Author Archives: thehomeschoolingdoctor

About thehomeschoolingdoctor

What happens when a medical doctor decides to be a stay-at-home mom.

The Basics for 2019

I’m no good at graphic design, and I don’t know anything about symbols. But today, I’d like to share with you an image that has been a picture in my mind for over a couple of decades. Maybe you’ll let it help guide your 2019 health. When I was about 20 years old and far away from home at college, I hit a really hard time in life. I was imprisoned in a deep, disgusting, scary chasm with sides jutting straight up to the sky, and my feet and legs were mired in a bottom of black, sticky muck.

I knew deep in my heart that I would get out of there, that I would pull myself out. I knew I would have a future, a good one. I knew I would make that happen. I had faith in my long-term vision, but on a given day, it was so hard to see past the despairing, dark moment I was living in. Somehow, I observed that when I ate right, slept right, exercised, and prayed, I could deal with the emotional and psychological mess that was my life. But I had to do all those things together.

At that time, sleeping right meant simply that I went to bed at 10 or 11 o’clock at night, and I woke up at 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning, depending on class schedule. No more all-nighters. Eating right meant that I kept my meals to three meals a day contained on a plate, and I sat down to eat them, rather than binging through the kitchen. Exercising meant that I went to a gym and got my heart rate up for 20 minutes a day. And praying meant I talked with God (usually whining or crying or yelling): in my car, before meals, and before bed.

I started to pull out of the dark, sick mess, and I could feel moments of good and happy. With time and persistence (and people willing to help), I left the lowest, stickiest, sickliest point behind. I could look down and see where I had been. And I PROMISED MYSELF I WOULD NEVER GO BACK THERE. Ever. And I haven’t. I won’t.

Since then, the details of what it means for me to “eat right, sleep right, exercise, and pray” have changed, but the fact that I must be diligent to all these areas has not budged one bit. If I hit a stressful point in life now, I think of this image and ask myself if I am doing what I know needs to be done in each area. Usually, I’m being lazy in one of these aspects.

Happy New Year’s Day to you! I wish you the best. You CAN do it! Pull your head out, keep stepping in the right direction, move back in the right direction when you’ve danced off course, and get your life and health where you want them!

Look at your basics. Are you even doing them? If not, DO THEM. Make 2019 the year to be accountable to the basics.

I wish you the best.

Terri F

“Bomb the House” and Other Christmas Wishes

Photograph, public domain, PD-1923, by Dupons Brussel

I wish for toothspit that didn’t run down my wrist when I brush my teeth– and all kinds of other impossible things! I thought we deserved a little saucy humor (Saucy, not racy. Click away, dear, click away.) to turn up the corners of our mouths this last Friday before Christmas!

I wish everyone I love, and everyone I’m learning to love (Boy, why are some lessons so long?), a wonderful Christmas! If you’re on Earth, then you’re worthy of being here. (At least, that’s what my counselor and Good Book told me, so I’m going with it…)

May your Christmas wishes come true.

Sleeves are the New Rags

Nordstroms, the 79 Sweater, from Nordstrom’s website

I wish women’s clothes designers kept drooling toothspit, dirty dishes in sinks of dirty dishwater, and gas burners in mind when they designed their newest fashions. On second thought, maybe the designers are covertly mocking women. “If they want to do dishes, cook food, wipe off the table, or even brush teeth, let’s just put the rags on the sweater for them!” And we fell for it. And paid for it.

How Many TVs and Microwaves Do We Need in a Lifetime?

I wish when my microwave broke and I called to have it fixed, the salesman wouldn’t ask if I just wanted a new one. No. I don’t. I want my old one fixed. Imagine that. It’s easy if you try.

Is the Internet down? Or Is It My Head?

I wish the internet was just attached to my head. I pay bills on it. I sign up for the kids’ music and sports activities on it. I take continuing education courses on it. Coaches communicate with me on it. I renew licenses on it. I plan vacation on it. Then, if my head wasn’t working, I could just blame it on the internet service, which never seems to work at my house no matter the internet provider. 2019, anybody?

Keep the Microwave. Bomb the House.

