Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Rather Blustery Day

It is so cold and windy! At least it stopped raining. Last night it was howling wind and lashing rain. I couldn't sleep until it stopped, around midnight? And then at some point L came into our room, woke me from the deepest dreamless stage of my sleep cycle (do your kids do this? just come and STARE at you until you wake up? and nearly scream to see their little eyes 2 inches from you? For NO REASON? thankfully its not common anymore) and I was up most of the rest of the night, listening to G snore (he has a cold). At some point I realized I should turn off my 5:30 AM alarm, so I got to "sleep in" until 6:30 instead. But I didn't get to go to the gym.

Can I say? That crappy day I was whining about on Tuesday? It ONLY GOT WORSE. And the past 2 days have been no picnic either.

Tuesday I made it through the day. As I left work, with my umbrella at the ready to protect me from the rain, the wind picked up and turned my umbrella inside out. I finally got it righted and closed, and had to walk the 1.5 miles to pick B up from aftercare with the wind blowing the rain directly into my face. When I got there, I was informed that he got in 3 time outs, for jumping off the stage when he was told not to, repeatedly, and for throwing balls at the faces of his friends & scratching them.  And then lying that he didn't do it (he later told me he did, and why). The way I acted towards B on the way home was not my proudest moment.

And then I got home and had to make dinner & clean the kitchen & make lunches (because, of course, the kids wanted to play with daddy and mommy is mean) which, fine, but....


Yesterday I had to leave work at 2pm to get B and take him to a doctor's appointment. Which was not particularly encouraging. But at least B was in a good mood, we got home early and played Connect 4 & he "helped" me make dinner.

Today I was working from home, because they were delivering the washer & dryer. they came in the morning and everything is set up, will have to read the manual, our old washer was the old school top load with 2 dials, this is fancy front load electric everything. But yay for not having to go to the laundromat this weekend (L will be sad, he LOVED putting the coins in!)

I had a routine "report card conference" with B's teacher this afternoon and it...confirmed a lot of the concerns I already had, which was surprisingly upsetting (not trying to vague-blog, just...not ready to get advice or input until we've done some more evaluation). And here we are. I need to go back out into the wind and walk the dog. And make some dinner.

And we still have no wine.

I feel like I'm struggling to get out from underwater and hands keep pushing me back in. Its just one thing after another right now, several big things in fact as well as the usual little things. I need to keep positive, there is really no other way to stay afloat.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Like a knife

Blech. Can I just say? I'm in a MOOD today. Why, you ask? Oh, just about a hundred things, including:

