I LOVE It When They Fight!

gloves

When siblings are aged 11 and 9… in between angelic offers to help with dishes and intellectual conversations about the motivation of Rolf in the Sound of Music, they, well, argue… and fight… and beat up each other… and yell… and scream… and bicker… and find ways to really, REALLY get on each others’ nerves.  And mine.

Traditionally, I try to be patient for a while until they hit my tiger mom maximum level of tolerance and then I roar at them to stop, or else.  Lately, we’ve all been debating the idea of or else and what that could be, because really, once they reach an age where they realize, no, we don’t really have that much control over them, it’s all over for the authoritarian parenting style.  I could yell at them, but they can yell back.  I can punish them, but what punishment is really meaningful if the goal is for changed behaviour from using anger when they are frustrated?  I could take away their entertainment, but again, would that change their behaviour, truly?  They are at an age where if they wanted to run away, they could.  They could really go in a direction that I really wouldn’t want them to go if I’m not careful.  They remind me that they watch videos or play games that I really know nothing about.  They are coming into their own… as human beings… as autonomous people.

Now that I have to be more careful about my health and stress level, I’m very conscientious about when I start getting agitated.  To be fair, they are sensitive to it too.  So today, while I was taking them to school and they were bickering in the street car, I shushed them and said, guys, you are being too loud.  Other people would like to transit in peace and quiet.  They joked that mommy was getting stressed and that I was about to yell at them.  As we got off the street car, I turned to them and they braced themselves for my usual admonishment about how they should behave better and how stressed they are making me and how I expect much more from them.

Instead I decided to pilot a new initiative: “I LOVE when the two of you fight.”

Bewildered looks were exchanged. They smiled a little and then furrowed their brows… there was a pause as we walked in silence for a few moments.

Then the older one snickered and sarcastically said “Yeah, sure you do.”

I explained, “I LOVE when the two of you fight because it means that you are both here, I can hear you, you are safe, you are intelligent enough to interact and you have each other.  It means that I’m around you and we are still together.”

Now the younger one looked at me, wrinkled his little nose, and added “And you just love it when we scream at each other…”  They were no longer arguing with each other, telling on each other, tripping each other.  Instead, they were trying to figure me out. Their little brains were like “Huh? Is Mommy being serious or sarcastic? Is she going to get mad at us?”

I nodded earnestly now and continued, “I LOVE when you scream at each other.  It means that you have brains to think and have feelings. It means that you have been communicating with each other.  It means that you care enough about something to fight about it. I LOVE it when there are toys all over the house because it means that you have a house, toys to play with, and it means that you still live with me in our house.  I love knowing that you had a good time with your toys.  I REALLY love it when there are a pile of dishes to do, because it means we had dinner together at home and we had a healthy meal in our own home.”

They were both relaxed now and they walked on either side of me, holding my hand, “At least until we move out of the house! You have to put up with a messy house until we move out of the house.”

“Yep.  Until you move out of the house.  Right now, I get to be with you.  I get to love you and I get to know that you are okay.  What more could I ask for?”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you too.”

Advertisements

Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Oh My! Diets, Weight Loss and Picking Your Thang!

Are you as confused by the plethora of diets as I am? It seems as though there is an article refuting the scientific research-based findings of a miracle method as soon as you learn about it!

Furthermore, our bodies are so complicated and unique, what works for that beautiful, thin, and energetic motivational speaker may not work for me.

At the end of the day, the only thing we can truly stick to is this: food is the physical building block of our bodies. What we eat is what is used to grow and heal our bodies. So the question is: would you rather ingest something that helps or harms your body?

Lucky for us, there is now an annual ranking system for all the popular diets by Health Magazine. They have systemically and methodically evaluated all the famous (and some I’ve never heard of) diets. One of the criteria is… how easy it is to stick to! Who would’ve thunk! After all these years of yo-yo dieting, fighting cravings, and falling off the bandwagon… finally the experts are taking into account the KISS approach to keep it simple sweetie!

What’s interesting is that when you hear advice from our traditionally wise people (like my Qigong Shifu, my Kung Fu Shifu, and my parents… all Chinese by the way), they would say, don’t restrict so much what you eat or remove things entirely from your diet, just eat less of everything and less of what’s proven to be bad for you (fats, salt, sugar, junk food, etc.). My Qigong Shifu says “Cut 25%!” My Kung Fu Shifu says “Work it off through exercise!” My parents say “Eat until you are 60% full!”

