Monday, June 22, 2015

Changes be Coming 'Round the Corner

Today is a bitter-sweet day.
Today starts the last week that I will be a full-time Nanny for Bear and Bug.

In some ways I can hardly believe that I have been with them for just about 2 years. Wasn't it yesterday that I was walking off the plane to come meet the family? Time has flown with these little men. I can hardly believe that it is coming to an end. 

"How lucky I am to have something so hard to say good-bye"
 - Winnie the Pooh

This job, with these boys, with their parents has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Being a part of their first 3 years of life, teaching them, loving them, watching them grow - it has all been so incredibly overwhelming.Knowing that in some small way Bear and Bug will always have a little bit of me in them and that I will have a little bit of them in me is a priceless feeling. 

Being a Nanny has also been one of the hardest jobs that I have ever said yes to. There were days it was physically tiring, others it was mentally numbing, but mostly it has been emotionally draining. A really good, crazy hard, made me stronger kind of draining. It pushed me to my limits of patience and understanding. In the moments that my emotions wanted to take over one of their sweet smiles would melt my heart letting me know that there is little value at getting angry at the small things in life.

Wrangling two very active toddlers has been a massive life lesson in patience. Teaching them how to have conflict resolution has helped me in learning what battles in life to pick. Most of all their love has taught me how free and unattached my love for others should be. Bear so freely forgives me by climbing in my lap with a pile of books to read after a mini battle. Bug openly loves with his kisses and hugs no matter how many times I have scolded him for putting rocks in his mouth. 

These boys and this job has taught me so many wonderful life lessons. 
The time has come for a different family to teach me new life lessons.

The Details:

For those of you that want to know the details here they are.

A few months back I started wondering if my time with the boys was coming to an end. When I signed up for this job they were infants, little-bitties. Now they are not so little. Bear refuses to be called anything but a big boy while Bug is physically just as big as his older brother. Around the time I started questioning my role as their nanny their Mom started expressing her desire to stay home her next contract year.

Over a few months we had several small conversations about a few of our thoughts but nothing seemed to really be taking shape. Until one night we ended having a great conversation about how both us were feeling - she really wanted to stay home with the boys and I really wanted to find a new job with at least one baby.

At the beginning of June details come together for MomBoss to stay home full-time with her boys and for me to start looking for a job. I started filling out applications with local Seattle nanny agencies. My NannyFamily has offered me the option to keep living with them, which I am really grateful for. I am currently in the middle of the interview process with a highly recommended agency, hoping to end up in a new NannyFamily with a baby.

This is a really exciting time for both me and MomBoss. Two things are making this transition extra easy 1) We are ending this season of life together on the same page, we are both happy with the coming transition. 2) Even though I have to say good-bye to doing everyday life with the boys I don't have to say good-bye to them.

What's Next?
 I don't 100% know.

The whole world is open to me - I have no clue if I will end being a nanny for 1 baby or 4 kids.
But when I know you will know.

I plan on blogging my journey over the next few weeks.
So stay tuned in if you want to see where this next season of life takes me. It is an exciting new chapter for me, working with an agency and hopefully a family that I haven't met yet, taking a newborn care specialist training, and taking the next step in my nanny career.
Good things are to come.

ceconner© 6.22.2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

One Habit at a Time

"I couldn't succeed at a lifestyle change when I kept living the same life. And that is what I needed, a life style change."

You should know that I am sitting here finishing up the finale of my first two posts: My VERY PERSONAL Reason for Becoming a Full-Time Nanny and The Power to Say No while munching on a bag of potato chips.

Learning to Change. 

Before moving out to Seattle with my NannyFamily I only knew a few things about them. They were actively involved in the West African Drum and Dance community, MomBoss was a teacher, DadBoss did something with production (whatever that means), they ate mostly organic, DadBoss was (is) a vegetarian and he was (is) a really good cook. 

With this knowledge, along with some actual details about the job, I decided to make a career change. This career change was leading me to a total life-style change; some of the changes that I was aware of and some that I wasn't. Changes like getting to enjoy sunny days outside, walks on the beach, cuddle times with Bear and  Bug, exploring a new part of the country, weekends by the water, and days learning to hike. 
The change I looked forward to most of all was the one that I kept secret longest; a change in my eating.
15lbs Later. 
I had been in Seattle less than 5 full months before I decided to step on the scale for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised. The scale was reading numbers 15lb less than the last time it was stepped on. The crazy thing was that I wasn't do anything special or extra to try and loose weight. I was just eating normal foods; like a healthy person. 