  • The grant I submitted in October, that I was super excited about because I REALLY want to do this project was outright rejected. It wasn't even DISCUSSED, that's how bad they thought it was and how much they did NOT want to fund it. Felt like a knife in my chest. Does this every get easy? 
  • My immediate response to this was: Eat cookie. Feel visceral need to cheer myself up by buying something pretty ( far...but there are pretty things in an online shopping cart right now). Distracted myself on internet (btw, I'm super into the idea of "bullet journaling" now, but I did refrain from buying a shiny new yellow notebook with which to try it out.) Fantasize about quitting job. Beat myself up for not coping better. Why can't my coping strategy be: "get super focused and productive".
  • Since "quitting job" isn't happening for 1001 reasons, consider alternate career paths. Think about seeing patients all day every day. And do all those charts. And answer all those phone calls. Nopenopenopenope. Get depressed because this is my only other marketable skill. 
  • Kids were so challenging yesterday. No. They were awful. They complained about the dinner I was making, which they loved yesterday and were upset because they had eaten it all, but suddenly its "gross and yucky and you're mean and I hate it". Then they proceed to eat it all. They wanted to "play with me" but then got upset because I didn't want to play "wrestling" and I'm no fun and mean and they hate it. 
  • Basically they both are in the phase right now of "mommy sucks". Daddy even gets a hug from B (he does not like to hug) when we get home, while I get...nothing. They want him to play with them constantly, and when he can't because he's doing something, they insist I am the one to do the chore instead. I was OK with that until I wasn't. I don't want to clean the kitchen every single day so he can give them baths & wrestle with them. "Daddy is strong, he NEVER says I'm too heavy to carry. Why can't you be strong? Daddy knows everything. Oh, you don't know? We'll just ask Daddy. Oh you can't do that? Daddy will fix it for us. Daddy is funny, how come you're not funny?". Its ADORABLE that they literally think he's superman. I love it. Its just that they save all the anger and frustration and combativeness for me, and I am not up for all that. 
  • Bedtime, which I used to love---we'd get all cozy and read books and I'd sing them their bedtime song and snuggle---has become the worst. B is all amped up and out of control, he gets really angry and combative, jerks around, won't snuggle or let me touch him, won't be quiet---is yelling & shouting, and continuously coming out of his room. Ugh. 
  • This morning, when I told G I had to leave early, he said "WHAT?" since I forgot to tell him last night (because I went straight to bed after I'd put B in bed for the last time. I said "well, its on the calendar" (not only do we share a Google calendar, but because he never checks it, I also transfer everything onto a whiteboard calendar in our kitchen) "OH, its on the CALENDAR, well then..." he says sarcastically. FFS, am I really supposed to remind him of every damn thing the night before? The whole reason I keep a fucking calendar is that I can't remember this stuff myself. AAARGH.
  • An appointment for a specialist we were referred to for B has a TWENTY FOUR MONTH wait list. WTF. Everywhere else is "inferior" we were told, but we need to figure out who is the least inferior because seriously, WTF. In the meanwhile we are in limbo and trying not to freak out because we are not sure there is anything to freak out about (though we are 98% sure, actually). (specifics later, when we know more)
  • My  hair is sticking up funny
  • Its raining and will be raining for the next 2 days.
  • I am taking Friday off to have "special mommy-son day" with B since he inexplicably has no school. I am DREADING IT.
Ooh. I'm going to make myself a cup of tea. that will make me feel better!
(j/k I'm really going to go home and drink)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Blink of An Eye

Everything is fine. But we had quite a scare this weekend.

Saturday was actually a lovely day. It was warm---60 degrees! and it put B in an abnormally cheerful mood. He didn't complain about going to swimming, and actually paid attention and had fun. He wanted to come with  me to the grocery store & was helpful and inquisitive the whole time---just amazing. This is a kid that generally goes on about hating EVERYTHING because its BORING and mommy is MEAN and he's MAD. It was a much needed solace for my battered mommy soul. I enjoyed it while it lasted.

I wanted to take them to the park because 60 DEGREES! In FEBRUARY! We have to take advantage of that! But they were grumpy and the park was BORING and I was MEAN for making them go, but I bribed them with cookies and G agreed to go (daddy is never mean) and we head off to the schoolyard. Of course the SECOND they got outside and felt the sun on their face, the grumpiness resolved and we had a lovely time racing around the park on their scooters. B needed the bathroom so G took him home and was going to bring him right back. And then I got a call. "We had a little accident and we're not coming back" An accident? "B fell on an uneven patch of sidewalk" Is he OK? "not really. the handlebar got him right near the eye. I'm getting ice to put on it. It really hurts". OK, we are heading home.

I got home to a subdued, whimpering kid, lying on the couch, with blood around his eye, which was rapidly swelling shut. We put ice on it. Cleaned off the blood to find scrapes & cuts around his eye.  Checked his vision, which seemed fine. He wanted to sleep and kept dozing off.I called the doctor, who calmly and rationally assured me that the front of the face is far from the head---there is no way he could've had a head injury, and he's probably just sleepy from all the activity and to let him sleep. But G had set the boys up with the ipad to watch shows so he could keep the ice pack on, so we did that for a while. B didn't eat the snacks we set out. He refused cheese pizza for dinner (he could eat it every day for breakfast lunch and dinner) and refused to eat even a bite of a sandwich (this is my kid that eats more than I do, and I eat a LOT by all estimations). He didn't even want the juice we went out and got (juice is a VERY special, very coveted treat). He wanted to go to sleep. He said he was cold (it wasn't cold). He said his face didn't hurt, nothing hurt. He started falling asleep and wasn't really answering our questions.

