Thursday, April 4, 2019

Ebbs and Flows

No real reason for not writing lately, and no reason I came back today. Lots on my mind/my heart/my plate. I started seeing a new therapist; the first session this week was...interesting. Will report more as it goes along but I'm giving it an open mind.

I've had some realizations about our schedule that will hopefully lead to some change.

  • On the kid-front, as awful as she is overall, its been SO NICE having MIL here to pick them up from school and bring them home. By the time we are home, their homework is done and they are playing and relaxed. They are not starving/exhausted/overwhelmed and its made the evenings 100% better. I am NOT EXHAUSTED when they go to bed. There is no much less yelling. I am searching for an after school sitter because I do NOT want to go back to the way it used to be. May not work out for this school year since there is only a month or so left, but next year.
  • I did a trial clinic in the early evening and it was actually very smooth. I was the only provider there, so the patients were checked in & roomed quickly and I made it home for a slightly late dinner. We are piloting this in our clinic & I enthusiastically approve and would do it regularly in exchange for a more relaxed morning.  I really love the idea of having more control over my schedule and setting up variable "blocks" so that I can maximize all the other stuff I want to do instead of being beholden to a set template. 
Other updates: 
  • B's teachers said the medication was like "night and day" for him so its an unequivocal success! It does seem to wear off around 4 pm, which is another reason getting him home & HW done early makes sense
  • We planned and booked our summer travel. One trip to MIL, trip to my family, and family camping trip. I am excited about summer and have to keep reminding myself that I have a LOT more to do before any of the fun begins.
  • I am challenging myself to exercise daily while MIL is here.  I completed day 10/19! Maybe I can keep it up and have some kind of streak! (but likely not)
  • Have NOT been reading as much as usual---since G & I are staying up late rewatching select episodes of GoT to get ready for the new season. Its been really fun but we had to take a break because ZZZzzzzz
Happy April all. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Spring sprung?

Yesterday was amazing! And today has been pretty good, too, despite having crappy sleep last night.

Good things:

  • I was super productive and really knocked out a lot of things looming over my head and made good inroads into long term projects too. 
  • I got my shiny new work-issued iPhone, one that doesn't have a cracked screen, a speaker that does not work (so I literally could not talk on it, no one could hear me!), and a battery lasting >2 hours. 
  • It was sunny and nearly 70 degrees! 
  • I had dinner and saw a show with friends last night and both were great! Sushi, white wine, and "The Curious Incidence of the Dog in the Nighttime"

Of course I got home late, and struggled to sleep between snoring B and snoring pup on either side of this morning was a little tough.

But! I saw my patients quickly this morning, walked home and changed (its warm and sunny again and the tights and boots were a bit much). And got B to take him to his appointment. Where I talked to the Dr. about options and got a prescription for adder@ll sprinkles that we have to try to give him in pudding every morning. We left, got a snack, and I got him back to school within an hour of picking him up and we had a very pleasant time. I'm at home working now (clinic notes and working on review article that I've put off long I'm embarrassed to say) and trying to muster up some energy for tonight.

Weekend plans:
Friday: Basketball game! my first time, the boys' second. I was way more excited before I realized how tired I am and what a late night it'll be, but I'm sure it'll be action packed enough to keep me going. Early pizza dinner before we head out.
Saturday: work out in AM (maybe run? or bodypump at gym if I get up on time) park/outdoor play, chores (get clutter out of guest room for impending MIL visit, laundry, meal planning & shopping) and evening babysitter for school fundraiser party; hot dogs for kids to eat.
Sunday: work out in AM (run or go to late morning barre class since I'll want to sleep in), park, fun solo errands (like take in old jeans to get a discount on new jeans at Madewell, maybe get toenails done) L has a birthday party that G will take him to, so B and I will hang out, make a fun dinner and prep for week.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mid March

I can't believe its been two weeks! I feel like last week was a complete loss. There has been so much going on at work and home and my head is all over the place. I finally took a moment this morning for some short/mid/long term planning and I feel a lot more in control of things. 

One major happening: our beloved 13-year-old pup had major surgery last week to remove an aggressive tumor from her front leg. It was rough for a couple days while she recovered (she was moaning constantly, needed to be carried, and needed frequent meds) and she is still hobbling along on 3 feet (the leg is bandaged to her torso so she won't put pressure on it or bend it and the joint can heal) but is in good spirits and able to get up and down the stairs herself to go out. G worked from home most of last week and even this week she had 2 vet appointments. 

The bad news is that they didn't get clean margins, and we need to decide if we want to to radiation therapy---which is about an hour away (the equipment at the MAJOR vet hospital near my work is out of commission for who knows how long and the only other one in the region is not close to the city) and which she would need daily for about 4 weeks. The other option is amputation (!). Or comfort care since the chances of recurrence at one year are pretty high. Its a tough decision, and I've been reading up on veterinary oncology literature about survival rates and side effects... We are trying to get a consultation with an oncologist for more data and guidance, but apparently we need to start radiation within weeks and there are no appointments to see the doctor for MONTHS. 

Honestly we are ready to spend whatever time and money if it would help her without causing excessive pain or discomfort because besides this (which actually was causing no symptoms yet, but was rapidly growing), she is really healthy and happy and loving her life of sofa sleeping and following us around for belly rubs and treats. We are already trying to work out how we could logistically do it. Oh its a tough decision and taking up a lot of my brain space and also making me sad. 

I was also struggling with figuring out how to get B on medications after our pediatrician surprisingly told me that he doesn't prescribe ADHD meds and that I'd have to see another doctor in the practice who does all the ADHD evals and treatments. He is developmental peds trained and they just set up their practice so that he has a certain clinic a couple of times a month focused specifically on ADHD. Unfortunately his 1st available was after the school year ended and I was not OK with that, I really wanted to go through the trial/error period and find something that works during this school year, with teachers that know him and can help us figure out if its making a difference. We would take the summer off from meds anyways, so it makes no sense to go in June. 

