Friday, June 23, 2017

Twelve Years (and 5 days)

guys, I've been trying to write this post since MONDAY. (hence the 5 days)

Lets just do some quick bullet points so I can get over it and move on to the next topic:

1) Sunday was our 12th anniversary. What a difference 4 years makes. We were in a VERY different place back then, with a 1 and 3 year old and my untreated anxiety and chronic sleep deprivation.
2) We celebrated by going to a (very big, stadium-type) concert. It was hot and steamy and a late LATE night for a worknight, but work it. Nostalgia galore.
3) The night before we had a fantastic meal, and fab conversation on our (blog-friend + spouses) triple-dinner-date. So fun, like meeting old-new friends.
4) It was also a late night, and I ended up waking up at 9:30 on Sunday and had to rush to get Father's Day Brunch/Late lunch on the table. I was pretty proud of my cooking, though, I made this and this from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook.
5) B finished 1st grade. It was anti-climactic because we went to his karate studio/aftercare for camp on Wednesday. Thursday I took him to some appointments, and then today we went to see...
6) L graduate from pre-K. cuteness overload + pizza and cake. Now I'm back at work while G hangs with the kids.Thankfully I got the kids to help me pack yesterday for...
7) Their 9-day-parent-free cousin/grandparent adventure. As pay back for watching her kids over here for spring break, we are dropping the boys off tomorrow (and turning around and driving the 3 hours right back home) to enjoy a nice kid-free week. We've planned minimally, and really just want to relax and maybe work on some home-repair & carpentry projects (G) and do some more adventurous cooking (me).
8) We are making our way slowly through House of Cards. I'm not loving this season. I really want to watch The Handmaids Tale, but we don't have Hulu. I'm reading Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (thanks for the rec, SHU)---I chose it for our book club in July. I'm also finishing up the Prisoner of Azkaban (I wanted to ensure it was appropriate before I read it to the boys, it is so far). And I've got a couple other books going (phone/Kindle/real...I always have at least 3). I'm giving Josh and Hrishi a break and making my way through the Happier podcast archives.

Have a great weekend all, I'll have loads of time (theoretically) to write next week!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Spring Fever

(or I think I need a vacation)

Its been really hard for me to focus at work lately. I'm writing this now as I obsessively check my phone for texts from G, who is at urgent care with L, to see if his arm is broken  after a fall off the monkey bars last night. So today's version of scatter-brain has a good reason. (UPDATE: its not broken, I still don't want to work)

But for the past few weeks its been a daily struggle. Every morning its that "ugh, I have to go to work now" feeling. Which isn't unusual, mornings are kind of like that. Typically, though, I arrive and dive right in, immersed and productive, until I'm dragged back ashore by my "leave to pick up B" phone alert. These days its like pulling teeth---forcing myself to get through tasks, frequently finding myself daydreaming, or doing completely non-work-related things like planning vacations, shopping, looking up recipes. I'm doing what I absolutely need to do, but I'm hating every minute of it.

I'm not falling into that amazing phase of "flow", where my brain  finds its rhythm and happily runs along, writing/thinking/researching/analyzing and the time just slips away. This is what I love about academia, the reason I put up with all the associated stress. Without it, I question my whole career.

It has been beautiful outside, particularly on the weekdays. I want to enjoy it. I have good books to read, I want to get back to them. I've been wanting to go shopping, to actual stores. I haven't actually had more than one day off from work since the holidays. We usually take a week off in May or June, and I typically go to a spring conference, that I'm skipping this year. So I probably DO need a vacation, or at least a stay-cation, though I don't have spare vacation days and I really really need to get some papers written before our trip in August.

I'm going to try taking my laptop to a coffee shop on campus later today. Or put my head phones on and listen to background noise or music for a change. I can't keep doing the same thing and excepting different results. I don't want to work, but I want to want to work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Being Ana

Lately I feel like I'm a different, but vaguely familiar, person to who I have been for the past decade or so. I think I'm rediscovering the real me, buried under years of working too hard, sleeping too little, being too anxious and sad and exhausted, to really have much of any personality at all.