G and I conferred very briefly. I had been, the whole time, freaking out, despite what the doctor said. so when he asked me what my instincts were and I said we should take B to the ER. (I know, I don't trust my instincts any more than I trust anyone else's, but I was NOT comfortable and we would have a harrowing miserable night of me waking B up every 5 minutes to do a neurological exam on him that would probably have resulted in an ER visit at 3 am when I could no longer rationalize). We decided G would go instead of me, despite the fact that I usually handle the medical stuff, for obvious reasons)---while I'm usually pretty calm in the face of blood & fevers & procedures, this was FREAKING ME OUT. I could not be lighthearted and joke around with B, I knew too much. I know, and have recently been reminded by the experiences of others, how everything can turn on a dime. How your life can fall apart in the blink of an eye. How lucky we have been so far, but who are we to be spared? When is it going to be our turn? I was not my usual rational, logical, lets get this done self. And my fear would obviously not be good for a child that was already trembling at the thought of having to go to the hospital. Thankfully G was up for the task. 

They left home at 6:30. They did not get home until 2AM. I got lots of text updates, and we facetimed and the brothers sent videos back and forth before L went to bed at 8. The rest of the time would qualify as some of the longest hours of my recent life---just waiting, not knowing what was going on, and terrified. I slept with L, because he insisted, so I was awake, on my phone, lying next to him with him holding me ear, for several hours. Of course I scrolled facebook. I also snuck away and stress ate some carbs.

L was so so upset. He was crying, sad, wanted his brother to be better, wanted to go to the hospital so he could see him and see what they were going to do to him, and even turning his tears off so he could perform his usual clownish dance routines so I could videotape them and send them to his brother "so he can laugh and feel better". (This kid. I don't know how we got so lucky with him). He was also exhausted, so thankfully he fell asleep and stayed asleep.

B threw up right when the resident came to see him. But then he was more awake and alert. He DID laugh at L's video. They didn't think a Head CT was needed---again, the mechanism of injury would not likely cause a serious head injury, he didn't hit his head (and he had a helmet in case he had). They wanted optho to see him, though, because it was so near his eye and the cut under the eye may need a stitch. It took 2.5 hours for her to come, she put drops in his eyes to dilate. Came back 30 minutes later, the drops didn't work. Repeat. She may want to stitch the cut vs. glue. Confer with attending. I told G to say NO to sedation for stitch, but they opted for glue. Everything fine, its nearly midnight now. B is sleeping. They need to po challenge him and watch him walk. 2 hours later all that is done. They can't tell if he had a concussion because he's so sleepy because its the middle of the night. We get a list of things to watch for. Finally finally they get home & of course I still can't sleep---we are all camped out on the floor of the boys room because I wanted to keep an eye on B, too. I imagine us all sleeping in the next day, maybe going to brunch, watching movies, having an easy day.

Ha! L is up at 7, B wakes up at 8. HUNGRY. Grumpy. Complaining, fighting. i.e back to normal. We have our regularly scheduled day of gym, chores, playdate with B's friend at the park, cooking, etc... Within minutes of him being up, all my vows for being patient and gentle with him evaporated. Nothing has changed, and for that I am forever thankful.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pleasure Paradox

Despite having a really lovely day off yesterday (I went on a field trip to the aquarium with L, and then we picked B up from school and baked & decorated sugar cookies for hours), I'm feeling really blah today.

I worked from home in the morning and then met G downtown for a lunch we'd planned & rescheduled several times over the past 2 months. I had gotten a groupon to a sushi place that was near his work, thinking we could have a (cheap) lunch date. After multiple schedule snafus, today was the ONLY day in February before the groupon expired that we were both free at lunchtime. And then I realized, after we arrived, that the coupon is only valid Sunday-Thursday. AARGH.

Anyways, the food was delicious, but I felt overstuffed afterwards. Not used to carbs for lunch and certainly not in that quantity. Working has been slow this afternoon. And the blah isn't helping. Blah makes me WANT things. Like a pretty dress. Or 30 minutes scrolling mindless fluff.

I listened to the podcast Sarah mentioned in her post about pleasure. I won't link it because, honestly, it was mostly terrible. Lots of woo woo nonsense about empowering your uterus and curing all of life's ills by avoiding the devil's wheat protein. The gist of it was that you should fill your life with (non-sexual) pleasure. I hate the use of that word because it does, in current usage, have a decidedly sexual connotation. Why not use "enjoyment" or "treat"?