Guys, I did something I've never done before and raised a bit of a fuss (politely but directly told them I was very disappointed, most general pediatricians do prescribe meds and that was what I was expecting, and this seems unacceptable to me and is making me consider switching practices after almost 10 years of working with them) and he added us on this Friday. I had to move patients around (and apparently they were pissed, even though I'm seeing them the same day, just earlier!) but I'm going to take him because G never knows how to ask the right questions and be assertive and gets flustered, which is understandable. Again, taking up brain space and emotionally draining.

Besides all that and more on the home front (finalizing summer plans and still working on booking travel/flights) work has been ridiculously busy with more clinical time than usual PLUS several paper revisions/edits coming in and gearing up for June grant submission while still trying to juggle all the other little things that keep piling up. I am going to take SHU's concept of "admin time" and just ignore the little things until a specific block of time next week where I will work my way through them.

And lets not forget about the news, and my growing disillusionment that we will choose a winning candidate and uselessly trying to predict the future, which is taking up the last bit of brain space I had left and then some. 

Of course, as usual during stressful/anxious times I've been checking out way too much on the phone (social media/games/news) and also distracting myself with the easy dopamine fixes of food, alcohol, and online shopping (I needed a spring coat! and a swimsuit! and new jeans since my Roadtrippers are literally wearing out from near-daily wear). I woke up today vowing to use better coping mechanisms so this morning I did a BeachBody workout, meditated, downloaded a fluffy book on my phone to read tonight instead of scrolling until I fall asleep, and wrote this post.

I go away for 2 weeks and come back with a novella. Ha. Back soon (-er or later). 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Hair today...

Sorry for the groan-inducing pun but I couldn't resist!

I had a laser appointment yesterday which reminded me that I was going to write an update on the process. Verdict: LOVE IT. Wish I'd done it sooner! As someone who has dark course hair that I needed to shave daily, its seriously life-changing.

I started this summer with my underarms. You can't have it done on sun-exposed/tanned skin, so that was the only area I could do, plus it was the most urgent since I wear tanks to work out in year-round and even shaving daily was barely enough, since I'd get regrowth by the end of the day that was visible.

It hurts a little during the treatment, but way less than threading my eyebrows, as a comparison. The whole thing took <10 minutes. I felt completely 100% normal immediately afterwards (I've heard some people have residual stinging/pain). And after just ONE treatment, I went from shaving daily, to being able to go 1-2 weeks. I went back for the second treatment 6 weeks later and maybe shaved once before my next treatment, and never again after the 3rd, which was in October.

Once my tan faded, I've done my bikini line (2 treatments so far, and probably do need a couple more, I still see stubble and growth) and my legs (one treatment only and may not do another for a while because it was $$$). The bikini was similar to underarms in terms of pain and the legs were NBD which is good because that took more like 20-25 minutes.  Its hard to say exactly how well the legs worked, because I wouldn't be shaving them much anyways in the winter, and I did the upper and lower legs at different sessions.

Overall I estimate that I've paid about $600 (6 session packages for underarms and bikini and single treatments for upper and lower legs; I used a group-on for the initial treatment and waited for sales that they have every so often for the others). I'm refraining from any clothes shopping for a while to offset the cost, and its definitely way WAY more than worth it in my book. I've heard that after a few years you may need to touch up, so its more "semi-permanent".

I'm so excited about summer beach and pool outings, not to mention sleeveless dresses, without having to give it a thought!

And...on a completely different hair-related note, while I try to reduce my body hair, I am also taking efforts to thicken my scalp hair. After many years of ridiculously thick (to the point of not being able to use regular clips and stretching out rubber-bands), I've been slowly thinning overall. Its actually been much easier to control and style and I haven't cared much until the past couple of years when I noticed a much more sudden and visibly noticeable thinning in the front of my scalp.

Since my mother is practically bald in that area, I was almost sure it was age/genetics, but since hers didn't happen until her 60s, I did see a dermatologist who confirmed androgenic alopecia and prescribed an oral anti-androgen (spironolactone) and 5% minoxidil which I've been faithfully using for a month. Apparently you need to give it a few months to see a difference, and if nothing changes for 6 months, you can stop and with it. So its too soon to say, but I am hopeful, since it does work for most people. The up/down side to the med is that its a weak diuretic so I've been SUPER thirsty and drinking much more water.

Feel free to ask me any questions about either!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Monkey Brain

Thanks for your comment on the last post. The bribing is going...OK.  I only take them to school 2-3 times a week, and apparently they are better for G, so the consistency is hard to maintain. Morning are still stressful and awful, but at least I am yelling less since I just take away their "check" which they can then cash in for...something as yet undetermined after they earn 5 (for getting ready when asked, and not hitting each other while they do it).

We are strongly (almost 100%) going to try B on a stimulant for ADHD. Its become VERY obvious that it is affecting his performance at school and leading to lots of stress and anger and even some self-esteem issues for him. Both teachers have brought up his lack of focus, need for additional time for assignments, and utter disorganization many times. We have adapted his IEP for accommodations (reminders, extra time, seating away from distractions) which haven't seemed to make much difference. He often forgets to bring things home or turn them in, loses things a LOT (his violin!), and makes careless mistakes. He can't really concentrate at karate or basketball either---and he likes both of those! He is a bright kid and we want to give him every chance to succeed. He has his annual appointment at the pediatrician next week and I'm going to bring it up. I've heard so many positive stories from parents, and though there are certainly negative experiences, the general consensus is that it helps many kids. We are also looking into therapy for coping mechanisms for him, but I'm afraid that with the weekly social skills group it'll be too much. He has hated any one-on-one therapy we've ever done and he's only gotten more stubborn and ornery with time. Any advice is certainly welcome!

