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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shadows

I was going to write yesterday, and then hesitated, because I felt like a bit of a fraud. What do I mean? Well, after my perfectly well-adjusted non-therapy-needing post last week, this weekend was a bit of a...backslide. I was sad, and anxious, and uncertain, and things were really getting to me. I still feel that way somewhat, but that is part of real life. And real life is what I'm trying to sell here, so I may as well write anyways!

Mother's Day was, as usual, mostly OK. G had the kids make cards, and he cooked a yummy brunch with mimosas.  I did sort of feel like it was MIL's day, with me as the runner up. Also there were lots of little MIL-related-stressors going on, the usual (and I don't feel like reliving it all to write about it), but still annoying. B's been back in his "I hate school" mode, which is always really stressful for us, because we start wondering if something is going on (there isn't, as far as I can tell) or if he's just prone to having a bad attitude (seems pretty likely), and how do we help him or if we can't help him, how do we cope? I did a barre class. It was OK. The thing I don't like about barre is that its pretty slow-paced and repetitive, so I have lots of time to think. Not a great choice when I'm already brooding.

People (well a few people) keep asking me about our summer travel plans.  I tell them we are going to visit both sets of family, including a family beach trip with my parents, some time with my sister, a week in MIL-city perhaps with another nearby beach trip. But they want something more interesting. Is it a given to travel somewhere new every summer? It seems to me like an enormous luxury! MIL has also been harping on "us all" going on some kind of trip.

The weird thing  is that I don't even WANT to go anywhere. Its not only a matter of money or mother-in-laws, I just feel like laying low. The kids are pretty good travelers at this point, so its not about that. The drive to explore and get out of the routine just isn't there for me right now. On the contrary, I feel like really sinking into the routine, being present and in the moment and savoring our lazy weekends in the backyard or the school playground. I want to cook, and exercise, and read. I want to take the kids to the splash parks and ice cream shops, have friends over for cook-outs, and try out some new family friendly eateries in our neighborhood.

Then this winter, we will fly somewhere warm. That's the plan.




Thursday, May 11, 2017

2017 Quarter 1 BOOKS

Whoa. Guys, I read TWENTY books January-March of 2017. This pace will not continue, because I've only read 2 so far in Q2. I'm going to play around with different ways of talking books---and I'd love your feedback on what works and doesn't. This time I'm going to review all the 3-5 star books I read and just list out the others (reviews upon request).

The WOW! These are the must-reads. READ THEM. Winter 2017 was an unusually good book season! I don't usually have more than a couple of Wow! books.

Born a Crime (Trevor Noah): So well-written, emotional and informative. There were funny undertones but this wasn't a typical comedic memoir. I learned so much about the history of apartheid in South Africa and was blown away by his depiction of his family relationships.

Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson): I mentioned this one before, but it should be required reading. I admit that capital punishment hasn't really been on my radar as a cause, but reading these incredibly moving stories brought it front and center. The inherent racism, ableism and classism in the criminal justice system guarantee that those with the least will bear the brunt of our "war on crime".

The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver): I can't believe I've never read this before! Its amazing! Its actually my first Kingsolver, and I'm awed at her descriptive passages. While the stories of the missionary family are fascinating, the main character of this book is the Congo, and she really brings it to life.

Exit West (Mohsin Hamid): This was an unexpected favorite. I love how matter-of-fact the protagonists were in their relationship---she really took the "foreign" (and thus "fearsome") aspect out of our young Middle Eastern characters so they were instantly relatable. And I was definitely not prepared for the way we approach the refugee crisis issue by mixing realistic depictions of a war-torn  city whimsically with fantasy elements.


The Storied Life of AJ Fikrey(Gabrielle Zevin): Heart-warming. My favorite kind of story in which random strangers find what they need in each other. And books! 

The Good Books I enjoyed reading or that stayed with me for a while.

Maybe in Another Life (Taylor Jenkins Reid): Chick-lit done (mostly) right and with a cool "Sliding Doors" twist.

The High Mountains of Portugal (Yann Martel): This was truly bizarre but I liked it. Its actually a collection of a few stories in completely different styles, but with an underlying theme (men dealing, or not, with grief).

Today Will be Different (Maria Semple): I related somewhat to that feeling of ennui and desire for self-improvement (obvi), though the ending was unsatisfying.

Truly, Madly, Guilty (Liane Moriarty): This one started off SO GOOD and really engaging. I won't spoil it.

The Mothers (Brit Bennett): The story of the main character was engaging, though the whole conceit of "The Mothers" left me cold.

The Girl Who Saved the King of Scotland and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonnason): I found these funny. I like his wry, humorous style, and they were both pretty good (if far-fetched) stories. I also learned a lot about history and politics. "Hundred-Year-Old Man" was a bit Forrest-Gump-esque and I overall liked it less, but maybe because it was the second one I read and his style was starting to wear on me.

Dark Matter (Blake Crouch): The concept this is based on is mind-blowing. I recommend it for that alone. The execution...could be better.

Here I Am (Jonathan Safran Foer): It took me SO LONG to get into this and I nearly abandoned it until a small anecdote hooked me into the theme. I greatly disliked the main character, and the  pornographic inserts in the beginning added NOTHING to the story. Yet...the theme...really stuck with me. Middle-aged ennui and the overwhelming desire to feel alive and be in the moment. Definitely something I relate to. I also love how he weaved one of the most fascinating parables I've ever heard (Abraham and Isaac) throughout---I've been awed by that story and how it embodied the concept of faith since I first read it many years ago.

My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She's Sorry (Fredrick Backman): Weird and interesting. Not for everyone---but I enjoyed it. If you're expecting another "Man Called Ove", you'll be disappointed, but I'm a sucker for a precocious, outcast kid finding connections in unexpected places.