Anyways, in the context of the podcast, "pleasure" referred to activities or objects that delighted one or more of your physical senses. Something that brought you back to your body, out of your head. Smelling a candle, holding & smelling & tasting a mug of your favorite tea, feeling a cozy sweater on your body, "adorning yourself" with clothes & jewelry you love, tasting your favorite chocolate, listening to music, etc... I do like this idea---why the hell fill your life with things that delight you?

I can think of some reasons. No, I don't think its "selfish" to do things for yourself, as long as they fit in the values (& budget!) of your family. The guest actually addressed this apparently common misconception, by stating that doing things that recharge your batteries makes you more able to give your family/work/etc... your energy and skills. I agree with this on a practical level (because its true) but disagree somewhat with the principle (so the only reason I'm "allowed" to use nice-smelling bath products is so I can be a better mom?)

But it seemed more than a little precious the way they described this in action. One women (a mother of a toddler) talked about how she settles down in her comfiest chair with her special soft & cozy sweater on, a candle lit, her favorite (vegan, gluten-free) snacks at the ready, to read her favorite books for 2 hours. Seriously? I mean, I consider myself lucky if I can sneak off to the bathroom to read for 15 minutes on a Saturday but even if I had the time I am positive I wouldn't make such a PRODUCTION of it all. The other one told a story about switching from the aisle seat to her most favorite cacoon-y window seat so she could take off her shoes and put on her special travel socks (!!!) and nibble her snacks while she colored in her adult coloring book. I  mean, to each their own, but, really? They talked about a perfect "pleasure date" of enjoying great "farm to table" local organic vegan (did they also say artisinal? maybe) food, walking around outside and enjoying nature, and then ending with some lovely tea (again with the tea).

And then I thought of how I would apply this to MY life and hit the major snag:

I $ucking hate tea. There I said it. I don't actually hate it, actually, its fine. I just don't LOVE IT. In this podcast and every single article I've ever read directed to women about "treats" or "joy" or "pleasure" or "self care" there is much waxing rhapsodic about the wonder and delight to be found in a mug of tea.  Tea is fine. I drink it. Sometimes it smells good. Its great for keeping hydrated when its freezing and I don't feel like drinking water. I get it when I have to meet someone in a coffee shop because I don't drink coffee after 9 am, but I freaking resent spending $3 for it. I buy tea and have some of my favorite kind at both home & work and I drink it a couple times a week.  But I just don't get that giddy tingly JOY from tea. (yes I've tried LOTS of different kind. my sister is a tea lover and has a "tea cabinet" in her home. I've tried it all. some is good). Nor do I get it from carob chips and figs (the FUCK? the woman kept going on about her damn figs)

I get that joy from a glass of wine. A hunk of cheese. A perfect gin martini. A slice of pizza. Dark dark chocolate with something unexpected in it, like chili pepper.  Those things make me giddy. They thrill my senses. Sure, I love some healthier things---raspberries make me happy, and tangy clementines spark joy. I really look forward to my salad lunch---its delicious and satisfying. But overall? The things that bring me true pleasure aren't necessarily healthy. Moreover, consuming them is in direct contradiction to my goals and will prevent me from enjoying other things that give me pleasure.

Hence the paradox. I like my clothes fitting well and being able to wear flat-front dresses without constantly worrying I look pregnant. I like not feeling overstuffed and bloated, sleeping more soundly, having more energy. I can't just indulge my pleasure at every whim or I'll be decidedly unhealthy and that brings no one pleasure.

Non-consumable pleasures? Yes, I guess I can focus on those. Listen to music (WHEN???), admire the beauty of nature, wear comfy clothes...ooh yes, I'd love a cozy chunky-knit sweater...I wonder if they are having a winter sale, ooh and I've been wanting a really nice signature necklace to wear to work. oops. Nope, can't buy shiny sparkly new things either. 

So how does this actually work for real people in real life? I guess everyone really loves tea.

Now how do I convince myself that happiness is at the bottom of a mug of early grey and not a glass of Malbec?

Have you found healthy frugal ways to bring "pleasure" into your life? Do you LOVE tea?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Monday Monday

This weekend was...ok. I started feeling a bit "meh" on Saturday. It was the first weekend in a long time that I started, in the morning, counting down the hours until bedtime. That is never a good sign.