I had stopped eating fast food every day, but still occasionally grabbed it on the go. I wasn't downing soda's and eating handfuls of chocolate everyday. Yet I still enjoyed a cold soda and bites of chocolate. I wasn't working out everyday or even a few times a week, but I was trying to take walks on the beach and become more active. I ate a lot of more whole foods and less processed foods. I still enjoyed cake but it was now from scratch not boxed. That was the standard for my Nanny Family, most anything was permissible to eat as long are there was no MSG and it was made from scratch.

Sadly it wasn't until I moved out here that I realized how unhealthy and not good my old life style habits were. They had become normal and kind of common ground, habits that led to complacency in my health. My normal habits in that small town had become so not normal for my body, I didn't know how starved my body was for healthy foods and habits.

Other Things Changed Too.

Besides just over all feeling better the two biggest changes I noticed were the massive decrease in headaches and the sudden regularity of my cycle. Headaches went from at least once a week to maybe once a month. Personally I think the reason these two things happened so quickly was first my drastic decrease in how much meat I ate (I went from eating it 1/2x a day to 1/2x a week). Secondly was that the meat that we did eat in the house was organic.

Energy started to seep back into my bones. Waking up in the morning, although still my least favorite part of the day, it was no longer a fight to put my feet on the ground. I no longer felt completely exhausted at the end of everyday with only the ability to soak in Netflix. Yes 3 O'clock was still my nasty tired hour but I now usually rebounded back from it. 

All of this just because of changing the foods that my body processed. 

Stalled Out.

After those initial 5 months not much else changed for about a year and a half. I had seasons of loosing and then gaining 5 pounds but overall I hit a plateau. During this time I watched my MomBoss faithfully work out almost everyday. I stopped eating fast food (ok I did slip up and grab some breakfast home fries last month) and I observed my NannyFamily's eating habits.  

One thing I have learned to appreciate is the normalcy of their eating habits. It is just natural for them to eat healthy 90% of the time - and by healthy I don't mean only nuts and fruit and veggies. Yes the house is stocked full of a variety of nuts that I still can't name but it is more than that. It is making pasta for dinner with homemade noodles bought at the farmer's market, with sauce that is made in our kitchen, and a salad stocked full of veggies. So when thick slices of bread covered in garlic and cheese are placed on the table no one makes a big deal out of eating a piece or two or three. 90% of the meal is healthy and nutritious so the 10% that isn't doesn't matter.

This is opposite from what I have been doing my whole life. Instead of making a big deal about the unhealthy dessert at the table and counting calories they have created a healthy lifestyle where the occasional fatty delicious dessert doesn't matter. When pizza is ordered in once every few months no one has to go run a couple extra miles the next day to sweat off the greasy pie. It hit me so hard, when most of your life is healthy the small amount of unhealthy really doesn't matter. When your life is unhealthy - the smallest choices matter. 

The other component I have been observing is the priority and emphases on the foods nutritional value not their calorie intake. Healthy eating around here is about how the food is helping your body not about the fat content that you are indulging in. 

The Final Piece.

Okay so what does this all have to do with my body image problem? Well...

...learning what true health is changed how I view my body. Healthy is not a pants size or number on a scale. I know that seems elementary but really let that sink in. Healthy is NOT determined by the size pants your wear and it is for sure NOT the numbers glaring back at you on a scale. 
My goal is no longer to become a size 6 or lose 20 more pounds. My goal is now to create a healthy life style that is maintainable. I want to be able to enjoy the finer foods (and things) in life. I don't want to worry what a stopping by the ice cream shop is going to do to my waste line and my self image. I want to be able to say yes to the 10% of "bad" food that comes my way because I am saying yes to the great food 90% the rest of the time. I want to be like the sweet 60 year old ladies I saw climbing a mountain a few weeks ago.

