Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 Intentions 2nd Quarter Results: All-in-one

And now its summer. As I think through my progress on my intentions this year, I am reminded afresh that life is indeed a zero-sum game. There is finite time in each day, and even more finite energy & motivation in my body. Any focus I shift to one activity must by default come from another. This is incredibly clear as I contrast my 2nd Quarter grades to those from the 1st Quarter; all my As from before have slipped, while I've managed to pull up my Fs in the other areas of life. Give & take, seasons of life, trade offs, the juggle, balance, opportunity costs, the impossibility of "having it all" (ick), whatever you want to call it, its real.

Anyways, I'm condensing this to one post since I'm already late on this.

Updated Intention: Exercise at least three days a week.
Grade: C

So I trained for and ran the 10 mile race in early May. And have run a total of two times since then. And no, I haven't shifted those workouts to strength training or yoga. They just...disappeared. My only exercise is my weekly ballet class (more on that later). The "C" is the average of the A I had in April/early May and the complete F afterwards.
Why did I quit? There are a million reasons excuses, including getting sick with bronchitis & then lingering energy-sapping allergies (still going on), periods of bad weather, kids getting harder to deal with in the morning & more to do (because of L crawling & eating solids). Really it just stopped being a habit, and I can't seem to get it back. Though my actions do NOT show it, I still believe exercise is essential to a healthy life, and I am sticking to my original intention. To address the lack of energy I've been feeling, though, I'm adding on another self-care issue. I am going to go to my doctor to discuss additional treatments/options for my terrible allergies. More importantly, I'm going to be compliant with the treatment regimen & follow-up that she suggests (I tend to slack off, for example, not using my nasal spray or avoiding the eye drops). So my new intention is really:
Exercise at least 3 days a week & look after my medical needs.

Updated intention: Fun & focus
Grade: B

This is always going to get a B. Some days better, some days worse. As I've mentioned---work in progress for the next 20 years, I'm sure. Since this is boring I'm going to kick it up a notch for the summer---G & I both independently realized that we wanted more spontaneity in our family life---less routine & strict adherence to nap & bedtimes & more "adventures" with the kids. Summer seems the perfect time to try this out. We've been getting out more, doing things that would previously have been dismissed as "a hassle", like renting a ginormous van & taking the boys & dog to a friend's pool party out in the 'burbs (yes, all were explicitly invited). During the heat wave last week we left work 30 minutes early & raced the boys to the city pool for half an hour. This weekend we're going to watch the fireworks over the river from G's office window (he's on the 17th floor). Yes, it'll be late. But B doesn't really go to bed on time anyways these days---if he naps, he stays up til almost 9, kicking & singing in his crib. If he doesn't nap, he's down by 7:30 on the dot. So...he needs to nap.
The other part I want to work on is really figuring out a better way for us to address the more ummm....challenging moments of parenting. I ordered this book, on recommendation of a reader, and my goal is to read it & distill it for G and see if we can apply it to our kids. If not, there are more books. I'm not generally a huge fan of parenting books, but I think having it laid out by an "authority" may help G get on board.
So my mothering intention for the summer is kind of contradictory: adventure and discipline.

Updated Intention: Touching and helping out.
Grade: B

No, I didn't do a single of those things I planned to do (daily hugs/kisses, or doing things for him without telling him). But we're talking more. I feel more connected. We've had a few nights out ourselves lately (for my birthday and our anniversary) and are planning more for the summer. We either do chores together & talk as we work, or one or us rushes through them while the other reads B his bedtime stories so we can hang out afterwards. We've been sitting on our deck with a book or a drink at least once a week (my idea of fun) or I've been watching a movie with him in the basement also at least once a week (his idea of fun). 
We've also been doing much more as a family on the weekends that ends up being fun for us, too. We've had 2 Saturday morning "tourists in our city" adventures, where we leave the house really early, walk to another part of town, and play there, have breakfast, etc... The kids are in good moods in the morning, we have the whole weekend ahead of us, and its fun to go somewhere simply to experience it, rather than on an errand. G mentioned that he's much happier the past few weekends since I'm "around"---I've had work obligations & social events a lot this spring and he felt really alone with the kids. Oops.
Since things are going well I'm going to stick with marriage intention for this summer will be to talk every day, date nights at least monthly, and trying really hard to "be around".

Updated Intention: Efficient & productive at work
Grade: B

Another work in progress. I'll keep the same goal for the summer. There are specific projects & ideas I want to advance but I don't really want to talk about them here (because its booooring, not top-secret) so I'll leave it at that. 