Maybe its also age, and giving way less of a fuck what others think. Or my kids growing up and finding a bit of space outside the constant subversion of my wants for their constant, all-consuming ones. Or feeling a much more stable foundation in my marriage and my mental health, upon which I can actually branch out, and grow. 

Probably its a combination of all those things. But its definitely a good thing. 

I've been way more extroverted. Just this month I've planned several social outings as a family, a couple, and myself with friends and colleagues. Last weekend we went to a neighborhood picnic and I mingled and had a blast. We invited other friends over for dinner Sunday. And that was after a mid-week BFF happy hour. Next weekend a triple dinner date and then a concert with G. I got a group of colleagues together for a drink Thursday evening.  I bought plane tickets to visit friends down south this summer for 3 nights, solo. 

I'm reading constantly and unapologetically. 3 books going at any time---phone/kindle/"real" book. Trying new music after years of promising to without actually committing, and excited about seeing more concerts. Instead of trying to plan things every minute of the weekend to stay out of the house, I'm enjoying our time at home. There is puttering. I missed puttering. It leads to ideas, and creativity, and conversations that sometimes just need space to evolve. The constant need to DO DO DO was driven at least in part by my fear of stillness, and the thoughts and feelings that would invade.

Writing it out it seems minimal and pretty mundane, but life certainly feels different. And better. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Perfect Young Summer

June. My other favorite month (in addition to May and October). I love the whole anticipation of summer, the leading up to the solstice. Lots of celebrations, from our anniversary to the end of school. This June promises a lot of fun outings---I've already got several planned, and I'm sure we'll squeeze a few more in. It starts with lot of family time and will end with a kid-free week when we drop the boys off with my parents, at my sister's place (i.e. payback for Spring Break)

May had its ups and downs. To focus on the ups: I think I've cemented my meditation habit---I have a 32 day streak going, after lots of stops and starts and missed days here and there. I am doing 10 minutes of "Calm Light" on the free "Calm" app. There is a minute of guidance and then silent meditation for the rest. Sometimes I totally get in the zen and feel amazing---sometimes my mind wanders constantly. It all counts, and I keep trying. I also did a plank challenge, and worked up from 1:30 to 4 minutes in about 5 weeks! The challenge expected people to go from 0:10 to 5 minutes in 30 days, which is insane. I'm going to keep at it on my rest days from the gym/running and hope to get a solid 5 minutes by July.

I've been listening to old episodes of Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast, which I actually quite enjoy. One of the episodes mentioned a quote I'd heard before (probably on the blog) but never fully got: "Work is the most dangerous form of procrastination". I thought it was about how I used to organize my socks instead of studying in college, or similar. But when I listened to them talk about it, I realized it is way more insidious and its been my downfall the past couple of months. I hate writing papers. Hate hate hate. Love writing grants. Hate writing papers. Love analyzing the data, and doing literature reviews, and planning experiments. Hate writing papers. You get it. For a while I was flat-out procrastinating---social media, vacation planning, online shopping. But then I decided to get my butt in gear---and did every single non-paper-writing work-related task I could conceive of, crossing items off my list, and ending the day with a feeling of false accomplishment. Yes that stuff had to be done at some point (most of it), but it was not a priority.

Recognizing the problem is the first step, and today is going better. I've cut myself off email and even allotted a very short time for patient messages, so no "urgent" things derail me. We have a belated birthday date-night tonight, and I've got a fun new dress to wear. For the first time in a while, I'm loving all the clothes I'm seeing in stores, and I couldn't help myself from buying some new things for summer.

Happy June!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

41 and...having fun?

I had a pretty nice birthday and extended 4-day weekend. I took Friday off, and managed a quick run and then crammed in some "me-time" in the 3 hours I had before I had to pick B up from his half-day of school. I got a pedicure and then wandered around shopping, and made a regret-purchase that I now have to return (the thing I wanted was sold out in my size, but I wanted something, so I bought something not-quite-right).  B and I hung out all afternoon; he was in a GREAT mood which made it quite pleasant.

G bought me a beautiful necklace and gave me a really heart-felt card. I was super excited to get a present...I never get presents and apparently they are one of my love languages! We had a mediocre dinner out at a neighborhood place that I forget isn't very good.