The only way that I am going to be like those ladies is to create those habits now. The biggest and hardest habit for me to create and keep is working out regularly - so I made it my goal. In April I posted on Facebook that I wanted to have 30 dates with my treadmill. Surprisingly a lot of people discouraged me, mainly because it was an unrealistic expectation. By the end of April I totally didn't reach my goal of 30 dates - I did however reach my real goal of creating a habit of heading out the treadmill on a regular basis. My expectation was never to hit the treadmill every single day but to be hitting it enough to create a healthy habit. May came and went; the treadmill and I became even better friends. It is now mid-June, last week I didn't step out for a run once, and my body noticed. 

My body felt that I hadn't hit the treadmill in a week and that made me really happy - not because I need to run everyday - but because it is showed me that my body is creating a healthy maintainable habit. I know I will never run everyday, that weeks will go by with out working out and that is okay. 

One Habit at a Time.

Redefining health as giving my body nutrients that it needs not the size of my thighs awakened in me a desire to create a healthy life and body.

Once my working out becomes a sustainable habit I can start on the next one - slightly healthier meals. Even without creating a second habit I am finally happy with my body. Granted I still have days I scowl at my stretch marked thighs or try to cover my muffin top but you know what? I no longer hate my body. I actually really like it. Without my thighs I wouldn't be able to climb these crazy Washington mountains, without a little extra around my mid section Bear's bouncing on me would hurt a whole lot more, and what would Bug pinch if I didn't have all that extra arm flab? Honestly having the boys poke and prod my body has helped me in appreciate it. Every time Bug pulls up my shirt to point out my "bee bo" (belly button) or Bear runs up laughing as he smacks or rubs his head on my booty I am reminded that my body is nothing more than skin and bones.

The reason I like my body has nothing at all to do with my current body shape either. As far as I know in the last 2 months I have maybe shed one pound. However in the last few months I have finally redefined what healthy is in my mind and this new definition has left me content, even happy. Content that we are all created in different shapes, sizes, colors, tones, heights, and builds. We, as a human race, have different tendencies and habits. We all need to learn how to be healthy and take care of the one and only body that we have on this earth. 
So if you are struggling with your body, if you are wishing you were 5 sizes smaller or 2 sizes bigger please remember your body is made to be different. It is yours to take care of and love. No matter your size, weight, or build - work to be healthy. Start out by creating one sustainable habit, get it down solid, and then start the next. Your body is beautiful. It is meant to bring you joy and keep you active. Your body is not here to keep you captive and immobile

ceconner© 6.18.2015


Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Power to Say No

"Genuine surprise started to over come me. I was skinny. Like healthy skinny. My arms weren't that big at all and my stomach actually was thin, it didn't hang over my pants at where did this self loathing come from?"

It has been over 10 years since this whole process began and I still can't answer why I struggle with this body image problem. And I am okay with that. To me the 'not knowing why' is not nearly as important as the 'what am I going to do about it'? 

But let me not get ahead of myself. 
There is more to the personal reason for me moving to Washington...

The Next Part.

...After the mental realization that I was actually in decent shape and shouldn't beat myself up about my body image I enjoyed about 2 years of freedom from stress and worry. I worked out regularly, ate relatively healthy, and stayed active. Then I went through a really hard break-up (a story for a different place and time) and moved to take a new job in a small town. A beautiful country town set at the bottom of the Finger Lakes with some of the most glorious autumns I have ever experienced. The people were great and my new job was wonderful. But the break up left me depressed.

This move to the small town was one of the best and hardest things to ever happen to my life. My time there was basically like pulling back all my layers of thick skin and getting to some root issues in my life. One of the issues that quickly came to light was my "stressing eating" habit. Since this beautiful small town had one big flaw - there are literally more fast food places to eat than restaurants - the light on my bad habit flooded down very brightly. It was easier/cheaper to get some chicken nuggets & fries than it was a salad and veggies. 

Excuses and Reasons.
I had to drive past at least 3 fast food places on my way home from work, every day. My excuses for why I stopped by frequently to fast food varied from "i hate cooking for one", "it's been a long day/week I deserve it" "I can't afford much else" "it's fast" and the list goes on and on. The problem was that they were all excuses; excuses that I was completely happy pretending were valid. 

Mix these excuses with legitimate reasons for having a hard time eating healthy (being on the road often, working dinner concerts with the most incredible food, and always being at parties with friends that were focused on good people with good food) and my body image issues came tumbling back. My image issues came back in a totally different form this time - I no longer silently compared myself to women around me. Now I was complacently accepting that I was heading towards becoming overweight. I easily got annoyed at people doing the latest food craze or diet. I unashamedly ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. 