After the gym (for me) and swimming, we stayed home the rest of the day; a lot of it on my own while G ran errands, walked the dog, and generally tried to get away! B was more challenging than usual (which is pretty damn challenging to begin with), and I lost it with him by 10AM. We were all walking home from the gym, and he was complaining how much he hated his swimming class and he was cold and he wanted to go home and this and that and BORING and HATE and NOT FAIR and and and. Yes, it was really freaking cold, and I also really wanted to be home, but I couldn't GET home, because he literally just STOPPED WALKING and was standing, rooted to the spot, staring into nowhere. I know---I KNOW---that this is what he does when he's upset & overwhelmed & his (to quote "No Drama Discipline") his "upstairs brain" and his "downstairs brain" are completely disconnected. There is no use trying to reason with him that if he hurried up we could be warm & he could play. I tried consoling him, making it a game, making jokes, pretty much everything I could muster up despite the fact that I was freezing and starving. I finally said "What is WRONG with you?! COME ON!" and trying to push him along a little by grabbing his back. He turned or I missed or something, but I ended up smacking the back of his head, and he then looked at me with big teary eyes and quivering lips. Mother of the year.

Even on reflection, though, I can't think of how I could have best handled this. I mean, I know I didn't have to be physically rough, but how could I have resolved the situation before it got to that? He does not respond well to us picking him up and carrying him home (even if I could carry a 6 year old home after 60 minutes of strength training, and both of us wearing several layers of clothing). It was simply TOO COLD to just pull him aside and sit with him until he calmed down. I didn't even have anything on me to bribe him with. Sometimes I just don't think I'm up for the task of raising this child.

So, yeah, I was a bit bummed out Saturday. Sunday I went to the gym again (non-negotiable) and then took the boy to the children's museum (despite B's protests and 45 minutes of complaining). It was ridiculously crowded---the whole city had the same idea on the bitterly cold day, I guess. But we stayed for almost 5 hours. I did NOT lose it the whole time, though I very well could have. I was proud of myself.

G stayed home but unfortunately didn't get a moment to relax, there was so much to be done. Our washer broke on Saturday---full to the rim of water that we couldn't get to drain. So he had to empty it cup by cup into the small bucket we had, and take the bucket upstairs to the kitchen sink. And THEN take several loads of laundry to the laundramat to wash & dry them. We bought a new washer and dryer (total satisficing, we picked the highest rated one on Sweethome & bought it from the place with the earliest delivery), but the earliest we could get it delivered is next Thursday. 10 days away. Another weekend at the laundramat (which thankfully is only 2 doors down!).

When we got home, G & the boys watched a movie, and I cooked dinner and had some wine in the lovely lovely quiet. Then I had some more wine with dinner, and a little more hanging out with G after the kids were in bed. I stayed up too late, but regardless I got to work & had a productive morning. All my boys at are home and I'm here---this has been a common pattern the past few weeks.

But...and here it is...I'm still feeling meh. The snow is coming down outside (I think) but I can't see it from my window. I'm crossing things off my list, I've planned out the week. I'm finally not sick anymore.  I'm back to my healthy eating (did NOT over the weekend. Crackers, calzone, rice...lots of carbs). There isn't, however, anything FUN coming up I can look forward to---I need to plan something. And I need to remind myself to look harder for the bright spots. I know they are there, I just need to have the right eyes to see them.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Rebel Yell

(or not quite yell, but maybe exclaim in a somewhat-louder-than-usual voice?)

Sarah's post about that "meh" feeling got me thinking. I definitely have those periods of time when there is nothing objectively wrong, and I'm actually being productive & on top of things, and all feels like a slog.

As I wrote in my comment, there are a few ways that work for me to break out of that rut.

1) Schedule something that is actually FUN. Not "fun" like most kid-related activities, or "fun" like cooking or exercise or something that you do enjoy but is also part of your to-do list...but something you do for no other reason than to enjoy yourself. Like an outing with friends or a date night or an afternoon getting a pedicure and shopping, or whatever you can manage. Even the act of planning the fun, and looking forward to it, lifts my mood when I'm in the blahs.

