Thursday, January 19, 2017

Belonging

Several times in recent months I've experienced that old middle school feeling of being "left out". And damn if it doesn't still sting.

I don't want to go into all the details of all the incidents, but basically I found out that friends, old and new, had done something big (a trip, a party) without me. I thought I'd be over it by this age, but it really hurt, and took me a long time to get over.

As I try to integrate myself better into the community---joining the PTA, going to neighborhood events, lingering at drop off to TALK to people...I realize that they are all already friends.  They are hanging out with their families or at girl's nights, their kids have play dates and sleepovers, there is a whole social scene I had no idea existed. I had no idea we were so uniquely isolated. I feel my old social anxiety resurfacing---what do these women make of my sudden insertion into their clique? Do they talk about me after I walk away (and they continue talking and walking together).

Its been years since I felt like I was really "part of the group"...any group. It is a great warm feeling to know you will ALWAYS be invited, you won't be an afterthought, you have a go-to bunch of people with whom to celebrate & commiserate. I certainly have friends, here and there, scattered throughout the city and country...and I appreciate those relationships. I try to meet my now-defunct book club ladies every couple of months, I text & email far-flung friends. Its not the same though.

Since he was 2, I've been telling B these stories I made up, about 3 little goldfish, George, Charlie and Suzie, who go to school together and hang out together and get into absurd adventures and misfortunes. The other day I was telling him one in which the 3 were hanging out together on a holiday. He looked up at me and said "I wish I had friends like that, that I could see everyday, and do things with", and I said "I know buddy, it seems like it'd be really cool, huh".

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Keeping Me Sane right now...

Well blah, I got sick again this weekend, some sort of hybrid cold/stomach thing and I had to bail on meeting a visiting blog friend, which sucked. I'm feeling OK now, it was thankfully short-lived. I'm glad we had the 3 day weekend for a little wiggle room.

I'm still trying to BREATHE (now that I can, without coughing), there is so much that seems uncertain and out of my control. To restore some semblance of control and peace to my life, I've been relying on the following:

  • Decluttering/organizing and giving stuff away on Buy Nothing. I'm more than half-way through my "top to bottom" purging, and things are looking & feeling way better. The less stuff I have, the more I am inspired to use it, too. And I am sort-of, maybe, just a little bit...obsessed with Buy Nothing. I am posting "gives" and organizing pick ups like a fiend. I love when my trash becomes someone's treasure. As I constantly tell G, you really never know what someone may want or need! My unwanted Indian traditional clothes are going to Bhutanese refugees. A large bagful of broken crayons are being made into a craft. Someone wanted to see if my unused magnesium tablets helped them sleep.
  • Planning. I'm planning my work days, my evenings, my weekends, and it feels good to know what I have to look forward to (or not, as the case may be). Order.
  • Reading. After a few mediocre reads, I finally hit the jackpot. I am LOVING "Truly, Madly, Guilty". Cannot put it down. Dying for 9 pm when I can read it again and get closer to figuring out the "big secret". I hope its not a let down. Even if it is, the book is peppered throughout with amazing observations about friendship, marriage, motherhood, work. Read it.
  • Meal delivery kits. I'm going to try all of them (well, some of them, maybe 4 or 5) and do a (non-sponsored, obvs) review post when I'm all done. Takes ALL the planning/weekend prep out of it, though there is a significant amount of work on the actual day to cook the damn thing. But its nice not to have to think about it. We've learned some new recipes too, which I guess is the point, to get out of your rut. We've been in a 7 year rut of rotating the same 4 recipes, eating the same thing all week, and we were both getting sick of it. Its kind of fun to have new things every day, or 3 days a week. 
You guys are killing it with the posts, too. Noemi, SHU (look at the picture of the morning pep talk), Coffee and Tea...among others...really inspiring and thought-provoking.

Back to working through my list!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Breathing Through It

This week has been a tough one, and I find myself coming back to Sara's word: Breathe. And its saved me. I think I'll add it to my word; its a perfect counterpoint: SAVOR the good times, BREATHE through the rest.

Call weeks are always tough, and I'm still dealing with the lingering sickness. But more than any of that, the reality of what is happening in this country is hitting me yet again, after allowing myself to be distracted by holidays & celebrations & travel. I am firmly back in the Upside Down and while I am somewhat angry, worried & fearful,  right now I mostly just feel...bereft.