Speaking of brains needing help, I'm still trying to find a therapist accepting new patients and conveniently located! I called a whole list of places my gyn gave me and they all said to call back (next week, next month, next season). The need is so great, I guess. I'm hoping to get into someone before the next major stressful event (a 3 week MIL visit) in later March, so I can work on coping mechanisms besides escaping into social media

I've been having to back off on one my favorite stress-relievers, intense exercise, because something is wrong with my right shoulder and many things irritate it, especially push ups and side planks, which seem to be involved in every class I enjoy (HIIT, body pump, barre). Given that long runs and spinning bother my lower back (it doesn't hurt unless I do certain things, so I just...don't do those things anymore), I am having trouble finding good options. I've been doing Beach Body 21 day fix workouts at home and just skipping/modifying things, which I find easier to do when I'm at home myself than in a class (I have this weird desire to "do well" and not look like I'm slacking).

I was on a GREAT run of reading fantastic books for a while---I read 6 fairly long novels in February when everything seemed to become available at once from the library. And ended, and I haven't read anything for over a week, because the only book I have is just not captivating. Its 100% true, if you have a good book, you will find and even MAKE time to read! I think I need to give up on the one I'm reading but it feels so wrong (because its Obama's Dreams From My Father! I should be loving it! I not). Our library doesn't have the audio version which I know I'd enjoy much more unfortunately.  I think I'll have to decide its just not the time for that book for me right now and move on.

 I'm very very late in the line for Nine Perfect Strangers, The Great Alone,  Evicted, and several others. Any more book recs for me?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Serenity Now

Happy Valentines Day! Life is chugging along with its ups and downs. I am doing really well in some realms and falling behind in others, as per usual. We don't have any couple or family V-day traditions really. L took cheap drugstore Valentines in for his class, B didn't want to this year which was more than OK by me. The boys did pick up some flowers for me on the way home yesterday. I think I'm allergic to them, my throat & eyes got itchy. We will have dessert after dinner and maybe some wine for G and I after the kids go to bed.

I've been yelling a LOT at the kids lately and I'm trying to be less reactive. Its so much easier said than done. The mornings are the worst. We get them up early enough to have plenty of time for breakfast and getting ready, but then they have 2-3 minutes to spare, start playing, and end up late leaving the house. When I call them down to get going (we set an alarm that goes off, but they ignore it), they inevitably fight with each other, dawdle and get distracted (i.e. put one shoe on, then start walking over to the kitchen again), and generally need LOTS of prompting to put on shoes and coats and grab their bags. Many MANY mornings our short walk to school involves crying/grumpiness. Not an ideal start to the day and it doesn't feel good to send them out into the world feeling bad. 

I actually had a talk with them and we figured out a system of good behavior for X days will equal a treat/prize. I know I know, I always resort to the bribery. Today was Day 1 and it did go better. I'd be happy to take suggestions. 

Starting tomorrow I begin a stretch of call. Again, trying for a good attitude about this. I am definitely hoping to stay at work and catch up on some things that are urgent but not important so I can get them off my plate and focus on paper writing during the week. I'm also hoping to somehow get in workouts and all the other weekend stuff. I am dumping meal planning and prep on G (usually my job). We also need to finalize some of our summer plans & start looking at flights. 

Honestly I have no love for February and this month has been no exception. The weather is gross, there are no holidays (for me, the kids & G have president's day), the energy of the New Year is fading, and I'm just really ready for spring. At least the days are getting longer?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Purpose of Guilt

I've had a few different instances of feeling guilty lately---both at work and at home. I know the societal narrative these days is that guilt is useless and we should "banish guilt" and certainly my instinct is to push down and ignore any unpleasant emotions.  But I do believe that guilt serves an important purpose in guiding us to act in tune with our moral compass. So I decided to investigate what it was about the specific situations that made me feel guilty, and how I could act differently in the future to prevent that outcome.

At work there were 2 end-of-day routine follow up patients that showed up late and I had to refuse to see them because I was already leaving/left for the next thing on my agenda (an important 5 pm meeting once, picking up kids and walking dog the other time). I felt terrible because they traveled quite a ways, and I understand that our patients have many circumstances making it difficult for them to get here on time. On the other hand, I carefully create my clinic schedule so that (barring emergencies) I can deal with my other responsibilities.

Then there is the review article I said I would write and submit LAST FALL. That I haven't started. I did ask for an extension, and they are awaiting other submissions but we are a whole season away now and its getting ridiculous. I have been been ignoring the follow up emails politely enquiring as to when I would be able to submit the review.

On the home front, G's been a little overwhelmed with a few weeks of back to back outings I've had (on the calendar, discussed beforehand). He just forgets and when I remind him the day of, he has this dejected look on his face. My kids also keep asking why I'm "always going out" and when will I take them with me, and etc.... And I seriously NEVER feel bad about fulfilling my need to socialize and live my life but this time, it just got to me.

And this weekend, G managed to clean all 3 bathrooms and vacuum, and change the sheets (basically everything the house cleaners used to do), plus get groceries from 3 different stores...while he was sick (he did these things while I took L to soccer, and supervised a play date, made kids lunches, meal planned...I wasn't sitting around eating bon bons, but he definitely drew the short straw). He was so tired and I had promised to take over clean up Sunday night. But...we had our neighbors over to watch the first half of the Super Bowl. And I had a beer (or two) too many and just fell asleep leaving him to get the kids to bed & take out the trash and clean up the kitchen. Oh man, I felt like &h^t.

So, back to the whole "purpose" part. Here's what I figured out.

For the late patients: I am working with the clinic to clarify our late policies, making sure the front desk staff is aware to ASK providers before rooming a late patient, and also remembering to let the staff know that I am leaving for the day and won't be able to see anyone else. If all that is done, I should have no guilt. Hey, I accidentally had the time wrong and showed up 20 minutes late for an appt and had to reschedule. It sucks but its life.