The Meh Self-explanatory? These are mostly not TERRIBLE, but forgettable.

Vinegar Girl (Anne Tyler), Amy and Isabelle (Elizabeth Strout), The Intersection (Brad Windhauser), The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (Heidi W. Durrow), The Messenger (Lois Lowry), Son (Louis Lowry)

Graduated?

I had a pretty good meeting with the therapist, ending in her telling me that I no longer need therapy! I am staying on her roster, with the plan to contact her if anything changes, and to pro-actively start coming back when I'm considering going off the P@xil.

I told her about the MIL issues, about certain things that happened and how I responded and she told me I'd "achieved great interpersonal growth" in dealing with her. She's absolutely right. I mentioned this a while back, but something changed during her visit last summer and I no longer demonize her or hate her and she no longer has the power to completely ruin my mental state. Sure its still annoying and stressful around her, she's a challenging in-law, but I can handle it. I even challenged her on something last week, and I didn't completely curl up and die. I can take the worst of her and survive, and its empowering.

We talked about how we are working hard to help B right now, how I put a lot of that off last year because I just...couldn't. I am planning to focus my time taking him to weekly social skills groups and continuing to see the family therapist with G on a regular (but limited) schedule to stay on track.

We talked a bit about work, about how I've stopped beating myself up or thinking I'm a complete failure when I can't stay focused and productive every single day or even week. I realize I work in spurts, getting unreal amounts of work done in a few weeks and then just...stalling out. I have been trying SO HARD to be a more steady producer, churning out equal amounts of product every day and I just keep failing over and over and over. Maybe I need to allow myself to work the way I enjoy, and give myself more time & space to really fall into the flow when I'm feeling it, and using the less laser-focused time to take care of the many many administrative and mundane aspects of my job.

I brought up the question of going off the SSRI and we both agreed to wait until fall (and actually October, after I submit my R01) because of the changes coming up to my work schedule, kids' schedule, and travel this summer, in addition to my desire to simply ENJOY this summer.

Overall she said I seemed to have most of my issues under control and she didn't believe in "over-therapizing" and that she trusted I would return should I need it. I felt pretty damn good.



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Okay, Okay...what's next

The "books I read" post remains a work in progress. I just read too darn many books and I have been too lazy to go through and look up how to spell author's names correctly so I can finish up the list. But since I don't want to go another month between posts, I'll give you guys some updates.

Last week was pretty stressful. I trifecta of suck (or as Selina Meyers called it on Veep, a "trifuckta"). My MIL is here and was being challenging, I was on call, and hormones. Plus my tech/assistant had her last day and I really miss her, both for her excellent work and her company (sometimes she was the only person I talk to for days). Also it was blah and cold and rainy.

I made it through the call week & weekend. On the bright side:
  • On Saturday I came home incredibly stressed and I dragged G out for a run in the chilly afternoon. It was hard, because I'm usually a morning exercise person and I was already hungry, but after the run and the shower I felt so much calmer.
  • G, MIL, and the boys went to visit family on Sunday and stayed until Monday afternoon so I had the HOUSE TO MYSELF when I finally got home Sunday from the hospital. I binge watched the entire mini-series of "Big Little Lies" and ate leftover pizza. It was much needed.
  • The "call week diet" should be marketed. I lost three pounds in 7 days by: not drinking at all, going to bed at 9:30 and not snacking after dinner, and walking twice my usual steps each day. Of course last night I stayed up 'til 10:30, had 2 glasses of wine, and a big snack after dinner so the weight loss is not sustainable long term, but at least I know what to do if I need to fit into a dress or something.
I haven't told you guys about my schedule changes yet. In July I'm going 50% clinical. Its actually kind of generous, considering the other 50% is unfunded as of now. I'm terrified. I don't think I'll have enough time to do my research and submit papers and grants. I need to really plan my weeks out well and will need to start using my evenings/weekends for work. I will also lose most of my nice relaxing mornings, since I'm planning on starting clinics at 8 so I can leave on time to pick up the boys.

I am seeing my therapist today, for the first time in months. I'll probably focus on MIL-stress, because an impartial outside voice is always helpful in trying to entangle that baggage. I'm on the fence about stopping the SSRI this summer. Part of me wants to see how I do without it, but another (likely bigger) part just wants to ride out the stability for a bit longer and try to enjoy the summer.

My current "practice" if you will is trying to be OK with occasional negative emotions. Just letting myself feel anxious or sad without feeling the need to "fix it" or distract myself immediately. I guess its part of mindfulness, and something that comes up occasionally in the guided meditations I do---just realizing how you are feeling and viewing it with equanimity.  On the same front, I'm trying, yet again, to find healthier coping mechanisms for those inevitable bad days (i.e. not food, not wine, not shopping, and not diving into mindless internet distraction). Exercise, music, connecting with a friend, going outside...I know these things but I just reach for the cheese and wine and smartphone instead.

Hope you all are having a good week. I promise I'll get the books post up...someday.

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Day

My favorite month is here! Had an OK weekend. The highlight was Friday night when our school had a get-together, open to the neighborhood, with pizza and snacks on the playground. It was crazy hot and the kids figured out how to use the water fountain + plastic cups to spray and soak each other and they all ran around for hours while the grown ups sat in the shade and chatted. We went home after the sun set and they got cold with tired and fed kids.

My back is MUCH better, but now my hip hurts? Weird. Anyways, I was well enough to go for an energizing 4 mile run yesterday, and I got G to join me (since MIL is now here).  I'm planning on heading back to the gym tomorrow and Thursday since I'm on call and won't be able to go this weekend, blah.

