Category Archives: self-reflection is a beeotch

Responsible Giving

Our little world has been touched in the last month by serious illnesses suffered by people in our community. A mother in John’s preschool class. A woman from our church who has mentored me for the last year. And then the ordinary challenges of life that are joyful yet hard – like a pregnancy’s third trimester. As you may have noticed from my spending some blog currency on posting recipes, I love to cook. I grew up in a household of 10 and learned to cook by mass producing food. I almost can’t look at a recipe without doubling it. So it’s very natural to me to want to provide “food comforts” to friends who need it.

One of the magical things about WordPress is it tells you what posts people are looking at when they visit your blog. One of the top hits is a post I wrote back in January on “Grocery Shopping on $200 a Month.” Since we signed up for a CSA this summer, I’ve backed off from shopping once a month to shopping weekly again so I could be sure to use all of our CSA goodies. I also had an unusually high amount of freelance work this summer that have made our normally super-tight summertime finances less critical.

All of these things have somehow added up to my spending even more time in the kitchen and giving away more than usual (and repeatedly blowing our monthly grocery budget). Not that I didn’t do these things before now, but the frequency and arguably the need is greater at this moment. And something else too that probably reflects something about my personal character flaws: I’m finally not giving merely out of duty. When I was obsessed with budgeting and sticking strictly to our grocery allowance, it actually hurt a little to give even the least expensive meal away. I almost always only gave when prompted by social pressure or guilt or obligation. I was so caught up in my bottomline that I became a Scrooge. And I’m so ashamed to admit this when I think about how all the people who have been incredibly generous to us over the years.

Now I’m out here sitting on my mental stoop trying to figure out how I can be a good steward of our money while freely and unreservedly giving to others. Do you put a line in your budget for these things? Do you just practice giving until you have an attitude adjustment? I’m sending this question out into the Internets. Give me a sign.



Filed under it's so responsible being me, money matters, self-reflection is a beeotch

The Body Project

We’ve been out of town for almost two weeks now. In just over a week, I did 10K training runs in St. Louis, in a little town north of Dallas, and near the Ouachita National Forrest in Oklahoma.

This is blog-worthy because I have never, ever continued a workout routine while on vacation.

Like pretty much every woman alive, over the course of my 31 years I’ve embarked on a handful of epic “Body Projects” and they’ve all been fundamentally motivated by a profound dissatisfaction with the way I looked. In the process, I’ve discovered it can be hard to sustain the motivation to exercise when it is primarily driven by a negative self-image. Even worse is I’m fairly well schooled in the feminist literature on how my often negative body image is created through vehicles like the media, and then enforced through participating in group self-criticism with other women. It’s hard to have a lengthy conversation with another woman without one of us bringing up how gross we think we look and how we really need to do something about it. And I’m usually the one bringing it up.

When I started running to raise money for Compassion International’s Child Survival Programs back in January, I was motivated by getting across the finish line in July for mothers and babies rather than losing inches. I started drinking less alcohol because it dehydrated me and made my runs miserable. I made more healthy food choices because it meant I could run faster.

I am finally starting to think of my body as an instrument rather than an ornament. And I have never felt better.


Filed under com10K, it's so responsible being me, self-reflection is a beeotch

Bad Mother Moment

I have a sometimes unfortunate competitive streak. I like to win. Win, win, WIN-WIN-WIN. This has somehow extended to the group of people I’m running with to raise money for Compassion International’s Child Survival Programs. That whole “encouragement” part of running has instead become a competition.

And I know this kind of running should be all about “besting yourself,” and “beating your own time,” and, you know, raising money for mother and babies.

But I’m having a horrible time crushing the desire to beat everyone across the finish line too.

As a result of that, after the Shamrock Shuffle 3K, I signed up for a 5K that I pretended was my “practice 5K” for the 5K race the whole team is going to run next month. Really though, I thought of it as my “Secret Training 5K” were I would work on getting faster and then BEAT EVERYONE NEXT MONTH HAHAHAHAH.

I had two goals for the race: 1) run it in 33 minutes and 2) never stop to walk.

I was doing pretty well until the middle of Mile 2 when I was running up The Longest Hill Ever into an incredibly strong head wind. I kept running, but really wondered if walking wouldn’t be faster since it felt like the wind was pushing me back with each leap into the air. The first goal was out the window by the time I reached the final loop leading to the finish line.

My 3-year-old was jumping up and down when he saw me enter the loop. He had been devastated that he couldn’t run the race with me, and when I reached him he yelled with excitement “Can I run WITH YOU, Mama?!?!” And I thought, Sure! That will be such a beautiful moment! Us running together!

He ran ahead of me for the first quarter turn, inspiring me to pick up my pace, then at the top of the loop tripped and slid hands first onto the track.

I really, really wanted to run the whole race without stopping.

So I shouted to him and said, with as much cheer as I could muster, “IT’S OK, SWEETIE! SHAKE IT OFF! LET’S KEEP GOING!” And that poor kid picked himself up, rubbed his hands on the t-shirt I got for participating in the race that came to his knees and, whimpering, kept running.

He quickly fell behind, and I found out later tripped again. And all the people directly behind me got to see the spectacle of me running away from my crying and slightly bleeding child, while I intermittently turned and gasped out, “IT’S OK, JOHN! KEEP RUNNING!” all the while internally wishing with all my being that Michael would suddenly and miraculous get himself to our end of the track to take care of the situation so I could follow my glorious plan to SPRINT TO THE FINISH.

I finished the race in 34:17 and placed third in my age group (it really pays to be over 30). Michael managed to trot over with James to retrieve John at the Mile 3 marker, who was upset that I ran too fast and didn’t hold his hand.

It’s been a week and I still feel ashamed. I should have stopped. I should have held his hand and jogged slowly with him. I should have realized somewhere in my fatigued, goal-driven head that this race didn’t matter more than John.

When I discipline John, I tell him that just like he has to obey me, I have to obey too. God tells us to act with love, with kindness, with compassion. And when we fail and make poor choices, we ask forgiveness and repent.

It’s a very humbling experience to ask forgiveness from your children.


Filed under com10K, faith and things like it, self-reflection is a beeotch

cheer our spirits by Thine advent here

I teach 8 hours a week at a little mom’s day out program at my church. One of the surprisingly fun things about this Christmas is that I got to teach my class of seven 2-year-olds all about the Christmas story. Since our family is in the middle of something of a “liturgical turn,” I also taught them a little about advent.

But they are 2. So their lesson was pretty much limited to showing them advent candles and teaching them that “advent means waiting.”

And honestly? That was pretty much all I knew about advent too.

I’d always thought that the “waiting” of advent was merely a waiting for Christ’s return in the Left Behind sense; Christ’s return was merely my being swept up to heaven which after, growing up in a rapture-obsessed evangelical culture, I just can’t get myself too worked up over anymore.

But then this season our Bible study group did a short study on advent and my perspective on advent changed. I’d never thought about Christ’s return as being a return of justice and comfort for the world. A world that, as my college friend Paul pointed out to me yesterday, has over a billion people in it without clean drinking water and still suffering from terrible diseases that our part of the world no longer has any memory of. Let alone the suffering of populations much closer to home that I have never given the time of day to because I’m too wrapped up in my own small concerns.

And that was the first time in my sheltered, affluent American life that I started to grasp at the deep, deep longing that songs like O Come, Emmanuel are getting at.


Filed under faith and things like it, life happens, self-reflection is a beeotch