2) Look for the bright spots. The little but wonderful things that happen in every day. Even the blah-est days usually have SOMETHING. A lovely sunset, a great cup of coffee, a cute moment with your kid, the way your dog shakes her butt with excitement when you get home and it makes you laugh...try to NOTICE and SAVOR those things. Knowing I need 3 to write down each evening leads me to search for and revel in those little things. I know I'm more aware of them when I'm keeping with the writing practice.

3) Rebel. I notice the "meh" a lot when I'm being really "good", which for me usually means a lot of self-denial. Not snacking on carbs, not drinking wine, not spending money, not watching TV, not not not not not. It feels great to be so virtuous! Until it doesn't and I just want to fuck it all and eat & drink & do whatever the hell I want to do. So I do...and its amazing! Its so liberating to shake away all the rules! Its all the more glorious when I haven't indulged in a while, too! And the next day I wake up and go back to it all, and I'm good again...until the next time.

On that note, I'm going to go finish up the day so I can head home for some delicious delicious rebellion.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thought Salad

This social media/Unplugged challenge is impossible frustratingly difficult for me. I know this only makes it all the more necessary for me to do it, but I suspect one month isn't enough to lead to meaningful and lasting change. As opposed to food, which you may think of constantly (just me?) but only have to make decisions about 4-5 times a day, there are INFINITE opportunities for making the wrong decision here. I can literally pull out my phone and check email any second of the day. Anytime I am sitting at my desk working on my computer is a time that I can open up a new tab on the browser and read a blog. Retraining my brain to stay focused is not going to be an easy process, but in the spirit of #noexcuses, and knowing that this change could make a significant positive impact on my life, I fully intend keep trying. If not now, then when, and all that.

In addition to not using my phone during the evenings, I'm also trying to refrain from using those precious few hours between getting home & kid bedtime to do chores. It is so tempting to try to "get everything done" so I can relax (or, lately, go to bed) as soon as they are down. But I miss out on a lot doing that. Last night for example, yielded this conversation:

Scene: B, coloring. Me, about to go up the stairs to do...something.
B: "Mom am I a white people or a black people"?
Me: "You're brown people"
B: "Mr K (teacher) said I'm an Indian"
Me: "Well yes, you are an Indian but your skin is brown which is why I said that"
B: "Am I REALLY an Indian? So how come we don't have those feathers"
Me: time to have the "dots not feathers" talk "blah blah blah, the country...Asia...our relatives...Native Americans...Christopher Colombus...etc..."
B, looking at brown arms "But my SKIN is white, right?"
Me: sorry, kid. "no, its not"...."but you've been learning about how the color of your skin shouldn't matter, right?"
B: "yeah! Martin Luther King! People used to think people were bad if they had black skin but now they know better, right?"
Me: ummmm "yeah, WE know better"

Thanks to a recommendation from Noemi, I checked out Dr Laura Markham's website & blog (and I have the book on hold at the library "Peaceful parents, happy kids" ). I actually do like a lot of her philosophy, as did G, when I sent him some articles. He did feel some of the things she recommended seemed "forced and unnatural" but I reminded him that what was "natural" to us was apparently losing our tempers and yelling at them, so.... I was thinking to myself "I wish I'd found this sooner", but then I remembered that I had, in fact, stumbled upon her site a few years back, searching for help for B's explosive tantrums. And I HATED her message at that time! I thought the idea of a "time in" where I held onto my thrashing, hitting kid and validated his feelings without any disciplinary action was way too soft and woo-woo out there. I thought kids needed boundaries & limits & consequences (also verboten in the Dr Laura world). I guess it took a few years of trying many many versions of that to no avail (and an often chaotic, and stress-filled home) to realize I was wrong and I need to be open to new ideas.

I still need to finish "No Drama Discipline" and I'll write a review of that. So far, I LOVE this book. I bought it, and plan to mark it all up with notes & tabs.

Its going to be bitterly cold this weekend. I'm not dreading it (who am I)? Not only have I not been hating winter this year, I daresay I've been enjoying it.  I even found the early darkness really cozy and intimate and I'm starting to MISS it (who am I?).  We have our list of "winter fun" activities to choose from---I'm thinking bowling and swimming this weekend, and the boys will go to the children's museum since they are off on Monday (I'm not). We all have the proper gear and (this may be the key) the boys can PUT IT ON THEMSELVES. Trying to get gloves onto chubby little fingers when you're in a hurry is my little version of hell. I'll go to the gym (finally feeling better, yay!) and we'll have an activity each afternoon, and screen time in the evening.