The Great Fire of London, with Ludgate and Old St. Paul’s, painting, public domain, sourced from Wikimedia Commons

After having kids, I do wish I had a disposable house. It was really pretty once. But I don’t know what that spot is. Or that one. Or this one. That one is green smoothie. (Kale is good for kids but not the carpet.) Those ten or so are black coffee. All my fault. I take the blame for those. Over there? Too embarrassing to say.

I don’t know what happened to that light fixture. Or that door handle. Or that window. Let’s not even talk about, much less look at–and definitely avoid sitting on–the couch.

Let’s just pack up the microwave and a few belongings and torch the place. “Bomb the house!” Picture us just escaping through the front door together as a family, with the blazing brightness of a house in flames silhouetting our narrow escape…

Closing

I have more. Oh boy, do I! I was just getting started. But this is all I have time for this Friday morning. I’ve got to go work on my lessons (remember back when I started, how I mentioned some lessons were really long–and hard?!). And see if my slouchy sweater unravels when I cut the sleeves off. I mean, I have WORK to do! I might try holding my toothbrush at a new angle today, too. And the house…

Have a wonderful Christmas. I love life, and I love finding ways to appreciate and learn from everything it sends me. That is my Christmas wish for you. That you can learn to embrace life and find ways out of the burning house. There are ways. There are beautiful things and beautiful people everywhere. You do not have to stay stuck.

Merry Christmas!

Terri F

For People Angry at the World (Probably Geared More to Christians)

Sometimes I get really angry at the world. Then, I remind myself that I don’t understand much. And what I think I understand, I eventually find out that, really, I did not understand.

But each day, I think I do understand that I can do better, be better, and love better in ALL places of my life and heart. Because I have been shown how by the story of One who chose to love all people and follow God’s true path, the path that humans had lost sight of, despite the cost. And my anger starts to fizzle.

I don’t understand Him. I don’t understand many of His words and their depth. They honestly confuse me. But sometimes, when I “do it right,” I feel it. I feel something right and different. And I like it and want more.

And when I mess up, because He said so, I know I can get back to that place. That place is never one of self-righteousness, achievement, or condemnation. It’s one of utter humility, oneness, and love of the people around me. I don’t always feel it (Oh, don’t I!), but I’ve felt it. And I like it. And I want more of it. So I seek His ways. And when that right feeling is given back to me, I know I’m on the right track.

Merry Christmastime to you. Eat well. Live well. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Seek wholeness. The God who heals, fulfills–and replaces anger.

Your health is where your heart is. Explore your heart.

Terri F

 

Image attribution: Gerard van Honthorst – Adoration of the Shepherds (1622). This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1923.

Encouragement and Self-Inquiry for Those Struggling with Food

I have just always liked food, even to the point of food addiction, I’d say. About six years ago when I changed to a whole, real food diet for gastrointestinal health issues, I saw the huge effects different foods had on me (and my brain). I promised myself that for the rest of my life I would keep eating whole, real food that I tolerated well, and I would stay away from processed foods and foods that inflamed my body.

I have failed at times in this, sometimes by conscious choice and other times by rash decisions. But I have always come back to where I need to be, and I want you to, too.

I don’t know what’s in your head. I don’t know the life experiences or the kind of parents you have had. I can’t help you.

But I do believe you can help yourself from the inside out. You really can. I genuinely hope that you succeed in changing any mindsets that keep you locked in place. Here are some questions to challenge your food and weight concerns, and also some encouragement for you today.

Lies We Tell Ourselves

“It’s too much to lose…”

“I am 50 pounds overweight. I’ve lost 8.1256, but I have 50 more to go. That overwhelms me because the number is so big….”

This is all fairly objective information which is easily verifiable by measurements and a BMI chart, except for the “number is so big” part. Is it “so big?”

If I told you that you had to pick up 50 sticks in the yard, would that be scary? Or that you had to go to the store 50 times this week? Or find 50 things in your house that you HAD to get rid of? It would be hard, but I know you could do it.

“So big” is one pound at a time. When you start thinking about 100 pounds or eating this way for forever, that’s when it becomes SO BIG. Too big! Focus on today. Focus on this meal. Focus on this bite. Focus on the little, and the “so big” becomes reality over time, in small pieces.