The other biggie is: It’s not a sprint. Don’t expect overnight results. They don’t last. It’s a lifetime journey, a lifestyle approach. Every single choice is another brick to layer into your foundation of health and happiness. And yet, one less-than-perfect decision is not going to undermine everything, so move on quickly and definitively from a single poor choice or one moment in time. Figure out why the slide and try to set yourself up to avoid that in the future.

For those of us who need to lose weight, that means 1 pound per week is healthier, more sustainable and less reversible. Because one pound per week over 15 weeks indicates an overall shift in choices, a more permanent outlook and set up, as well as a focus on health rather than just weight. Plus if I can do 1 pound per week for 15 weeks, I can do 1 pound per week for a year.

This is a very personal and unique journey. Each person needs to get to know their own body and, more importantly, their own mind. Better health and weight loss is not just a physical, calorie-counting, daily exercise thing, okay, well, yes, it sort of is, but if you are mentally resisting every leafy green salad or are dying to snack on chips (just waiting to rebel and cheat), whatever great plan you are on, have paid for, or has worked for other people… just is not going to work! So it’s gotta be something bigger than just some diet you are on. It has to be part of a bigger goal to be healthy, for all the right reasons. And healthy not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. Healthy as a family, healthy with your friends, healthy at work…

Kung Fu Mama’s Thoughts:

1. Want good health badly enough.

2. Know why you want it.

3. Keep it simple.

4. Make health holistic: mind, body and spirit.

5. Track everything to measure what you need to change (blood pressure, heart rate, exercise, sleep, weight, inches, water, calories, etc.)

6. Find your tribe and enjoy the process.

7. Fail and figure.

8. Reward right, not with cheating.

9. No, it’s not easy, nothing good is easy, but you can find ways to make it easier.

10. Keep going.

And:

1. Fix mental state and fundamental illnesses first, then eating habits and lastly exercise.

2. Trust your body, especially as you age, don’t push yourself so hard that you end up quitting.

3. Life is short. If you hate it, stop it. Or change your frame of mind.

4. Cultivate love.

5. Find and enjoy the humour in everything.

6. Relax, relax, relax.

7. Identify the good. Fix the bad.

8. Be grateful.

9. Share what you’ve got.

10. Never give up.

Cheat Day: Roundthe6ix Trip – Monument to the War of 1812

I’m cheating today.  We started Roundthe6ix as our family project where we each can only pick one photo to blog and write about.  The topic today was the toy soldiers monument by Douglas Copeland representing the War of 1812.

We had an amazing walk, through small streets and down to the Lakeshore then back up through Fort York.  We can see Lake Ontario peek through at certain times, we see all the crazy condo complexes being built up, and there is always our amazing CN Tower.  I got to show my boys my Gentle Kung Fu routine.  The weather was sublime and we got our steps!

It’s also a great opportunity to hang out with three of my most favourite people in the world and play with my new (old, hand me down) toy… So anyway, yes, right, one photo.  I took a bunch of photos and have selected mine for Roundthe6ix.  But I really like the other photos I’ve taken too. So here it goes.  I’m posting up all the ones that didn’t make it into Roundthe6ix.

“Monument to the War of 1812” by Douglas Coupland

If the Americans won in 1812, President Trump would be my President today.  So… I’m rather appreciative of the British for fighting over Canada… and I’m more than grateful to all the soldiers who fought for the freedoms and safety that we now enjoy, however precariously.

DSC04041

DSC04036DSC04037DSC04038DSC04042DSC04043

 

I never let go an opportunity to take a photo of our beautiful CN Tower.

DSC04047

Toronto, where you can see more cranes than care to count.  There are six or seven of them in this photo alone!

DSC04048

I posted a Bill, I posted a Bill!  Will they prosecute Bill Stickers?

DSC04049

Health Advice from Mom and Dad

So now I’m nearly 50 and I’ve been dealing with health issues. It’s gotten so bad, I’ve had to take some time off work to address them and figure out how to manage the conditions, control the pain and deal with the subsequent mental health side of things.

Today, my father lectured me for an hour over Skype, reminding me of all the things he has been lecturing at me since he started looking after his health at the age of 50.