I went back and forth about the review, but basically decided I had to write it asap or let them know I'd backed out. I gave it some thought, discussed with colleagues, and decided it was worth my time to get my name on a review on a topic I'm trying to position myself as an expert on, so I made a writing schedule and I'm working on it. When it was just another task to be done I had no motivation to do it, but now that I actually see the career advantage, I'm actually excited to make it good.

As much as I wish he would, G just doesn't constantly review the calendar(s) the way I do, and if I want to spare him the surprise, we need to sit down and go over the week together. We did it this weekend (I have nothing going on any evening, so it was quick!) and hope to make it a habit. The kids can suck it with their whining, I am home 90% of evenings.

I promised to clean the bathrooms next time, and we are making a chore chart for the house cleaning. I need to make G promise NOT to do my chores on the chart even though he thinks he will do them better. Also no more beers for me for a good long time (I felt ugh the next morning, I cannot indulge like that anymore!).

Friday, February 1, 2019

January wrap-up and books

Turns out G isn't feeling well (just a run of the mill winter respiratory thing), so we nixed any entertaining plans for the weekend which gives me more time to plan something for NEXT weekend.

Since I made all those goals this month, I wanted to step back and see how its going so far.

I did NOT make it through Dry January and don't really feel bad about that. I am back into the gym habit more or less. Meditation is 50/50. I have lost zero pounds on average (down 2, up 2, etc...).

On my 19 for 2019 list I've done 4 things. I knocked off the low-hanging fruit by signing up for the compost service, getting my glasses, going for a laser appointment, and using the Instant Pot (just this week, I made this with coconut milk instead of heavy cream and it was yummy).

On the work front, I've gotten 2 papers off to the next stage: one submitted, one to co-authors yesterday and did the outline and delving into lit review for #3, with plans to finish the outline for #4 next week. After that: grants. I also cleaned out my patient in box last week and kept it up!

G and I did 2 date nights this month, one out and one at home. We also had a sitter come last weekend to go to a party, but that was more social than "couple" time. We have planned a day date and an evening outing (I got the sitter & made reservations) for February.

Books I've read this month:

1) I am the Messenger by Markus Zuzac (author of The Book Thief). This was an interesting concept, but could've been done better. It got trite toward the end.
2) and 3) Year of the Flood and MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood.  These are the sequels to Oryx and Crake. The 2nd book was great, but while I enjoyed that the 3rd book filled in the holes in the story, the romance was a bit OTT and hard to believe.
4) The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jennifer Lewis. I had no idea who she was, this was a book club pick. I almost gave up until I got past the 50% mark when it all fell into place. I mentioned that I really don't like celebrity memoirs but this was one of the better ones:  raw and honest, very self-aware, you could see her personal growth.
5) Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I listened to this, which may have colored my perception---I was in the minority in my book club for not loving it, in fact, I REALLY disliked it. Confusing, yet depressing, and the magical realism wasn't doing it for me here. I may have preferred reading it.
6) The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Sean Greer. I LOVED this and tore through it. Fun and thought-provoking.
7) Alias Grace I'm on an Atwood kick! Kept my interest, though it is very VERY slow moving.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Family Friends

In planning the upcoming weekend, I realized we had Saturday evening completely open, and thought it'd be fun to have someone over, but couldn't think of who to ask that would be a good fit for all us. Kids similar ages and personalities, parents we both like, and likely to be free at the last minute on a weekend?

Finally, after years of feeling lonely and trying to put myself out there, I feel like I have a decent tribe of my own local friends that are up to hang out and fill my need for social interaction. But I can't always be dashing off to do something on  my own, leaving G and the boys in the'd be much better if we could all socialize together.  Its the ideal situation when kids play on their own and the grown-ups get a chance to chat. Order in or make something simple, casual and frugal. This was literally every weekend for my parents growing up...not sure why its alluding us.

My initial reaction is to be discouraged, and assume that everyone has already figured this out, and we somehow got left out of the mix---we weren't invited to ANY Super Bowl parties! But, as I've learned over the years, you have to be a friend to make a friend, so we have to take the plunge, overcome the fear of rejection (why does this never go away?) and invite people over if we want to build our circle.

So I guess I gotta keep putting myself out there, because as much as G would like to have more of a family social life, he sure as heck isn't going to plan anything.

How have you made family friends, and are you going to any Super Bowl parties? 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Stuff of Life

I was intrigued by Laura's post about "millennial burnout" and "errand paralysis", particularly the different viewpoints in the comments. I did roll my eyes a bit reading the actual article, and may have uttered "Oh COME ON!" more than once. But, the fact that I'm still thinking about a week later does argue that the topic is important and almost universally relatable.

Of course doing errands is annoying and easy to put off, sometimes for long enough that you actually have to pay some consequences. But I don't think its related to "burnout" nor is it completely generational. I'm not a millennial, and I've certainly ignored returning something for too long, and I once threw out a pair of shoes because taking them to get the heel fixed was beyond my abilities at the time.

I have definitely dropped the ball on errands when my energy is majorly focused on something else....either external (a work deadline or family health issue), or internal (anxiety/depression). I suspect this is what the original article was referring to---just not having the bandwidth for ONE MORE THING no matter how trivial it seems.

But there may be more to it, in that people sometimes act like they just shouldn't have to do these trivial things. Is it the privilege/entitlement that waiting in the line at the post office is beneath their station and pay grade? Or some societal mindset shift that's come from years of reading advice about how to pick your priorities! own your time! craft your best life! No one would imagine a perfectly crafted life with every chunk of time devoted to your life's priorities would involve returning an ill-fitting shirt to the Gap or going in person to pick up a guest parking tag.

