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Confessions of an Un-Runner

Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Bio: Who is the Un-Runner?

The daughter of a country preacher and a strong-minded woman, the Un-Runner was raised to fit in, to do what she was told, and to NEVER make waves. She excelled at it - but she's better now!

Cyndi Paxton Johnson balances family, friends, fitness, homeschooling, writing and a family business with humor and tears. She's been published in Donne Tempo, The Washington Times, and Cecil County Magazine, among others.

Boobs, Babes and other Natural Disasters

part of the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna, Italyby Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Let's hear it for nursing mothers! We who bare all {grin} for the sake of our children! While my ta-tas are now retired from public domain (and insured by the post-nursing necessity of industrial strength ta-ta holders), I fondly remember the seven years of Godiva-ish freedom nursing provided.

I'm sure experts' question the transformation of shy girl guarding her budding bosom to relaxed Earth Mama, indifferently plopping her babe's dinner onto a table in a busy restaurant.  Turns out there is a natural transistion - although not all mamas experience all stages!

The Turtle: This one's easy to recognize - she's purchased the pastel tent that hides everything from the neck down, fiercely shouting to distant passer-bys "I'M NURSING BUT YOU WON'T SEE ANYTHING!"  She might be found hiding in a rest room, perched uncomfortably on the handi-capped sink as she feeds her wee babe. The $35 Hooter-Hider (aka - tent with a view) is perfect for those in the Turtle stage!

Fortunately, by the time child #2 comes along, the turtle emerges and finds less bulky ways to care for her young!

Jellyfish Explosion

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

JelliesI’ve never been impressed by Jellyfish – slimy, spineless bags of nothing that have a penchant for stinging my middle child – ruining the day.  They did look pretty cool (if deadly) in the cartoon “Finding Nemo”, but since I don’t plan on ever meandering underwater in the deep sea – it went no further.  And really – cartoons can make ANYTHING look good – even ogres!

But then I visited the new exhibit at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.  What were these graceful, colorful explosions of tranquility?  As I watched their evocative dance all stress and sounds melted away and I mentally drifted with the flowing tentacles.

I may have even drooled – it was visual crack. 

This photo, as gorgeous as it appears, does not do justice. It’s the movement that’s miraculous. 

The dance.

Perhaps that’s true of us, as well. No matter what we are – our attractions, knowledge or history – the still picture is nothing. It’s what we DO that inspires.   Ideas and dreams are fleeting – and numerous.  The actions we take are what defines us. 

What defines you right now?

While you’re  figuring that out – go visit the Jellies and be amazed.

And try not to drool!

Spanking Unleashed

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It’s back – that unsightly elephant in the living room.  Should – or shouldn’t we – spank our children.   The debate was re-sparked this week by a Tulane University study of 2,500 children, published in the journal Pediatrics.  Study results indicated that when children under three-years-old are spanked frequently, there's a 50% greater chance that they'll become more aggressive by the time they reach kindergarten. 

Well, Duh!

Our job, as parents, is to create a safe environment for young children – so they can explore without danger. As they mature and become aware of cause and effect the barriers are gradually lifted.  A friend once advised me – strongly – to spank my 18 month old because she wanted to splash in the bucket of toxic household chemicals that the friend had in the middle of the floor.  I moved the toxic bucket to another room and closed the door.  Simple.

My husband and did agree (in theory) that a short spanking would be in order if our toddler ever pulled away and ran into the road, not heeding our call.  We felt that physical punishment – since it had never been used before – would help them realize the potential danger of running into streets.  I don’t know if we were correct – and the situation never arose.   But once you’ve agreed that corporal punishment is acceptable in danger situations – you’ve opened Pandora’s Box.  A LOT of situations could be potentially dangerous – hence the need for gates and safety measures.  Even the road scenario – if our toddler was NOT under voice control and I had no available hands to restrain her – I would have used a harness and tether.  It would have solved the problem without showing the child that bigger and stronger wins.

Because really, if young children are taught that being able to physically conquer someone smaller is how you win – why wouldn’t they then demonstrate those learned skills when they are the “bigger kid”?

Til Death Do Us Part

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I'm feeling a bit weepy and sentimental, today. We attended the funeral of my 92 year old great-aunt - and saw friends and family members you only see once in a great while - every ten years or so. This group, however, was familiar. We had gathered less than a month ago to bury my 91 year old great-uncle. Yup - my aunt and uncle had been married 63 years - and were living independantly until 6 weeks ago. Now they're both gone.

My uncle had several serious health issues - his death was not unexpected. His wife, however, was fine. I think she had neither the will nor the desire to continue without her rock and protector. So...she stopped.