The rest of the weekend involved lots of exercise and lots of good food and wine. Lots and lots and lots. Also a good amount of outdoor time, kid birthday parties, reading, board games, etc... I like our lazy weekends.

I am not feeling the writing today. I'm pretty sure this post sucks but I have already put it off for 2 days and just wanted to get something written before the end of the month. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Dealing with It

I am still, and likely will be forever, working on developing healthier coping mechanisms for life's inevitable setbacks. Yesterday I got to put these into practice, and I'm fairly proud of myself! I got an email around 3:30 PM that a foundation grant I submitted in April was administratively rejected because I didn't comply with some (as yet unclear) rule. My stomach sank; I had worked extremely hard on this and thought it had a decent chance of funding. My disappointment was overwhelming and I knew I wasn't going to get a whole lot done on paper writing.

I wrote back immediately asking for clarification (take action) and looked over the submission again and couldn't find anything wrong. I finished up essential tasks for the day and decided to leave 45 minutes early. I went and got my eyebrows threaded (self-care) and picked B up from after-care early (quality time with loved ones). We walked home, stopping to point out flowers, a cat, a bird (mindfulness) and then took the dog on a long walk (exercise, time outside). I patiently helped B with homework (more QT). Then I made lunches for the rest of the week and cooked dinner while listening to the "Happier" podcast (accomplishments, positive distractions). When G got home, we talked about it (sharing) and when he asked me if I wanted a glass of wine I said no (sticking to my goals), but did ask him to pick up some seltzer when he went to the store later, and a healthy-ish post-dinner treat (asking for what I need). I read stories to the boys and put them to bed (QT), and then G and I had a 150-calorie Yasso ice cream bar, some seltzer, and watched Sunday's episode of Silicon Valley(QT, reasonable treats). I went to bed by 10 (self-care).

I'm still super annoyed and waiting for them to get back to me about what the heck I did wrong, and if there is any possibility of reversing this decision. But I'm planning a productive day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Weekend Whip

(the Lego Ninjago theme song, its quite catchy)

The end of last week I wondered if my P@xil was switched with a placebo because I was feeling so out-of-control anxious and unsettled. I think it was related to MIL leaving, or something weird, but I felt better by Monday. The weekend, all in all, was pretty good.

Friday night G and I went to see Real Estate in concert, thanks to tickets from a blog friend. I had never heard of them before I was offered the tix, but I liked the sound. The concert was AMAZING. Live music is definitely up there on the list of "things that make me feel alive", though it isn't something I do very often (can't remember last concert). As I was leaning over the balcony, sipping my vodka soda and swaying to the beat, G's arms around me, I felt young in a way I haven't in a long time. Which reminded me of "Here I Am" and the story of how the main character equated (sort of, I can't articulate well) "feeling alive" to "being a teenager" and definitely bumped the book up in my estimation, since I was still pondering its themes months after reading it.

Saturday I was tired, but I spent 2 hours digging and planting a vegetable garden at the school, and met some new people. It was social but also meditative. Love getting my hands in the dirt! I came home JUST in time to see MIL off; when the boys left for the airport, I changed into shorts and went on a 4-mile run. Running is not my favorite exercise---my body mechanics aren't built for speed or endurance (I can go forever but my joints will pay), but nothing burns off stress like sprinting at intervals. I was spent at the end and felt really chill. I spent the rest of the day at home, hanging with the kids and reading our book club book (Bel Canto).

Sunday was our crazy sports day. I went straight from the gym to soccer with B, then home for shower/lunch and swim lesson for B, then shower for him and haircut for B (while G and L did T ball pictures and the second game of the weekend) and FINALLY got home around 4 and poured some wine and did cooking/meal prep. I finished Bel Canto that evening (it was good, not great). G and I stayed up way too late drinking wine and watching "Master of None"---this season is way better than last season, IMO.

It was supposed to be a 3 day week for me; I was taking Thursday off to volunteer at a school event and Friday off because its my birthday and I've decided to make it a tradition :) But the event was canceled due to rain so it'll be a 4 day week. My goal is to go to bed by 9:30 every night, and not drink until Friday---the stress and celebratory (really I can always find an excuse) eating and drinking have gained me back a few hard-lost pounds so I need to get back on track.