Anyways, busy day, gotta go see more patients, but wanted to blog again before I fell right off the wagon. Back with the Quarter 1 Books post later this week...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meta Meta?

(blogging about blogging about blogging)

Which, actually, is boring, so I'll skip it. Here I am. (Also the title of a thought-provoking if not necessarily enjoyable book I read recently). Today is "do all the things I've been putting off for way too long" day and blogging fell on that list.

If I'd written last week, I'd say things were going quite well, but this week has been challenging. Nothing major, just the usual things that can get you down, like sickness, grant rejections, annoying kids, home repairs, constant rain, and to top it off I did something to my lower back and ugh. I think I need to take a break from exercise for a while which makes me cranky because its my favorite and most effective stress relief. Oh, and MIL is coming Saturday night. So...

So while I HAVEN'T been blogging I've been doing the following
  • meditating! I've only missed 4 days so far in April. Now that I've been successful at making it a habit, I'm considering a paid subscription for access to more guided content. I'm debating between Headspace and Calm but welcome reviews/suggestions
  • staying off social media. I'm off facebook for-(maybe)-ever. THANK YOU to zenmoo who recommended the Groups app. Now that I have that figured out, there is NO NEED to ever go on my feed. Bonus---friends are wondering where I am and TEXTING and we are having real interactions! I actually did 3 full weeks of no blogs/facebook/instagram/etc... and it was quite lovely but I missed you guys! I also did a whole weekend of putting my phone away and it was surprising how much it seemed to help---my kids actually seemed better behaved that weekend. 
  • seeing the therapist. After a few sessions of G and I going together, I've been bringing B. This is worth its own post, actually, so I'll just say its been---mixed.
  • not eating so much. HOORAY. My clothes fit again. I'd actually like to keep not eating so much and feel confident in my (very 40-year-old-mom-ish tankini style) swimsuit this summer
  • reading! I love reading book round-up posts from other bloggers so I'll make this its own thing. Likely quarterly. Which means...now.  
  • Listening to the West Wing Weekly podcast. I'm a teeny bit obsessed and really want to catch up (they are on season 3, I'm on season 1, we are also re-watching the show and on season 2). 
 Alright. More long-procrastinated things to do. Book round-up post next week. Also my meta-analysis of the meal subscription services we tried this winter because we tried A LOT (but not all...there are always more) and actually did settle on a favorite.  See ya' in sooner than 5 weeks hopefully!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Belonging, part 2, Showing Up

I'm home with a sick B today. He is watching his second movie on the ipad----which is the only way I"m getting any work done since he is feeling better & quite chatty once the medicine brought his fever down. The good side---I had already taken the day off to chaperone his class trip to the zoo. The bad side---well, yeah. We were both looking really forward to it (I was SO interested to see the dynamic with the kids that I only hear hints of from him), and he bounded out of bed saying "I'm fine" but we could barely here him through the croaking, stuffy  nose and constant cough, and his fever was 101.4 so back to bed it was.

A highlight of the past weekend was the fundraiser for B's school which was on Saturday night. We got a sitter, I got to wear a fun dress & jewelry, and drink unlimited wine, eat salted caramel cookies,  dance to cheesy pop music, and participate in a silent auction, which I always more fun then I remember. We went home with everything I was bidding on, but that was not the real win. 

I realized during the event that I really knew a LOT of people there! No we didn't come with a big group of friends, and there were some awkward moments when G & I realized we were sort of alone, but most of the time we were chatting and mingling. I knew several people from my workout class at the Y, a couple of ladies from the new neighborhood barre studio I had been to twice, people I had exchanged multiple items with on BuyNothing, some women from my neighborhood book group, other parents & PTA members, and owners of local businesses we frequent.

Last week we had our monthly book club meeting, and I realize how comfortable I feel with this crowd, whereas the first meeting 9 months ago I was awkward and quiet, this time we were all laughing, pouring wine, and closed out the diner. I went to the gym twice & the barre studio once, and I chatted with several people. I finally got (after many texts on my part) a lunch with a best friend. I stayed after clinic to have a long chat about some ongoing work-place issues with a couple of co-workers, and got some good perspective to take to my meeting later that week.

I was talking to G about this topic in the week---he was mentioning how he wanted to make more friends, that aside from work he didn't hang out with many people, and I told him that he just had to start joining things (so he is going to assistant coach the T-ball team L is starting next month).  I just started going to things, and going again and again, and over time, people go from strangers to acquaintances to friends. While I still wish I had more people I could consider close friends, I have to think of friendship during this phase of adulthood as a long game. I just have to keep showing up.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Happenings