“I’m doubtful I can do it because food is too delicious…”

Is the food too delicious? Then, and I’m not kidding, choose blander, whole, real foods. (First and foremost, your diet needs to be mostly whole, real foods anyhow. If it’s not, you need to start there.)

But if you’re still overweight on real, whole foods, then it’s time to make it even more whole and more real. For example, I consider roasted and salted nuts as real food—BUT plain, raw nuts are even “more real.” And boy do I eat a heck of a lot less of them!

I consider homemade mashed potatoes as real food, but I eat a lot more of those than I do plain baked potatoes with just salt and pepper.

You have to eat. But if you overeat, you may need to set boundaries around the flavor of your food.

“I have too much stress in my life…”

Do you have too much stress in your life? Why? Do you need to let go of negative relationships? Do you need to change the dance of a negative relationship to empower yourself? Do you need to back out of commitments you promised you’d do? Do you need to change jobs? Do you need to move?

Most of my stress comes from how I think about things and also taking on too much. Maybe if I can change how I think about things, I can change how I think about and treat food. Maybe if I don’t take on too much, I won’t need to self-medicate my stress with food.

“I think I am too weak…”

Do you think you’re weak? Why? Do you have low self-esteem? Do you have too much self-doubt? Are you too perfectionistic and you can’t live up to your standards so you don’t try? Are you in a relationship which berates you daily?

Can you think of times and areas you are strong in? If so, you’re not weak, you are weak in specific areas and just need some work in those.

I repeat: You are not weak. You have weak areas that, once you identify and choose to deal with, you really can reconstruct with the rebar of change, self-acceptance, and love.

You are strong. Look for your strengths and use them to administer to your weaknesses, and you will see your food life change.

Challenges We Face

“I don’t like to prepare food or cook…”

Would it help to prepare food with a friend? Could you eat more raw food? If you lost weight, would it be easier to cook because your knees would feel better? If you’re eating real, whole foods right for you, would you have more energy? Would one of your children who likes to cook be willing to make things you can eat if you explain to them you need some help losing weight for good?

You can navigate around this! Find a way! Talk it out with a trusted friend or family member!

“It irritates my husband (or wife) that I eat this way and won’t eat or drink with him (or her) and our friends…”

Are you neglecting yourself and your own needs in your marriage and food is simply another expression of that? Could you find something to share with your spouse, like a steak or a glass of dry, red wine that wouldn’t tip your eating over the cliff? Are you being too condescending towards your husband or wife with regards to his or her eating habits? Could you be a little less rigid and still succeed?

Relationships are the best, but only if you bring your whole self and your best self to the table.

Closing

These are just a few thoughts. Maybe you have more! Maybe you can share some inspiration for others in the comment box! It’s Christmas time, and this is probably the biggest six-week food challenge of the year! Let’s support one another. Even if you don’t like people. 😉

Don’t spend too much. Don’t eat too much. Don’t take on too much. And let your emotional baggage go.

Signing off.

Terri F

For a Mother Who Finds Mothering is Taking a Toll on Her Health

Mothers don’t have time for self. They don’t have time to chew (their food). They don’t have time for exercising. They don’t have time for God. They don’t have time to take a shower. They just don’t have time.

Motherhood is hard. And while I hear those words tossed about so often, I really, really don’t think that as a society we respect and internalize that truth. Maybe because so many women do it. Maybe because moms listen to each other’s stories and think, “Yep. I do that, too. Yep. I have that, too.” Maybe because we forget as our kids grow up into adults just how hard it was.

For too long we’ve belittled the frustration of motherhood and the toll it takes. It IS a big deal. It IS a huge, overwhelming job. I completely empathize with you! I’m there with you! Look yourself in the mirror today and say, “I AM doing a HARD job.” And then smile at yourself and say, “I can DO this HARD job. I LIKE this hard job. It IS a job like no other. And NO other woman can do this job for my household like I can.”