And then there is the fact that when many tasks can be easily checked off by a few clicks on your phone in the comfort of your living room anytime of day or night, having to actually GO SOMEWHERE at a CERTAIN TIME to do things seems antiquated and frustrating. I definitely feel it, and I remember the days of calling the airline to book a plane ticket and then having to bring the actual thing with you to the airport. I imagine younger generations feel it even more acutely---in this day and age, the idea of having to arrange your day around a mindless necessity can make you annoyed enough to completely refuse, if you let it.

Yet, somehow, I have almost always managed to get my sh&t done over these years. I have a few different approaches:

-Outsource. I know you can probably hire a personal assistant (long term or even as a one-off to take care of those nagging tasks), but I haven't needed to this. I choose home delivery when I can (even our pharmacy offers it now, for a small fee!) or swap favors with friends (I'm bringing a bunch of weird recycling stuff to a friend tonight who is going to the one health food store in town that takes them).
-Avoid it. If you really don't want to do it, you could probably avoid it. I HATED taking stuff to dry clean so I rarely buy dry clean only clothing. I also try to buy clothes from stores that have a local brick-and-morter so I don't have to mail the returns back because the post office/UPS/FedEx are all kind of far away.  I know people who don't shop online at all because they don't want to deal with the returns.
-Batch it. I tend to online shop at several stores at once, so I can do all needed returns together, for example. Twice a month I take B to social skills therapy right in the middle of the city and I pack up any returns, library books, etc... to deal with while he's in the group and its amazing how much I can cross off the list in 45 minutes when I'm already in the area.
-Spread it out. Or the opposite, I just pick one thing to do every week so I'm not overwhelmed, and put it in my planner on a less-busy day and it.
-Find a friend. Its always more fun and less painful to have a companion during these boring stints. I used to do this in med school, after our block exams were done, 2-3 of us would just go with each other to get our stuff done and have lunch. I remember more recently going to the DMV with a friend, and G and I went together once and got breakfast after. Now that my kids are older, I may even drag one along (with the promise of a treat afterwards) to morph the "boring errand" into "family time" (though often I prefer the "me time"
-Remember its a choice. The errands are usually brought about by something you decided and wanted to do or something you value. If you are going to the post office, you are likely sending something to someone, maybe a nice gift that'll make them happy? I don't want to spend $ and closet space on clothes that don't fit, so I return the rejects.  Pant hems dragging on the ground are gross and possibly unsafe. I need a valid license and ID to fly and drive and buy booze...etc...

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Nope 30

I did put a weight loss goal into my 19 for 2019 list, and I did think a bit about how to achieve this. Many start the new year with some kind of detox/reset diet, and I've seen lots doing the Whole 30. I looked into it briefly and considered it...for a few minutes. I also considered another low-carb month like I did a few years ago, or the keto diet that is working wonders for some friends, or "doing my macros" like my sister.

I know committing to a diet and sticking with it for a month or two would quickly get those pounds off and get me pretty close to the weight at which I feel most comfortable (my clothes fit well, I am less self-conscious in a swimsuit, I don't feel jiggly when I run). I mean, its worked for me before. But yet, here I am again.

Because none of that was sustainable for me, and I need something I can do FOREVER.  I am DONE with losing and regaining and losing and rinse and repeat. I can't eat low-carb forever, I love pizza and French fries too much. Counting every calorie I put into my mouth made me crazy. I'm not sure we understand the long term health effects of ketogenesis. My family is finally at a place where we can all eat mostly the same things together for dinner, and its nice to share that with them. Its hard enough meal planning for one dinner a day, I just can't take the mental load of planning something different for myself. I'm definitely a moderator, not an abstainer. I don't WANT to be "free of French fries" and the thought of never having them again makes me want to run to the nearest pub and order 3 servings.

So I am going with the slow and unsteady approach of just...eating less. I'm writing down what I eat each day, weighing myself most days (works better for me than weekly, I can see the ups and downs and overall trend and not get discouraged), and trying to stick to some general principles (don't eat after dinner, try to push lunch as late as I can, avoid snacking between meals). But sometimes I'm super hungry after dinner or in the afternoon, and...I have a snack. It balances out, since occasionally I'm NOT hungry and I just...don't eat.

I'm working on my mindset around food. I am getting over my fear of being hungry---I will survive! It comes and goes in waves! and my feelings of scarcity---I will eventually have the opportunity to eat this amazing food again, and even if not, over-stuffing myself does not enhance the experience. I'm learning to completely uncouple exercise and food in my head, so I don't feel entitled to overeat on my workout days. Exercise is to make me stronger & faster, keep my heart/muscles/lungs/brain/ bones healthy and for stress relief. But I rarely burn enough calories to merit additional snacks, and I've also noticed that the more I work out, the less I move overall afterwards (this is a known phenomenon that's been studied).

So how's it going? I've gone up and down and as of today have lost a net of zero pounds. But I have only eaten after dinner once this month, I've noted everything I ate in my planner most days, I turned down a 3rd slice of pizza last weekend, and when we last went out to dinner, I left half the French fries on my plate. I'm hoping that I'm changing habits. Its a work in progress. I'll keep you guys updated.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Its the Little Things

I'm sipping tea, piping hot with water from my brand-new electric kettle. Staying hydrated without freezing is always nice, and we don't have a hot water dispenser in this office.

The long weekend was...long. Which is sort of a good thing, there were moments that really felt relaxing. But there was also a lot of whining, yelling, fighting, and maybe too much snacking on my part. We made some great meals (these chicken thighs with this asparagus was my fave), had friends over for brunch (and enjoyed this amazing casserole), watched all 3 of The Mighty Ducks movies (I did miss the first one, since I had to go to work on Friday), and each got in a work out. We also did several loads of laundry, grocery shopping, lunch prepping and a very little cleaning (since we had friends coming over...we did the first floor). There was soccer (L) and basketball (L, B, and G who is assistant coach).