Lots of bullets since its been a while...
  • Snow day today! It really did snow overnight, but now its raining, and the whole thing is the consistency of a slushy. No sledding or snow-men making in our future. 
  • OMG our dog has some GI illness and its terrible. She thinks rugs=grass=good place to "go". We threw away some bath mats and will need to replace our living room rug. She doesn't bark so we have to be looking at her all day/night to notice her subtle clues, which is obviously not possible. 
  • I tried Trunk Club. I was initially disappointed because the one item I LOVED was way way too $$$ to justify ($250 for a pair of designer jeans, they were magical, really, but not worth the price of a plane ticket!), but I tried things on again and showed them to G and stuff grew on me. I ended up keeping:  a cute date-night top that is crisp striped cotton with bell sleeves and the "cold shoulder" look (way way cuter than it sounds), white jean jacket, one-button black blazer (I can never find blazers that fit so I don't own any), and a striped tank. It is NOT budget-friendly, but I definitely got interesting and well-made things I'd never pick on my own. Way better than StitchFix, which is somewhat cheaper but has crappy quality generic clothing.
  • We are still seeing the family therapist and getting a lot of good insight into B's diagnosis and what we need to accept about him vs. work on. That is huge. HUGE. Its so awesome to hear "well, kids with ASD are very rigid about food, B's actually doing way better than most. that's probably not the battle you want to fight", etc...  I promise I'll do a whole post about what we've learned someday soon.
  • I got elected Secretary of our HSA (home school association, like PTA). I did run unopposed... Our main goal for the remainder of the year is to streamline the process for getting clearance for volunteering at the school and circulating volunteer opportunities to parents. I think a lot of people want to help, but don't know how. I know I was in that boat, but not everyone is going to jump into the deep end and join the HSA board to figure it out!
  • I read Trevor Noah's autobiography "Born a Crime" which was really really interesting, for book club. Highly recommend. I learned so much about South Africa that I shamefully  never knew. I borrowed the book from someone, but I probably should've listened to the audiobook,  I was reading it aloud in my head in his adorable accent the whole time.
  • DST threw us for a loop, especially B and me, the two of us that have trouble falling asleep at the best of times. 
  • I went to one of those "paint with wine" places for a local doctor-mom meet up and it was surprisingly fun! My painting turned out really cute (my children were super impressed) and it was better to have an activity instead of awkward mingling with me standing near the food/drink table and eating/drinking too much out of nervousness. I really liked some of the women I met, too. I think we were a self-selected bunch of city-living, laid-back types. I'd love to do it again.
  • I am not succeeding in losing the p@xil-weight, even with the major changes I made: no snacks during the day, no eating after dinner, no alcohol Sun-Thurs. It did prevent FURTHER weight gain, but its not coming off. Ten pounds directly on my abdomen is super annoying because even my freaking pajama pants feel tight, not to mention anything else! I may seriously have to restart low carb because I'm not ready to stop the p@xil yet. I don't want to lose another summer.  Anyways the psychiatrist is on maternity leave.
  • We had a $200 gift certificate to a restaurant group (from a school fundraiser silent auction) that expired Saturday night that we'd forgotten about so we had a super-indulgent Saturday evening dinner with the kids. We tried multiple small plates & drinks, sitting in this dark lounge area in the back so that the kids could do their own thing. 
  • I registered L for KG last week. OMG! How is this possible? And yet, I'm also super excited for having both kids at the same place again. It'll really streamline our morning and evening routines and give both of us a break (right now, I do drop-off/pick-up of B, and G takes & brings home L)
  • I got sucked back into FB and its no good. Too much scrolling. I can't leave completely because there really are a lot of things I'm a part of that really enhance my life (my workout class updates, book club, a political activism group my friend founded, the local doctor-mom group that hosted the event, buy nothing, school friend-of group that does events/fundraisers) that are unfortunately ONLY on FB. But I need to figure out a system whereby I can keep track of events & news re: those groups without getting sucked into scrolling mindlessly and getting sucked into the rabbit-hole of clicking links.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Happy Families

On Sunday night I was thinking about our weekend, mostly glad it was behind us. The kids were SO very challenging and I was mentally and emotionally exhausted, and I lost my patience with them and had it out with my husband. Yet...it was also the kind of weekend that would make others jealous if I decided to upload pictures & quotes to f@cebook. We spent lots of time outside in beautiful weather, got in some awesome exercise, had social activities, productive days at home, and cozy family times. My takeaway from this mental exercise is basically that the activities you do are only a small part of how enjoyable you find any particular stretch of time. The majority of it is all in the attitude---of yourself and those around you.

G and I are in a rough patch, mostly over parenting techniques. The same thing we've been disagreeing on for years, on and off. When the kids are particularly challenging, it brews back up. In short, B is not the only one in our family who may need some help managing big angry feelings. I honestly don't think we can make much headway with B until we get ourselves under control. G needs to a) acknowledge the problem, b) accept help/advice and c) do the hard work of making changes---the trying and failing and re-routing and trying again and failing again etc... maybe forever. 

Its weird to me when people are not introspective and don't spend time daily on self-reflection. Those practices are so ingrained in me, I think they are a fundamental part of my personality. I think (about myself) therefore I am (myself).  I told G to consider setting aside some time each day to THINK. He's constantly got his headphones on, with music, podcasts, etc.. I'd go nuts without some time to process each day and formally or informally work through issues, decide on courses of action, rearrange priorities, talk myself off the ledge or back onto the wagon. I do it in my head, in my journal, here on this blog...I just need to work things out and get my head straight so I can be my best.

Can people learn to self-reflect? Is it something you can "pick up" if you've never been in the habit? Or do certain people require OTHER PEOPLE to work things through (friends/spouse/therapist)? Or rely on tools to remind them or force them to think through certain things (is there an app for that)? How else do people change their behaviors/improve themselves?





Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Not so fast...

Says life, to all my big plans...

So we tried "family dinner" last night and it was mostly a disaster. Lots of time dealing with whiny kids and "I don't like this" etc... ugh. And we met with the therapist yesterday who mentioned that food was probably not a good battle to pick with ASD kids---they have lots of sensitivities and aversions and its better to just feed them something they like and get on with life. But I can't completely let this go, so I'm going to take a hybrid approach of offering one thing that the kids will actually reliably eat at the meal along with the more adventurous/less preferred option that they are required to TRY.

Yesterday I made breaded fish---the only reason we bought the fish was because B ASKED FOR IT last week. And suddenly "I hate this, its yucky, I never said I wanted it, I want pasta". Ugh. But we persevered and between bites of fish and toasted bread, they somehow were full. One major problem is that the kids are hungry when we are on our way home at 5-5:30 and they eat bars or snacks and thus aren't quite as ravenous as I am by dinner time. You may think its a simple enough solution to just skip the snacks but then I will insist that you come get our kids home every evening because NOPE. We are pushing dinner as late as we can for  now and our plan for next year is that I'll be in charge of pick ups and get them home earlier for dinner.

