Help Yourself

How many self-help books do you own? Need a minute to go count the collection you’ve created over the years? Or, have you passed your books along to others?

Lately, I seem drawn to book after book, promising me a better life. Please, don’t misunderstand me, I love my life. Still, with so many books within reach touting a better life – well, color me interested.

I think I am still coming off the “Eat, Pray, Love” thing. I never read the book. (Why does admitting to not having read the book take me back to my high school days and Cliff Notes?) I did – you knew this was coming – see the movie. And, though the movie wasn’t great, I find myself thinking about the messages portrayed in the movie. I have been accessing my library’s website daily, to see if a copy of the book is available. Hang on, I’ll check now . . . ARGH! Still unavailable.

Self-help books are destroying me. My over-analytical ways are only encouraged by the countless books out there claiming to help me. Who says I need help, anyway? Hush. I heard that.

“I’ll have to try that.” I hear myself say that statement time and time again, during conversations with friends and family. We are always offering our advice about this or that; assuming how we were helped will fit nicely and neatly in another person’s life. Though really, we’re all different.

Though written words and another person’s experience may inspire, I find more insight and inspiration by doing the most simple tasks. For example, when I am making and packing my son’s lunch for school, I find a peace making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sometimes, I get lost in the spreading of jelly across the peanut butter, attempting to cover the peanut butter perfectly, while creating an artful spread of jelly.

I find self-help in the calming (and yummy) scent of freshly made cinnamon toast. I find self-help in looking out my living room window and catching a glimpse of a deer running through the yard. I find self-help in sitting down with Joe, mesmerized while he reads to me from the books he brings home from school. To me, self-help is easily attainable when you grab hold of the good moments in life. And, when the bad moments hit, well – perhaps that is when the books are helpful. The books give us something to read through, escaping our momentary feeling of madness, until the dust settles and we see the good again. Perhaps we’re not looking for answers in the book, as much as we are looking for a diversion.

I’m not in a state of madness at the moment. Although, if you know me, you know this could change at any second. Still, as I continue to wait for a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love”, I find myself becoming obsessed with the countless self-help books being released daily. With so much help available, I may need to find a self-help book on how to learn to need more help. And, to make non-significant matters worse, next week begins the last season of Oprah. ACK! Oprah’s last season!

I wonder how many books will be released helping folks deal with Oprah’s final show: “Oprah: How to Live After the Show Ends”. Hmm . . .  Anyway, I’ll continue to check the status of “Eat, Pray, Love’ at my the library; and, in the meantime, I’m willing to bet I could find a self-help book to help me deal with my obsession of self-help books.

Whose Phase Is It Anyway?

When I created the category ‘Phase 3 of X on my blog’, my intent was to focus on the phases experienced by Joe and Charlie. The boys have traveled through the infant phase and toddler phase, and now Joe has entered the Kindergarten phase. As a result, I wanted a place to write about the various cycles and developments. However, as the 2nd week of Kindergarten comes to a close, I can’t help but ask, “Whose phase is it anyway?”

Joe’s first day was uneventful. The days that followed his first day were equally uneventful; that is, the time he spent at a new school and in a new environment were uneventful. At home? Not so uneventful. And, this is the part where I step in and realize, I have entered a new phase; it is called the ‘My child is home with me more’ phase. Um. How long will this phase last?

Yeah, I’ve already written about having to adjust to working at home with a child in the house. But, what about not working at home with a child in the house? Though I am readily available for my boss and coworkers 8hrs a day Monday – Friday, I have a great deal of ‘free’ time to tackle chores and – frankly – do nothing.  And, when my kids were in day-care, they spent a full day in day-care (8am – 5pm). When I got the boys home, I’d have them in bed within 3hrs. So, aside from weekends, there wasn’t much time (or cause) for trouble and discipline.

Earlier this week, I went out to dinner with a friend of mine. She was laughing at me and teasing me about my cushy (time-wise) life of having the boys gone a full day, while I was home working a flexible job. And now – NOW I have a kid with me from 2:30 until bedtime. ACK! What?! I actually have to take care of my kid more than three hours a weekday? Seriously? I suppose you are going to tell me I have to interact with my child, too.

Thank goodness, at least for one more year, I don’t have to pick up my 2nd child until 5pm. I cannot imagine being home with both boys for for so many hours prior to bedtime. I mean, after I give my job 5hrs in a day, I have enough flexibility to do whatever I want with the remaining day (provided my boss can reach me). Just last month, I spent many hours watching and enjoying several movies in the afternoon before picking the boys up at daycare. Now how will I get through my queue of 314 movies on Netflix? Huh? And, they are just about to release the 2009 season of Dexter! When am I suppose to fit that in the schedule? Hmmm … is it wrong to have a 5yr old child watch a drama about a serial killer who only kills serial killers? At least Dexter is killing mean people, right?