At first glance this didn't seem like a body image issue but an eating issue. So I had to start looking at why I was eating so much, so poorly. I would be lying if I denied that part of it was just honestly the environment around me. It is was genuinely hard to create healthy eating habits there. It was not convenient to eat good foods often and work out regularly. The other part was I stopped caring about my body. I was so unhappy with my arms, legs, stomach, and now calves that I went into denial about how bad I was letting things get. The "if I can't beat them join them" mentality clicked in. It was easier to embrace eating whatever I wanted and being overweight than admitting how much I disliked my body and working really hard to get it into a shape I didn't think was still good enough.  
First week in small town life
Photo Credit to Family Life

30 Pounds Later.
With the first year in this small town I gained 15lbs; when I left small town life I had gained at least 30lbs. 
 In 4 short years. 

30 lbs later - making my way to WA

 In those 4 years I had great friends who said wonderful things like "But you hide it so well" and "you have a face that looks cuter with some extra pounds on it". I love these ladies in my life so much, especially since most of them were struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle too. We all were stuck in the same rut of trying to be healthy in what is honestly a very unhealthy town.  

I am about to admit something I am utterly ashamed of (and pretty disgusted with now): the months leading up to me taking a new job and moving away I was eating fast food everyday, or at least 5 times a week. Something in me had broken. Because I couldn't figure out how to embrace my body I knowingly embraced the "well if I think I am fat I may as well eat how I want" mentality. Now before you think (or think I thought) that I was unhealthy overweight - I wasn't. However I was not a healthy weight either.

How Did I Feel, You Ask?

I felt like crap. Literally. It wasn't until I moved to Washington that I realized how bad I really felt. I rarely had an energy, I felt bloated and gross most of the time. I felt like I could never get enough sleep while never wanting to go to sleep. Headaches/Migraines occurred at a frequency where I never left the house without a bottle of Excedrin (I should have been their spokes person with how I endorsed it). And to put it out there for you ladies, my monthly cycle was at best bi-monthly at worst semi-annually. 

Physically my body was probably in shock.  How could it not be. I went from working out almost everyday and eating fairly healthy to maybe working out once a week (or month) and eating food with absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever. 

"I Can Say No".

About a year before I moved away from small town life a co-worker of mine started a pretty intense food plan (I forget what it is called). She had a life-coach, bought her meals monthly, cut out several food groups, started exercising regularly, and said no a lot. I MEAN A LOT! I worked at a place where we loved to celebrate. Weekly there were cookies, cupcakes, cakes, or left over desserts that were shared with the whole staff. So pretty much every week, sometimes daily, I heard her say "No Thank You". 
The defining moment for me was when a few of us gathered in the mail room sampling chocolates a donor brought in. I remember clear as day this co-worker taking a bite of chocolate, promptly walking over to the garbage can and spitting it out. I looked at her with disbelief. What did she just do. "If it isn't the best chocolate I have ever tasted I am not going to waste calories on it".  WOW.

The freedom to just say no impacted me so powerfully. For years I lived under this, I should say yes because it is there in front of me, I don't want to waste it mentality. In one quick second my whole way of thinking was changed. I didn't have to be controlled by my body's cravings, by my lack of will power, by my failure to see my body as something to be cared for.

But I Didn't Have the Power.

Sadly though, I didn't have the power to say no like that co-worker did (who lost and kept off over 50lbs). I would try and succeed. I would try and fail. My victories happened more when people were around. My failures were when no one was watching. It would take something big to get the change rolling. I couldn't succeed at a lifestyle change when I kept living the same life. And that is what I needed, a life style change

When my I got the message offering me a chance to see a new part of the States, experience big city life, hang out with 2 little boys all day I wanted to say yes. When I learned of my NannyFamily's eating and lifestyle habits I needed to say yes. 

The last 2 years in Washington have drastically impacted my life, I am excited to share that part with you. Thank you for reading the first 2 parts that needed to be shared first. Look back later this weekend for the conclusion of what really changed.

ceconner© 6.12.2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My VERY PERSONAL Reason for Becoming a Full-Time Nanny

I have openly shared with ya'll my Nanny journey. How I started out in the nanny field, me not wanting to be around kids anymore, my return to the nanny field, and how I ended up with my current full-time nanny position. All of these things are true and so much apart of my life's journey yet there is another story.