While I know that motherhood is hard, I know there are so many other women out there that have it harder than I do. Maybe harder than you do. And sometimes that is helpful to hear. It pulls me out of self-pity when I have one kid vomiting on the couch, one throwing herself on the ground screaming and sobbing because the neighbors cut the trees down, one walking in the door with a broken nose from gymnastics practice, and one asking what’s for supper. It helps keep me focused and motivated to remember these are passing moments, and others have “real” problems.

But, well, you know what? At other times, this only serves to drive home to me how frivolous and incompetent I am. Then, whammo, guilt monster, judging, and belittling set in. That is not productive, and it is not health-promoting.

We’re not here to see who can raise their kids better. Who can clean better. Who can cook better. Who can yell less. Who can do more and more while still raising kids.

Listen. Some of us do cook better. Some of us do clean better. Some of us are more patient. Some of us enjoy toddlers more than others. Some of us can work and come home and have energy to help with homework. Some of us can help teach Sunday school without dreaming of the game Whack-a-Mole at night. Some of us do love to shop with our kids.

But nobody can be YOU to your children. Nobody. Ever. So encourage yourself more. Let go of the judging and belittling of yourself and other moms. Find humor. Encourage another mom. Humor another mom.

You are amazing! You have a wonderful skill set! Embrace it! Love it! God did NOT make you like anyone else. Clean house or messy house. Food from the farm or food from the box. Introvert or extrovert. Medical doctor or GED. Award-winning kitchen designer or self-proclaimed artist.

Yes, I know that in motherhood you’re always interrupted! Interrupted you. That’s the story of a good mom’s life! For several years, you may be forced to give up WHAT YOU DO while you mother your children. Today’s world argues against that. For me, it was necessary to give up what I DO in order that I didn’t give up on WHO I am. Does that make sense? Doing too much robbed me of WHO I was. I was losing touch with myself.

Well, I’ll close. But today I would like you to consider if there are a couple of things in life that you might want to give up so you can be the mother and person you want to be. Maybe it’s as simple as not answering the phone when it’s that best friend who talks for an hour. Or maybe it’s the frequent trips to visit your sick relative. (I know that sounds very harsh.) Maybe it’s the extra class you’re trying to squeeze in.

I just don’t want you to lose YOU! And I also want you to have a great relationship with your children! As two of my children have entered the teen years, I am just so struck by how they are so amazing. And I’m so glad they like being around me and even confide in me at times.

And I know I am temporarily giving up a lot of WHAT I do. But because I have kept true to WHO I am, I know I can look forward to a future doing what I want to do. And doing it as healthy as ever, inside and out!

Have a super weekend!

Terri F

 

 

Inspiration For Those With Thanksgiving Food Challenges

Please, I encourage you, as you head into Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the wonderful holiday season, set your expectations for yourself and your eating. I don’t want you to go to sleep Thursday night bashing yourself because you ate way too much and you ate things you know don’t agree with you. I don’t want you to start the next six weeks off already in a pit of despair! You are a motivated, introspective, and curious person who can succeed in any area you really choose to.

So. Do you have a plan in place? Do you know your own expectations for Thanksgiving Day? The holidays? Do you know what others expect from you for Thanksgiving Day? The holidays?

Have you gone over what tomorrow will be like? Who will be there? What they will be bringing? Who will be begging you to try this or eat more? Have you decided in your mind the foods you really feel like you must have or else it won’t be Thanksgiving Day for you? Have you decided which drinks you will limit yourself to? And how many?

Over the years, since really grasping how much impact food has on how my body and brain function, I have tried different things and combined many, many different approaches to keep me on track on major feast days. Between my tongue and my brain (which lights up and does a happy dance just thinking about dinner rolls), I have to have lots of plans to fall back on! I make sure I have three or four ways to keep me on track when I head into a dinner or party.

Here are different ways I’ve used over the last 6 years. I don’t use all these at once!!! And I do this with love for my body and how it functions. I do NOT do it in a controlling, rigid way. I seriously do it because I love taking care of me! So I can take care of my family, my friends, my writing, my garden, and anything else I love!