And so today the same people gathered, at the same place, to set her beside her beloved husband.

My aunt and uncle are not unique. Many older couples simply wind down together as naturally as they lived beside each other for decades. They're in sync.

My tears are not simply for my loved ones - they're for little old couples everywhere, puttering through their day, secure in the love they share. If you know of such a couple - please go out of your way this week to do something nice for them - bring them some home-made food, fresh vegetables, or old pictures.

Or simply sit and listen to their story - a story of a love that has lasted two lifetimes, and will continue to bless the world long after they are gone.

Namaste.

Confessions of a Kitchen Snob

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Ok, I admit it – I’m a kitchen critic. I dislike cutesy, new-fangled or gimmicky when it comes to my culinary tools. I’d rather have several solid items that serve me well than drawers full of single use items.  Seriously – an egg slicer? Chicken-shaped measuring cups?  A special plate for holding deviled eggs? 

Unfortunately, my dislike for tools with poor or single function does NOTHING to dissuade me from trying new gadgets in my Holy Grail search for the ULTIMATE KITCHEN TOOLS & APPLIANCES.   Here’s a few that have NOT lived up to criteria:

Champion Juicer – expensive and considered one of the best in the world, especially beneficial for Cancer patients (I’m told) – I find it annoying to clean and dislike BAGS of pulp byproduct – seems wasteful. 

Large Cuisinart Food Processor – also expensive – and works very well.  Was great for making scone dough, in addition to chopping. But – annoying to clean. (especially now that we have no dishwasher)

Kitchenaid Mixer – the next to highest model – but not powerful enough to handle double & triple batches of dough – which is what I make. 

So, now that I’ve dissed some of the largest names in the world of food preparation – what DO I like?

Appliances

Get free shipping when you order a Vita-Mix!Well, my new favorite kitchen tool (and the reason I’m selling the juicer and food processor) is the Vita-Mix.  I’d vaguely heard of it when I was intrigued by a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer commercial, and started searching online. Turns out THAT juicer/blender didn’t do too well in the reviews – everyone swore by the Vita-Mix, instead.   A couple of months later I was fortunate enough to attend a Vita-Mix demonstration – and I was sold.

I’m now the Smoothie Queen of the neighborhood – and we’re all enjoying a LOT more fruits and vegetables! Even when I make fruit smoothies I add some cabbage to the mix – it’s instantly emulsified and adds only sweetness and nutrients to the overall taste!  On slow, the Vita-Mix is also a food processor, chopping whole onions into manageable bits!

Best of all – it’s SO easy to clean – just add some warm water & dish detergent and turn it ON for 10 seconds. (don’t add more than the 2 cups of water directed – or you’ll have a sudsy Mount Vesuvius on your countertop – NOT that I’d ever DO that, of course! {Grin!})

Slug Days

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Finally.  According to the weatherman (and he’s NEVER wrong!) the SUN will be shining brightly for a few days!  There’s something about rain that brings out the slug in me – everything seems to move in slow motion!  Just as the sunshine makes us yearn to be outdoors and productive, endless gray rain makes us yearn for a warm bed, hot tea and mindless activities.

I’ve succumbed to the temptation a bit too frequently.

Therefore – I’m working on ways to motivate me when the weather is just NOT cooperating! I just found an online timer (www.ticktocktimer.com) which I’m using while writing this post. If you’re new to the concept of timers I recommend you check out Flylady (www.Flylady.net) who says “You can do anything for 15 minutes!”.   I’ve successfully used a timer to clean out the refrigerator (Ugh!),  get the kids to finish their math and boogie the living room clean (tidy while dancing to music!).

Now I’m using it to write. I must say, I’m a bit concerned about what happens when the timer goes off! Do I just stop in the middle of a sentence?

At any rate – do what you need to do to motivate yourself during your own Slug Days! Some folks reward themselves with chocolate (doesn’t work for me – I eat the chocolate anyway!) or bargain with themselves to achieve more.  Others pretend they really ARE motivated – and act out the part. Funny thing – while you pretend to be something it’s easier to get moving!

Other ways to get out of your slump: set a really BIG goal! Little goals can feel like chores, while BIG goals inspire. Do the nastiest thing on your to-do list FIRST..aka “Eat That Frog!”.  (cause if you have to eat a frog, you certainly don’t want to LOOK at it all day, first!)