A story that I have been hesitant to tell, embarrassed to share, scared to write down.

A story that I am deciding needs to be told. Not so that you will pity me or feel sorry for me. I share these next few posts so to resonate with someone out there struggling through similar or the same experiences. To help someone, nanny or not, know they are not alone. That this fight is conquerable.

My story is one that goes back to middle school, sitting in the front row of band class one spring morning looking down the line at all the other flutists and clarinet players. It was shorts season and all the other girls seemed so tiny. As I looked down at my bigger athletic soccer thighs the fight against healthy body image began. They are all so thin, when did I get so fat


That is what 6th grade athletic me thought - just because I wasn't a size zero. My Dad was an advocate of sports, so it wasn't like I sat around doing nothing all day. Soccer was my main sport, but I dabbled in softball, basketball, hockey, volleyball and spent all day every summer in our swimming pool. Middle and High school summers were spent sweating my butt of in 90 degree weather for soccer practices. Winters were spent attempting to maintain my physical activity to stay in shape for soccer. 


My parents aren't crazy skinny but they are by NO means over weight. They have always maintained a healthy life style with good foods and weekly sports. My Dad not only coached but played hockey a few days a week, while my Mom went on long walks 4/5 times a week. Somehow I still would look at my stomach without the wash board abs and thought I was over weight. As the other girls on my soccer teams openly ran around on those 90 degree days in sports bras I conscientiously kept my stomach covered. It never once crossed my mind that we were just built differently. 
Pre prom picture with my brother

One memory is forever engrained in my mind, the night of my 8th grade winter formal. I remember looking at a picture of me with three friends and a thought lingering, look at my arms - they are so big, why can't they be smaller. It didn't help that my best friend through middle and high school had completely different genetics than me. She was lucky if she could fit into a size 0. She ran track and swam, I played soccer and ran. But we looked so different. I could barely squeeze into a size 6 and she would be swimming in a size 2. Now days both of her parents are hitting 60 and still as thin as they were at 30. 


High school came and went quickly but it did nothing on my self esteem. Even during 2-a-day practices throughout the summer I thought I was over weight. My thighs were always too big, my stomach never flat enough, and my arms always a bit too flabby. 

After a long day of soccer practices.
College started with me entering the best shape of my life. I played soccer for a college team - hit the gym several times a week, ran miles upon miles every day and still I felt fat. All because I couldn't fit into the size jeans I wanted to. 


I could sit here blaming the media, magazines and TV shows for flashing images of 1/2 naked, Photoshopped, starved women. Saying that my poor body image is because of being bombarded with pictures fake women. But I really can't. I was a pretty sheltered child when it came to main stream media. I never really compared myself to models but to friends and women around me. I wanted to be like my sister who was a gorgeous, tall, size 2 basketball star who could have been a model. I wanted to be like my best friend who never had to worry about what she ate. I had an image problem.


One of my senior pictures
Photo Credit to Joe Scinta

A year after my senior prom a younger friend, who I considered to be skinny, asked to borrow my prom dress. It was only after she called me and told me that she couldn't fit into it because it was too small that I began to realize I had an image problem. I talked to my boyfriend at the time about this, he confirmed that I was in great shape. He admitted that one of the reasons he was first attracted to me was because of how good of shape I was in and that in the 2 years we had been together I had gotten in better shape. But I still don't have a flat stomach and my thighs - these dang soccer thighs!

It was time to start looking back at pictures. I looked through middle school and high school photos, senior prom, senior pictures, photos of a missions trip during college. Genuine surprise started to over come me. I was skinny. Like healthy skinny. My arms weren't that big at all and my stomach actually was thin, it didn't hang over my pants at where did this self loathing come from? 

I wish I could tell you that thoughts about my body changed quickly; that immediately I began to stop picking apart my body. That I figured out why I struggled so much in believing that I was a healthy young woman. 
A picture that I looked back on, remembering think my stomach looked to flabby


However, I can tell you that if you stick around later this week for part 2 and part 3 this personal journey ends up with me taking a nanny job on the complete opposite side of the country. I will share with you more about my struggle to maintain healthy body image, it's collapse and the 2 years it has taken in a new environment to re-build my self image.

ceconner© 6.8.2015