  1. I choose to eat only gluten-free and dairy-free foods.
  2. I choose only foods that I know have real, whole, understandable ingredients.
  3. I choose to eat each and every one of the foods I enjoy, but only 2 spoonsful on the plate of each. After that, it’s only whole food, like plain turkey or fresh fruit.
  4. I choose to eat dessert but not till a full hour after my last bite of dinner.
  5. I choose to eat only low carb or ketogenic.
  6. I mentally list parts of my body that don’t work well and how they don’t work well when I eat too much or when I eat things that aren’t good for me. (Need a start? Constipation. Diarrhea. Bloating. Fatigue. Acne. Eczema. Joint pain. Headaches. And so on.)
  7. I only drink water.
  8. I only eat foods that I’ve prepared and brought.
  9. I rehearse in the mirror what I’ll say to well-intentioned people who want me to eat something they made or who bring me food they want me to try. Or people who just plain want to pester me into eating more because it makes them feel good.
  10. I fast in the times around the big meal of the day.
  11. I go for a walk.
  12. I don’t help clean the kitchen.
  13. I choose to eat slowly and only when sitting down.
  14. I decide to eat everything I want and really do it with gusto and to excess, and then the next day I go back to 100% whole food (fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, nuts, and fresh meats).
  15. I pray for help to eat how God would want me to eat for this body of mine so I can serve God’s world well.

Not everyone has problems with food. But for me, it’s like alcohol to an alcoholic. But I choose life. Joy. Wonder. I often worry that when I write here that people will look at that photo up there and think, “Whoa. She’s a control freak. She’s as skinny as a rail. She doesn’t need to worry about what she eats.” However, I have a family history of morbid obesity. Some of those people were large their whole lives. And others were thinner than I’ve ever been–before food addiction finally caught up with their metabolisms. What I can tell you is that when I think about food, particularly certain foods, I get this feeling in my brain and gut of immense anticipation. Like I expect someone who has any addiction gets.

I have worked very hard to arrive at a healthy relationship with food. You can too!

Make a plan. Have a back-up. Don’t give up. If something isn’t working, figure out why! Don’t forget to look within yourself. Are you a people-pleaser? Are you a hider? Does guilt rule your heart? Are you holding back?

Happy Thanksgiving! You can do this! Believe in yourself! You’re fearfully and wonderfully made. I don’t know you, but I sincerely want you to suceed! And if I do know you, you KNOW I want you to succeed! Share life with me! Till we’re really old.

Terri F

Why Can’t I Do Both?

Lazy and lame. Someone scathingly wrote to me that I was lazy and lame because I quit working as a medical doctor and instead chose to stay home with my four kids and homeschool. The words stung a little, but it’s nothing my own mind hasn’t wrestled with over the last seven years since staying home. I mean, there ARE moms who actually do BOTH homeschooling and doctoring! I know it IS possible. I’m a pretty capable woman, so I have often wondered why I “couldn’t” do both! In my life, I have confidence that I can handle most challenges thrown at me. In fact, a sure-fire way to guarantee I do something is to tell me I can’t!

Why, then, could I not “handle” work and homeschooling simultaneously? I mean, deep inside, I romanticize about being the mom who runs kids, always has extra kids around, has fresh meals on the table, volunteers in the community, is always there for her friends, desires her husband each night, pays the bills, exercises, keeps a neat house, attends social functions, reads good books, and is loved at the workplace. Other women say they do it successfully and happily!

No Satisfaction in Both

I know I’m not “other women,” but I curiously, deeply wondered what it is about me that prevented satisfaction when I did both. (Because I can sure tell you there was NO satisfaction or good humor when I did both, despite the fact that I LOVED doing EACH!) I just can’t be that, and I have to keep forging a life that keeps me true to my inner core. (I think that’s a unique thing in life. To step INTO yourself and say, “Yes, I feel really good. THIS fits me.” And to find a way to make that work for you, your family, and society.)

Back to my meanie accuser. I realized that this person and I may never see eye to eye because we simply do not have the same wiring, the same mother board, the same values. I am not here to tell moms to quit their jobs. I have a best friend who I told to get back in the work force—get back in there! Go for partnership. This woman needs to work or she’ll drive herself (and me) crazy. Work keeps her grounded and focused, even though she has four kids at home.