I'm not ready to write too much yet about what we are learning from the therapist because we haven't really implemented her strategies. But overall its been simultaneously validating and depressing to realize that yes, my child is challenging and annoying, and will likely remain that way forever. We are starting to come to terms with the fact that we need to consider his diagnosis as a kind of disability that makes it incredibly hard for him to NOT be annoying, because he is lacking a lot of the intuitive social cues that you would use to fit in and be pleasant. Its something we are probably always going to have to work on, and try to remember, that things that some "easy" for us are really hard for him. He's bright and physically healthy so its hard to come to terms with him just not being able to naturally do certain things.

I'll switch topics because I can't really write about this as eloquently as I'd like, and I'm sorry if that came across harsh or mean. Obviously we love him and want the best for him and are trying everything we can to be good parents to him. But its not easy sometimes to be around him.

We did have a really good discussion about what our priorities should be, and she DID agree with me so yes, we are going to step back and focus on managing emotions for now, and some aspects of independence, but not so much on table manners, or neatness. We have 2 weeks before our next session and I'm hoping to put into practice a few of her suggestions so that we can report back on what does/doesn't work.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lately

We had a fantastic long weekend, I felt refreshed and ready to hit the ground running early this morning. We drove down to visit my sister, and while the drive down was...eventful (poor B gets very car sick), the weekend was tons of fun. We took advantage of the 70+ degree weather and spent Saturday at a playground and Sunday at a winery having a picnic lunch and a lovely bottle of red.

Got back yesterday afternoon and sped through our chores, prepped for the week, and made dinner before I collapsed into bed at 8:30 (I slept really poorly on my sister's awful guest room double bed). We are doing our last planned week of meal kit delivery for a while, so I'll post my reviews and comparisons on that next week.

Things on the agenda for the next few weeks/months

 1) meal planning & trying (yet again) for family dinner (i.e. everyone eating the same thing at the same time). We've been slacking on that a LOT and the whole meal-for-2-delivery has thrown us  completely out of the habit of all eating together. I've been cooking almost nightly---for G & I. And then the kids get some leftovers or pasta or breakfast-for-dinner whenever they are hungry for it. What I want to try is to cook one big meal on Sundays that will last about 3 days and is a family favorite (something the kids will willingly eat), try something more adventurous for 1 night, and then another one-off meal that is the kid's choice. Friday/Saturday we either do prepared meals, take-out, or pizza. Things I am hoping will help: involve kids in menu planning, discuss ahead of the time the expectations to eat together and stay at the table, plan fun conversations or some sort of ritual we can look forward to. If all else fails, bribery for the kids, wine for the adults.
2) delegating chores to kids. Believe it or not, this is an assignment for my faculty development course---to choose something to delegate and experiment with it & report back. We did time tracking to figure out the tasks that were taking our time that we could consider delegating, and I realized I spend 30 minutes each Sunday sorting & putting away the kids laundry. So I ordered separate small canvas laundry bags for each kid, and we will do "laundry lessons" this weekend. Again, we will discuss expectations, try to make it fun, or bribery.
3)We are still working with the therapist. She met with B last week and they came up with a "anger plan" involving a kitchen timer and a "mad bag"---we got the timer but haven't assembled any items into a bag yet. He is supposed to go to his room, set the timer for 7 minutes, and play with items in his bag that are carefully chosen to be distracting & calming. Today G & I are going and I asked her if we could spend some time on resolving some...differences...we have on parenting. G has a tendency to make EVERYTHING into a big deal and I really think we need to pick our battles. He is really really uptight about issues of cleanliness (hand washing, getting toothpaste all over the bathroom---and I mean ALL OVER, atrocious table manners) which are, yes, annoying & gross, but I don't think should be a priority. Mostly I think he is wrong and I want her to tell him so (if I'm being brutally honest), but if she's able to make me see where he ISN'T wrong, I'm willing to listen.
4)Gearing up for spring and summer. We signed the kids both up for swimming. L will do t-ball and B is doing soccer, both at the local park. We need to register for summer camp. I ordered a batch of summer clothes for B. I also ordered seeds and think I may need to plant them soon because this weather is whack!

Anyway, as you can probably tell from my post, I am finally NOT SICK anymore, and loving having a normal amount of energy to use for planning. I hope to be back this week!

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Sum of Its Parts

Sarah's post had me thinking...what's missing from my life? Do I want/need more time in a day? Honestly, I'm currently in a phase where I'm feeling OK with my allocation of time and energy and feeling positive about what I'm fitting into my life. Would I like more time? Sure! I regularly wish I needed less sleep, so I could spend more time with G, or read more, or get up early enough to meditate each morning. There are endless lists of things I'd love to do with an extra hour or two in each day.

But those hours aren't there, so I compromise. I read for a little while on weeknights before I go to bed, which means I'm not hanging out with G---so on weekends, I stay up later & put aside the book. I exercise 4 days a week, and sleep in the other days so I stay fit AND well rested. I have been leaving work 10 minutes later to fit in a short meditation before I pick up B and begin the evening routine (which is often the most stressful part of my day, so I need the zen!)

I've also been trying to take a bigger picture view of life. Its not about what I do or don't do in any given day or week. Maybe today I didn't work out or meditate and spent too many minutes on my phone. This past week I haven't read or spend one on one time with anyone in my family. I may think I'm failing at my explicitly stated goals. But take a step back and look wider and the perspective is much different---this MONTH I've mediated 90% of days, had 3 one on one dates with each kid AND my husband, read 2 amazing books, and exercised 12 times.