I watched Obama's farewell without shedding a single tear. Yet when I heard him call Joe Biden his "brother" the way my sweet, loving L does to his best friend, I lost my composure and haven't quite gained it back. I'm breathing through my grief. While I don't agree with every decision our president has made in the past 8 years, I am without a single doubt that he is an intelligent, thoughtful, kind, and decent man. A good man, that I am proud to call my leader, that I want my kids to look up to and emulate. I just can't reconcile what is happening right now---every day brings some new horror that keeps me up at night (because of course, my husband likes to have conversations at 9PM, and hell if I can fall asleep with that on my mind).

Breathe in...1...2...3...breathe out...1....2....3. Its getting me through the day and night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Driven Snow

This phrase always confused me...until I realized that "driven" meant "blown into drifts", I assumed it meant it had been "driven on" by horse-carts or cars and thus anything but pure or white. Our snow is grey and dingy today and I hope it melts soon. Also because this would mean temps above freezing.

I am now the proud owner of a brand new planner and bullet journal notebook. I hope to spend tonight organizing both. Now I just need some fancy pens! Something about the fresh new planners has inspired me to buy some nicer writing implements.

Our HelloFresh box never showed up yesterday, so we each ate our own random dinners. It was so relaxing, even with making essentially 4 different "meals" (I ate frozen TJ's pot stickers with sauteed green beans, G ate leftover homemade chicken bites and nuts, L ate instant oatmeal, and B ate mac & cheese from a box with peas). The whole act of figuring out something we would all like, making it, nagging the kids to eat it...sometimes its too much. Its nice to have a break. Maybe we should just eat random freezer & pantry foods 2-3 times a week, and have home-cooked meals the other days. Cooking & feeding my family healthy, homemade meals used to be a big priority for me, but its starting to move way down the list as other things vie for my attention.

I made it to the gym this morning! It was...hard. I had to stop a few times and catch my breath/shake out my legs (jumping lunges, I hate you). I had a friend text me last night for motivation...and then she snoozed her alarm and never made it.

The past 2 nights I've randomly woken up at 1AM feeling up and ready for the day; its taken me about an hour to wind down and fall asleep again Weirdly this same thing happened to me last January. I thought it was the medication regimen that I started last spring/summer that was helping me sleep, but maybe I have some weird seasonal insomnia disorder?

At 1AM, I made a list in my head of all the things I needed to discuss with G. Why don't I think of these things at 9PM? I have nothing to say at 9PM. I finally unloaded it all on him at 7:15AM when he woke up. So now we have a date night planned in 2 weeks, a family dinner with friends on Saturday, a trip to visit my sister in February, a June concert we need to buy tickets for this week, and children/dog logistics for the rest of the week done. 

 Thus end my random musings.




Monday, January 9, 2017

Bananas

Title inspired by Justine's recent comment on my post re: trying to savor your kids even though they are driving you bananas.

Guys. My boys are challenging me right now. Especially B. He's been SO ANGRY all the time. His "New Year's Goal" (G gave him a lecture about S.M.A.R.T. goals when he brought up "resolutions" from a Winne-the-pooh movie he watched) was to work on handling his anger (try different methods for diffusing...like breathing, distraction), and we've had LOTS of time to practice, discuss, and fail. He is just constantly sad/upset/lashing out and its hard to be around. I've lashed right back at him, somewhat shamefully at times. We may need to look back into outside help. L is his old stuff, alternating between cheerful, cuddly, hilarious monkey and shrieking, spitting, squawk-bird. He's so refreshingly typical even if a bit of a "handful".

So this weekend was...OK. Despite my oh-so-productive first morning back, right after I hit "post" I started feeling not so good. So I'm sick. I haven't worked out since we've been back, not once. This weekend I barely left the house. It snowed. We played in it some. L actually enjoyed it.

There were highlights. I met some colleagues after work Friday. It was a "planned exception" to the dry month and I had one beer. I never see these people socially, so it was new, and I was pretty quiet, but it was nice to get out. We (the younger faculty) are going to try to make this a regular thing, and its never a bad idea to commiserate about your struggles to someone who gets it.

Sunday I was one of two judged for a neighborhood "Chopped"-style cooking competition. This was SO FUN. I got a delicious (though unusual...there were weird ingredients) brunch and met some awesome neighbors. This will also turn into a semi-regular thing and we have plans to make it more fun (wine!)