But not me. I pondered this now that time has passed and softened the emotions surrounding the transition from practicing medical doctor to being a stay-at-home mom. What is it about my wiring and my mother board that won’t allow me to peacefully work and homeschool?

Run Back to the Convent

My mom must have sensed something strange about me, because she used to tell me I should be a nun. “You’re running the wrong way, Maria,” I would have screamed as The Sound of Music‘s heroine danced and sang herself back to the Von Trapp home. “You’re running towards chaos! Go back to PEACE and ORDER! Go back to the convent, I say! When they tried to solve a problem like Maria, the nuns must have subtracted wrong. They got the wrong answer! You’re doomed! Return to the inner sanctity of order and quiet!”

No. Kidding. I didn’t really need to be a nun, but there definitely is something appealing about those quiet stone halls and methodical rituals! I love being a mom and teaching my four daughters. They’re bright. Loving. Talented. Kind. And I get to teach them every day! We can run into a lot of chaos homeschooling, but introspection has taught me that at the end of the day, I must have–or be moving towards– peace and order in each area of my life:

  • my kitchen
  • my stack of bills
  • my laundry room
  • my purse
  • my relationship with my husband
  • my relationships with my kids
  • my relationships with my friends
  • my relationship with God
  • my teaching
  • my health
  • my schedule
  • my text message and e-mail in-boxes

I’ve been called a perfectionist before, which I see now is somewhat of an error! I see how I and others could confuse them. For me, it’s not perfectionism, but it’s the pursuit of peace and order which makes me feel good inside. The house doesn’t need dusted as long as it’s picked up! I’ve been called controlling before, too. Again, maybe. But not really. “Honey, you didn’t put the garlic press back where it goes. It’s out of order…”

When I Was Working and Homeschooling

Anyhow, when I was working at the hospital as a medical doctor, I came home exhausted. I hadn’t lunched, supped, peed, or pooped. I carried two pagers (the code pager and the on-call pager) and the “house” phone. I was busy. I ran to codes, sick patients in the ICU, and had 5-7 patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital from the ER. It was fun. It was hard. But when I came home, my core value need could not be overridden. I needed order and peace.

Instead, I was greeted by sticky hands full of love. Couch cushions on the floor and blankets draping the chairs to create imaginative tents. And mail partly opened and tossed haphazardly on the counter for me to organize. Once, I even came home to find that tiny, nimble fingers had moved my great-grandmother’s fine china dinnerware all around from its protective nook.

School was expected to run on my days off, yet I hadn’t had time to organize my lessons. Get art supplies. Run through a craft or activity to see if it would work the way Pinterest said it would. My child didn’t do school the way I wanted. We (are supposed to) start at the left and we work to the right. We (are supposed to) fold our papers in the middle. And we don’t scribble-scrabble all over them!

PEACE. ORDER. Those are intrinsic needs for me and drive how I interact with life, my environment, and my people. No matter how many different things I tried, I couldn’t align my deep needs for peace and order with working and homeschooling simultaneously. Since family and education are other values that I cannot compromise, fully embracing motherhood and homeschooling and forfeiting professional goals (which don’t seem to drive me as much as peace and order, family, and education) felt much more comfortable and fulfilling. I do not regret my decision.

Conclusion

I hope you know that what you do is important. How you do it is important. How you feel when you do it is important. Strive to find out what makes you tick, and create a wonderful life which fulfills you and makes a difference where you want to make a difference at! If you’re struggling and you can change your mindset and that takes care of it, go for it! But if you try different routes, different techniques, and your mindset just won’t budge, maybe you should have been a nun. No. Kidding. Maybe you need to find out exactly what it is that’s not able to compromise deep within you and honor it.

How about you? Do you have greater needs for peace and order than other people? Does this need affect your work-home relationship? Do you fervently seek peace and order in all areas, including your own head? What happens when you have to be exposed to too much disorder and chaos? How does it make your body feel? How about your head?

May good blessings fall upon you today!

Terri F.

Image attribution: St. Lucas altarpiece, Andrea Mantegna, downloaded from Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Andrea_Mantegna_019.jpg