If I had to pick, my favorite time was when both boys went with a friend to the science museum for several hours yesterday. I parked myself in the warmest, sunniest spot in our house (the guest room bed), and did some work and read a book for hours at a time. I totally owe the mom now, but it was well worth it. I finished "The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells" by Andrew Sean Greer and I LOVED it, found it really unique and thought provoking. Earlier in the weekend I also I also finished January & February's book club picks: the audiobook of Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (eh) and the e-book of The Mother of Black Hollywood by Jenifer Lewis (it was pretty good as far as celebrity memoirs go, but that is my least favorite genre).

Even with some tasks off my list yesterday, I am still way behind where I want to be at work. I set myself a goal to deal with all lingering patient issues by the end of the week so I basically divided my inbox into 4 groups and will tackle one group per day of backlog as well as anything new that comes in that day. I also set three major research-related tasks per day, since 3 seems like a do-able number and if I add EVERYTHING to the list, sometimes NOTHING happens because I get completely overwhelmed and clean my office or start looking up vacation destinations instead.

OK, off to tackle the inbox!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Cold Weather Sanity

As I reminder to myself (and maybe you, too!), as the temps dip into the single digits this weekend--a list of things that keep me happy on the most blustery days:

  • Outdoor gear, appropriate & readily accessible. The boots are by the door, the coat is hung up with the scarf & with hat & gloves in the pockets, and I will unearth my leg warmers, too!
  • Indoor gear. This is one I used to forget about, but man I HATE HATE HATE cold feet, so now I have a pair of sherpa lined socks and/or fuzzy slippers stashed all over the place, and several extra warm, thick hoodies. 
  • Warm drinks. Tea is not delicious but dehydration is worse. 
  • Getting outside, morning AND evening. My brain always tries to trick me into believing I will feel better if I never leave the house...its not true.
  • Plans! Again, some weird part of my brain keeps trying to convince me that we will all enjoy a "laid back" weekend hanging out at home but NO! The kids will be fighting and whining and I'll be losing my mind! 
  • Embracing screen time. For when the plans fall through/run out. In the summer, we live at the park...the winter is for movie night.
  • Lights. We have the fairy lights outside still, and a small LED string on the dining table. Makes me happy on the dark long evening.
  • and last but not least: a good attitude. The cold front isn't here to punish us and grumbling about it just makes everyone more miserable. Gear up and lets do it! 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Best Books of 2018

According to GoodReads (where I log all my books), I read 67 books in 2018, surpassing my goal of 65. I set 70 as my goal for 2019 to give myself a challenge.

Here are my absolute MUST READ favorites from last year (books I happened to read in '18, not necessary published lat year), the ones I can't stop gushing about and recommending to everyone I meet:

1) Beartown and the sequel 2) Us Against Them by Frederik Backman. If I had to pick a favorite author, he would definitely be in the top 3. Both of these books shook me, made me cry and rage and laugh and feel. Backman has such a talent of exposing the raw humanity in everyone, in all its glory and horror.

3) The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton. If you haven't read Brian Stevenson's Just Mercy, read that first and then dig into this memoir by one of the unjustly imprisoned death row inmates he helped free. Unbelievably refreshing perspective and a great reminder that its not what happens TO us, but our response to the events in our lives that truly make us who we are.

4) Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Oh man, I love this book so much, I'm smiling just thinking about it. Reading it felt like being surrounded by warmth & love & laughter. Like the smell, taste, and feel of goeey fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookies.

5) We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This is a series of essays, most that Coates published in The Atlantic, from each of the Obama years. He speaks to the rise of Trump in a way that seems WAY more believable than the white-washed "Hillbilly Elegy", we just want jobs and upward mobility and love God & family nonsense that was being trotted out after the election. The essay on reparations I would consider a must-read for any American.

Seriously, read ALL these. But if you already have, or you want more, here is a brief and incomplete listing of some other 4/5 star books I read:

  • You Think It, I'll Say It. Curtis Sittenfeld. Collection of short stories, dealing astutely with marriage and middle age
  • Let Me Lie Clare Mackintosh. Creepy thriller, I didn't see the plot twist coming!
  • The Queen of Hearts Kimmery Martin. Not as cheesy as the title & cover would have you think, but definitely with some friend/love drama. She's a MD and writes what she knows, so the medical training part was spot on.
  • The Summer Before the War. Helen Simonson. Cute, heart-warming historical romance. 
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon. Kelly Barnhill. This surprised me, its a compelling and compact fantasy. 
  • I'll Be Your Blue Sky. Maria de los Santos. She's a cheesy guilty pleasure (Love Walked In is still my fave) and some of our favorite characters (Teo, Claire) from previous books make cameos here.
  • An American Marriage. Tayari Jones. Complicated---would make a great book club pick. The subject is compelling though I didn't really know who to root for, the characters were not likable. 
  • Uncommon Type: Some Stories. Tom Hanks. Yes, that Tom Hanks. Short stories are a nice break from long epic historical dramas, and these had a good mix of entertaining and serious (and it was fun to try and find the typewriter theme in each one).
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. Gail Honeyman. This almost made my favorites, I won't give away the plot twist, but it is both raw and heartwarming. 
  • Pachinko. Min Jin Lee. Sweeping epic family drama of the type I love. 
  • The Book that Matters Most. Ann Hood. Way more serious (and sad!) than the title and cover led me to expect.
  • Her Fearful Symmetry. Audrey Niffenegger. Weird. Delightfully weird.
  • The Power. Naomi Alderman. Also weird---but in an extremely kill the patriarchy, empowering kind of way!
  • The Underground Railroad. Colson Whitehead. I learned a lot, and it was an engaging read. 
  • Behold the Dreamers. Imbolo Mbue. Realistic take on the immigrant experience.
  • I'll Give You the Sun. Jandy Nelson. YA novel that gripped my heart
  • The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women. Kate Moore. I can't believe I didn't know about this, its fascinating (and heart-wrenching)
  • Educated. Tara Westover. This memoir made a big splash for a reason---proving that truth can be stranger and fiction, and a reminder that you have NO IDEA how a person got to where they are today---don't make assumptions.
  • The Golem and The Jinni Helene Wecker. Really original, haven't read anything like it. 
  • The Light of the World. Elizabeth Alexander. Touching memoir after her husband's sudden death. 
  • The Bluest Eye. Toni Morrison. Oh this was gut-wrenching. I saw the play at our local theater and read the book in preparation for it...really tough subject matters told through the words of a child, which make it so so powerful. 
  • Sourdough. Robin Sloane. Quirky, cute, happy ending.
  • I Let You Go. Claire MacKintosh. Also creepy thriller that I didn't anticipate the plot twist.
  • Buck: A Memoir. MK Asante. Like, "Educated" but in the Philly 'hood.
  • What Is Not Yours is Not Yours. Helen Oyeyemi. I may have been the only one in our book club to enjoy this, it was SO WEIRD, full of magical realism. The language and imagery captivated me.
  • The Sun is Also a Star. Nicola Yoon. YA novel, immigrant experience.
  • Greenglass House Kate Milford. YA or even children's mystery that I will share with my boys.
  • Young Jane Young. Gabrielle Zevin. Empowering story of a woman reinventing herself after a very public set-back.
  • Little Fires Everyone. Celeste Ng. All is not perfect in suburbia, this dramatic tale was a page-turner!
  • Norwegian Wood. Haruki Murakami. Oh so sad and lovely. 
  • Between the World and Me. Ta-Nehisi Coates. Important read and his writing style is beautiful.
Ok, whoa, that took forever. I need to go to monthly or at least seasonal updates because that was rough. I hope at least some of you find something new to try from this list, and if you do, let me know how you liked it! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Getting there...

Its an up and down process, this mood/anxiety thing. I am looking forward to getting some ideas/help from the psychiatrist next week, since I've pretty much been doing it on my own the past few weeks. For me the anxiety effects are like a U shaped correlation---mild anxiety actually gets my butt in gear and gives me excess energy to work off, but past a certain point I am actually paralyzed, can't do anything, feel compelled to zone out and am completely exhausted. So, yeah, its swinging around these days. 

It's hard to explain to the non-anxious what it feels like.  Its not "worrying" really, its more of a "dread". About nothing. And everything. Its not just in my head, its my whole body that feels it---I get this feeling in my chest, and my tongue feels different...I know this is so weird. I can't just "stop thinking about it" because its in the background at a low level even when I'm trying to engage my mind and body elsewhere. The littlest things will then ramp it any minor setback or even the thought of doing ANYTHING slightly stressful, like brushing L's teeth (he fights me, and it often ends up with yelling) or a heavy clinic day/challenging patient issue. Though once I'm in it, I'm totally fine. Obviously big stuff, like hearing about the news or family member's issues, can totally throw me off the rails.

Enough about that, I'll get it treated & under control and never again make the mistake of messing with a good thing! 

I had a goal of writing here 3 times/week, which I hit the first week, totally failed at last week, and this week...we shall see! I'm creating a list of topics to cover in the next few weeks, which will hopefully inspire consistency.  On deck for tomorrow: Books! 

Thursday, January 10, 2019


Guys, switching up psych meds is a real b&itch. I was doing OK until Friday, I sort of fell into a hole that I'm trying to climb out of and couldn't motivate to do much of anything that wasn't absolutely necessary at work and home. G did kick me out of the house to exercise and to go to the eyeglass store, so I did get those things accomplished on the weekend.

I'm feeling better today, maybe because my neurotransmitters are evening out, or because I just 100% forced myself to stop avoiding things and its satisfying to get sh&t done.

It doesn't help that I've taken away a lot of my go-to pick-me-up strategies (wine, shopping) so I'm having to dig real deep. I spent a lot of time zoning out on my phone (there is plenty to waste time on even without FB or IG). I have been eating whatever I feel like because I just can't deal with hungry on top of everything else, and have been going to bed extra early because just making it through the day acting like everything is peachy is exhausting.

I'm reading "The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood (sequel to Oryx and Crake) and they use "fallow" as a metaphor for depression, where the person just needs to rest until they are ready to grow again, and it definitely resonated with me. Unfortunately or, actually fortunately, my life doesn't allow for such indulgence so after wallowing for a couple of days, I need to buck up.

I actually AM looking forward to a nice dinner out with G on Sunday (my treat for surviving the holiday trip), and a friend's birthday bash later in the month (booked sitter for both!). Also scheduled a weekend to see my sister in late February and my extended family is planning a reunion this spring that I am really going to try to make. And its almost time for summer/camp planning already!

Sorry this is a downer of a post, but writing regularly is on my "to do" list for this year! I'm planning a 2018 Books post, and some updates about our routines/schedules. What else would you guys like to read?

Friday, January 4, 2019

19 for 2019

The idea is actually from Gretchen Rubin's "Happier" podcast, they did "18 for 2018" and are doing it again this year...its basically a selection of big and small goals to accomplish within the next 12 months. I didn't have the energy to even attempt this last year, but I was feeling it this year! Some of the items stem from the priorities/goals I have already discussed, and some are I've added some explanation as needed...

1. Compost I signed up for the free trial for a city collection, they are delivering the bucket tomorrow and if I like it, we will sign up for weekly pickups. for years I've been meaning to "make my own" because I hated the idea of paying for it...but I hate even more how much trash we generate!

2. Get glasses My vision has changed for the worse with age. I have a prescription, just have to pick out the glasses now.

