broke up with him (one of the many times!) and after arriving home late from partying, dizzy from having been drinking and exhausted from staying out so late, my mom was waiting for me, telling me that Mark had called.  He had just taken a handful of pills.  She had no idea where he was, so I ran out of the house and sped through red lights in the middle of the night across town to his house, to his sisters house, to his friends house (before cell phones and Facebook when you had to actually GO SEE PEOPLE if they didn't answer the phone).  He wasn't there.  I called my mom from a pay phone.  He was there.  When I pulled up at my house, there were emergency vehicles lining the street.  An EMT tried to stop me as I came running to the house, but I broke through and found him in sitting at my dining room table, slumped over as the EMT did vitals and prepped him for transport to the hospital.  "Why did you do this??" I remember asking.  "I don't want to live without you!" he said...

In the hospital, I remember having the very clear feeling that if I didn't go back with him, he wouldn't be so careful next time, and that scared the shit out of me.  I got back together with him right then and chalk on his face and stomach freshly pumped.  I remember thinking that once he was okay, I would break up with him...I didn't want to be with him, but there is a strange attraction to someone so desperate for you that they would kill themselves without you.  It was so confusing and sad.

I stayed with him for a while after that.  He moved to Kansas for a summer to work, and we sent letters and called and missed each other horribly.  When he came back, a person he worked with said I had cheated on him at a party we were both at.  Actually, I was in a closed bedroom with a mutual friend whom yes, I had a total crush on, but instead of doing anything sexual, I sat watching him do lines of coke, cringing the whole time.  Nothing happened.  But he wouldn't believe me.  So I drove to Mark's work, a Mexican restaurant, stormed passed the hostess, servers, and into the kitchen where I found my target, a 6'4" 300 pound black man who (line cook), called him out to the parking lot and screamed at him for a length of time before he decided I was nothing more than a fly buzzing around him, and went back inside to work.  He finally believed me.  Either that or thought I was the craziest bitch he'd ever met.  Hard to say...

When we met, he was 18 or 19...I don't remember.  He was already a recovered alcoholic, but he loved the taste of alcohol, so he'd drink O'Douls frequently.  When he turned 21, he decided he could handle it, so he picked up a four pack of beer and that was it...he started drinking again.  From then on, our relationship went from bad to worse, he got angry and callous, he told me secrets I wish I didn't know, and just changed into a different person.  This was right about the time I met Chip, so I was ready to let it go, I was done.

So Chip and I got married, and I heard from Mark less and less as he went off his own way, partying hard last I heard.

A couple years later, I was working at an employment agency and came across his brother and asked how Mark was doing.  Ends up he was in tragic accident shortly after we broke up in which he became paralyzed from the neck down.  He was a quadriplegic.  I went to visit him, and he looked like he'd lost 30 pounds off his already skinny frame.  He was pale and sick looking.  I was stunned, but I needed to connect with him, to show him I still cared and to be a friend.  Life has a way of getting away from us, and we lost touch, but always managed to find each other online throughout the years.  I'm so grateful for Facebook to be able to reconnect there.  His death is a complete shock, and one I'm still coming to grips with. 

Our past seems like a distant dream.  Now, with no evidence of our history, our shared time together is left to me to remember.  His was such a dramatic albeit important relationship in my life.  I'm struggling with letting go of the guilt I feel, as if there was something I could have done to prevent him from drinking again...from going on an out of town liquor store run...from letting his drunk friend drive (or just from driving at all since they were both drunk) and crashing, from ending up face down in a ditch so near death, only to wake up with a profoundly different life, from a life he wanted cut short, from so much suffering and regret.  I don't blame myself, as I believe everyone makes their choices, but the truth is I was there and I had a huge impact on his life at the time.  I hate knowing that.

I am grateful to have known him.  I'm grateful for the crazy memories, though I wish his memories included the full use of his body, running, playing, jumping, loving, dancing, playing guitar, playing with his son (he did father a son during one of our break ups), getting married, driving, etc.  I know he did the absolute best with the life he had, but my heart still breaks mostly from guilt.  His son is now 18 and looks so much like the Mark I knew...the Mark I loved and lost for so much of my teen years.  It's a weird circle of life...

I hope Mark is in a better place.  I don't know what I think about heaven or hell and angels and devils and God...but I do have a strong sense of Mark as being eternally present in the world, larger than life, not gone but only transitioned to a different state...much like I feel about my grandma, who passed in 2002.  Wherever he is, I hope he feels peace and absolute freedom.  I hope he doesn't regret his time with me.  I hope he forgives me.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Max and I had a little beetle adventure this morning...

a thousand little choices

Yesterday while cruising through some new blogs, I came across a link to this article by Dr. Hyman about ways to change your diet and lifestyle to have more energy and be healthier in general.