  1. Drink water.  Make it a habit to drink water and only water.  Not soda, not juice, not milk.  Room temperature water.  One tall glass of room temperature water as soon as you get up.  Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
  2. Eat bigger meals in the morning and lighter meals at the end of the day.  Eat until you are 60% full and then stop.  If you get hungry after dinner, go straight to bed.
  3. Go for a brisk walk everyday.  For 30 minutes.  Walk after dinner, everyday.  Be consistent.  Everyday.  If you do this, you will be physically tired and it will be easy to fall asleep.
  4. Think about the stressful things while you walk. Then forget about them.  Do not take those thoughts home.  Think about the meetings you will have the next day, think about the agenda items, think about what you are going to say and how you are doing to say them.
  5. Get good quality and enough sleep.  Get to bed early.  Turn off all electronics.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, do not check your phone.  Just go back to sleep.
  6. Crack open your windows and let the air flow through your room at night when you sleep to get fresh air.  If necessary, turn on a fan to keep the air moving.  This will help you get better sleep.
  7. Lose weight.  Carrying around too much weight is hard on the knees, the hips, the heart, etc.  Walk more.  Eat less.
  8. Do your own research.  Do what works for your body.  Do not take the advice of doctors.  They only know a little bit and they do not care about your overall holistic health.  They will prescribe pharmaceuticals and every single medicine you take from them will have adverse side effects.
  9. Do all of this everyday and you will have no more health problems.  But you have to do them consistently, without fail, without break.  You can’t just do it one day and not another.
  10. After you have been doing this for a couple of months, we discuss your progress and determine next steps.

So… it was slightly disconcerting to be lectured at for an hour.  Especially since I was already doing quite a lot of this due to my most recent health problems.  It is not always fun to get yelled at by my father, especially since he’s not that interested in hearing what I have to say (e.g. But I have sleep apnea and stop breathing, so I need the machine.  You don’t need a machine, you just need to have air flow through your room.  Uh, Dad, it’s a medical condition.  I stop breathing 80 times an hour and am down to 60% oxygen at night.  Well, whatever, you will have more oxygen in your system if you turn on a fan and open your windows.).

I managed to stay calm throughout the whole thing (he literally repeated each piece of advice about 10 times in different orders and using different phrases) by reminding myself that he is doing this from love, because he cares and because he’s panicked.  It’s taken him this long through very hard work to get his health more under control.  He’s figured it out (late, by his standards) and he does not want us making the same mistakes, so he’s trying to give us good advice that he wants us to take now, now, now, and exactly in his way.  He’s worried about my health and about our family’s well-being.

When I shared this story with my husband and the boys, my husband nonchalantly said, “Well, Gong Gong isn’t wrong.  He’s made some good points there.”  True, true.  And I’m definitely working on it, I suppose, seeing as I’ve come to some of the same conclusions.  My kids found it interesting, as I have been working so hard on getting them to eat, think, and do healthy for such a long time.  They think it’s funny that I’m getting lectured by MY parents.

Then there’s adding all the advice my mother has been given me:

  1. Swing your arms everyday.  It will cure hundreds of ailments.  Do it once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
  2. Rub your stomach, clockwise, slowly, every morning and every night. This is good for your digestive system.
  3. Do Qigong everyday.  This will heal a lot of your illnesses, but it just takes longer.  Do it once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
  4. Meditate.  Meditate and calm your mind.  It is very important to calm your mind everyday.
  5. Have positive thoughts and look on the bright side.  Don’t focus on the negative.  Find a more constructive way of thinking about things.
  6. Stress is terrible, so don’t get stressed.  Find a way to release the stress from your body.
  7. Eat ginger, garlic and onions.  They are antibacterial and can kill lots of germs.
  8. Drink lemon water or apple cider vinegar.  They will help clean out your system.
  9. Soak dried longans and goji berries in hot water for a drink.  It’s really good for you.
  10. If you need to go to the washroom, just go.  Don’t hold it in, it’s not good to hold things in.  Your body needs to get the garbage out. So, if you feel you need to go… GO!

There you have it.  Advice from my mom and dad.  They aren’t wrong you know…  There’s science behind a lot of this stuff.

Now I’ll add mine:

  1. Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself as if you were your own best friend.  Love, appreciate, and praise yourself. Be aware of how you are speaking to yourself.
  2. Remember your strengths. Focus on things you are good at.  Give kudos to yourself for being good at those things.
  3. Remember to enjoy life.  Do things you love to do.  Slow down and appreciate, savour, soak up the beauty around you.
  4. Remember that life goes up and down.  Prepare yourself for down times so that you aren’t surprised or disappointed.  Be ready for down times with things that will help it go by more easily and quickly.
  5. Find the helpers.  Reach out to people who are amazing and can provide you with some support during difficult times.  Find people who will give you good advice rather than cut you down or amplify the negativity that is already in your head.
  6. Consider every single failure an opportunity to learn. Anything that doesn’t work is now knowledge that something is not the answer.  It may be part of an answer, it may lead you to an answer… or it may just be something you know you never want to do again!
  7. Eat to provide nutrients to our bodies.  Less processed foods, less carbohydrates, less fatty foods, less red meat, less sodium, less deep fried foods, less canned foods, less sugar.  More fruits, more vegetables.
  8. Find an exercise you love.  Not just that you don’t hate it.  Find something you enjoy, maybe by yourself or maybe with others in a more communal environment.
  9. Address your health issues right away, in the least invasive manner possible and as soon as possible.  Do seek out professionals and specialists, but do your own research and trusts your instincts.  Find communities of people who are dealing with the same conditions.  There is so much to learn and medical knowledge is evolving all the time.
  10. Pay it forward.  Find where you can make a difference in this world. Be a helper, make your corner of the world a better place.  Be the change you want to see. Find a big meaningful goal to work towards and go all out.

So the question is: how does one fit all this in one’s life?  Well, that’s part of the journey we are all on! That’s what’s going to make life interested during the next part of life!

They Know Me Well

A2: They are putting ads about iPhone Xs… and *I* only have an iPhone 4.

Me: 5. You have an iPhone 5. By the way, I never want to hear you complaining about the fact that you have an iPhone.

A2: No Mommy, I’m just joking. It’s a joke!

Me: Not funny. Not even as a joke. Too many kids have nothing. What you said makes you spoiled. It means that I’ve spoiled you and I can certainly stop spoiling you. If you are going to behave like spoiled brats, I’m either going to take away all your gadgets or send you away to a country where they don’t have any. Do you have any idea how privileged you are? You are not allowed to complain about your gadgets. I’m serious. Do you understand me?

A2: Yes Mommy. Sorry Mommy… Uh… Mommy?

Me: Yes~~~~?

A2: Um, I think we know that you love us too much to send us away. You could never send us away…

Me: Oh, okay, yes, you’re right. My threat was a bit exaggerated. But you get my drift though, right? You understand what I’m trying to say.

A2: Yes Mommy.

Toronto Night’s Full Moon and Jupiter

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is the first time in a very long time I have had enough headspace to do anything other work, what is absolutely urgent, putting my kids to bed or veg in front of the TV at night.  Working full time, trying to be an active and attached parent, and dealing with a number of illnesses had really taken a toll on my physical and mental health.  Tonight after I put the kids to bed, I did my 8-brocade in the house and then went outside, where the weather was amazing.  I did my Gentle Kung Fu routine (well, the first half, as that’s all I’ve learned so far!) and saw people taking pictures of Jupiter.  So after completing my exercise, I grabbed my camera to capture Jupiter and the Full Moon!  This is such a great place to be after the past few months.  This is a huge victory for me… 

In the fall, my normally perfect blood pressure had shot through the roof, I was waking up in the middle of the night from panic attacks and I could not control my emotions, which flipped flopped between range and helplessness.  The condition I had was causing so much pain that was no longer being contained by the prescription painkillers… I was not well, I could feel it, but only ever did things that made it worse.  I was trying all the time to think about exercise or eating healthier… but I had zero willpower and very little headspace to make the right things happen.  I was going in a downward spiral.  Desperate, I knew I had to make changes, so I went vegetarian, I started waking up earlier to do meditation, I joined an inspirational coaching group on Facebook, I started taking Qigong.  For the first month, I felt great… I was making changes and I was feeling more zen about things.

Then… as things started to slide… the cracks in my mental health started to show.  At first, it was a bit subtle and was mostly just negative self-talk that emphasized the loserness of everything I did, thought, tried, and failed.  Every situation, any thing at all turned into a self-bashing session that left me struggling to breathe.  I second guessed every single thing I did… then it got worse.  My work suffered, my confidence was shattered… I no longer liked people at all. I could not function anymore as a mother, wife, colleague.  My whole body and brain shut down.  Even on days when I wasn’t struggling with pain, I no longer could done what needed to get done.

To have it happen once is one thing (3 years ago)… I thought that I had fixed things by changing jobs, but what I now realize is that I did not deal with the many fundamental issues that continued to plague me and was slowly destroying my health.

Health, I have come to discover, is a very complex and yet simple thing.  It’s all inter-related, there are so many things going on and so many things influence so many others. Over the past month and a half, I have been taking a shotgun approach to figuring how to fix my problems.  I’ve been reading books, searching forums, seeking various types of health providers, trying out stuff from the health food stores… and it all boils down to: Eat, Move, Sleep, Think, Feel, Believe, Do.