3. Use Instant Pot Bought it as a Black Friday deal...still sitting in basement. Recipes welcome!

4. Laser bikini/legs Did my armpits last fall. Life changing. Worth every penny. Can't believe I waited this long.

5. Find a therapist 

6. Reach xxx weight (i.e. jeans fit comfortably)

7. Read War and Peace. 

8. Drive our car once/month. I have a semi-phobia about this, after so many years not driving, so I'm trying to intentionally get more practice.

9. Renew passports & get TSA precheck 

10. Try going without housecleaner X 6 months. We fired the cleaner last month because they were becoming really terrible and it was more stressful to have to explain what to do and get everything ready than it would be to just do the damn thing ourselves. If it doesn't work out well I will find someone new.

11. One-on-one dates with kids once/season 

12. Date nights out twice/month

13. Go to play on Broadway with friends 

14. Go to the beach

15. Plan a holiday/winter trip somewhere warm

16. Camping with the dog

17. Summer road trip somewhere cool

18. Host brunch 3 times with different groups of friends

19. Submit 2 big grants

Thursday, January 3, 2019

What worked and what didn't in 2018

Overall, I'd consider it a good year for me personally (if not for the world at large) and mediocre professionally. I like reflecting back and seeing what I want to change and what I'd like to build on so that things keep moving in the right direction in all areas!

Lets start with the negative, so we can put it behind us?

What didn't work that I want to fix:

  • Stopping the Paxil/not going to therapy: I thought things were stable enough to try it out. I was wrong, the last few weeks have been BAD. It started off with being more irritable---yelling more at the boys, picking fights with G...then moved to difficulty concentrating and staying on task at work, and finally into full fledged anxiety with all the psychosomatic symptoms, including not sleeping. I'm not scheduled to go back to the psych until later this month, but I have a big bottle and I restarted it last night. I also left another message with the therapy group to see if I can get in to see someone (they were all full last fall, said to call back in December and I didn't) to keep working on the coping skills. 
  • Not scheduling couple time for me and G.  We're doing fine, just not as connected as we'd like and sometimes feel like we haven't spoken in weeks! Our schedules are in a place where we need to really make a point to spend time together or it won't happen. I usually go to bed as soon as the kids do these days so we don't have default weeknight TV/talk/hang-out time anymore.  We both realized we need a "date night", either at home or out, weekly and I'm going to start putting them into our calendar in advance so we don't plan social or other outings. 
  • Long family trips: the full week at Disney and later the beach with my family, the week and a half with MIL...I'd rather leave on a high note, wanting more, than be DONE and dying to go home, ending up way more stressed then I started and needing a few days to recover. We figured that the kids could handle it so why not try to squeeze as much as we could out of the vacation, but turned out that I couldn't handle it and I need a day or two to decompress.
  • Not blogging/writing: Its good for me to sort out my thoughts. I was writing here more often, and then I was using a journal for a while, and then I just...stopped. And I miss the outlet. 

And now the good stuff! What worked this year that I want to do more of:

  • A little selfishness: I realized that I needed more social interaction and to get out of the house once/week on average and I just...made it happen. I look at my calendar every month and start texting friends to plan things for random evenings and also a couple of lunches/month. The kids and G are fine. I am much less crabby. 
  • Low-key entertaining: to add to the social interaction I've also gotten more proactive at inviting friends and neighbors over for brunch play-dates and impromptu dinners. The adults can sit and talk and the kids can run around...its way more relaxing than going somewhere. 
  • Weekend getaways: having a car helps a lot with this and we want to make it happen more often. Camping, visiting my sister or G's cousin (2-3 hour drives)---refreshing to get out of the house and thus not do any chores for a day or two! 
  • Unabashed family fandom: Its just so fun to dive right into whatever we happen to love at the moment! This is something I've learned from my kids, because I've been programmed to play it cool and cynical from an early age. We went all in on loving Hamilton, and then Harry Potter, and now B has gotten us all into listening to Taylor Swift (and I have to admit...I like some of her songs...). Eventually the kids will refuse to like anything we also like so I'm kind of soaking this up while it lasts...

So the "negatives" are really "double negatives", i.e. things I didn't do that I should've done. Whereas the positives are things I did. I'm sure there is a lesson there somewhere? And there is likely a lot more in each category but these are the ones that are in the forefront of my mind right now as I set up the shiny empty new planner!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy 2019!

I am definitely feeling the New Year/Fresh Start mojo this year. I am making lists and plans and filling in the blank pages in my planner. So lets dive in, since one of those plans includes more regular writing in this space because I miss it!

I was going to start this post with a paragraph of how the end of the year was rough, with sickness, traveling, anxiety, poorly behaved children and MILs, etc... And then I went back to review last January's posts to see what goals I had made for the year (answer: NONE, I wasn't feeling it last year!). And my first January post was...word for word the same complaints about the stressful holiday/year end time period. So, lets just gloss over that for now, though I do have some thoughts about preventing a recurrence.

I was thinking of a word for the year and settled on more of a theme instead: "Back to Basics". 2018 was actually a more exciting/adventurous year (for ME, nothing major, just a lot but with the addition of so much extra, I've let the foundations crumble a bit and I'm feeling overall physically and mentally spent. I need to reset and hope the theme (which I'm writing on each monthly goals page in my planner) will remind me to keep those priorities.

What this means practically is to restart the following habits:

  • Wake up early for time to think/plan before the day begins
  • Meditation
  • Exercise 4-5 X/week
  • One month of no alcohol (begins today-Feb 1st since yesterday...didn't happen) and then back to no drinking on weeknights
  • Friday afternoon planning at work
  • One month off FB/IG
So those are the boring "have to dos"I need to recommit to for my health. I've also decided to go with the "19 for 2019" list and am using that to add in more fun and personal growth. I'm also still going through the "what worked and what didn't" list for 2018, and I've got a lot to say there, so stay tuned!