I've actually been using the "monthly" page on my planner to visualize this better. I put in entries for events/plans to make sure we have overall the right amount of activities and white space, and I went back and color coded days I worked out/meditated/etc... so I can see the picture as a whole and assess more accurately how I'm meeting my personal goals.  I want to figure out a similar strategy for looking at my work progress---not just what I crossed off my list each day, but at the end of the month, how many hours did I spend on major projects vs. minor tasks, what % of time was truly on research vs. clinical vs. administrative (this is super important because it should be in line with my job description and if not I need to discuss with my chief).

I think a lot of us are perfectionists, and high achievers to boot. We want to use every minute wisely and cram as much into each day as we can. Its hard to let that go.  I have to remind myself that my life goals are NOT to be productive every minute but to do meaningful work that makes the world better and make my family and friends feel loved and be as healthy and present as I can so that I can do those things.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Sick Day That Was

Guys, I really hate to be whiny but seriously, I got sick AGAIN last weekend. And because I hadn't yet fully recovered from the last virus that knocked me out, this one really had me down for the count...I was useless for most of Sunday and Monday. I stayed home from work yesterday, which is really really rare. Thankfully I had no patients or meetings or super urgent deadlines, so I did a bare minimum of answering emails in between laying in bed trying to breathe.

So yeah. There hasn't been much to SAVOR lately and I haven't even been able to BREATHE. So much for jumping back into the groove of exercise, etc... My whole "wake up early and write for an hour" thing certainly didn't happen, and I broke my streak of meditating, too.

The silver lining is that the kids are actually not sick...yet...and nor was G, so he could pick up the slack. The bad news is that I really do suck at "relaxing", when there is stuff hanging over my head to do. My mind was antsy and wanting to get up and go, despite my body firmly resisting. My body eventually won for a couple of days, but this morning I just flat out decided I needed to be back in the game, so I downed my sudafed and tylenol & came to work, crossing things off my to-do list and feeling much less overwhelmed.

Its a short day, because I have to go pick B up and take him to therapy. I'm not sure how much time she'll talk to him vs. me vs. both of us, so I'm bringing my laptop and some work. And then we have the "evening gauntlet" (walk dog, make dinner, make lunches for tomorrow, bathe kids, clean kitchen, get stuff ready for tomorrow) so I'm sure I'll run out of steam at 8pm as usual and fall asleep in a child's bed, then crawl up to my own.

Here's hoping you all have stronger immune systems then mine this winter!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Snow Day that Wasn't

Everyone is off of work/school except me, for a measly 1 inch of snow. Poor L was so disappointed, he's been waiting for snow to play in since July and I'm not sure he's going to get it this year.

I have started and deleted many posts in the past week delving deeper into the not-so-good stuff going on right now---in my own little world and of course the wider world. It seems repetitive and its boring even to me, so I'll update you guys with some bullets instead.
  • We had a good weekend---busy and fun-filled. Lots of socializing, some work, some chilling. Barely any chores/cooking. I'm still loving NOT cooking on Sundays.
  • I'm STILL having random coughing fits. Its annoying & embarrassing because I cough uncontrollably for 5 minutes 3-6 times a day. Sometimes this happens during clinic, or meetings. Ugh.
  • I'm itching to get back to the gym. I missed a few days for being sick, then working this weekend, then closure due to snow today. I need to go more than once/week to feel good.
  • Just Mercy you have to read this book. I'm about 2/3 done. It is our book club pick for next week. Non-fiction, written by an African-American lawyer working in the south to free people wrongfully imprisoned for life/death. It will make you angry and sad and grateful for people like him and eager to help. 
  • I got my hair cut short again. I was worried it would look poofy and triangular in the back. She assured me it wouldn't. The minute I washed & dried & tried to style it myself, it turned into a triangular poof. I called her and I'm going to have it fixed next week (thinned out even more? not sure what will help but hopefully she can work her magic)
  • I've been in the mood to shop but reigning myself in. Since I'm trying to avoid my usual coping mechanisms of drinking/eating/facebook/games, I've been tempted towards "retail therapy". I know it won't feel good long term, just like any of the other methods. 
  • We have nothing to watch right now! We tried "Man in the High Castle" but it was way too depressing for the current climate. So we are comfort-watching the West Wing again. LOVE IT. But would like something brand new to draw me in...recommendations?
  • I've been reading the boys The Sorcerer's Stone and we are almost done! We started in December, reading a few pages every other night (we take turns with bedtime reading and G reads other stuff). I promised them we could watch the movie when we are done, and I'm looking fo to it.
OK the IT guy is here to fix something. Hopefully will post again soon!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What's really hard?

The point of my last post wasn't to say that you can't find this phase of earth's rotation around the sun challenging---many do, for many reasons---but that for me, calling an entire chunk of the year "hard" by default undermines the meaning of the word. Because things aren't exactly hunky-dory these days, and it has nothing to do with the weather.

Obviously, I am scared/confused/angry about what's happening in our country. I'm trying really hard to channel those emotions into productive action but its becoming truly overwhelming. I keep trying to narrow down to 2-3 key issues I want to fight for, and then something new and completely unexpected pops up and I need to add to the list. I need to figure out a good way to manage this because its going to be a long road.

One thing that helped TREMENDOUSLY was going off facebook. Its like a constant annoying noise that was distracting me but that I couldn't quite pinpoint finally, blessedly stopped. Its quieter. I also turned off news notifications on my phone so I need to go into the app on my own time to see what fresh new hell awaits us.