Eat to provide nutrition.  Anything else starves the body and causes it to crave bad stuff.  Humans have to move in order to maintain physical and mental health, sitting is the big evil thing now.  That and sugar.  Sleep enough or the body cannot rest and heal.  Think in a way that is constructive.  Feel good… feel love… feel positive… Believe in what can be and then do it.  Just do it. (Not withstanding that some of what we deal with are genetic inclinations… so, we may have to work harder to overcome them…)

This most recent part of my journey has been TOUGH, but it’s brought me so many amazing things:

  1. I’ve found songs again!  The theme songs for me right now are: Meant to Be by Bebe Rexha feat. Florida Georgia Line and Like I’m Going to Love You by Meghan Trainor feat. John Legend.
  2. I’ve rekindled unconditional love for my kids… I am very committed to ensuring I have headspace to be with them and enjoy them.  They are amazing human beings.
  3. I’ve found people who are wise to hang out with!  My amazing Qigong/Taichi Shifu trains at the park 365 days of the year with a number of his amazing/wise students.  And what I’m learning from them is life changing.
  4. There are healthcare practitioners who are patient-centred and holistic!  While many have been great, I have to say Naturopathy I think is the way to go…
  5. There have been amazing friends who have reached out to support me in a way that I never felt like I deserved, each person reminding me about and reconnecting me with parts of me I had neglected.
  6. Old, old friends from long time past who are also going through their own challenges, who have reminded me of who I once was and can be again.
  7. My amazing parents and mother-in-law who work so hard to take good care of themselves and always want to help us.
  8. My sisters who are just plain amazing people.
  9. The organization where I work is amazing, given me the opportunity and time to focus on my health and heal.
  10. My husband who is my partner, best friend, cheerleader and backup to everything.  So creative, honest, funny, solid, always accepting me for who I am, what I do, and will to do whatever it takes.

So grateful!  Now the next part of this journey is going to be figuring out how to fit in all the things I need to do to improve and maintain my health in a sustainable way (I will need to priority and cull!).  This is not a choice, it is the way.  Health is way too important.  It’s right up there as #1 priority along with Family.

Wishing you peace and health, happiness and love.

Taming the Mommy Rage


The world is a complicated web of people, things, events, beliefs, truths (and alternative facts!) and emotions. When people go through various challenging situations, it’s easy to get lost in doing, fixing, organizing… basically going through the motions of life.

It isn’t always the right time to each out to ask for help, because it may feel like failure or weakness. The love and support from others can feel a lot like pity or judgment. When you’re not at your best, you may not be able to see the world with enthusiasm, optimism or openness. In fact, sometimes you get so overwhelmed, you just turn off and stop feeling or caring. That’s pretty scary and may require professional help. But if you haven’t quite gone that far, then you may end up just being angry all the time!

Sometimes you have just enough wherewithal to feel like it’s everyone else’s fault, the kids’ fault, the spouse’s fault, the friend’s fault, the neighbour’s fault… Everyone else is to blame. You have just enough brain space to get angry and express that anger by lashing out, judging others and wishing they would just change! I call this Mommy Rage. It’s not that you don’t have good reason to be upset (you probably do)… it’s just that your extreme response is probably not entirely commensurate to the infraction. So. What to do? How to tame the Mommy Rage?

YOU START WHERE YOU START
It’s important to move away from what ‘should be’ and straight to what actually is. You just have to start where you start. If the house is a total mess, it really doesn’t help to judge yourself. You have to accept that it’s a mess and figure out what you want and how much you are willing to invest to achieve it.

WHAT DOES THE RAGE SAY?
There’s no point in saying ‘calm down’ because the reality is that you’re mad. The question is what is that feeling telling you? Ask yourself why you are angry. The answer may surprise you if you delve deeply enough. It’s not usually what triggered it (the messy house) but something else related to why a messy house indicates something bigger… Figure out the underlying reason for the extreme rage and then follow up with…

FIND THE WIN-WIN
There is always a win-win solution. You just have to know that it exists. You have to want it. You have to commit to getting there. Mommy Rage almost always involves conflicting goals or lack of resources or not enough head space. So… make sure you give yourself some head space by resting, taking a break or breathing. Then find the win-win

THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS LOVE
Explain, guide and model good behaviour through love. After an episode of Mommy Rage, it’s important to pause, think things through… express that it was not an appropriate way to deal with the situation… and walk through the thoughts that led to Mommy Rage. It’s important to express love. It’s hard to be angry when you remember the love. Then, together, figure out “how could we have done that better?”