Updated Intention: Sew & bake
Grade: A

Funny enough, as life sometimes is, I haven't baked a thing, and only sewed one item since the last update. Spurred by my new Kindle and the borrowing of the Hunger Games trilogy, I've found myself reading again. My stash of fabric is sitting unused and my sewing machine gathering dust as I plow through novels, magazines, etc... Whatevs. I figure that as long as I'm doing something enjoyable for myself, I deserve an A on this one.
As I mentioned above, I've also started a new & surprisingly fun activity with a friend. I've been taking a weekly Adult Beginner Ballet class. Its for real---we wear ballet shoes and do exercises at the bar and then on the floor for an hour and a half every week. I haven't taken any kind of dance in over 10 years and ballet I quit when I was 10 (I have a whole post about the tricky subject of when to push kids in an activity & when to let them quit...but I always regretted quitting & wish my parents pushed me in this one). I forgot how much I LOVE to dance. Having to remember steps & perfect my positioning really gets me out of my head in a way that running or yoga doesn't do for me. We had a one month pass but we are definitely going to continue. The teacher is funny & encouraging and one of the best parts is the diversity of women in the class (yes they are all women but all shapes, sizes, ages, colors...very different from the identical girls in the classes I used to take as a child). Some of the women have been taking the class for months and they are really good. Its cool to see an overweight middle aged woman suddenly turn into a graceful swan at the bar. So so empowering.
For the summer I'm going to keep this one flexible---just do what I feel like when I feel like it. No need to get all rigid about how I spend my free time, right?

Updated Intention: "Make new friends and keep the old"
Grade: D

I haven't done much more on this one. I've taken exactly ZERO opportunities to make new friends, and in trying to be more "around" on the weekends, doing less with the friends I do have. We are doing more social things as a family, which is nice, but its really hard to talk to anyone when you're herding two little ones all the time. 
Honestly, this is the one part of life that I'm finding the most lacking these days. I love spending time with my family & G, but I sometimes crave a good talk or laugh with a girl friend. This is one of those trade-offs for me right now, though...the more time I devote to my kids & marriage, the less time I have for building and maintaining other relationships. G is so so good about saying "OK" whenever I mention an outing, its not him. Its me. Honestly I'm racking my brain and can't find an answer. I'll just reiterate that this is still a priority for me, and I want to try to fit it in whenever I can.

So there you have it. Some up, some down, some completely in the toilet. But if there is nothing to strive for, what's the point, right?


  1. I think I must be in a bad mood this morning, because the process you go through these areas of self-improvement to grade yourself seems really harsh and not very healthy to me today. I guess this is a normal thing that women are supposed to do..... always actively try to be better, but why not just try living life and doing what you can and being ok with that? It sounds like things are actually going FANTASTIC from a taking care of you standpoint. So what if you aren't running 3x per week? You did a 10 mile race a month ago for goodness sakes! When you have the time and the motivation, you'll get it back! That's not an "F" that's just reality.

    (Sorry, I've had a rough morning...)

    1. I'm sorry you had a rough morning. I take your point and I was thinking of not really doing the "grades", but I'll counter that I don't really take these things to heart and am not the least bit "upset" about my F. For me it helps to think about what my priorities are in life & see if I can make them happen...its easy to just get stuck in a rut of waking up & getting us all ready, going to work, coming home, wrangling kids, and watching TV until I fall asleep...its familiar, its fine, but its not satisfying to me in the long run & I feel like something is missing. Then I say "but I dont have time to do XYZ" and that's a big fat load of crap...I totally have time...I just need to DO IT. I chose these areas in life specifically because they were all things that were important to me & I enjoyed doing. i LIKE exercising---I like how I feel during & afterwards...once I start getting back into it, I'll remember how great it felt & keep at it...its just a matter of starting it up again after what has actually been 7 weeks. Seeing it written here in black & white is a motivator for me...I actually talked to G about it once I realized it and we worked out a morning schedule so I can work out twice a week for 20-30 minutes at a time (plus the ballet class). I don't think its over-the-top or harsh. I guess I see it more as adding in good things to my life rather than trying to "improve myself"---is that the same thing? Maybe, but that's how I approach it.

    2. I understand. I think I'm also a bit down on myself for not exercising much lately either. Mostly because of daycare colds. I saw my calves yesterday morning and was appalled at how atrophied they had become. So I've decided that even if I do nothing else at all today (a strong possibility), I WILL get to the pool, dammit!

      It still sounds like you're doing great.

      And I am so so tired of screaming at my husband constantly. It really makes me want to cry. I read your marriage intention and thought, "Yeah, THAT'LL happen once my husband starts taking initiative and stops dumping everything on me!" (Which I stand by.)

  2. It sounds like you're doing brilliantly! If not hitting all your marks, certainly in terms of the process as a whole--reflecting, striving, improving. I find it impressive. And it's cool to see how much you do! I love the idea of sneaking off early to new neighborhoods... I can't imagine the level of energy it takes. It's a thousand degrees and I barely have the energy to sweat.

    1. Dude, you are pregnant. I did NONE of this crap last summer. My only goal was to make it downstairs from the bed to the couch so my "lying like a beached whale" activity could be somewhat varied. Also, the past few weekends were mild & cool (50s-70s) in the mornings. This weekend (90s)...not so adventurous.

  3. Wow, your list is really ambitious. One of the things I've found really helpful is remembering Laura Vanderkam's idea that when we say "we don't have time" it really means "it's not a priority" and that it's ok to let some things go. That has really helped me narrow down a lot of the "shoulds" to just a list of things I really want to do.