Why I Love My Stomach Rolls

Last week at yoga, I was effectively forced to stare at pools of sweat gathering in my stomach rolls.

The pose had me sitting down, folded over, head hanging into my lap, looking at my belly. I don’t what this yoga pose is actually called. Probably Folded Moon or Curled Up Squirrel or something like that.

It was pretty gross.

Exercise – or “sportsing” as I like to call it – has never really been my jam. I’ve had my gym contract cancelled twice for not using it often enough, despite the free parking ticket you get when you do. I felt no shame walking into the gym, swiping that card and walking straight out. Honestly, gyms are like nightclubs except the lights are on and everyone is sober. When I actually went to gym, it was just to use the sauna. I like the sauna.

I’ve tried running, but I’ve realised that the only thing that can make me run is if someone is chasing me. When I used to try jogging around the neighbourhood, I would only run if I saw a car. Not because I thought someone would chase me, but because it might be someone who knew me, so I would step it up and prance along sprightly so it would look like I’m a super fresh runner lady. I’m not a super fresh runner lady.

My husband on the other hand is one of those kettle-belling, cross-fitting, trail-running types. He has more shoes than I do, because all of the above require different footwear. He also likes to eat kale and chia seeds, which I’m still convinced is not-real-food. To give him some credit, he does make a killer smoothie that tastes so good I don’t even know that the afore-mentioned not-real-food is in it. He also has a smoking hot body, which personally I don’t have any objections to.

The problem with my non sportsing life is that after two little kids and too many rusks, I don’t like the way my body feels anymore. I don’t like how breathless I get after playing three minutes of soccer with my boys. I don’t like how my four year old can outrun me on the beach, which is problematic when he’s running away from you stark naked, throwing his head back laughing and won’t come back no matter how much you shout. True story.

I especially don’t like it when I’m waving at another mom in the school parking lot and all I can feel is my chicken-wing arm-flab flapping around.

I need to exercise.

And so, I’ve started doing yoga. I LOVE yoga. There is no pumping dance music telling me to put my hands in the hair or push, push, push. Instead there is a strong, beautiful woman telling me to breathe, and who never shouts at me when I randomly fall over. I love not wearing exercise footwear that costs more than my kids’ school fees. I love that it’s a class so you have actually go at specific times and people watch you so you don’t just lie in the corner and have a nap which is what I would rather do (although I do think there’s a market there for some entrepreneur – a napping centre disguised as a gym). I love that there is always someone in the class who is more bendier than me, and also someone who falls over before me. I am not the worst, which is a refreshing change from the other sportsing I’ve done.

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Because you know, mindfulness.

But there is something else yoga has given me that I love even more. As I bent over into the Wilted Flower pose or whatever that was that had me navel-gazing, I looked at my folded, wrinkled body, squishing over itself and dripping sweat, and do you know what I realized?

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My belly made those babies.

I love my squishy belly. This belly held the two most beautiful gifts in my life. It brought both of my gorgeous, energetic, hilarious boys into the world. This belly isn’t hard, flat or ripped but you know what? I’ve eaten a lot of really, really good food. I’ve done more than just survive life. I have relished delicious meals with fantastic people. I’ve laughed until my stomach aches in kitchens, around dinner tables, and over braais.

Yoga has given me gratitude. I’m grateful for exercise and my health. I’m grateful for food and family. Yoga even made me grateful for my sweaty stomach.

I’m basically a yogi now, guys.
Namaste.

 

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My Extremely Helpful Guide to Christmas Shopping

This is me trying to choose a present for someone. Notice the dark rings under my eyes. Notice the worry on my brow. I'm actually feeling stressed out just writing this.

This is me trying to choose a present for someone. Notice the dark rings under my eyes. Notice the worry on my brow. I’m actually feeling stressed out just writing this.

Everyone is always saying, “I love Christmas shopping! I love queues! I love credit card debt!”

Not me.

I don’t like any of those things.

But my worst thing about Christmas shopping is trying to figure out what other people want. I stand in front of shelves, and pick things up, and send pictures on Whatsapp to people so they can help me choose (see picture to the right). I SMS enigmatic questions to the person it’s for to see if they would like it without telling them what it is, and then I get very, very confused and buy something that I wasn’t even considering, and then cringe when my sister unwraps a porcelain dachshund on Christmas Day.

I just wish everyone wanted what I want for Christmas, because all I want for Christmas is

  1.  a surprise that is so awesome I didn’t even know I wanted it
    or (if you can’t nail it)
  2. vouchers so I can choose my own things
    or
  3. Amy Poehler’s new book, “Yes, Please!”
    (No, really. That’s what its called. “Yes, Please!” is the title. And yes, I would like it. Please.)

Simple.

I know that YOU’RE probably so organised and emotionally intelligent that you’ve already got personal, phenomenal, best-present-ever presents for everyone you know, but in case you aren’t, here’s my gift to you:

My Extremely Helpful Guide to Christmas Shopping

  1. Nieces and Nephews

In my experience, the best type of gift for children is one they can share. Like, a video game with one control. Or a scooter. Or a telescope. This may seem counterintuitive, but you are giving so much more than stuff that will lie in a toy box 80% of the time. You are giving them life experience. This is the gift that teaches them negotiation, patience, time management, the joy of delayed gratification, and self-denial. You’re also helping them learn that life’s not fair. Honestly, you’re practically raising them. Your sister-in-law is going to LOVE it.