Thus ends the thought salad. More to come...

Monday, February 8, 2016


Ugh. Guys I got really sick this weekend. I haven't been that sick in a few years, where I really couldn't manage my parenting or household duties. I have to hand it to my husband, he REALLY pulled through and did all of my chores & his own, all while wrangling the kids. He went grocery shopping with BOTH KIDS which is deserving of a medal in my book!

I did make it to my clinic Saturday morning and saw patients for a few hours. And Sunday I was delusional and thought I was better so I dragged the kids to a children's theater show (we have season tickets). They didn't want to go, and it honestly wasn't that good and I was spent by the time we got home. There was more screen time for the kids than usual, and WAY more screen time for myself.

I managed to finish two books, both of which I hated, on Saturday (a book club book which was TERRIBLE and I'd been slowly reading for a couple weeks, and I started & finished Go Set a Watchman...snooze). So Sunday I did relax the Unplugged rules a bit and caught up on all your blog posts (and comments sections), plus I watched 2 episodes of Gilmore Girls when G took the boys swimming.  I'm not one for just following rules without understanding the rationale behind them. I decided to do the challenge because I wanted to be more present with my family at home & more productive at work and to see if staying away from the instant gratification of constant clicking & scrolling could improve my focus. On a day when I was just lolling in bed and couldn't spend time with my family or do work and certainly was not able to truly focus, what was the point of staying off the internet? I know it sounds like an excuse, and maybe it is, but to me its more about "questioning" and ensuring there is logic and reason behind my actions.

I'm not feeling 100% today, either, but I'm on consult service & the thought of trying to arrange coverage on Monday morning sounded worse than trudging into work, so I'm here. But instead of dutifully writing my paper between rounding sessions, I've just spent a solid hour on the internet (oops).  On the plus side, I had finally made all the BuyNothingProject drop off and pickups I had planned so I deleted the Facebook app from my phone! I plan to go back to my rules tomorrow (I'm assuming I'll feel better?)

What I've learned so far:
  • I don't really miss anything (facebook, random blogs I sometimes read)
  • it is hard to really comment on blogs (and keep up with comments threads in general) in 20 minutes
  • I don't suddenly stop procrastinating; but my procrastination can actually be useful. For example, I spent a lot of time last week reading through a backlog of articles (clinical & research related) instead of working on my paper. Some of those articles helped inform clinical decision-making, and others led to some thought on new avenues for my research. 
  • It is really an ingrained habit to pull my phone out when waiting for the elevator or the light to change. I did it several times without even noticing what I was doing.
  • Perfect really is the enemy of good. I was not perfect. But if I checked my phone 5 times instead of 10 times a day, THAT'S STILL A LOT BETTER. I'd be ecstatic about a 50% change in a parameter in my research, why do I expect 100% of myself and consider it failure otherwise? The old me would flog myself, declare "well, it didn't work, I can't do it. I give up" and go back to 10 times a day because fuck it. The new improved me is trying to see this as a success----a step in the right direction---in fact, something to feel GOOD about. Lets get to 5 times a day consisently now. Maybe in the future I'll try for 2, or even zero.
You really can never be too kind, even to yourself.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Low Carb Experiment, What I Learned

I'm so glad I finally bit the bullet and did this experiment. I did lose some pounds--and that was with eating unholy amounts of cheese, nuts, booze and bacon (like a plate of fancy cheeses & nuts at 9pm most nights). But more importantly, I learned that I do not need carbs to function or feel well. After the first couple of days of headache/foggy brain, I felt perfectly normal. In fact, I felt so normal that I upped the intensity, and starting week 2, cut out all legumes, too. And..still normal.

What I didn't feel was any increased energy or focus, nor was I less hungry than when I eat balanced, carb-containing, whole foods. Sure I didn't get as ravenous as I got when I binged on crackers or cheese puffs, though, and not being able to do that was a plus!

I did have a few "cheats". I ate a piece of homemade toffee a friend brought over, and had carbs at 2 restaurant meals. And I quit early, Saturday instead of Sunday last weekend because everyone else in the family really really wanted pizza for dinner and I didn't want to sit on the side and eat my sad non-pizza meal (pretty much any meal is sad compared to pizza, right?)