We are having new and repeat challenges with B and his behavior at home and fitting in at school. We saw a new therapist yesterday who specializes in kids with ADHD/ASD professionally and personally (she has a son with the diagnoses). She focuses on working with the family to come up with ways to help the child succeed, and the parents not lose their minds. She is very pragmatic  and practical, which we both appreciated. For example, we told her of a few specific frustrating moments and she walked us through what might have motivated his behavior (in terms of research/neuroscience) and then laid out strategies we could take to prevent/mitigate these types of meltdowns.

We are going back next week and our goal for this week is to take notes on B's behavior and report back any patterns or triggers we can identify. Then we will figure out some strategies, implement them---with the knowledge that they might not work, and come back again with B so she can help work with him having some common language around his issues.

I am starting to have major stress at work about my lack of funding for next year. MAJOR. I'm trying to write papers right now. My goal was to have TWO done by the end of 2016. NEITHER was submitted, and I am still trying to finish the first one. I keep thinking of more experiments to do. I know I KNOW I just need to get it submitted and the experiments can be added to the revision (if I'm lucky enough to get an R&R). Maybe I need to copy nicoleandmaggie's challenge.

In the faculty development course I'm doing, our assignment for the month is to track our time for one week, analyze it ourselves, and then design and implement "experiments" for focusing on our priorities. I started the time tracking today, for the third time (I keep starting for one day and then forgetting to continue!) and need to complete the week this time. My "experiment" will be a daily writing schedule, and since I need to present the experiment & results to the group in 3 weeks, I may be spurred to actually DO IT.

On top of it all, I'm sick. Well, I'm almost better now, but I was really sick for a few days there, and still have that awful unpredictable cough and I'm so freaking exhausted. #99problemsbutwinteraintone

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hard Times?

I was reading a blog post today about "winter being a hard time for everyone". And it made me wonder---what time of year ISN'T potentially a "hard time". And is in our best interest to keep thinking and talking about an entire season as "hard", when its a predicted and unstoppable fact of life?

So winter is hard. OK, its cold & dark. Maybe spring is "easy" for most people, but then we get to the end of the school year that is regularly touted as "crazy busy". Summer rolls around. After a while, parents get a little overwhelmed by the chaos and lack of routine. So the end of summer with kids at home may be "hard". But then back to school in the fall is a little nutty as well, right? And many many people struggle with stress during the holidays. So I guess we have April? May? July? Three months that no one can rightfully call "hard", can they?

I wrote last year about trying to embrace winter, and it sort of worked. Or maybe my kids not needing help getting their gloves on did the trick, but really, it was fine. This winter has been incredibly mild, weather-wise, so I have nothing to complain about. I'm not counting down days or desperately waiting until spring. Sure, its dark when I get home from work, but I still enjoy the walk, and the views of the city from the bridge are even more spectacular when I can see it lit up against the black sky. Its getting lighter every day, noticeably so by now. I may miss the coziness of arriving home in the dark and settling into our evening.

I do all my usual things, and have added on some winter activities. B and I are doing ice skating lessons which is fun (and super challenging. I have weak ankles apparently). We played in the snow a few weeks back, and are looking forward to hopefully having more. We are eating more soup and roasted veggies. I don't mind turning on the oven every night.

The "winter" phenotype of cold/dark lasts about  4 months around here, so finding it "hard" would doom 1/3 of my life to slogging through a difficulty. I don't want to live that way! And if I hated it that much, I'd seriously consider moving back down south (where summer is "hard" so you really can't win unless you find yourself in paradise).

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Mornings lately

I was thinking this morning of how completely 100% our mornings have changed since I last wrote about them four year ago. Our mornings are downright luxurious these days, due to my usually flexible work schedule, B's late school start time, and the fact that we no longer have toddlers.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays:
Wake up at 5:30 with alarm. Drink coffee while reading blogs, checking email, and scrolling news. Get ready and leave house by 6 for gym. Run to gym, work out, walk home by 7. 7-7:20ish, walk dog, feed her. 7:20-7:30, drink water, chat with G, go wake up kids, then G makes & feeds them breakfast. 7:30-7:50---get ready. Shower, dressed, fix hair, lipstick if I'm feeling fancy. Go downstairs and eat breakfast/make my lunch/clean up kitchen/help kids get ready/get our bags ready and by the door. This rarely feels rushed. 8:20, get B into coat/shoes and out the door by 8:25 to make it to 8:30 drop off.

Monday/Friday:
Wake up between 6:30-7. G has gotten up at 5:40 and gone to the gym---he gets home at a little after 7 and walks the dog. Have coffee, make my lunch. 7:30, wake up kids. G makes/feeds them breakfast while I do the same routine as above.

Wednesday and any other day I have to be at work by 8:
Wake up at 6:20, drink coffee, make lunch, get ready and leave immediately after waking kids up at 7:25 (G goes to gym/walks dog...then when I leave he does breakfast and takes both kids to school).

Some of the time the boys head upstairs and brush and change on their own. More often then not, B gets distracted and need prodding. Sometimes they revert back a few years and make me brush their teeth and put their clothes on. Sometimes they play on their own or together until its time to go, but sometimes they fight or need me or whatever. I.e. the usual "dealing with small children" type stuff.

Once L is in KG, and there is only one drop off and pick up, I am planning to shift my schedule a bit earlier so that I work from 8-4:30 and pick both kids up by 5, while G takes them to school at 8:30 and can work a bit later (he gets to work super late these days, 9:30ish, needs to leave at 5 to pick up L and ends up working after I go to bed, whereas I am at my desk at the latest by 9, and can work until 5:30ish most days, getting a good 8.5 hours in).