Yesterday in particular I was having an extremely low energy day, feeling sick with a sore throat and puny in spirit.  I totally acknowledge that the amount of time I spend sitting in front of my computer is relative to the amount of depression I feel, and being completely overwhelmed once the kids get home.  I let things pile up around me, and hadn't spent any time preparing for them to come home, so then I have to deal with the mess from the day, the emotional drain of the kids needs, their fighting, their hunger and being exhausted from their long day at school.

So coming across the article was timely and such a great reminder to spend more time in the column where doing things provides energy, and not to indulge for too long in the drain column (where my natural inclination tends to want to linger.)

I was going to make my own two lists, but after reading his I really can't think of anything that I could add or subtract (well, except a few things I added in red) to make it any more meaningful to here it is! 

Excerpt from: Six Ways I Changed My Life and How You Can Change Yours

How to Get More Energy
Simply make a list with two columns. In one column list all the things that give you energy. In the second column list all the things that drain your energy. Each day try to let go of one thing that drains your energy and add one thing that gives you energy.
Here’s my list. Take a piece of paper and make your own now.

My Energy Drains

• Not getting enough sleep (fewer than eight hours)
• Eating too much sugar
• Drinking too much coffee (more than one cup)
• Skipping meals
• Eating anything made in factory (junk and processed food)
• Eating bread
• Eating dairy
• Drinking more than three glasses of wine or alcohol a week
• Working too much
• Not exercising at least four times a week
• Not doing yoga
• Spending too much time on the computer
• Watching TV
• Not being outside in nature
• Not spending time with friends
• Getting dehydrated
• Letting myself get wrapped up in self-pity, worry, anxiety and jealousy
• Spending too much time sedentary (on the computer, on the couch, in the van, etc.)
• Making excuses for not getting stuff done and not claiming responsibility for actions, behavior or attitude

My Energy Gains

• Eating a high-protein breakfast (shake or eggs)
• Eating fresh, whole real food
• Having a protein snack in the mid morning and afternoon
• Eating 10 servings of vegetables a day
• Not eating three hours before I go to sleep
• Doing yoga
• Playing tennis
• Running in the woods
• Swimming in lakes or rivers
• Hugging my kids and wife
• Talking to friends
• Dinner parties with friends
• Helping others and volunteering
• Taking my vitamins (multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D and a few others)
• Drinking six to eight cups of filtered water a day
• Being creative in the kitchen and cooking for family and friends
• Thinking of my day as a sacred thing — a canvass for living an artful life — and shaping it to have good memories, good blessings and good feelings
• Learning new things about our extraordinary world and the people in it
• Waking up early and going to bootcamp and working out
• Preparing for the kids to get home, mentally preparing for helping them with conflict resolution, healthy communication
• Sharing my creativity and successes online with friends, getting good feedback (brings feelings of accomplishment and success)

As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.” We all get kicked off our plan from time to time. Something intrudes, somebody gets sick in your life, you may lose your job, your kids may do something stupid, your spouse may cheat on you, the stock market might crash, it might even rain! These are the inevitable struggles that are part of being human.
Let me share with you how I manage these struggles (yes, they happen in mine too), and how I stay motivated.