(Side-note: This strategy is also effective for siblings, couples etc. Feel the joy)

  1. Mothers

This is probably one of the easiest ones to get right, because everyone knows their mom REALLY well. First, think of a specific quality that you would like to change about your mom. Like her advice, or her cooking, or the colours she uses for eyeshadow. Secondly, buy her a book that will teach her to be different. For example, “1 000 Tips For Being A Better Listener”, or “How To Cook With Food – An Easy Guide to Not Burning Stuff”, or “Beige Is The New Purple”. Thirdly, sit back and enjoy the new, upgraded mom. This kind of present says so much. Bonus: you won’t need a card because she’ll know its from you. SCORE!

  1. Fathers

I know. This is the one you’ve been waiting for. Dads are so hard. They are the Tour De France of presents. They are the Mt. Everest of gifts. When it comes to Christmas, they are the final round of Takeshi’s Castle. But I’m about to let you in on a MIND-BLOWING little secret. If you want to know what to get your dad…

Dammit.

I’ve got nothing.
Soap on a rope it is.

  1. Your own children

A lot of people think this is going to be easy, because your own children spend every waking moment telling you what they want. Unfortunately, it’s not ok to give them a snack or some juice as a Christmas gift, even though they ask for these two things more than any other thing in the world. Do not be misled – they do not actually want a snack or a juice. They just want you to NOT SIT DOWN. EVER.

I digress. The golden rule for buying your child’s Christmas gift is:

Buy something the salesperson says will be easy to assemble.

If a shop assistant tells you a toy is ‘easy to assemble’, it means it will take all of Christmas Day and Boxing Day to build, several trips to the hardware store in search of the correct tools, and then you will realise you do not have the right size batteries. This is the essentially a recipe for a joyful, peaceful Christmas because not only does it involve the whole family working together as a team, but it also means that you don’t have time to do anything else that might make you feel too relaxed. Or sit down. You won’t really get to sit down ever again in your life. Because you have kids.

I know, I know.
Before you read this blog, you were feeling a bit overwhelmed about getting your Christmas shopping done. But I’m pretty sure you now have about 100 ideas and all the inspiration to head out there, wave at the other cars on their way to the store, and embrace the queues with all the enthusiasm of a shopping mall Santa.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

You’re welcome.

 

How To Give A Compliment

Have you ever been on the way to visit someone who has really great hair, and on the way there you realise you didn’t shower that day and forgot to put your hair up and now you were on your way to visit someone with really great hair?

I have.

It happened last weekend when I went to visit Tory. Tory has great hair. It’s long and luscious and she looks cuter than a 14 year old taking selfies in her bathroom. I mean look at her…

She has great hair. And a gorgeous son. It's kind of ridiculous.

Tory has great hair. And a gorgeous son. It’s kind of ridiculous.

Anyway.

So on the way to Tory’s house, I had this self-directed diatribe going through my head:

“Ah no! NO MAN! YOU DORK. Why didn’t I put my flippen hair up? I didn’t even have a shower today. Note to self: taking Luke to swimming lessons is NOT the same as having a shower. Flip my hair looks so scaffy, and Tory always looks so gorgeous. I HATE MY HAIR UGGGGHHHHH.”

That’s all I had time for because she lives 5 minutes away, but I could have gone on much longer.

Then Tory opens the door and OBVS her hair is flowing over her shoulder like she just stepped out of a salon.

Fast forward about an hour after tea, Swiss rolls, discussions about parenting and temperament and whether its better to get your veggies at Woolies or FoodLovers. The conversation turns to our free-spirited, unorganised approach to life (I like to call it “Big Picture Living”), and Tory brings up the fact that she can never find hairbands. She says:

“In fact, I was looking for a hairband this evening when you said you were on your way, because your hair is always so great and I was like, UH, Jess’ hair is always so smooth and straight and just hangs so nicely, and my hair is so wild and crazy. But I couldn’t find one to tie up this mane so sorry you have to look at my frizzy hair!”

What. The. Heck.

I almost fell off the chair laughing, and told her about my own hair crisis and how we were both literally thinking the same thing about each other and ourselves – SHE HAS GREAT HAIR. I DO NOT.

So we took this selfie to commemorate the moment of ridiculousness.

We have great hair.

We have great hair.

Why do we do this?

Why do we take what is probably truly awesome about us – for example, my great hair – and try pretend like it’s truly awful?

  • When someone tells us we have a nice outfit on, we say “Oh, its so old and I got it at Mr Price. It doesn’t even fit me properly.”
  • When someone says “You have such a nice nose!”, we say, “What? It’s so stubby and round. I wish I had a nose like you.”
  • When someone compliments us on a job well done, we say, “It was nothing! It wasn’t really me, the team worked so hard on it.”

STOP IT.

Stop insulting people’s good taste. Stop rejecting their compliments. Stop throwing perfectly sincere admiration to the floor like it’s garbage.

My mom taught me this a few years ago. When someone gives you a compliment, do you know what to do?

Smile and say “Thank you.”

No excuses, no self-deprecation, no fake humility. No long story about how usually you’re blah blah blah and it’s totally random that this one time you’re so good at blah blah blah.

Smile and say “Thank you.”

You probably have great hair. Or great taste in clothing. Or can sing. Or are brilliant at your job. Or can make really good macaroons. Or something.

So here’s the challenge, friends. Here is your TO DO list for today.

  1. Give a compliment. To yourself.
    Say something you like about yourself.  On Facebook, or Twitter, or the comments section of this blog. Somewhere that others can see it. Say something you like about yourself and OWN it. Claim it. Do not fob off all the affirmation that will follow. And it can’t be like, “I am so good at being average at stuff.” It has to be great, like “I have gorgeous toes. I freaking love my toes.”
    (If you feel awkies doing this, post it along with a link to this blog so everyone knows you’re not being a ego-maniacal social media fool. Or not)
  2. That’s all.
Now it's your turn to :) and say "Thank you."

Now it’s your turn to 🙂 and say
“Thank you.”

That was a test. Now go and spread the love!