It'll be way more efficient, and take advantage of my high-energy hours for work, but I'll miss the luxury of our mornings!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Case of the Mondays

I usually relish the clean start to the work week, but today kind of sucks, and I'd rather be home, warm and dry, rather than in my freezing cold office with wet socks and squishy rain boots, unable to warm up water for tea because the microwave in the break room is disgusting (the only thing tea is remotely good for is warming you up from the inside on a cold, rainy day). And dealing with annoying IRB modifications and mystifying data.

It was a great weekend, though. Busier than usual. Saturday I went to the gym, then rushed home to make signs with the boys for the Women's March. Oh yeah, I took the boys and we lasted about 45 minutes total, but we marched, we chanted, we saw neighbors, I answered lots of questions and explained a lot about inequality. It was good. Then some lunch and down time before heading to see "We Are In a Play" which was a thoroughly boring (to me) but clearly hysterical (to the boys) children's theater production. Then some more down time/board games/fighting and the SITTER ARRIVED so we could go on a completely unplanned (i.e. we planned to go out but not where we were going) date night. We had a drink at one place, Malaysian satay at another, and ice cream to top it off.

Sunday, I woke up at 5:30 despite going to bed after midnight. I couldn't fall back asleep, so I finished Truly Madly Guilty, which turned out to be not as amazing as it started off (the "big mystery" was a little mundane, though I still enjoyed the spot-on observations of everyday relationships). B & I went for our ice skating lesson, then we met G and L at the science museum for a play-date with L's BFF and his parents, who are lovely. We went through most of the museum until melt-downs began and we headed home. The boys enjoyed screen time while we finished up chores in the afternoon and something something and I went to bed by 9 (I was so tired, I have no idea what we did in the evening).

At your prompting (and you know who you are!), I logged off and changed my Facebook password to some random already forgotten, combination of letters/numbers/symbols and I'm not going to log back on for two weeks (randomly chosen to come before a few events for which the invites & details will be only on FB and I'd like to attend (this annoys me, but what can you do? for this reason I can't ever really LEAVE leave, but I want to curtail my random scrolling and have it be a more deliberate get on weekly or every few weeks to check on events). This includes a party a friend is having at her house, the neighborhood book group, a school PTA informational meeting, and a volunteer organization I was hoping to join that posts dates where they need people on their FB page. I'm trying to INCREASE real life socialization, not cut it out of my life!

Ugh. Better finish up work and head out there. Squish Drip Shiver Grrrr.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Mostly Black

I'm wearing a black dress, a black jacket, black tights, black boots, black earrings...and a psychedelic peace sign necklace plus a neon bead necklace (from my children).

Breathing. Focusing on work, and getting things done. I had lunch with a friend, it was good timing. We commiserated. And ate yummy food.

I am mostly likely taking my boys to our local Women's March tomorrow. We'll go for a short time. Then we have a packed weekend. Fun stuff: a play, date night, a play date at the museum. And the mundane: grocery shopping, food prepping, working out.

It feels surreal. I keep saying that, because it continues to be true. I woke up in the middle of the night, and remembered. And its like the bottom dropped out. How can this be our reality? What does the future hold?


I usually stay clear of melodrama, but I really wanted to make a statement. So I'm in mostly black.


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.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Winter Break Wrap-Up and New Year Kick-Off

And we're off to a fresh start yet again! Before I drown you with my usual deluge of goals and words and plans (and don't worry, I have plenty of those in store!), I'll fill you in on our winter holiday happenings.

I not only survived, but mostly enjoyed, our long, LONG trip to MIL-land. Something has definitely shifted in our relationship, and its made a world of difference. We arrived on Christmas Eve and put up the tree and wrapped up presents for the kids. They were super excited to see that Santa (and mom & dad & grandma) pulled through with toys and games that they played with for about 30 minutes before asking to "watch something". B's birthday was the next day and we only had moderate drama (mostly L, because it was intolerable that it was not HIS birthday). We went to see Moana, made a triple-chocolate cake, and had some family over for pizza in the evening. Also more presents. We did absolutely nothing special for NYE, though we did stay awake, watching a movie. 

We also went and saw two grown up movies: Rogue One, which put me to sleep immediately---or maybe it was the wine & dinner preceding it, and Manchester by the Sea which was the saddest thing I have EVER seen in my life. It was wonderfully written and acted and so so heartbreaking.

We saw two sets of friends and had a few dinners out, took the kids to the museum, jumping place, movies, and 3 different parks, went to the gym several times (I let G show me around the weight room and did strength training, which I hadn't done in years. I realized why I stopped doing it---its boring and involves a lot of waiting for people to finish things), completed many household up-keep projects, I did 3 whole puzzles, played hours and hours of "Mini Metro" on my phone (its super fun and addictive) and drank an ocean's worth of wine (I was at my MIL's house for 11 days. Sure its BETTER, but come on). The kids had limitless screen time, because that's how my MIL rolls, and whatever, it was vacation for them.

After about a week I was starting to get really antsy and ready to get back to real life and start the fresh year. I definitely have a limit to how much "nothing" I can do. We got home last night & I crashed as soon as I put the boys to bed. I left the house before they woke up and saw 7 patients, wrote 7 notes, cleaned out my EMR in-box & called 3 patients, met with my research assistant to plan experiments and study visits, ordered a new planner & bullet journal notebook, scheduled the dog walker, emailed my dad, and had a lunch with a friend/colleague in which we came up with a potential idea for collaboration! After I write this, I'm going to plan the rest of the week and then I have to leave to take B for his flu shot at the pediatricians office. Tonight I unpack, move my stuff into my brand new shiny & waterproof backpack, and get back to the book I'm reading for book club before I get in bed for my 5:30 AM wake up and work-out.

MAN I'm ready for this year. Bring it on!