So am I swimming in a barrel of sugar and crackers now that the challenge is over? Nope. I grew to love my carb-free breakfasts and lunches, and I have no desire to allow myself to eat chips & crackers again---so all snacks are low carb, other than the one piece of chocolate daily that I love to have after lunch or dinner. I am eating a small, measured serving of carbs with dinner if its part of the meal and something I really love, so that I can partake in our family dinners (this was really the only hard part, and I think the resultant unsatisfied feeling led to the need for cheese later in the evening). 

Mondays food, for example:
Breakfast: coffee, 2 eggs scrambled with tomatos, jalepenos, green onions and 2 slices bacon
Lunch: salad (Trader Joe's "8 healthy chopped veggies" mix, plus extra carrots & green bell peppers), with grilled chicken, feta, toasted walnuts & TJ's jalepeno yogurt dip as a dressing), raspberries
Snack (4pm): one string cheese stick
Dinner: 3 homemade Indian curries: chicken tikka masala, spinach with daal, green bean/eggplant/sweet potato/tomato curry in coconut milk, with 1/3 cup basmati rice and one strip of naan (1 X 3 inch)

While I felt fine without carbs, this actually feels better and way more sustainable. I honestly could eat like this forever, which was always the ultimate goal. I never, however, would have gotten here by just trying to "eat less carbs"---the more drastic experiment cut through all my excuses: "I need carbs", "I don't know what I'll eat" and "I'll be too tired/unsatisfied/etc..."

I also learned some interesting things about habit change that are more universally applicable (and that I'm using for the Unplugged challenge)

1) Tiny changes aren't motivating for me
2) But its OK to start smaller and build up (like with the legumes)
3) Slip ups are expected and allowed (this is huge. I could easily have eaten the toffee and then said, fuck it, its over, I can't do this and its stupid anyways. Its tempting, and it comes from perfectionism. Its harder for me to forgive myself and keep going). "planning to fail" is also helpful. I knew I was going to eat carbs at the restaurant, but that I would go back to the plan in the morning. There was no "now what?" moment and that moment is when the whole thing can fall off the wagon!
4) Specific but flexible---I had a list of what I was/wasn't eating, but I could change it based on how I felt)
5) I cannot follow other people's rules (and they make me angry). I have no desire to do a Whole30 (or even follow the rules of the Unplugged30) because I have very specific goals in mind and have thought through how to address my specific problem areas. This is also a Questioner thing. Why would I stop eating fruit when I'm trying to quit crackers? Or give up my morning blog check when its the evening internetting that is interfering with family life and sleep?)

Back with a recap of how the unplugged challenge is going soon!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Creating Space

I started the low-internet challenge today. I'll play along with SHU's challenge, though my rules are different and may evolve over the month. For now: 
  • limiting social media time to 2 20 minute breaks during the day
  • cut down significantly on the blogs I'm following (about 10 total now) and only marking really interesting posts to come back to comment on
  • unjoined several facebook groups (but didn't deactivate because I'm still getting rid of a bunch of stuff I've been purging)
  • no phone while waiting for short periods of time (bus stop, elevator, stop light)
  • no phone in evenings with kids or G 
  • NEVER on social media after 10 pm
  • weekends: limit to 15 minutes
I've tried this kind of thing before and I usually fail spectacularly within the first few days. Why? 1) I never got specific with rules. 2) never told anyone or had any kind of accountability. 3) I had unrealistic expectations.

#3 may be the most important barrier to my success in the past. I had this belief that I would stop checking blogs & facebook and suddenly become super motivated, hyperfocused and productive at work. And more present and relaxed at home. But on the first day, my mind would wander and I wouldn't get everything done, and I'd be distracted and annoyed by my family and I'd declare it a failure and go back to my old ways.

I've had to talk myself down from these expectations. I'm not suddenly going to rewire my brain (if ever), and sometimes work IS boring and that first draft will always take forever to get going. My kids and husband will never cease to (occasionally) irritate me and minds are made to wander.

What I'm doing by removing the constant chatter is creating space for...whatever. Productivity or creativity or daydreams or even boredom.

I'm excited to see how this goes.