While ALL of these approaches will work – I’ve discovered a NEW motivating technique that NEVER fails!  It’s SO simple – you’ll kick yourself for all those wasted, non-productive days!  Are you ready? The SECRET to motivating yourself to achieve ALL of your dreams is

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

Smacking Suzy Sunshine – How to handle the Blues

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Changing your life involves a LOT of positive thought and actions.  It means starting and living your day with gratitude, making straight forward goals and visualizing those rosy-red results. But what happens when you just can’t be upbeat and positive? When you feel like smacking Suzy Sunshine and inviting her to try out YOUR life for a change?

We all get the deep blue funks from time to time – and we all deal with them differently.  Some folks exercise (that’s WAY too healthy for me), others treat themselves to a spa day or special treat, and still others – like me – simply give myself permission to be sad/sick/depressed for a day or two – and indulge myself!

Life without Electricity - and Flush Toilets

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It’s 8:30 at night and everything is dark and quiet.  The oil lamp gives off barely enough light to read, the fire is glowing dimly in the woodstove, the candle in the next room is flickering rapidly as it prepares to extinguish itself.  In the household of six , only three are awake – myself and two children. One child is cured by the fire, reading. The other is drawing in the dim light – creating his own worlds with paper and colored pencils. 

It’s our second night without power. The entire neighborhood is affected – a felled tree took out a power line, and the snow is too deep to allow a repair truck access.  Larger and larger equipment has been called into service – needed to dig out the smaller trucks that became wedged in the drifting snow. Hopefully sometime tomorrow we will rejoin the modern world and again have lights, refrigeration, electric stove and water.  And working toilets – let’s not forget the working toilets! (especially since two out of three children have experienced “intestinal issues” during out black-out period.

Mother Nature's Dark Side

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I never knew the meaning of COLD until I moved into a 1900’s farmhouse.  I’ve spent the last seven years building up an impressive collection of double-lined pants, fleecy pajamas, thick wool socks, and triple-weight sweats.  When the temperature dips below 20 I’ve been known to wear them all simultaneously – to bed.  Then I burrow under sheet, normal blanket, electric blanket, quilt THEN down-filled throw.  I am one WARM, snuggly woman – even if I do need 3 pairs of socks to stay that way! 

This year we moved into another house – no more drafts blowing through the walls. I was excited to finally, finally be warm through-out the winter. One problem solved.

That was my first mistake – thinking everything was perfect.  That small piece of conceit awakened Mother Nature – who has serious control issues. 

Exhibit A: the coldest, snowiest winter in fourteen years.  (I’m choosing to take this as proof we did the right thing moving out of the 1900’s house – or we would be five human popsicles right now!) Still – this much snow is guaranteed to make even the warm blooded go diving for extra blankets.

Unless, of course, you’ve reached THE AGE.

Exhibit B:  I speak, of course, of peri-menopause – and the infamous hot flashes.  It started quickly – Mother Nature is one pushy broad.   I was snuggled deep in my heavy pj’s, socks and multiple blankets.  This was good. Then….without warning…it was TOO MUCH!  The down comforter hit the floor first. The electric blanket was turned off and shoved aside.  The two small dogs, snuggling for warmth, were kicked unceremoniously to the floor as sheets and blankets billowed with as much air as the Flying Nun’s wimple.  The husband’s hand, usually enjoyed for its heat source (as well as the mushy love stuff) suddenly became a branding iron, trying to imprint itself upon my hip.  (and if he complains to you about my pushing him away – remind him he’s just lucky he didn’t wind up on the floor with the dogs)

Trust in the Path

http://www.lifeontheedges.comBy Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Do you ever feel pulled in different directions – only to realize you’re doing all the pulling? There are SO many things you need to do, plus the things you SHOULD do – that there is rarely time for the things you WANT to do! You either spend all your time and energy on the “needs” and “shoulds” or, like me, you stand paralyzed at the crossroad, trying to decide which direction to take! (I have the same problem bowling – can NEVER pick up a split – the ball goes right down the middle!)

If this sounds familiar – the very first thing to do is get RID of the “shoulds”!  Take a look at each one and see if it really belongs in a different category.  For example: I have an elderly great aunt & uncle I SHOULD visit.  Just phrasing it that way makes it sound like work.  Instead,  I’ll turn it around and realize why I WANT to visit them – because it will bring us all joy and sometimes there is no “later”.  Go through each “should” – if one doesn’t move naturally into another category – release it.  Don’t say you “can’t” do it (very disempowering word) – but realize you CHOOSE to do or not do something.   Every time you make a conscious choice your world expands – and you grow to fill the void.

But even after you’ve eliminated the “should” – there’s a LOT let on your plate. How do you make time for the things you WANT to do?

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