Overcoming Obstacles on Your Path to Health
Dealing with challenges in life is like surfing. You get on the wave, and all is great … and then the wave drops out from under you, or it grows into a huge wave and pummels you into the ground. When that happens, you paddle back out, get back up on the board, and keep surfing.
Here are some ideas on how to do that:
  1. Plan, plan, plan: You wouldn’t take a trip to climb a mountain or take a vacation to France without planning first. It is THE most essential activity you can do to create health. Plan your day, your week, your month and schedule in time for the things in your life that support health—food, fun, sleep, exercise, friends or whatever else puts deposits in your health bank account.
  2. Think of food first: Most of us are opportunistic eaters—when the opportunity comes, or when we get hungry we eat whatever’s in our path. In our culture that means junk food, fast food and vending machine “food like substances.” We live in a vast nutritional wasteland, a food desert. Every week plan where you are going to get all your meals. Think ahead; don’t end up in a food emergency where the only thing open is a fast food restaurant or convenience store. Think breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It will become a habit. Plan, shop, prepare, eat. Create an emergency food pack and buy quick-to-cook meals or make whole foods at home.
  3. Design fun and play into life: MacDonald’s was good for something—it gave us the ditty—“you deserve a break today.” Think of your day as a canvas and think of how you can paint yourself some fun. Learn new things—try yoga, dance, or learn a new sport. I like to get my exercise by having fun and playing not by going to the gym.
  4. Prioritize sleep: We have a second national debt crisis—sleep debt. And there is no way to trick biology and raise the debt ceiling. Get at least 7-9 hours sleep a night. Everything in you life will look and feel better and you will make better choices when you do this.
  5. Avoid drugs: Almost all of us use drugs every day to manage our energy. These include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and more. Think about taking a “drug holiday” for six weeks and see how much better you feel.
  6. Remember feeling well: When I get off track, I simply remember what it is like to feel great and what I have do to get there—eat better, sleep more, exercise more, or do nothing more!
Some of these habits might not be second nature. But our lives are about the thousand little choices we make every day. When I am really off track, I do a reboot—a week-long detox that resets my body, brain and rhythms. I use my UltraSimple Diet. It is a simple whole foods, sugar-, drug-, and allergy-free nourishing way of eating and living for one week that can create dramatic and rapid changes in your biology. Try it. Then you may remember what it feels like to be well, some of you for the first time.

Now I’d like to hear from you …
What steps have you taken to change your health? What obstacles do you face and how do you overcome them?

Have you tried taking a drug holiday like the one in The UltraSimple Diet? What were results?
Why do you think we live in a culture where the simple act of being healthy is so difficult? How can we change this unhealthy culture to one that supports optimum energy and vital well being?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.

To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD
I think we live in a culture where being healthy is so difficult because our current generation is a instant gratification culture where anything we want is  Ever seen Wall-E?  WE ARE ON THE SHIP, PEOPLE!  We are sitting in those fat suits, slurping on our fat shakes, completely plugged into the system that wants to keep us blind and happy in our own gluttony.  Getting healthy and STAYING healthy takes the discipline to unplug from the Matrix and working our asses off to accomplish our goals.  There is huge power in using the system to accomplish goals in new share and support each other to be healthy and happy outside of the system.  To live off the grid, to protest consumerism, to support small local businesses, to be more independent and healthy on our own, not because it's a fad.  Being and staying healthy now means retraining what we think about food, lifestyle and exercise and working hard for that discipline to retrain ourselves, our families, communities and culture.

I'm going to start by printing out this article and hanging it somewhere where I can see it everyday and getting off my lazy ass.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

waking up under the willa tree

If you've followed my other blog, you know I've been blogging for umpteen years over at Syma Says (it's now private and closed).  Syma was a play off my name (Amy + 1st letter of my last name "S" backwards:  AmyS=Syma).  You also know I recently got married to my dream guy and now have a new last name!  When coming up with a new blogger identity to reflect my new name, I tossed around similar ideas like Wyma, Wamy, and a variety of different variations.  Nothing worked.

I remembered I called myself "Willa" during a recent retreat with a group of friends where there were 3 Amy's and 2 of us were Amy W's.  "Willa" is a play off Wilbanks, my new last name, my Facebook page url is even "akawilla", so I'm assuming the name Willa as my new blogger identity.  She is free spirited, joyful, confident, funny, sensitive, powerful, gracious, sarcastic and thoughtful, all while guzzling Italian roast and doing one handed pushups with the added weight of 5 kids piled on top of her. 

The blog title.  A new name means new exploration within this new identity, right?  I feel like I'm just getting to know this new me.  So why "waking up willa?"  I love the idea of being full of life and awareness in my new name, fully embracing life in the moment and not looking back or going through life asleep.  That is my goal with this new blog (and in life in general!)

Main Entry: awake
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: become alert or cause to rise from sleep
Synonyms: arise, awaken, call, gain consciousness, get up, roll out, rouse, stir, wake, wake up          

Main Entry: alive
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: being animately existent
Synonyms: animate, around, awake, breathing, cognizant, conscious, dynamic, existing, extant, functioning, growing, knowing, live, living, mortal, operative, running, subsisting, viable, vital, working, zoetic

So what to do with Syma?  Ehhh.  That blog was getting stale and boring and I felt like it was becoming too I was starting to blog about the same things over and over.  Also, I felt icky about the constant searches leading to my blog which were things like "zombie boobs" and "naked gore".  Suffice to say, the new blog will not have any graphic images, as I just don't want that kind of traffic.  I will be posting more pictures of myself, as well as post surgery updates and pics, but I'll probably host pictures like that somewhere else password protected. ;)

So with that introduction:::Welcome to Waking Up Willa!  :D