I also uncluttered like a BOSS and got rid of so much stuff. I'm done with: bathrooms, my clothes & jewelry, books, office supplies, kids clothes, & kids toys. Some of these categories I keep up with regularly so there wasn't much to do (kids clothes, I get rid of all of L's clothes at the end of each season). I still need to do: kitchen (excited about this one), paper (filing cabinet), pantry, coat closet, kids' books. This does not include any of G's stuff---he's on his own for that, and I have no idea when/if he is going to work on it. He says he wants to, and he's best when left alone to find his own inspiration.

I slept terribly last night despite the usual medication combination. I couldn't fall asleep until after 11, then I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep. I'm on call this week which...blah. I am DETERMINED to go to my Tues and Thurs AM work outs.

Happy new week.


Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 Word of the Year: Savor

I know its become a "thing" in popular culture to complain about the year we just finished, but SERIOUSLY, 2016 was not awesome for me on so many levels. Any year in which you become depressed and take several months to realize, and then treat, said depression is forever labeled a shitty year in my book. Add on everything else (B's issues, diagnosis, and continued issues, both of my parents were hospitalized several times, we are spending $$$ trying to bail MIL out of her financial troubles, rejected grants and papers...to name a few off the top of my head).

I feel like a large part of last year was about just getting through. Head down, power through, try not to think or feel too much lest I get stuck. I don't want to live that way forever, though. I want to get back into the practice of stopping, noticing, wondering, and feeling.

Hence my pick for this years word: SAVOR. I thought about "slow" or "quiet", but sometimes what you really need is to run FAST or sing LOUD. I just want to take time out of each and every day to appreciate and linger over the amazing things you can miss if you forget to look.

I'm hoping this word will also translate to my relationship with food. I eat, and drink, as if its a contest. I want to stop the habit of gobbling and gulping mindlessly, and really focus on the flavors and textures. I think it will be more satisfying, and...hopefully...lead to eating/drinking less. Maybe? This one is a stretch, I know.

I've already begun working on this. I spent a long time playing with L as he took a bath the other day---reveling in how his growing body can barely stretch out in the tub anymore. How much longer will he want to play with his bath toys, pretending they are cakes and ice creams he is serving me from his rest-u-ant. I slowly ate my lunch, chatting with a colleague, today, tasting the crunch of the peanuts, the chewy rice, the hearty chicken. I slowed my walk and looked at the way the sun hit the clouds, and the breeze swirled around. I relished each sip of hot, pleasurable tea....ha ha NO! Just kidding. I still hate tea.




Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 First Quarter Goals

I love the idea of quarterly goals---just the right amount of time and pressure to accomplish meaningful things. This is what I've laid out for winter '17

Family/Home
  • Declutter/purge house top-to-bottom
  • 1 on 1 time with each kid at least every other week. I signed B and I up for a 5-week ice skating class on Sunday mornings so we'll do that. I'll have to think of what to with L 
  • Plan our summer: camps, vacations, grandparent time & sign up for camps/time away as needed
Community/Relationships 
  • PTA involvement (I'm running for secretary but even if I don't win, I'll join and help out...apparently the whole thing fell apart recently and we want to build it back up)
  • Weekly "political activism" hour for phone calls. I HATE this so I need to "eat the frog" and do it every Monday because I've definitely fallen off the wagon on this and I don't want to become complacent. Nicoleandmaggie post great "action items" on their blog
  • Call parents and MIL at least weekly
  • Call 4 best far-away friends one time each before end of quarter. Set up phone calls by text/email if needed
Work
  • Submit 2 papers (it never happened in December)
  • Submit pilot grant in January
  • Start re-submission for April grant in February
  • Weekly planning time every Friday morning (the afternoons are too crazy and it gets dropped)
Self/Health
  • "Dry" January (G and I are doing this together which will make it easier!) and then stick to recommended weekly limit
  • Challenge myself with reading. Aside from my usual contemporary fiction, read 1 non-fiction and 1 classic (Anna Karenina? There are lists for this sort of thing)
  • Try various guided meditation apps and find one I can stick to for 5-10 minutes/day. Try various locations & times of day to find the one that sticks. My therapist, internist, and psychiatrist all keep telling me that meditation is a great adjunct to therapy/medication for anxiety and yet...
It looks like SO MUCH all laid out like that, yet a lot of it is stuff I already need to do (i.e. work, plan summer) and the rest of it is supposedly good stuff.. I will certainly have to look back in April and see how I did.