Friday, May 23, 2008

Well, that was wierd!

Last week I had the opportunity to go to a Kazakh home. The couple who own the home were not at home. I actually went with a friend to see their maid, who does sewing for people. My friend was having a smaller jacket made out of a gorgeous coat with traditional embroidered trim from Turkmenistan.

Anyway, a lot of energy seemed to be involvec with trying to explain to this little woman what needed to be done for the jacket (and I was invited to go along because I'm an experienced seamstress too), between three different languages flying through the air, and a phone call to her boss who was in the US to aid in translation, we got it all figured out. There was a lot of laughing going on, and this woman seemed to be happy to work on the project. She was actually a very knowledgable seamstress.

So, what I'm getting to is that in one fun moment of multicultural camraderie, this little woman felt the need to come over and grab my obvious belly with both hands and give it a good shake. I don't know why, and there was no way to ask her why in that moment, but it seemed to give her some gratification for some strange reason. I was at a complete loss of how to respond, so I resorted to my passive aggressive nature and stepped out of the conversation and backed out of the room. And I decided I wasn't ever coming back while her employer wasn't there.

Eventually, though not quickly enough for me, we left the little maid to her own devices and headed home. My friend was a bit embarrased for me, and felt the need to try to explain what was going on, but didn't really have any good explanations for least none that made me feel better about this little woman. I chalked the experience up to another multicultural moment, where cultures didn't understand boundaries and behaviors. It wasn't my first experience with it.

I went to a corporate function today. There was a presentation given about possible international employment opportunities. A light refreshment was provided, most of which was fried and greasy-looking. I chose to skip the snacks and just had a bottle of water. I sat at the back of the room and just took in what was being said. At the end of the presentation, I made my way to the front of the room, towards the speaker, in order to thank him for his presentation. I was stopped by one of my neighbors midway, who felt the need to share with me that she saw that I hadn't gone over to eat any of the snacks. Was that an attempt at a conversation? I just smiled and offered that the food didn't look too appetizing to me. And she smiled back and continued on out of the room. No, it wasn't a conversation. It was someone telling me she was watching me. (And it wasn't her first time, either.)

I've been trying to process those two events today. I guess the behavior of those two people was more about them than it was about me. Perhaps I've already spent more time thinking about their actions/comments than they did.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The woman in the mirror

I've lost another five pounds since coming home to Kazakhstan. I think it helped that I had bronchitis for a week and didn't feel like eating! I drank a lot of green tea with lemon, along with extra water, and the tea habit seems to be something I enjoy now, so I'm staying with it.

In my bedroom, there's an oval, standing mirror. It's positioned so that when I wake up and sit up in bed, the first thing I see is a vision of myself. I didn't put it there on purpose, and I'm seriously thinking about moving it.

Mirrors remind me how big I am. They tell me that no matter how much I can dead lift, no matter how many miles I've walked, no matter how many pounds of fat I've lost, I'm still a big, fleshy, jiggly woman of middle age. And when I look in the mirror, I don't believe I see the real me.

Every once in a while, my younger son wants me to flex and feel my biceps and triceps. They're actually getting quite hard. But the muscles are way deep in there, under the fat and loose flesh. My son is impressed with my muscles. My husband is not.

I found a website on developing a positive body image at any size. I haven't read what they have to say yet. That's my assignment for today. I hope it helps, because what I'm working towards is matching up how I feel about myself on the inside with what I see on the outside. On the inside, I feel like Zena, Warrior Princess! I want to kick ass, with style! On the outside, I feel like an amorphous lump. With hair. I do have nice hair.

Not trying to sound self-deprecating here, just trying to problem solve. It's my method. Address the issue, research, discuss and apply findings. I'll let you know what I learn.

In the meantime, today I'm going back to the gym, after a week off due to illness. Five minutes of warm-up on the treadmill, some stretching, upper body weight training, core exercises, and 45 minutes on the track. I'm dressed...let's go!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back in the saddle again

OMG!!! It's been a month since I last blogged! Thank you to my friends who sent me gentle, loving reminders to get back to writing. I am back home now, in Atyrau, Kazakhstan, and have overcome the jet lag. So, life goes on...

I allowed myself a few days of real rest to recuperate from travel. As I age, it gets harder and harder to overcome the effects of jet lag. But I do have a few tricks that help me through that week.
  1. Get back to a regular sleep routine - It's best to establish a wake up time as soon as possible. It seems that's the key factor in getting back to a regular sleep cycle. I did, at first, go to bed at a normal time and then wake up around 3 to 4 a.m. for a few days. I kept the lights down low until morning, and after about three days, I could sleep through till 6 a.m. I got really sleepy about 3 p.m., and am still experiencing that after a week and a half. I try to keep myself to a 20 minute nap, if I do choose to lay down.
  2. Don't let anyone know you're back - I needed a few days to deal with cultural re-entry shock, and I was not prepared to be inundated with phone calls and emails from neighbors, who seemed to be hovering in anticipation of my return. Really, I'm not all that popular around here, but there seem to be some people who felt the need to get me up to speed on the goings-on in the community, the latest gossip, and to interrogate me about my family and my trip. It was fun to go in with a plan; saying, "I really don't want to talk about that right now," was really quite gratifying!
  3. After extended absences from home, allow for the fact that some things might have changed around the house - my husband and maid have hidden all my stuff! It took me three days to find nearly everything, and now I'm having to rearrange the kitchen and the pantry. I may have to label cabinets in Russian before I leave again next month for the summer. I wonder if they sell Russian labelers around here...

I will write more later this week, specifically about my road to good health. Right now, I have to go make my own Mother's Day breakfast.