And Oprah. This is Oprah’s last season! How am I going to watch O-o-0-o-oprah, when my kid is home with me?! Craziness people. Whose phase is this anyway? And, how long does it last?

Now if you’ll excuse me, my son has homework. We have to read a book together; rather he has to read the book, and I have to observe. You’d think the school would send home something more interesting like “Kiss Me If You Can” by Carly Phillips. But no, we have to read “Babe, the Big Hit” about an elephant in a circus, and I’m guessing there will be no romance. Maybe next week?

Oh, Oprah.

Dear Blogary,

I had no intentions of writing to you earlier today, and I did not intend to write again the same day! I mean, I had a good day today, thanks. I listened to music, took the boys to swim lessons, did work for my paid job and enjoyed the day. Then, Blogary, I turned on Oprah. Oh, Oprah.

I admit, I tuned into Oprah after the advertisements for today’s show tweaked my interest. Today’s episode seemed to be one you couldn’t miss. Well, I didn’t miss it, but I left the show feeling sad and depressed. Oh, Harpo.

Am I a food addict? Yes, I suppose I am. Am I okay with that fact? Yes, for the most part. I have no intention of cutting out my consumption of ice cream. More to the point, I will – as long as I can – enjoy a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting. And, I prefer to eat my ice cream when I am alone. I’m not sure it is because I am ashamed or embarrassed with the fact that I can eat so much in one sitting, rather I don’t enjoy the gawking that occurs when there is an audience present. Plus, I suppose it is rude that I don’t share. Is this wrong? Oh, Over-eaters Anonymous.

The guest on Oprah today, Geneen Roth, was discussing her new book, “Women, Food and God.” Geneen’s website states, “The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. No matter how sophisticated or wise or enlightened you believe you are, how you eat tells all. The world is on your plate. When you begin to understand what prompts you to use food as a way to numb or distract yourself, the process takes you deeper into realms of spirit and to the bright center of your own life. Rather than getting rid of or instantly changing your conflicted relationship with food, Women Food and God is about welcoming what is already here, and contacting the part of yourself that is already whole—divinity itself.” Oh, Geneen.

Now, I understand eating disorders exist and are real. And, I understand (fully) that many people eat to numb or distract themselves. Certainly, I am quite guilty of eating when stressed, depressed, anxious, cranky, menstruating, bored, entertaining and um – when hungry. But, do we all really need books to guide us to fixing ourselves? Or wait. Is THIS book finally THE book. THIS book IS the miracle, eh? Oh, Simon & Schuster

And Blogary, while I am ranting (or is it merely babbling?), I find it silly that many of these books use God or some sort of spiritual spin. Even Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love has a spiritual spin based on Eastern culture. Maybe I am trying to fit Gilbert into my rant, where it really doesn’t fit. At least Gilbert refers to something greater than oneself. I have issues with some (not all) of the new age mumbo-jumbo. I find it narcissistic to believe one is as great as the universe. I’m a pretty great person – no really, I am. Just ask my Mom – but am I greater than the universe? *Shakes 8 Ball* “My reply is no.” Oh, Tolle.

Rob and I recently watched 2012 – Science or Superstition, which talks about the Mayan calendar and the belief that December 21, 2012 will be an earth changing (perhaps earth ending) day. Surprisingly, the movie wasn’t so much doom and gloom, as it was optimistic. And, one of the greatest things I took away was the call for the world to unite in their beliefs. One world. One faith. Can you imagine? Could you conform? If we are our own universe – aren’t we then one faith? Did you walk to school or take a lunch? Huh? Oh, Maya.

"Oh Universe, I am yours" by Jose Alberto Gomes Pereira

Blogary, I think I have gotten off track; assuming, of course, I started on a track. If you feel you need to rush out and buy the book “Women, Food, God” – go for it. Perhaps it is the miracle cure for which you’ve searched. Or perhaps, it is another book offering the same message, “It’s not what you’re eating; it is is what is eating you.” And really, how many times do you need to read the same message? I mean, you won’t get the message until you are ready to get the message. In the meantime, when you are anxious, stressed, bored, menstruating, cranky, etc. try to read a book, call a friend, go for a walk, surf the web, have some Wii time or start a blog. Then again, I guess you could focus on the fact that you are your own universe, and no one is greater than you. Oh, Ego.

Okay, Blogary. I am done for the day. Ah, ice cream.